[Web4lib] "Is Google Making Us Stupid? What the Internet is doing to our brains"

Elizabeth Winter elizabeth.winter at library.gatech.edu
Fri Jun 20 16:00:26 EDT 2008

Chris, I think you're onto something with the idea of balance.  

Carrie's recommendation of David Levy follows the same lines.  Levy argues that our challenge is balancing two different types of thinking: ratio (from Latin, the idea of ‘searching, researching, abstracting, refining and concluding’) with intellectus (from Latin, the idea of ‘thinking, reflection, assimilation, contemplation’).”

If we agree it's a good thing to have the ability to concentrate and contemplate, then maybe it's just that today we have to be more intentional about cultivating this sort of thinking.

On a related note: http://www.theonion.com/content/news/area_eccentric_reads_entire_book

Elizabeth L. Winter
Electronic Resources Coordinator
Collection Acquisitions & Management
Library and Information Center
Georgia Institute of Technology
email: elizabeth.winter at library.gatech.edu
phone: 404.385.0593
fax: 404.894.1723

----- Original Message -----
From: "Chris Bourg" <mchris at stanford.edu>
To: "Elizabeth Winter" <elizabeth.winter at library.gatech.edu>
Cc: "K.G. Schneider" <kgs at bluehighways.com>, web4lib at webjunction.org
Sent: Friday, June 20, 2008 2:07:41 PM GMT -05:00 US/Canada Eastern
Subject: Re: [Web4lib] "Is Google Making Us Stupid? What the Internet is doing to our brains"

I'm not about to assert a value system with no need of the skills of 
"concentration and contemplation"; but I will cast a vote for balance. 
When I am immersed in my regular work day of short reading, 
decision-making, online communication, etc., I’m thankful that my brain 
seems to respond quickly– allowing me to multi-task and work 
efficiently. When I have work that requires deep concentration and 
contemplation, I can create that opportunity (work from home?), and my 
brain seems to respond.
Carr seems to be saying that getting his brain to adjust to 
contemplative thinking is becoming harder; but I think it has always 
been hard to create that kind of "space" for ourselves, and that blaming 
"Google" or "the Net" is disingenuous.
I've written more here: 


Elizabeth Winter wrote:
> Carr may be a little ambitious in what he's trying to do in the space of 5 pages (for those who still print things out), and he loses a little credibility by referring to "the Net," but he makes a number of good observations--things I've noticed in my own habits.  
> "Chipping away at my capacity for concentration and contemplation" certainly resonates.  The process of reading this article is illustrative: I read about 25% of it, printed it out, went to get lunch, picked it back up, started reading again, and couldn't finish the article without looking back at my computer screen at least three times to check for new emails.
> I'd be interested to hear if others think a value system exists where one has no need for the skills of "concentration and contemplation" (I'm not being snarky...I'm genuinely interested in this question).
> Best,
> Elizabeth

Chris Bourg
Head, Information Center
Stanford University Libraries and Academic Information Resources

More information about the Web4lib mailing list