Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Is Google Making Us Stupid?

What The Internet Is Doing To Our Brains

by Nicholas Carr

The Atlantic, July/August 2008

Over the past few years I’ve had an uncomfort­able sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, re-rnapping the neural cir­cuitry, reprogramming the memory. My mind isn’t going - so far as 1 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. Now my concentra­tion often starts to drift after two or three pages. .I get fidgety; lose the thread, begin looking for some­thing else to do. I feel as if I’m always dragging my wayward brain back to the text. The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle.

 I think I know what’s going on. For more than a decade now, I’ve been spending a lot of time online, searching and surfing and sometimes adding to the great databases of the internet. The web has been a godsend to me as a writer. Research that once required days in the stacks or periodical rooms of libraries can now be done in minutes. A few Google searches, some quick clicks on hyperlinks, and  I’ve got the tell-tale fact or pithy quote I was after.
Even when I’m not working, as likely as not to be foraging in the web’s Info-thickets, reading and writing e-mails, scanning headlines and blog posts, watching videos and listening to podcasts, or just tripping from link to link to link. (Unlike foot­notes, to which they’re sometimes likened, hyperlinks don’t merely point to related works; they propel you toward them.) For me, as for others, the internet is becoming a universal medium, the conduit for most of the information that flows through my eyes and ears and into my mind.

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