I stumbled upon this interesting article in the latest edition of The Atlantic, one of my favorite magazines.
It delves into a lot of stuff about how thinking has been changed by the ever expanding resources of the computer.
A pathologist who has long been on the faculty of the University of Michigan Medical School, Friedman elaborated on his comment in a telephone conversation with me. His thinking, he said, has taken on a “staccato” quality, reflecting the way he quickly scans short passages of text from many sources online. “I can’t read War and Peace anymore,” he admitted. “I’ve lost the ability to do that. Even a blog post of more than three or four paragraphs is too much to absorb. I skim it.”
It’s sad and true. I know if affects me. Short posts are far superior.
Thanks to the ubiquity of text on the Internet, not to mention the popularity of text-messaging on cell phones, we may well be reading more today than we did in the 1970s or 1980s, when television was our medium of choice. But it’s a different kind of reading, and behind it lies a different kind of thinking—perhaps even a new sense of the self.
A new e-mail message, for instance, may announce its arrival as we’re glancing over the latest headlines at a newspaper’s site. The result is to scatter our attention and diffuse our concentration.
To those of you lucky enough to own these impressive phones, do you find this to be true? Is it a good thing or a bad thing?
The article then focuses specifically on Google. One of the G’s founders, Sergey Brin, had this gem of a quote…
In a 2004 interview with Newsweek, Brin said, “Certainly if you had all the world’s information directly attached to your brain, or an artificial brain that was smarter than your brain, you’d be better off.”
That sounds a little scary.
The topic is fascinating to me, because it stunning how much my daily life has changed in just the last 10 years. Think back to when you/your family didn’t have a computer. Quite remarkable actually. I don’t think we truly realize how fast the change has been. We came of age in a historically unprecedented change.