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The Significance of the Written Word

A selection of titles from the McDonald Collection.

A selection of titles from the McDonald Collection.

Writing is the visual representation of language through the use of an established selection of markings. As a means of communicating ideas and storing information, written language is the single most important and far-reaching technology available to humans and has served as the foundation for virtually all other information technologies from early etchings in clay to the world of digital access that we enjoy today. Writing has allowed for the development and maintenance of large and complex societies, the formalization of both academic and practical learning, and the ability to exchange information on a global level.  It is, perhaps, foremost among the many other fundamental social and technological advancements that have shaped our world.

Writing developed independently in three different regions of the world: the Middle East, China, and Mesoamerica.1 Through a natural evolution of language, culture, script, and necessity, these early traditions became the foundation for the modern written word.


  1. Fischer, Steven Roger. A History of Writing (London, England: Reaktion Books, 2001) 7-9. Return to text ↑