When evolution expels us from Paradise, where the fruit we had at hand, the leaves of the trees gave us shade and the height of its branches, protection, we began to walk wandering through inhospitable territory, out in the open. But he endowed us with two well-coordinated senses for survival during our evolutionary journey: hearing and sight.
With the ear and its effective ears the sound environment is spherical. And sound has an intense emotional charge, it is vital to react quickly to any signal, wherever it comes from, either because it is threatening or because it means an opportunity, for example, hunting (for us, we have spent most of our existence in search of prey). When the sound has aroused attention, the view, which only perceives what is before (half the world), moves in search of the location and verification of the sound that has impressed us. So we move our heads without ceasing to focus the vision, look, almost with similar insistence that the head of a bird for sound.
The sound is enveloping, but to see the world you have to get in front of it.
These natural conditions that have brought us here are expressed in a very significant way in our technological world, overloaded with sound and visual signals. Until now, the scenario in which our life was spent was calm, unchanging: the tree, the mountain, the road … they remained there, and the events did not crowd, they were not abundant. The sounds were those of the natural environment and those of everyday life.
Today the environment is kaleidoscopic, where the mirrors are the screens. And yet, we have to see the same eyes as when we walk through the dilated spaces of the savannah. So we do not stop moving them to respond to so much visual stimulation. This supposes difficulty to fix the attention. And as there is so much to look at, to keep the attention within the frame of a screen and that does not spill, many things must happen in it and that their images pass with great rapidity. That is, so that you do not move your head in search of other visions, I move without cease what is in front of you. But deep down there is an exhausting restlessness of attention.
Perhaps a digital world expressed in a significant proportion through the spoken word will soon await us "
In educational processes, this difficulty of concentration has been clearly shown. And the videos, which seemed to be effective attractors of attention, need to reduce their duration to prevent them from being cut without finishing or, even, speed up reproduction to finish sooner. Also the stillness and extension of the page are unbearable. However, it seems that this shredding of the speech does not happen for, for example, the podcast. In them, time does not run against the maintenance of attention. The spoken word, the oral narration, manages to catch the attention for much longer than the screen or page can, in the current conditions of overinformation. And it is that the sound excites (from its primitive function of survival), and the emotion is the one that holds the attention.
The spoken word lets the eyes do not take off from the place where you are, because it is not placed in front of you, but next to you. Walk beside you while your eyes explore the environment and the look provides the sensation of presence. You can close your eyes and the world does not go out, because the images that provoke the emotion of the sound of the word continue to sprout. You can also leave the look, without losing it, on a blank page and illuminate it with lines that suggest what you are listening to.
The exuberant digital world is showing us through the kaleidoscope of the screen, and has made us beings with an attached prosthesis that constantly demands our eyes and our hands, blurring the sensation of presence of the place in which we find ourselves. But perhaps we will soon be awaited by a digital world expressed in a significant proportion through the spoken word, which leaves us in our place, because it will not be placed continuously before us, but at our side.
There remains, nevertheless, a great task ahead, because our ability to communicate with the spoken word (to interrogate, express and narrate, and to listen) is diminished and it is necessary, therefore, to revitalize it from the school. And this need tightens, because the technological evolution that has created such decompensation points at the same time towards a digital orality, which until recently was unsuspected.
Life in digital it is an imagined scenario that serves for reflection, it is not a prediction. Through him move the alefitas, prosthetic beings, in continuous connection with the digital Aleph, since the Red is a phenomenal contraction of space and time, like the Borginian Aleph, and not a mesh.
Antonio Rodríguez de las Heras He is a professor at the Carlos III University of Madrid.