bioephemera

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Via Rag & Bone Blog
By Christopher Tovo

Are we falling out of love with books?

I realized a little while ago – when yet another book arrived from Amazon and was thrown on the to-read pile – that I’m no longer the bibliophile I once was. I love the idea of reading books, but I’m not making time to do it. Recent fiction isn’t appealing – I don’t seem to have the patience or interest. (I feel like Jessica Crispin in that respect). And nonfiction, which I have been reading occasionally, seems too much like a part of my job.

I’m really disturbed by this trend. I self-identify as a devoted reader. I expect everyone else to think of me as a Reader with a capital R. And I’m pretty darn picky about the people I hang out with being Readers too – Readers of “Serious Books”! This attitude is, as this NYT essay points out, pretentious and silly – yet common:

Brainy women are probably more sensitive to literary deal breakers than are brainy men. (Rare is the guy who’d throw a pretty girl out of bed for revealing her imperfect taste in books.) After all, women read more, especially when it comes to fiction. “It’s really great if you find a guy that reads, period,” said Beverly West, an author of “Bibliotherapy: The Girl’s Guide to Books for Every Phase of Our Lives.”

Bibliotherapy? Does that work? (And yes, for the record, my staffer reads.)

But seriously – what am I losing by neglecting to read? Is my brain atrophying even as I type this blog entry? Maryanne Wolf has just released a book, Proust and the Squid, about the neuroscience of reading, and how reading, an activity evolution couldn’t have anticipated, challenges and shapes our minds. After I belatedly realized it was a different title than Jonah Lehrer’s Proust/neuroscience book, I considered buying it – only to decide that reading a book about the biology of reading to assuage my guilt about not reading was way too meta.


So, in the Web 2.0 spirit, I absorbed the gist of the book I have not yet read by dipping into a number of reviews, such as this one from the Telegraph:

One important thing to bear in mind is that our brains did not evolve to read. They evolved to hunt and gather, make campfires and so on. This means that reading is an act of improvisation – when you read, you’re actually using parts of the brain that were designed to do other things. You’re splicing together several different technologies. To our brains, reading is just as peculiar/unnatural as Blackberrying or IMing or blogging from this coffee shop. As a species, we haven’t been doing it nearly long enough. And a lot of people don’t do it at all.

It’s true: increasing numbers of people really don’t do it at all. According to a 2007 NEA report (pdf),

Although there has been measurable progress in recent years in reading ability at the elementary school level, all progress appears to halt as children enter their teenage years. There is a general decline in reading among teenage and adult Americans. Most alarming, both reading ability and the habit of regular reading have greatly declined among college graduates.

The NEA report points out that:

-Only 47% of adults read a work of literature (defined as a novel, short story, play or poem) within the past year;
-65% of college freshmen read for pleasure less than an hour a week or not at all;
-Even among college graduates/post-graduates, reading proficiency has declined at a 20%-23% rate between 1992 and 2003;
-the college seniors of 2005 had a greater likelihood of reading less on any given week than when they were high school seniors.

Are unchecked internet habits responsible for the surprising decline in reading among college-educated adults? Maybe, maybe not; we don’t have the data to judge. After all, the internet is still younger than the Baby Boomers (this recent Vanity Fair retrospective shows just how quickly our world has changed). But Wolf and others suggest that the way we read on the internet is a different beast entirely from reading traditional literature – that the “Google universe” fosters a brisk, shallow reading style and a state of constantly divided attention which are at odds with deep thought. The NEA report notes that 58% of middle or high school students use other media (TV, music, IM, etc) some or most of the time while reading. I admit that I, too, multitask compulsively. Lately, my blog output has dwindled painfully, and I think it’s because keeping up with text messages and email and news clips has compromised my inclination (and ability?) to read and write the longer blog posts I enjoy. My attention span has deteriorated well past “book” or “novella,” and now hovers around “New Yorker article” or “long blog post.” Could it dwindle even further, to “Google snippet”? Am I getting older and lazier, or is the way I’m thinking changing to parallel new information technologies? (And how about you? Did this unusually long paragraph seem difficult to slog through? Are you, in fact, still reading?)

These fears are by no means new. But we may have reached some cultural tipping point, because I’m hearing other people voice the same concerns. The cover of the July/August Atlantic Monthly asks, “Is Google Making us Stupid?” I’d answer heck yes – thanks to Google, I’ve grown reluctant to rack my brain over something as trivial as information retrieval. Occasionally I deny myself the immediate gratification of Googling, forcing myself to actually remember that obscure 80s band, or that line of poetry by Yeats. I always feel exceptionally virtuous afterward, as if I’ve eaten my vitamins or done 30 minutes on the elliptical machine.

Google has altered my organizational strategies as well. I rarely bother bookmarking sites or filing documents for reference; I know I can Google up what I want faster than I could locate it on my desktop. No more digging through a pile of dusty, tactile books to research the factoid I need: I just do a Google library search. Earlier this year, I went (in person!) to American University’s library to read an actual book, but I failed miserably. I couldn’t locate what I wanted in the library’s electronic catalog, because I’d neglected to write down the complete citation – I’d blithely assumed I’d just Google it when I got to the library. But the library didn’t give Web access to nonstudents, so I was effectively helpless. (Now that I have my iPhone, I could have Googled it anyway, anywhere).

Granted – Google has changed our ways of learning and reading and researching. But is that so bad? After all, the internet gives us access to unprecedented quantities of data, so even if we merely skip across the informational reservoir like a rock across a pond, aren’t we still learning more than ever? In the Atlantic Monthly cover article, Nicholas Carr phrases the fundamental concern beautifully:

The kind of deep reading that a sequence of printed pages promotes is valuable not just for the knowledge we acquire from the author’s words but for the intellectual vibrations those words set off within our own minds. In the quiet spaces opened up by the sustained, undistracted reading of a book, or by any other act of contemplation, for that matter, we make our own associations, draw our own inferences and analogies, foster our own ideas. Deep reading, as Maryanne Wolf argues, is indistinguishable from deep thinking. (source)

About six weeks ago, determined to become a reader again, I went to the bookstore. I’ve been reading Thomas Pynchon’s V. and Alan Hollinghurst’s Booker Prize-winning novel The Line of Beauty. And although I find myself reading in more abbreviated chunks (snippets?) than I used to, I am almost painfully relieved to discover I still love books.

Carr closes his Atlantic essay with this quote from Richard Foreman.

I come from a tradition of Western culture, in which the ideal (my ideal) was the complex, dense and “cathedral-like” structure of the highly educated and articulate personality–a man or woman who carried inside themselves a personally constructed and unique version of the entire heritage of the West. [But now] I see within us all (myself included) the replacement of complex inner density with a new kind of self–evolving under the pressure of information overload and the technology of the “instantly available.” (source)

Foreman captures my original fear: that I am not only ceasing to read, I’m no longer the person I thought I was, or the person aspired to be. My liberal arts education instilled in me the very ideal he describes. But is it still possible, or desirable, to be such a Renaissance man or woman in the information age?

Comments

  1. #1 John Ohab
    June 16, 2008

    You should read The Areas of My Expertise by John Hodgman (the PC guy in the Mac vs. PC commercials) or spend an inordinate amount of time on TMZ.com like I do.

  2. #2 Jan-Maarten
    June 16, 2008

    That was really long: Good girl! ;-)

    As to the demise of reading, I think you needn’t worry: the introduction of cinema, or the rise of comics and graphic novels in hindsight only served to broaden our cultural smorgasbord, not extinguish reading or writing.. The paperless office; didn’t happen, and more books are printed than ever (if only software manuals). Then again, maybe television Did wipe out storytelling as an art form.

    Personally, I feel there will always be people with an urge to be creative, and I don’t have problems with the medium to be creative in being different for successive generations.

    Maybe it all hinges on what you mean by deep thinking, it sounds impressive, like Chomsky’s ‘deep grammar’, but as easy to misinterpret! And why would ‘deep thinking’ be tied to reading?

    I use a different stick to whip myself; I do read, don’t do television (kicked the thing out some ten years ago)(although I obviously have access to the intertubes), but feel bad after another reading binge for not writing or drawing more. One should be as creative as possible, right?

  3. #3 Jennifer Ouellette
    June 16, 2008

    As an avid reader myself, often I find that what I’m REALLY suffering from when I hit a downturn in my reading habits is reader fatigue. Which is my cue to read some mass market murder mystery, or revisit a favorite novel from my youth — preferably something NOT too highbrow. In other words, rediscovering the notion of reading for the sheer pleasure of losing oneself in the story. A mass market novel can do this just as easily as the latest Booker Prize nominee, and sometimes better, since it’s not weighed down with its own Significance. :)

  4. #4 Eric
    June 16, 2008

    In the past year or two, I’ve actually learned to read over a much longer time scale. Instead of breezing through a book in a couple of days, I’ve learned to keep chipping away for weeks or months at a time.

    This has finally allowed me to make progress in math and foreign languages, neither of which are amenable to the “spend a weekend thinking about a book” method of reading.

  5. #5 Jessica Palmer
    June 16, 2008

    Eric: another side benefit is that while a good novel used to give me at most two days’ enjoyment, now I can drag it out over a month, and read several books at the same time! But it still feels weird to me – and I’m not convinced I retain content any better than I did when I read a book in one big gulp.

  6. #6 The Ridger
    June 16, 2008

    As with everything, “anecdotes,” as Carr said, “don’t count for much.” I still read books – in fact, I went through 7 this past weekend in an orgy over a new author – and I’m on the Internet a lot too. See how little that impresses anyone as a data point to balance Carr’s pathologist who can’t get through three paragraphs any more?

  7. #7 Sarah
    June 16, 2008

    Don’t be too concerned by the low reading for pleasure numbers among college freshmen and seniors. Many of us at my liberal arts school had so much reading for classes that we had little to no inclination to read for pleasure while school was in session. As soon as a break came around, we went straight back to our book-devouring ways.

    Also, don’t be so certain that television has killed storytelling. It still exists in the form of table top role-playing games.

  8. #8 zy
    June 16, 2008

    I wonder if it is really a decline in reading or a decline in the attention paid to books. When I’m on the computer I’m almost exclusively reading (except when I mouth off a little on some forum). I also think that some blog posts are of as high a quality, in the content as well as professionalism of presentation, as some published books. Not as long, to be sure, but I was never one to read a book in one sitting, and some web pages are surely a chapter’s worth of material (especially when they are a chapter of a book!)

    It is also a question of the sustained attention a book gives to one topic or one story, but I think depending on a person’s use of the internet, sustained attention isn’t forfeited either. It may take a little more discipline, with so many links and distractions, but developing that discipline could be something we address through education. Also, whereas we rely on books to put a narrative together for us, when we’re catching up on a topic on the internet, we’re actually putting the story together on our own, so perhaps internet reading is less passive than curling up with a book. Is that so wrong?

    There is no inherent virtue to killing trees, grinding them up and gluing them together covered in pigments. People complain about computers replacing books, but before we despair I think we should figure out if fewer or lower quality words are actually passing beneath our eyeballs, and whether comprehension is better, worse, or different.

    Books as physical objects are expensive and resource intensive. Their price is more outrageous every year. Yes, the heft and feel, the sound and sight and smell of them, are a joy to the senses, but so are a fine violin, a vintage wine, all of them “objet” that are more for the elite and less accessible to the rest with every passing day. Like the printing press before it, the internet may bring uncomfortable changes to reading, like when and where, how it’s handled, and who actually does it. I think it’s up to each one to try to be sure the changes are constructive.

  9. #9 mdvlist
    June 16, 2008

    This post actually made me feel really good– I mean, I thought it was just motherhood that had turned me into an English major has-been, so it’s nice to be reminded that there are other forces at work, and that I am not the only victim. I, too, wish I read more books, simply because glancing at a magazine or a piece online NEVER results in the kind of emotional engagement that I experience with literature. I got through a mere 25 pages of “Cranford” at opera rehearsal today, but even with the slow going, it sure gave me that giddy “give me more cake” feeling. A college friend handed “Gilead” down to me last summer, the only recent novel I’ve read in recent memory, and I cried so much over it that it still makes me a bit teary to think of it. Why don’t I read more books like that? Was reading it such a big deal? Sadly, I think part of the problem is getting my hands on a book to read that I already KNOW I want to read– I can’t afford to dabble like I used to, since I don’t have the leisure or, therefore, the patience to march myself through the first chapters of a book that isn’t going to have me riveted until chapter 3. If only people would just keep sending me books that I will love, maybe I would read more!

    By the way, I DID send you a letter today . . .

  10. #10 Eric
    June 16, 2008

    Jessica: Yeah, I have trouble if I try to read in novel in small chunks, too. But for harder material, such as a math text, it’s easier to break it up into small pieces, and work at it a little bit every day.

  11. #11 Tyrant King Porn Dragon
    June 17, 2008

    For me, it’s not so much a decline as a transfer; I used to read actual books much more than I do, but now I spend approximately the same amount of time reading blogs as I used to spend reading books. You say ‘stops reading’ – but is there really that much difference between written words in the one format and the other?

  12. #12 Pablo
    June 17, 2008

    Do audiobooks count as reading?

    I have been _listening_ to lots of books lately (I drive an hour to get to work, and audiobooks are great way to pass time). I just haven’t figured out if that is “reading” or not. I am listening to the unabridged original literature, so it’s not like I am listening to some directors vision of it. I like audiobooks because the reader reads every single word (as opposed to when I read, where I skim a lot).

    I am currently listening to Robinson Crusoe.

    BTW, if you are interested in audio versions of lots of classic literature, go to the website http://www.librivox.org. Lots and lots of public domain literature on audio.

  13. #13 James Crooks
    June 17, 2008

    Sarah makes a resonable point about college students; I know I certainly feel less compelled to read during classes, if only because I tend to take tough courses, although not so much in the liberal arts vein, that leave me mentally exhausted. That said, sometimes a good book is just what it takes to restore me to full feeling, and I find that I tend to think better when I’ve been reading recently, even if it’s just some (well-written) space opera and nothing so fancy as Gravity’s Rainbow (which leers at me from my coffee table each time I sit down to watch TV).

    And then when I do read, it tends to be in bursts, so that any given week I will have been unlikely to read a book, but there are weeks every so often where I will read a half-dozen books. Or nearly a chapter of Godel, Escher, Bach, but that’s another matter… :)

    Eric, it does take a different approach to reading mathematics texts. It took me a week to make it just 96 pages into the Real Analysis text I recently picked up, despite not working the exercises. In order to understand a math book though, you have to spend a lot more time digesting each paragraph (particularly the more advanced texts) and proofs should be followed very carefully, with paper and pencil if necessary. I know in reading my Analysis book that I reached a point where one paragraph struck me as particularly obtuse, and I had to put the book down for the night to ponder the principle before continuing.

    The overall issue with reading among my peers however, is that I find many people who honestly find it odd that others read. It bothers me mostly because I am finding the number of people I can have meaningful conversations with is dwindling. I do not, of course, read so that I can talk about it later to other people, but I do enjoy being able to discuss literary preferances, recommend books, and discuss good stories, but it’s hard when few people read.

  14. #14 Lord Zero
    June 17, 2008

    Im into the same thing, just reading papers and
    reference books keeps feeling harder and harder.
    I always thought than i need to read more, but
    then there are not books what i like enough to
    spend my college student money buying them…
    Then i end re-reading old classics, or not reading
    altoghter, all of this make me feel like my brain
    its dried just like a raisin.
    I remember my childhood days when i read “El Quijote” and
    “Ulisses” in their originals versions in two days just
    for relaxing. Maybe im really turning stupid. Its scary.

  15. #15 John Ohab
    June 17, 2008

    This entry + comments = a novel.

  16. #16 web design company
    June 17, 2008

    Fiction readers, do not attempt to best non-fiction readers in trivia games or in debates. You will only annoy your intellectual betters and show thine self as the fool thou art.

  17. #17 kcanadensis
    June 17, 2008

    I’m an undergraduate myself and I can honestly say that I have tried reading during the school year and I’ve not had time for it. Now that it’s summer, I’ve gotten through one novel and almost a second in two months, but that’s really slow for me. I work and pursue other activities like practicing drawing in anticipation of next semesters classes. I wonder if most of us college undergrads/grads just don’t have time for it anymore?
    I must admit I spend a lot of time on the ‘net too (as well as using google to get info), but it’s far less satisfying than reading a book on a subject and I often note that.

  18. #18 Etha Williams
    June 17, 2008

    WRT the stats on college students and reading — as a college student, this doesn’t really surprise me. My friends and I are fond of bemoaning how our liberal arts education makes us read less for pleasure, because we spend all our time reading (or avoiding, as the case may be) books for classes. We try to make a conscious effort to visit the local bookstore once a month to avoid falling into this trap, but all too often I find I let not-fun reading prevent me from indulging in fun reading…and then I, too, worry I’m becoming a non-reader.

  19. #19 wazza
    June 17, 2008

    One of the things that annoys me is the way people assume that being able to look things up stops you from thinking. It doesn’t – it just stops you from remembering, and hard drives can remember better than a brain can. But the human mind can organise. It can bring the disparate facts together and make connections that aren’t immediately apparent. The internet isn’t stopping us from thinking, it’s freeing our thinking from the limits of personal memory.

    And for the record, I read about four books a week and I’m a university student.

  20. #20 Jessica Palmer
    June 18, 2008

    James said:

    “It bothers me mostly because I am finding the number of people I can have meaningful conversations with is dwindling. I do not, of course, read so that I can talk about it later to other people, but I do enjoy being able to discuss literary preferances, recommend books, and discuss good stories, but it’s hard when few people read.”

    That’s a big problem for me too. . . the number of people with whom I could discuss, say, Top Chef or Project Runway far outstrips the number of people with whom I could discuss “Gravity’s Rainbow” or “Godel, Escher, Bach” – both of which are on my to-read list.

    Several people have made the very good point that if you’re reading difficult stuff, it doesn’t matter where it is – a book or the internet. That’s true enough! But I wonder how many people log on to the internet and really focus, immersed in an essay from beginning to end, without multitasking in another window or clicking away to some tangential link. Web interfaces are structured to encourage lateral movement, which makes the web environment fabulously rich, but also very distracting.

    I for one am generally unable to screen-read productively for more than a few minutes at a time. I always have to read peer-reviewed journal articles offline, in part because the screen strains my eyes, and in part because they’re often badly written, making links, email and IM such tempting escape hatches. . .

  21. #21 James Crooks
    June 19, 2008

    Peer reviewed journals are impossible to read on a computer, I swear it. It takes me ten times longer to get through an article on screen than on paper. The same goes for math texts; I can look up formulae online, but for actually learning things, I find a book works much better.

    While I can’t comment about Gravity’s Rainbow yet, I can say that with GEB you’re in for a treat. Hoffsteader is an excellent writer, and the book communicates, among many other things, why mathematicians like mathematics so much, even if he never outright tells you. It’s nearly a liberal arts education in itself.

  22. #22 PhysioProf
    June 20, 2008

    But is it still possible, or desirable, to be such a Renaissance man or woman in the information age?

    Yes. And on your point about “retaining” what you read, I really don’t think that is what reading is about. Remembering content is not why reading is so influential on our personalities, characters, and capabilities. Rather, it is because everything we read permanently influences our internal system of conceptual structures.

    Nice post, Jessica.

  23. #23 Ian
    June 25, 2008

    You make some good points, but there seems to be a lot of anecdotal and fake panic going on with this particular topic.

    I also detect a certain amount of snobbery, too, like “book larnin’” is the *only* thing that’s at all important in the world!

    So non-sedentary activity and experiencing life counts for nothing? A person who is at home spending time with their children is a waste of a human being whereas the person who packs those same children off to day care so they can selfishly sate their addiction to books is a paragon?

    Someone who has a four-year degree, but no smarts or experience is unarguably the one to hire, whereas the older person who has no degree, but is an expert at the job-at-hand is to be dissed and dismissed?

    Before we start pointing condemning fingers, we need to be sure what it is we’re condemning and at whom the finger needs to be pointed, if anyone.

  24. #24 Jessica Palmer
    June 25, 2008

    Ian, I’m not sure whose post you were reading that made any such implications. I think you’re making some unwarranted assumptions about what being a “reader” means.

    One of my best friends is a stay-at-home mom who laments not finding time to read. I was just commiserating with my mother, who is seriously disabled and never finished college, about finding pain-free time to read (she’d love to, but her eyes no longer function well enough). Clearly a wide variety of people enjoy reading, and wish they had more time to do it, which is why this issue has hit a nerve.

    The false assumption that people who read books are all some kind of self-indulgent snobs is part of why a solid education is not respected or valued in this culture as it should be.

  25. #25 hiten
    November 11, 2008

    Hi,

    I really need to know how can i get my hands on the image you have used above – please let me know if i can buy it.
    plz plz plz

  26. #26 Jessica Palmer
    November 11, 2008

    Hi Hiten,

    I’m sorry but it’s not an image I created. I saw it at the Rag and Bone Blog post I linked to. I don’t know who originally created it.

  27. #27 Jessica Palmer
    November 11, 2008

    Hi Hiten,

    After doing some digging, I found that the photo is by Christopher Tovo for an ad campaing for an Australian Newspaper. His gallery is here:

    http://www.christophertovo.com/advertising.php

  28. #28 lindyloo
    November 25, 2008

    This post reminds me of a great essay about “serious fiction” by Jonathan Franzen. The essay is called “Why Bother?” and it appears in the collection titled How to Be Alone. Franzen thinks about if and why serious fiction matters (and why it’s different–not better or worse, but different–from watching even the most edifying play, film, or even television show. This essay really helped me identify myself as a reader and a writer, and helped me stop worrying about the future of our good friend, the printed word. I think you’d like it–the whole collection is fantastic. (By the way, I’ve just started reading your blog and I love it. Thanks!)

  29. #29 J-Dog
    January 23, 2009

    Congrats on the blog – I am a new reader and got lured in by the Bad UK Names.

    re: Reading – I read a lot as a kid, my reading for fun fell off in HS and college, then picked up again when I was in my 30′s. Point being that we all go through stages, and sometimes ya got time – sometimes ya don’t.

    But I am willing to bet a single-malt bottle of scotch that if you read for fun as a kid, you’ll do the same as an adult. After I had kids, I read to them, and that also led to me reading more.

    And now I read blogs and books.

  30. #30 DuWayne
    March 8, 2009

    (Rare is the guy who’d throw a pretty girl out of bed for revealing her imperfect taste in books.)

    Been known to do just that. Not like – “get the hell out of here you ignorant whore!!!” But I definitely have issues with women who aren’t keen on reading, and by reading I don’t mean harlequin romance or cosmo.

    I actually struggle with this issue too. I love books, yet find myself not picking them up as much since I started school (ironic that). I actually read more now – but I do everything I can to find digi copies if I have to read a book – mainly because it’s easier to deal with longer citations. And I have to admit that as much as I love the feel of a book in my hands, I am very attracted to a digital library and ereader. The difference between carrying a back-breaking pile of books and one slim, shiny little tablet makes it kind of attractive.

    But I love the feel of a book in my hands.

  31. #31 DuWayne
    March 9, 2009

    But Wolf and others suggest that the way we read on the internet is a different beast entirely from reading traditional literature – that the “Google universe” fosters a brisk, shallow reading style and a state of constantly divided attention which are at odds with deep thought.

    Ok, this has been bugging me. It sounds way too much like the folks who fear every new media form that comes around, is going to lead to the imminent collapse of civilization. Records, radio, moving pictures, tee vee – all of these left us poised on the brink of absolute disaster, yet here we are.

    I read a lot of blogs, a lot of papers and a lot of studies. Honestly, at the end of the day curling up with some scifi tee vee becomes a little more attractive than curling up with a novel. At that point, brain candy is brain candy – the medium really makes very little difference. And part of my unwinding usually involves wandering the blogs, because at the end of the day my Ritalin is wearing mighty thin and I can’t sit through an hourish of tee vee without a break.

    But this sort of activity doesn’t contraindict deep thought. For example, this comment that I am writing now, has been bugging me since I read this post yesterday. And it’s going to continue doing so. Which is fine – I think this is a reasonable topic to focus some of my thinking on and ultimately, given my attention deficit issues, it is helpful for me to do so (I’ll write more on that specific interaction at my own blog).

    Reading the clips here and there just broadens the horizons of thought. While much of what comes in might not be subjected to really deep thinking, I would posit that people who read a wide range of topics will ultimately think deeper about more things.

  32. #32 DrugMonkey
    March 10, 2009

    It sounds way too much like the folks who fear every new media form that comes around, is going to lead to the imminent collapse of civilization. Records, radio, moving pictures, tee vee – all of these left us poised on the brink of absolute disaster, yet here we are.

    I once ran across an old screed on how the novel was going to ruinz society. I kick myself constantly that I didn’t keep track of wherever I found those old comments- look at how we think of people who “never read books” now…

  33. #33 wazza
    September 13, 2009

    Is Google making us dumber? I’d argue against it… it’s making us rely on our memory less, but we’re now expected to immediately parse new information. Different stresses, but the result is that we can recall a wider range of information, faster, and then combine it. By utilising the machine as part of our cognitive process, we become smarter.