Is Google Making Us Stupid?
How it works
Every day, millions of people use the internet to learn, discover, and explore the world in ways that seemed nearly impossible hundreds of years ago. It is because of this new drastic change that many have questioned how this technology is affecting our brains, including Nicholas Carr in his article “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” While….. In his paper, he goes into the reasons why he believes the Internet is affecting our intelligence with examples to support his statements.
While he communicates how technology today is affecting our way of thinking, he does so ineffectively due to the bad structure, the lack of reliable resources, and a few other lacking features.
How it works
Carr begins with a quotation from the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey describing how his changing brain circuitry is similar to supercomputer HAL losing control of his artificial “brain.” Carr starts with this example to show how the advancement of technology and the internet has lead to the “rewiring” of his brain. He states that while he used to be able to get immersed in a lengthy novel or article, he now finds it difficult to even maintain focus after a few pages. He begins to explain why he thinks this is happening by explaining his history with the internet. In his own words, he says the internet has been a godsend for him as a writer because of the ease to find reliable information and jumping from resource to resource. Although the positives, he acknowledges how media theorist Marshall McLuhan pointed that the media shapes not only what we think about, but how we think overall. He then explains that the internet is slowly chipping away at his abilities to focus on and contemplate ideas for him and his colleagues.
When he contacted some of his friends, he heard multiple responses that reflected similar experiences to his own complaining about the more time they invested in the web, the more difficult it was to read long pieces of writing. Even bloggers that Carr follows, Scott Karp and Bruce Friedman, have expressed the same sentiments. After providing these individual accounts, he laments the waiting for experiments that will provide the answer of how the Internet affects our cognition. He goes on to say that according to results from a published study of online research habits, people visiting two popular research websites exhibited skimming activity. Although they sometimes would save a long article, there was no evidence of whether or not they fully read the article. Also, due to the prevalent amount of text all over the internet and popularity of online messaging and texting, people are more likely to be reading a lot more than they used to before the rise of the Internet.
Next in article, Carr talks about Friedrich Nietzche and how he bought a typewriter in attempts to continue writing as his vision weakened. Although one may think that this would have been an easy solution to his problem, it had created an entirely different problem. Nietzche’s writing had become more compact and tight according to his friends after he used the typewriter. He then brings up how the brain is *tech shows how brain is malleable* and that the brain has the ability to alter the way it functions almost instantly. The advancement of technology with devices like the clock changed the process of human action and thought to be structured within an abstract framework of divided time. This caused people to rely on the clock instead of their senses according to Carr. Adapting to these new technologies also affected the metaphors of our every day life. ***
Carr continues to explain how we used to think of our brains working “like clockwork,” but as time has progressed, we now think of our brains working “like computers.” All over various types of media, Carr notes how we can see pop-up ads, capsule summaries, and easy-to-absorb info-snippets that tend to distract us and switch our focus. Similar to when Nietzsche started using his typewriter, Carr tells how a young man named Fredrick Winslow Taylor used a stopwatch to create precise instructions so that workers would work more efficiently, almost like machines. Carr then remarks how the Industrial Revolution finally “found its philosophy” when Taylor sought out to maximize efficiency and create a stable system for industry. This philosophy has remained apart of our society for a while now, and its effects can be seen in the Internet, a machine designed for efficient and automated collection, transmission, and manipulation of information.
( I have only summarized about 2/3 of the article, but I think it is important that you review what I have now so I know I am summarizing correctly )
Is Google Making Us Stupid already misleads the audience even before they have read the article with its title. The title pulls in the reader by creating the concept that Google is detrimental to our intelligence, but in the article, he instead argues how the internet is changing how we think instead of our ability to learn.
At the start of the essay, he references the film 2001: A Space Odyssey in order to appeal to the audience, but it does so ineffectively. The film was made in 1968 and has received a great deal of praise throughout its history (source). While the film has been praised greatly, younger audiences will have a harder time being drawn into an article that is talking about a movie they have not even seen. The gap between the release of the movie and article spans a total of forty years which makes it hard to believe that the new generation has seen this film. Even though this introduction does not properly entice the audience, Carr does a decent job at explaining the reference he makes to 2001: A Space Odyssey, but a modern movie reference would have appealed to the audience more.
After his rough intro, Carr fails to prove his authority and uses unreliable resources creating a lack of trust with the author. When Carr begins to explain his argument, he comes across as a casual blogger who is not special in any particular way, except for the fact that he thinks that the internet is starting to affect how he thinks. If the reader were to do some research, they would learn that he had written three books by the time of this article and was writing the very popular blog Rough Type (source). All these examples could have been used in the article for the author to create a sense of authority, but he chose otherwise. He also lacks strong resources for his writing due to him referencing friends or inconclusive research. In the article, Carr mentions how his literary friends are also noticing the same issues that he has experienced. While this does prove that some people are experiencing similar issues to him, this does not show that this trend is common amongst many, especially since he does not provide a number for how many of his friends have expressed the same sentiments. Another source he uses to support his argument, a published study of online research habits, shows that people exhibited skimming activity when using the internet. He uses this to explain why the thought processes of many is changing, but the information and the article itself lacks enough information to affirm that.
Throughout Carr’s paper, it is difficult to read it due to a weak and unsteady structure. Throughout the paper, he will bring up previously discussed topics in different contexts which makes the article hard to read and interpret. He would also talk positively about the internet for maybe a paragraph or two, but then return to how the internet is changing him in a negative light. The lack of a strong opinion could be felt throughout the paper and made it difficult to even understand where Carr stood on the issue. Even by the end, he provides no argument as to which side he believe, but instead remind the reader of how he is “haunted” by scenes in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. If he had employed the use of an easy-to-follow format, then it would be easier to understand this paper overall.