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Orality and Literacy: New and Old Ways of Communicating on Facebook. (Or what Walter Ong Said about the Network of Mark Zuckerberg)

Orality and Literacy: New and Old Ways of Communicating on Facebook. (Or what Walter Ong Said about the Network of Mark Zuckerberg)

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Published by Clara Ciuffoli
The main investigation hypothesis is that Facebook recovers certain ways of communication prior to press, where the subjective-self-defining, gestural and corporal is revalued, in detriment of paradigmatic values of Gutenberg Era such as the writing objectivity, publication distance, neutrality, immutability and print dwelling. In other words, we say that Facebook’s forms of communication are characterized by their written and ephemeral forms, and can be understood in the frame of a recovery process of an oral feature culture.

This paper was presented in the The Thirteenth Annual Convention of the Media Ecology Association, “The Crossroads Of The Word”, Manhattan College, June 7-10. 2012.
This work is a synthesis of the thesis: “Oralidad y escritura: nuevas y viejas formas de comunicar en Facebook", by Clara Ciuffoli and Guadalupe López, Carrera de Ciencias de la Comunicación, Facultad de Ciencias Sociales, Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA), June 2011.
In 2012, the paper become part of the book “Facebook es el mensaje. Oralidad, escritura y después” (Facebook is the message. Orality, Literacy and Next), Buenos Aires, La Crujía Ediciones, 2012.
The main investigation hypothesis is that Facebook recovers certain ways of communication prior to press, where the subjective-self-defining, gestural and corporal is revalued, in detriment of paradigmatic values of Gutenberg Era such as the writing objectivity, publication distance, neutrality, immutability and print dwelling. In other words, we say that Facebook’s forms of communication are characterized by their written and ephemeral forms, and can be understood in the frame of a recovery process of an oral feature culture.

This paper was presented in the The Thirteenth Annual Convention of the Media Ecology Association, “The Crossroads Of The Word”, Manhattan College, June 7-10. 2012.
This work is a synthesis of the thesis: “Oralidad y escritura: nuevas y viejas formas de comunicar en Facebook", by Clara Ciuffoli and Guadalupe López, Carrera de Ciencias de la Comunicación, Facultad de Ciencias Sociales, Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA), June 2011.
In 2012, the paper become part of the book “Facebook es el mensaje. Oralidad, escritura y después” (Facebook is the message. Orality, Literacy and Next), Buenos Aires, La Crujía Ediciones, 2012.

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Published by: Clara Ciuffoli on Jun 18, 2012
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Orality and Literacy: New and OldWays of Communicating on Facebook.
(Or what Walter Ong Said about the Networkof Mark Zuckerberg)
Lic. Ciuffoli ClaraLic. López Guadalupe
This paper was presented in theThe Thirteenth Annual Convention of the Media EcologyAssociation, “The Crossroads Of The Word”, Manhattan College, June 7-10. 2012.This work is a synthesis of the thesis:
“Oralidad y escritura: nuevas y viejas formas de comunicar en Facebook",
by Clara Ciuffoli and Guadalupe López,
 
Carrera de Ciencias de la Comunicación,Facultad de Ciencias Sociales, Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA), June 2011.In 2012, the paper become part of the book
“Facebook es el mensaje. Oralidad, escritura y después” 
(Facebook is the message. Orality, Literacy and Next), Buenos Aires, La CrujíaEdiciones, 2012.
ABSTRACT
The main investigation hypothesis is that Facebook recovers certain ways of communicationprior to press, where the subjective-self-defining, gestural and corporal is revalued, indetriment of paradigmatic values of Gutenberg Era such as the writing objectivity, publicationdistance, neutrality, immutability and print dwelling. In other words, we say that Facebook’sforms of communication are characterized by their written and ephemeral forms, and can beunderstood in the frame of a recovery process of an oral feature culture.We analyze the ways of communication on Facebook under the loupe of Carlos Scolari(hipermediations, interaction spaces, interfaces), Lev Manovich (new media), Roger Fidler(mediamorphosis) and, especially, Walter Ong, whose secondary orality concept turns out to beessential to understand participation forms in this social network.
 
 
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We focus on revising what Facebook practices recover from other previous social networks andpersonal publication platforms.We try to search forms of communication’ specificity present on Facebook, which participationarchitecture permits and restricts certain users practices and no others.We argue that forms of communication among users recover orality features and can bethought under
conversation metaphor
. We consider actors, characteristics and temporaldimension of this great conversation that Facebook is, between orality and writing.
1. Introduction
What is it said about Facebook in Argentina? All mouth and no trousers: degradation of contents published and bonds set; a space that fosters trivial entertainment and exposure of our relationships, activities and hobbies for companies, government and control bodies’benefit. The phenomenon of Facebook in Argentina was easily absorbed to the idea of Foucaultian panoptic of XXI century. In fact, this was one of the strongest metaphors that wasspread on social network in local means of communication (on and off line), blogs, andacademic books, feed by the fuel which maintains great part of media journalism, for adversecritics’ enjoyment and parents and teachers’ fear (Ciuffoli-López, 2010).According to Alessandro Baricco (2008: 37) “we see the loots, but we cannot see the raid”,because of what it is said on the media about Facebook, it turns out to be too difficult to findqualitative information that can show platform users behavior. What is worst, it does not showwhat happens in all its dimension and complexity.The intention of the work is to create a different map which allows a more complex vision of Facebook. According to what we have already mentioned, we argue that forms of communication among Facebook users recover orality features and can be thought asconversation’s metaphor. We consider actors, characteristics and temporal dimension of thisgreat conversation that Facebook is, between orality and writing.Now then, which is the form of communication’ specificity which lie on Facebook? Which is theplatform’s role in the emergency of these practices? To answer these questions, we take backto Ong’s reflections.
 
 
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2. What Ong said: Word Technologies
Ong (1987) fetch McLuhan perceptions about deep technologies and ways of life overlapping.That is the reason why we cannot separate forms of communication from technologies in use ineach historical moment. New mass media also implies big changes in the way peoplecommunicate, talk, think and act. In this sense, Ong’s approach leads us to think that newtechnologies always entail changes in the ways we perceive the world.From this perspective, writing, printing press and computer are not only external resources, butalso ways of making the word more technological which imply different social configurationsand internal transformations of consciousness.In this sense, Ong states, about writing, that:Natural habitat alienation may benefit us and, in fact, in many senses it turns out tobe essential for a complete human life. In order to live and understand completely,we do not only need proximity, but also distance. And this is what writing put in toconsciousness as any other thing can do (Ong, 1982: 85).
2.1. Writing or the way to capture the world from orality 
Writing is the most radical technology of the three word technologies stated (writing, printingpress and computer), because it started: “the reduction of dynamic sound to the motionlessspace, separation of the word from live present, the only place where spoken words can exist”(Ong, 1982:84), and this way “it transforms in a same movement speech and thought” (Ong,1982:87).Thus, one of the most radical social transformations related to writing is distance betweenauthor and reader: the author is beyond the reader. “The word in his oral environment isdirected by a real person” while in writing “words are alone in a text” (Ong, 1987: 102) andaudience is “imaginary”. These characteristics are then deepened with printing press.As we will see later, by analyzing forms of communication on Facebook, one of the featureswhich stands out is that the distance obtains a relative aspect among social networkparticipants.

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