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Transcript of Carr
Okay, so what everybody is witnessing here is an intellectual... chess match between Nicholas Carr and Clive Thompson.
The topic: Technology.
Carr starts with the opening move.
Technology has taken hold of us, if only in the slightest, to even the bright minded. The simple tasks, like reading an article, have become arduous. But why? All of the distractions have had an adverse effect on concentration. Bruce Friedman and I had a conversation about the effects technology has had and he told me, “I can’t read War and Peace anymore. I’ve lost the ability to do that. Even a blog post of more than three or four paragraphs is too much to absorb. I skim it” (Carr 343). Literary scholars can’t stand to read anymore.
Most people simply do not have the strict discipline it would take to use technology in a positive manner. “I’m not thinking the way I used to think. I can feel it most strongly when I’m reading…I feel as if I’m always dragging my wayward brain back to the text” (Carr 341). As the presence of technology is gradually increasing, with it goes the time in the daily lives of the people. Instead of immersing myself into a book, I am browsing the web, skimming what is in front of me.
Yes, that is something I agree with, but consider this. “The more pieces of information we can “access” and the faster we can extract their gist, the more productive we become as thinkers. Where does it end?” All of these ‘innovations,’ technology brings, but “we will sacrifice something important not only in our selves but in our culture” (Carr 357).
Sure, Socrates “couldn’t foresee the many ways that writing and reading would serve to spread information, spur fresh ideas, and expand human knowledge (if not wisdom),” just like Gutenberg and “the doomsayers were unable to imagine the myriad blessings that the printed word would deliver.” But, “there’s a tendency to glorify technological progress” (Carr 356). Technology isn’t the next alphabet.
There are too many downsides to technology that people will eventually quit relying on it. After studies come out about how technology affects the brain, the internet will become a thing of the past.
I am pairing events happening and changes in thinking with brain scans.
Technology has the potential to influence our minds for the better, but you must learn to grow with it and use it to augment your mind. Surely anything can be bad if you don’t use it for its intended purpose. Food is crucial for your survival, but if all you eat is fast food and cream pies, your health will be in dire condition. On the other hand, if you eat balanced meals you will be a healthy individual. The same goes with the use of computers and other technology.
…rather think of this. Chess grand master Garry Kasparov was defeated by IBM’s Deep Blue supercomputer, but he didn’t let that stop him. He used cognitive thinking and came up with an idea that has revolutionized chess. No computer would’ve thought to collaborate with humans in a game of chess, but Kasparov did. The intuition of the chess player, paired with the speedy, analytical ability of chess software creates a powerful chess centaur. It is a collective effort to get the most out of technology. People need to be using technology to innovate, rather than comply with the normal standards society has set.
Technology isn’t here to take over our culture. The key is knowing when to use technology and when old methods are suffice. There are many changes taking place and twenty years ago I would have told you these changes were bad. What has changed my mind is looking at the “cognitive past.”
And why not? You can’t foresee the future. This could very well be the next staple in society, as it appears is already happening.
Carr, in your book The Shallows, you mention how people’s quality of thought increased with books, but has now declined with internet. You are well educated in brain chemistry, but have only provided one inconclusive brain scan. One could get the same brain results from a new parent hearing their newborn cry. Studies of the brain are elusive and most of it is presumptions.
It’s all relative. Granted, your worry “I’m not thinking the way I used to think” (Thompson 355) is justified, but you are making negative connections you want. With a large portion of your life changed with technology, your thinking process is going to change too. Technology can and will make concentration harder if you let it, just like food can and will make you obese if you let it happen.
I happen to enjoy reading, but when I am searching the web I do skim over long articles trying to find what I am looking for. Usually, it is because I don’t have the time or patience to read the sea of information available to me a particular topic. It doesn’t necessarily mean that I can’t focus to read through the articles, I just don’t want to or can’t at that moment. Let’s see what Thompson is saying about this…
With the vast amount of technology available and still developing, technology could very well be like the alphabet. Young children are exposed it at a very young age and continue to use it throughout their lives, just like the alphabet. Let’s hear more from Thompson.
CHECKMATE! And there you have it folks. This has been a great match between Carr and Thompson, both making skilled ‘moves’ to contradict the other. Thompson has come out ahead on this match. Tech can be an amazing addition to a person’s life, but a majority of society doesn’t use it in a way that helps their thinking. Instead, they have let technology make them lazy and unfocused.