Friday, April 17, 2009

Is Google Making Us Stupid?

Nicholas Carr wrote a book and a great article: Is Google Making us Stupid?
Here's my favorite poignant paragraph from the article (who would have thought of Socrates as a foreshadower...):
"Maybe I?m just a worrywart. Just as there?s a tendency to glorify technological progress, there?s a countertendency to expect the worst of every new tool or machine. 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).

The arrival of Gutenberg?s printing press, in the 15th century, set off another round of teeth gnashing. The Italian humanist Hieronimo Squarciafico worried that the easy availability of books would lead to intellectual laziness, making men ?less studious? and weakening their minds. Others argued that cheaply printed books and broadsheets would undermine religious authority, demean the work of scholars and scribes, and spread sedition and debauchery. 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."

Read the entire article From The Atlantic:

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