Is Google Making Us Stupid?

For me, as for others, the Net is becoming a universal medium, the conduit for most of the information that flows through my eyes and ears and into my mind. The advantages of having immediate access to such an incredibly rich store of information are many, and they’ve been widely described and duly applauded. “The perfect recall of silicon memory,” Wired’s Clive Thompson has written, “can be an enormous boon to thinking.” But that boon comes at a price. As the media theorist Marshall McLuhan pointed out in the 1960s, media are not just passive channels of information. They supply the stuff of thought, but they also shape the process of thought. And what the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation. My mind now expects to 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. >>Full Story

Thoughts// This profound piece on how search—and more specifically Google—has transformed our daily lives, can be summed up in this vivid quote: Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.

The author examines how our mind is increasingly dependent on Google and how this addiction is effecting our brains and inhibiting cognition. Besides transforming how we read, technology is deeply embedded in our daily lives—it’s our map, clock, printing press, calculator and radio and TV—and is forcing other media to conform to its norms. Consider:

  1. Television programs add text crawls and pop-up ads

  2. Magazines and newspapers shorten their articles, introduce capsule summaries, and crowd their pages with easy-to-browse info-snippets

  3. Newspapers devote devote pages of space for shorter article abstracts

While I am not sure I entirely agree with the premise of this article, this is nevertheless a very interesting read on how technology will continue to impact and revolutionize the consumption of media for years to come.

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