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Communication Across the Life Span


Edited By Jon F. Nussbaum

As we grow up and grow old, embrace new experiences, try new roles, and adopt new technologies, our senses of time, space, connection, and identity are fundamentally explored through communication. Why, how, with whom, and to what end humans communicate reflect and shape our ever-changing life span position. And while the «life span» can be conceived as a continuum, it is also one hinged by critical junctures and bound by cultural differences that can be better understood through communication.
The chapters in this collection, chosen from among the invited plenary speakers, top research papers, and ideas discussed in San Juan, explore the multiple ways communication affects, reflects, and directs our life transition. Capturing the richness and diversity of scholarship presented at the conference, chapters explore communication technologies that define a generation; communication and successful aging; stereotyping and family communication; sexual communication and physiological measurement; life span communication and the digital divide; and home-based care contexts across the world, among others.
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Chapter Eight: Techno-Social Generations and Communication Research


← 90 | 91 →CHAPTER EIGHT

Techno-Social Generations and Communication Research


For many centuries, the Chinese wrote with the writing brush. When the modern pen was introduced, did people take it up naturally and easily? Not at all. The introduction of the pen as a Western technology triggered culture wars in early 20th century China. Those who clung to the traditional writing brush were holding onto both a writing tool they had always used and a piece of their self-identity. The writing brush, refined ink, and calligraphy were among the indispensable elements of the Confucian literati-scholar. For them, the writing brush was a symbol of Confucian civilization, and the pen was a threat to it (Yu, 2001).

By the end of the 20th century, Chinese society yet again confronted a technological change in writing. This time, the pen was being replaced by the computer. In 1992 and 1993, a consulting firm in Beijing held two computer exhibitions for writers and journalists to help them to migrate from writing with pens to writing with computers. These two exhibitions triggered broad debates about the advantages and disadvantages of writing with pens and computers. Although participants readily recognized the many advantages of writing with computers, some preferred the pen:

I like writing on blank paper. I like it that the characters written on paper have traces of the human hand. They contain the writer’s breath and...

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