Re: Is Google Making Us Stupid?
The Atlantic Monthly has gotten a fair amount of press this last month due to it’s cover story, Is Google Making Us Stupid? What’s surprising is the attention is actually well deserved. Given the fairly incendiary title I wasn’t expecting much here, but Nicholas Carr has written a very sharp and well argued article.
His main point has very little to do with the title actually. Instead he argues that the internet is changing the way in which people think, and he’s entirely right. He is a tad negative about the changes that seem to be occurring (largely a diffused focus) but is very open to the counterarguments. He even points out similar complaints that were raised by Plato and Socrates regarding the advent of written language, and acknowledges that in the long run things worked out pretty well there.
But beyond the arguments Carr presents, I’ll admit to having very similar experiences to much of what he describes. There was a time when I would read a novel every 3 days. Now it’s more like every 3 weeks, and the problem for me really is focus and not time. I can feel a change in the way I think, something I’ve written off as a borderline case of ADHD (and to be fair it does run in my family so that quite possibly is the case). But it’s never a matter of being bored or not wanting to read (or do any other task actually), it’s that I’ve picked up an all consuming need to multi-task. And when I’m in the middle of an activity that doesn’t lend itself to that I start feeling as if I’m being unproductive. I think what I need is books that come with some sort of tab based browsing.
So to sum up, no Google is not making us stupid, but yes it is having a very profound effect on the way on minds function.