The Internet is Making Us (Blank)

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Adam Gopnik, staff writer for The New Yorker, discusses how books like Dr. Elias Aboujaoude's Virtually You and Nicolas Carr's The Shallows have been tackling the subject of the Internet and how it changes the way we behave and think.


Adam Gopnik

Comments [13]

David Behrman from Houston

I agree with Mr. Strauss ... technology is making it more difficult for governments to lie.

And if access to information is essential to the success of a democracy, then technology will (despite its potential missuses) continue to nurture democratic movements.

Technology will always bear within it the potential for abuse, but to the extent it fosters the spread of knowledge, its promise will always outweigh its faults.

Mar. 01 2011 02:45 PM
zac z from california

I read Mr Gopnik's recent New Yorker article on the Internet and toast. It was a pleasure to read. I am quite caught up in the topic itself, and I wanted to share a few comments and questions that popped into my mind while reading.

First off, I understand the author's need to simplify and condense the material of 20+ books into a short magazine article. That said, I think his trinity (Never Better Was) actually impairs the development of any critical or dialectical concept of the internet. I would say it goes without saying, except Mr. Gopnik didn't say it: the most compelling writing about technology is not simply celebratory, dismissive, or aloof; it is critical and thoughtful. I was happy to see a Walter Benjamin reference in the article, as he is a thinker capable of doing two things at once. In the case of his articles on emerging technologies: mourning AND celebrating; historicizing AND imagining.

I wish Mr. Gopnik would have tempered his dismissal of the ' cartoon historians' with some good history. To begin with, he could have mentioned the ur-source of the "Gutenberg revolution" argument, E. Eisenstein's writings on the printing revolution in Europe. Eisenstein's arguments are compelling, and it is her work that made the argument for the causal connection between the Reformation and the Scientific Revolution. But her position is controversial, and has been attacked recently by Adrian Johns (in some public exchanges and in his The Nature of the Book). Two other helpful thinkers of communications technologies are Roger Chartier (who, it should be noted, views the codex--not the printing press, pace Eisenstein--as the truly revolutionary technological innovation) and Carolyn Marvin's When Old Technologies Were New. Please excuse me for being so heavy-handed with the canon. It is not that I am against straw-men arguments, but I do believe that dismantling Clay Shirky's (or Cory Doctorow's, or whoever's) flimsy understanding of a historical argument is not the same thing as dismantling the strong version of that argument.

One further comment: Mr. Gopnik make a "room of one's own" pun early on ("a loaf of their own" I believe it was...); when Powers pulls out the "wise men", wouldn't it have made more sense to talk about how private space has been historically gendered as masculine and aristocratic for those philosophers? Perhaps it would have been appropriate to again return to Wolff's well-known plea for a room of her own, this time addressing directly the gender-charged nature of certain technologies.

I know my comments are essentially asking Mr. Gopnik do to things he wasn't interested in doing in his piece, and, as I mentioned before, I did enjoy the things he DID do. Take these words, please, as comments from an interested and engaged reader.

Mar. 01 2011 02:40 PM
DTorres from Nathan Strauss Projects

The internet has made it
harder for governments to lie.

Because the images and audio,
of what is taking place on one
side of the world, can be transmitted
by anyone with a cellphone, to all the
corners of the globe within seconds.

The internet has made news reporters
of anyone with a cellphone and access
to the internet.

It means that the person living in
a hut can connect to someone living
on Park Avenue within seconds,
as long as they have access to the

That is a radical change.

When we used to have to wait for
news reporters to tell us the news.

Imagine the internet during the bombing
of Japan, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, American Settlers slaughtering the
American Indian,
during the Nazi Holocaust.

If we want to do something about it or not, is up to us, but we can't say we didn't know.
The internet makes information
accessible to everyone with an
internet connection instantaneously,
to our own personal screen.

Mar. 01 2011 01:53 PM
Amy from Manhattan

I dunno about that Ocarina everybody playing something different in the same ocarina-type tone? That could just be chaos. On the other hand, if people can actually play together, that might be cool. I guess that would require being able to hear only the people listening to the other Ocarina players, not all the people playing.

Mar. 01 2011 11:26 AM

"... Be careful and realize every key stroke is or can be recorded and used to good or evil ends...
And hope this leads to the great middle ground
of reason, fairness and Justice ..."

Always remember:
"Guns don't kill people. People kill people."

Mar. 01 2011 11:25 AM
Laura from UWS

Correction: TV has damaged attention span.

1. Interruptions for commercials
2. Infant-level of frame changes (at a rate of blink, blink, blink)

Not to mention how TV has prejudiced kids against old people, against 'boring old' teachers vs. whiz bang special effects.

Please follow up.

Mar. 01 2011 11:23 AM
Jeff Pappas from Ct.

The internet is leveling the Information playing field, but at the same time Disinformation is more wide spread.......
Be careful and realize every key stroke is or can be recorded and used to good or evil ends...
And hope this leads to the great middle ground
of reason, fairness and Justice .

Mar. 01 2011 10:58 AM
art525 from Park Slope

The internet is awful because it causes people to waste their time writing dumb meaningless comments to talk shows. Like this one.

Mar. 01 2011 10:58 AM
bernadette from upper west side

It depends on the user. Some people gain a false sense of confidence because they 'read' something on the internet. Yes, there is some great info available; but you've gotta know how to shop Brian. :-)

Mar. 01 2011 10:55 AM

The Internet is Making Us ...

it's now so easy for anyone to have NSA sex. is monogamy dead?
ie that upstate GOP former congressdude

Mar. 01 2011 10:44 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

.. making us BUSY. Now, even shut-ins can be active :)

So, being a shut-in, for whatever reason, no longer cuts you off from the world. You can "speak" to people all over the world for next to nothing. You can contribute your 2-cents for less than 2 cents. So overall, it is a good thing. But you are also exposed to the vast amount of ignorance, stupidity, and lying that remains part of the human condition as well.

Mar. 01 2011 10:43 AM
geo from astoria


too much information...too quickly and too easily.. it can become an addiction that can bring forth anxiety.

Mar. 01 2011 10:18 AM

The Internet is Making Us ...
even more RUDE!

The Internet is Making (some of )Us ...

Mar. 01 2011 09:29 AM

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