What the Internet is doing to our brains
Nicholas Carr, Norton, 2010 (own, used)
Snarky, glib summary: The Internet makes you stupid.
How we think depends on our thinking tools. Carr takes us through oratory (small vocabularies), to books (million word vocabularies), to newspapers, to broadcast media, to "the Internet".
Carr gets some of the details (that I know about or experienced) wrong. He gets some interesting things right.
p1 1964 Marshall McLuhan Understanding Media 19645
- p7 Bruce Friedman ..."lost the ability to read and absorb a longish article"
p16 Carr becomes connected, fast and shallow
- p17 Nietzsche and Malling-Hansen writing ball
- p22 1913 Cajal: adult brain fixed, 1983 Merzenich: demonstrates plasticity
- p39 Ch3 maps, clocks, metaphors, logosyllabic characters, alphabets without spaces
- p54 Socrates values oratory and memory, Plato values writing and logic
p58 Ch4 clay, papyrus scrolls, wax tablets -> codex book
p60 Bishop Ambrose silent reading 380 AD scriptura continua
- p62 punctuation and spaces (from Ireland and England) widespread by 1200s, helped non-scribes write in private
- p68 Fust funds Gutenberg, then took business in 1455
- p69 more books 1455-1500 than 455 to 1455, 12 million books by 1500
p73 poem The House was Quiet and the World Was Calm by Wallace Stevens 1947
- p78 Audion 1906 Lee de Forest (nasty) p81 Turing
- p87 Statistics, Nielsen 2009 TV: "we" Americans watch 153 h/mo (1840 h/yr) Europeans 12h/wk (624 h/y)
2006 "most avid TV fans" 35h/w (1820 h/y) also 30h/w (1560 h/y) online ? avid TV fans watch less than we ???
- 2009 Ball State most americans 8.5 h/d (3000 h/y) all screen time, sometimes simultaneously
2008 US BurLaborStats: Avg print: 143 m/w (124 h/y), 25-34 49 m/w (43 h/y).
- p92 end of printed textbooks, journals, newspapers
- p96 2009 Beethoven concert with conductor tweets
- p104 ebooks discourage attentiveness
p111 Clay Shirky 2008 "no one reads War and Peace or Proust
- p115 Juggler's Brain - continuous distraction has neurological consequences
- p123 working memory, scratch pad
- p127 hyperlinks distracting added to traditional text reduce comprehension and recall, increase cognitive load
- p130 multimedia makes it worse
p131 "The Net is, by design, an interruption system, a machine geared for dividing attention"
- p135 Average reader spend 4.4 seconds per webpage
- p140 Gary Small "many of us are developing neural circuitry that is customized for rapid and incisive spurts of direct attention,"
- p141 David Meyer "learning to be skillful at a superficial level"
- p145 The Flynn effect: rising IQ is mostly better visual processing; no improvement in memory, vocabulary, knowledge, or arithmetic.
- PSAT 1999 to 2008, math scores dropped slightly, verbal scores 3 to 7 percent.
- p147 Original IQ tests biased towards hypothetical instead of manipulation
- p150 Taylorism (time measurement) at Google ... "less human and more a piece of the machinery" - Marissa Mayer
- p153 "something that understands exactly what you mean and gives you back exactly what you want" - Eric Schmidt
- p157 a programmer with a new idea can render an online business obsolete
- p158 Google: pagerank down, "freshness" up
- p160 more time online, more ads, more disclosed information
- Complementary businesses, youtube loses money but crowds out competitors. Google wants to strore 100% of user data
- p161 Google books ... p165 "unbinding the book" ... p169 Vannevar Bush "memex"
- p179 commonplace books: notebooks of memorable quotations (like this wiki page!)
- p181 William James "the art of remembering is the art of thinking
- p182-7 Kandel and Aplysia - kinase A and CREB-1 activates genes to signal the growth of new synaptic terminals
101 Theory Drive, Gary Lynch says not their strength, the kinases modify dentritic spines and connection strength
- p189 Hippocampus stores short term memories, transfers them to cortex then forgets them
p190 Daniel Siegel The Developing Mind: Hippocampus forges connections during sleep
p191 Joseph LeDoux Synaptic Self: recontextualization during remembering, memories elastic
p208 Joseph Weizenbaum Eliza 1966, book Computer Power and Human Reason 1976
- p209 tools shape our thoughts
KHL: what thoughts do we want, and what tools should we design to facilitate them?
- p214 Christof van Nimwegen, logic puzzle on computer, two user groups, one with barebones software, one with helpful software.
- short term, helpful software users faster, long term barebones users quicker and more accurate. 8 momths later, ditto.
- p220 calm attentive mind required for empathy and compassion. Damasio: higher emotions "are inherently slow"
p224 conclusion as we come to rely on computers to mediate our understanding of the world, it is our own intelligence that flattens into artificial intelligence.