Thursday, May 13, 2010

For our reading lists

Yes, the Internet is rotting your brain is a salon article which, in the densely ironic way we navigate our online lives, is an online article reviewing Nicholas Carr's book on the dangers of the internet to the brain. Interesting as this article is, I have to say that I had actually already come across a similar idea in this entry from the onion: Nation Shudders At Large Block Of Uninterrupted Text. By the way, according to Carr such links as those I posted are exactly part of the "problem."
I will say that I tend to believe Carr's assertions. What I don't buy is the declensionist narrative that accompanies such findings, as if change is by definition bad. Civilizations have frequently affected how humans process information. In the time of Homer and Pericles, people were able to memorize and pay attention to amazingly long speeches and recited poems to degrees that, say, Renaissance audiences could not. By the time civilization moved from the oral to the written text, and by the time much later Gutenberg invented mechanical movable type printing, I am sure the way the minds of the people in these civilizations processed information and retained it had changed as well. Yet we did not lament how our dependence on the written text weakened our oral memory. If anything, we credit printing with bringing about huge leaps for humans. 

1 comment:

  1. I agree. And, that is why the more traditional Catholics are still not encouraged to read the Bible. Guttenberg threatened a massive power structure with that press.