Is Google Making Us Stupid Livia

"Is Google Making Us Stupid?"

Diminished concentration when reading long articles or print (evidence; activate reasoning)

  • Efficiency of online researching rather than print sources
  • Even when not working, you find yourself online

Internet becoming a universal medium (evidence; activate reasoning)

  • Immediate access to wide-range source of information

Time spent online leads to lack of focus (evidence; activate reasoning)

  • Seek convenience
  • Writer's friends and acquaintances experience diminished concentration levels due to prolonged periods of online use (evoke emotion)
  • Scott Karp does not read print at all, even though he used to be a "voracious" book reader (build credibility)
  • Bruce Friedman has almost lost the ability to read long articles; anything more than three or four paragraphs is too much to absorb(build credibility)
  • Published study of online research habits (University College London) found that people using specific sites exhibit "a form of skimming activity", hopping from one source to another; usually never reading more than one or two pages of an article or book before moving on to another site (verification; activate reasoning)

Different kind of reading now (evidence and illustration; activate reasoning and evoke emotion)

  • Internet, text-messaging (compared to TV use)
  • Maryanne Wolf: states that the style of reading promoted by the Internet puts efficiency and immediacy above all else, which weakens our capacity for deep reading; reading online leads us to become "mere decoders of information"
    • Ability to interpret text/make connections when we read deeply and without distraction remains disengaged

Reading not an instinctive skill for humans (evidence; activate reasoning)

  • We must teach our minds how to translate the symbolic characters we see into the language we understand

Human brain infinitely malleable (evidence; activate reasoning)

  • Brain has ability to reprogram itself, altering the way it functions

Internet programmed to perform the function of any other information-processing device (evidence and illustration; activate reasoning and evoke emotion)

  • Subsuming most of our other intellectual technologies
    • Become our map/clock/printing press/typewriter/calculator/telephone/radio/TV
  • Internet absorbs a medium, which then scatters our attention and diffuses our concentration

Influence of Internet doesn't end at edge of computer screen (illustration; activate reasoning and evoke emotion)

  • Traditional media have to adapt to the audience's new expectations
    • TV programs add text crawls and pop-up adds
    • Magazines and newspapers shorten their articles, introduce capsule summaries, and crowd their pages with easy-to-browse into-snippets

Google (verification and illustration; activate reasoning)

  • Striving to "systematize everything" it does
    • Carries our thousands of experiments a day to find out how to control how people find information and extract meaning from it
  • Mission - "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful"; "develop the perfect search engine"
  • Information is a kind of commodity (the more pieces of information we can "access" and the faster we can extract their gist, the more productive we become as thinkers

Build artificial intelligence (illustration; activate reasoning and evoke emotion)

  • The human brain is just an outdated computer that needs to a faster processor and a bigger hard drive

Network's business model (verification; activate reasoning)

  • The faster we surf across the Web, the more information companies collect about us and use that information to feed us advertisement
  • Last thing companies want is to encourage leisurely reading or slow, concentrated thought (in their economic interest to drive us to distraction)

Socrates deplored development of writing (evidence; evoke emotion)

  • Feared that as people came to rely on the written word as a substitute for the knowledge they used to carry inside their heads, they would "cease to exercise their memory and become forgetful"
    • The would be "filled with the conceit of wisdom instead of real wisdom"
  • He couldn't foresee the ways writing and reading would serve to spread information, spur fresh ideas, and expand human knowledge

Arrival of Gutenberg's printing press sparked more debate (evidence; evoke emotion)

  • Italian humanist Hieronimo Squarciafico worried that the easy availability of books would lead to intellectual laziness and weaken minds
  • Others argued that cheaply printed books and broadsheets would undermine religious authority, demean the work of scholars and scribes, and spread sedition and debauchery

"Deep reading is undistinguishable from deep thinking" (illustration; evoke emotion)

  • In the quiet spaces opened up by the sustained, undistracted reading of a book, or by any other act of contemplation, we make our own associations, draw our own inferences and analogies, foster our own ideas
    • If we lose those quiet spaces, we will sacrifice something important not only in our selves but in our culture
  • Richard Foreman: we risk turning into "pancake people" ("spread wide and thing as we connect with that vast network of information accessed by the mere touch of a button")
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