background preloader

The internet: is it changing the way we think?

The internet: is it changing the way we think?
Every 50 years or so, American magazine the Atlantic lobs an intellectual grenade into our culture. In the summer of 1945, for example, it published an essay by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) engineer Vannevar Bush entitled "As We May Think". It turned out to be the blueprint for what eventually emerged as the world wide web. "Over the past few years," Carr wrote, "I've had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory. The title of the essay is misleading, because Carr's target was not really the world's leading search engine, but the impact that ubiquitous, always-on networking is having on our cognitive processes. Carr's article touched a nerve and has provoked a lively, ongoing debate on the net and in print (he has now expanded it into a book, The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains). But just because fears recur doesn't mean that they aren't valid. Related:  Week 1- H800 begins herethinking

The Shallows: How the Internet Is Changing the Way We Think, Read and Remember by Nicholas Carr | Book review Do you find it hard to concentrate these days? Do you get fidgety after two pages of a book, and look around for something else to do? Is the online abbreviation "tl;dr" (too long; didn't read) your response to basically everything? If so, Nicholas Carr feels your pain, and has diagnosed the cause: using the internet has rewired your brain and turned you into a flibbertigibbet. The narrative of The Shallows begins with Carr's own feelings ("my concentration starts to drift") and gets only slightly more profound. Carr cites a bit of psychology and neuroscience, but he doesn't seem to notice that the study he unveils most triumphantly actually refutes half of his own argument. For Carr, though, we are just pitiable slaves to the machine. Ironically, since Carr worries that the internet will stop us reading entire books, there is no need to read his entire book to understand his argument. Born Digital, indeed, makes for an optimistic, humanist rebuttal to Carr's hysterical gloominess.

Does Your Language Shape How You Think? Seventy years ago, in 1940, a popular science magazine published a short article that set in motion one of the trendiest intellectual fads of the 20th century. At first glance, there seemed little about the article to augur its subsequent celebrity. Neither the title, “Science and Linguistics,” nor the magazine, M.I.T.’s Technology Review, was most people’s idea of glamour. And the author, a chemical engineer who worked for an insurance company and moonlighted as an anthropology lecturer at Yale University, was an unlikely candidate for international superstardom. And yet Benjamin Lee Whorf let loose an alluring idea about language’s power over the mind, and his stirring prose seduced a whole generation into believing that our mother tongue restricts what we are able to think.

How computers change the way we learn “This discovery of yours will create forgetfulness in the learners' souls, because they will not use their memories,” a concerned commentator once spoke of a new technology. “[People] will be hearers of many things and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing; they will be tiresome company, having the show of wisdom without the reality.” The commentator? Socrates, quoting an Egyptian king. Two thousand years later, the technology has changed but the dialogue remains the same. While there’s no doubt that information technology can have its downsides for our day-to-day behaviour, there is very little evidence that computers are damaging our brains – any more than writing made us more forgetful. This potential for technology to enhance the mind was explored by Google’s vice-president of research Alfred Spector at the World-Changing Ideas Summit in New York on 21 October.

Isolation in America: Does Living Alone Mean Being Alone? | Human Capital Today living alone is common in nearly all of the most developed and affluent societies in the world. I had originally thought it was an American phenomenon but, in fact, it’s a global one. I believe that the rise of living alone is the biggest demographic change since the baby boom. In all of human history no society has ever sustained large numbers of people living alone for long periods of time. HCB: Is there a typical “singleton”—a person living alone? Klinenberg: We found four main groups of singletons from this study. Another group is adults age 35 to 65. What’s so interesting is that these groups have managed to make living alone a very social experience. HCB: And what about the other two groups? Klinenberg: The other groups have more challenges. The final group is people who are aging alone, and what was interesting and surprising to me is that people who age alone also tend to be quite social. HCB: Do you plan to continue your research on this topic?

Moore's Law: Beyond the first law of computing - BBC News Computer chips are arguably both the most complex things ever mass produced by humans and the most disruptive to our lives. So it's remarkable that the extraordinary pace they have evolved at was in large part influenced by a three-page article published 50 years ago this weekend. It noted that the maximum number of components that manufacturers could "cram" onto a sliver of silicon - before which the rising risk of failure made it uneconomic to add more - was doubling at a regular pace. Its author, Gordon Moore, suggested this could be extrapolated to forecast the rate at which more complicated chips could be built at affordable costs. The insight - later referred to as Moore's Law - became the bedrock for the computer processor industry, giving engineers and their managers a target to hit. Intel - the firm Mr Moore went on to co-found - says the law will have an even more dramatic impact on the next 20 years than the last five decades put together. But could its time be more limited?

A Fascinating New Theory About the Human Mind, Evolution and Mortality Photo Credit: June 7, 2013 | Like this article? Join our email list: Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email. From the book DENIAL: Self-Deception, False Beliefs, and the Origins of the Human Mind by Ajit Varki and Danny Brower. The story behind this book is strange and improbable. The improbability of it all becomes starker when you consider what different circumstances the two of us came from. As for me, I was born just two months after Danny, but was raised on the other side of the planet, in India.

Kranzberg’s Six Laws of Technology, a Metaphor, and a Story Dr. Melvin Kranzberg was a professor of the history of technology at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the founding editor of Technology and Culture. In 1985, he delivered the presidential address at the annual meeting of the Society for the History of Technology in which he explained what had already come to be known as Kranzberg’s Laws — “a series of truisms,” according to Kranzberg, “deriving from a longtime immersion in the study of the development of technology and its interactions with sociocultural change.” I’ll list and summarize Kranzberg’s laws below, but first consider this argument by metaphor. He then noted that not all scholars subscribed to “this version of technological omnipotence.” Nevertheless, several questions do arise. Those are astute and necessary questions, and all the more evocative for the way they play off of White’s metaphor. Here are the remaining laws with brief explanatory notes: Second Law: Invention is the mother of necessity.

Listen, Little Man! HOW IS THE INTERNET CHANGING THE WAY YOU THINK? Read any newspaper or magazine and you will notice the many flavors of the one big question that everyone is asking today. Or you can just stay on the page and read recent editions of Edge ... Playwright Richard Foreman asks about the replacement of complex inner density with a new kind of self-evolving under the pressure of information overload and the technology of the "instantly available". This year's Question is "How is the Internet changing the way YOU think?" We wanted people to think about the "Internet", which includes, but is a much bigger subject than the Web, an application on the Internet, or search, browsing, etc., which are apps on the Web. 172 essayists (an array of world-class scientists, artists, and creative thinkers) have created a 132,000 document. Maria Abramovic, Anthony Aguirre, Alan Alda, Alun Anderson, Chris Anderson, Noga Arikha, Scott Atran, Mahzarin R.

How To Raise Kids Who Aren't Narcissists The guy right in front of you on the plane just stood up before the plane finished taxiing. He's taking out his luggage, forcing a flight attendant to intervene. He keeps saying he has a very important meeting to go to -- did he just use the phrase "C-suite"? In a new study, a team of child development and psychology researchers from Europe and the United States sought the seeds of narcissism by tracking 565 middle-class children and their parents over a year and a half. That's not to say that parents shouldn't be nice to their kids. Kids with narcissism agree with statements such as "I like to think about how incredibly nice I am" and "Kids like me deserve something extra." While it can seem subtle, there's a difference between self-esteem and narcissism. Here's another way to think about it. So where do people like Plane Guy come from?

ROUGH TYPE The Truth Is, Philosophy Rules Your World : 13.7: Cosmos And Culture A 2012 installation in the small Italian village of Corigliano d'Otranto celebrates the philosophies of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle and their search for a better way of life. Carlo Hermann/AFP/Getty Images hide caption itoggle caption Carlo Hermann/AFP/Getty Images A 2012 installation in the small Italian village of Corigliano d'Otranto celebrates the philosophies of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle and their search for a better way of life. Carlo Hermann/AFP/Getty Images If philosophy's main goal is to figure out what makes life worth living, it is also, by extension, a preparation for dying. For this we must thank Rebecca Newberger Goldstein's inventiveness and intellectual courage. To the seafaring Greeks, one of the greatest fears was to perish, without a trace, under the sea. Plato clearly succeeded. Goldstein is the first to admit that there is an elitist trend in Plato's ideas, typical of an aristocrat who didn't have to work for a living.