Oral Tradition vs. Printed Material

I’ve been reading Stealing Fire from the Gods by James Bonnet over the past few days (Despite the fact it came highly recommended to me, I find it too half-finished to recommend on to anyone else.), and the book looks at storytelling from its early days as a teaching tool.

It got me to thinking. Oral tradition is still practiced around the world by many cultures, but it’s died out in countries considered “civilized” or “advanced”. Teachers still transmit knowledge through lecture and discussion, but all of that it literal and supplemented with printed books. We no longer teach through metaphor, or we teach very little through metaphor.

What happened? Passing knowledge through metaphor was effective, but because information wasn’t recorded, it had the potential to be lost. This is what lead to recording knowledge through writing.

My question is: Was the evolution of oral tradition in industrialized countries stifled by the invention of the printing press?

Thoughts? Information?


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