Thursday, June 12, 2008

More of the same


It's nice to know that I'm not the only one thinking about stuff. In a new article, author Nicholas Carr discusses the way that our brains are changing due to our use of the internet.

The human brain is almost infinitely malleable. People used to think that our mental meshwork, the dense connections formed among the 100 billion or so neurons inside our skulls, was largely fixed by the time we reached adulthood. But brain researchers have discovered that that’s not the case. James Olds, a professor of neuroscience who directs the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study at George Mason University, says that even the adult mind “is very plastic.” Nerve cells routinely break old connections and form new ones. “The brain,” according to Olds, “has the ability to reprogram itself on the fly, altering the way it functions.”
Carr laments his growing inability to concentrate on reading for an extended period - he finds himself constantly distracted, when once he could lose himself in a text. I have to say that I'm feeling the same thing. There are so many books on my shelf that I want to read, I ought to read, but I haven't read. It has been troubling me that I seemed to have lost my ability to sit down and devour a book - this may be the cause.

Finally Carr delineates the difference between information and knowledge. With Google (et al) we have information at our fingertips, but that does not make us knowledgeable, or wise. We must still deal with the information in a meaningful manner to claim knowledge, and without experience we cannot claim to be wise.

Does this ring true with you? Did you scan this blog post for the highlights? Where do we go from here?

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