Saturday, 19 March 2011

Does the Internet make us stupid?

After watching The Cost of Free at uni, I tried to find more series of The Virtual Revolution and came across Nicholas Carrs interview for the programme. Carr's view is that the Internet changed the way we think, impacted on our ability to concentrate and eventually made us stupid.

In 2008 Carr published an article called: "Is Google Making Us Stupid?: What the Internet is doing to our brains", where he claims that the Internet has detrimental effects on cognition and this diminishes our capacity for concentration and contemplation. This is the price we pay for the easy access to all sort of information all time is what Carr believes in.

Looking at myself, I have between 3 and 4 windows opened on my screen all the time, plus Skype. It seems I need distractions to be able to concentrate or at least to try to. However, I am still not convinced that the Internet changed our cognitive abilities or that now we can only think in 140 characters. A few years ago given to write the essay ‘Will the mouse ‘eat’ the book’, I argued that the computer mouse, referring to the Internet, wouldn't cause the extinction of the book or affect our concentration to the level we wouldn't be able to follow a narrative of a book. It may become more difficult, but it won't necessarily make us stupid. I still believe in this.

The appearance and the popularity of the radio and the TV didn’t suddenly turn us into dummies, but rather changed the way we consume information. If the broadcast media made us more inclined to look for easy access to information than investing time to read it in the print, the Internet and the social media are influencing on our habits to concentrate. Another angle is that similarly to the changes which the television brought and made the print more analytical, these days the Internet and the social media are making the TV more interactive.

I personally try to stay away from generalizing concepts of what good, bad, stupid and witty is and would say that we are passing through different stages and the new communication channels are becoming dominant. That's obvious and normal, and it doesn't mean we are incapable of using the old ones anymore.

Nicholas Carr’s point of view:


  1. Mmmm maybe the internet has made me smarter - whenever I don't know something I just google it... and of course whatever is written on google must be right!

  2. Ha! Absolutely agreed! And also, there are two good questions: "How do you know that? I googled it?" and "What's the time on the Internet?"

  3. Amazing how simple it can be to communicate with people and have them understand a certain topic, you made my day.

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  4. You guys should check out that new social network. It's about asking questions. It's interesting lol. I wonder what it'll do to the mindset of this blog. It's - it's a social network.