Anxious Mo-Fo

An anxious m*********** from Seattle

A claim that Google is destroying our ability to pay attention

with 5 comments

Nicholas Carr, writing in The Atlantic, says:

Over the past few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory. My mind isn’t going—so far as I can tell—but it’s changing. I’m not thinking the way I used to think. I can feel it most strongly when I’m reading. Immersing myself in a book or a lengthy article used to be easy. My mind would get caught up in the narrative or the turns of the argument, and I’d spend hours strolling through long stretches of prose. That’s rarely the case anymore. Now my concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages. I get fidgety, lose the thread, begin looking for something else to do. I feel as if I’m always dragging my wayward brain back to the text. The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle.

I disagree with Carr’s thesis, which I gleaned from a quick skim of the article. Hey, look, lolcats!

Update June 10th:For a more substantive response to the article, I would point out that I do spend a lot of time skimming, flitting from link to link until I end up with something like this, but I do not experience the problem Carr has with deep reading. Concentrated reading of novels, poetry, essays, etc., is a skill which requires a certain amount of practice, but if one practices, it’s a skill one doesn’t have to lose, Google or no Google.

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Written by JPP

June 10, 2008 at 12:26 pm

Posted in Books, Google, Internet

5 Responses

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  1. The reality is that the future holds more promise for lolcats than for Proust or Joyce. I can haz existential crisiz?!

    The Necromancer

    June 12, 2008 at 12:21 am

  2. What’s really depressing is reading the comments on I Can Haz Cheeseburger. LOLspeak as a caption to a silly picture of a cat is one thing; people attempting to communicate with each other in LOLspeak is much, much worse.

    Not stated outright in the article is the fear that sustained reading is on its way out. I hope that’s not the case. It isn’t a matter of reading on the Internet versus reading something printed – I can, and do, read long pieces on the web.

    anxiousmofo

    June 12, 2008 at 8:42 am

  3. It may indeed be the case. In my line of work there’s a real concern about undergrads and their habits — many of them don’t “read”, in the conventional sense, anymore. The net has definitely altered some patterns.

    I notice myself tending not to read long pieces on the net. I think I read less books now, too.

    But maybe that’s just burnout.

    The Necromancer

    June 12, 2008 at 9:35 am

  4. In my line of work there’s a real concern about undergrads and their habits — many of them don’t “read”, in the conventional sense, anymore.

    Well, that’s depressing as hell.

    anxiousmofo

    June 12, 2008 at 11:34 am

  5. […] you can also see my teensy response, back when Carr’s article first […]


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