Monday, December 27, 2010
review of The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains. One section of the book deals with how computers and the internet have been increasingly become supplements to our memory to the point where we no longer bother to memorize facts anymore because in a moment we can find the answer via Google or Wikipedia. For the first time I really began to realize this phenomenon personally when I went on a study retreat. For my study retreat I intentionally chose a cabin that had no internet so I could be freed from distractions a bit. Over the few days I was studying and planning I began to notice that it was very hard for me to remember certain things... nothing big, but stuff I would have had no trouble remembering a few years ago like the name of a movie or an actor or a band. It is clear that I have been outsourcing my memory with the aid of computers and the internet for so long that I have now become dependent on these technologies for some of the more trivial memory functions. What was really interesting is how frustrating it was to be cut off from the access to immediate answers via the internet. I guess this lends support to the thesis proposed by Nicholas Carr, that the internet is truly changing the way we think and use our brains at a fundamental level.