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Sarita
06-13-2008, 06:42 AM
Great article in the June edition of the Atlantic about how the internet is changing the way our minds work.

Linky (http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200807/google).


Over the past few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory. My mind isn’t going—so far as I can tell—but it’s changing. I’m not thinking the way I used to think. I can feel it most strongly when I’m reading. Immersing myself in a book or a lengthy article used to be easy. My mind would get caught up in the narrative or the turns of the argument, and I’d spend hours strolling through long stretches of prose. That’s rarely the case anymore. Now my concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages. I get fidgety, lose the thread, begin looking for something else to do. I feel as if I’m always dragging my wayward brain back to the text. The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle.

Anyone else ever feel like this? Skimming instead of reading? Not enjoying words for the mere value of words and the way they can twist through your brain, giving you a slew of beautiful images?

I also find it interesting that Carr thinks we, as a culture, are probably reading FAR more than we were in the 70's, through emails, texts, internet searches, and countless forms of media that bombard us daily.

Take a look. It's worth the read. As writers, it's interesting to see how our readers are changing. And to find out if other writers in our market are making changes in their texts based on the "internet mind."

Plot Device
06-13-2008, 06:51 AM
I definitely feel like Wiki has changed the way I read. When I read a hard-copy book or periodical rather than a web article, I now find that when I stumble upon a new word I've never read before, I wish it was "clickable" so I could find out its definition.

Elodie-Caroline
06-13-2008, 02:32 PM
I think the internet as a whole does this to us... we want everything and we want it now! I first found this, way back in 2001, when I got my very first computer. I was on dial-up, at a penny a minute, and wanted to do everything as quickly as possible so as not to have a huge phone bill. I would skim forums, reply fast, without checking, and then see loads of typos lol. It's kind of like ADD, isn't it.
I'm still on dial up, it's a set monthly rate now for 24/7, but I still feel as though I need to do everything in nano seconds instead of enjoying and actually thinking about stuff before I write it on the net.

Until having the net, I would spend many hours a day learning the French language, I was getting really good at it too; I'd even bought books on street/slang language; I wanted to be the same there as here, didn't I :tongue Being too involved in the forums of another site and finding many friends, I couldn't settle down into taking my time over non-internet things for a couple of years. I haven't done any of my French for years because of this, I just can't seem to give myself the discipline anymore. I would have been fluent by now if I hadn't decided to go online. :Shrug:

However, saying all that, I might have skipped on my French studies, but I do spend hours disciplining myself with my writing. I'm on my fourth novel since 2004, the last two years have produced three of them, so not all is lost I suppose. I guess we just to get our priorities into perspective.


Elodie

JJ Cooper
06-13-2008, 02:56 PM
I skimmed through the OP.

I cannot do backstory or descriptive narrative anymore. I need pace and page-turners. Rarely do I read a novel that I won't skim in parts. And I delete more emails at work than I read to the end.

But, I cannot blame the internet on its lonesome here. Generally, we tend to cram more into life than ever before. Google and yahoo etc facilitate the pace we want.

JJ

HeronW
06-13-2008, 02:59 PM
Actually I do read more from the net but I also have a far wider venue of resources and reference to look at, and with ebooks I can 'restock' the paper library I had to leave back in the States.

I do hit the English corner in the local libraries here and I've read stuff I'd not normally look at but for a hunger to have English visually with me.

robeiae
06-13-2008, 06:06 PM
Good article. Very thought provoking.

Speaking for myself, a couple of points:

1) I've always been a skimmer, long before there was an internet. It's probably why I ultimately prefer non-fiction over fiction.
2) Personally, I am more concerned with the lack of math skills, thanks to calculators and computers, that is continually evidencing itself. And I mean among adults, not children. Children still learn math, but as they grow older and become adults, there's nothing reinforcing what they learned.
3) I don't let my kids use google for reports as a matter of course. I make them go to the encyclopedia first.

Dawnstorm
06-13-2008, 09:21 PM
3) I don't let my kids use google for reports as a matter of course. I make them go to the encyclopedia first.

That's interesting.

I don't have kids, but if I had them, I'd encourage google over encyclopedia, anytime. That, or wikipedia.

What I think is happening with the internet is that we're going from a trust/loyalty-base to a content-evaluation base. Before the internet, there was a limit to how many sources you could afford. (How many different encyclopedias could you afford? How much space do you have to store good ones?) That meant you'd have to check the quality of the publication, integrity of the editors etc. before making a commitment. Your critical faculty was more effective if directed towards sources. You chose a source you trust, and then you stick with it.

Now, with the web, the limit isn't storage or money; the limit is "time". Now, instead of sticking to your favourites, you have the option of comparing sources. You focus on content, wonder what's plausible, see what people leave out... (If I research something on the web, even if it's non-consequential, I usually have at least three tabs open, and I jump back and forth between them.)

Now, the dangers of both methods are different.

Traditional method: You're turning into your master's blood hound. You'll be thorough in tracking down the info you want. And when you have it it's yours.

New method: You're turning into a magpie. If it glitters, you grab it. You end up with a hoard and you may even have a diamond or you two, but you don't know and you don't care, as long as it glitters.

The dangers of the new method are more visible, simply because people are used to the old dangers.

Google isn't making us stupid. If anything, it's tripping up the uncritical in visible ways. It's easy to blame the technology, if you buy the resource-loyalty system in the first place.

The ideal information gatherer will optimise time, money and storage space, by effective combination of all resources available. What you're favouring will probably depnd on your personality structure.

I've always been "spread wide and thin", and I never really went "deep". The internet didn't change anything, but it really improved my research capabilities. I'm actually working more effectively with the internet than I ever did in a library (where I wasted too much time running around between shelves). Today, I prefer the web for targeted research, but I still prefer libraries for browsing (which is interesting, since the article suggests it should be the other way round, hehe).

So, to return to the original point, if I had kids, I'd encourage them to google for the info they need, but I'd discourage them taking the first thing they like. I'd encourage them to compare (and track) sources, which I think is an important skill and easier than ever to get started on. (Of course, it would depend on my kids, too. It's just a personal preference, and personal preferences are quite easy to impress on imaginary kids. ;) )

So now I'm curious why you're favouring the encyclopedia over google. And which one(s) you favour over google. And if there are any you'd rather avoid. How about wikipedia? Anything you care to communicate, really. (I shouldn't have to say this, but this is the web: I'm not tripping you up here, or arguing for my position. Your remark really piqued my curiosity.)

ColoradoGuy
06-13-2008, 09:35 PM
Traditional method: You're turning into your master's blood hound. You'll be thorough in tracking down the info you want. And when you have it it's yours.

New method: You're turning into a magpie. If it glitters, you grab it. You end up with a hoard and you may even have a diamond or you two, but you don't know and you don't care, as long as it glitters.
Or perhaps a Hedgehog vs a Fox (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hedgehog_and_the_Fox).

jst5150
06-13-2008, 09:39 PM
Or perhaps a Hedgehog vs a Fox (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hedgehog_and_the_Fox).
Or, medically, Hunters and Farmers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hunter_vs._farmer_theory).

sassandgroove
06-13-2008, 10:41 PM
I don't have kids, but if I had them, I'd encourage google over encyclopedia, anytime. That, or wikipedia.FOr starters, why would you prefer a website that anyone can edit and therefore can't be trusted as a source?

Let me tell you why I would make my kids, if I had them, use the library and encyclopedias.

When I was in highschool I had to write a research paper mainly to learn how to write research papers. They wanted us to go to the library and take 3x5 cards, and look things up in books and encyclodedias, make notes and cite the sources. I scoffed. It was, after all, the 1990's! I went to the library and researched, but instead of MAKING NOTES, I PHOTO COPIED my references. I got an A on my paper.

Now let me tell you the problem with my method: I don't remember my paper. I remember the subject, the title, but I don't remember the content.

I guarantee you if I wrote down all those notes instead of copying them with a photo copier, I would still have a basic grasp and understanding of the subject that paper was on today, which in my mind is far more imporatant than the A I rec'd at the time.

Google just makes that phenomenon worse.

Also Rob said: 3) I don't let my kids use google for reports as a matter of course. I make them go to the encyclopedia first.

TO me that reads as he makes them start with encyclopedias- and possibly they can use google later if they can't find enough info.

robeiae
06-13-2008, 10:48 PM
Also Rob said: 3) I don't let my kids use google for reports as a matter of course. I make them go to the encyclopedia first.

TO me that reads as he makes them start with encyclopedias- and possibly they can use google later if they can't find enough info.
Right.

And the index card method is the only way to go for research papers. What we're seeing today--in academia--is a rise in plagiarism because of "cut and paste"-itis.

jst5150
06-13-2008, 10:48 PM
FOr starters, why would you prefer a website that anyone can edit and therefore can't be trusted as a source?
It's a classic idealist discussion: do you want something everyone can contribute "knowledge" toward, or have one knowledge tome with editorial control from a single source.

There's a reason why Wikipedia lists its sources at the bottoms of its entries -- so you can cross check the credibility of the knowledge you're gathering. I like that.

Information, like tomatoes, is currently in a buyer beware market. It always has been. Use wisely. :)

sassandgroove
06-13-2008, 10:54 PM
Oh I refer to Wiki, I just wouldn't use it as my only source. Maybe a starting point, or as one of many.

We used it to get song listings for tv shows my husband likes to make his own soundtracks from Itunes.

I wouldn't let my kid use it [exclusivly] for a report and if I did I would make them check the sources.

JoNightshade
06-13-2008, 11:00 PM
FOr starters, why would you prefer a website that anyone can edit and therefore can't be trusted as a source?

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/4530930.stm

In my opinion, the internet has improved our lives beyond measure, and any "downsides" are just adjustments that we're making as a culture. The method of receiving information cannot in itself be inherently bad; we simply need to learn the best methods for processing information. As I see it, the most important thing for current and future generations is to learn DISCERNMENT.

In the past, if something was written in a nonfiction book - well, gosh, it must be true. I can use that to write my paper. Nevermind that being in a book isn't a measure of truth or accuracy - but the fact is that by the time a book has been published it's been subject to at least some sort of peer review.

Now we have the internet, where anyone can post anything they like. There's an upside and a downside to this. The downside is that anyone can post anything they like. The upside is... that anyone can post anything they like! Information is freer, it's more comprehensive, and you have dozens of ways to get to it. This is an amazing opportunity, a huge step forward particularly for places in the world where you normally wouldn't have access to libraries. For instance, the internet (even in it s censored form) was invaluable to me when I was teaching English in China.

But the trick becomes separating the wheat from the chaff. I'm particularly good at doing this - I've always had a very good sense of when something is true or false or being fudged. I think in the future, along with the study of rhetoric and basic scholarship, we need to develop methods for teaching students how to determine if something is legit. Some people have an inherent sense of this, but others don't, and that's where the problems occur.

As for the other issue of whether we've all got literary ADD, I don't believe it. I grew up using the internet and I'm equally happy browsing articles online or curling up on the couch with an 18th century classic. The fact that the internet gives us access to LOADS more information means that we have to learn to filter - often by skimming - so that we don't spend our whole lives in front of a screen. As a skill, skimming is INCREDIBLY useful. It's a skill I had to teach to my EFL students - so they didn't spend days trying to crawl through some text that wasn't useful to them.

Less info available = more time to spend looking at info in detail.
More info available = less time to spend poring over details.

Me, I prefer knowledge to ignorance.

Danger Jane
06-14-2008, 07:34 AM
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/4530930.stm

In my opinion, the internet has improved our lives beyond measure, and any "downsides" are just adjustments that we're making as a culture. The method of receiving information cannot in itself be inherently bad; we simply need to learn the best methods for processing information. As I see it, the most important thing for current and future generations is to learn DISCERNMENT.

In the past, if something was written in a nonfiction book - well, gosh, it must be true. I can use that to write my paper. Nevermind that being in a book isn't a measure of truth or accuracy - but the fact is that by the time a book has been published it's been subject to at least some sort of peer review.

Now we have the internet, where anyone can post anything they like. There's an upside and a downside to this. The downside is that anyone can post anything they like. The upside is... that anyone can post anything they like! Information is freer, it's more comprehensive, and you have dozens of ways to get to it. This is an amazing opportunity, a huge step forward particularly for places in the world where you normally wouldn't have access to libraries. For instance, the internet (even in it s censored form) was invaluable to me when I was teaching English in China.

But the trick becomes separating the wheat from the chaff. I'm particularly good at doing this - I've always had a very good sense of when something is true or false or being fudged. I think in the future, along with the study of rhetoric and basic scholarship, we need to develop methods for teaching students how to determine if something is legit. Some people have an inherent sense of this, but others don't, and that's where the problems occur.

As for the other issue of whether we've all got literary ADD, I don't believe it. I grew up using the internet and I'm equally happy browsing articles online or curling up on the couch with an 18th century classic. The fact that the internet gives us access to LOADS more information means that we have to learn to filter - often by skimming - so that we don't spend our whole lives in front of a screen. As a skill, skimming is INCREDIBLY useful. It's a skill I had to teach to my EFL students - so they didn't spend days trying to crawl through some text that wasn't useful to them.

Less info available = more time to spend looking at info in detail.
More info available = less time to spend poring over details.

Me, I prefer knowledge to ignorance.

I have to agree. Sure, teachers make it out like every source on the internet is unreliable, and wikipedia is written by evil teenage boys out to dupe us all, but by and large that's not true. It's generally easy to cross-check information, and I've found an awful lot of great, valuable information through ebooks and other resources that would have been much harder to find in a physical library.

Of course, I'm still fully able to research the old-fashioned way. I've never used the internet primarily in any of the four research papers I've written (more to come next year, I'm sure). Wikipedia is generally a great jumping-off point, and right after skimming the article for basic info, I jump down to the outside sources...these usually take me to great information, not to mention books that I can order from my library. Btw, it's totally possible to take notes with index cards using websites as a source.

Jo makes a great, easily-overlooked point. With so much information available, different skills are stressed in gathering knowledge. This is not inherently bad. Frankly, I think the ability to effectively search online is an incredibly important skill, and many people aren't half as good at it as you might expect...see yahooanswers.com for proof of this. I would imagine you'd try google to the nth degree before asking "what happens when you cut a brain in half", but it seems most people are simply too lazy to do this and would rather ask their invisible internet compatriots.

And, like many others who can barely remember a day without the internet...I am plenty good at book-readin'.

Sarita
06-14-2008, 07:39 AM
At PSU, in your freshman seminar class (that everyone is required to take in their first year) you are taught how to research and how not to research. The university even has policy on acceptable sources. Any form of plagiarism will get you booted for good. It's just good practice to start in high school and be prepared for college with hardcore research skills. I'm not talking about brief fact checking that all writers do, this is 15-50 thousand word research papers on the hidden meanings in the text of "Spring in Fialta," by Navokov. Not exactly googlable (ha!)

Besides, libraries and bookstores smell like delicious heaven.

Dawnstorm
06-14-2008, 12:01 PM
Interesting replies; I'll get to them once I have the time to read them in depth. Basically, I tend to be with Jo, here. Nobody said anything about "only source", or "accept the first best thing". And you're not going to argue that the internet hasn't made professional research easier. Of course, you're not going to google "Spring in Fialta"; you're in a different institutional context and have different resources at your disposal.

I hope to be back with a more interesting post, soon.

Vincent
06-14-2008, 12:05 PM
Thanks to Google, I can pretend to be literate.

Google, I salute you.

Keyan
06-14-2008, 10:45 PM
FOr starters, why would you prefer a website that anyone can edit and therefore can't be trusted as a source?
<snip>

Also Rob said: 3) I don't let my kids use google for reports as a matter of course. I make them go to the encyclopedia first.

TO me that reads as he makes them start with encyclopedias- and possibly they can use google later if they can't find enough info.

We stopped using encyclopedias cold turkey once there was google. (We still have a 1990s Britannica in the shelves, ages since we used it.)

1) The main reason is that the info in the encyclopedias is dated. By the time the data is collected, the article written and vetted, the thing printed and distributed, it's at least 2-3 years old, and often older.

2) The information is more shallow. On google, on practically any topic you can go a lot deeper than you could in the Brittanica. Of course you could keep searching related topics, but it was cumbersome. It wasn't unusual for us to have half a dozen volumes open on the floor after an hour's research.

3) It's more practical. I can make a collection of useful-looking articles in a folder, and evaluate them later. By having them all there, it makes contradictions and resonances show up more easily.

4) It's a useful tool in teaching someone how to evaluate the source of the information. Since anyone can sling anything on the Net, any piece of data comes with a subjective "truth probability." It's real life, writ large, since we all get information from hundreds, if not thousands, of sources.

That's why we don't do encyclopedias any more...

LaceWing
06-15-2008, 12:25 AM
'm learning how relatively dumb I am. The more I learn, the more I find there is to learn. I just keep getting dumber and dumber.

robeiae
06-15-2008, 01:16 AM
I remember when I was younger. I would be using the encyclopedia or the dictionary for some school work. And many times, unrelated articles and definitions would catch my eye. So I'd read them. Wonderful tangents.

The same thing happens to me when I use the internet...except all the tangents seem a great deal more superficial, imo.

Per Sass's earlier comments and the article that started this, I fear no one is learning much of anything, just cherry-picking bits they need.

Also, I think on the internet, presentation--always a factor--has become even more important. We assume legitimacy when the graphics and links are well done. We can't help it.

Danger Jane
06-15-2008, 07:36 AM
I remember when I was younger. I would be using the encyclopedia or the dictionary for some school work. And many times, unrelated articles and definitions would catch my eye. So I'd read them. Wonderful tangents.

The same thing happens to me when I use the internet...except all the tangents seem a great deal more superficial, imo.

Per Sass's earlier comments and the article that started this, I fear no one is learning much of anything, just cherry-picking bits they need.

I don't know to what extent we can claim this is a new phenomenon. When I find an interesting tangent, I follow it til I can follow it no more. I'll go through seven Google search result pages and maybe a dozen related Wikipedia pages before I'm satisfied. For the moment. I bet twenty years ago, I would have been exactly the same...but it might have been harder for me to pursue these tangents.

Others, however, are unlike me (or, presumably, you). They probably would have cherry-picked before the internet, too. It's just a personality thing.



Also, I think on the internet, presentation--always a factor--has become even more important. We assume legitimacy when the graphics and links are well done. We can't help it.

I don't know about this. Although often those who go to great lengths to ensure their websites are comprehensive often also, if not aesthetically pleasing, at least unobtrusive, some very useful sites are also the ones with an impressionist painting repeated over and over in the background with unintelligible font over it. The sites where you have to highlight all to read the text. And some of the most disappointing sites are the well-organized, easy-to-read ones.

I think it's a valuable skill to have, the skill of discernment. I've certainly picked it up--I know to look for the references on websites, I know to check multiple sources to see if the facts are consistent. It's a skill not necessarily stressed as much a few decades ago, but it's very important now. Really, there should be tests on credibility-discernment in elementary school, along with all the other basic tools they teach.

Not everything in a book is accurate. Like Keyan mentioned, encyclopedias simply aren't the best place to search for information because of the time required to update them. The set we had at my house for a long time was from the seventies. The sets at my schools were about my own age. It's the same reason teachers often supplement textbook material with material printed from websites. The information is more current.

LaceWing
06-15-2008, 08:31 AM
re http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200807/google

Okay, I finally took the time to read the article, rather than jumping to, Oh, we're talking about lots of info available via google, blah, blah.

I used to read mainly non-fiction, and I would scribble in the margins, and put little flags on pages, or write page numbers on the fly leaf. Nice dense books with sufficiently difficult material that could engage me for a couple of weeks at least. I haven't read any such books in years, and like the author of the article, I think internet reading has been partly responsible for the change. (Aging could be another factor.)

As I read online now, just the small effort of moving from mouse to keyboard is inhibiting, because I lose my train of thought. I have word pad open at all times for making notes, but my notes and the document I want to refer to don't go together without effort. (Maybe a program like evernote would help.) Mainly though, the ease of reading with a pencil in my hand with which to mark text as I go is just incomparably more natural. I don't keep a pencil in hand while I mouse, so that too inhibits me from writing.

Paging or scrolling the screen is disorienting as compared to flipping a page. If I do stop to think for a moment, I may lose where I was, as compared to remembering the location relative to my finger placement with a book, which also is just more natural.

Then there's the visual strain. I could probably have the best screen in the world and still not be as comfortable as with a book. And, other physical comforts, like not having a $1000 chair and adjustable keyboard height.

All these little things make for a less interactive, less engaged and less patient experience.

Oh, and things that blink should die. They are by far the most insane thing imaginable to put on a page of text. You who put them in your signatures? Oh, man -- get a clue!

One more thing: if I'm going through a news site and end up loading a billion bytes of ads along with two paragraphs of text, I'm going to be in a mood for a long while. I don't know until I click what I'm getting; it's like gambling . . . and that's an interesting bit of psychology to add to the mix right there.

robeiae
06-15-2008, 05:15 PM
I don't know to what extent we can claim this is a new phenomenon. When I find an interesting tangent, I follow it til I can follow it no more. I'll go through seven Google search result pages and maybe a dozen related Wikipedia pages before I'm satisfied. For the moment. I bet twenty years ago, I would have been exactly the same...but it might have been harder for me to pursue these tangents.New? Not at all. But it's the direction of tangents I'm talking about. Speaking from personal experience, I'm amazed at the inane articles I end up following links to.


I don't know about this. Although often those who go to great lengths to ensure their websites are comprehensive often also, if not aesthetically pleasing, at least unobtrusive, some very useful sites are also the ones with an impressionist painting repeated over and over in the background with unintelligible font over it. The sites where you have to highlight all to read the text. And some of the most disappointing sites are the well-organized, easy-to-read ones.
Yeah, that exactly right. But which one gets the most hits? YOU may not assume the nicer one is the more truthful one, but many do. And even so, I think we are all predisposed to see order and ease of navigation as indicative of more legitimacy. We have to consciously choose to look beyond that.


I think it's a valuable skill to have, the skill of discernment. I've certainly picked it up--I know to look for the references on websites, I know to check multiple sources to see if the facts are consistent. It's a skill not necessarily stressed as much a few decades ago, but it's very important now. Really, there should be tests on credibility-discernment in elementary school, along with all the other basic tools they teach.
Absolutely. I agree.

Not everything in a book is accurate. Like Keyan mentioned, encyclopedias simply aren't the best place to search for information because of the time required to update them. The set we had at my house for a long time was from the seventies. The sets at my schools were about my own age. It's the same reason teachers often supplement textbook material with material printed from websites. The information is more current.Current info is great, but as Keyan also noted, material in printed form has at least been vetted.

And it really depends on the type and extent of information you are looking for.

Jcomp
06-16-2008, 07:05 PM
I remember when I was younger. I would be using the encyclopedia or the dictionary for some school work. And many times, unrelated articles and definitions would catch my eye. So I'd read them. Wonderful tangents.

The same thing happens to me when I use the internet...except all the tangents seem a great deal more superficial, imo.



This is my biggest beef with the internet research vs. good ol' fashioned book-learning / interviewing people. There's a lot of great info to skim, but you have to hunt through a lot of shallow duplicates on the subject matter to discover anything with real depth.

Otherwise, I love the web.

jst5150
06-16-2008, 08:26 PM
Again, it's a buyer beware market with any data mining. Wikipedia, encyclopedia or wherever -- you still, as the researcher -- have to be able to verify the credibility of that information. I'd also encourage drawing that same information from more than one source.

Any particular source can be bashed to death. What's realistic is weighing your obligations to produce accurate info with how to ensure the info you gather is the most credible it can be.

Popo Agie Flow
10-15-2008, 11:25 PM
After reading every word in every post, seems to me the folks who've responded here aren't the types to cave in to the Google making us Stooopid craze. When I received the June Atlantic, I nodded my head through the entire article.

Last summer a couple of young guys from a state south of here were trying to fill their truck with gas from the Volunteer Fire Department's tank. When one of the locals approached them to ask what the heck they were doing, one said, "Our GPS said there's a gas station here." There isn't, so they were going to steal the gas. I'm sure there's a correlation to Google.

The Google = Stoopid ideology is mearly an example of a larger problem. Several others hinted at it: the I want it, and I want it RIGHT NOW phenomenon has overtaken our society. The current financial mess is another fine example. (Oops, getting too close to the unPC, there.)

Research, to me, has never meant the encyclopedia. I much prefer original research. Libraries (especially university facilities) are crammed full of professional journals on every topic. Many of these periodicals only allow the articles that have passed muster of a jury (I know, I know, that brings its own form of bias), but the information within those hallowed pages is verifiable and offers its own list of references of the same quality.

Slainte,

Bob

Ms Hollands
10-15-2008, 11:33 PM
I can't be bothered to read the long replies. :Shrug:

TerzaRima
10-15-2008, 11:39 PM
"Our GPS said there's a gas station here." There isn't, so they were going to steal the gas. I'm sure there's a correlation to Google.


What is it?

Popo Agie Flow
10-15-2008, 11:44 PM
What is it?


Trusting the technology. If that's not enough, plagiarism is theft, too.

Roger J Carlson
10-15-2008, 11:49 PM
Well, one factor the article failed to mention is -- age. I used to be able to read all day -- read an entire novel without leaving my bed. Now, I tend to fall asleep. In fact, I used to be able to do a lot of things that I can't now. Is Google to blame for all of them?

But even if it's true (and some less anecdotal bits later in the article suggest this), I'm not sure it's such a bad thing. So we don't wade leisurely through prose as we once did. The water that we once waded through is now an ocean of knowledge, expanding at an exponential rate. Without Google and other tools to help us keep our heads above water, we're likely to drown in our own knowledge.

TerzaRima
10-15-2008, 11:55 PM
Trusting the technology=ethical slovenliness? Dizzying logistical jump, there.

benbradley
10-16-2008, 03:04 AM
I can't be bothered to read the long replies. :Shrug:

I've written a HUGE reply, including quips such as:

To royally misquote Yoda, stop wishing and DO!

I started using http://m-w.com as my "main" dictionary about ten years ago when I spent a lot of time on dialup. In more recent years it's been in the search engine area of Firefox, so I need only copy-paste, or God forbid if it's from printed text, I have to ACTUALLY TYPE THE WORD into the little textbox, select the M-W search engine, select New Tab and hit return (or click the spyglass thing on the right). I can do it a lot faster than I can describe it. Firefox's searchbar thing saves over the old-fashioned way of going to m-w.com, waiting for the main page to load, THEN putting your word in and waiting for the definition. Sometimes m-w wants me to subscribe to its pay-only unabridged edition (and I've considered it), but then http://dictionary.com always comes through.

Before the Internet, when I found a word I didn't understand, or whose definition was hazy in my mind, I opened up a dictionary (another BOOK!) and looked it up. It's a WORD, and it's one I don't know, so I'm going to go to whatever length it takes to learn about it, even if I have to go back to Gutenberg (pre-steam!) Technology.

I've always had an incessant desire and "need" to learn and know things, and books have traditionally been ...(possible heading for the above text: It's not about clicking on links, it's about learning words and their meanings)
and:

Another Yoda-like quote, this one from a dead politician who had his own "Star Wars" program: "Trust, but verify."but I'm saving it up for my memoir.

One thing I re-realized, as was originally shown by the stark contrast between my SAT score and my high-school grades (I failed TWO YEARS of grades in high school!) is that I've always cared a whole lot about learning, knowledge, getting it and having it, and not at all about grades or demonstrating my knowledge to anyone else. I'm the polar opposite of whoever photocopied and got an A.

Thank goodness I don't feel the need to explain myself in every post...

Yeshanu
10-17-2008, 06:55 AM
Having gone back and read the article, as well as all the posts in this thread, I have a few points to make:


Anecdotes alone don’t prove much. And we still await the long-term neurological and psychological experiments that will provide a definitive picture of how Internet use affects cognition.

Interesting point here. The article opens with, and uses as its main arguments, anecdotes. It specifically states we don't have any evidence that back up the conclusions he's made from the anecdotes.



But a recently published study of online research habits (http://www.bl.uk/news/pdf/googlegen.pdf) , conducted by scholars from University College London, suggests that we may well be in the midst of a sea change in the way we read and think. As part of the five-year research program, the scholars examined computer logs documenting the behavior of visitors to two popular research sites, one operated by the British Library and one by a U.K. educational consortium, that provide access to journal articles, e-books, and other sources of written information. They found that people using the sites exhibited “a form of skimming activity,” hopping from one source to another and rarely returning to any source they’d already visited. They typically read no more than one or two pages of an article or book before they would “bounce” out to another site. Sometimes they’d save a long article, but there’s no evidence that they ever went back and actually read it.

Does that study truly indicate change in the way people research? Because what's lacking is the control, the study of how people research using more traditional methods. And I would counter (from my own anecdotal experience) that I don't research via traditional sources any differently than I do using the internet. I skim a number of journals for source material that might be useful, and rarely, if ever, re-read a source. If I see a quote or fact I'm going to need, I jot it down with the pertinent citation. I do the same on the net--it helps that I'm left-handed, but use my mouse right-handed, because I can write and click at the same time.

I still read books in depth, cover-to-cover, often in one sitting--if the book warrants it. Or I skim and skip, if the book is that type of book.

I think it's imperative that we help our kids (and ourselves) become discriminatory with regards to the source of information. This isn't a new need--in fact, I'd say it is even more essential with words in printed form, because the relative expense means you can't compare as many sources or different points of view as you can on the web.

But even more than that, I'm concerned about the lack of knowledge amongst adults regarding the workings of the scientific method and the use of statistics. I'm not going to say that we're getting stupider in this regard--all the evidence I've looked at points to just the opposite--but, as someone pointed out, knowledge is increasing at a tremendous rate. Unfortunately, so is pseudo-knowledge, and it may be a matter of life and death, not just for us as individuals, but for our entire planet, to learn the difference.

I should write a book... ;)

Yeshanu
10-17-2008, 07:18 AM
More thoughts prompted from reading the end of the article:

He points out that the same "chicken little" attitude accompanied the widespread teaching of reading and the development of the printing press, and says we should be skeptical of his skepticism.

I am. Very, because I did study those developments (especially of the printing press, without which the Reformation may not have been possible), and I know that although things changed, the change was, IMO, mostly for the good.

A quote for y'all (found using Google, appropriately, though I could have pulled out the DVD):


The world is changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was is lost, for none now live who remember it.

So very true, and yet, there is much that is new and wonderful that we can now embrace. For me, the internet and Google have been liberating, opening up doors I might never have even known were there, otherwise. I am content with the change, I will adapt, and I will stay in Middle Earth, for better or worse, rather than take ship with the elves who cannot and will not change.

And that is the real result of having studied a work deeply and with caring--you can work it in to almost any discussion at will. :tongue

benbradley
10-17-2008, 07:51 AM
...I think it's imperative that we help our kids (and ourselves) become discriminatory with regards to the source of information. This isn't a new need--in fact, I'd say it is even more essential with words in printed form, because the relative expense means you can't compare as many sources or different points of view as you can on the web.
I recall when the Apple LaserWriter was new and desktop publishing (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desktop_publishing) [Wikipedia article - I love appropriate hyperlinks!] arrived on the scene. There were several areas of worry, one addressed in the article is that many untrained people would generate crappy "typeset" documents (which was true), but also that readers would see such typeset text and ASSUME it had gone through the same vetting, copy-editing and editorial processes as commercially-produced books and magazines. Fortunately, "self-publishing" didn't make any more of a dent into "real" publishing than vanity presses ever did. There may be a more self-published books since then than before, but as always, the ones that have significant sales tend to be well-researched, well-written and such, and overall not that far from the standards of a major publisher.

But even more than that, I'm concerned about the lack of knowledge amongst adults regarding the workings of the scientific method and the use of statistics. I'm not going to say that we're getting stupider in this regard--all the evidence I've looked at points to just the opposite
The best of us are getting smarter, I'll agree with that...

--but, as someone pointed out, knowledge is increasing at a tremendous rate. Unfortunately, so is pseudo-knowledge, and it may be a matter of life and death, not just for us as individuals, but for our entire planet, to learn the difference.

I should write a book... ;)
I should too! Maybe we can work on one together...

What bugs me greatly is so much of the public sees "science" and equates it solely with the knowledge generated by scientific investigation, and they have no clue about scientific investigation itself, and they have no clue that they have no clue.

The best are getting smarter, they're the ones bringing us toward the "Singularity", but it seems like the average is getting dumber. I suspect the average college graduate from 50 years ago, if transported in time to the present, would better be able to learn and understand current scientific investigations than the average college graduate today.

Yeshanu
10-17-2008, 08:24 AM
the ones that have significant sales tend to be well-researched, well-written and such, and overall not that far from the standards of a major publisher.

Unfortunately, that does not mean, and never did mean, that they're accurate and without bias. That's always been a problem with non-fiction especially. Standards of a major publisher? It was a major publisher who classified A Million Little Pieces as non-fiction.



What bugs me greatly is so much of the public sees "science" and equates it solely with the knowledge generated by scientific investigation, and they have no clue about scientific investigation itself, and they have no clue that they have no clue.

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!


The best are getting smarter, they're the ones bringing us toward the "Singularity", but it seems like the average is getting dumber. I suspect the average college graduate from 50 years ago, if transported in time to the present, would better be able to learn and understand current scientific investigations than the average college graduate today.

I emphasized those three words, because that is, in effect the problem. "It seems like" the average college graduate is dumber. That may be true (and it may not), but consider this:

I have regular converse with a gentleman who went to McMaster University (Hamilton, ON) in the 1940s. The entire student body of the university at that time numbered 500, or about the size of an average freshman psychology class today. The overall percentage of people entering, and graduating from, university has skyrocketed. The people who used to go to university were almost invariably from the elite, and taught those investigative skills from a much earlier age.

It's comparing apples to oranges, really. If you compare the best of the best from today with the best of the best from yesterday, you may find the results quite different than if you simply compare college graduates from today with those from yesterday.

BTW, I'm really loving this discussion. Say what you will about the irredeeming qualities of the internet (and there are many), there aren't many people in real life with whom I could have a discussion of this calibre, and I'm related to most of them.

Popo Agie Flow
10-19-2008, 07:35 AM
Trusting the technology=ethical slovenliness? Dizzying logistical jump, there.

Is it "ethical" or something else, "value" perhaps?

MagicMan
10-19-2008, 08:35 AM
Just my 1.3 cents worth, crash and all.

Skimming is a problem I have with my internet Dependant kids. I have always skimmed, learned to speed read, and read at a leisurely pace; internet or material in my hands.

Does google make us dumber. Duh, yup. When you begin to realize the total sum of knowledge in this world is now thousands of times greater than the contents of the local library, you must realize your wisdom is a grain of salt on the beach.

Is the internet accurate. No. It is opinionated, correct at times, totally wrong, etc depending on the site you visit and the knowledge base of the author.

Can you find your answer on the internet? Sometimes, but with technical information, the real stuff, it is not on the internet. It is in a book people must buy to acquire the knowledge. Free common knowledge info is there; valued knowledge is not.

Smiles
Bob

Forums sometimes contain the most valued info, and much of that info never finds it's way to google.

kuwisdelu
10-20-2008, 10:22 PM
I'm going to plagiarize one of my own posts from this (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=118383) thread:


Also, while there are a lot of sites with incorrect facts and info, there are many, many reputable journals, articles, papers, etc. online that are first-rate sources. There are plenty of print sources that are made available on the web that would be difficult to track down in hard copy, and lots of schools subscribe to services that make them available. My high school had subscriptions to services like JSTOR, which provides free scans of hundreds of academic print journals that were far more priceless for research than generic books I might have found at the library.

Once you know how to use the internet, it's a far better and in-depth source than any encyclopedia, which I find to be rather shallow now. But then, I usually know the good places to look.

"With great power comes great responsibility."

veinglory
10-20-2008, 10:26 PM
I see a moral panic in the whole internetz is makings us stoopid thing. meanwhile research reported on the BBC yesterday suggested using the internet is good for aging brains and causes the kind of activity that slows the effects of aging (e.g. more complex decision making than when reading a book).

Yeshanu
10-20-2008, 10:27 PM
meanwhile research reported on the BBC yesterday suggested using the internet is good for aging brains and causes the kind of activity that slows the effects of aging (e.g. more complex decision making than when reading a book).

Now THAT'S what I call good news. :D

TerzaRima
10-20-2008, 11:18 PM
Is it "ethical" or something else, "value" perhaps?


Oh I give up. Apparently I don't speak Popie.

RG570
10-21-2008, 08:10 AM
That study does not mean that the internets are not making people stupid. These old people could have the same benefit from doing a similar activity that has nothing to do with lolcats and porno.

There really is no need to ask this question. It has already been answered millions of times over.

For reasons why, check out Andrew Keen's book called Cult of the Amateur.

Clair Dickson
10-21-2008, 09:35 AM
I think that one aspect that gets lost is that the type of knowledge is shifting. People can google and find the answers quickly (this is a skill!) but they can also find the answer on their phone. They keep track of lots of new skills that weren't necessary or used once upon a time. Think of all the things we have to learn, remember, and use each day. How many of those things were much simpler twenty or fifty years ago.

Now, I think motivation is another issue. One of the things I run smack into all the time in the classes I teach is "I don't need to know that" (as they resume texting...) Google isn't to blame for this lack of interest. There may be some correlation between immediate gratification (why learn it when you can just look it up?) and distractedness, but I think the issue is far deeper. It comes from a lack of appreciation for knowledge and skills. If it doesn't fit in the recipients often myopic current view (must text) then it's worthless. (I'm a history teacher... I have a tough battle!)

The problem isn't google, it's a shift in what culture values. Intelligence is belittled, being cool is of utmost importance, and foresight is blinder than ever. (Though, this, like all statements, has exceptions. But the high school kids I deal with rarely make the exception list!)

maxmordon
10-21-2008, 11:52 AM
Since I have internet at home I have felt how my attention span has decreased. I seem to be more anxious and wanting things to be done now, velocity over quality. I feel this world a bit more real than the world surrounds me. At first I thought it was an eye problem or even a brain one; I could not focus and right now I still have focus problem since I use internet daily.

Also when I spend days or a week in a place without a computer this sensation goes, I become more instropective and rationate better, or at least I feel that. I also was a person who didn't skimmed but now seems to be more the rule rather than the exception and I can't "feel" the books as I did before. I can't go to Hobbittown or Macondo or my own writings with the same ease as before and that saddens me.

My writings has also changed, I used to be far more descriptive but now the environment are a few vague lines around dialogue and I feel that my writing is more fluid on paper and I just can't write poetry on a machine, it seems almost sinful...

Is internet the one to blame? I blame more to a sum of all techonology used in a bad way, watching world's craziest porn actresses, worshipping movie stars and musicians and taking their opinions on matter of politics, religion, science and philosophy just because is a known face rather than an expert. It's a cultural trainwreck, the decline of our civilization to open to a new age.

Is the Generation Now, as I saw once how they called it in 60 minutes; we want things NOW, making this a fast-paced world with fast-paced people who want pleasure, beauty and knowledge now instead of taking a minute to look around, appreaciate the small bits of nature and life. Clockwork people...

Sometimes I scared that internet is filling me with useless knowledge. I know that fishing communities had more estability than hunting ones. Do I know why? No I don't. Do I know why agricultural ones survived? I don't know that either, I just can assume. My dad's pals call me Trivia Kid, since I gather many, many facts (mostly I consider useless junk) but as dad has pointed out to me, I don't know how to think logically. I tried to organize a grocery bag but didn't thought it was a bad idea to have the detergent in top of the eggs or that you cover of newspaper the floor when you paint for a quite valid reason; yet, I waste my life in Wikipedia reading useless bits (the shortest war was the Anglo-Zanzibar war, it lasted 45 minutes. I don't know the causes or where is/was Zanzibar)

As my uncle once told me, you are either smart or intelligent. But they aren't sinonyms; an illeterate man can spends his whole life in peace eating what he produces, cutting wood, working the land and having no knowledge what so ever of mathemathics and literature or a modern major general who knows everything animal, mineral and vegetal, yet, can be left by his own without way of surviving. Remember that this my uncle's thought, not mine.

It makes me think like the island of Laputa in Gulliver's Travels... or perhaps the genius boy from A Brave New World that repeated like a parrot the same information without knowing what was it.

Perhaps I am just tired (it's 3 am!) and overreacting