Saturday, September 11, 2010

How the internet makes us stupid

The title of this blog comes from a recent article in The Age. It is written by Nicholas Carr, who authored a book called "The Shallows: How the Internet is Changing the Way We Think, Read, and Remember." Basically, the author has researched into studies that support his proposition that most internet users skim over the pages quickly (compounded by constant distraction of emails and updates) rather than read deeply. This is turning us into scattered and superficial thinkers. We lose our capacity for concentration and contemplation. Our mind seems hungry for constant stimulation and for quick hits of information. We feel perpetually distracted even when away from the computer. Does that sound familiar?

That is exactly how I feel, and I am grateful to the author for pointing this out. It is important to differentiate between skimming for information for further reading, and skimming as an end in itself. We skim the newspaper and go on to read in full only what we want to read. We skim the magazines and we skim books before deciding what to read rather than reading everything between the covers. It becomes a problem when all we do is only to skim and not to read further into anything. Then we become shallow readers.

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