In days of yore, say 2,500 years ago when Socrates was a pup and Marty Sorrell wasn't yet knee-high to a cockroach, what we would recognize as modern alphabets were invented and ordinary people, people like you and me, started writing things down.
Writing had existed for millennia. But writing was an esoteric skill used only by a small group of experts, something like how coding might have been in 1960. The earliest clay tablets that have survived centuries of seismic events, wars, plagues and ancient cleaning women, were written in Cuneiform. The were usually accountings of debt, expenses and how many goats you were owed.
Writing wasn't widespread. Until about 2,500 years ago, things like Gilgamesh, and the Iliad and the Odyssey, and even the Jewish Bible were transmitted orally, like Herpes. When the alphabet started using symbols of letters to convey phonemes and morphemes, we started writing words down. Then sentences, stories, and shopping lists.
In the early years of writing, it was decried by the cognoscenti. That means the smart people.
They thought the very act of writing would have nasty side-effects. Mostly, it would destroy our memories. We'd lose what we no longer had to use.
You hear a lot of that today, from people like me, who decry those who google everything and therefore never learn memory tricks like I grew up with. For me, beaten into me by my mother, HOMES was how I remembered the Great Lakes (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior) and VIBGYOR, the colors of the rainbow.
When I was a budding scholar studying Chaucer, on the top of every test booklet I had to fill in, I'd write a 24-word sentence that I made up. It was something like, "Please know my ribbon can label white fish supper..." Which helped me remember the order of the tales: Prologue, Knight, Miller, Reeve, Cook, Lawyer, Wife of Bath, Friar, Summoner. It was easier for me to remember one silly sentence, or one made up word than eight or twenty-four separate words. From memorizing the streets of Tribeca to Chaucer, I've always relied on tricks like this.
On my hard drive as its terabytes currently sit, I have one folder stupidly called "Good Things." There must be 500 separate files in there. Hundreds of New York Times and Wall Street Journal book reviews of books that I want to but probably won't have the time to read before I die.
Hundreds of smart reminders like this.
But culturally and spiritually, we are all-too GPS'd to wander and discover. To worry about the wrong way then find the right way even if it wasn't the original way. Most human progress, if we've had any over our 200,000 years or 5 billion years on our pale blue dot comes from finding things that hadn't been encountered before. Progess comes from sea-places and port towns, entrepots, where cultures, ideas and peoples mix and god alone, though she hardly exists, knows what will result.