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Is Google Making Us Stupid? (theatlantic.com)
23 points by razorburn on June 10, 2008 | hide | past | web | favorite | 9 comments

I do find that I no longer read through things (especially opinion pieces) with that sense of "truncated thought" whenever I come to a questionable assertion or statistic.

It used to be that I'd feel an uneasy is that right? feeling at these points and try to remember to check that out later. Now I'm very likely to pop google open next to the piece and check immediately.

Very often things I'm reading "strike out" with a few bogus assertions or statistics and don't get read all the way through.

Reading anything without google except fiction where I wish to suspend disbelief feels weird now.

Google makes us smarter, not stupid, because it allows our brain to be an L1 cache instead of the entire store.

It's the breaking-up of essays into 4 or more web pages that irritates and turns off the reader...

It's wrong to say technology is making thought more shallow. What's happening is the digestion of information is becoming a heavily collaborative process instead of a strictly personal one.

Read the whole thing... if you still can.

I was gonna read the whole thing, but the first rambling paragraph bored me and I got distracted by something on newegg.

(On a serious note: what a linkbait headline!)


TV is making people stupid.

No, it was reading that made people stupid. We just can't memorize epic poems the way we used to.

How can you assess that the epic poem was memorized (correctly) if you don't have a written record of the original version (I'll assume where there's reading there's writing)? Maybe it wasn't even epic at first.

Actually, I vaguely remember reading about a study of bards which showed that -- surprise, surprise -- thousand-line epic poems aren't memorized word-for-word. Certain famous lines are memorized, the overall plot is memorized, the meter may or may not be fixed... but a bunch of the details end up being improvised. Fans of folk music or jazz should be completely unsurprised by this.

The moral of this story is that the identity and talent of the person "transcribing" an epic poem into print -- or playing that folk music into the recorder -- are really important.

Of course, perhaps a dedicated critic of writing would laugh at the absurd notion that an epic poem whose words were exactly the same at every performance was somehow "more correct". Why, if you standardize the words, the art is gone! That's the approach taken by dedicated fans of concert music and jazz: it's the little differences in interpretation and approach that make each performance fresh and unique.

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