• Oral Tradition and Internet Technology by John Miles Foley

Using an oral tradition or the Internet means assuming serial responsibility for decision-making—not just initially when you start up a story or arrive at the homepage of an interactive website like the Pathways Project, but continuously. You’ll need to decide how to manage the system’s network of potentials at every turn, and your choices will go a long way toward determining the nature and texture of your experience. That’s the way these cognitive tools work.

The illustration below represents the kinetic, emergent activity involved in surfing the webs of the oAgora and eAgora. Every decision generates a host of possibilities for the user to choose among, and the process never stops; one multi-pronged fork in the road leads to the next until the performance is finished (and naturally it’s up to you to prescribe the end-point as well). Each surfing expedition will thus be different and in a sense unique, although it will always proceed within applicable rules. The expressive power of OT and IT (Internet Technology) lies not in textual fixity but in their rule-governed morphing.

Co-creation in the oAgora and eAgora

Co-creation in the oAgora and eAgora

Surfing through the option-driven networks that empower OT and IT is a wholly different experience from trekking along the well-trod, one-way route that characterizes and defines a text.

Whatever else we say about oAgora technology, it proved its usefulness and efficiency long before the advent of writing and texts, and continues to do so today for a large percentage of the world’s population. And in our time eAgora technology is once again employing pathways to help us create and transmit knowledge, art and ideas. Think of the unique advantages of these homologous media: unlimited possibilities made possible by linked systems, unmatched opportunities for co-creation within networks, adaptation and sharing on a scale unthinkable within tAgora contraints, and not least a radical democratization among users.

While all media have their built-in costs, we would do well to avoid our only too customary ideological reflex in favor of static tAgora artifacts and to aspire toward workable fluency across all three technologies.