Old Media Never Die, Part II

To follow on this recent post, two stories of note. First, paper airline tickets are finally a thing of the past, the medium of paper being replaced with bits and bytes. (Of course, Jet Blue has never had anything but e-tickets.) The paper ticket is gone, but “the ticket,” as a concept, moves to digital.

More interestingly, researchers are attempting to capture the world’s quickly-fading oral languages, which are becoming extinct at an astoundingly fast rate, something like one every two weeks:

The researchers, focusing on distinct oral languages, not dialects, interviewed and made recordings of the few remaining speakers of a language and collected basic word lists. The individual projects, some lasting three to four years, involve hundreds of hours of recording speech, developing grammars and preparing children’s readers in the obscure language. The research has concentrated on preserving entire language families.

Over at the National Geographic’s “Enduring Voices” site, there is much more about this effort. And while the Times article doesn’t mention it specifically, I think we can assume that digital technology is being used to record, catalog, and index these dying languages.

Oral cultures can continue to live on, digitally.


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