Nicholas Carr has observed
a few things about the internet and its effect on the way we think:
You can't have too much information. Or can you? Writing in the Guardian, Andrew Orlowski examines the "glut of hazy information, the consequences of which we have barely begun to explore, that the internet has made endlessly available." He wonders whether the "aggregation of [online] information," which some see as "synonymous with wisdom," isn't actually eroding our ability to think critically ... Like me, you've probably sensed the same thing, in yourself and in others - the way the constant collection of information becomes an easy substitute for trying to achieve any kind of true understanding.
Internet as "infocrack," as it were. In a follow up entry
, Carr further comments:
The more we suck in information from the blogosphere or the web in general, the more we tune our minds to brief bursts of input. It becomes harder to muster the concentration required to read books or lengthy articles - or to follow the flow of dense or complex arguments in general. Haven't you, dear blog reader, noticed that, too?
As a matter of fact, I have. A few years ago, I blogged about Information Overload
Some time ago, I used to blog a lot more often than I do now. And more than that, I used to read a great deal of blogs, especially new blogs (or at least blogs that were new to me). Eventually this had the effect of inducing a sort of ADD in me. I consumed way too many things way too quickly and I became very judgemental and dismissive. There were so many blogs that I scanned (I couldn't actually read them, that would take too long for marginal gain) that this ADD began to spread across my life. I could no longer sit down and just read a book, even a novel.
Eventually, I recognized this, took a bit of a break from blogging, and attempted to correct, with some success.
Carr seems to place the blame firmly on the internet (and technology in general). I don't agree, and you can see why in the above paragraph - as soon as I realized what happened, I took steps to mitigate and reverse the effect. It's a matter of choice, as Loryn at growstate writes
Technology may change our intellectual environment, but doesn’t govern our behavior. We choose how we adapt. We choose our objectives and data sources and whether we challenge our assumptions. We choose on what to focus. We can choose.
Indeed. She does an impressive job demolishing Carr's argument as well... And yes, I'm aware that this post is made up almost entirely of pull-quotes, seemingly confirming Carr's argument. However, is there anything wrong with that?