Saturday, July 3, 2010

Does the Internet make squirrels out of us? (Niccolas Carr's "The Shallows")

I'm sitting in my backyard watching the squirrels in their non-stop nervous search for something hidden underground. They rarely ever sit still and any distraction will set them off in a new direction. It used to be that way for humans too, the author Nicholas Carr says in a CNET News interview. If they didn't, they would be eaten, but there was an era where you could allow yourself to focus, to read a book, to think long and deep, instead of browsing for nuggets of information.

I think he is on to something very important, even if you consider the counter argument that we now can absorb so much more information from so many more sources. Carr is however not telling us to abandon our inner squirrel, but rather to try to preserve and grow out counter-instinctual habit of digging deep. You need systematic education and extensive reading in order to build an intellectual framework, to form an independent mind that can allow you to navigate the Internet instead of only jumping around like a squirrel.

Hans Sandberg

Post a Comment

Hubble Telescope Images