Will Written Text Survive as a Communication Medium – No

I agree that this question is a bit vague in its wording. However, I can foresee physical, written text declining over the next century to the point of near extinction.

The writings of 20th century media scholar, Marshall McLuhan, suggest that the two greatest inventions in the history of civilization have been (1) the phonetic alphabet, and (2) The printing press. His writings also indicate that with the introduction of electric technology such as the telegraph and television (most of McLuhan’s work was in the 1960’s and 1970’s before the internet age) were causing the world to revert back to the pre-literary tribal age. McLuhan, in fact, was the person to coin the term “Global Village”.

My reading of McLuhan’s book “Understanding Media” has led me to believe that this cycle is in fact taking place over a span of many years. We are becoming accustomed to more verbal and aural forms of communication, and our remaining analog visual communication media is being replaced by technology.

Print media is being replaced by electronic media in many facets of everyday life. My band, for example, rarely promotes our concerts with paper flyers like we used to, as Jpeg e-flyers are much more efficient, and cheaper.

Online versions of newspapers are on the rise, while old-school newspapers are merely becoming the things you put on your kitchen floor to absorb your dog’s urination. In fact, think for a moment of how contradictory the term “online newsPAPER” really is.

Think of any instance in your daily routine where you write something down, and I can think of an example of how it will soon be replaced, if it hasn’t already been, by an electronic medium.

In addition to traditional visual media being replaced by technology, we are also becoming more accustomed to verbal and aural forms of communication. Our affinity for aural versus visual communication can be seen by the dual nature of television. Most people, for example, would much rather listen to a TV program with the image turned off than watch the same program on mute.

To say that written text will become completely extinct might be a stretch. It is realistic, however, to foresee written text becoming so inconvenient and obsolete that we may voluntarily refrain from using it.