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Impact of the Internet on Thinking by Alan Greenblatt
Pages 3 (753 words)
Report Summary ‘Impact of the Internet on Thinking’ by Alan Greenblatt, CQ Researcher, 24/09/10 The research question that guides this report is stated in the subtitle: ‘Is the Web changing the way we think?’ More explicitly, the rapidly growing dominance of the Internet in our lives, with its constant emphasis on visual stimulation, its pervasiveness and addictiveness, has given rise to speculation that it alters its users’ capacity for reflection and deep thinking.
Although compulsive use of electronic media is quite unlike addiction to chemical substances, China and South Korea already recognize it as a public health concern. Greenblatt quotes Nicholas Carr as expressing concern that the Internet can have ‘bad effects on our brains’. Jonah Lehrer argues that such ‘concerns are overstated.’ Research by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found the majority of technology experts disagreeing with Carr, who held varied opinions on the merits of the Internet. One interesting finding was that some believed that it helped create a “hive brain” enabling ‘people to share thoughts and come to collective solutions to complex problems’. Robert Thompson is concerned that the ‘flood of information’ leaves people no ‘time for contemplation’ and ‘deeper reflection’. Paul Saffo says that video games ‘stimulates and strengthens parts of the brain’, but worries that such technology ‘causes ... people to... concentrate on the immediate at the expense of the long-term’. Greenblatt cites evidence for and against the question whether the Web shortens the attention span of individuals. ...
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