By Jim Benjamin, Director of the Graduate Studies in Communication, University of Toledo
The recent explosion of interest in social networking technology brings to light new dimensions of the spoken vs. written communication debate that occasionally emerges. Twitter uses written text, Facebook uses text and graphic images, “chat rooms” in on-line courses use text, and the “old” technologies of books and e-mails use written communication. Lecture captures, teleconferences, radio, television, and the “old” technologies of lectures, conversations, discussions, and telephones use oral communication.
The debate is ancient. Plato’s Phaedrus argued that the discovery of writing “will create forgetfulness in the learners’ souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves. The specific which you have discovered is an aid not to memory, but to reminiscence, and you give your disciples not truth, but only the semblance of truth; they will be hearers of many things and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing; they will be tiresome company, having the show of wisdom without the reality.”
We know, of course, that speaking and writing are not mutually exclusive, that the existence of one does not preclude the existence of the other. You can as easily write the words for a speech as you can speak the written words aloud. We also know that the arts of writing and speaking are both valuable skills communicators must develop. As a journalism educator you need to write out your lesson plans and instructions for activities and scripts for programs, but as a journalism educator you must also speak in class, talk with your students individually, and transform the script into an oral performance. [Read more...]