Creative Commons licensed photograph, "Underwood," by Flickr user Canned Muffins

Gleick and Butler

Speech Sounds and Information

If the disease described in Octavia Butler’s “Speech Sounds” were to actually infect the world, what would happen to the African “talking drums” described in chapter 1 of James Gleick’s The Information? Who would be able to use them and/or understand them—those with the ability to speak or those with the ability to write? To put the question another way, while they’re called “talking drums,” is this communications technology a form of speech, or a form of writing? Why do you think so?