Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Is Google Making Us Stupid?

Here's an interesting experiment. Nicholas Carr, writing in The Atlantic, wonders if the Internet isn't damaging our brains. His thesis: as we read ever less and skim ever more, the circuitry of our brains is changing, making the damage real and irreversible.

Well, here's the challenge: The article, at 4,200 words, isn't particularly long, but it's far longer than your standard Internet item. So, set aside some time - 10-15 minutes should suffice - and see if you can read it from beginning to end without stopping, and without doing anything else at the same time. Just sit and read (and hopefully, think about what you're reading). You might want to click on the "printer format" link first, so that your screen will be clean of distractions. Or maybe you'll want to really print it out, and read from some dead trees.

I managed to do it, but it wasn't easy. This is one of the reasons I'm seriously considering shutting down this blog sometime soon: to win back some time to read books. (The fact that I've been reading books at the rate of approximately one every three weeks this year is only because I've taken too many airplane flights, where my wifi doesn't work).


ML said...

You haven't time to read books, but you have time to count words?
The interesting idea might be that there is a middle-way: Write less, think more! That way, we would read less, but we would have more to think about. THINKING is as you know - NOT part of Google's algorithm!

Anonymous said...


Well, that putz isn't a brain scientist; or he'd know that most people were illiterate not so far back in time. And, it wasn't until people were taught to read and write that communications opened up beyond the usual gossip.

That the world changes?


That the film industry ended up costing the religious "industries" a lot of casual customers? Sure.

But brain changes? Nah. The Internet isn't reponsible. Though, yes, it does change the ways we are now communicating. Where the biggest losses goes to those "on top." Similar to what happened to the business of churches, when people got other options opened to them. (Besides the movies, you can blame Wal-Mart's.)

Why Wal-Mart's? Because there was once laws passed in America (so I'll assume in other Western places as well), where it was forbidden to serve liquor on Sunday mornings. And, it was illegal for a store keeper to be open on Sundays. The church enforced these rules because it gave them more customers.

And, then? Well, Wal-Mart's, by venturing away from cities ... where local ordinances controlled, opted, instead, for large stores at cross roads. And, you had to drive to get to them. Their prices were also lower; making the drive a nice Sunday adventure.

It wasn't until Macy's began crying, that the laws changed in New York City; and retailers were left alone. To open, or not open, on Sundays.

Meanwhile, Ya'acov, if you shut down your blog (which is your business to do), you're shutting off a place where people, a few of them, can come and see the news in a whole different light.

And, no. I haven't stopped reading books! Every day, I'm reading something.

Why are you gonna let Google confuse you? Or worse, The Atlantic.

Yeah. As we age our brain cells don't fire as well as they did when we were five years old. But back then all the knowledge was new. Today? You're just pushing your wheels.

And, so much needs to be said that isn't getting said in the media! Gee, you're going to let those "ganuvin" win?

Anonymous said...

DON'T stop to write your blog!!!

kai said...

He, you can't stop - you made us addicted to your blog!