Oh the Irony! (And thoughts on Nicholas Carr’s speech)

November 16, 2012 in Speakers by admin


Nicholas Carr

Nicholas Carr spoke at Drury this Thursday discussing the increasing hold the internet has on the development of our minds. Drawing largely from his book, The Shallows Carr discussed the increasing influence internet based-technologies has on our lives and the ways it has the influence to profoundly change the way we think.

In a short summarization of Carr’s speech, he discussed the need we have to use different types of technologies to help make better sense of our world. In a couple examples,  he stated that maps and clocks would be considered very primitive forms of technology.

They were both objects designed to help simplify the world around the ancient humans that used them. The importance of clocks and maps was that they helped us humans think about the world through a more abstract view and therefore were able to help us grow as we developed a higher level of thinking.

Carr then moved on to the increasing rate of technology today with an emphasis on the internet. A main point he stressed was the fact that the internet is slowly edging it’s way out of our control of it and slowly moving towards having control over us. In several examples, he stated that the ultra fast-paced and perpetually updating internet is ultimately lowering our attention span and is forcing us to become more and more impatient.

There is a shocking amount of truth to that as well. For example, imagine if this page took longer than 2 seconds to load; the wait for all of the information to appear is infuriating because we are so used to everything appearing almost instantaneously. And whenever we actually do get on the page, how many of us actually read EVERYTHING on it? We are webpage scanners, not magnifying glasses. I’m almost certain you’re scanning this blog post instead of fully reading every individual word right now.

The many different distractions on my desk

Throughout the speech, I couldn’t help but feel an incredible sense of irony; as he was speaking, I was taking diligent notes on my laptop, occasionally glancing at other windows opened for  emails, and I was feeling the constant buzzing of my phone as the pictures from POL the night before were being uploaded onto Facebook.

In short, I was a victim of exactly the kind of information junkie Carr was describing in both his book and his speech.

Many times I find myself sitting at my desk and being literally surrounded by stimuli. The downside to this information overload is the fact that I spread my conscious attention to cover all of the tiny little bits of info around me. I don’t have the brainpower needed to truly dedicate it towards one, solitary thing.

What does that say about me as a blogger? I dedicate a huge chunk of my attention every day towards using the internet and it’s many, many different outlets.

My copy of “The Shallows”

I post on Facebook and Twitter to let everyone know about my new posts, I occasionally do a little research online if I need some extra information, I give in every now and then and check any notifications or messages I might have gotten and I’m texting people throughout. I’m sure I could be much more efficient if I could just dedicate my attention to one particular thing at a time instead of the sensory overload that I experience instead.

Carr talks about this on a much deeper level in his book, The Shallows. I’m almost finished with it now and I highly recommend it!