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Impact of the Internet on Thinking by Alan Greenblatt
Pages 3 (753 words)
The research question that guides this report: ‘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…
Researchers have studied and expressed views from social, psychological, intellectual and physiological perspectives that are summarised and quoted in this report. Greenblatt begins his survey giving examples of instances of the impact of Internet use as a pervasive and addictive influence on people’s lives. 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’. ...
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