Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Martha Barnette of "A Way With Words" speaks at Grossmont College

Martha Barnette
Are you worried about the effect that text messaging is having on the salience of language? Well, why should you be any different than Socrates?  The ancient Greek philosopher also worried about what another revolution in communications -- that of writing -- would have on Greek thought and intellect.

Radio commentator Martha Barnette recently shared this and other examples of humanity resisting technological achievement in a symposium with students, faculty and guests at Grossmont College.

The hostess of PBS' popular radio show, "A Way With Words," said that another example of this phenomenon was the fear expressed by the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche that the invention of the typewriter might result in a diminution of the written world.

Tweeting and texting may be our current worry, Barnette said during the April 18 on-campus session, but she predicted that, before long, current day tweeters and texters will be fretting about some even-newer advance in communications.

Barnette admonished her audience not to fear changes, but to engage these changes critically.  She urged that they become sophisticated consumers of whatever technology, media and language the future may hold.

And by the way, commenting on the word "symposium," which today is taken to mean an academic gathering such as that at which she appeared, Barnette confided that the word had its origins in ancient Greece, where it was used to mean a "drinking party."   -- Quinn Shadoan