This article is a fascinating comparison between oral cultures and digital cultures, arguing that the two have more in common than not. I found myself agreeing with the majority of it and drawing comparisons in my head with my PhD topic, Revolutionary Prints as Spectacle.
What is the subject of derision in one era, becomes a goldmine to historians in the next. I envy historians of the future, but at the same time worry about how this wealth of information, all those GIFs, and pictures of sandwiches, will get stored and saved for them. I imagine they are a pretty low priority for the British Library and other institutions finding ways to save parts of the online world offline.
The own subject of my PhD, satirical etchings from the French Revolution, had been mass produced at the time, yet we sometimes only end up with one or two copies of particular print runs. Over two hundred years later they are finally seen as the subject of serious study, as will perhaps one day LOLcats.
Having grown up around a number of oral cultures, digital culture has always struck me as oral culture written down. Indeed, many basic critiques of how people live online stem from the assumption that people online ought to follow the norms and conventions of written culture. Can this help us understand the kerfluffle around the meaning of the selfie stick, pictures of food, and other seemingly odd aspects of digital culture? Yes, I would argue, and where some see narcissism and self obsession, I tend to see the conflation of print culture with oral culture.