Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Speech Versus Writing

What I mentioned yesterday in a comment to Bryan Alexander, and also the listening of a podcast interview of a member of one of my favorite bands, and also the idea with fellow Davies Scholar Kelly about listening to historical accounts rather than reading, has made me think about this subject. I suppose the way I'm thinking about what follows is in a journalistic sense.

In one light, sound interviews can be so much richer than written interviews. Hear the intonation that may hint of sarcasm, the rising and falling of the voice, the dramatic pauses, the awkward silences, or excited chatter, the strength of the voice, the laughter, or giggles, the hesitation, and the sounds of the setting, etc. One can get a real sense of a person after hearing them. Physical voice has a lot to do with it.

But what about the art of writing? I guess the difference here is perspective. With the radio, you hear what you hear, what is there. Sure, people listen for different things, but there's a definite reality to sound. With writing, it's all perspective. Which is beautiful, because this is what art and education are- being exposed to someone else's perspective. And some people are great with description, and can use just the right words to create an image that is richer than what they would have heard from merely listening themselves. Writing also allows for clarity and deeper connection. With writing one has time to reflect and make sense of their thoughts in a linear fashion. One has to or it doesn't make sense. That's what writing is- making sense of things in a linear fashion. Speech is more scattered, except of course when the speaker is reading something out loud that is written, which often takes away all the beauty of speech anyway.

This makes sense in terms what's happening right now with the Internet, in one way. With people emailing more instead of speaking in person, and teenagers chatting more online to begin their adolescence rather than speaking, what is gained/lost? With web technologies increasing so much, videocasting and podcasting, and videochatting, maybe this isn't really a topic of conversation.

Written news will never die. Perspective is too interesting, too valuable.

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