Monthly Archives: September 2013

Brain vs Google

Out of all the readings assigned to the class to look at over this week, Nicholas Carr’s “Is Google Making Us Stupid” stood out to me. Maybe it’s because I can think of a few conversations with my parents about how “kids these days” (insert wizened generational observation here) in regards to this very idea. In the article Carr recalls the scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey where Dave unplugs HAL, making the artificially intelligent super computer lament the fact that he can feel his mind going, and compares it the way he is starting to feel now that Google has become and instrumental part of everyday functioning for him

Carr continues to make comparisons to the use of Google with other great technological advances in history, the written word, type writers, and clocks, and how for each of these at the time of their introduction there were those who were dubious of the positive impact they would have on the minds of humans. Carr believed that as time goes on, people will become more and more reliant on search engines to recall information that used to be stashed in our memories, and that without this exercise of recalling certain facts or trivia knowledge, humanity would lose the ability to do so.

Prior to reading this article I had actually already seen something akin to it while I was on YouTube, clicking on random videos to pass time, I’m sure instead of doing some sort of productive work that I was meant to be doing at the time. It comes from pbs’s ideachannel, and talked about if google is knowledge. In this video the addresses the claim that many, including Carr worry over, that google is creating a society of unthinking, search happy google machines who have trouble retaining information. However, the host on ideachannel argues that though it looking up information allows us to find it, it does not tell us what to do with it, or how to relate it to the world around us. In looking up information, people still need to maintain their critical thinking, because when we start believing everything that’s posted online, there’s a lot more to worry about then just whether or not reading online articles is causing eyestrain or reading impatience.

One of the best comments from the video I think was when the host compared using google to someone living in a library. We wouldn’t say that the information someone can look up because they have access to thousand of books while residing in a vast library was illegitimately gained, nor should we say the same for someone who looks something up online. The internet is a vast recourse and for the most part, it is extremely accessible around the world. It should be seen as a tool for education, and simply because there are other aspects to it shouldnt condemn the use of the internet as a whole. Personally, I do not think Google is making us stupid, but of course, if you’re one to disagree, you could simply discredit my whole argument by saying the sources I used I found on Google, and therefore, don’t truly know what I’m talking about.

What do you think? Is Google making us stupid? Comment below or take the poll


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In Response to Dan Cohen’s Blog Rallying Cry

The first assignment given to the class for Central’s Public History class was not one that I had ever been assigned to before, but I suppose that would be the purpose of perusing higher education, to be able to have experiences not had before, and become more well rounded for it. So that no one is lost while reading this post, the class was simply told to read a blog post written by Dan Cohen, an ex history Professor, and current blogger, and to respond to his claim of why academics should blog.

The post goes on about how blogs are generally seen in academia as mindless drivel posted by teens who believe the web revolves around them, and hormone driven collegiate twenty-somethings. Of course I do take a bit of offense to that, as somewhat ironically, this hormone addled twenty-somethings first blog post is in response to the very one that claims by most accounts I would be going on about something inconsequential right now. But I digress.

Cohen makes some excellent points in his post as to why other academics should all hop aboard the blog train. Of course there would be some blogs that could be considered to be a bit more on the vapid side, but likewise, there are some books that one could find on the grocery store shelves make no claims to be the worlds next literary masterpiece, they’re simply fun reads. The fact, Cohen states, is that the web opens up the field of academic history to a much wider, and much more broad audience then if it were to just stay withing the four walls of scholarly setting. There is very little excuse as to why not write a blog. Don’t have enough time? Doesn’t matter, with RSS feeds readers don’t need to feel like the must continually check in on you to see if you’ve posted something new. Not sure what to talk about? Most who are experts in the field have a long list of knowledge that they can tap into and put down.

The post argues that short or long, seemingly unimportant, or masterfully written, it does not matter what Professors and other academics blog about, just that they do. The internet as it is right now is essentially an infinite resource of knowledge, and globally reaching. Most of the resources needed are available and free, and there is little time commitment on behave of the poster, the most important thing for Cohen, is to just try it out, and add to the wealth of information that is on the web today

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Filed under Assignments