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Does Google Make Us Stupid?

by Faye Daffarn | 24.02.2010
Hmm….good question, and one posed as a magazine article by Nicholas Carr back in July 2008.  The gist of the article was the Internet’s effect on cognition,the ability to read and absorb content and not take on a staccato effect when looking at different material. And my favourite quote from it has to be…

Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski


Bruce Friedman, who blogs about the use of computers in medicine, said in agreement “I can’t read War and Peace anymore,” he admitted. “I’ve lost the ability to do that…”.  Well, I wouldn’t beat yourself up about that too much Bruce.  I never made it to the end either, with or without the Internet.

So why bring this up again?  Well, a recent, and fourth survey of, “Future of the Internet” , conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center, asked people to consider the future of the Internet-connected world.  Respondents were asked to consider a couple of statements on Google and its impact on intelligence.  76% of the experts agreed with the statement, “By 2020, people’s use of the Internet has enhanced human intelligence; as people are allowed unprecedented access to more information they become smarter and make better choices. Nicholas Carr was wrong: Google does not make us stupid.”

Doc Searls, co-author of “The Cluetrain Manifesto” responded to Nicholas’ diving reference with… 

Besides finding that a little hard to believe (I know Nick to be a deep diver, still), there is nothing about Google, or the Net, to keep anyone from diving — and to depths that were not reachable before the Net came along.

There are some interesting debates here worth a read, but personally, I think how can the Internet not make a positive influence in your life should you choose to let it.  It’s about being informed, helping you solve problems and be creative, amongst other things.  I live and breathe the online life, being my job and all, but I still read a lot of books, and read them from cover to cover.  I have to admit, when faced with sifting though tons of articles or news feeds…I will skim through it – that’s not a concentration problem, that efficiency (or at least I hope it is!)