06 August 2008

Is "The Atlantic" Making Us Stupid?

Nicolas Carr's article in The Atlantic, "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" is more thoughtful than the alarmist title would suggest, and well-worth reading. Marshall McLuhan's observation that medium and message cannot be separated seems to have been validated by our understanding of learning and cognition.

The sad part is that instead of bemoaning the change and becoming nostalgic for the days when books on paper were always the most influential containers for thought, we need to be understanding how to build the systems that will train our minds in the ways that will be most effective for the future, and designing and building the learning institutions that can do it. We are tragically far behind on this last part.

More interesting than the article are some of the responses on the Encyclopedia Brittanica blog "The Reality Club" (of all places). I especially appreciated Danny Hillis' second comment which includes the insight:

"For many years books were the primary means by which important ideas were conveyed to us, we came to associate them with thoughtful insight. This association is out of date."

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