• Oral Tradition and Internet Technology by John Miles Foley

Using a text means relinquishing command to a fixed protocol. According to applicable rules, you must cede some of your rights as an interpreter in order to manipulate this cognitive prosthesis.

In most Western societies the reading convention calls for scanning lines from left to right, pages from top to bottom, and volumes from lefthand page to righthand page. Along the way we observe the tAgora organization of words marked by spaces, line and paragraph divisions, page-numbering, and the rest. Our itinerary is pre-arranged; our journey is predetermined, as the following illustration shows.

Linear Processing: Line and Page
Linear Processing: Line and Page

Trekking along a well-trod, one-way route is a wholly different experience from surfing the option-driven networks that empower OT and IT.

Whatever else we say about textual technology, it has proven remarkably efficient for centuries. Think of the unique advantages: tremendous economy of presentation and reception; no false moves, no detours; straight through without deviation or ambiguity; precisely the same itinerary for everyone. Of course, the price of this unprecedented efficiency is steep: readers are barred from directional input of any kind, and to exit the page in search of related information may well entail exiting the text altogether. The co-creativity and emergence that typify and define the oAgora and eAgora are not licensed in the tAgora. But all media have their built-in costs, don’t they?