Technology and Identity

How are we defined by our sense of the way that human memory works?


Assignment 1

According to Hobart, Schiffman, and Ong, what cultural group uses the metaphor memory = a container? How does that metaphor affect the way we conceptualize what the past is?

Compare these sentences about the human mind:

1. I can’t recall – I seem to have lost it from my data banks.
2. Don't write it down -- you'll forget! Instead, tell me the thought and let me ask you questions about it. That's the only way to remember it.
3. Let’s re-member – let’s recount the past together as a way of becoming
members again of our community.
4. I can’t recall – that impression has been effaced.

What kind of culture does the speaker of each sentence live in: is it oral (pre-literate; only spoken language), pre-print (writing is available, but not print technology), print, or computer culture? How can you tell? What metaphors (mind = X; memory = X) do you find here? What might one expect of oneself and others if one thinks of memory / mind in this way?

How does Ong define "literacy," and how does Street define it? If Street is correct, is the "memory = container" metaphor the only way we currently think? What other metaphors for memory operate at our moment? Would specific metaphors dominate the way people of certain groups conceptualize their worlds? What impact might the multiplicity of conceptual schemes have on communication among various cultural, social, or institutional groups?