Thursday, June 26, 2008

Is Google Making Me Dumber?

The Atlantic's July issue has an article by Nick Carr entitled: Is Google Making Us Stupid? Carr casts a wide net as he looks for people's thoughts on similar technological changes in the past (Lewis Mumford on clocks, Socrates on written language, Nietzsche on the typewriter, etc.) and makes some very interesting points about the nature of the human intellect and the nature of technology's connection to and influences on our intellectual abilities and ways of thinking.

I like that the Internet can be an extension of my knowledge base, but am fearful that it erodes my basic thinking ability. I feel like there are two types of problems the Internet causes for my brain:
  1. Easy answers: When I am trying to remember something, I can google it. Even when on the road, I can google from my blackberry. There is no reason to store much information in my mind because I always have answers nearby. Will this lack of effort cause my brain to atrophy? How bad is the atrophy it has already caused?
  2. An informational firehose: On the other side of things, I use Google Reader to provide a steady, massive flow of new information. This rich flow of information is incredible, but is probably oversaturating my brain. My mind is becoming a thin, wide crepe.
So, is Google making me dumber? Probably. Am I going to stop using it? No, but I continue to look for ways to manage the information and keep it from managing me.

Soundtrack: Yes (Fragile, The Yes Album, Close to the Edge)

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