Socrates and Media in the Online Age

Take a look at this and try and figure out what the author is speaking about:

…this discovery of yours will create forgetfulness in the learners’ souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves. The specific which you have discovered is an aid not to memory, but to reminiscence, and you give your disciples not truth, but only the semblance of truth; they will be hearers of many things and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing; they will be tiresome company, having the show of wisdom without the reality.

ZT421FzYou’d be forgiven for thinking the author is speaking about new media technologies like the Web but in fact this was what Socrates thought about the written word. He worried that our reliance on writing would make us forgetful and that our understanding of the world around us would be superficial as we wouldn’t develop sophisticated and original thoughts.

Sounds a lot like the arguments some people have against online media. Isn’t this similar to a teacher saying, ‘Don’t use Wikipedia because it is not reliable enough’ or Nicholas Carr asking ‘is Google making us stupid’ or even Andrew Keen speaking about how the Internet devalues our society?




Author: reno

I teach Media, Film, Video Games and Photography college level in the UK. I'm really into education technologies and creativity. I'm on Instagram.

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