Aug 12 2008

Is google making us stupid…

Published by at 1:22 pm under Uncategorized

So my take on the debate as to whether Google is making us stupid. My opinion is no, I don’t agree that easy access to a large amount of information impairs our ability to think. A good way to think of this is like Einstein when quizzed by Edison as to the speed of sound, Einstein couldn’t remember off the top of his head and a lot of fuss was made about Edison foxing Einstein. Einstein’s response, when later asked about the commotion, was that he didn’t see the value of retaining a nugget of information like the speed of sound in his memory when he could just look it up in a book if he needed it. I was reminded of this by this article in this weeks New Scientist, taking that view forward all that google is providing us with is far easier access to that ‘book’ of information. Access to more information is only going to allow you to make more informed decisions.

Now there are some other interesting points in the original piece about attention span decreasing. This could potentially be attributed to the web, or at least the way we surf the web. However I personally find reading large amounts of information on a computer screen to not be particularly comfortable – hence the tenancy to scan if it’s a long article that you’re not that interested in. Combine this with the wealth of information available on the web and other media, I think this makes us more selective about what we choose to spend time reading. I don’t find that this behaviour when surfing the web spills over to print media, I still read books as I always have and really enjoy reading big books. I think the attention span change is more to do with time constraints than google reducing our intelligence.

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