Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Is Google Making Us Stupid?

The answer is yes, according to Atlantic Monthly writer Nicholas Carr. "Over the past few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory," he says. "My mind isn’t going—so far as I can tell—but it’s changing. I’m not thinking the way I used to think. I can feel it most strongly when I’m reading. Immersing myself in a book or a lengthy article used to be easy. My mind would get caught up in the narrative or the turns of the argument, and I’d spend hours strolling through long stretches of prose. That’s rarely the case anymore."

The culprit? The one medium we've all come to rely on relentlessly: the Internet. Carr makes the case, quite eloquently I might add, that our infatuation and obsession with this magical tool to learn, communicate and interact with one another is making us have short attention spans, rendering us unable to focus, much less read, for a considerable length of time.

I can definitely relate to his sentiments. I remember when I could easily read just about any book for hours on end, but now it has to be pretty much the most amazing book ever for me to have that kind of focus. Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri did the trick; I read that book front to cover in a matter of days. Before that, I had a considerable dry spell where nothing could hold my focus for more than fifteen minutes, save an episode of America's Next Top Model.

So what does this mean for the future of reading? Is the human race doomed to be distracted forever? Decide for yourself by reading Carr's full article at http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200807/google. (If you can focus long enough to do so, that is.)

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