How the GoogleWeb Affects the Mind

If you’re an infoworker or some other type of screenaholic with roots in the older, print-dominated world, you’ll find something ominous and undeniable in the following passages:

Over the past few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory. My mind isn’t going—so far as I can tell—but it’s changing. I’m not thinking the way I used to think. I can feel it most strongly when I’m reading. Immersing myself in a book or a lengthy article used to be easy. My mind would get caught up in the narrative or the turns of the argument, and I’d spend hours strolling through long stretches of prose. That’s rarely the case anymore. Now my concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages. I get fidgety, lose the thread, begin looking for something else to do. I feel as if I’m always dragging my wayward brain back to the text. The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle.

from “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” by Nicholas Carr


In the 90s, there were a mere four TV channels. Each household had a single phone-line, usable once at a time. Only geeks played “video games.” It was much easier to remove oneself completely from the world into the vast architecture of the novel. Now, the reader is under assault from hundreds of television channels, 3D cinema, a computer-gaming business so large it dwarfs Hollywood, iPhones, Wii, YouTube, free commuter newspapers, an engorged celebrity culture, instant access to all the music ever recorded, 24-hour sports news, and DVD box-sets of shows such as The Wire, Mad Men and Lost that replicate some of the scope and depth of literature. Unprecedented levels of consumer debt, and now a recession, have seen everyone working longer hours. A leisure time that was already precious has been chewed into by text-messaging, Facebook and emails. Almost everyone I speak to claims that they “love books but just can’t find the time to read”. Well, they probably could – they’re just choosing to spend it differently.

from. . . well, I’m not sure. I had the link a day or so ago but got distracted and lost it. I’ll try to find it again.

Update: OK, found it:

from “Who Stole Our Reading Time” by Alan Bissett

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