The time we spend on the internet is diminishing our power to concentrate, to pay attention. Nicholas Carr believes our contemporary on-line life threatens “a form of human regress,” a permanent loss of the human capacity for contemplation. “It follows us even when we turn off our computers,” he says.
Carr wrote it down the first time in The Atlantic (“Is Google Making us Stupid?”) and has expanded his study into a book with a wonderful title (“The Shallows”) and he talks about it in an interview with Robert Siegel on NPR – where you can get a link to read some of the book. Or you can dig deeper with Carr on his blog, Rough Type.
It’s hard to see why the cause of learning and thinking about the information revolution – or anything else — is hindered by the ability to read or listen or respond to all that while sitting in one place. Nonetheless, it’s self-evident that a fundamental shift is taking place, and just as self-evident that we are not in a great place to understand it. Siegel has the courage to ask him, several times, whether the phenomenon may represent not regression but rather progression into a higher state of human thought. It’s possible.
In any case, the book is on order for the Library.