This chapter reflects on writing and what is distinctive about it; what sets it apart from comparable gestures of the past and future such as painting or pressing on computer keys; whether there is anything specific that is shared by all kinds of gestures of writing—from the chiseling of Latin letters in marble to the pounding on the keys of typewriters; what sort of life people had before they began to write and how their lives would look if they abandoned writing. Writing, in the sense of placing letters and other marks one after another, appears to have little or no future. Information is now more effectively transmitted by codes other than those of written signs. What was once written can now be conveyed more effectively on tapes, records, films, videotapes, videodisks, or computer disks, and a great deal that could not be written until now can be noted down in these new codes. Information coded by these means is easier to produce, to transmit, to receive, and to store than written texts.
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