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Oral Storytelling

Reading books could be obsolete by 2050.

© iStockphoto.com/digitalskillet

Currently, many of us spend our spare time using social media like Twitter and blogs, mediums that allow us to type up a quick message to let our friends know what we're doing. However, writing and reading those messages may not be how we communicate with our pals in the future. In fact, we may not read or write at all, a future that many dying newspapers are already confronting.

Futurist William Crossman believes that spoken language will replace written communication in the coming years, meaning that we won't need to teach children how to read and write, but rather how to use computers and think creatively [source: Naisbitt]. Crossman envisions a world in which we all use voice-in, voice-out (VIVO) computers. Everything we need to communicate will be handled by these machines. Rather than writing our memoirs, for example, we'd sit down in front of a webcam and tell our story. As the recent rise of reality television and YouTube superstars bears out, there are many people who would happily sit and watch a complete stranger spin a tale.

Crossman's future means that vast swaths of the population will be illiterate, but should those people need to read something, their computer could scan and read it to them. In some ways, this may make communication more democratic, and with the explosion in populations that are predicted, it may even be necessary. Computers would have instantaneous translation services, making it easier for an urban resident to connect with a rural resident a world away.

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