Avatars of the Word: From Papyrus to Cyberspace


reviewed by Hugh F. Cline 2002

coverTitle: Avatars of the Word: From Papyrus to Cyberspace
Author(s): James Joseph O'Donnell
Publisher: Harvard University Press, Cambridge
ISBN: 067400194X, Pages: 240, Year: 1998
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For those of us in the educational practice and research communities, Avatars of the Word both fascinates and irritates. Fortunately for the reader, O'Donnell achieves more of the former than the latter. The book is fascinating, because the author's catholic background reflects both historical expertise as Professor of Classical Studies and technical competence as Vice Provost for Information Systems and Computing at the University of Pennsylvania. O'Donnell examines the impact of new information technologies on the creation, dissemination, and utilization of information in the context of earlier transformations of knowledge transmission. His accounts of the transitions from oral to written communication, from the papyrus scroll to the multi-paged manuscript, or codex, and from written to printed texts illuminate patterns of innovation that amplify rather than replace existing practices. This perspective of adoption, adaptation, and expansion, rather than obsolescence or even entropy, is the leitmotif of the book. It enables us to view current information technology innovations in a broader context. Rather than fretting about the possibility of teachers or... (preview truncated at 150 words.)


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 104 Number 5, 2002, p. 1030-1032
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 10873, Date Accessed: 10/23/2017 1:16:25 PM

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