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Is Google Making Us Stupid?


❶Proust and the Squid: Writer and activist Seth Finkelstein noted that predictably several critics would label Carr's argument as a Luddite one, [37] and he was not to be disappointed when one critic later maintained that Carr's "contrarian stance [was] slowly forcing him into a caricature of Luddism".

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We can expect … that the circuits woven by our use of the Net will be different from those woven by our reading of books and other printed works. Carr's essay was widely discussed in the media both critically and in passing. While English technology writer Bill Thompson observed that Carr's argument had "succeeded in provoking a wide-ranging debate", [2] Damon Darlin of The New York Times quipped that even though "[everyone] has been talking about [the] article in The Atlantic magazine", only "[s]ome subset of that group has actually read the 4,word article, by Nicholas Carr.

Many critics discussed the merits of Carr's essay at great length in forums set up formally for this purpose at online hubs such as the Britannica Blog and publisher John Brockman's online scientific magazine Edge , where the roster of names quickly took on the semblance of a Who's Who of the day's Internet critics.

Book critic Scott Esposito pointed out that Chinese characters are incorrectly described as ideograms in Carr's essay, an error that he believed undermined the essay's argument. Fact and Fantasy ; [34] DeFrancis classifies Chinese as a logosyllabic writing system. Writer and activist Seth Finkelstein noted that predictably several critics would label Carr's argument as a Luddite one, [37] and he was not to be disappointed when one critic later maintained that Carr's "contrarian stance [was] slowly forcing him into a caricature of Luddism".

Several prominent scientists working in the field of neuroscience supported Carr's argument as scientifically plausible. James Olds, a professor of computational neuroscience, who directs the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study at George Mason University , was quoted in Carr's essay for his expertise, and upon the essay's publication Olds wrote a letter to the editor of The Atlantic in which he reiterated that the brain was "very plastic" — referring to the changes that occur in the organization of the brain as a result of experience.

It was Olds' opinion that given the brain's plasticity it was "not such a long stretch to Carr's meme". Merzenich believed that there was "absolutely no question that our brains are engaged less directly and more shallowly in the synthesis of information, when we use research strategies that are all about 'efficiency', 'secondary and out-of-context referencing', and 'once over, lightly'". In the media , there were many testimonials and refutations given by journalists for the first part of Carr's argument regarding the capacity for concentration; treatments of the second part of Carr's argument regarding the capacity for contemplation, were, however, far rarer.

Columnist Leonard Pitts of The Miami Herald described his difficulty sitting down to read a book, in which he felt like he "was getting away with something, like when you slip out of the office to catch a matinee".

Also writing in The Atlantic , a year after Carr, the futurist Jamais Cascio argued that human cognition has always evolved to meet environmental challenges, and that those posed by the internet are no different. He described the 'skimming' referred to by Carr as a form of attention deficit caused by the immaturity of filter algorithms: Pew Research used them to form a tension-pair question survey that was distributed to noted academics.

Most responded in detail; concurring with the proposition "Carr was wrong: Google does not make us stupid". However, he thought both arguments relied too much on determinism: Carr in thinking that an over-reliance on internet tools will inevitably cause the brain to atrophy, and Cascio in thinking that getting smarter is the necessary outcome of the evolutionary pressures he describes. Firmly contesting Carr's argument, journalist John Battelle praised the virtues of the web: In critiquing the rise of Internet-based computing, the philosophical question of whether or not a society can control technological progress was raised.

At the online scientific magazine Edge , Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger argued that individual will was all that was necessary to maintain the cognitive capacity to read a book all the way through, and computer scientist and writer Jaron Lanier rebuked the idea that technological progress is an "autonomous process that will proceed in its chosen direction independently of us".

Economics were a more significant consideration in Carr's opinion because in a competitive marketplace the most efficient methods of providing an important resource will prevail. As technological advances shape society, an individual might be able to resist the effects but his lifestyle will "always be lonely and in the end futile"; despite a few holdouts, technology will nevertheless shape economics which, in turn, will shape society.

The selection of one particular quote in Carr's essay from pathologist Bruce Friedman, a member of the faculty of the University of Michigan Medical School , who commented on a developing difficulty reading books and long essays and specifically the novel War and Peace , was criticized for having a bias toward narrative literature. The quote failed to represent other types of literature, such as technical and scientific literature, which had, in contrast, become much more accessible and widely read with the advent of the Internet.

Daniel Hillis asserted that, although books "were created to serve a purpose", that "same purpose can often be served by better means". While Hillis considered the book to be "a fine and admirable device", he imagined that clay tablets and scrolls of papyrus , in their time, "had charms of their own". Several critics theorized about the effects of the shift from scarcity to abundance of written material in the media as a result of the technologies introduced by the Internet.

This shift was examined for its potential to lead individuals to a superficial comprehension of many subjects rather than a deep comprehension of just a few subjects. According to Shirky, an individual's ability to concentrate had been facilitated by the "relatively empty environment" which had ceased to exist when the wide availability of the web proliferated new media.

Although Shirky acknowledged that the unprecedented quantity of written material available on the web might occasion a sacrifice of the cultural importance of many works, he believed that the solution was "to help make the sacrifice worth it". As a result of the vast stores of information made accessible on the web, one hundred critics pointed to a decrease in the desire to recall certain types of information, indicating, they believed, a change in the process of recalling information, as well as the types of information that are recalled.

According to Ben Worthen, a Wall Street Journal business technology blogger, the growing importance placed on the ability to access information instead of the capacity to recall information straight from memory would, in the long term, change the type of job skills that companies who are hiring new employees would find valuable.

Due to an increased reliance on the Internet, Worthen speculated that before long "the guy who remembers every fact about a topic may not be as valuable as the guy who knows how to find all of these facts and many others". Drawing parallels with transactive memory — a process whereby people remember things in relationships and groups — Ratliff mused that perhaps the web was "like a spouse who is around all the time, with a particular knack for factual memory of all varieties".

In the essay, Carr introduces the discussion of the scientific support for the idea that the brain's neural circuitry can be rewired with an example in which philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche is said to have been influenced by technology. Kittler in his book Gramophone, Film, Typewriter , Nietzsche's writing style became more aphoristic after he started using a typewriter. Nietzsche began using a Malling-Hansen Writing Ball because of his failing eyesight which had disabled his ability to write by hand.

Kevin Kelly and Scott Esposito each offered alternate explanations for the apparent changes. In The New York Times it was reported that several scientists believed that it was certainly plausible that the brain's neural circuitry may be shaped differently by regular Internet usage compared with the reading of printed works.

Although there was a consensus in the scientific community about how it was possible for the brain's neural circuitry to change through experience, the potential effect of web technologies on the brain's neural circuitry was unknown.

Eden, director of the Center for the Study of Learning at Georgetown University , remarked that the question was whether or not the Internet changed the brain in a way that was beneficial to an individual. Olds cited the potential benefits of computer software that specifically targets learning disabilities , stating that among some neuroscientists there was a belief that neuroplasticity-based software was beneficial in improving receptive language disorders.

In Stanley Kubrick 's science fiction film A Space Odyssey , astronaut David Bowman slowly disassembles the mind of an artificial intelligence named HAL by sequentially unplugging its memory banks. Carr likened the emotions of despair expressed by HAL as its mind is disassembled to his own, at the time, cognitive difficulties in engaging with long texts. Brin was comparing Google's ambitions of building an artificial intelligence to HAL, while dismissing the possibility that a bug like the one that led HAL to murder the occupants of the fictional spacecraft Discovery One could occur in a Google-based artificial intelligence.

Carr concluded his essay with an explanation as to why he believed HAL was an appropriate metaphor for his essay's argument. He observed that HAL showed genuine emotion as his mind was disassembled while, throughout the film, the humans onboard the space station appeared to be automatons, thinking and acting as if they were following the steps of an algorithm.

Carr believed that the film's prophetic message was that as individuals increasingly rely on computers for an understanding of their world their intelligence may become more machinelike than human. The brain is very specialized in its circuitry and if you repeat mental tasks over and over it will strengthen certain neural circuits and ignore others. After the publication of Carr's essay, a developing view unfolded in the media as sociological and neurological studies surfaced that were relevant to determining the cognitive impact of regular Internet usage.

Challenges to Carr's argument were made frequently. As the two most outspoken detractors of electronic media, Carr and Birkerts were both appealed to by Kevin Kelly to each formulate a more precise definition of the faults they perceived regarding electronic media so that their beliefs could be scientifically verified. Scholars at University College London conducted a study titled "Information Behaviour of the Researcher of the Future", the results of which suggested that students' research habits tended towards skimming and scanning rather than in-depth reading.

In October , new insights into the effect of Internet usage on cognition were gleaned from the results, reported in a press release , [79] of a study conducted by UCLA 's Memory and Aging Research Center that had tested two groups of people between the ages of 55 and 76 years old; only one group of which were experienced web users.

While they had read books or performed assigned search tasks their brain activity had been monitored with functional MRI scans, which revealed that both reading and web search utilize the same language, reading, memory, and visual regions of the brain; however, it was discovered that those searching the web stimulated additional decision-making and complex reasoning regions of the brain, with a two-fold increase in these regions in experienced web users compared with inexperienced web users.

While one set of critics and bloggers used the UCLA study to dismiss the argument raised in Carr's essay, [84] [85] another set took a closer look at the conclusions that could be drawn from the study concerning the effects of Internet usage.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. UCLA researchers report that searching the Internet may help improve brain function". Online, R U Really Reading? The New York Times. Britannica Blog originally posted at Kelly's blog The Technium. Wisconsin Public Radio Podcast. Is technology rewiring our brains? The Atlantic 6. My Reply to Clay Shirky". It Frees Our Minds". Your Brain Online ". Archived from the original on The Oxford American Dictionary defines ideogram in this way: A Reply to Nick Carr".

Posit Science Web site. He takes a more skeptical approach to the Internet and its increased use as a medium for reading. Carr asserts that the Internet has changed the way that he reads and has shortened his attention span and capacity for concentration and contemplation. Personally, I tend towards skepticism when something evolves quickly without regard for the ripple effects. Early in his article, Carr describes the way the Internet has specifically affected his thought processes.

My mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: I completely agree that some deeper aspect of contemplation and thought is being lost in the Internet age. Although I have been acquainted with the Internet since a very young age, I feel a difference in the way that my brain operates that is parallel to the increased amount of time that I spend online. I find myself getting annoyed when a page takes more than 30 seconds to load. Objectively, this is odd because a couple of decades ago I probably would have thought that a page loading at that speed was fast and efficient.

It takes a more concerted effort for me to get through a novel or a more tedious academic text, and this was not always my experience. I think that the mental discipline we derive from deciphering and interpreting a text is incredibly important and we are beginning to lose that practice. I find myself starting a thought but instead of following it all the way through, I get distracted and go off on a tangent. I think this manifests itself in modern politics and ideologies as well.

They are tailored to produce more immediate and short term solutions to provide instant gratification for a public that demands instant results. Even as I was deciding which quotes I wanted to include in this response, I found myself cringing when an excerpt I liked was particularly long. I think that the notion of increased efficiency and conciseness is even more pervasive in modern society.

Although this has allowed for a lot of positive developments, I agree with Carr that this ideal can definitely be taken too far. The way that Carr describes the aims of Google, a company at the forefront of Internet development is a little disconcerting. Ambiguity is not an opening for insight but a bug to be fixed.

If these technologies are trying to anticipate and be in sync with our thoughts; they are essentially undermining the entire practice of thinking. Contemplation helps us to arrive at our own conclusions and shape a unique and irreplaceable worldview.

Is Google Making Us Stupid Summary and Analysis

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Nicholas Carr is the author of The Shallows and The Glass Cage: Automation and Us. He has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Wired.

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Is Google Making Us Stupid?, by Nicholas Carr Words | 6 Pages. The following essay will discuss how the ideas in “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” by Nicholas Carr, is expressed in the futuristic novel Feed, by M.T Anderson. The first of the many ideas conveyed in Carr’s article is that the brain is malleable like plastic. Is Google Making Us Stupid Summary and Analysis Is Google making us stupid summary and analysis takes a look at the works of Nicholas Carr. Is Google making .

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Carr feels as if he losing the ability to control his own mind, not that he has lost it, but that it is changing. He believes the cause of this is the fact that the Internet has become a "universal medium for him" (). Is Google Making Us Stupid? What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains (alternatively Is Google Making Us Stoopid?) is a magazine article by technology writer Nicholas G. Carr, and is highly critical of the Internet's effect on cognition. It was published in the July/August edition of The Atlantic magazine as a six-page cover story.