Thinking Through the Web

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Nicholas Carr, journalist and author of The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains talks about the interaction of the brain with technology, an issue he first raised in The Atlantic article, "Is Google Making Us Stupid?"


Nicholas Carr

Comments [22]

Andre Gares from Paris, France

I am from brazilian origin. I presentlly live in Paris, France. I am also a frenchman. Internet showed me books that I never imagined existed. With all due respect, I think the journalist needs to search more in the internet. Have you ever heard about Posidonius of Apamea... Read about it on Wikipedia... Learn different languages and read, is my advice.

Oh, and please support Mr. Obama for presidency, he is a great genius, and will make America a better country for all.

Nov. 06 2011 04:28 PM

A note on his mis-pronunciations of Proust and bodice, which I noted as well. The way he mis-pronounced them were indicative of someone who has seen these words in print, but not often heard them spoken. It indicates that he's a reader - so, at the least, he isn't a hypocrite :-).

Jun. 15 2010 01:38 PM

Steve from Hackney
i vill comply

Jun. 15 2010 12:33 PM
Steve from Hackney

@hjs11211 the more things change the more they stay the same. It used to be someone would come by with a "calling card" and drop it in your letter box or leave it with someone in your home to show they "called". If you didn't return and visit them on the day they received visitors well for shame!

People are the same only the landscape changes. Get used to it.

Jun. 15 2010 11:47 AM

Mike from mike
why didn't u call me back. I called i haven't heard back from u YET

Jun. 15 2010 11:10 AM
Mike from mike

@hjs11211 just because one has a cell phone doesn't mean you need to be available 24 hours a day. I wonder if people thought the same thing about traditional telephones (e.g. "I won't get a phone because people can come by and visit me and they don't need to talk to me far away".).

Today we are more mobile so if we relied on our old phones we would never talk to anyone! Use the cell phone like my mother. She carries it with her when driving for emergencies and turns it off when she reaches her destination.

Jun. 15 2010 11:01 AM

What about the possibility that our thinking will develop and evolve? I agree entirely with Mr. Carr's argument, but at 54 I have never been able to NOT be distracted-I can only focus on a single thing at a time (for example I cannot listen to music and read at the same time). But just because I cannot "multi--task" - I prefer to call it task-switching - doesn't mean that others (especially the young) cannot. I think what disturbs me more is that music, artistic pursuits, and crafts usually require a singular mental focus and dedication to the task at hand. It is this concentration ability that may be at risk with the sensory and mental overload of our digital existence.

Jun. 15 2010 10:54 AM

i won't get a cell fone. no one needs to reach me 24 hours a day!

Jun. 15 2010 10:47 AM
Stephanie from Queens

Schedule a debate between Shirkey, Carr and Rushkoff!

Jun. 15 2010 10:45 AM
Estelle from Austin

I disagree that technological distractions are threatening to erode culture, by distracting people who would otherwise be creating culture.
There are some people who can focus or motivate themselves enough to create a work of art, music, or fiction; and others who cannot. This has always been the case---one can always find a distraction. Carr's premise is that suddenly the internet/Blackberry/whatever will change someone's fundamental personality.

Jun. 15 2010 10:41 AM

I am going nuts with the expectation that I have read every email and will respond within hours. I can't take it any more! But I don't want to shut my email down, because I do want to use it when I want to use it.

Back in the 80's, my roommate refused to get an answering machine when everyone started getting them. He said, "I don't want the onus to fall to me to respond to someone. If they want to get a hold of me, that's their job." He was so right! Now, it has become MY job to get BACK to others because they've sent me every little thought they ever had.


Jun. 15 2010 10:41 AM
Henry from New York

It's always a Faustian bargain in that you gain something and lose something. The author says we're returning to a way of thinking that is in our nature and that the book forced us to adapt to thinking in a different way.

It stands to reason that when the book came out then we also lost the ability or the appreciation for shifting of attention.

Perhaps the people now called ADD are actually more natural and this author is one of those people who, in a few decades, will be in the sector of those who are unable or unwilling to rapidly shift their attention and be diagnosed with attention shifting defecit disorder or ASDD.

The authors own research reveals that we adapt to new environments and technologies, so instead of judging it as good or bad or smart or stupid why not recognize that it's just a change. He points out himself that hours of deep thought were not natural to humans and "evolved" with the map, the clock, the book and other technology. Perhaps the same thing is happening now and we are evolving to adapt to a new landscape like we are naturally prone to.

Jun. 15 2010 10:40 AM
CL from New York

More unsupported and anecdotal generalizations. Where's your solid, widely accepted data to support these claims???? And someone who doesn't know how to pronounce "Proust" or "bodice" has very little credibility in this particular argument. Total junk discussion. This is a complex subject way beyond Carr's capabilities. I suggest that listeners read Steven Pinker for an intelligent view on this subject.

Jun. 15 2010 10:40 AM
nancy cadet from fort greene bklyn

I don't know whether to feel sorry for this guest or to condemn him as a huckster. He has made so many obvious errors here, revealing how little he knows about subjects he's referring to.

Did he actually say that Proust is a 19th century novelist? And doesn't he know that some of the well-known 19th century (lengthy) novels were published in installments? Also, re. "Prowst" et al, his readers were always an elite, not the mass public....

My spouse just said that this speaker is the "David Brooks" of social media ---meaning that he pontificates on topics he knows little to nothing about.

How about inviting Steven Pinker, a cognitive psychologist, who can speak on these topics to an educated public?

Jun. 15 2010 10:40 AM

I work from home. The computer get's turned on the first thing in the morning and turned off the last thing at night. It's a constant distraction. I have begun to use the phone again because I get an issue resolved in 5 minutes instead of stretching
it out over hours/days via a string of emails.

Jun. 15 2010 10:34 AM
JT from LI

I read mostly science and technology articles online and one thing I've noticed is that the discussion of the articles has gotten worse over the few years. Many people post a statement based on the title or first couple of paragraphs and many responses include "if you read the article..."

Jun. 15 2010 10:34 AM
James from Brooklyn

How about commuting, where you can see this "stoopidity" in how people walk down the street?

Anyone who's been caught behind a slow-walking person who bounces haplessly from one side of the sidewalk to the other while glued to their iphone or blackberry knows what I'm talking about. Another common scene: the street-crosser who thinks looking at their smartphone makes them immune to traffic, and crosses streets against the signal without taking their eyes off their little screens.

Jun. 15 2010 10:32 AM
Brian from BK

So, the internets is more evolutionarily correct?

Jun. 15 2010 10:32 AM
Jurge from ny

A veraciousness for useless information, does not equal a necessary evil. Card catalogues provided a time consuming function. Google and YouTube is institutionalized time wasting.

Jun. 15 2010 10:31 AM
bob from hohokus, nj

Yes, we launched satellites into space and Al Gore killed himself creating the Intertubes so people can send videos of giraffes doing Soduku to their 3rd cousin. Congratulations twits!

Jun. 15 2010 10:28 AM

once computers can speak we won't need to learn to read

Jun. 15 2010 10:28 AM
jl from ny

is journalism dead?

Jun. 15 2010 10:27 AM

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