Summary and Response “Response to Nicholas Carr’s Question ‘Is Google Making Us Stupid?’

338 words | 2 page(s)

In this response piece to Nicholas Carr’s article »Is Google Making Us Stupid?« the author criticizes the stance taken by Carr. Carr views the instant information provided by search engines such as Google as harmful to our cognitive skills, the author of the response piece particularly focussing on Carr’s claim that search engines deprive us of »book skills« we previously used to process information and knowledge. The author’s argument is in essence to state that books are »anomalous« forms of human information, whereby the Web is a return to an older, narrative tradition.

In short, the author believes that the book emphasizes only one perspective – that of the author. The author possesses an authority over the information written. With the Internet, we return to a more communal style of learning. Anyone may participate on the Internet by writing a blog; a multiplicity of perspectives are introduced. it is similar to an oral tradition before writing: stories, without being in a fixed written form, were subject to change and tradition. The Internet is not something entirely new, but in other terms, a return to our roots.

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The argument is compelling in its counter-intuitive nature. We tend to think of the Internet as an entirely new and revolutionary technology. And, certainly, the access to information it provides, the democratic participation it encourages, is historically unprecedented. However, at the same time, with the Internet, knowledge and the sharing of information is becoming more communal because of this same inclusivity. Furthermore, it can be argued that the availability of the Internet encourages knowledge in two fundamentally beneficial ways.

Firstly, the access to the Internet encourages us to participate. How many people who would have never written now write blogs? The Internet sparks creativity. Secondly, becuase of the abundance of inforamtion, we need to develop new critical thinking skills. It becomes part and parcel of the Internet to not believe everything you read: we are forced to reflect on what we read, a reflection that perhaps was lacking in the authoritarian book culture.

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