Sunday, January 22, 2012

"Skeptical of His Skepticism"

Is Google making us stupid? That was Nicholas Carr's question in his article published in the July/August issues of the 2008 edition of the Atlantic. To explain my choice in titles, towards the end of his article he says that we should be "skeptical of his skepticism" and I am when it comes to the big picture. On a smaller scale though, I have to admit, he's got a point. My experience reading his article was packed full of irony. First I Googled his article. Ok funny but thats not even the best of it. So I'm not really in a "homework" mood right now anyway and as I was reading, I got a few paragraphs in and noticed that my scroll bar went on and on and on. Dismayed, I said, "Man! How long does this article go on?!"(its not that long actually, there's just a lot of comments at the end) it was just then that I read his comment about how he was not able to read anything really long anymore...I was just a little ashamed of myself. But wait! There's more! Later he mentions how, as we read, we tend to skip from one thing to another, bouncing around the internet. He says that between the flashing ads and incoming emails and hyperlinks and etc. we can hardly help it, well, when he said email, I opened a new tab and went to my email account to check my email without even thinking about it! It was like a reflex. By this point I just laughed a myself for what I'd done.  

So yes, when it comes to the little things, Carr is right. We probably don't have the attention spans that we used to but I hardly think that, as a result of our Googling, we are suddenly going to become the artificial intelligence we've created. In small ways we change and adapt to the tools we use. We create new sets of social norms, we adapt, standards of living rise and fall but I don't believe our fundamental nature, as humans, will ever change. We've seen these concerns pop up over and over in the media. To cite a few examples, Wall-E, Surrogates, Gamer, i-robot, Terminator, The Matrix etc. To use Harris and his belief in intertextuality, it's easy to see how the same kinds of values, problems, moral dilemmas, hopes and hurts are seen over and over in literature from early greek myths to the newest novels on the market. We have more in common with the people of ancient times and throughout history than we think. We live in fear that we will one day destroy ourselves, or change ourselves beyond recognition with what we are trying to build, but people have been fearing that for ages on end, yet we see the evidence of how little we actually have changed through our literature. 

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