Summary to read through longer articles or books, preventing

Summary
and Response to “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”

 

Summary

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In the article “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” the author Nicholas Carr
believes that because we have adapted to living in a fast-paced society, we now
have less of an incentive to read through longer articles or books, preventing
us from learning effectively. Carr points out that “Thanks to the ubiquity
of text on the Internet…we may well be reading more today than we did in the
1970s or 1980s. But it’s a different kind of reading, and behind it lies a
different kind of thinking” (Carr, 3). Carr also quotes Maryanne Wolf, saying
that “Reading is not etched into our genes the way speech is” (Carr, 3). In
this, he means to say that while we are reading more nowadays, we may not
necessarily be gaining from it in terms of retaining knowledge. To connect with
this point, Carr says that “As we use our…tools that extend our
mental…capacities, we inevitably begin to take on the qualities of those
technologies” (Carr, 4). The most important quality of our devices is speed. We
expect our technology to move fast, and because we rely on technology so much, our
lives have become more fast-paced. Because of this, we skim through longer
articles quickly (or don’t read them at all due to their length) and don’t
retain as much information as we would if we were to simply take the time to
absorb the information.

 

Response

The author was
very successful at reaching his purpose in that he explains thoroughly how today’s
society has become so dependent on the clock that we aren’t satisfied with the
amount of time it “gives us”. Because of this, we feel that every part of our lives
needs to be quick and concise, allowing us to save time to spend on other
tasks. Due to the fact that the vast majority of us have developed this
mentality, Carr believes that we are not processing information at an efficient
rate, in turn weakening our collective cognitive strength. Instead, we are
skimming through articles in order to get at the most important information so
we can move on with our day, robbing us of a learning experience and of our
knowledge.

While Carr makes
an excellent point, I counter with the fact that it is entirely on us as
individuals to decide whether or not we skim an article or read through it and
annotate it on our own time. If I don’t want to learn something, I don’t have to. But if there is a topic or
subject I want to learn, websites like Google provide me with that information
instantaneously. Google provides a platform for us to learn – it’s entirely up
to us to decide what we do with the information that is given to us.

My main issue
with this article is that Carr appears to define intelligence as what we know and how much we know. Intelligence is a characteristic of our ability
to learn – how we learn, how quickly we learn, and how much we are capable of learning. Carr seems to
confuse intelligence with knowledge in that he believes that because we are
moving so quickly through our reading material, we are losing out on important
information that is separate from the main point. In turn, Carr states that
this affects our intelligence. If I
know nothing about computers, this displays a lack of knowledge. If I know
nothing about computers but decide to seek out knowledge about it, this
displays intelligence. They are two separate concepts, so by confusing the two,
Carr discounts himself in my eyes.

I believe that, in general, the article does
achieve its goal and convey Carr’s point effectively. However, his inaccurate
definition of knowledge and his readiness to blame technology for our own
incompetence causes me to lose stock in his article. Rather than recognizing
the fact that people will read and learn what they will, Carr chooses to blame
the technology that we utilize today for our problems. Carr takes this
wonderful source of information and knowledge that we’ve been given and says
that because it contains so much knowledge, we’re too overwhelmed to use it.
According to Google’s search statistics, an estimated 3.5 billion searches are
made every day. If this isn’t defined as adding to our collective knowledge, I
don’t know that we’ll ever be able to define ourselves as an intelligent and
learned society.