DuMont 1Nathanael DuMontENG 101Professor Bolton7 March 2012 Technology: For the Good and the Bad of Mankind Nicholas Carr’s “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” argues that the Internet is causing the humanmind to be less complex than it used to be. He believes that the internet has altered the way peoplethink and read. Carr points out that, more so now than ever, people have a problem reading a longarticle and, instead, have developed the habit to skim. The internet has become a “universal medium”for Carr, but he states that it is “chipping away *his+ capacity for concentration and contemplation”(962). He also points out that people are lazier in finding information these days and have it easier thanpeople a hundred years ago. In his opinion, people have ceased to exercise their memory. Informationis expected immediately at the touch of a button nowadays. Google is constantly updating theirsoftware to provide their users with the information they are searching for, making it less challenging forthat person. I believe that Carr’s argument is right, but to an extent. I don’t believe that using theInternet is causing people to be less smart, but I do believe it presently has an effect on how people aretaking in the information compared to back when the Internet was not used. It is true that people these days aren’t reading as in depth as they have done in the past. It hasbeen proven, through five years of research from the University College of London, that “people usingthe [online] sites exhibited a form of skimming activity, hopping from one source to another and rarelyreturning to any source they’d already visited” (963). On top of that, they only read one or two pages ofthe article before jumping to the next site. More often than not, I also find myself doing this type ofbehavior. I get uninterested in the article or document I am reading and decide to flip to something else
DuMont 2that could potentially be more amusing. This confirms Carr’s statement that people have a greatertendency to skim over documents, rather than actually reading them. Maryanne Wolf, a developmental psychologist at Tufts University, explains on how we have to“teach our minds to how to translate the symbolic characters we see into the language we understand”(964). Carr goes on to say, 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 use 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. We can expect as well that the circuits woven by our use of the Net will be different from those woven by our reading of books and other printed works. (964)The “shaping of neural circuits in our brains” depends on which device or method of reading we partakein. Carr believes that humans have not been working their brains out due to the fact that they usethe internet to solve many of the problems that they have. Instead of searching for it, and spendingdays at a time trying to find the answer, people can type it in and receive it within seconds. He discussesSocrates, who was against the development of writing. Socrates believed that “as people came to relyon the written word as a substitute for the knowledge they used to carry inside their head, they wouldcease to exercise their memory and become forgetful” (970). Socrates was right, but only to a certaindegree. He thought people would be more ignorant and full of false wisdom, which is certainlysometimes true. Take presidential speeches for one. The president is shown what to say on ateleprompter so that he has less of a chance of messing up and looking like a complete fool on nationaltelevision. The president could be an extremely idiotic person, but as long as he knows how to read, hecan seem like the smartest person in the world.
DuMont 3 According to Carr, reading and writing “serve to spread information, spur fresh ideas, andexpand human knowledge” (970). The internet helps in expanding this idea even further. People allaround the world can share their ideas and beliefs to other people that are thousands of miles away.Finding documents and reading them through an internet search base, such as Google, may help theperson have less trouble in finding the information they need, but it also helps in expanding theirknowledge much faster than searching days for the answer. This shows that the internet is partially agood thing that the human race has acquired. Nicholas Carr is correct when he says that reading documents from the Internet has causedpeople to adapt the way they read compared to when they read hardcopy material. However, theirreading method does not mean that they are not absorbing the material that they are reading. TheInternet has only warped the way they take in the information. Due to the massive amount of materialavailable to each and every person, instead of paying attention to smaller details, people are taking inthe gist of all the material they are reading. In doing so, they learn much more than people who did nothave this opportunity in the past.
DuMont 4 Works CitedCarr, Nicholas. “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” The Norton Field Guide to Writing With Readings and Handbook. 2nd ed. Eds. Richard Bullock, Maureen Daly Goggin, and Francine Weinberg. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2010. 961-972. Print.