Maybe Nicholas Carr is right: the internet is just so much catnip in a world already filled with too many distractions. And, like any such drug—even those that seem relatively harmless, especially in relation to the benefits they seem to offer—my freewheeling engagement with the internet is slowly but surely reshaping my brain so that, eventually, I won’t be capable of a sustained reflection.
Now, Carr and Clay Shirky have been sparring for some time over the relative merits of digital connectedness and information access, and I’m not unmoved by the cautions Carr raises in The Shallows, the extension of his 2008 Atlantic article, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” But, I’m generally more persuaded by Shirky’s analysis in Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age, that the opportunities for access, sharing, collaboration, and positive global social change have clearly been the result both of the internet and rapidly developing digital social media on portable computing devices. This morning, however, as I started to work on a review of the two books I had to wonder if maybe I’d gotten it all wrong.
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