Rhetorical Notes Livia

Elements of Rhetorical Situation
The purpose is to inform the audience that the Internet has negatively affected the way we learn in terms of laziness and creativity. The catalyst that prompted the author to write about this is his own assumption that the Internet, specifically Google, is making us stupid. This topic seems to matter to the author because it has affected the way he reads and writes in a "negative" way. This is an important topic because it explores a possible negative effect the Internet has on people when learning or simply functioning in day-to-day life.
Article: Inform of plausible negative affects the Internet has on people

Audience: Older generation (lived through "pre-Internet" and currently living in "Internet era"); could also include teenage generation (don't realize the negative affects the Internet is having on them)

Author: credentials; past

Genre: online magazine article

Context: style used is an explicit thesis that's easily recognizable; published in Boston, written in July 2008; context is different because you can link out at any time, which changes the way we read it

Catalyst: This topic came up to the writer, therefore indicating its importance, after he noticed himself have a hard time reading lengthy articles/papers and losing his concentration; important to the audience because it affects their learning capacity/ability

Main Claim (thesis): "Is Google Making Us Stupid?"; claim that the Internet is causing people to become lazy in reading and analyzing print, making us stupid for not broadening our learning horizon

Supports: University College London study; literary scholars' opinions/experiences; comparison to the invention of the clock and typewriter, also the increased productivity of the steam engine during the Industrial Revolution

Marshall McLuhan (media theorist): media are not just passive channels of information. They supply the stuff of thought, but they also shape the process of thought

  • Carr's connection: "My mind now expects the take in information the way the Net distributes it - in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.

Scott Karp (writes a blog about online media): "What if I do all my reading on the web not so much because the way I read has changed. I'm just seeking convenience, but because the way I THINK has changed?"

  • Carr provides no connection to the main claim

Bruce Friedman (blogs about the use of computers in medicine): "I now have almost totally lost the ability to read and absorb a longish article on the web or it print. I've lost the ability to do that. Even a blog post of more than three or four paragraphs is too much to absorb. I skim it."

  • Carr provides no explicit connection to the main claim, only that his fellow literary scholars experience troubles

University College London Study: found that users are not reading online the traditional sense (new forms of "reading" in which users skim and look for quick references to hint at what the article is about)

  • Internet use affects cognition

Maryanne Wolf (developmental psychology): the style of reading promoted by the Net may be weakening out capacity for the kind of deep reading. When we read online, we tend to become "mere decoders of information." Our ability to interpret text, to make the rich mental connections that form when we read deeply and without distraction, remains largely disengaged.

  • Although Carr may be take Wolf's quote out of context, it links to the main claim

Friedrich Nietzsche: bought a typewriter and soon after repeated use, a change in his style of writing was noticed by a friend of his (more uptight)
Lewis Mumford (historian and cultural critic): described how the clock "disassociated time form human events and helped create the belief in an independent world of mathematically measurable sequences."
Joseph Weizenbaum (MIT computer scientist): the widespread use of timekeeping instruments "remains an impoverished version of the older one, for it rests on a rejection of those direct experiences that formed the basis for, and indeed constituted, the old reality"

  • Carr's take - "In deciding when to eat, to work, to sleep, to rise, we stopped listening to our senses and started obeying the clock

Carr: The Internet, an immeasurably powerful computing system, is subsuming most of our other intellectual technologies. It's become our map and our clock, our printing press and our typewriters, our calculator and our telephone, and our radio and TV"
Never has a communications system played so many roles in our lives as the Internet does today

  • Reference to pop-up ads, magazines and newspapers who shorten their articles, introduce capsule summaries, and crowd their pages with easy-t-browse info-snippets;

Frederick Winslow Taylor: created a set of precise instructions for how each workers should work (strict regime) which caused productivity to soar.
The more pieces of information we can “access” and the faster we can extract their gist, the more productive we become as thinkers. (assumption)
The human brain is just an outdated computer that needs a faster processor and a bigger hard drive. (claim/assumption)
Google's ability to collect information about us and feed us ads based on that information

  • Carr states that it's in their economic interest to drive us to distraction

Socrates: "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."

  • Carr explains how Socrates isn't wrong but Socrates didn't acknowledge how the Internet would serve to spread information, spur fresh ideas, and expand human knowledge

Gutenberg's printing press: worry that the easy availability of books would lead to intellectual laziness, weakening their minds (unable to imagine the myriad blessings of the printing press)

  • Losing those quiet spaces will sacrifice something important not only in our selves but in our culture

Richard Foreman: I see within us all the replacement of complex inner density with a new kind of self - evolving under the pressure of information overload and the technology of the instantly available. As we are drained of our "inner repertory of dense cultural inheritance, we risk turning into 'pancake people' - spread wide and thin as we connect with that vast network of information accessed by the mere touch of a button."

  • Is a playwright the best support for Carr's claim?

Carr states (explicitly and implicitly) multiple times in his article the negative affects the Internet has on people, but he never proposes a possible solution to solve this so-called "issue". He's basing most (if not all) of his argument on words said by a wide variety of professionals of different backgrounds/fields of study. He seems to only have one legitimate support (evidence) and the rest are quotes that can easily be taken out of context if manipulated the right way. It seems far-fetched to say that the Internet is going to hinder people's ability to broaden their learning and cognitive ambition because the very purpose of it is suppose to enhance people's learning ability.

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