Beware of Internet, we lose concentration and memory

[ Fri. Mar. 26. 2010 ]

"Just take the Internet and digital technologies in blindly. They offer extraordinary opportunities for access to new information, but they have a social and cultural cost too high: with the reading, transform the way we analyze things, the mechanisms of learning.Moving from page to screen paper we lose the ability to concentrate, we develop a more superficial way of thinking, we become people of pancakes, as the playwright Richard Foreman: wide and thin as a pancake because, constantly jumping from one piece of information to 'thanks to another link, we get anywhere we want, but at the same time we lose because we do not have thickness more time to reflect, to contemplate.Pausing to develop a deep analysis is becoming a thing unnatural. "

Nicholas Carr is the bete noire Fan Network "without ifs and buts' and the industry of digital technology.Two years ago one of his essays, published by the magazine "The Atlantic" with the provocative title "Google is making us stupid?", Was the first stone thrown into the lake of Internet culture.Carr, a scholar who has worked in business consulting and has directed a long time, "Harvard Business Review, was branded by the people of the web as an enemy of technology.

"The truth is - he says today from his home in Colorado where he retired to write books, since the eighties have been a consumer of digital technology febrile starting from the Mac Plus, my first personal computer.I've always been a geek, not a technophobic.But my enthusiasm has gradually lessened with the discovery that, in addition to the advantages that are obvious to all, the network also brings us much less obvious disadvantages and for this the most dangerous.Also because the effects are profound and permanent. "


Jaron Lanier, the genius of artificial intelligence in a recent book-manifesto has warned against "collectivism" of the Internet that kills individual creativity, the Net has been branded as a traitor.It will be harder to treat in the same way The Shallows ('superficial: What the Internet is doing to our minds) his new book that is already discussing when there are still more than two months of its publication in the U.S..Explains why in the same Carr: "What on 'Atlantic' was an essay written based on my personal experience, a reflection on how digital culture has changed my behavior.Over the past two years I have tried to go beyond the personal, examining the scientific evidence of how the Internet and social-as well as the earlier revolutions of the alphabet - have changed the intellectual history of mankind.And how new technologies influence the structure of our brain even at the cellular level."


In the debate sponsored by the "Edge Foundation 'on these issues, she cited the case of the" Cushing Academy, an elite school that form the leading classes of Massachusetts since the time of the Civil War, from whose library are all suddenly disappeared books: replaced by computers to do research.What role is playing the school in this revolution?

"The school should be taught to use new technology wisely.In reality, however, educators and even librarians are getting used to the idea that all the information and study materials can be distributed to students in digital form.From the economic point of view it certainly makes sense that it costs less.But merely to fill the rooms of electronic systems is myopic.How do we teach McLuhan, the medium matters, and a lot.Without books is not only more difficult to concentrate, but we are driven to seek from time to time on the Internet the concepts learned to date and stored deep in our memory.The long-term memory loss is the greatest risk: it is a topic to which I devoted a whole chapter. "


The co-founder of "Wikipedia," Larry Sanger, acknowledges the risk of distraction,but the accusation of being too pessimistic, do not trust in man's ability to deal sensibly with the new possibilities offered by technologies which are, however, a large progress for humanity.The exercise of freedom, Sanger says, requires responsibility, ability to focus on the problems and solve them.Even in the digital

"The advocates of total freedom to buy and carry weapons in the same way they think when they say guns do not kill men, men who kill other men.I do not want controversy and I hope that Larry was right: I'm not a technological determinist.Unfortunately, experience tells us that his is a rather 'naïve: when new technology becomes commonly used, tends to change our habits, the way we work, how we socialize and educate our children.It is along this path, most of which are beyond our control.It happened in the past with the alphabet, or the introduction of printing.It happens, more so now with the Internet.People tend not to exercise control and, perhaps because the interruptions and distractions on the Internet, bring the pieces of information interesting or just fun '

Today, then, is not the only man more or less able to shape its future: they weigh the interests of big corporations of digital technologies.Google Here comes again ...

"To make money to companies in the Network is our perpetual motion from one site to another, from one page to another.They are our compulsive clicking at increasing advertising revenues.The last thing you may want a company like Google is that we become more reflective, that we focus more on a single source of information. "

Curious. To support the thesis of the absolute freedom of the Net, without rules or education programs, are mostly liberals.With arguments that, at least in the United States, sometimes reminiscent of those used by libertarian conservatives weapons, against the constraints on the environment or the rules of nutrition education that could prevent epidemics of obesity and diabetes.Google even raises, for now, great distrust.Why?

"Because of the counterculture left U.S. contrarissima to large IBM computer punch cards to the burning of the '60s, then found in the personal computer - a device subject to review by individual corporations and governments-an instrument of freedom.And indeed was so, it's been so long.But in recent years, much has changed since that means crowdsourcing ideas and free work for many companies operating on the Internet, social networks like Facebook that behave as landowners of the nineteenth century: small pieces of land rent free and then earn on its cultivation.It's time to start thinking. "

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