When I was preparing my BoS2010 talk I did a lot of research and I found 2 very scary books. So with Halloween fast approaching, if you want to be scared read on…
In The shallows , Nicholas Carr argues that the Internet is actually changing the way that we think. What we do alters the way our brains work. Progress over the last 500 years has been driven by minds conditioned to think deeply by reading books.
As books become less important and we use the Internet more, we are skimming more and thinking less. Also we are taking in less because our brain is more focussed on navigating rather than assimilating data. We cover much more ground but with less depth and we also lose the ability to concentrate because we are used to skipping from stimuli to stimuli.
Jaron Lanier‘s book (You Are Not a Gadget) suggests that the Internet has taken a wrong turn and is in danger of losing all the creativity and genuineness which makes it such as powerful tool. It is now starting to stiffle competition for ideas (wikipedia has such a lock on knowledge that it would be hard to replace) and we build increasing lock-in on previous ideas. We are now stuck with formats like MIDI and metaphors like ‘the file’ which are imperfect but too hard to replace.
What makes Jaron’s book most scary is that he is no technophobe – he is one of the leading researchers on Virtual Reality so what he says about real and virtual world’s meeting matters.
Anyway happy Halloween and sleep well…
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