Carr – Is Google Making Us Stupid?

Is Google Making Us Stupid?
What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains

by Nicholas Carr

[Carr, Nicholas. “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” in The Atlantic Monthly; Jul/Aug 2008; 302, 1; pg. 56-63]

Points & Quotes:

  • “For me, as for others, the Net is becoming a universal medium, the conduit for most of the information that flows through my eyes and ears and into my mind.” (57)
  • “As the media theorist Marshall McLuhan pointed out in the 1960s, media are not just passive chan­nels of information. They supply the stuff of thought, but they also shape the process of thought . And what the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation.” (57)
  • “The Internet, an immeasurably powerful computing system, is subsuming most of our other intellectual technologies. It’s becoming our map and our clock, our printing press and our typewriter, our calculator and our telephone, and our radio and TV. (59)
  • “Never has a communications system played so many roles in our lives—or exerted such broad influence over our thoughts—as the Internet does today. Yet, for all that ‘s been written about the Net, there ‘s been little consider­ation of how, exactly, it’s reprogramming us. The Net’s intellectual ethic remains obscure.” (59)
  • “Google … has declared that its mission is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” It seeks to develop “the perfect search engine,” which it defines as something that “under­ stands exactly what you mean and gives you back exactly what you want.” In Google’s view, information is a kind of commodity, a utilitarian resource that can be mined and processed with industrial efficiency.” (60)
  • “The last thing these companies want is to encourage leisurely reading or slow, concentrated thought. It’s in their eco­nomic interest to drive us to distraction.” (61)
Annotation Summary for: Carr – Is Google Making Us Stupid?
 
Page 1, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “What the Internet is doing to our brains”

Page 1, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: ” NICHOLAS CARR”

Page 1, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “when I’m not working, I’m as likely as not to be foraging in the Web’s info-thickets-reading and writing e-mails, scanning headlines and blog posts, watching videos and listening to podcasts , or just tripping from link to link to link. (Unlike footnotes, to which they’re sometimes likened, hyperlinks don’t merely point to related works; they propel you toward them.)”

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: ” Over the past few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry,reprogramming the memory”

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “For me, as for others, the Net is becoming a universal medium, the conduit for most of the information that flows through my eyes and ears and into my mind.”

Page 2, Underline (Blue):
Content: “For me, as for others, the Net is becoming a universal medium, the conduit for most of the information that flows through my eyes and ears and into my mind.”

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: ” As the media theorist Marshall McLuhan pointed out in the 1960s, media are not just passive chan­nels ofinformation . They supply the stuff of thought, but they also shape the process of thought . And what the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation”

Page 2, Underline (Blue):
Content: ” As the media theorist Marshall McLuhan pointed out in the 1960s, media are not just passive chan­nels ofinformation . They supply the stuff of thought, but they also shape the process of thought . And what the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation”

Page 2, Underline (Red):
Content: “Marshall McLuhan”

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “I think I know what’s going on. For more than a decade now, I’ve been spending a lot of time online, searching and surfing and sometimes adding to the great databases of the Internet. “

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “Even”

Page 3, Note (Orange):
Old people?

Page 3, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “I’m not the only one. When I mention my troubles with reading to friends and acquaintances-literary most of them-many types,say they ‘re having similar experi­ences. “

Page 3, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “going for quick wins. It almost seems that they go online to avoid reading in the traditional sense.”

Page 3, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “”We are not only what we read,” says Maryanne psychologist at Tufts University Wolf, a developmental and the author of Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain. “We are how we read.” Wolf worries that the style of reading promot ed by the Net, a style that puts “efficiency” and “immediacy” above all else, may be weakening our capacity for the kind of deep reading that emerged when an earlier technology , the printing press , made long and complex works of prose commonplace.”

Page 3, Underline (Red):
Content: “Maryanne Wolf,”

Page 3, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “we sti ll awai t the long-term neurological and psychological experi ­ments that will provide a definitive picture of how Inter­ net use affects cognition. But a recently publish ed study of online research habits, conducted by scholars from Univers ity College London, suggests that we may well be in the midst of a sea change in the way we read and think.”

Page 3, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “They found that people using the sites exhib ited “a form of skimming activity,” hopping from one source to another and rarely returning to any source they’d already visited. They typi- • cally read no mor e than one or two pages of an article or book before they would “bounce” out to another site .”

Page 3, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “The authors of the study report:”

Page 3, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “It is clear that users are not reading online in the tradi­ tional sense; indeed there are signs that new forms of “reading” are emerging as users “power browse” hori­ zontally through titles, contents pages and abstracts”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: ” In a paper published in 1936, the British mathematician Alan Turing proved that a digital computer, which at the time existed only as a theoretical machine , could be programmed to perform the function of any other information-processing device. And that ‘swhat we’re seeing today. The Int ernet , an immeasurably powerful computing system, is subsuming most of our other intellectual technologies. It’s becoming our map and our clock, our printing press and our typewriter, our calculator and our telephone, and our radio and 1V. “

Page 4, Underline (Red):
Content: “Alan Turing”

Page 4, Underline (Blue):
Content: “The Int ernet , an immeasurably powerful computing system, is subsuming most of our other intellectual technologies. It’s becoming our map and our clock, our printing press and our typewriter, our calculator and our telephone, and our radio and 1V.”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “As people’s minds become attuned to the crazy quilt of Internet media, traditional media have to adapt to the audience’s new expectations.”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “As we use what the sociologist Daniel Bell has called our “intellectual technologies”-the tools that extend ourmental rather than our physical capacities-we inevitably begin to take on the qualities of those technologies.”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “In Technics and Civilization, the historian and cultural critic Lewis Mumford described how the clock “disassociated time from human events and helped create the beliefin an inde­ pendent world of mathematically measurable sequences.” The “abstract framework of divided time ” became “the point of reference for both action and thought .””

Page 4, Underline (Red):
Content: “Technics and Civilization,”

Page 4, Underline (Red):
Content: “Lewis Mumford”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “Old media have littl e choice but to play by the new-media rules.”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “Never has a communications system played so many roles in our lives-or our thoughts-as exerted such broad influence over the Internet does today. Yet, for all that ‘sbeen written about the Net, there ‘s been little consider­ ation of how, exactly, it’s reprogramming us. The Net’s intellectual ethic remains obscure. “

Page 4, Underline (Blue):
Content: “Never has a communications system played so many roles in our lives-or our thoughts-as exerted such broad influence over the Internet does today. Yet, for all that ‘sbeen written about the Net, there ‘s been little consider­ ation of how, exactly, it’s reprogramming us. The Net’s intellectual ethic remains obscure. “

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “Joseph Weizenbaum observed in his 1976 book, Com­puter Power and Human Reason: From Judgment to Cal­culation, th e conception of the world that emerged from the widespread use of timekeeping instruments “remains an impoverished version of the older one, for it rests on a when to eat, to work, to sleep, to rise, we stopped listening for, and indeed rejection of those direct experiences that formed the basis constituted, the old reality.” In deciding to our senses and started obeying the clock. “

Page 4, Underline (Red):
Content: “Joseph Weizenbaum”

Page 4, Underline (Red):
Content: “Com­ puter Power and Human Reason:”

Page 5, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “Google”

Page 5, Underline (Blue):
Content: “Google”

Page 5, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “has declared that its mission is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” It seeks to develop “the perfect search engine,” which it defines as something that “under­ stands exactly what you mean and gives you back exactly what you want.” In Google’s view, information is a kind of commodity, a utilitarian resourc e that can be mined and processed with industrial efficiency.”

Page 5, Underline (Blue):
Content: “seeks to develop “the perfect search engine,” which it defines as something that “under­ stands exactly what you mean and gives you back exactly what you want.””

Page 5, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: ” Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the gifted young men who founded Google while pursuing doctoral degrees in computer science at Stanford, speak”

Page 5, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “frequently of their desire to tum their search engine into an artificial intelligence, a HAL-like machine that might be connected directly to our brains.”

Page 5, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: ” their easy assumption that we’d all “be better off”if our brains were supplemented, or even replaced, by an artificial intelligenc e is uns ettling . It suggests a belief that int elligence is the output of a mechanical process, a series of discrete steps that can be isolated, measured, and “

Page 6, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “optimized. In Google’s world, the world we enter when we go online, there’s little place for the fuzziness of contem­plation. Ambiguity is not an opening for insight but a bug to be fixed. The human brain is just an outdated computer that needs a faster processor and a bigger hard drive. “

Page 6, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “hyperactive, data-stoked minds will spring a golden age of intellectual discovery and universal wisdom.”

Page 6, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: ” Then again ,the Net isn’t the alphabet , and although it may replace the printing press, it produces something altogether differ­ ent. The kind of deep reading that a sequence of printed pages promotes is valuable not just for the knowledge we acquire from the author’s words but for the intellectual vibrations those words set off within our own minds.”

Page 6, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “The last thing these companies want is to encourage leisurely reading or slow, concentrated thought. It’s in their eco­ nomic interest to drive us to distraction.”

Page 6, Underline (Blue):
Content: “The last thing these companies want is to encourage leisurely reading or slow, concentrated thought. It’s in their eco­nomic interest to drive us to distraction.”

Page 6, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “Just as there’s a ten­”

Page 6, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “al progress, there ‘s a countertendency to expect the worst of every new tool or machine. In Plato’s Phaedrus, Socrates bemoaned the development of writing. He feared that, as people came to rely on the written word as a substitute for the knowledge they used to carry inside their heads, they would , in the words of one of the dialogue ‘s characters, “cease to exercise their memory and become forgetful. “And because they would be able to “receive a quantity of information without proper instruction,” they would “be thought very knowledgeable when they are for the most part quite ignorant .” They would be “filled with the con­ ceit of wisdom instead of real wisdom.” Socrates wasn ‘t wrong-the new technology did often have the effects he feared-but he was shortsighted. He couldn’t foresee the many ways that writing and reading would serve to spread information , spur fresh ideas , and expand human knowledge (if not wisdom). “

Page 6, Underline (Red):
Content: ” Plato’s Phaedrus,”

Page 6, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “The arrival of Gutenberg’s printing press , in the 15thcentury, set off another round of teeth gnashing. The Italian humanist Hieronimo Squarciafico worried that the easy availability of books would lead to intellectual laziness, making men “less studious” and weakening their minds. “

Page 6, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: ” as we cometo rely on computers to mediate our understanding of the world, it is our own intelligence that flattens into artificial intelligence. ,”

Page 6, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: ” you should be skeptical of my skepticism. Per­haps those who dismiss critics of the Internet as Lud­ dites or nostalgists will be proved correct, and from our “

 
 
 

One thought on “Carr – Is Google Making Us Stupid?”

  1. Hi! I like your whole site 🙂 I’m a Sociology student and I’m very impressed by how dedicated you are to anthropology. I’d love to know more about you and what you’re doing now!

    Like

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