While Carr’s article provided interesting insights and points of view on the idea of technology turning mankind into nothing more than machine-like artificial intelligence, I have to disagree with many of the points he made.
Immediately into the article Carr discussed how he and other friends he have started losing the ability to concentrate on long works of prose and even lengthy articles, yet he and the friends that he mentioned have the ability to concentrate long enough to write their blogs. Hopefully the irony was apparent for more than just me (in which case I wonder if they have the attention span to read the blogs they publish). Carr also mentioned that as a writer he enjoys that the web allows him access to multitudes of research. In this aspect I completely agree. As someone who greatly enjoys writing, I love that I have the ability to pause while writing a story and look up details of my prose online, rather than having to do it by hand. While some may argue that this will in turn lessen the intelligence of some people, I see it as an increase in productivity. When I read books by my favorite authors I won’t have to wait twice the amount of time for their new novels to be published because they have the ability to do research ten times faster on the internet. Does the fact that they rely on the internet to do research inhibit their intelligence to write? Does my ability to read a synopsis of their new book online inhibit my intelligence and ability to read? It merely allows for greater ease and efficiency.
Carr states that “our ability to interpret text, to make rich mental connections that form when we read deeply and without distraction remains largely disengaged.” Personally I believe that it is within one’s own power to concentrate on a piece of literature and the ability to comprehend what one reads relies largely on the amount of that concentration. The argument that the internet has harmed our ability to become engaged with a text is granted an interesting one, yet one can be read in many ways. It is my interpretation, as a generation that has grown up both without internet and with internet, that the internet has merely expanded our options of readable text and it is up to us to sort through and find literature in which we can become engaged. Similar to the articles and blogs discussed before about whether the internet is majority “trash” or “substance on the web,” it is up to the user to determine. While I may scroll through many articles and skim the pages of a few of them, that is my way of sorting. Similar to a search engine like Google, the way that I skim article searches for the most relevant information to me. Once I find something worth reading I can easily become engaged with a text and remember it for as long as it holds my interests and recall it when I need.
The idea that our brains work like “clockwork” or “computers” only enhances the idea that our brains can adapt to the new forms of technology. The comparison doesn’t say that internet has hurt our intelligence, if anything these analogies create the idea that our minds, like technology, are constantly evolving. Carr believes “that what Taylor did for the work of the hand, Google is doing for the work of the mind.” The way this is presented in the article shows portrays the impression that Taylor’s methods of working dehumanized the everyday factory worker. However, rather than seeing it as dehumanizing couldn’t one instead concentrate on the surge in productivity of Taylor’s factories? If Taylor gained such success and productivity with his techniques, what does that mean for Google (which is following Taylor’s algorithms and traditions)? As far as I can see it can only lead to further productivity and enhancement. Relating back to the idea that Carr has trouble sitting still to read could even possibly be due to the fact that we, as internet users, are on such a high stream of productivity that we feel if we are not constantly producing or working in someway we lose our concentration and move onto a new method of production.
Finally, Carr gives the analogy that the “human brain is just an outdated computer that needs a faster processor and bigger hard drive.” However, if it is true that we only use a certain percentage of our brains, isn’t it possible the new developments of technology help expand our intelligence rather than hurt it? Maybe our minds aren’t “outdated computers,” but rather ones that have not yet reached their full potential. Carr believes that Google is making us stupid because we rely on the internet for knowledge instead of our own minds, but in my opinion the internet is working with the expansion of our knowledge by giving us access to greater amounts of information.