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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

          Carr states in his book, The Shallows, that "The average American teen was sending or receiving a mind-boggling 2,272 texts a month" (p 86).  Nicholas Carr stirs up controversy by stating that teenagers send "mind-boggling" amounts of text messages, but does this really upset people? Personally, this statement does not bother me at all, because I realize I send hundreds of texts every day. I send so many texts because I want to, and enjoy taking the time to talk to others via cell phone. My parents on the other-hand find this boggling number to be an awfully high bill they do not want to pay. So of course, they hate the fact that my brother and I, and probably many other kids, spend so much time texting. At the dinner table is when it is the worst. It is when parents realize how much time you are "wasting" on your phone, when you could be speaking to the people surrounding you at the table. There is one other group of people that would take Carr’s statement offensively, the few out there that will never approve of texting. There is always that one person you know that will not conform to the world and follow in our footsteps by texting.  These few people do not want to text for usually the same reason, it does not allow for physical interaction. When you text there is no way to truly tell how the other is feeling, it is all words, that you need to interpret in your own way. This can cause so many different fights, people getting upset, and confused. Many also believe that when you are texting, you are taking away from the world right in front of your eyes. There is probably someone there that you are ignoring, so you can text another person about a topic unnecessary and random. Texting is looked down upon by few because those people can see past the little things, and can see the big picture and how it is affecting our everyday lives. This still does not mean that texting is wrong, or that it should be frowned upon, but instead it should not take over our lives. Instead of sending a mind-boggling amount of texts a day, you should look up from your phone and start a conversation with the person sitting across from you on the bus, or next to you in the line at Starbucks. Texts are something as a whole we do very often; it can be looked at as something great to keep us in contact with others who cannot always be around. Or it can lead to ignoring the people right in front of us, causing our communication skills to be broken down to nothing. But it is how Carr states this in his book, The Shallows, which will truly offend us or open our eyes to realize the truth of texting.

Sarah Mayo

e-books vs. old fashioned paperbacks

One of the many things Carr uses to compare to the internet is books. On page 99 of The Shallows, Carr states “book publishers have suffered some losses of business as reading has shifted from the printed page to the screen, but the form of the book itself hasn’t changed much.” As many people commonly know, Carr points out many times in his book the internet is overpowering books, and becoming the more popular way of reading. I agree very much with him that the internet is the new popular way to read instead of an old fashion book.
     Over the years, digital books have become more popular than old fashion paperback books. They allow a person to have hundreds of books downloaded on it and don’t take up a lot of space as many books together do. Electronic devices allow a person to magnify the words to read the pages at however big needed. These devices also have their own background light that can be set at whatever tone the person wants. Dim in the sunlight, or bring in the dark. The bigger font and extra light feature allow a person to read in many more conditions that just a normal book would. Electronic books have created functions to click through pages easily, add bookmarks, highlight text, and take side notes too. Like an iPod, e-books and nooks can also hold a library of music. This is beneficial for if people like to play music while they read. Now in today’s society, e-books have grown very popular and are selling at a much faster pace than paperback books. A friend of mine who loves to read got a nook to hold all of her favorite books on one system. She finds it easy to just buy a book online and buy more books when she wants. My other friend however still likes having an actual book in front of her to hold and read. So while the internet is taking place of many simple items, it all depends on the person, and what their preference is towards reading.
     As he mentions also though, a book has some qualities a computer will never have. One advantage the book has over electronic devices is you don’t have to charge it or worry about a battery running out. Books are easy to take on the go for this reason. He mentions people can take books to the beach not worrying about getting it sandy or water on it. Take a book to bed and not worry about it dropping on the floor during the night breaking or lying on it. Put a book down and pick up right off where you left reading last time. Lastly how people just enjoy sitting down and holding an actual book. Being able to flip through the pages, take side notes, highlight quotes, get the author to autograph the book, lend the book to a friend, and many more little neat things about books. These ideas Carr mentions I also agree with about the old fashioned book.

-       Jacque Rideout

The Computer, More Than Just a Simple Tool..

Angeli Hajali

In Chapter 1 of The Shallows, Carr says “The computer, I began to sense was more than just a simple tool that did what you told it to do.  It was a machine that, in subtle but unmistakable ways, exerted an influence over you.  The more I used it, the more it altered the way I worked.”  Though I disagree with some of Carr’s arguments I find this to be very true.  The more we use the internet and the computer the more we our work and communication alters.
                Nowadays we use the internet for everything.  We use the internet to talk to friends, family members, coworkers, professors etc.. As students we use the internet to submit work and use computers to complete work.  Other than these typical duties many people use the internet for entertainment such as watching movies, television shows, playing games and more.  The computer is more than just a simple tool; it truly does influence everything most people do.
                As Carr explains it really has altered the way people work.  People used to go to the library and rent a book; you can now buy or rent virtually any book online, download it in seconds and have it available at your fingertips and at the convenience of your home.  You used to go to the video store and rent or buy a movie, you can now stream and watch or rent a movie online for free, and you can pause and play it whenever you want.  People used to use type writers to send people letters or important documents and use the post office to send them to people in the mail.  You can now conveniently type emails and send them confidentially in just seconds.  All of this and more has developed so much more since internet usage began including photos, sharing and research.
                I do understand how Carr sees the internet as a downfall.  It has changed the way we do things, the way we act, communicate, and learned.  But, it has also opened up so many options and conveniences.  When I get home after a day at class or running errands I immediately turn to the internet to catch up on the statuses of my friends, reply to my professors and coworkers, pay bills, and set up important appointments.  In my opinion, the internet is without a doubt one of the most efficient, important, and convenient sources ever found.
                We rely on the internet so much more than we realize.  Carr says “The computer, I began to sense was more than just a simple tool that did what you told it to do.  It was a machine that, in subtle but unmistakable ways, exerted an influence over you.  The more I used it, the more it altered the way I worked.”  Though I understand what Carr is saying when he disagrees with the internet and how much it has changed society, I believe that the internet is one of the greatest creations.  It helps us with everyday tasks and we use it a lot more than we realize.

Technological Advances Equal Frustration

In The Shallows, Nicolas Carr states that “our use of the Net will only grow, and its impact on us will only strengthen, as it becomes ever more present in our lives” (92). This statement is very factual and through my own personal experience I can agree with what he is saying. I received my own personal laptop during Christmas of 2010, that way I would have full internet and Microsoft software access for college. Before receiving my laptop, I would not go on the Net overly, averaging only about five hours per week (much lower than the average today). Once I received my laptop and got it programmed and ready to go, however, that number grew exponentially. Today I would say I average around fifteen hours a week on the internet and that may be being generous. But due to continuing technological advances, internet access is becoming much easier and more convenient to use and get to, which makes it that much more appealing.
 Now in today’s society, “the computer continues to get smaller and cheaper as technology advances” (92). As a result, most cell phones ranging from iPhones, Androids, Droids, etc. all require a data plan that comes with full internet access, making internet access literally in the palm of your hands. On page ninety-two, Carr puts added emphasis that although a laptop was a great invention that allowed the internet to walk outside of a household, it was and still remains a technological inconvenience to carry, care for, and use. These new “pocket-sized” computers pop up an internet browser in a matter of seconds, for any user to roam for an extended period of time.
My personal stance on a “smaller” computer is that I disagree with nearly everything that goes into it due to one main factor; cost. Most cell phone servers, including AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, etc. require a minimum twenty-five dollar service fee per month, which adds up to at least three hundred extra dollars lost every year. I don’t see the point in owning a device that can get me onto the internet more convenient when it will cost me three hundred dollars every year, especially when I already have an efficient laptop at my disposal. Another issue that goes into my personal opinion is how often technology will change or upgrade. Every year, and recently it seems like every month, a new “Droid” cell phone will come out, leading the consumer to want to purchase the new device. Not only is the device well over one hundred dollars just to purchase, but then you have to dump in the service fee per phone. The rapid development of the “newest and latest” technology, to me, is very frustrating, especially when people are spending that much money on personal benefit and not on the truly important things, such as cancer research or medical research in general. As you can see, I prefer not to own the “latest and greatest” technologies. I don’t even own an iPod, let alone an iPhone. I just hope that as technological advances keep increasing, medical advances will begin to increase parallel to it, but actually make a daily impact in our everyday lives.

-Dylan Chisholm

Internet vs. Books

In the very first chapter of Nicholas Carr's book, "The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains," he expresses to the reader his concerns about the effect that the internet has had and will have on the average person. He believes that it is because of the internet that people are losing their ability to concentrate. According to Carr, the realization occurred when he sat down to read a book. He noticed that his mind wanted to behave the same way that it does when he used the internet: jumping from page to page, checking emails, clicking on links, and googling things. This made him think about how technology we use in day to day life influences the way we think.
Although I agree with Carr's initial point that people have changed the way they think, I do not agree that people have lost the ability to concentrate on a book. When doing research, anyone would go to google instead of going to search through hundreds of books at the library, it is the logical thing to do. One can take in more information in less time when they use the resources presented by the internet. The internet has provided a source of instant gratification for many knowledge seeking minds. However, this does not mean that people have completely lost the ability to focus on a novel. Reading a novel is not a chore, it is something that should be enjoyable. If someone really wanted to read a novel then they would. It is really a matter of what the individual finds more intriguing: the quick gratification of the internet, or the long, suspenseful, and somewhat thrilling experience of reading a novel.

-Corinne Corcoran

Relying on the Internet

    Jake Sulzer  

       In Nicholas Carr's book, The Shallows, he tries to get the point across to the readers that the internet is altering the way we think. From his findings, he believes that our attention spans are not what they used to be and that the internet is to blame for this. With such an efficient medium at our disposal why would we spend time reading books and newspapers? All of this can be done online in a quicker way.
       As someone who grew up with the internet I know how valuable it is as a medium for information. That being said, I also understand how it is changing the way we think. When I was younger, around eight years old, I couldn't function a computer very well. I hardly knew how to get online and look things up and because of that I rarely used the internet. I spent most of my time reading books if I wasn't at school or with friends. As I grew older and older I began to use the internet more frequently. The more I used the internet, the more I discovered everything it was capable of. All the information I could ever need at my fingertips. I could look up a summary of a book and finish it in five minutes, watch movies online, see what my friends were doing.
      Everything became so easy I just began to wish everything was that easy. In school I had trouble studying because it required reading chapters and chapters of information from textbooks. I couldn't tell at the time what was happening but now I can noticeably tell that my attention span has gone down significantly. I get bored whenever I have to do the slightest amount of reading, including the assigned reading for this book. I can get through about half a chapter before wishing I could just use SparkNotes to figure out the rest of what he is saying. I guess I am a prime example of how the internet is changing our brains.

The Internet is not a Negative Change

            There is no doubt in my mind that the internet has a large effect of our daily lives at this point in time. However, I do no think that this impact is a bad thing. Throughout time there have been many inventions, ideas, and discoveries that have changed the way humans live their lives. Books, radios, phones and planes are all examples of inventions that have changed our world as we know it. The internet is not different. 
            I feel that Nicholas Carr, in his novel The Shallows, often comes off as bias. He clearly states his opinion that he is against the internet and what it seems to be doing to society. He claims that the internet is changing the way our minds think, and he supports this argument with research evidence about the brain. However, why does this change have to be considered bad? I’m sure that when the radio was invented it changed not only the way we lived, but it also had an affect on the way we think and view the world. I have learned in my psychology class that music triggers synapses in the brain that are not similar to anything else we have seen. Imagine when the world was first filled with music from house to house, that was revolutionary compared to the way people were living before. Music changed society and the world as we knew it to be back then, and that is exactly what the internet is doing.
            My point is, why does Carr make the internet out to be some kind of criminal that is destroying our the way our minds/society function? I agree that I have changed since I have started using the internet more often, but why does that change have to be a negative one? I feel as if I can handle more information that is thrown at me since I have started using the internet. I feel that I am a better at multi-tasking and that I can get my work done faster and more efficiently. However, just because I am getting my work done faster does not mean that I do it with half the effort. I believe that the internet gives people the chance to change themselves in both a positive and negative way, and that it is up to people and their character to decide which effect it has on themselves personally. 
             For me, the internet has had some positive and negative effects. Yes, I have become more efficient in my work, but I also feel I am distracted. This may seem like a contradiction, but it is not. When I am doing work I can easily find what I need on the internet and get the job done. However, when I am out with friends, or during my leisure time, I feel like I can sometimes be distracted by the internet itself. Certain websites keep me distracted. I find myself being taken away from a moment with my friends so that I can post about it on Facebook or Twitter. Carr uses an example of this in The Shallows. He talks about going to a play and not paying full attention to it. Instead, half the audience is tweeting about it. Though I would like to say this is not the case for me, it can be sometimes. Although I have gained both negative and positive qualities since I started using the internet more often, I can and will not place the blame on the internet itself. It is my fault if I am distracted and it is also my fault if I am more efficient. Either way, I believe the internet is not corrupting our society. 

- Kaitlin MacKinnon

Electronic Readers

Drew Loiselle
The way that people looks have books has changed a lot over the past ten years or so. When I was little, you couldn’t use the internet to find out information that quickly, and I was often forced to go to printed sources from the school library to find out information. These books are one of the last things that have seemed to make the transition to an electronic form. In the book, The Shallows, by Nicholas Carr, he states that,”You can take a book to the beach without worrying about sand getting in its works. You can take it to bed without being nervous about it falling to the floor should you nod off. You can spill coffee on it. You can sit on it.”(Carr 99). This quote is showing us all the advantages to a real book, and after considering all of these things, why would you ever buy an electronic E-reader? 
Although books are very easy to read, and always have the information that you are looking for, people have been getting more into the electronic side of them over the past few years. With an electronic reader, you can hold numerous books in one little tablet, which makes for a lot less lost books and clutter around your house. You can also read them in the dark, because most of the readers these days have dim back lights that can allow you to read without any lights at all. Another really cool thing about these readers is that most of them can connect to the internet, so you can get new books no matter where you are. 
I agree with Carr that regular books are better than the electronic ones. With a normal book, I never have to worry about whether it has a charge, or if it will die midway through a book. The only reason that I have ever bought an electronic book is because they generally run cheaper, and I needed to save some money on textbooks for school. Real books also do not hurt your eyes, and I feel as if I could read them all day and have nothing to worry about. With the electronic screens, they can sometimes hurt your eyes after a long time of using them. I sometimes find that if I use my laptop too much in class, that my eyes will hurt, so I am assuming the same would happen with an electronic reader. Overall, I agree with Carr, that normal paper books are better than electronic ones ever will be.

Drew Loiselle
Overall, computers have evolved rapidly over the past 20 years. I can remember as a kid, waiting for a dial up tone, and for my computer to try to connect to the internet. Then when someone wanted to use the phone, you got kicked off the internet and had to wait for the conversation to be over with. Back then, if we waited anywhere under a minute for one of our webpages to load in, we would be the happiest kids on the block. Now if its anywhere past ten-seconds, we want to throw our computers across the room, or call the company to complain how slow that the internet is.
In the book, The Shallows, Nicholas Carr states,”Over the past three decades, the number of instructions a computer chip can process every second has doubled about every three years, while the cost of processing those instructions has fallen by almost half every year.”(Carr 83).Everything that he has to say about this topic, I have to agree with. I always remember doing my homework as a little kid, and I would have to go to the library just to get some internet to work. I also did not have a computer for the longest time, because of the price of them back then. You use to have to pay over a thousand dollars for the most basic of home computers, just so that you could use the internet, or type something up for school. Now, if you need a computer, you can just drive up to best buy, give the guy $250, and drive home with a shiny new laptop that is  fast and will get the job done. You could even go get a new smart phone, which basically has all the features of a computer, but in a small, handheld device. For example, on my iPhone, I can browse the internet, use Facebook, listen to music, check my email, or call my friends, all from one little device. 
Having internet that is lightning fast has evolved everyone in our society. People are constantly now on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, or any other major sites while they are out on their daily routines. With all the new phones that we have out, people are much more likely to be spending time on them, instead of doing things like reading books, or having face to face conversations. I even find myself texting people who are in the same room as me, just so that I would not have to talk out in front of people, are create attention to myself. 

Reliance on the Internet

Haylee Dussault
            In the novel The Shallows by Nicholas Carr, he discusses a lot about how the usage of computers has changed much over the years. Through his words, he is trying to prove the point that the usage of the Internet is now far outweighing the usage of books, newspapers, etc. From my personal experience I would have to mostly agree with his views on the increasing amount of Internet usage, especially in reference to the younger generation in the past ten years. 
           Personally, I have not picked up a book to read for leisure in at least a few years, and I imagine that I am not the only person around my age that feels this same way. Instead, I choose to use my free time texting, connecting with friends on various social networks, and watching the television and movies. I also find that I feel uneasy when I am not connected to the internet which is why I believe most people have their phones attached to their hands at all times, including myself. It was not surprising to me when Carr stated, “By 2009, adults in North America were spending an average of 12n hours online a week, double the average in 2005” (Carr, 86). I am also positive that the amount of Internet usage has since increased again and again since in the three years since 2009. 
           Although people of older generations may not tend to use the internet as much as younger people because they did not really grow up around it so they really find no reason in spending time to get to know how to use it. This must become increasingly more difficult because nowadays if something can be done online it usually is in order to conserve paper and to get things done more quickly than they would be by just using paper. Therefore, I guess you could conclude that I believe that today’s society has proven to be very dependent on the Internet for many reasons. If the Internet were to randomly stop working tomorrow, there would be mass hysteria. No one would really know how to function in everyday life without it because everything today is run by the Internet. Businesses would fail, bills would not be paid, people could not get the necessities they need to survive, and altogether there would be panic and chaos. The major line of communication that connects nations would be completely cut, and nobody would really know what was going on in the world aside of outside of their doorstep. This is why the world would not continue to run as efficiently as it does today if there was no more Internet. 

Where Is My Old Brain?

On page 16 of The Shallows, Carr states in the last sentence of his first paragraph that he “missed his old brain” (16). I could not agree more with what Carr is saying here. I can remember back in middle school when there were new Harry Potter books still being released by author J.K. Rowling. I would eagerly wait for the release date of these books and purchase them on the day they would come out, and read them as soon as possible. However, lately I find that reading any type of book, whether it is in my interest level or not, is becoming increasingly difficult. Carr makes reference to the fact that he has been experiencing severe difficulty focusing on any type of reading, because the internet is making everything much faster and efficient. This is exactly how I have been feeling whenever I try to pick up a book, including The Shallows itself. I will read a page, and then by the end of the last sentence have to re-read what I had just read not two minutes ago because in between my mind would drift off to something completely off topic. I miss the ability to stay truly focus on a certain task at hand, even if it is just reading a book, forced or for fun.
 This fact is also becoming increasingly more frightening. After learning about and agreeing with Carr’s view on what the internet has done to him, I worry that the same will fully overcome me and everyone else around me. If that happens, I worry that logical thinking and rational reasoning will become withered and derailed. If that does occur, research and discovery may become withered as well and reduced, because those performing the experiments will attempt to take the easy way out. I know from experience that I find myself trying to take the easy way out of a long-term project, whether it’s using invalid resources such as Wikipedia, or learning about a novel I have to read on Sparknotes. As a result, I have discovered through personal analysis that my motive behind taking short cuts through projects is because I am more concerned about things that aren’t important, such as social media, internet, and television.
The problem that I am faced with today is how to eliminate this problem, how to reverse my brain and get my own brain back. I feel as if I couldn’t last a full day without some means of social media, texting, or internet, let alone a week, month, or a year. Carr’s statement is very bold, but very accurate, because everyone has been influenced by the internet one way or another. The change in technology, especially the discovery of the internet, is changing mankind one day at a time, and I fear one day it will be too late to make a change. What Nicolas Carr is stating couldn’t be closer to the truth, but even knowing the facts of what the internet has done to our brains will not alter them back to their original state. Instead, it will only progressively get worse. 

- Dylan Chisholm

Carr Often Looks Too Much Into Things

Meagan Cox

                In my opinion, chapter five of The Shallows included a variety of different topics laid out in an unusually confusing way. First off, the mathematician described in the first few paragraphs of this chapter led me to believe that the chapter was going to be about the use of the mathematics in the creation of the internet. However, as I read on, I became confused as to why a specific mathematician was even brought up, especially to the extent that he was, as Carr described not only his work on creating the basis of the idea of the computer, but also many aspects of his personal life. Throughout the rest of the chapter, I found myself in deep thought, trying to decide why the ideas of mathematics and mathematicians were essential to the topics that followed; however, no such connection was evident to me. Perhaps the information presented in the first few paragraphs of chapter five was   necessary for a topic Carr describes later on in the book, however, I think the placement of the information was a bit off, and confusing to the reader.

                There were many points in chapter five that I agreed with, however, I quickly realized that the parts I agreed with were mostly just facts and non-controversial ideas that are more just statistics than Carr’s personal ideas and thoughts. For instance, I do agree with the fact that the internet is becoming more and more prominent in the lives of just about everybody, from children to adults; however, I think that is a fact that is somewhat hard to dispute, more like common sense than anything. I would think that the presentation of these facts or “ideas” were useless, if they had not included the statistics that might pose to be interesting to a certain reader. The statistics mentioned showed just how quickly the internet has become a large part of the lives of people in just about every age group from just 2005 to 2009, which I thought was an interesting and good addition to prove his point to the reader.

                I found a lot of the information presented in chapter five to be a bit redundant, though I realize that the redundancy may be due to the fact that Carr was trying to make his point clear. Carr mentioned just about every aspect of technology, and how it was being taken over by the computer; from cd’s and magazines to movies and television. I agree that the computer is becoming a big part of how people listen to music, and with the fact that cd sales are going down due to the abundance of music available on the internet, but I do not think, as Carr mentioned, that the availability to access television shows and movies on the computer is changing how people view television, for the majority of people do most, if not all of their program viewing on televisions, not computers.

                An interesting idea brought up by Carr was that magazines and television shows are not only being “taken over” by the internet, as described above, but that they are also shaping themselves to incorporate more aspects that the internet offers. For example, Carr brings up the idea that television shows now include segments about sites like Facebook and YouTube, which is true, but I believe, unlike Carr, that the reason for this is more because of the fact that much of pop culture is through the internet, and not because, as Carr seems to believe, people are so obsessed with the internet that they like everything they view to be focused upon what they see on the internet, in the same layout as it is on the internet. Sometimes, it seems as though Carr looks too much into every part of technology to find their connections to the internet.

Technology: an expression of human will

              Nicholas Carr states in his book, The Shallows, "Every technology is an expression of human will. Through our tools, we seek to expand our power and control over our circumstances--over nature, over time and distance, over one another." (44) This statement made me think about the extent to which technology has control over us or that we control technology. Technology is ever changing and we have to adjust and change along with it. As new technologies, social medias, etc develop we are almost forced into a world of adapting to the use of technology. While other embrace it, some try to stick to old ways and fight it. But either way, people are constantly being influenced by social medias, new technology and peers around them to use new tools and technologies being developed.
           I've definitely noticed a new and increased dependence to technologies. People, including myself, will constantly use their phones, computers, ipods and other devices to stay in touch and feel connected with the outside world. Without having access to these devices people often feel disconnected and as if they are going to be "missing out". I've felt myself become more dependent on technologies and these devices but I realize my dependence and try to limit myself to the amount of time I spend on the internet, Facebook, Tv etc. Carr talks about how the internet has made us less focused and have a lessened attention span. I agree with this statement. I can feel my mind wandering more easily as a I try to finish a task. If it's on my computer and i'm trying to write a paper or get some work done, I find my attention drifting off to checking Facebook, my email, my phone or anything to be some sort of distraction.
             But on the contrary, all of tools and devices and advances in technology are said to be made for our convenience and benefit. Carr talks about old tools such as the maps, typewriters, or even books that are all becoming outdated and by newer more advanced technologies. This section of the book really got me to stop and thinking about all the old things I used to use and how over the years they have upgraded. I remember my parents having to print out directions from when I was younger and now we can just grab the  GPS and punch in an address anywhere. I remember when I used to use CD players instead of my Ipod, or my old flips phones opposed to the new updated smart phones, etc. It's strange to reflect how much has changed around me and how little attention I have payed attention to it. I used to be limited by my parents to 45 minutes a day of use on the internet, back when we had to use the dial up internet. I would have to make sure to spend my time wisely. Now, I don't even think twice about how much time I spend or how often I go on the internet.

-Chelsea Angelosanto

The Changing Brain

            In Chapter two of The Shallows, Carr explains the brain and it’s plasticity in adapting new skills. He explains that the internet is changing our brains to think in ways that short cut most things. Such as not being able to read a full text because the internet has changed our thinking to take in and understand short bits of information, rather than making sense of a lengthy novel. He deeply explains and stresses how the brain is physically changing to relate to how the internet is affecting us. I can see where he is coming from, but only to a point. I do not think my attention span has suffered only due to the internet. Reading a long text is hard for anyone to do all in one sitting; the internet is not the main source as to why this happens. Yes reading text online is easier because it is shorter and usually gets right to the point, but if I need to, I can still pick up a book at get through it. Carr makes it seems as if it is impossible for anyone that uses the internet to be able to focus on a dense text. The internet may have a factor in this situation but is not the main cause of it.
            Carr also uses many different examples of experiments to show how the brain is malleable and able to change.  When we do something over and over again the brain adapts to that new skill, and takes over areas that are not being used. He used the piano playing for example.  The more and more the groups played the piano, the more neural passageways the built up. I can agree here in saying that I have played a musical instrument for the past ten years now and I can recognize that I can pick up certain melodies quicker than others and I understand how to break down a piece of music. But since I have come to school I have not been practicing as much as I used to. When I go back home to play I will probably have to practice a little to get back up to par with where I was. This is because the neural passage ways that I used while I was playing frequently have stopped being used therefor decreasing my ability to play as well as I did in the past. The brain is changing all the time with everything we do and with each new skill we obtain, such as the cab drivers who develop such great skill in finding where to go in a city. The brain is a remarkable organ that is frequently changing to keep up with our ever changing world. Carr argues that the internet is most affecting our attention and ability to read a text. With the brain changing almost every day it is hard to pinpoint the internet’s main influence on our thinking.

Alexandra O'Brien

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Technology Controlling Us? I Think Not.

In his book, The Shallows, author and blogger Nicholas Carr agrees that “technologies are not merely aids to human activity, but also powerful forces acting to reshape that activity and its meaning” (Carr 47), which was originally said by the political scientist Langdon Winner. I disagree with this statement for a few reasons. I don’t believe that they are technically “powerful” by themselves or that they have their own minds and are forcing us to do anything. I really don’t think that they have any power over us and that we control them and have all of the power over them.

In my opinion, technologies are just devices constructed from intelligent men and women that make themselves and also other users who buy the product powerful, not the technology itself. The technologies are in a sense powerful because they can perform certain tasks that could not be performed in that manner before, but not in the way or sense that the quote meant by the word powerful.  I really don’t think that the technologies themselves have minds or intents, or that they’re working to reshape what we do and how we do it. I think that sometimes the result of using them can change how we think or do certain things, but it’s not like that was the technology’s intent. The result of changing how we do things was human’s intent. We wanted a different way of performing the task. The result of the way we think was not technology’s intent either. It was just a byproduct from using the machine and could’ve most likely been foreseen and expected by philosophers or psychologists. At the time though, no one was thinking about what it would do to our minds. They were just thinking about how it would help us accomplish certain advanced tasks more quickly and efficiently.

If technology was powerful by themselves, that’s basically implying that if we left the devices by themselves with no human using them, they would work on their own. Of course if we leave them alone, for example, a computer or phone would lose battery, maybe update itself, or shut off. But those are things that we programmed the technology to do. So basically they are not acting themselves, but acting because of us and by us. If it really was powerful itself, I’d think of that as the technology moving on its own or doing other actions that we would not expect it to do.

In conclusion, I obviously disagree with the statement that suggests technology is a powerful force acting to reshape human activity and the meaning of our activity. The quote in Carr’s book reminds me of a horror movie called Stay Alive. In the movie, a group of friends play a video game and each one who dies in the game dies in real life, suggesting that the video game (a technology) was controlling real life events. To end this blog post, I’ll just say that movies like these are fiction for a reason.

Jill Zalewski

The Internet's Effect on My Patience and Attention Span

As Nicholas Carr mentions in his book The Shallows, “a popular medium molds what we see and how we see it – and eventually if we use it enough, it changes who we are” (Carr 3). My medium of preference is the internet of course, which I use very often. His statement suggests that the internet can change the way people think, the way their brains work, and even their personality. For me personally, I believe that the internet has affected my attention span and also my patience. A couple of my own stories and experiences illustrate Carr’s point.

When I was a young kid, we had a very slow internet connection at my house, probably dial-up. I was used to the slowness of it because I never knew that there was anything faster. I never found waiting for the internet to load in a little longer than a minute’s time mind-boggling. I sat there patiently waiting for the computer and the connection to do their thing, and never got frustrated. Now today, with the internet’s connection lightning-fast, I find myself wanting things instantly. If I’m on Facebook and a picture takes more than a few seconds to load, I’ll just exit out and move onto something else. I have no patience to wait for it. I find myself getting frustrated and very angry when the internet on my phone is less than 4G. I’m used to the fastest and I’m not going to settle for less, so I just come back to something later when the speed is much faster. The lack of patience even continues onto other parts of my life. For example, if I’m extremely hungry and my dad says that dinner will be ready in ten minutes or so, I’ll reach for a snack because I don’t even feel like waiting just ten minutes! This lack of patience is probably in part due to the internet. I’m afraid that in the future my patience will get even worse as a result of using the Web so often.

The internet has also had an effect on my attention span. I find myself getting so distracted many times and not being able to focus on something for more than maybe five minutes or so, and sometimes just a minute! When I was younger and in about elementary school, I would be able to immerse myself in a book for about an hour at a time, and have my full attention on the words and the story. Sometimes I would get so caught up with in the book that I’d almost feel like I was a part of it and I wouldn’t even hear someone calling my name. Today that doesn’t happen at all. I can barely read a page without looking at my phone for a text or at the Facebook newsfeed. Since we are so connected to each other through the internet, people are constantly in contact and want to be in the know. Another answer for my problem could be, for example, because of short articles online. We no longer have to read long pieces of articles to get news so we are not used to focusing on something more than a paragraph long in one sitting. Companies are just making it worse because as Carr states, “many producers are chopping up their products to fit the shorter attention spans of online consumers” (Carr 94). Although I don’t wish it, my attention span will probably stay the same or even get worse in the future, but who knows.

Jill Zalewski

Internet and the Degeneration of Reading

Clifford McKeon
There are many aspects to Nicholas Carr’s book The Shallows that I disagree with, but one aspect that I am convinced is happening is our society is the dumbing down of our reading capabilities. It is easy to see how mediums such as cell phones, computers, and radios have slowly reduced them. In chapter eighteen Carr discusses these points on how society invented writing, how reading flourished, and todays’ reading society. I have always believed that mediums were slowly lessening our reading/writing capacities and now Carr’s novel has reinforced my belief. 
Carr starts off chapter 18 by showing man’s want to read and make reading easier and more accessible. In the ancient world writing was considered highly valuable. Car states, When people first began writing things down, they’d scratch their marks on… rocks, wood, bark, bits of cloth, pieces of bone, chunks of broken pottery” (58). Ancient civilizations had to be extremely skilled in the art of reading unlike today. They had many factors to overcome while reading which took the absolute undivided attention. They had to overcome reading on these inadequate objects, such as bark. They also had a different style of writing called scriptura continua which contained no spaces between words. Imagine how focused you would have to be to break up the words in a sentence while simultaneously reading it. Carr says that the art of reading takes an extreme amount of mental discipline. Linking our ability to shut down our own animal instinct, of responsiveness to environment, to be able to. Sadly, all of this progress is diminishing due to a modern invention, the internet.
I internet is single handedly destroying our ability to read. As stated in the previous paragraph it took lots of concentration for humans to learn to read and eventually become advanced readers. The internet does not allow for this. One of the reasons is that people can access information so quickly. I noticed that whenever I am reading or writing something of importance on the computer, in the back of my mind there is always a voice telling me, “Check YouTube” or “Wow look at that link on the side of the page”. The internet has all this information for us to read, but the way it presents it is what is destroying our ability to read. Advertisements and links flood pages luring helpless page viewers from one page to the next. Reading is all about focusing and losing one’s self and the internet has dwindled down our attention spans.
To conclude, our future does not seem to look bright when it comes to reading and writing. All of human’s society’s effort and progress is slowly being mutated. No longer is it sitting down reading a book or a newspaper. It’s all about how many web pages you can view simultaneously without fully absorbing all the information from any of them. Who knows what the future will be like we can only speculate. In today’s fast paced society we multitask, we skim through readings, and the little bit writing we do is regularly filled with acronyms. Maybe the “LOLs”, “BRBs”, and “HMUs” will be acceptable words in books one day… that’s if we still use books.

Waste of time?

At the beginning of the semester, when we first started talking about The Shallows, we talked a lot about how the inter has turned us all into people who get distracted easily. I completely agree with this. I know that from my own experiences, I have become much more susceptible to being distracted when I’m working on some sort of project. Even right now, I have my phone next to me and am constantly texting; I’m watching Chopped on the Food Network, and I keep constantly going back to Facebook and checking if I have new notifications. I also have been adding things to my planner as I remember about them. I am very easily distracted as it is, and having the “world wide web” at my fingertips really doesn’t help anything. However, I find I concentrate more if I have some sort of background noise going on. Whether it’s the TV or my iTunes playing. All through my high school years, my parents would get angry with me doing my homework in front of the TV or on the computer, but it’s definitely apparent from my grades and how much faster I work. If I am just shut in my room, then I feel like I’m missing out on things and that there’s so much waiting for me and the pressure really gets to me. There are times when I absolutely need to shut myself in my room and just concentrate. Usually this happens when I have a test during the week or a huge project that I procrastinated on.
            I also believe that the Internet has made us more lazy people. I find that a many people, especially teens and young adults are spending way too much time online and not outside. I remember the days before we had the Internet that I would be outside on my swing set with my friends making up different types of tag games. Now when I hang out with my friends, one of us has a laptop out or we’re on our smartphones or something. It’s definitely not the same as it was in the early-mid 90’s, and a lot of the time, I miss it.
            It absolutely appalls me when I see elementary school kids texting and their iPads. I didn’t get a cell phone until I was in high school, and that was only because of my busy schedule from Marching Band. I didn’t get texting until my Junior Year of high school. I’ve had 3 iPods, my second because the first broke and my thirds because the second was stolen. I’m on my first laptop, and only because I needed it for college. Honestly, I’m still kind of living in the 90’s, being naive about everything and just enjoying life.
            I may disagree with a lot of what Carr says, but he definitely has the fact that we’re lazier and get much more distracted down. It’s obvious when you look at the 90’s generation and then the generation that is still growing. I still believe that the Internet is in the top 5 greatest things ever invented.