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The Internet Is Not Dumbing Us Down

In: Computers and Technology

Submitted By pamelamcarvalho
Words 2606
Pages 11
Pamela Carvalho

Flavia Tamayo
English 101
January 23rd 2016
The Internet is Not Dumbing Us Down

Nicholas Carr, the technology writer laments the rise of the internet in our lives in his article, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” published in 2008. Carr compares reading on the internet with the printed version and comes into the conclusion that reading through the internet is basically the shallower form of reading. Starting his article describing his problems by describing new technologies to be “chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplacing”.(Carr 236) Because of the internet, he is unable to keep his focus on reading any books or long articles. Therefore, affirming that the long term use of the internet is harmful for concentration and contemplation, consequently affecting people to become dumber and digitals fools.
Fortunately, that is not true. Internet is not making people dumb, it has rather changed the object of focus. Knowledge now is moving from one room to the hyperlink medium, from content to connections and from libraries to network. In other words , it is not wrong to say that we are in fact truly getting smarter with the increadible amount of informations available in the internet.
Nicholas Carr says that from the past few years, he has been feeling an uncomfortable sense that his way of thinking ­ when reading ­ has changed with the excess use of the internet, claiming: “My mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particle”(Carr 236) . The author affirms that his thoughts became scattered, he uses the following metaphor to

best express his feelings towards the issue “Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a jet ski”. (Carr 236) Carr implies that the internet has made a major negative change not only into his way of thinking, but also to several writers such as to Scott Karp and Bruce Friedman ­ both bloggers mentioned in his essay about facing the same desconnecting issues.
Fortunately, that concept is completelly misunderstood by Carr. No doubt that the internet has indeed changed our living and thinking style, but in a positive way.
The internet now, has taken the place of reading books and it is quite different in almost all aspects. Books provide us a very limited area of knowledge. For example, one book can only be written about one topic and to get a vast amount of knowledge we have to carry bundle of books to fully grasp the subject , which is quite non­practical and a burden to any person. On the other hand, internet can provide us unlimited knowledge from many different websites in much less time. Carr only grasps one side of the coin ­ that we are not as much into books as before and our concentration is now slower and less centered. But, he is not understanding the fact that books can only provide us limited knowledge and it is quite expensive to buy them nowadays. Books can take a long time to produce and publish, while to write anything online can be the complete opposite.
The internet has opened new learning perspectives in a more practical, convenient and less time consuming aspect to readers. Although, the author insists on stating that people are becoming less focused, the internet has actually sharpened other features of our mind. For example, video games and other screen media improve visual capabilities, increase attentional ability, reaction times, and the capacity to identify details. An other example that has changed people, is the use of

search engines that is causing people to become less adept at remembering things, but more skilled at remembering where to find things. By giving the ease with which information can be find these days, it only stands to reason that knowing where to look is becoming more important for people than actually knowing something. Not having to retain information in our brain may allow it to engage in more higher­order processing such as contemplation, critical thinking, and problem solving. It is easy to disapprove new technologies but it is quite complex to understand the benefits the internet can provide. Therefore, the internet is not making us dumb but it is helping people learn in a easier and quicker way. (Batson)
Making readers become different, and not dumber.
Nicholas Carr reminds the reader that our thinking pattern has changed as people spend most of their time online. He gives his own example, as he says “Once
I was a scuba driver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a jet ski”. (Carr 236) Carr tries to metaphorically explain the pattern of when people used to read long articles very peacefully and then moved on to the next article, but with the internet ­ people can only read one or two pages and jump to the next website’s article. This is because of the alowance of distraction and weak mental connections people allow themselves to have with technologies. It is in fact not the internet’s fault, but on how people choose to use it and the permission they give themselves on letting it take over their thinking abilities. Search engines are here to provide us quicker available informations, and it is up to the reader to decide to scan that page or go through it to the end. In other words, it is a matter of choice.
The fact that the internet has brought many benefits, is undeniable. People used to spend a huge amount of hours reading one topic offered in one book, but

with the rise of the internet they can now have vast amount of knowledge in less time. Everything has become easier in access, consequently giving us more opportunities to always learn something different; a new language, a new hobbie or even a new subject for example.
People can also learn in a more alternative way through visual access. It has been observed that when we learn visually it keeps our mind engaged for a longer time. Judy Willis, writer of the article “Research­Based Strategies to Ignite Student
Learning” affirms this statement by adding “ offering the information visually will set up a connection with the occipital lobes...This results in greater opportunity for future cues to prompt the brain access to the stored information”.(Willis) Proving that visual learning via YouTube or other sites are also very important to absorb informations, especially these days.
Nicholas Carr believes that our brains are not hard drives which can get overloaded, having no more room for extra knowledge. As he affirms, “We are missing the real danger, that human memory is not the same as the memory of a computer”. According to Carr, when we like someone we automatically find space to have personal knowledge about that person. It is also proven by science that memory association includes consideration and it happens when we have deep connection with someone. Carr, further says that the excessive use of internet and the rise of new technology can distract the memory of a person, which is concerning.
But the point is, when a person has smartphones why there is any need of remembering all those contacts numbers and informations when it is available in their phones nowadays? No doubt, it was a time when people used to do so ­ but that was the demand of the time. The style of people’s thinking and memorization

has completely changed. As this generation is evolving, having the internet has given people the abilities of both worlds ­ to have a “skimming internet” and “deep” style of reading. Readers now are much more deeper thinkers than in older generations. For this reason, Carr’s point of view is completely blinded that the internet has lessen people’s connections and affected their memory. That should be the excuse of those who have permitted themselves to be dumbed down by their inability to use the internet correctively, as Katherine Allen stated “lazy people who end up doing nothing and blame internet for such things”. (Allen)
Nicholas Carr has also discussed and given an example about the mechanical clock in his article ­ reflecting the benefits and harmful features of it on people. According to him because of the overuse of these new technologies, people became a sort of puppet. When the mechanical clock was introduced people’s brain began to work “like clockwise”. As this is the age of the software, we now think and work “like a computer”. This is all because of our brain’s facility and adaptation ability to adjust to any envrionment. As he stated, “In deciding when to eat, to work, to sleep, to rise, we stopped listening to our sense and started obeying the clock”. But it can also be seen that the technology helped people on making a more active and lively life. People learned to spend their life through proper timetable, which is not a negative thing. Before, they used to waste out time in useless activities but now because of technology, they have made time more precious and manageable.
People can find out old classmates, find any topic or any article from the internet in no time. Now, every information is in every person’s fingertips and they can get it without wasting any time searching in books. (Sparrow) ???

Carr also writes about the Page speech, which he delivered few years back about technology and Google. According to him, any kind of work on Google is like working on an artificial intelligence. He says Google is “really trying to build artificial intelligence and to do it on a large scale”. He also quoted Brin’s statement affirming such idea, “Certainly if you had all the world’s information directly attached to your brain, on an artificial brain that was smarter than your brain, you’d be better off.”
According to them the actual intelligence is ­ of our brain and Google or any technology ­ just an artificial intelligence. Google process faster because we surf faster on the web, otherwise our brain is faster than Google which is quite mistaken.
Large calculations can be done on the internet in no time. The Web is just like attending to a group of people. People listen to one man from one web and other from the second. So, through this process a person can get lots of informations in a short period of time and we discover new ways to enjoy learning through through it.
(Batson, Response to Nicholas Carr's "Is Google Making Us Stupid?") ?
Nicholas Carr states that the internet is an immensely commanding computing system which is also incorporating many other technologies .It has become the clock, the time, the newspaper, the TV and radio of people. Now technology is becoming an essential party of society’s communication industry.
Technology has changed people’s lifestyles completely or people can say that it has reprogrammed them positively and differently. Now, they don’t need to read newspaper for latest news, they don’t need to buy books from markets or take them from libraries ­ as everything is now available on the internet. These are basically the positive points which Carr describes in his article, but he unfortunately took them into a negative way.

Carr affirmed that all these things are to distract people’s attention from our culture and defuse our concentration, due to technologies enabling people to focus; They are living the life as they are running in a race, where people have a greed to gain more and more. But again this is totally misinterpreted. Technology is not taking readers away from an actual life but it is helping them to live a better life.
The main purpose of technology is to improve the living style of people, and not to make them dumber. Technology is not basically wise in itself rather it is we human and our thinking which make technology more important and necessary. As Prensky says, “I believe it is time for the emerging digitally wise among us, youth and adults alike, to embrace digital enhancement and to encourage others to do so.” (Prensky)
Nicholas Carr also puts some questions in his article related to the history, in which he shows how previous disparagers of technological develpments have managed. Carr plugs out questions related to Socrates’ apprehension about written language and the 15th­century Venetian editor Hieronymus Squarciafico’s worries.
As he says, “The arrival of Gutenberg’s printing press, in the 15 th century set off another round of teeth gnashing, the Italian humanist Hieronymus Squarciafico worried that the easy availability of books would lead to intellectual laziness, making men less studious and weakening their minds.” Carr admits that it is in their culture to study and read more because of the web, but he also regrets that technology is taking away the charms of printed media and books.
The author also adds, that it became very difficult to concentrate while reading on the internet. The reader is unable to make strong connections with articles, which is caused by weak connections ­ consequentely making it very difficult to memorize what was written, which was quite easier with books. Giving a reference of a

quotation from Richard Foreman’s essay to show his viewpoint, “I come from a tradition of western culture, in which the ideal (My ideal) was the complex, dense, and cathedral like structure of the highly educated and articulated personality­­ a man or woman who carried inside themselves a personally constructed and unique version of the entire heritage of the West.(But now) I see within density with a new kind of self—evolving under the pressure of information overload and the technology of the “instantly available.” It is no doubt that our habits have been changed with the passage of time and with technology, but now the Web has gathered all people’s considerations. Now people do not have the habit of reading books, but the habit of reading is still there, but in a different way. They still love to read, the medium is the only change, and it is a positive difference in all aspects.
To sum up, we can say that Nicholas Carr’s point of view regarding the internet and technology is misinterpreted. A person should look onto both sides of the coin and then consider a fact or conclusion. Technology is the need of an hour today. A man cannot live without technology like smartphones and internet. It is not making us dumb or stupid, rather we are learning new things on a daily basis. It is enhancing our knowledge and increasing our thinking with the quick interchange of ideas and helping us to live a better life. Google has the boundless memory bank which helps in solving our problems, and provides any kind of information by only one click. Therefore, it is fair to say that technology is indeed making us smarter ­ not dumber, but indeed diferent in a positive way.

Works Cited Allen, Katherine. ""Is Technology Making Us Dumb"." (2009).

Batson, Trent. "Response to Nicholas Carr's "Is Google Making Us Stupid?"." (2009).
—. "Response to Nicholas Carr's "Is the Google Making Us Stupid?"." (2009).
—. "Response to Nicholas Carr's"Is google Making Us Stupid?"." (2009).
Carr, Nicholas. "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" (2008). magazine. Prensky, Marc. "H.Sapiends digital:From digital immigrants and digital natives to digital wisdom,." innovate: Journel of onlinke education 5.3 (2009). Sparrow, Betsy, Jenny Liu and Daniel M.Wegner. ""Google effects on memory:Cognitive consequences of having information at our fingertips".
Science 333.6043 (2011): 776­778.
Willis, Judy. “Research­Based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning” (2006) Web.

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