Tyranny of the Eye? The Resurgence of the Proto-Alphabetic Sensibility in Contemporary Electronic Modes of Media (PC/Mobile Telephony); and its Significance for the Status of Knowledge

Tyranny of the Eye? The Resurgence of the Proto-Alphabetic Sensibility in Contemporary Electronic Modes of Media (PC/Mobile Telephony); and its Significance for the Status of Knowledge

Stephen Sheard (Bradford University, UK)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-176-6.ch009
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Abstract

In this chapter the author offers an argument towards the resurgence of a proto-alphabetic imagination in electronic and mobile communications. It is suggested that contemporary trends in mobile telephony which encapsulate the earlier advances in PC development are shifting electronic media – not towards a mythic culture of the aural (McLuhan) but towards an admixture of the aural and visual, aslant the controlling trope of the alphabetical. It is argued that this separation of technologies resembles the predecessors of writing technologies of a “proto”-alphabetic nature. This infuses the literature of management with a metaphysical animism, which is redolent of the faded animism, which marked the initial confluence of the pre-alphabetical sensibilities of Eye and Voice in the pre-alphabetic emergence of mankind. This is suggested as a fresh Symbolic form towards which mankind is advancing. The confluence of ideological tensions preceding these developments is traced; including debates as to conflicts of Word and Sacred (Ricoeur); or Postmodern aversion towards contemporary ocular dominance. This debate leads towards an evaluation of the role and significance of kinds of knowledge which underpin our knowledge society and the knowledge which we take to constitute “knowledge management”.
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Introduction

In this chapter I examine a range of theories related to the adjustment of technologies and their effects on sensibilities – both ancient and new. The chapter therefore has a historiographic aspect. I especially look at the confluence of mobile telephony and the Internet. I consider the emergence of an alphabetical culture and the deviation from that suggested by both cyberspace and the new technological forms – specifically mobile telephony and the PC. I examine the role of confluences that are pre-alphabetic in nature and how they lead towards a proto-alphabetical sensibility (as I define it), which (I argue) is able to recrudesce in contemporary forms of media (especially cyberspace and internet related prosthetic devices related to mobile telephony)

My aim is to examine the inter-relationship of sensibilities which show a bias towards aural or visual emphasis, and aspects of technology especially that are established by the use of the internet. This leads to a further evaluation of contemporary arguments related to the role of knowledge (alphabetic) primarily and the elements of visual and oral which are composed thereby. I address features of argument which dispose themselves towards particular views towards the pre-alphabetic and its revival (McLuhan and Shlain); theorists who argue for an element of vitality in what I define as proto-alphabetical animism (Davis and Jaynes); I also obtain an evaluation of the postmodern “fix” on the Eye or scopic; evaluating this critically relative to a historiographic sense of development of the conflicting traditions of Eye and Voice.

It has been suggested that a bias exists towards the visual as opposed to the aural, in modern sensibility and that the visual bias can be identified with features such as positivism, objectivism, and modern technologies associated with rationalism; that the post-enlightenment legacy was “to decarnalize the eye and foreground the perspectival scopic regime” (Burrell, 1998; following Jay, 1994). I aim to refine this thesis and show a more sophisticated narration of the inter-relationship of visual and aural modes of sensibility. Thereby, relative to organizational theories, this chapter moves to challenge the notion that a complete tyranny of the eye obtains in modern management research and that this underpins positivistic and empirical approaches towards management science. Knowledge management might be seen as an exemplar of management science in that respect, in that it adopts an approach which emphasizes the significance of control over the management of knowledge and the adoption of forms of knowledge which are amenable to storage and manipulation. By inference, my view is that knowledge management itself follows the shifts in sensibility which I describe in this chapter, and that those perceptual shifts underpin our treatment and conception of information which causally must be defined as originating in the mind, and hence a feature of the human psyche.

European Electronic commerce and, specifically commerce related towards the use of mobile telephony (in commercial terms: E and M Commerce) is marked by the confluence of visual and auditory technologies; this has resulted in massive investment into areas of telecommunications as phone company’s shift towards the inclusion of the Internet within the context of their services. Mobile telephony itself seems to present a variety of technological features: email; games; enhanced visual downloads such as colour photographs. These features have become realized to a significant extent with 3rd generation mobile telephony. By 2003, 2 or 2.5 Generation technologies were main sellers (Budden, FT, January 6, 2003). At that point multimedia made a significant inroad into the personal user market of mobile phones (Hunt, FT, May 15, 2003). A striking feature therefore as between the earliest mobile phones and the newer varieties is the increased sophistication of the service; incorporation of features such as the camera; and integration of Internet activity.

Key Terms in this Chapter

E and M Commerce: “Electronic” as distinct from “Mobile” Commerce. Electronic Commerce is a generic term for modes of electronic communication; I use in the specific sense of the Internet. M-Commerce is used to describe recent advances in mobile telephony which may also include internet access but in a miniaturized and hand-held form. Both terms may also be detached from the term “commerce” in the sense that they can become features of everyday life (prosthetic extensions of sensibility) but also linking humanity to the capitalist and consumer societies.

Pre/Proto-Alphabetic Technologies: A pre-alphabetic technology expresses the types of writing technologies which existed prior to the amalgam of visual and oral tendencies within early forms of writing, within the early alphabet. This expressed as the Hebraic alphabet which incorporated the deployment of Phoenician/Canaanite/Grecian confluence of the thought in early-recorded history. The replacement of vowels for Phoenician guttural stops (Thomas, 1992/1995); marks a key-point in this development.

Animism: The alphabet maybe viewed as a form of animism; words on a page speak as one reads. This is viewed as originating in a pre-auditory animism which became expressed in media with distinct aural and visual content (cuneiform and hieroglyphics), and thence fed into the evolution of literacy as represented in the alphabet. Animism is viewed as a vital force contained within language; partly sublimated by the forms of rational description but nevertheless containing the embers of an earlier pre-alphabetical mental seizure of the mind by voices perceived in separateness in nature; now harnessed to the “book”.

Alphabetic sensibilities of Eye and Voice: Expressing the twin poles of human sensibility which modes of pre-alphabetic expression were torn between; now reconciled in language of a Hebraic nature (in terms of origin). The “Eye” expresses pro-visual tendencies, whereas the “Voice” pro-aural tendencies. Within the context of their enclosure within the alphabetical media, these sensibilities are to some extent reconciled and unified but nevertheless pull in opposite directions, in consistency with their ancient roots.

Process Metaphysics: A kind of approach to matter and ontology which emphasizes “flow” rather than permanence and can be traced ultimately back to the contrast between the writings of Heraclitus as opposed to those of Democritus, in early Greek Philosophy. The writings of both Bergson and Whitehead are therefore said to express this emphasis on flow and on the transient status of reality, in the case of Bergson linked to the belief that a further state known as “duree” is overlaid by our rational conceptions and that this represents a truer conception of reality, and hence becomes the basis for his ontology. Certain postmodern theorists follow these beliefs (example: Robert Chia).

The Book: Literacy and the written word; the book ensconces the new alphabetical media in a fixed creation. The book embodies the transmogrified animism which was previously separate to the written media and in the sense that the alphabet unifies or reconciles pre-alphabetic modes of literacy with conflicting visual or oral emphasis, the book represents the culmination of the proto-alphabetical in those “technologies” – representing a shift in sensibility.

Bicamerality: Julian Jaynes coined this phrase to express the view that Ancient man was originally possessed of a dual-mind; expressed in modern parlance by the heritage of both compulsive belief (faith) and, schizophrenia. Schizophrenia in that sense is the certainty of faith without the external and verifiable personal locus of societal reinforcement in one’s convictions. Bicameral society broke down when the brain evolved so as to link the separate halves; thereby freeing humanity from the thrall of “external voices” which had the force of auditory compulsion. This compulsion can be associated also with external location of voices within nature or human edifices such as the statues of gods.

Symbolic Form: Ernst Cassirer used this term to express distinct stages of human evolution represented by different modes of belief. They “mythic” stage was accompanied by a lack of human self-consciousness, as we conceive modern man possesses this. I equate the animistic impulse with this mythic state. I conceive that as man advances from the sensibility of the “book” towards the sensibility of the Internet, the current hegemony of post-mythic symbolic form is affected; infused with a re-awakened animism as the forces inchoate in the alphabetical imprisonment of the “book” sleep less deeply.

Knowledge Management: Knowledge underpinning a knowledge society: expressing itself within management science as a methodology of a positivistic nature with empirical forms of evidence highlighted. Related as a practice to the storage, codification and regulation of knowledge and, closely linked to modes of societal regulation, control and governing meta-ideologies, especially rationality. Alphabetic literacy is viewed as a mode of knowledge management at a more fundamental level, than that ensconced in recent management literature; in that respect “knowledge management” is also viewed as a mode of development in human sensibility as well as an ideology.

Word and Sacred: Envisaged as a conflict between conflicting media; the “Word” associated with monotheism and the “book” (alphabetic literacy); the “Sacred” envisaged as pro-visual traditions of worship including that of early mother worship and forms of pagan belief (pro-feminine in nature). Finds expression in the theories of the French theorist – Ricoeur.

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Table of Contents
Foreword
Dariusz Jemielniak, Jerzy Kociatkiewicz
Acknowledgment
Dariusz Jemielniak, Jerzy Kociatkiewicz
Chapter 1
Davydd J. Greenwood
This chapter questions the clarity of the concepts of “knowledge society” and “knowledge-intensive organization”. In particular, the author asserts... Sample PDF
Are Research Universities Knowledge-Intensive Learning Organizations?
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Chapter 2
Juha Kettunen
The aims of knowledge management are to create knowledge and stimulate innovation. Knowledge management allows the knowledge of an organization to... Sample PDF
Construction of Knowledge-Intensive organizations in Higher Education
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Chapter 3
Jeff Gold, Richard Thorpe
Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is usually conceived as a planned and formulated process for individual members of professional... Sample PDF
Collective CPD: Professional Learning in a Law Firm
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Chapter 4
Paul Trott, Andreas Hoecht
The United States and European economies have witnessed an enormous increase in the amount of specialized business services, which now provide... Sample PDF
Innovation Risks of Outsourcing within Knowledge Intensive Business Services (KIBS)
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Chapter 5
Lars Steiner
A new knowledge management perspective and tool, ANT/AUTOPOIESIS, for analysis of knowledge management in knowledge-intensive organizations is... Sample PDF
Actor-Network Theory and Autopoiesis: A New Perspective on Knowledge Management
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Chapter 6
Jo A. Tyler, David M. Boje
This chapter fits the theme, the interplay between creativity and control in organizations. Story is often claimed to be a way to elicit tacit... Sample PDF
Sorting the Relationship of Tacit Knowledge to Story and Narrative Knowing
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Chapter 7
Louise Grisoni
The central discussion in this chapter is that poetry can be used to provide a bridge between tangible, rational and explicit knowledge and tacit or... Sample PDF
Exploring Organizational Learning and Knowledge Exchange through Poetry
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Chapter 8
Ester Barinaga
“How do we define our project goal?” “How are we going to coordinate our independent national studies?” “Who is responsible for what?” “How are... Sample PDF
Vagueness: The Role of Language in the Organizing Process of Knowledge Intensive Work
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Chapter 9
Stephen Sheard
In this chapter the author offers an argument towards the resurgence of a proto-alphabetic imagination in electronic and mobile communications. It... Sample PDF
Tyranny of the Eye? The Resurgence of the Proto-Alphabetic Sensibility in Contemporary Electronic Modes of Media (PC/Mobile Telephony); and its Significance for the Status of Knowledge
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Chapter 10
Krzysztof Klincewicz
The chapter discusses the role of IT Research & Analysis firms in the diffusion of knowledge management. The research is based on content analysis... Sample PDF
Knowledge Management and IT Research and Analysis Firms: Agenda-Setters, Oracles and Judges
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Chapter 11
Fatima Guadamillas-Gomez, Mario J. Donate-Manzanares
This chapter analyses the implementation of knowledge management strategies (KMS) in technologyintensive firms. Firstly, a review of KMS in the... Sample PDF
Knowledge Management Strategies Implementation in Innovation Intensive Firms
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Chapter 12
Arla Juntunen
This chapter focuses on the development of the Knowledge Management (KM) platform, and, more generally, the knowledge- and resource based view (RBV)... Sample PDF
Developing a Corporate Knowledge Management Platform in a Multibusiness Company
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Chapter 13
Jonathan D. Owens
Success in new product development (NPD) can be considered a general aim for any company wishing to survive in the 21st Century. It has been found... Sample PDF
Modeling the New Product Development Process: The Value of a Product Development Process Model Approach as a Means for Business Survival in the 21st Century
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Chapter 14
Anders Örtenblad
The ambition of this chapter is to pay some attention to more obvious, as well as more subtle, methods for organizations to become independent of... Sample PDF
Achieving Organizational Independence of Employees' Knowledge Using Knowledge Management, Organizational Learning, and the Learning Organization
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Chapter 15
Angelo Ditillo
Knowledge-intensive firms are composed of various communities, each characterized by specialized knowledge. These communities operate as critical... Sample PDF
Balancing Stability and Innovation in Knowledge-Intensive Firms: The Role of Management Control Mechanisms
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Chapter 16
Aino Kianto, Jianzhong Hong
Nowadays knowledge and competencies are the key productive factors, and the organizational capability for continuous learning, development and... Sample PDF
The Knowledge-Based Approach to Organizational Measurement: Exploring the Future of Organizational Assessment
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Chapter 17
Vidar Hepsø
In knowledge management literature, common information spaces (CIS) are believed to be instrumental in the development and sharing of knowledge.... Sample PDF
Common Information Spaces in Knowledge-Intensive Work: Representation and Negotiation of Meaning in Computer-Supported Collaboration Rooms
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Chapter 18
Agnieszka Postula
This chapter presents and discusses two factors – creativity and control – which correspond to every organizational reality. IT specialists’... Sample PDF
Creativitiy and Control in IT Professionals' Communities
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Chapter 19
Patrocinio Zaragoza-Saez, Enrique Claver-Cortes, Diego Quer-Ramon
Knowledge is one of the basic production factors owned by enterprises, and knowledge management is one of the main dynamic capabilities on which... Sample PDF
A Qualitative Study of Knowledge Management: The Multinational Firm Point of View
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Chapter 20
Cliff Bowan, Pauline Gleadle
The chapter addresses a central dilemma from the viewpoint of dynamic capabilities and the resource based view of the firm: how to manage creativity... Sample PDF
Culture as a Dynamic Capability: The Case of 3M in the United Kingdom
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Chapter 21
Maria E. Burke
The purpose of this chapter is to consider an original way of improving Knowledge Management relationships. This is done within the context of an... Sample PDF
Cultural Issues, Organizations and Information Fulfillment: An Exploration Towards Improved Knowledge Management Relationships
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Chapter 22
Darius Mehri
The author worked in the research and design department at a large Toyota company in the late 1990s and experienced an innovative process where... Sample PDF
Engineering Design at a Toyota Company: Knowledge Management and the Innovative Process
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Chapter 23
Federica Ricceri, James Guthrie
The shift towards a knowledge based economy is at the core of the debate of contemporary management and accounting literature and organisations are... Sample PDF
Critical Analysis of International Guidelines for the Management of Knowledge Resources
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Chapter 24
Christiane Prange
Internationalization has accelerated the speed of knowledge generation and innovation. Thus, companies increasingly need to pool and create new... Sample PDF
Strategic Alliance Capability: Bridging the Individual Back into Inter-Organizational Collaboration
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Chapter 25
Meryem Sevinc, Lawrence Locker, John D. Murray
In the contemporary context of knowledge discovery, the amount of information and the process itself has increased in complexity. Relevant to the... Sample PDF
Automation vs. Human Intervention: Is There any Room Left for the Analyst in the Data Mining Process?
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Chapter 26
Joanna Shih
The hi-tech firms that predominate in Silicon Valley contain a large proportion of knowledge workers—employees with high levels of education and... Sample PDF
Temporality and Knowledge Work
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Chapter 27
Alice MacGilivray
Knowledge management is often associated with the need for change and related shifts in ontologies, ways of knowing and ways of working. Combine the... Sample PDF
Knowledge Intensive Work in a Network of Counter-Terrorism Communities
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Chapter 28
Tatiana Andreeva
Contemporary literature usually views knowledge creation and knowledge sharing as either independent or positively related processes. However, based... Sample PDF
Tensions between Knowledge Creation and Knowledge Sharing: Individual Preferences of Employees in Knowledge-Intensive Organizations
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Chapter 29
Steffen Boehm, Chris Land
Knowledge is implicitly assumed to form an increasingly important, or even the dominant source of values for today’s knowledge based organizations.... Sample PDF
The 'Value' of Knowledge: Reappraising Labour in the Post-Industrial Economy
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Chapter 30
Alexander Styhre
This chapter discusses the use of media in knowledge-intensive organizations. Media is defined here as the integration of technologies, practices... Sample PDF
New Media and Knowledge Work
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Chapter 31
Ben Tran
This chapter examines knowledge and innovation as invaluable factors affecting the longevity of large organizations. It presents the history and... Sample PDF
Knowledge Management: The Construction of Knowledge in Organizations
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Chapter 32
Premilla D’Cruz, Ernesto Noronha
Scholars researching the area of the sociology of professions had earlier predicted that as occupations seek to improve their public image... Sample PDF
Redefining Professional: The Case of India's Call Center Agents
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Chapter 33
Dariusz Jemielniak, Jerzy Kociatkiewicz
Knowledge management and knowledge-intensive work are two of today’s hot buzzwords, though both already have a history of managerial usage. While... Sample PDF
Knowledge Management: Fad or Enduring Organizational Concept?
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