Rhetorical Analysis Hillger

Perspective Reading

Sometimes I find myself exploring the Internet trying to find something interesting to read. I skim the headlines and if something catches my attention I will read it, but if the reading doesn't immerse me I will stop and look for something else. In the article, "Is Google Making Us Stupid?", the author explores the idea that the Internet has changed the way we read and think today. The article was posted on July 1, 2008 by Nicholas Carr on The Atlantic website. Carr is an American writer who often writes about technology as well as business and culture. His target audience for this article are his colleagues, people of the same age as him, and literary types. It is easier for the author to connect with an audience that has experienced change with the evolution of technology while young folks, like myself, have grown up with the Internet can't relate. The genre of the article is online editorial, where the author is given a controversial topic and is trying to change public opinion with claims and support.

Carr's catalyst starts at the beginning of the article where he explains that there has been something tinkering with his brain, remapping the neural circuitry, and reprogramming his memory. He believes that the almighty Internet has changed the way we all read and think today. His main claim and purpose of this article is exactly the title, "Is Google Making Us Stupid?". Early support in the article says that he isn't the only one who has felt a change in the way the read, referring to friends and literary types. They find it harder to pay attention to longer pieces of writing the more they use the web. A couple of paragraphs later he does goes onto say that "Anecdotes alone don't prove much." A recent study of online research habits done by scholars from University College London suggest that we may be in a midst of change in the way we think and read. The results of the study showed that most people would hop from one source to another and hardly ever go back to a source they have already visited. The authors of the study reported, "It almost seems that they go online to avoid reading in the traditional sense". While it does give good support, it doesn't give any credible statistics so how do I, as a reader, know the complete facts. It would be important to know the age range for this particular study, for all we know it could have just been young students at the university.

Carr says that the Internet promises to have particularly far-reaching effects on cognition, which is another form of support. In 1936, a mathematician predicted that a digital computer could be programmed to perform the function of any other information-processing device. The Internet today is subsuming most of our intellectual technologies such as; clocks, telephones, cellphones, and so on. Carr states that when the Internet absorbs a medium, it recreates the internet's image. It records contents visited and creates hyperlinks and blinking ads. The result is to get our attention and diffuse our concentration. This doesn't just occur on the Internet, it happens on television, magazines, and newspapers as well. In March, 2008 The New York Times decided to devote the second and third pages of their magazine to article abstracts. Tom Bodkin, from The Times, explained that the shortcuts would give readers a quick taste of the day's news, using a more efficient method of actually reading articles. Carr then says that old media has to use the new rules of media. Carr is correct, but it also makes it much easier for people to access websites they might be interested in according to their past history searches.

The article concludes with part of an essay from Richard Foreman: "As we are drained from our inner repertory of dense cultural inheritance we risk turning into "pancake people" spread wide and thin as we connect with the vast network of information accessed by the mere touch of a button." What that is pretty much saying is that people today are turning flat and dull because we can get information through the Internet in a heart beat. Cultures and people adapt to new technological advantages in society. Just because Carr and Foreman didn't grow up with the Internet, they feel they have to give their own two cents because it isn't their ideal world. While some of the supports were credible they weren't the most statistical, making this article an opinion and not factual.

Peer Review Hillger

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