W2, #7: “IS GOOGLE MAKING US STUPID?”

Disclaimer:

Please DO NOT dare to do this — heck, don’t even dare to consider doing this — if you cannot comfortably read more than a single paragraph at a time…while maintaining 100% attention, especially when it has no direct effect on your grade. (mmmm)

Heck, don’t even consider doing it if you can’t comfortably read more than 2-3 sentences at a time (with pretty pictures added for colorful effect) in one sitting without drinking an extra can of Monster to stay awake so you can remember what you just read. Perhaps this puts you in the category of anyone under the age of 30. (wink)

Simply walk away and pretend that you never, never, never-ever saw this prompt. (wink, again)

Set-Up: During the middle of the summer, The Atlantic magazine published a July/Aug 2008 article by Nicholas Carr entitled, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”. It received a great deal of public reaction from all directions. Needless to say, if one puts the words “us”, “Google” and “stupid” in the same headline… people are going to notice. And have opinions. Sure, they may have to “Google” the words to figure out what it all means, but you get the point. (Insert silly Teacher Guy laugh track here)

Challenge: If you’ve already made it this far, perhaps you are ready, young Luke Skywalker. If so, your challenge is simple:

  • Click the article link up above.
  • Read the 5 page article — the entire article — from beginning to end. (no skimming — wink)
  • Identify 5 quotations that grabbed your attention — all from different pages — that you think would make someone curious.
  • Type in (or copy/paste) the quotations into your reply. Presto-bingo, you’re done!
  • P.S. If — and this only goes out to the young Luke Skywalker’s out there – you’re so inclined, you are free to write a comment about why any/all of the quotations grabbed your attention.

Length: Whatever it takes. You’ll know when you’re done, Luke. I’ll naively assume that those who need to ask most likely aren’t going to do it since they’re busy watching the entire 1st season of “The Hills” all week; they are frankly too, too, too, too busy to bother with reading that silly “Googley-Google” article, like yeah, totally. (wink)

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20 responses to “W2, #7: “IS GOOGLE MAKING US STUPID?”

  1. “Immersing myself in a book or a lengthy article used to be easy. My mind would get caught up in the narrative or the turns of the argument, and I’d spend hours strolling through long stretches of prose. That’s rarely the case anymore. Now my concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages.” –page one. I’ve heard this said many times by not only older and middle aged people, but also by teens.

    “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.” VERY interesting thought…

    “Sometime in 1882, Friedrich Nietzsche bought a typewriter—a Malling-Hansen Writing Ball, to be precise. His vision was failing, and keeping his eyes focused on a page had become exhausting and painful, often bringing on crushing headaches. He had been forced to curtail his writing, and he feared that he would soon have to give it up. The typewriter rescued him, at least for a time. Once he had mastered touch-typing, he was able to write with his eyes closed, using only the tips of his fingers. Words could once again flow from his mind to the page.
    But the machine had a subtler effect on his work. One of Nietzsche’s friends, a composer, noticed a change in the style of his writing. His already terse prose had become even tighter, more telegraphic.”–again, VERY interesting. his writing style changed? what?!

    “The Internet promises to have particularly far-reaching effects on cognition. 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’s what we’re seeing today. 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.”–creepily true…

    “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.”–very true…

    “Where does it end? Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the gifted young men who founded Google while pursuing doctoral degrees in computer science at Stanford, speak frequently of their desire to turn their search engine into an artificial intelligence, a HAL-like machine that might be connected directly to our brains. “The ultimate search engine is something as smart as people—or smarter,” Page said in a speech a few years back. “For us, working on search is a way to work on artificial intelligence.” In a 2004 interview with Newsweek, Brin said, “Certainly if you had all the world’s information directly attached to your brain, or an artificial brain that was smarter than your brain, you’d be better off.” Last year, Page told a convention of scientists that Google is “really trying to build artificial intelligence and to do it on a large scale.”–now THIS was perhaps scariest of all…

    ***

    Mr. Long: Love, love, love that someone has already read the article (and all of it, too — he smiles) — in a matter of hours since it was put up on the blog — and offered an outstanding set of quotations. Several of them had been highlighted in my own copy, but I was pleased to see some new ones, too. Thanks! And congrats on proving the article wrong (by reading it from beginning to end!).

  2. The quotes that I found the most interesting were:

    “In deciding when to eat, to work, to sleep, to rise, we stopped listening to our senses and started obeying the clock.”

    “Information is a kind of commodity, a utilitarian resource that can be mined and processed with industrial efficiency.”

    “Certainly if you had all the world’s information directly attached to your brain, or an artificial brain that was smarter than your brain, you’d be better off.”

    “Ambiguity is not an opening for insight but a bug to be fixed.”

    “As we come to rely on computers to mediate our understanding of the world, it is our own intelligence that flattens into artificial intelligence.”

    There were several quotes that I liked, but I thought these were the most alarming. Before reading this article, I was set to defend Google with my life because it’s such a convenient way of gathering information as opposed to having to plow through several different books and compiling what you find useful. But post-article, I was actually afraid to look at the seemingly friendly face in my toolbar that had helped me through so many trying times.

    After some thought, I decided that Google was a lot like Dr. Octopus’s arms in Spider Man; they were developed as a tool to help man, but when Doc Ock let them take control of him, they became a harmful weapon. If we as independent thinkers rely too much on Google, it can very easily turn our minds into flighty, capricious, and maybe even useless tools, only able to search and copy. But just as easily can Google be our friend by telling us the word that’s just on the tip of our tongue, serving as a substitute when our history book was left home, or by finding the pithy quote we were looking for to end a thought on an intelligent note.

    As New York University professor Clay Shirky notes, “Most of the arguments made against the printing press were correct, even prescient.” But, again, the doomsayers were unable to imagine the myriad blessings that the printed word would deliver.

    ***

    Mr. Long: Now we’re beginning to see what happens when a student lives up to the title of “Honors” student; impressive from beginning to end due to your graceful use of one of our vocab words (tipping the English teacher hat to that, my friend). Hopefully your classmates will seize the opportunity along the way to offer an equally complex/diverse answer, one that not only ‘answers’ the question…but takes us to a new place all together.

    Example: Mentioning Clay Shirky was spot-on; well done. His current work is causing significant waves of conversation in professional settings the world round right now. Trust me — you guys are one of the few high school student using him as an example; that means you are already in rare air. And intriguing knock on Spider Man’s door, too. Quite clever covering that much ground in your response.

    Most importantly, I appreciate how you start talking about how you were prepared to “defend” Google, but you remained open enough to challenge even your own assumptions. The goal is not to suggest that Google is or is not right. Truth be told, change is change…and each of us is free to agree with, wonder about, or challenge the article. What is rare, however, is that we admit publicly that our initial opinions can morph over time when we truly dig into an idea. Ultimately, our goal as thinkers/writers is to be able to be agile on many debate fronts. You proved that in spades tonight!

  3. 1) “Dave, my mind is going,” HAL says, forlornly. “I can feel it. I can feel it.” I’m not sure why this quote stood out. Maybe because the thought of my mind slowly drifting away losing all thoughts and memories is a terrifying one.

    2) “Research that once required days in the stacks or periodical rooms of libraries can now be done in minutes.” This stood out because my old coach used to complain about this fact a lot. How he had to go to a library and work for hours just to find what we can find within seconds. He said that this was making us lazy.

    3)“Even 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.” This stood out because it reminded me of well me. When I’m not at practice or doing homework I’m online watching videos, listening to music, or reading random stories.

    4) “Media are not just passive channels of information. They supply the stuff of thought, but they also shape the process of thought” This quote reminded me of how much people blame the media these days for things that are people’s personal decisions, such as teen pregnancy and eating disorders.

    5) “The brain,” according to Olds, “has the ability to reprogram itself on the fly, altering the way it functions.” I just found this fact really interesting.

    Um I have a few more quotes if thats ok.

    6) “The ultimate search engine is something as smart as people—or smarter,” Page said in a speech a few years back. “For us, working on search is a way to work on artificial intelligence.” This just made me think about how in what science fiction I’ve read and watched creating artificial intelligence almost always turns on the creator.

    7) “As we are drained of our “inner repertory of dense cultural inheritance,” Foreman concluded, we risk turning into “‘pancake people’—spread wide and thin as we connect with that vast network of information accessed by the mere touch of a button.” This quote stood out because that also sounds like a very unpleasant future. With out having individual people and personalities we would lose all of our different cultures and all of the art and literature would suddenly become uniform and uninteresting.

    P.S. I liked Star Wars references, I’m a big fan.

    ***

    Mr. Long: An outstanding set of quotations, again with several that feel new to me…but definitely grab my attention. Thank you. Glad the S.W. references caught your eye, made you smile. I think you’ll hear a bit more on that front throughout the year, so prepare to add a few examples of your own! And thanks for going beyond the 5 quotations. The “pancake” one was a brilliant piece to add, regardless of what one thinks about new media/tech.

  4. 1. “My mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles.”

    This quote explains what the author was talking about earlier, when he was saying that he lost interest in things easily, and did not read as much as he used to. It also make sense when later in the article, it is stated that the adult brain can constantly reprogram itself in new patterns. It seems as the human mind is trying to program itself to be like the Internet.

    2. “It almost seems that they go online to avoid reading in the traditional sense.”

    Overall in the world, I think this is true. The internet is far more accessible and “cool” than reading a book. The quote also relates to the quote later when it says, “people may be reading more than ever”, but not in the traditional, often intelligence-boosting level. However, the Internet does not offer the feel of the pages of a book, nor the smell, which has always been my favorite part.

    3. “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.”

    This was an interesting thought. Even though the author fears that we might be losing our ability to truly “think” and comprehend, he says that we might be reading more than ever before.

    4. “The human brain is just an outdated computer that needs a faster processor and a bigger hard drive.”

    The human brain has often been called one of the greatest “machines” in the world, in the past, or most likely, in the future. The computer does not have to do all the tasks that the brain does, like thinking, processing information, and reminding the body to do all the basic functions of living, like breathing, especially for such a long period of time without rest. The brain is essentially alive while the computer is not. And yet the brain needs to be even bigger to compare to the computer in terms of “great machines”?

    5. “The arrival of Gutenberg’s printing press, in the 15th century, set off another round of teeth gnashing. AND In Plato’s Phaedrus, Socrates bemoaned the development of writing.”

    This was interesting, because each advancement of technology has been thought of as making man “dumber” than before. So does that mean that man was the smartest back when there were not books or written language? But if man is “dumber”, than how is it that all of this amazing technology is still being produced, while back in the day, they did not even have running water? Or is man still just as smart, but not apt to communicate it as well as they used to?

    ***

    Mr. Long: Another fantastic list. Love how you used the reaction portion to tie together loose ends, rather than keeping each quotation in a vacuum. This is a tremendous strategy in all future writings you’ll do this year (and beyond). Also really appreciate the rhetorical and reflective nature of your musings. You ask great Q’s…allowing all of us to wonder along with you. This is especially key given the complexity/depth of the topic (“Google”, et al).

    My favorite point of yours (amongst many) was the question regarding whether we were “smarter” before tools/technology. I suspect its not a literal/linear progression, but a combo of relative perception and exponential points of view over time (biased by what we find familiar at any given time).

  5. The quotes that stuck out to me the most:

    “The advantages of having immediate access to such an incredibly rich store of information are many, and they’ve been widely described and duly applauded. “The perfect recall of silicon memory,” Wired’s Clive Thompson has written, “can be an enormous boon to thinking.” But that boon comes at a price. 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.”

    “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.”

    “In the past the man has been first,” he declared; “in the future the system must be first.”

    “Still, their easy assumption that we’d all “be better off” if our brains were supplemented, or even replaced, by an artificial intelligence is unsettling. It suggests a belief that intelligence is the output of a mechanical process, a series of discrete steps that can be isolated, measured, and 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.”

    “That’s the essence of Kubrick’s dark prophecy: as we come to rely on computers to mediate our understanding of the world, it is our own intelligence that flattens into artificial intelligence.”

    ***

    Mr. Long: Really intrigued by the “man” vs “system quotation above. Compelling idea; full of debate potential, too. Thanks for a outstanding list.

    Even though you didn’t technically have to do this, do you have a quick reflection for any/all of these to help us appreciate why they caught your attention or how they shaped your reaction to the article?

  6. “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.” We are no longer allowed to think for ourselves. The computer cuts our information, chews it, puts it in a blender, and then into an IV so that we don’t have to waste time masticating with our brains. Our opinions can never be original again. Someone else has always thought of it first, crushing any feeling of discovery and hindering our want to learn more.

    “‘pancake people’—spread wide and thin as we connect with that vast network of information accessed by the mere touch of a button.” We take multiple classes in school, spreading ourselves thin over work and deciding what is worth effort. The same principle applies to the internet. Nothing is fast enough and we never have enough time.

    “I’ve lost the ability to do that. Even a blog post of more than three or four paragraphs is too much to absorb. I skim it.” This is funny, because you told us last week in class that without the ability to power-skim, we wouldn’t survive. Even teachers are now using the quick and effective approach, knowing that we won’t apply energy to things unless they are quick and easy, i.e. skimming.

    “the adult mind “is very plastic… altering the way it functions.” We constantly change, change is unavoidable, we can’t decide to stay the same. What we decide is what we want to affect those changes.

    “we stopped listening to our senses and started obeying the clock.”
    “In the past the man has been first,” he declared; “in the future the system must be first.” These last two fit perfectly together. The system for efficiency is the most important of all things. Eating when we’re hungry, working when we can be helpful, learning when we are open to it. The super speed of the world today has taken away many choices. This also applies to “The Veldt”. The systems once again come first, the people not being able to choose whether they are negatively affected or not.

    Since when did humans become less important, speed become the goal, and efficiency of the machine is better than understanding of the machine. For reading this, I will more closely consider what I let impact how I read and analyze, and also how I do so. I wrote in my essay today that “The Veldt” is chilling. This is a fact of life, current day article; possessing a more subtle, but very similar reaction. I hope to see more ‘pondering and philosophical’ blog entries, I like being forced to watch myself and change what I never knew was wrong in the first place.

    ***

    Mr. Long: If balloons and candy could be given out — via the Internet, of course (sort of like a Facebook widget) — you’d earn a lifetime worth for bringing up “The Veldt”. I was — ’cause I’m funny that way — crossing my fingers that one of you would take that leap. You deserve a parade! Well done.

    While I am only getting to know you as a student, as a thinker, as a writer…I am tremendously impressed by this response globally and the specific points you bring up. If this is indicative of your instincts and potential, we will all be well served by your contributions this year. As you requested above re: wanting “to see more ‘pondering’ and ‘philosophical’ blog entries”, I believe we will be guaranteed just that…if you and your classmates keep submitting responses like this!

    Interesting point about taking multiple classes and “spreading ourselves thin” vs. allowing ourselves truly learn. I wonder if this is truly different due to “Google” (et al) or if this has been a factor found in all formal education early on as we build a foundation before we begin to specialize in college (and beyond). I wonder, also, what a school would ‘look’ like that allowed you to ‘deep dive’ and concentrate on single ideas at a time.

    You might want to consider looking at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, CO — at the foot of Pikes Peak on a beautiful campus setting — in the next year before the college admissions process really heats up for you/your classmates. It is one of the truly amazing small liberal arts colleges found anywhere in the world. Instead of taking 4-6 classes at a time, you take all classes in a ‘block’ meaning that you take on class at a time…allowing you to truly embrace each subject. This seems to work quite well for students who seek that level of commitment. Worth a look.

  7. Well, the one quote that really said something to me was the last one:

    “Because technology is basically an integral part of our lives we never really think twice whenever we turn our computer on or use our cell phones to talk to someone. Just to provide an example, a computer in the 1960’s, which weighed about 4 tons, took up a whole room, and did about 4000 computations per second, would’ve cost us about $1,000,000 in today’s value of currency. Yet a simple cell phone of the 20th century weighs about 4-5 ounces, costs about $100 on average, and has a microchip the size of your finger which can make about 1 billion computations per second. (I got this information from a tv show, just an FYI)”

    This is a remarkable example of just how fast humanity is advancing. But the irony in all of this is that as we strive to become more and more advanced, we seem to look more like machines and the machines that we build alternatively begin to look more like us. So who’s going to end up being the rulers of the future society? Machines? Or the people that build them?

    ***

    Mr. Long While I technically was hoping to see 5 quotations (as the directions laid out for you/everyone), I’m feeling pretty psyched about that last set of questions you posed. So, you get off the hook tonight because you raised the bar at the end…showing that what matters most is intelligent discourse/reflection. Nice comparison: humans to machines; machines to humans.

    For you — or anyone else — consider looking up a book, The Singularity Is Here. Some wild considerations of the future, how machine intelligence is advancing exponentially, and what it all means for we humans one way or another. The author (prof. at MIT, too) is an amazing thinker, someone that will quite literally blow your mind and also seem really logical all at once.

  8. “Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.” ~This about sums up the article, the way knowledge has become so easily attainable has changed how we read and think. However, this quote first caught my attention because I liked the analogy :).

    ~I chose these next two quotes because I had never thought about the ideas, that reading is not natural and that the way we learn to read can affect our entire thought process and brain. This helps explain how cultures and people can vary so greatly…

    “Reading, explains Wolf, is not an instinctive skill for human beings. It’s not etched into our genes the way speech is. We have to teach our minds how to translate the symbolic characters we see into the language we understand”

    “Experiments demonstrate that readers of ideograms, such as the Chinese, develop a mental circuitry for reading that is very different from the circuitry found in those of us whose written language employs an alphabet. The variations extend across many regions of the brain, including those that govern such essential cognitive functions as memory and the interpretation of visual and auditory stimuli.”

    “Certainly if you had all the world’s information directly attached to your brain, or an artificial brain that was smarter than your brain, you’d be better off.” ~This quote is just kind of creepy; it makes technology seem very overwhelming and makes it seem that humanity can easily be replaced by machines without losing anything of value

    “…we risk turning into “‘pancake people’—spread wide and thin as we connect with that vast network of information accessed by the mere touch of a button.” ~ This quote also deserves a smiley face 🙂 because I have never heard any one use ‘pancake people’ in a serious sense. But, I can see where Foreman gets this idea from. Today we are expected to divert our attention between so much media and advertising that we are spread thin thus giving people the tendency to skim rather than put forth deep and intellectual thought.

    Over all I would not say that Google has made us stupid. It certainly has changed the way we conduct research and the manner in which we read articles and magazines. The way it affects our reading explains why most teenagers say “200 pages! But I hate reading”, telling themselves they will not like reading that many consecutive pages before they even start a book. I would not completely disagree if someone said that search engines like Google have made us stupid because they have made our society so distracted and unable to concentrate that our capricious state does seem quite ignorant.

    ***

    Mr. Long: Funny you brought up that analogy early on. I almost — just this close! — used that line as the title of the blog post, but went with the Google reference to be more direct. Thanks for making sure everyone noticed it!!!

    Great expression of your insights (and a hint at the way your mind looks at the world, as well as your heart): “I chose these next two quotes because I had never thought about the ideas, that reading is not natural and that the way we learn to read can affect our entire thought process and brain. This helps explain how cultures and people can vary so greatly…”

    LOL re: “pancake people” being used in an intellectual manner. I agree. And that makes me think of a famous (at least then) philosophical/logic ‘story’ from the 1880’s (yup, that far back!) called Flatland. Here is a bit of background via that link:

    “The story is about a two-dimensional world referred to as Flatland. The unnamed narrator, a humble square (the social caste of gentlemen and professionals), guides us through some of the implications of life in two dimensions. The Square has a dream about a visit to a one-dimensional world (Lineland), and attempts to convince the realm’s ignorant monarch of a second dimension, but finds that it is essentially impossible to make him see outside of his eternally straight line.

    “The narrator is then visited by a three-dimensional sphere, which he cannot comprehend until he sees Spaceland for himself. This sphere, who remains nameless, visits Flatland at the turn of each millennium to introduce a new apostle to the idea of a third dimension in the hopes of eventually educating the population of Flatland of the existence of Spaceland. From the safety of Spaceland, they are able to observe the leaders of Flatland secretly acknowledging the existence of the sphere and prescribing the silencing of anyone found preaching the truth of Spaceland and the third dimension. After this proclamation is made, many witnesses are massacred or imprisoned (according to caste).

    “After the Square’s mind is opened to new dimensions, he tries to convince the Sphere of the theoretical possibility of the existence of a fourth (and fifth, and sixth …) spatial dimension. Offended by this presumption and incapable of comprehending other dimensions, the Sphere returns his student to Flatland in disgrace.”

    Ah, the SAT vocab quiz fairy has delivered something wonderful again: “I would not completely disagree if someone said that search engines like Google have made us stupid because they have made our society so distracted and unable to concentrate that our capricious state does seem quite ignorant.” Bravo!

  9. “My mind would get caught up in the narrative or the turns of the argument, and I’d spend hours strolling through long stretches of prose.”

    -The diction of this quote caught my attention more than anything. “Strolling through long stretches of prose”, that line in itself truly lets me visualize the deep reading that once characterized how the author, and many others, used to read. I though I felt the same way about books, that I can get caught up in a great storyline and not even notice the passage of time, but this article has made me question if that is how I still feel when reading.

    “They supply the stuff of thought, but they also shape the process of thought.”

    – (By the way, the [they] is the media in this quote) The way something is delivered to your brain, can change your whole perspective on it. This is a little random, but when I think of this quote, the show The Mole comes to my mind. The film editors can control who you think the mole is in this show by not showing us a crucial clip of person x failing a challenge in a way that would be considered suspicious, or by showing an interview with person y voicing their opinions, which then shape your own, or by concentrating on different people with the same opinion. If you hear the same thought five times, even if you don’t agree with it, you begin to think in your mind “Wait… maybe that really is true, could it be?” And from there, your entire perspective could be changed. How something is presented can warp what it truly is.

    “‘We are not only what we read,’ says Maryanne Wolf…‘We are how we read.’”

    -I never really thought there was a “method” to reading; I have always believed there was reading or not reading. You read a book or you don’t read it. How you read the book does influence how you thin about it. If you read a chapter, get bored, and go surf the Internet, when you go back to the book, you won’t have the same attention for it as you once did. After a while, it may get to the point where you read a page, get bored, and do something else, or maybe even just a line will bore you.

    “‘You are right,’ Nietzsche replied, ‘Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts.’”

    -I just though this was cool because I only like to use a certain kind of pen to write and I feel somehow off when I don’t use the particular pen I like.

    “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”

    -Sitting down and reading a book can let you have the ability to concentrate on only the book, but the flashing words of pop-ups, spam ads, and anything else on the Internet can easily distract your mind. No article on the Internet seems to ever be posted without a few links surrounding it. As trifle as these small distractions can be, they can interrupt your thought process and distract your mind.

    ***

    Mr. Long: These lines of yours caught my attention: “I though I felt the same way about books, that I can get caught up in a great storyline and not even notice the passage of time, but this article has made me question if that is how I still feel when reading.”

    BTW, I’m just like you. I prefer to write with one type of pen, but if I can’t find one then I need the tiniest/thinest tip possible.

    Like you, the article has challenged me to further consider ‘how’ we read. Part of our strategy — as Honors students — is to begin to grasp what it means to ‘actively’ read (with pen/marker in hand). Appreciate how you made a similar connection here.

  10. 1. Dave, my mind is going,” HAL says, forlornly. “I can feel it. I can feel it.” This quote stood out in the beginning of the story because I would feel scared of losing my mind to some force.

    2. The first quote that captured my attention was ““Immersing myself in a book or a lengthy article used to be easy. My mind would get caught up in the narrative or the turns of the argument, and I’d spend hours strolling through long stretches of prose. That’s rarely the case anymore. Now my concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages.”

    3. “I’ve lost the ability to do that. Even a blog post of more than three or four paragraphs is too much to absorb. I skim it.” I’ve people especially my grandparents say “I’ve lost the ability to do that.” It scares me when they say that, like I’m losing them.

    4. “Even 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.” I have to agree with student #3 on this one when I’m not doing homework and playing sports, I usually am on the computer doing stuff.

    5. “In deciding when to eat, to work, to sleep, to rise, we stopped listening to our senses and started obeying the clock.”

    ***

    Mr. Long: Glad to see you connect your response to a previous student’s answer.

  11. – “Now my concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages. I get fidgety, lose the thread, begin looking for something else to do.” For me personally, I found this statement to be absolutely true. I am still able to get through a good book at a pretty good speed but it is definitely becoming harder and harder to sit down and focus on what I’m reading. That is a little bit scary.

    – “They typically read no more than one or two pages of an article or book before they would “bounce” out to another site. Sometimes they’d save a long article, but there’s no evidence that they ever went back and actually read it.”– I found that the method mentioned in this quote is also true for me. I remember last year having an English essay to write over certain authors. I was printing out 12-14 page articles and thought: “There is nooo way I’m going to read all of this.” I would just try to pick out the paragraphs that discussed the information I was looking for, and if I couldn’t find anything, as a last resort I would begin to actually read the article.

    – “In deciding when to eat, to work, to sleep, to rise, we stopped listening to our senses and started obeying the clock.” I thought this was an excellent quote. It’s so true! We don’t go to sleep as soon as we are tired; we define when we need to be asleep by the time. We don’t wait until we feel fully awake and rested to get out of bed, as soon as it is 6:30 or 7 we are up because we have to get ready for school. We don’t necessarily listen to our bodies anymore. We have decided when it is appropriate to do certain things, and that’s what we live by.

    – “In the past the man has been first,” he declared; “in the future the system must be first.”—This quote certainly caught my attention. This certainly can be applied today, and I don’t know, just reading it like that makes it seem much more intimidating.

    – “In the world of 2001, people have become so machinelike that the most human character turns out to be a machine.”—I just thought that this quote was a great way to give people an idea of how it would be if we got too caught up in technology.

    ***

    Mr. Long: So many things caught my attention, but this stands out on a larger life level: “We don’t necessarily listen to our bodies anymore. We have decided when it is appropriate to do certain things, and that’s what we live by.”

  12. “I can’t read War and Peace anymore,” he admitted. “I’ve lost the ability to do that. Even a blog post of more than three or four paragraphs is too much to absorb. I skim it.” – Bruce Friedman. This quote stands out to me because I am not sure whether or not he is over exaggerating. I use the computer a lot and I can still read easily depending on how interesting what I’m reading is.

    “remains an impoverished version of the older one, for it rests on a rejection of those direct experiences that formed the basis for, and indeed constituted, the old reality.” – Joseph Weizenbaum. I had never thought that clocks control us. That completely went over my head. When I read this I was immediately drawn in and I thought about it for awhile.

    “In the past the man has been first,” he declared; “in the future the system must be first.” – Frederick Winslow Taylor. This quote really stands to me mainly because I strongly disagree with it. I believe that humans are more important “the system”. I don’t think that machines will ever become superior to humans.

    “Certainly if you had all the world’s information directly attached to your brain, or an artificial brain that was smarter than your brain, you’d be better off.” – Sergey Brin. This quote really irritates me. First off, the thought of someone else telling what they think is good for me really annoys me. Secondly, I think that the human mind is a lot better than a computer’s hard drive.

    “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 conceit of wisdom instead of real wisdom.” – Socrates. I thought that this was pretty interesting. The main reason is because this quote isn’t really true, a little is, but not all of it and this was spoken by Socrates, one of the most wise men.

  13. 1)“Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.”
    -I found this quote so interesting because I too feel as though when I read I do not grasp the true meaning of the piece. Usually when I read I have to read something twice or even read the work out loud in order to truly comprehend what I am reading. Also when I read my mind tends to drift off and begin to think irrelevant thoughts which truly have nothing to do with the piece I am reading. This is so frustrating because I feel like the more I try to concentrate the faster my mind tries to skim through a book or some type of literature. Though I believe the internet may be partly responsible for this, as the author hints, I also have noticed that the more interested I am in a piece the more my brain allows me to pay attention. This observation leads me to believe that perhaps our ability to read comprehensively has not been taken away rather our will to read works unless we are truly interested in them.

    2)“The brain”, according to Olds, “has the ability to reprogram itself on the fly, altering the way it functions.”
    -This quote was interesting to me because it caused me to realize how truly efficient the brain is. The brain can truly change the way it functions depending on the needs and habits of an individual and this causes me to wonder if I control my brain or if it controls me? And I suppose I am supposed to control my brain but if it has this great ability to shift and alter its functions so efficiently it seems as though it could easily control me.

    3) “In the past the man has been first,” he declared; “in the future the system must be first.”
    – This statement surprised me because once I truly considered its meaning I realized how bold this statement is. Though I agree with Frederick Taylor in that I believe the future will be much more modern in terms of technology, I don’t think that this technology should always come before people. I understand that system comes before the people in many businesses, because this is more efficient, but I think many areas of life should be the opposite in that human relations and contact come before technology. But then again I suppose I may be naive in believing that system has not already been put before man due to our great dependence on technology.

    4) “The human brain is just an outdated computer that needs a faster processor and a bigger hard drive”
    – I chose this statement because I found it to be shockingly cold and general. The coldness of this statement is due to the fact that it makes me feel as though my brain is not my own but just another “hard drive.” It is hard for me to place a brain in the same category as a computer, because though I understand that they are virtually the same, a computer is a machine and my brain is apart of me.

    5) “As we are drained of our ‘inner repertory of dense cultural inheritance,’ Foreman concluded, we risk turning into ‘pancake people’-spread wide and thin as we connect with that vast network of information accessed by the mere touch of a button.”
    – I think this statement is a really interesting thought because we are often so worried about keeping up with technological advancements that we do not consider their consequences. Also the pancake line at first made me smile, because “pancake people” is an interesting phrase but then when I considered its implications I realized that this truly went back to the title of the story. With this phrase I realized that perhaps Google is not making us stupid but causing us to think and reason in a completely different manner, which involves absorbing information in a much faster way.

  14. These are the quotes that grabbed my attention:

    1. “When I mention my troubles with reading to friends and acquaintances—literary types, most of them—many say they’re having similar experiences. The more they use the Web, the more they have to fight to stay focused on long pieces of writing. Some of the bloggers I follow have also begun mentioning the phenomenon. Scott Karp, who writes a blog about online media, recently confessed that he has stopped reading books altogether. ‘I was a lit major in college, and used to be [a] voracious book reader,’ he wrote. ‘What happened?’ He speculates on the answer: ‘What if I do all my reading on the web not so much because the way I read has changed, i.e. I’m just seeking convenience, but because the way I THINK has changed?’”
    One should think that the web is a massive storage place filled with lots of information that helps. Maybe it is, but who would think that the web could impair the ability to concentrate on reading a long passage? Shouldn’t the web make us want to read passages more? Well, I guess not.

    2. “‘Even a blog post of more than three or four paragraphs is too much to absorb. I skim it.’”
    This really grabbed my attention because it’s true for me too. To be honest, I fought very hard in order to finish the “Is Google Making Us Stupid” article. And it should grab the attention of others if it’s true for them too.

    3. “The process of adapting to new intellectual technologies is reflected in the changing metaphors we use to explain ourselves to ourselves. When the mechanical clock arrived, people began thinking of their brains as operating “like clockwork.” Today, in the age of software, we have come to think of them as operating “like computers.” But the changes, neuroscience tells us, go much deeper than metaphor. Thanks to our brain’s plasticity, the adaptation occurs also at a biological level.”
    Who knew the internet could be so dangerous? Could the internet really change the way our brain thinks? Wow, Ray Bradbury seems like he’s a prophet now.

    4. “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.”
    I’ve never thought of this. So the companies on the internet may be some of the ones causing the “unconcentrativeness” and taking advantage of this to earn more money.

    5. “In the world of 2001, people have become so machinelike that the most human character turns out to be a machine. That’s the essence of Kubrick’s dark prophecy: as we come to rely on computers to mediate our understanding of the world, it is our own intelligence that flattens into artificial intelligence.”
    That’s really scary to think about. Basically, the more we use computers, the more our minds turn into computers. One day, we will start relying too much on computers that we only want to rely on computers, and that’s when we throw our brain away. I really hope that doesn’t happen.

  15. 1. “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. My mind isn’t going—so far as I can tell—but its changing.” This quote grabbed my attention because of how it’s stated. At first, it almost sounds like he is insane. But then I finished reading the paragraph, and I understood where he was coming from. The internet does have a way of warping the mind. Also, I just really enjoy this quote!

    2. “My mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.” This might be my favorite quote, because I just love the analogy! In reality, it is so true though. Readers do seem to skim stories a lot. At least, I do most of the time. I can’t relate fully to this quote because I have had the internet as long as I can remember. I don’t know what it’s like to not take in information the way the internet displays it.

    3. “The human brain is almost infinitely malleable….“The brain,” according to Olds, “has the ability to reprogram itself on the fly, altering the way it functions.”” I found this quote interesting because I learned something new. I didn’t ever know that the brain could reprogram itself. I never really thought about it, but it’s definitely an intriguing fact.

    4. “Google’s headquarters, in Mountain View, California—the Googleplex—is the Internet’s high church, and the religion practiced inside its walls is Taylorism. Google, says its chief executive, Eric Schmidt, is “a company that’s founded around the science of measurement,” and it is striving to “systematize everything” it does. Drawing on the terabytes of behavioral data it collects through its search engine and other sites, it carries out thousands of experiments a day, according to the Harvard Business Review, and it uses the results to refine the algorithms that increasingly control how people find information and extract meaning from it. What Taylor did for the work of the hand, Google is doing for the work of the mind.” I think this quote is fascinating. I didn’t know Google did things like collect behavioral data and refine algorithms. I also like the name of their headquarters, the Googleplex!

    5. “That’s the essence of Kubrick’s dark prophecy: as we come to rely on computers to mediate our understanding of the world, it is our own intelligence that flattens into artificial intelligence.” This quote attracted me because of its depth. The last part is so true. I agree with Kubrick’s prophecy to some extent. We, as a society, do rely on computers for too much. I agree with him in that our intelligence could become artificial with the growing dependence on computers and technology.

  16. “What if I do all my reading on the web not so much because the way I read has changed, i.e. I’m just seeking convenience, but because the way I THINK has changed?” -a very scary idea. my reading has not changed, or that is it hasn’t changed recently, several years ago I stopped reading novels except for modern science fiction, although I still read lots of newspapers, magazines, and occational text/history books. If I can find the time I am easily absorbed into a good book, still I am all too aware of the power our media has over us, I too often find my self being swayed towards an undesirable thought process by television or the internet or the paper.

    “Even a blog post of more than three or four paragraphs is too much to absorb. I skim it.”-I do find this very true, especially on this blog, other people’s stories are very interesting, but I find it difficult to make myself read more than a few paragraphs, unless I just happen to have a lot of free time.

    “our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts.” -This is very true, I notice myself writting very differently using a keyboard than when I have a pen. I don’t find it negative, just different.

    “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.” -This is very true, communication from letters, to voice, to video, information, entertainment, time, date, schedule, all are accessed through the internet and are an important part of our lives.

    “The ultimate search engine is something as smart as people—or smarter” -very cool, very creapy, great insight into Google’s thought process and longterm goals. This line is good, gives me the hibbie jibbies, but its good. …just wierd.

    “Most of the arguments made against the printing press were correct, even prescient.” -This is a very good reminder that when people criticize an advancement in technology or science, most of the time their arguments are legitimate, but over all the advancement has a positive effect.

  17. #1 “My mind isn’t going—so far as I can tell—but it’s changing, I’m not thinking the way I used to think.” (This is intriguing thought. Mr. Carr is talking about how his reading has changed since the advent of computer. However, it gave me a pause to think about how I used to think and read. It’s good to reflect. I like the quote.)

    #2 “His thinking, he said, has taken on a ‘staccato’ quality, reflecting the way he quickly scans short passages of text from many sources online.” “I can’t read War and Peace anymore.” (It must be frightening to think about having short, choppy thinking, as if one has ADD )

    #3 “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.” ( This sums up the concern the author has, and the concerns of us skimming through headlines only. Was the printing press low-tech and easier to control?)

    #4 “The Internet is a machine designed for the efficient and automated collection, transmission, and manipulation of information, and its legions of programmers are intent on finding the “one best method”—the perfect algorithm—to carry out every mental movement of what we’ve come to describe as “knowledge work.” (Having attempted some programming, I know it’s not that simple. The Internet is a machine. There are a lot of programmers. But I cannot imagine ‘the perfect algorithm to carry out every mental movement of knowledge work.’ It’s an interesting thought.)

    #5 “So, yes, you should be skeptical of my skepticism. Perhaps those who dismiss critics of Internet as Luddites or nostalgists will be proved correct, and from our hyperactive, data-stoked minds will spring a golden age of intellectual discovery and universal wisdom. Then again, the Net isn’t the alphabet, and although it may replace the printing press, it produces something altogether different. (I am skeptical of his skepticism. I feel he is saying this with a smile. As though he knows we will embrace the age of the Net, as long as we think about it.)

  18. Umm, since I do not see page numbers anywhere to know what page I am on, I am going to assume that every time I see a big letter at the beginning of the paragraph, it is a different page.

    “I’m not the only one. When I mention my troubles with reading to friends and acquaintances—literary types, most of them—many say they’re having similar experiences. The more they use the Web, the more they have to fight to stay focused on long pieces of writing.” – 1st pg. 5th paragraph. I find this interesting since this does not seam to have happened to me. . . Yet. I suppose I can not compare this with myself since I do not think I am on the internet that often. I only have to try to stay focused if I do not find what I am reading is interesting or if I am really sleepy.

    “The human brain is almost infinitely malleable. People used to think that our mental meshwork, the dense connections formed among the 100 billion or so neurons inside our skulls, was largely fixed by the time we reached adulthood. But brain researchers have discovered that that’s not the case. James Olds, a professor of neuroscience who directs the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study at George Mason University, says that even the adult mind “is very plastic.” Nerve cells routinely break old connections and form new ones. “The brain,” according to Olds, “has the ability to reprogram itself on the fly, altering the way it functions.” – 2nd pg. 4th paragraph. Interesting on how the brain works and how people used to think it works.

    “In the past the man has been first,” he declared; “in the future the system must be first.” 3rd pg. 2nd paragraph

    “The Internet is a machine designed for the efficient and automated collection, transmission, and manipulation of information, and its legions of programmers are intent on finding the “one best method”—the perfect algorithm—to carry out every mental movement of what we’ve come to describe as “knowledge work.” 3rd pg. 3rd paragraph – I just simply found these two quotes interesting.

    “Brin said, “Certainly if you had all the world’s information directly attached to your brain, or an artificial brain that was smarter than your brain, you’d be better off.” Last year, Page told a convention of scientists that Google is “really trying to build artificial intelligence and to do it on a large scale.” 4th pg. 3rd paragraph – Again, quite interesting.

    “In the world of 2001, people have become so machinelike that the most human character turns out to be a machine.” 5th pg. last paragraph. – This reminded me of “The Veldt” and some movies that has robots in them.

    If Google makes people stupid then apparently there are some people that do not use Google in order to make inventions or improvements. That means the majority of the people are becoming stupid while there is a tiny percent that are getting smarter. The article could also be wrong and the people they interviewed just happened to be that way or they made it up just to make the headlines and get peoples attention. This also reminds me a little bit of the calculator. The more people use it, the more they become stupid and can not do simple math and become totally dependent on a calculator.

  19. 1. “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. My mind isn’t going—so far as I can tell—but its changing.” This quote grabbed my attention because of how it’s stated. At first, it almost sounds like he is insane. But then I finished reading the paragraph, and I understood where he was coming from. The internet does have a way of warping the mind. Also, I just really enjoy this quote!

    2. “My mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.” This might be my favorite quote, because I just love the analogy! In reality, it is so true though. Readers do seem to skim stories a lot. At least, I do most of the time. I can’t relate fully to this quote because I have had the internet as long as I can remember. I don’t know what it’s like to not take in information the way the internet displays it.

    3. “The human brain is almost infinitely malleable….“The brain,” according to Olds, “has the ability to reprogram itself on the fly, altering the way it functions.”” I found this quote interesting because I learned something new. I didn’t ever know that the brain could reprogram itself. I never really thought about it, but it’s definitely an intriguing fact.

    4. “Google’s headquarters, in Mountain View, California—the Googleplex—is the Internet’s high church, and the religion practiced inside its walls is Taylorism. Google, says its chief executive, Eric Schmidt, is “a company that’s founded around the science of measurement,” and it is striving to “systematize everything” it does. Drawing on the terabytes of behavioral data it collects through its search engine and other sites, it carries out thousands of experiments a day, according to the Harvard Business Review, and it uses the results to refine the algorithms that increasingly control how people find information and extract meaning from it. What Taylor did for the work of the hand, Google is doing for the work of the mind.” I think this quote is fascinating. I didn’t know Google did things like collect behavioral data and refine algorithms. I also like the name of their headquarters, the Googleplex!

    5. “That’s the essence of Kubrick’s dark prophecy: as we come to rely on computers to mediate our understanding of the world, it is our own intelligence that flattens into artificial intelligence.” This quote attracted me because of its depth. The last part is so true. I agree with Kubrick’s prophecy to some extent. We, as a society, do rely on computers far and for too much. I agree that our intelligence could become artificial with the growing dependence on computers and technology.

  20. LATE SUBMISSION

    – “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. The Web has been a godsend to me as a writer. Research that once required days in the stacks or periodical rooms of libraries can now be done in minutes. A few Google searches, some quick clicks on hyperlinks, and I’ve got the telltale fact or pithy quote I was after.” This quote is very true because the internet seems to be replacing research done using libraries and outside sources that are not the internet.

    – “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.” The Internet is taking over everything one by one!?
    – “In the past the man has been first,” he declared; “in the future the system must be first.” This quote is very interesting. Man vs. Machine? To me this is a prime example.
    – “Where does it end? Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the gifted young men who founded Google while pursuing doctoral degrees in computer science at Stanford, speak frequently of their desire to turn their search engine into an artificial intelligence, a HAL-like machine that might be connected directly to our brains. “The ultimate search engine is something as smart as people—or smarter,” Page said in a speech a few years back. “For us, working on search is a way to work on artificial intelligence.” In a 2004 interview with Newsweek, Brin said, “Certainly if you had all the world’s information directly attached to your brain, or an artificial brain that was smarter than your brain, you’d be better off.” Last year, Page told a convention of scientists that Google is “really trying to build artificial intelligence and to do it on a large scale.” This quote will creep you out but it could very well be true. Most of the time humans look for the easy way out (this is true with a majority of people).
    – “The idea that our minds should operate as high-speed data-processing machines is not only built into the workings of the Internet, it is the network’s reigning business model as well. The faster we surf across the Web—the more links we click and pages we view—the more opportunities Google and other companies gain to collect information about us and to feed us advertisements. Most of the proprietors of the commercial Internet have a financial stake in collecting the crumbs of data we leave behind as we flit from link to link—the more crumbs, the better. 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.” Whoa that’s kind of scary…
    – “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 conceit 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).” This quote is a good example of how the internet could replace wisdom. In my view wisdom can’t be replaced because it is based on experience. Does the internet have experience? I defiantly don’t think so.

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