Better Living Through Technology

Monday, September 16, 2013

Clive Thompson, author of the new book Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better tells us why he thinks technology isn't making us dumber -- it's actually improving our  memory, cognition, and more.


Clive Thompson

Comments [15]

christian Barrett from Brooklyn NY

Not only Anthony Edwards as Goose/Dr. Green, but Slider/Dr. John Taglieri, aka Rick Rossovich appeared in both Top Gun, and E.R.

"Mother Goose! you wussy!"

Sep. 16 2013 12:13 PM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

William from Manhattan,

Vannevar Bush imagined some of the actual future.

Thanks for the link. I'll download it and read it later.

Sep. 16 2013 11:53 AM
fuva from harlemworld

...cognitive effects OF dopamine and instantaneity addiction...

Sep. 16 2013 11:53 AM
PJ from NJ

Little wonder why Americans are the biggest consumers of psych meds per capita on the world. I can't believe the caller's group of friends are so stressed out by texts and emails, I'm guessing of the non work variety. If that's so a "problem" then you are in bad shape. So many people in this world have real problems that it sickens me to hear these things brought up as real issues. But this is what u get as programming from a group of upper middle class producers, with their heads in the clouds. Who never had to struggle thier whole lives. Pleez

Sep. 16 2013 11:51 AM
The Truth from Becky

I am 100% online for everything in my life that is allowed BUT, I still have my library card to check out real books for casual reading... often.

Sep. 16 2013 11:49 AM
John A

Not being able to remember without the Internet is what I heard. Not an improvement in memory.
Happened: walk in the woods with my niece. She wanted to recall the name of a movie. Phonecall 2000 miles to friend in Kansas for the answer.

Sep. 16 2013 11:48 AM

Well...Using paid advertising be the only method for web development has sort of been a mistake. From my perspective, half the content is either advertising or celebrity gossip...It's all click-bait.

I would patronize a publicly funded cyberspace that did without all of the advertising...It might be perceived as too academic but I could use a rest.

Sep. 16 2013 11:47 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Yes, there are clever people doing clever things on the Internet...But these are not the majority. And how clever are they in getting informed/ perpetuating balanced information about the critical issues, and then fostering productive discourse, and then exerting socioeconomic pressure? And we won't even get into the cognitive effects on dopamine and instantaneity addiction...

Sounds like dude is both missing critical points and not saying anything new.

Sep. 16 2013 11:46 AM
The Truth from Becky

I like that answer, "can't google everything, must have some facts in your head" nice.

Sep. 16 2013 11:46 AM
William from Manhattan

Worth reading 68 years later - "As We May Think" by FDR's Director of Office of Scientific Research and Development

Sep. 16 2013 11:46 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

For me, the greatest technological innovation alongside the internet was the development of video games and virtual reality in general.

But the internet is neither making us dumber nor smarter, but certainly has put a world of people and information literally at our fingertips. You can instantly find information about almost anything, and can find people to talk to and argue with. It's fabulous.

But equally fabulous are video games where you can interact with virtual "people" or if you play online, with other players.

The point is, you are never alone and can always be in contact with others for as long as your mind and body are capable.

Sep. 16 2013 11:43 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

Link to the book not working folks....

Sep. 16 2013 11:40 AM

Improving our memory? I would have to see that proven. Easy access to online info - google, GPS, smartphones - have reduced the need to actually remember far as I can see.

This may in time free up grey matter to move on to other cognitive tasks but I myself am feeling a little more like the ancient Greeks who eschewed reading and preferred to MEMORIZE books.

By becoming dependent on the 'net and other electronic media, what happens when we loose those tools for, say, a year?

How long until the fact that an answer can't be googled is perceived as meaning there is no answer?

Sep. 16 2013 11:36 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Even talking on a cellphone while driving results in Distracted Driving, and a cause of accidents.

The July tragedy, a van driving in West New York, in New Jersey, jumped the curb and killed a child because the driver was talking on his cellphone while operating his van.

Sep. 16 2013 11:21 AM

1.) The human mind is simply not capable of holding more than one thought at a time. Yet, today...
email, Twitter, instant messaging, talking on the phone, listening to the radio, writing, etc., etc.-- it is not uncommon for people to juggle ALL of these at the same time.

Two cases in this vein:
- I was appalled when I learned that the WNYC hosts look at computer screens to follow comments and email _while_ interviewing guests and speaking with callers. It would be interesting to compare pre- and post- Internet archived shows to see if any discernible decline in quality can be correlated.

- The comment pages create a paradoxical situation: If people post /during/ a segment, /both/ their writing /as well as/ their listening will suffer. (It is impossible to give one's full concentration to both simultaneously; first sentence of this post.)

Constant stimulation. Constant diversion. Distraction. Ads everywhere. Endless links; /web/ indeed; labyrinth...
These ever-encroaching tech innovations/gadgetry (that are often little more than /gimmickry/) have led to decreased attention spans and patience, qualities that are essential to any kind of serious learning or thinking that is more than superficial and shallow. Is there anyone who has not witnessed or experienced examples of this?

2.) The Internet and related technologies has created virtually unlimited access-- even for children at younger ages than ever-- to all manner of content that makes the Playboy of yesteryear look _wholesome_ by comparison. At the same time, we have seen reports of increased incidence--also even among youth of younger ages than ever-- of not only promiscuity in general but also, specifically, such acts as fellatio and even buggery-- acts that have always been instinctively repugnant to the vast majority of females and, in the case of the latter at least, brutal, gruesome and a major public health scourge. Can there be any question that the two phenomena are closely related? (In addition to the numerous other problems that the glut of smut has created.)
As if the "smartphone" (phone, computer, VCR, Walkman, and much more in your pocket) weren't enough, now we have "Google Glass". Combine that with the unprecedented levels of spying--both government as well as corporate-- that every person is now subjected-to and Orwell's 1984 has never seemed so real. Where will it all end?

Sep. 16 2013 10:39 AM

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