Total Pageviews

Monday, April 30, 2012

Unreliable Internet

In today’s society people have become very dependent on technology, especially the internet. Nowadays people have access to the internet everywhere. Phones can receive and send emails as well as log onto Facebook, most public places offer Wi-Fi so that, even on the go, one has access to the web. Even the most un-tech savvy person can interact with technology, making it, for the most part, accessible by everyone. The internet, however, is very unreliable.
            For people that need to use the internet on the daily bases to keep up with work or school, trying to get the internet that you have ‘access’ to, to work can be very difficult. If someone needs to check their email, or send an important one, for work or academic purposes it can be extremely frustrating to not be able to when, for all intensive purpose, you should be able to. Bad internet connection, a problem with the computer, or poor cell reception for those who are using their network, can all be the culprits in this crime against internet capability.
            Take the UMass Lowell residence hall Wi-Fi for example. It’s horrible and rarely works for some people. I happen to be one of those unfortunate people who can never seem to connect to the internet no matter how hard I try. My Calculus class is very dependent on the internet for its homework assignments, making me dependent on it. This is very unfortunate for me seeing as I live in the dorms and never seem to be able to connect to the campus Wi-Fi when I need to complete my homework assignments. The same goes for this class. I got home from work, hoping to edit my soon to be blog entries before submitting them. It took me half an hour to get the pages to load and another 10 minutes of trying to actually submit my first entry. I’m currently writing this one on my phone so that I can submit it and show my frustration with the internet.
            Because the internet is an electronic it is prone to problems, making the many people’s, who are dependent on technology and the internet, lives difficult. Emails are late, homework is overdue, and a large amount of people become frustrated and stressed because of this problem with technology. The internet is a great tool and an excellent source of information, if you know where to look, but it also has its downfalls. It is not always reliable and sometimes it doesn’t work properly, resulting in very unhappy users.

Jessica King
In chapter 9 (Search, Memory) of The Shallows, Carr talks about old writers, philosophers, and he referred to how people got used to writing about a variety of things. For example, he insisted that as Socrates was correct, people depended more on other people's thoughts than their own memories while they were learning. In the beginning, people usually just kept on memorizing until they learned what they needed to learn. According to Carr, we can easily look up knowledge via web now that we have the internet. Carr also said that "Books provided people with a far greater and more diverse supply of facts, opinions, ideas, and stories than had been available before."(Carr 177). In other words, people relied only on books, scrolls, and all types of written documents they would have had in order to do research and fine information to learn during the era Socrates was around. One thing Carr referred to was Shakespeare. For example, he said that Shakespeare referred to Hamlet as "the book and volume of my brain."(Carr 178). It sounds more like that Shakespeare used Hamlet as something that keeps memorized facts in his mind. Memorization isn't always the best way to maintain facts. Given that Erasmus was a great memorizer of classical literature from his school, The playwright Terence did not recommend memorization as a way to maintain facts or lines in a play script. Carr said that Erika Rummel insisted that there are around two ways to completely engage the mind in learning. They are creativity, and proper judgement.

One interesting fact similar to searching and memory is that according to Clive Thompson, the net is an onboard brain that takes over the role of the brain played by the not outer, but inner memory. Peter Suderman believes and even argued that it isn't very efficient to use our brains to store information while we can use memory like an index that points to places like on the web to find information, connect it all, and so on. The internet is one of the most valuable tools in our culture today because now we can search for, and obtain facts through our memory functions rather than memorize or do it the over difficult way. One thing that neurologists and psychologists have known for a very long time  is that the human brain hold more than just one kind of memory. Given that statement, I am sure that each kind of memory is meant to think, retain, and process information in a certain and different way. One experiment Hermann Ebbinghaus did to prove that there are more ways to learn than memorization, is by trying to memorize two thousand words that don't make sense. Afterwards, he studied a word and it's meaning. After he did that, he discovered that if you think about a word, or anything in depth, your brain will  be more likely to remember it more thoroughly than if it were just to memorize. I wonder if the internet helps people figure out how to think or remember properly. I know that where ever you navigate on the web, it will not only give you something to remember, but it will also provide detail about it so there would be no need to memorize.

-Drew Theran

The Progression of the Internet

              On page 92 of The Shallows Carr states “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.  Like the clock in the book before it the computer continues to get smaller and cheaper as technology advances.  Inexpensive laptops gave us the ability to take the ability to take the internet with us when we left our office or our home.  But the laptop was itself a cumbersome device, and connecting one to the internet was not always easy.  The introduction of the tiny netbook and the even tinier smartphone solves those problems.  Powerful pocket-sized computers like the Apple iPhone, Motorolla Droid, and the Google Nexus 1L come bundled with internet access.  Along with in cooperation of the internet services and do everything from car dashboards to tell televisions to the cabins of airplanes, these small devices promise to more deeply integrate the web into our everyday activities, making our universal medium all the more universal.”
                This is an important excerpt from The Shallows because it talks about the development of technology and how things have gotten smaller, handier, and more convenient.  This is a big reason why technology has become such a big part of people’s everyday lives.  Today’s world is all about the fast paced world and how to do things faster and quicker.  It was only obvious that one day something better would come around and people would drop books.  And once computers were invented they just got better and better.  The world of technology has truly evolved since the creation of the internet.
                The fact that there are now things as small as cell phones with the access of the internet on it is mind blowing if you think about it.  When computers were first created a few decades ago they were these huge things that would take up entire rooms.  At this point the internet wasn’t even created and they were not anywhere near capable of doing what they can do today.  And then desktops were created.  Desktops were a lot smaller in size and now people could have personal and business computers.  Technology improved e even more and laptops were created.   Laptops allowed people to transport the internet and their computer with them.  Not only were they smaller in size but they were smaller and more efficient.   Now these hand held devices give us the ability to access the entire World Wide Web in once click of a button.
                Carr mentions a lot of negatives in his book The Shallows.  But if you look at the use of the internet and how it has changed our lives it really has created a brand new world of possibilities and helpfulness.

Angeli Hajali

E-Reader Vs. Actual Books

In one of Carr’s chapters he discusses e-books and e-readers, such as the kindle or the Nook. Every major tablet designer, as well as phone designer, incorporate some type of e-reader in their product. Amazon sells the Kindle so that people be more likely to buy their books, Barnes and Noble encourages people to buy their ‘new and improved’ Nook. Even phones have the ability to download books and keep them in a virtual library. Everywhere you go you can now have easy access to a book, but is this a good thing?
            People are becoming more and more dependent on technology as it advances and newer, more cool and efficient, products are released. E-readers are pushing people to develop a dependency to electronics more quickly. They also, as Carr mentions, can create a distraction for the reader, causing them to not absorb information as well as they would if it was just them and an ‘old fashioned' paper book. Since most tablets and e-readers have access to the internet people are tempted to check their email, or check on their Facebook to see the latest news amongst their friends. Since they are not focused solely on the book they do not retain the information as well. The same goes for phones. People are tempted to play games and check their Facebook’s, just like on a kindle, but there is also the constant receiving and sending of text messages that accompany most phones nowadays. When I read a book it is to relax. I don’t usually answer my phone or go online. My mother is always raving about how easy it is to use the e-reading app on her iPhone and how I should invest in it. the idea of using my iPhone as a reader bothers me. I don’t want every page I read to be interrupted by someone texting me, or by receiving a Facebook notification. It would defeat the purpose of me sitting down and reading a book to relax and enjoy my time.
            In my opinion, although e-readers can be very useful in situations where you’re on the go, they will never replace paper books. Books are reliable. You can put one down and come back to it years later and still find the page you bookmarked. You can drop them, step on them, even get them wet, and they will still, for the most part, function the way they are supposed to, albeit a little messy. E-readers, like any electronic, has the potential to malfunction. They run out of battery, you can accidently press the wrong key, and sometimes they just plain stop working. You shouldn’t drop your e-reader, or step on it, and getting it wet can really damage it. It’s possible to lose all your e-books by just bumping it wrong. In my mind, e-readers are unreliable and will never take the place of my paper books. I will continue to build by own personal paper book library, not an e-library.

Jessica King

The End as Come!

Finally the end! I have read a lot of books but I have never been so excited to have one be over more than I am to have this one end.  The last chapter of The Shallows is where Nicolas Carr summarizes everything he mentions in the book and ties it all together. Now for the most part I agreed with Carr was saying throughout the book, but at times I felt as though he was forcing his opinion on the reader. There were other times where I could not have disagreed more with Carr, however like I said I agreed with him on most of the things that he said. The one thing that I agreed most with was that the internet makes it a lot harder to focus on just one thing at a time. Even as I write this blog post, I am constantly looking at my Facebook and e-mail. I find it hard to sit and just write this blog post without checking to see if someone as updated anything or if I have received an email.
                The one thing I thought was interesting about the way Carr wrote was how he would say am opinion but it would come off as a fact, so the reader did not question it. By doing this, I know I was not quite sure at times whether or not Carr liked the internet or wanted to get rid of it all together. There were also parts of the book when he would mention certain things, mostly things with monkeys; I did not understand why he needed to had such things.
                As I had mentioned in the first sentence, this book is finally over! This book as to have been the hardest book to get through. Every time I picked it up I instantly wanted to put it down. Now most of the time when this happens with a book I never take anything from it, but with this book, although it was a pain to read, there are definitely things that I will take out of it. For instance I will take out how much society has changed because of the internet. More and more people read things on the internet rather than read them in a newspaper or book. This fact concerns me, I do not think that we should ever get rid of books, and the way we are moving now, books will be gone in a 100 years or so. Another thing that I will take away is that the internet will only change us as much as we let it change us.
                I liked the way Nicolas Carr ended the book. A nice summary of all his ideas wrapped together. Sometimes in books the author leaves some ties untied, but Carr is able to make sure that all of his loose ends are no longer loose and the reader knows how all of his ideas tie together. I liked that the most about the book, but I will not lie and tell you that I will never open this book again.

Maggie Hartrey


We are finally done with The Shallows!!!! Thank God! I have failed to do a single blog entry until this one and of course it is last minute. Many of the things I questioned throughout the entire book, but as I was reading the last chapter, A Thing Like Me, I came across a quote that I found particularly interesting. It was a bit exaggerated I felt, but I was able to relate to it and think of times where it applied to my life. Carr stated, “The price we pay to assume technology’s power is alienation. The toll can be particularly high with our intellectual technologies. The tools of the mind amplify and in turn numb the most intimate, and most human, of our natural capacities –those for reason, perception, memory, emotion (211). As I read this I took it as him saying that we rely on technology instead of our own instincts and that since technology has given us  abilities we never could have imagined, the use of technology stops us from accessing human traits that we have acquired over thousands of years. Even though the powers of technology are great they are not necessarily superior to human intuition.

I felt that in some ways we are alienated through technology. When you are using a computer you have information at your finger –tips, but you don’t have the human interaction that going to the library gives you. You are limited to your own creativity when using the internet, but say for instance you went to the library you have the opinion and ideas of the librarian.

Carr uses the last chapter to sum up all his ideas and explains one of his main points that we shouldn't just jump right into technology without understanding the effects it has on us.There is such an instant gratification with technology that I don't think people really care what is happening to them and how we are changing by using the internet, and I can admit I am guilty of it too. Carr's opinion is a bit ridiculous at times, but I do understand where he is coming from, though it's a bit exaggerated at times and repetitive. 

I'm glad that the book is over!

-Hannah Rey

Book vs Kindle

                In chapter six of The Shallows, Nicholas Carr compares reading a physical book to reading the text of a book either on a kindle or a nook. The chapter mainly talks about how the new e-readers are changing the way we read. The majority of the chapter tells about different accounts from different people on how they saw their reading change. They mostly told tales about how they would skip around and get distracted by the internet porthole that was available on the device.
                In my own experience, I have used the kindle app on my iPhone to read a book as well as using a physical book to read. I would have to say that my experience reading a physical book was much more enjoyable. I say this because I am biased towards normal books because I have grown up reading them and enjoy being able to turn a page and find out what is coming next.

                While I didn’t mind reading a book on my kindle app on my phone I did find it to be a bit distracting because whenever I would get a text message it would pop up on the top of my screen and I would get distracted from what I was reading. However, it did come with some benefits. Since I carry my phone with me wherever I go I just had to take it out to pick up where I left off in the book. I could read it on the bus without any trouble, in between classes, and best of all, in the dark. Since my phone is backlit I could use the light from that to read rather than having to turn on a lamp and possible wake my roommates. I find this to be the best quality of an e-reader because it allows you to do your own reading without having to wake or rouse others later in the evening.

                It does come with some disadvantages though. I found myself having to charge my phone more often than I had to before as well as finding my eyes hurting from the backlit screen. However, these disadvantages would not deter me from using the kindle app again. I do find that the application is useful and come with its own benefits. One specific advantage being not having to leave the comfort of your home to go out and buy a new book to read.

                I do find this to be somewhat of a disadvantage though because I personally like to browse through the bookstore and look at things that I may have no otherwise looked at.  I also think a book provides you with a more intimate understanding of what a book can convey through its pages rather than a screen. This is for the fact, like those mentioned in the book said, that you can write in the margins, highlight a specific line, and leave of in some random spot and are able to find it because you dog-eared the page.
- Jeanne Aggouras

Search, Memory

In the chapter "Search, Memory" from The Shallows, Nicholas Carr dicusses how the internet and technology may possibly be replacing our memory. He claims, "Our embrace of the idea that computer databases provide an effective and even superior substitute for personal memory is not particularly the machines we use to store data have become more voluminous, flexible, and responsive, we've grown accustomed to the blurring of artificial and biological memory" (181). I don't exactly agree that the internet is a substitute for our memory. As the internet and technology continues to develop our memory is not being replaced by it. In a way, it can challenge the way we learn and think.

-Leah A.

Do we really perceive minds that aren't there?

In this chapter, chapter 10, Carr is looking at how our minds are changing as technology improves. At this point I agree with Carr. The new technologies have changed our minds. Where Carr and I differ is that while he seems to argue in the negative, I feel more positive about the change. For example, on page 213, Carr brings up the findings of neuroscientist Jason Mitchell. Carr argues, using Mitchell’s findings as evidence, that the computer age has affected our ability to “mind read.” Instead Mitchell says that we now perceive minds where they are not, as in the example with ELIZA. In that study, people using the software reported thinking that they were having a conversation with a person, not just a computer algorithm designed to rephrase the last statement in the form of a question. I believe, however, that we are aware of the absence of the mind in these cases. We know that it is a computer on the other side, but we want to believe that it isn’t. We want to believe that we have the technology is there. So as we seek out this artificial mind, it gives the appearance that we wholeheartedly believe that it is another mind. This can spawn from a variety of things. I think that we want to believe that there is someone there, a real mind, because we as humans have become attention seekers. And with that being said, as attention seekers we want there always to be someone listening to us and talking to us, even in the most general of forms; for example a computer program asking you generic questions based on your previous answers. This is another area where I agree with Carr. The internet and the computer age have had some debilitating effects on us as a race. As the internet has grown popularity, so has instant feedback and instant gratification. Someone can now post a Facebook status or tweet about something and instantly know how others feel about it. Whether it is a “like” or a comment on Facebook, or a retweet on Twitter, there is instant gratification. Acknowledgment that there is someone out there reading our posts and doing something with them. This is why we imagine a person behind the machine, we want someone to care, even just a computer. In Carr’s book, I feel like he is saying that we could have avoided this “problem.” I don’t think we could have. I think it was inevitable that someday the world would be connected and that international borders would be overlooked with these new technologies. Carr outlines it in an earlier chapter when he goes through and traces the path that books have taken over the past thousands of years. There was a need to change the book, just as there was a need to change the way we communicate with others. This need did not go overlooked and after several decades of work, we now have the intricate method of communication of today. And it is still changing. The technologies of today are already outdated. The next best thing has already come out. Now we are stuck in an eternal game of catch up.
--David Pierson

In the book, The Shallows, by Nicholas Carr, he talks about how people are addicted to the internet and technology. After going through an entire semester of reading this book and having class discussions about this addiction, I can sadly say that I have a slight addiction to it. I have a hard time going through my day not checking my email, seeing who has texted or called me, how many emails I might have that day, who has been on Facebook, or who has tweeted at me that day. I could never imagine getting rid of all my technology because I had to move somewhere that there wasn’t all of these technologies such as Carr had to do. In his book he states,” The dismantling of my online life was far from painless. For months, my synapses howled for their Net fix. I found myself sneaking clicks on the ‘check for new email’ button. Occasionally, I’d go on a daylong web binge”(199). I don’t think that I would ever be able to drop all of my devices and just walk away for a long period of time. I remember the last time I went on vacation to Mexico and I did not have my cell phone or my computer, I was about to go crazy. 
On days in class where I am not able to use my computer or go online, I feel like class drags on. I get the same feelings on nights where I have to read a certain amount for class the next day. Carr questions in his book whether or not people would be able to switch back to books, and then go back to using their internet. He goes over this point more than once, and it gives me the feeling that it is important. In his book he states,”The question isn’t really whether people can still read or write the occasional book. Of course they can. When we begin using a new intellectual technology, we don’t immediately switch from one mental mode to another”(199). This is showing us how Carr is thinking that people can go from reading a book, to being on the internet, to looking at their phones. Personally, I can never read or write anything if my computer or phone is near me. I need to be able to focus on what I am doing, and not jump around from thing to thing in front of me. 
The internet has caused a lot of good and bad things to people over the years that it has been around. It has personally given me some added personality, and given me a new outlook on life. Going from one form of reading to another isn’t as hard as Carr points out at some points, but for some people like me it can be very difficult. 
-Drew Loiselle

Sand Between The Pages

People have been reading print books for as long as they can remember. A book can be carried without care from point A to point B.  A book can be dropped in a puddle of water, left to dry and it is about as good as new. A book can be left in a locker for days and can be picked up and be read right where the reader left off. But with today’s new technology people are trading printed books for computers and for new e-Books or e-readers. Technology is allowing people to carry hundreds of books around at once and people enjoy the convenience of them. People are able to buy book online instead of have to drive to the store to go and get them. But e-readers and e-books are not as amazing as they are appearing to be.

            People having been turning away from print books and that can take a tool on them both mentally and physically. When I pick up a new book, it has a certain smell. Everyone can relate to this smell. Whether they are avid readers or just reading a book for a class, the smell of a book can make reading that much more enjoyable. E-readers and e-Books do have a certain smell, but the smell of plastic is not that inviting. Also the feeling of turning the pages of a book is much more rewarding then pressing a key on a computer or a button on an e-reader. Reading and finishing a print book in my opinion is more rewarding than reading a book on a computer or an e-reader.

            If one was to leave a book under a bed for a year and forget about it, then pick it up later and be able to continue to read it. If one was to do that with an e-reader, the e-reader will most likely be out of battery and need to be charged and electronics should not really be left under a bed for long periods of time. Also many enjoy reading at the beach. Drop a book in the sand and it will survive. Sand between the pages will not harm the book, but drop an e-reader in the sand and the sand could ruin it. Then you would be out of about a hundred bucks and will not be able to finish reading the book. Also you would lose everything else that is stored on the e-reader. E-readers can store many books as well as magazines, music and even emails and pictures. Ruin or lose your e-readers and you have lost much more than a story.

             E-books and e-readers are certainly becoming more popular and are being used by millions. They can store much more than books and people enjoy the convenience of that. But how could one trade the smell of a new book, the turning of the pages for a plastic device that will not last forever. I just do not understand.

Taylor Boulia 

Disconnecting From the Net Can Unclutter Your Thoughts

             In Nicholas Carr’s digression called “On the Writing of This Book” right before Chapter 10, he talked about what it was like trying to finish writing his book, The Shallows. He stated that he “struggled in vain to keep [his] mind fixed on the task” (198). The internet was interrupting him constantly and scattering his words and thoughts. He had to temporarily shut down his social network accounts and slow down his email application, checking for new emails less frequently. He said that after a just a little while he started to feel a lot calmer and “more in control of [his] thoughts” (199). He felt more like a human being and his “brain could breathe again.” After describing this in his book, he states that he knows it’s not very typical since he can disconnect easily because of his self-employment. Although I somewhat agree with him, I think he has a good point of bringing awareness to what happened to him and many others who use the internet today so that maybe they can consider how they might want to disconnect, at least for a little while. I have a few experiences that I believe illustrate Carr’s point of disconnecting from the internet making us more focused.

            A few years ago, my sister lost her phone while she was at a club. She was obviously sad, frustrated, and very angry at first, but noticed that she was so much less stressed. She didn’t have to worry about always responding to people online, by text, or by email through her phone wherever she went. She actually enjoyed not having her phone. She felt less cluttered and more in control of her thoughts and what she was doing, which is basically just like Carr’s experience. I think that Carr was definitely onto something with his concept that he keeps bringing up in his book.
            I myself have also felt cluttered and stressed out by the internet, including the present time. I feel like there are so many things going on at once, like getting texts, Facebook updates, emails, links, blogs, Twitter, and many other things. This is added to the stressors of daily life. I notice when I really have to do something like study or do homework and absolutely have to focus, I need to shut my phone off, my computer off, and put them away, out of sight. That’s the only way I can get myself to truly focus on one thing and one thing only. If I do not put those items away, I will be tempted to get distracted easily and go check the notifications on my phone or computer. Yes, the internet is an amazing technology and advancement, helping us with communication, easier learning and searching, and just overall life convenience, but I sometimes wish it would just go away for a little while. I guess I need to learn to ration out my time on the internet, giving myself some time away and not constantly being connected like I usually am.

-Jill Zalewski

Chapter 10 A Thing Like Me

Chapter 10 A Thing Like Me

Joseph Weizenbaum had created a new type of software that would almost have a conversation with the person using it. However it does not have a real conversation, it just changes the original sentence to seem like an appropriate response. To me this seemed like a conversation with a therapist.”If a person typed the sentence ‘I am very unhappy these days.’ The computer would need only know that the phrase ‘I am’ typically comes before a description of the speaker’s current situation or state of mind. The computer could then recast the sentence into the reply ‘How long have you been very unhappy these days’” (pg 202) Therapists just ask you why you feel that way, or how long you have felt that way in this case. Therapy is used to bring you to the conclusion all on your own, and the computer program will respond using things you say without generating new ideas causing the person to figure things out almost by themselves. This is one of the times I feel that Carr is in favor of the technology. Carr sees the good use of the ELIZA program and how it can be used to help people.

It is clear, that I am not the only person who saw the program this way because so did the psychologist Carl Rogers. The program ELIZA could be used to help many people with mental illnesses or even just people under a lot of stress. I feel therapy has a positive effect on people because what they had really needed was someone to listen to them. If more people used a program like this, then maybe it could help people who do not have time to see a therapist or who just have some stress in their lives.

This program also reminded me a lot of the new iPhone application Siri. A person using the iPhone can simply ask Siri a question and she then will give an appropriate response. The difference is that Siri gives more of a human response. Unlike the ELIZA program, Siri is able to actually answer questions using information found on other applications and from the internet. Although Siri cannot be used as a form of therapy, it is still a helpful application for people who have a hard time using smart phones.

Although Carr may seem to like the idea of the ELIZA program, he then goes on to talk about how technology becomes and “extension” of ourselves. “Every tool imposes limitations even as it opens possibilities” (pg 209) Even though such programs are helpful for people, it makes us dependent on the programs and harder for people to do things on their own. Continuous use of the program ELIZA would in time make some people feel they needed to talk to her to cope with everyday things, and not learn how to work through things on their own. This also has the same effect with the iPhone application Siri, if people are using Siri to do things for them then how will they know how to do such things on their own? I can see why Carr is continuously going back and forth on the internet and technology, they are a helpful resource but should be used in moderation to prevent dependence.
-Alexandrea White

Expanding Knowledge

A couple weeks back, we discussed how Carr believes that the Internet is affecting our memory capacity. Carr says that the more we use the Internet, the less information we retain because it is right at our fingertips. I disagree with Carr. I think that the Internet has actually expanded our memory and knowledge. Yes, lots of people don’t even bother memorizing anything anymore because all they have to do is open their phones and search for the subject. But I find, especially with myself, that because of everything I can look up on the Internet, I remember more.
            A lot of what I look up on the Internet is useless fun-facts that I pull up out of nowhere in random conversations. Some of the facts have even proven to be useful, but more often than not, I’m just showing how much of a geek I am. However, because I am always thirsting for knowledge, whether it is useful or not, I find that my brain has expanded and I can fit more knowledge in it than I could years before. Of course, this also has to do with my being older and using the Internet a lot more than I used to. For instance, I can tell you off the top of my head about 60 – 70 of 113 elements on the periodic table just from their abbreviation (note, I am a music major that got a C in Chemistry in High School). I can identify most soundtrack composers by just listening to a bit of a title theme of a movie.
            The Internet has provided me with enormous amounts of information that I love taking advantage of. And therefore, my brain has absorbed more than it ever possible could from reading out of a textbook (which does not make learning exciting in my opinion). My memory, though not the best at some times, has definitely grown from using the Internet for a good portion of my life.

~Liz Langelier

Is the Net Replacing Our Memory?

In Nicholas Carr’s book The Shallows, he wrote about how people once had to memorize sometimes as much information as a science textbook, since the information was just passed down from generation to generation. Then people finally started to write down their thoughts or notes, sometimes making them into actual books, so that they didn’t have to memorize everything and could just reference it later. Now we have the Internet, which holds so much information and can serve as memory for us, as some would say. Carr stated that the Net has come to be seen “as a replacement for, rather than just a supplement to personal memory” (180). A writer named Clive Thompson wrote a similar statement, referring to the Net as “an outboard brain that is taking over the role previously played by inner memory” (180). I see their point of view, but see somewhat of a flaw in their statements and disagree to a certain extent.

I as well as many other people rely on the internet for memory. We don’t have to feel stressed about absolutely having to memorize something because if we forget it, we can just “Google it” later on. Similar to this, Thompson said that he basically gave up on memorizing anything because he can “instantly retrieve the information online” (180). Although this is true, I don’t really think that we rely on the internet completely or that it totally replaces our own memory. There are some things that we memorize because we want to or maybe because we think it’s interesting or have a test in the subject. Things though like statistics or equations we don’t have to memorize anymore because they can be easily looked up. For this reason, I think that the Net is more of a supplement to our memory rather than a full replacement, since we can have more memory than ever before combining the internet and our own minds.

Sometimes I think though, what would happen if all of the information on the internet disappeared, and was lost forever? Yes, we would still have textbooks, but what about, for example, daily reminders like our calendar? My calendar on my phone is saved through the internet, and I have many important “notes-to-self” that I’m not sure what would happen if I were to lose. I’d obviously have to deal with it and maybe have to think deep within my mind to remember what I had written, but I have A LOT of notes to myself. I do admit that I rely on the internet for my reminders and such because they are saved through the Net, and that the internet is basically used as my memory in this situation.

As a final note that could stem from this discussion, many would argue that since we rely so much on the internet to remember things for us and store memory, we are not using our brains as much and will end up with a worse memory. This is because we are not exercising memorizing as much. Some would say that they are still using their brains and memories, but for different things other than facts and school-subjects. Many people have different opinions on this topic, but that is not within the realm of this blog post.

-Jill Zalewski