Thursday, June 12, 2008

Nicholas Carr on the internet's effect on reading and thinking

His article is titled "Is Google making us stupid?" [via a strong recommendation from Guru]. Here's an excerpt:

Thanks to the ubiquity of text on the Internet, not to mention the popularity of text-messaging on cell phones, we may well be reading more today than we did in the 1970s or 1980s, when television was our medium of choice. But it’s a different kind of reading, and behind it lies a different kind of thinking—perhaps even a new sense of the self. “We are not only what we read,” says Maryanne Wolf, a developmental psychologist at Tufts University 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 promoted 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. When we read online, she says, we tend to become “mere decoders of information.” Our ability to interpret text, to make the rich mental connections that form when we read deeply and without distraction, remains largely disengaged.

Related reading: Seth Finkelstein's response using the "two cultures" framework to put some of Carr's stuff in perspective.


  1. gaddeswarup said...

    "While earlier, the internet "had a lot of breadth, but not a lot of depth," Rushdie said, now there are major resources available for serious scholars, who earlier might have had to travel to several research libraries to gain access to rare historical documents."
    From Amardeep singh post on Salman Rushdie posted by Guru

  2. Blue said...

    Here I was expecting an article about txtspk and lolcats!

    I don't think the internet has affected my enjoyment of a really good book -- not yet. But I love having all teh informations at my fingertips!