Interesting piece by Nicholas Carr in the summer Atlantic Monthly called “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” He’s not a Google hater. And he’s careful to acknowledge the history of alarmism over new media: Socrates bemoaned the rise of the written as opposed to the spoken word; in the 15th century mass-produced books were greeted with skepticism. But he raises disturbing questions as to how Google’s flattening of knowledge into a pancake (everything at the surface, accessible, yet shallow) might change the way we read and thus the way we think. Might we lose some of our capacity for what he and Maryanne Wolf (Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain) term “deep reading”? In this new world, speed and availability trump the relative inefficiency of thoughtful consideration:
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.
Moreover, there is economic self-interest on the internet to make us reader faster and with greater distraction. Sites and their sponsors thrive on hits and on the crumbs of personal data left behind by each click–lingering over a particular passage or piece does nothing for them. No loitering!