Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Is Google Making Us Stupid?

I found this interesting article which is line with what we were discussing a couple classes ago about whether or not having access to information at our finger tips is a good thing. Because of the ease to find information and the way it is presented on the internet (short paragraphs, hyperlinks) it appears we cannot concentrate in the same way we used to. The article discusses how it is becoming difficult to immerse ourselves in a book and make the deep connections we once were able to make. Instead new media tools such as blogs and Google present information in a way that summarizes existing content or is presented in a non-linear fashion. As a result our brains our shifting in how we read content online as appose to in print. If an article is more than a couple paragraphs we become overwhelmed and begin to skim it instead of making the deep mental connections.

Interestingly enough as I was reading the article which is long in itself, I found myself doing exactly that. Skimming it to get the main idea. Most likely you'll read this whole blog post to get a summary of the article and then click over and glance at the actual article. A common experience on the web.

3 comments:

P. Clark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
P. Clark said...

This technology is not making us stupid. In fact, it would be stupid of us to not take advantage of our information shift.

The more access to information (whether it be overwhelmed with crowded noise) the better off a truth emerges. It was always difficult for a person to fully indulge themselves into reading a book and allowing the third-eye connections to correspond with the material.

Google and blogs are those access channels like books that will enhance our perceptual thought process. If one reads to search and skim for the main point, he or she is only embarking on the first positive fundamental step of reading. If he or she is interested in the main point, they will most likely search out for a more thorough read; which they have a greater opportunity for more access to that information than the days of book hierarchy.

Experience is what you make of it.

Lance Strate said...

This is very much in keeping with the critique of electronic media, especially television, that Neil Postman and many others have come out with over the years. And it seems to be very much on target. Picking up a book and reading requires us to find a quiet space, sit still, and concentrate for a sustained period of time. This very much goes against the grain, which is why we have to force it on children by making them go to school for many years. And while there was some hope that digital media, being primarily text-based in its early years, would counteract the biases of television, it appears that the telegraphic nature of the technology, the increasing prevalence of audiovisual formats, and the irresistible urge to click on the mouse, all work against what's needed for the literate concept of intelligence to prevail (not to deny that literate intelligence, including mathematical intelligence, scientific intelligence, etc., represent only one type of intelligence, and not to deny as well that people have always had the option to skim).