Dumbing down OR Freeing for creativity

Damon Darlin has interesting thoughts in NYT on Nicholas Carr’s article on how Google is dumbing us down. As correctly pointed

It is hard to think of a technology that wasn’t feared when it was introduced. In his Atlantic article, Mr. Carr says that Socrates feared the impact that writing would have on man’s ability to think. The advent of the printing press summoned similar fears. It wouldn’t be the last time.

Lots of people by nature are averse to any new ideas or new devices. For them new means demise of the familiar and productive current tools. As it turns out, tecnology also goes through a Darwinian evolution like evolution approach. Only the right ones survive but the demise also is not instantaneous — society gives time to every idea and technology and then only the winner emerges.

Of course, one has to keep some other factors in mind:
In a knowledge-based society in which knowledge is free, attention becomes the valued commodity. Companies compete for eyeballs, that great metric born in the dot-com boom, and vie to create media that are sticky, another great term from this era. We are not paid for our attention span, but rewarded for it with yet more distractions and demands on our time.

4 thoughts on “Dumbing down OR Freeing for creativity

  1. maverik

    “Lots of people by nature are averse to any new ideas or new devices. For them new means demise of the familiar and productive current tools.”

    good quote !!!

  2. Kurt Skifstad

    This is a great thread and will be fun to watch it play out over time.

    The things that really stand out for me in this discussion are the last points in Darlin’s quote above: “Companies compete for eyeballs …” and we get “… more distractions and demands on our time.”

    So, with information being a commodity used to drive traffic and human nature being what it is (we satisfice, not optimize, etc), does this mean we end up consuming “fast food” information streams? Google as the McDonalds of information? Do today’s search engines make it too easy to read only what we want to read, only from people we agree with (or have high enough PageRank, whatever that really means), and never take the time to dig deep and validate our sources?

    It seems to me that the biggest challenge (and opportunity) going forward is going to be separating the signal from the noise. Now, I’ve got all these channels of information to track (Twitter, Facebook, RSS Feeds, email, Google Alerts, etc) and the volume is only going to increase.

    If this all is going to really free us to be more creative (and I do think it will), then the onus is on us to: 1) learn to think critically about the quality of information, and, 2) develop efficient filtering mechanisms which handle the overload of information.

    FWIW, there was an interesting discussion of this on John Battelle’s blog when Carr’s article first came out: http://battellemedia.com/archives/004494.php

  3. Felix

    Is this about technology ‘dumbing us down’ or Google? If knowledge can be acquired without effort required in the times before the printing press, does it mean that it is easier for the publisher of information to keep us the readers back? I would like to say that in the times before the automobiles, the internet and the printing press, there were those who sought to gain knowledge and went to great lengths to do so. The same number of people do that now (or maybe more) by going to college, etc. Furthermore, knowledge is now globally available to those who seek it. So if a few marketers (as compared to the consumers) want to vie for our attention, I say we let them.

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