It's not yet on the Web, but In the the July issue, The Atlantic has an exceptional and provocative article by Nick Carr, asking "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" It's a riff on Carr's book, The Big Switch (reviewed here), but covers new ground and has me worried. Carr writes:
The human brain is almost infinitely malleable...James Olds, a professor of neuroscience who directs the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study at George Mason University, says that even the adult mind "is very plastic...The brain...has the ability to reprogram itself on the fly, altering the way it functions."
As we use what the sociologist Daniel Bell has called our "intellectual technologies"--the tools that extend our mental rather than our physical capacities--we inevitably begin to take on the qualities of those technologies.
"Excellent!" you say, "Now I'll be able to retrieve an infinite amount of information, like Google." Maybe. Or maybe our ability to retain and process information will continue to dwindle. Remember books? Those were the things we read before e-mail, Web browsing, and Twitter came on the scene.
Speaking of Twitter, am I the only one who views it as further evidence of a soundbite culture that struggles even to think beyond 140-character blips? … Read more