Where the internet is taking our minds

In this weeks reading, Nicolas Carr’s article offers an interesting position on the relationship between internet and the mind. He argues that due to the influence of Google on the web and search engine techniques that stream users through multiple links and information, it has become more difficult to become a ‘deep’ reader in the sense that existed in the past. WIth books and printed items in the past, a reader would become far more immersed in the subject than what occurs over the internet today. When reading on the internet, the user is bombarded by continuous advertisements, information from other websites, and the posts are generally shorter and more technical. I believe that Carr is correct in arguing, using the previous examples of  Socrates and Nietzsche whom discussed the human mind and its relation to changing forms of communication in relation to the changes in their period. The examples allow the reader to link their own experience with the internet and I know personally, when I surf the web my concentration level on any particular topic is far less than if I were to pick a book.

The question is whether this is detrimental to society or whether it is an opportunity? As Carr points out, the wealth of knowledge harnessed and open to the public is a major benefit, however Carr on the other hand argues that this amount of information makes it difficult for individuals to really get involved in any particular topic. Carr quotes Foreman stating that “we risk turning into “pancake people””, the idea that basically, we will have a vast area of awareness, but out depth of knowledge of subjects will not go deeper than the thickness of a pancake. I agree that this is a common occurrence amongst the general populace, as the internet may be used more as a tool of pleasure than productivity. However, for those who use the internet in their line of work for research and information gathering, there has never been a more opportunistic time for any individual to really dive into a subject matter to the extent existent on the internet. The concept that the mind is compared to a mechanical machine is bothering and this assumption leaves out creativity, which may sometimes lead to a much more productive answer than a systematical process that is perceived as the best method. Overall, Carr points out an interesting problem with the internet and I happen to agree within reason that individuals thought processes are strongly affected by the way information is presented over the internet. With all major paradigm shifts in history, we could expect nothing less than a fundamental change in the way we live our lives.

3 thoughts on “Where the internet is taking our minds

  1. I definitely relate to Carr’s concerns about the way the internet changes the way we think. I am 100% appreciate the great things that the internet allows me to do, but at the same time I lament the loss of my ability to focus. I cannot focus on a task or sit down and ready ANYTHING the way I could when I was younger; even my attention span for things on the internet has become shorter – I don’t watch videos because it takes too long, if a page takes more than 10 seconds to load, I move on. Many of my friends find the same thing, and many of us have an interesting reaction – which is to try to limit the time we spend on our computers. It feels like once we are on the computer it is too easy to go from page to page while the hours slip away.

  2. I agree that in general as a society we are in a process of evolving how we access and approach information through the Internet, but I don’t necessary agree or see it as a bad thing. Rather than spending lots of time on researching for sources, the Internet, along with various search tools, allow us to access many sources quickly and choose which one’s are most pertinent for our own use. Long articles, reviews, opinions are still being written and commented on, meaning there is still an audience for it, just people are being more picky of what they want to read because they have that option. As for the idea that our depth of knowledge gets reduced I think given the access to so many different ideas and information, one has the potential to actually expand their viewpoints as they consume more information, possibly allowing for a better overview of affairs as a result.

  3. What this issue really boils down to is a compromise between preserving conventional research and analytical skills and appreciating tech-dependent efficiency. I agree with Paul’s comment that the wide availability of information online allows users to expand their breadth of knowledge and form better educated opinions on global issues. Google-dependency might be more of an intellectual asset than we think.