Thursday, April 23, 2009


A friend texted me this morning, telling me to read this article in The Atlantic: Is Google Making Us Stupid? I don't know, Nicholas Carr. You tell me.

I'm about 8 paragraphs in, and starting this blog post. So far, I'm not that impressed. Carr is mourning the loss of deep thought. I'd hate to be the one to tell him that it's never been there for many of us. Really, statistically speaking. Maybe just not for readers of The Atlantic.

Nietzche's writing changed because he bought a typewriter? Mine has too. I think for the better. Spare me the nostalgia:
"Under the sway of the machine, writes the German media scholar Friedrich A. Kittler , Nietzsche’s prose “changed from arguments to aphorisms, from thoughts to puns, from rhetoric to telegram style.”
The whole idea of writing is to communicate. You can tell me what I need to know, but I need to want to know it. Do what you need to do to make me want it.

Oh great, we're back at it. "The result is to scatter our attention and diffuse our concentration." Please.

Abstracts in the New York Times now? Awesome. Welcome to my world. It's a great--if soul-crushing--exercise to condense the slavish efforts of months, or even years, into half a page. It's called an abstract. These, my friends, are the building blocks of human thought.

Here's another big leap:
The Internet is a machine designed for the efficient and automated collection, transmission, and manipulation of information, and its legions of programmers are intent on finding the “one best method”—the perfect algorithm—to carry out every mental movement of what we’ve come to describe as “knowledge work.”
Seems naive to me. Sure--all programmers are striving for the perfect, most elegant code. But anyone who knows anything about programming also knows that programmers love making a mess of someone else's beautiful snippet. It's not exactly synergy on the net. It's more like war.

Oh boy, here we go again. "Deep reading, as Maryanne Wolf argues, is indistinguishable from deep thinking." Give me a break.

You're bored already. So am I. I'm so bored with this argument I want to start another blog post. In fact, I'm so bored with this argument that I got bored with my own counterargument.

Bang! Deep, parsimonious thoughts: I think that the next journalist who finds the need to wax prosaic about this hyperactive Wasteland of new media we live in, the monsters we have become, needs to consider more carefully the miracle of memory.

Human beings, at best, can remember a few things per day. Make them good ones. Don't waste my time.

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