Ideas from news stories about information technology, including Is Google Making Us Stupid?


1.      E-reading, research, communication leads to distracted, shallow thinking

         a.      Perhaps more reading than in TV days, but different way or reading and thinking              

         b.      Harder to read in a concentrated way

         c.      Distracted after a page or two.

         d.      Due to surfing the web and using other electronic devices 

         e.      Hyperlinks, blinking ads, and other digital gewgaws

                   i.       A new e-mail message, for instance, may announce its arrival as we’re glancing over the latest headlines at a newspaper’s site. 

         f.       The result is to scatter our attention and diffuse our concentration 

2.      Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction

         a.      Students have always faced distractions and time-wasters.

         b.      But computers and cellphones, and the constant stream of stimuli they offer, pose a profound new challenge to focusing and learning.

         c.      Lure of these technologies is particularly powerful for young people.

         d.      Developing brains can become more easily habituated than adult brains to constantly switching tasks — and less able to sustain attention

3.      Media shapes how we think

         a.      Mind is plastic; it can change how it does things

         b.      As we use what the sociologist Daniel Bell has called our “intellectual technologies”—the tools that extend our mental rather than our physical capacities—we inevitably begin to take on the qualities of those technologies

         c.      Media supplies the stuff of thought, but they also shape the process of thought

         d.      Net chipping away at capacity for concentration and contemplation 

         e.      More use the Web, the more have to fight to stay focused on long pieces of writing 

4.      Web leads to staccato quality of thinking

         a.      Study of online research habits found that people exhibited “a form of skimming activity,” hopping from one source to another and rarely returning to any source they’d already visited.

         b.      They typically read no more than one or two pages of an article or book before they would “bounce” out to another site. 

5.      Writing technology use affects how think

         a.      After German Philosopher Frederick Nietzsche started using a typewriter, he said

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

         c.      Under the sway of the machine, Nietzsche’s prose “changed from arguments to aphorisms, from thoughts to puns"

         d.      Remember Berry’s claims about value of writing by hand

6.      Importance of sustained reading (like reading a book)

         a.      "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. In the quiet spaces opened up by the sustained, undistracted reading of a book, or by any other act of contemplation, for that matter, we make our own associations, draw our own inferences and analogies, foster our own ideas. Deep reading, as Maryanne Wolf argues, is indistinguishable from deep thinking."     

7.      University Bans Social Media for a week Some results suggesting addiction here

         a.      On many college campuses, e-communications preventing development of meaningful, communal relationships

         b.      Dorm lounges carved up for clusters of computers

         c.      Student unions declining as gathering places

         d.      Computer dorm rooms becoming high tech caves

         e.      “How do we build a sense of campus community if they don’t come out of their rooms?”

                   i.       One student communicated by email with roommates even though sitting a few feet away

8.      Herbert Dreyfus critique of internet

         a.      Internet simply never can be anything but a crude place for endless reflection leveling everything, leading to nothing but boredom

         b.      Here anyone can hold an opinion on anything without having to act on it or take responsibility for it.

         c.      You can just leave.

9.      Some values of e-information

         a.      Research used to take days now done in minutes


Some questions:

1.         Explain the difference between our thinking technology affecting the content of our thoughts and it affecting our manner of thinking?

2.         What type of (problematic) thinking do the critics think the internet is leading us toward?

3.         Do you agree that use of the internet is leading us to shallow, distracted, staccato type of thinking and interacting?