The Changing Face of Literacy: More Beautiful, Less "Civilized" Eric McLuhan's essay on "The Changing Face of Literacy" provides a compelling, though flawed, analysis of contemporary society's rapidly shortening attention span. Tracing Western civilization's origins back to the invention of phonetic writing in ancient Greece, McLuhan draws comparisons between the initial development of writing and the advent of electronic media in contemporary society. Both developments, McLuhan argues, consist of technological advancements that have irreversibly altered the way that the Western mind processes language, expression and information itself. A careful exploration of the premises and assumptions underlying McLuhan's argument reveal, however,...The end:
..... fully exploring the more fascinating question of electronic media's potential as a powerful literary medium in its own right. McLuhan's argument leaves no room for consideration of the fact that using fewer words without losing any meaning is often not only possible but is, more importantly, necessary and beneficial for the effective functioning of a fast-paced information-based society. While the West's increasingly attenuated attention span is absolutely a legitimate cause for concern, especially in education, modern technology's power to transform the collective consciousness of society is, ultimately, no different than any other kind of power; neither inherently "civilized" nor "uncivilized," its value depends solely on how it is used.