Originally published in 1980. The skills of reading and writing have been proclaimed as universal human rights. This book explores why this should be so. In particular, it examines whether or not the possession of reading or writing skills has, or has not, influenced the values and organisation of society. Viewing literacy as a technology, the author maintains that like all technologies, it is created by man for limited purposes. Nevertheless, given the right conditions, it can be used by man to change not only other technologies, but also himself and (in the end) all of his society. But like other technologies, literacy too may be subject to obsolescence which poses the all-important question of whether the advent of universal literacy has coincided with the redundancy of the written word.