Back to the Future with Writing and Speech

anthropology and technology

This essay for the inaugural issue of Technology and Language suggests a kind of time-travel. As the hand becomes dethroned in writing, the voice might be in speech, and it is with the technologies of the scribal and vocal arts that they can be reclaimed. In the fairly recent past, words, severed from hand and mouth, have been converted into the liquid currency of a global information and communications industry. Technologies followed in step and stripped words of both gesture and voice, reducing them to mere tokens in anonymised circuits of exchange. This condition is here critiqued not in terms of semantics or eloquence but in terms of the traces of writing and speech – what is said not by the what but by the how of the hand and the voice