Over at Tor.com, Ryan Britt has a provocative analysis of Star Wars, based on a startling observation: Nobody in the galaxy far, far away seems to be able to read or write. It's not just that we never see anybody reading a written text or writing anything down in any of the movies — they also seem not to have anybody written history, and the Jedi go from being a commonplace to a forgotten legend in just one generation.
The idea of education becoming obsolete due to cultural changes isn't without a science fiction precedent. In the Star Trek pilot "The Cage," Vina speaks of a culture that "forgets how to repair the machines left behind by their ancestors." I'm postulating that the same thing happened with literacy in the Star Wars galaxy. People stopped using the written word, because they didn't need to, and it slipped away from being a commonly held skill.
And to bring up evidence from the expanded universe material a little more: in those stories even ancient Jedi records exist in the form of holograms. I'd say the switch to visual/audio communication from written communication has been underway for a long time in the Star Wars galaxy.
Check out the whole argument, over at Tor.com.
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