Into The Electronic Millennium, By Sven Birkerts

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Abstract: In “Into the Electronic Millennium”, Sven Birkerts lays down his central arguments that the introduction of electronic communications are fundamentally changing-and will continue to change-the way that the world works. He focuses on explaining how the assumptions behind reading printed text and electronic text are different, and the visible symptoms in our society. By looking at 3 examples of literary figures as they interact with and utilize the electronic word, he provides acute analysis of different effects that electronic communications are different than print. Birkerts only explains what he sees to be the changes and looks towards the future to hypothesize about other possible effects, without specifically suggesting any changes to be made. He writes with the intention of raising awareness for the problem he sees, and to warn the reader that to strip meaning from language is to play a very dangerous game.

Into the Electronic Millennium is a great exposition of what Birkerts thinks to be the major problems with electronic communications. He builds a strong argument that the switch from print to electronic media not only radically changes the contexts that lay behind reading, but also the way that societal functions like language and language work.
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If he had examined the way that the switch from oral to written communication had changed and shaped society back in it’s day, then looked to compare the changes then with the changes he sees today, I think this would have been a far more compelling analysis. Although Birkerts does provide strong analysis of the points that he brings up, to the author it appears that this is a glaring miss in his spectrum of

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