How Literacy Created Civilisation, Part II: A Digital Dark Age?

Before the Meiji Reforms of the 1860s, most education in Japan took place in monasteries, where pupils’ brains were overtaxed with the vagaries of Classical Chinese and Sanskrit. Triumphant modernisers broke up these institutions, and insisted that all children learn to read practical Japanese.
Mao originally wanted to abolish Chinese characters entirely in favour of an alphabet, but that proved unworkable in a language that is so rich in homophones that you can write an entire lengthy poem using only words pronounced “shi.”
I am not very good at writing characters, but typing them is easy. The AI also recommends emojis.
Two years is a long time for a developing brain.
In the 19th Century, Americans spent entire days listening to candidates battle it out in hour-long discourses on their policies. Today, presidential debate speeches are generally capped at under two minutes.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Sam Quillen

Sam Quillen

Former linguistics student; current investment bank analyst who sometimes thinks about something other than spreadsheets