A Third Dimension

Who is Gregory Ulmer?
What is Electracy?
How is it related to digital media?

Thousands and thousands of years ago when the Greeks created alphabetic writing they were engaged in a civilizational shift from one apparatus to another: from orality to literacy. Along with this new apparatus, science as a worldview was invented, distinguished from religion as a new possibility of reason. In Gregory Ulmer’s article, Introduction: Electracy, he suggests that electracy “similarly is being invented, not to replace religion and science (orality and literacy), but to supplement them with a third dimension of thought, practice, and identity.”

“‘Electracy’ is to digital media what literacy is to alphabetic writing: an apparatus, or social machine, partly technological, partly institutional.”
-Gregory Ulmer


Electracy is Ulmer’s theory┬áthat describes the kind of skills and facility necessary to exploit the full communicative potential of new electronic media such as multimedia, hypermedia, social software, and virtual worlds. The usage of electracy has been increasing due to the growing popularity of media and entertainment. Technology and electracy are a social machine that have not taken over orality and literacy, but taken the two and advanced them.

“New media networked practices are transitional, hybrid forms and experiments. The part of the apparatus most accessible within the arts and letters disciplines is the practices of imaging. Electracy needs to do for digital imaging what literacy did for the written word.”

The  main thing that distinguishes electracy from orality and literacy is that it is more active in our own lives, especially our daily lives. Electric allows for the audience to debate issues, share new ideas, and create things to be seen. Orality and literacy did not move as quickly or as freely as electric does today.


Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 11.00.35 AMFor more information about Ulmer’s theory of Electracy, click here to watch him go into more detail


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