Support Analysis R.F.


  • The internet is altering the way that people (even experienced/well practiced readers) read.
    • A shift away from deep, thoughtful reading, towards more superficial skimming.
  • Internet is effecting peoples Cognition (the way we think/process information) in general.
    • We allow the internet to do much of our thinking for us, and to also answer most of our questions rather than deeply thinking about them, like generations past (although it seems every time there’s a “leap forward” in information dispersal (written word, printing press, computer) this is a fear.


  • “We are not only what we read,” says Maryanne Wolf, a developmental psychologist at Tufts University and the author of Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain. “We are how we read.” Wolf worries that the style of reading promoted by the Net, a style that puts “efficiency” and “immediacy” above all else…”
  • When the mechanical clock arrived, people began thinking of their brains as operating “like clockwork.” Today, in the age of software, we have come to think of them as operating “like computers.” But the changes, neuroscience tells us, go much deeper than metaphor. Thanks to our brain’s plasticity, the adaptation occurs also at a biological level.
    • The Internet, an immeasurably powerful computing system, is subsuming most of our other intellectual technologies. It’s becoming our map and our clock, our printing press and our typewriter, our calculator and our telephone, and our radio and TV.
  • Socrates bemoaned the development of writing. He 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, in the words of one of the dialogue’s characters, “cease to exercise their memory and become forgetful.”
    • The Italian humanist Hieronimo Squarciafico worried that the easy availability of books would lead to intellectual laziness, making men “less studious” and weakening their minds.
  • I see within us all (myself included) 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.”
  • That’s the essence of Kubrick’s dark prophecy: as we come to rely on computers to mediate our understanding of the world, it is our own intelligence that flattens into artificial intelligence.

Support Category:

  • Verification- citing a study done by Psychologist Maryanne Wolf.
  • Illustration- citing Nietzsche and Kittler, who theorize the equipment used effects cognition.
  • Illustration- citing Olds to illustrate the plasticity of the brain. And how the internet providing all these different utilities for life (map, weather, clock, word processor, calculator, and media source) is effecting our ability to think for ourselves.
  • Illustration- He uses Socrates & Squarciafico to illustrate that this fear didn’t start with the internet. People seem to have always feared new methods for spreading/accessing information would fundamentally alter the way that people think. (Is this really bad?)
  • Evidence- he admits that he sees the change in himself. A shift from complex & deep to superficial.
  • Illustration: using Kubrick’s prophesy in 2001: A Space Odyssey to show that we are slowly becoming the “Artificial Intelligence” dependent on consulting the “true” intelligence, the internet.

Support Purpose:

  • Building Credibility- shows there are psychological studies to back up his claims.
  • Building Credibility- Nietzsche is a very well known writer who's prose changed when his means of writing changed.
  • Building Credibility/ Activating Reasoning- Olds illustrates the plasticity of the brain as well as the way we perceive intelligence & thought.
  • Activating Reasoning- Showing that people have feared that new means for spreading information would dilute or change the way people perceived said info has been around for thousands of years. Then asking you, based on this, to ponder whether this fear is then justified. Since the written word and the printing press turned out to be generally beneficial advancements in time.
  • Building Credibility- To show that he’s not just a hypocrite, he sees the same changes in himself.
  • Activating Reasoning: Using one of 2001’s themes to challenge us to really think about where we could be headed.
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