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Monday, May 7, 2012

Final Post

Today we spent the last class discussing the final portion of reading we had for Nicholas Carr’s, The Shallows. We took the time to discuss different questions we may find we ask ourselves regarding the Internet after reading Carr’s book this semester.
As I write my final blog post now, I may not be thinking of any questions I may have, but I am thinking about how the Internet has affected me, and our society today. Apart from the Internet I simply think about technology as a whole and whether or not I really think it has had a great enough affect on how we think, research and really affected the way we think. Well, according to Robert White he believes that,

“Technology is changing our lives. It cannot and will not change what is fundamental to the human condition. It will never change the way we are, or how we feel. The more technology we create, the more we seem confused, side-tracked with what we are conned into believe will improve our lives in the future. Always the future.”
            After reading The Shallows and coming to my own conclusion, I believe that I can agree with White. Technology is changing our lives in a rapid pace, which is giving us the chance to expand our research as well as much much more. Although Carr believes that it is actually changing the way we think, in other words having an affect on the brain, I don’t necessarily agree. He makes the argument in the book that technology is affecting our attention span. I agree, though it doesn’t necessarily have to. That is under our own personal control. So as White says, the Internet “cannot change what is fundamental to the human condition.” The only thing that can change that is the person himself or herself.
            So I guess after reading Carr’s book I may have thought about the affects more, I can’t say that I can completely agree with everything that Carr says. It was a tough read in some places, but regardless if I may not have completely agreed or not, and regardless if it was a tough read or not, it is a book I would recommend to other people if I had to.
-Michelle Krupnik 

Reflecting on The Shallows

All and all, The Shallows proved to be an interesting and compelling read. At the beginning of the semester, I did not enjoy the way Carr presented his argument regarding the internet. I found his writing style to be too one sided, and I began to feel disconnected from the novel. Once I continued to delve into The Shallows, I began to really admire Carr’s writing style. I was reluctant to accept some of Carr’s more controversial points in regards to the internet and its effects on our society. His writing style really makes you think about your own opinions, and in my case, his opinions were completely contrary to my own. In a way I felt threatened by his views because it made me question my own thoughts on the internet. In a way, we are all in a state of denial about how much the internet effects us. As avid technology users, we like to think that constant exposure to computers does not leave any permanent changes to our psych. After reading all of the scientific evidence Carr presents makes even the most skeptical reader understand the long term effects of prolonged exposure to all the internet has to offer.

JJ Deady 

The last of the Shallows

            I’ve had mixed feelings throughout this book. When I first read it I found it dry and honestly skipped a chapter or two. Once I got a few chapters in I found it to be entertaining, in a good way. I agree with many of his arguments, since the Carr War presentations are what I also wrote about. The presenter that argued Carr’s research was outdated and misinterpreted had very thorough research and knew what she was doing. However, after completing my research paper concerning Facebook as a distraction to work, I found it similar to Carr’s main idea about how the Internet is changing the way we use it, our brain and dependence on it.
I found a lot of supportive research regarding Facebook so I believe it would be highly likely that if Carr or another interested writer were to approach theories like these again they would find even more evidence behind it. Especially since some of his research was years ago and now the social networking sites have become so popular.
Overall I defiantly see that technology is changing us, well at least me. This has affected several generations differently, like my grandparents, younger sibling, my own friends and myself. My father uses Facebook, he doesn’t go overboard, and he has a healthy medium. He goes on once a day, just to check updates and update funny posts. Recently we bought my Nana an I Pad and made her a Facebook account. My Nana is 85 and she used to work in a mill, now she loves Facebook. I’ll find my notifications are full from her commenting and liking my page all day long. I know my Nana uses it as entrainment and to socialize with friends and families and celebrities she likes to be updated on but she has told my dad that she had heart pain when her I Pad broke for a week. Then again, she’s older and does tend to exaggerate. Then I have my younger brother who comes home from school, checks his phone and plays x-box. When he gets kicked off x-box he uses the computer to check Facebook, YouTube and whatever else. When he gets kicked off that and he finds his phone and texts, uses the intranet and listens to music.  He does not catch a break. Which is hard because the other kids his age seem to live off the technology as well, so what do you do? Let your kid be a social outcast or join in?
However, my generation is all scattered in different ways. Some of us have realized how much the Internet has impacted us while others are still caught up in it. The only reason I make this assumption is I used to send thousands and thousands of texts a day. Now I talk to maybe two people a day, about twenty texts a day. Although I frequently check Facebook and Twitter when I’m sitting around waiting for class, the bus or commercials. I do not allow myself to engage in this during school, work or any type of work because to me it’s distracting.  I don’t feel a constant need to be connected to everyone I know every second of the day, maybe I just grew out of it. Then I have my sisters who are a few years older than me and work full time. They are constantly involved in not just the social networks, but updating technology.  They thrive on owning the newest, shiniest phone and whatever else. I don’t understand it, it’s nice to have up-to-date things, and of course it’s nice to have a new phone but it’s not a necessity, it’s a luxury. We can become so wrapped that we can lose sight in determining necessities and luxuries. Is it even a necessity to have a cell phone? Maybe, because I don’t see many pay phones or public phones to use but is it a luxury to have to have a smartphone?
Then again I’m a hypocrite which I know because I have the latest IPhone, the difference between my sisters and myself is I plan to keep this until my upgrade (two years give or take). I have no interest in waiting for hours in line the day the next IPhone comes out because I have something that does everything I need. They tend to maneuver some way around upgrades and money just to have the latest and greatest. The way they use the technology is hideous, they live off of it, constantly on their phone throughout the day, never letting it out of their sight. They are always updating me on other people’s lives, the information and drama they got off Facebook. Its super strange to me to be in your 20’s and still acting like you’re in high school.
Then the epidemic of texting and driving makes me sick. My sisters and a number of friends do this. I’ve been in a car accident before I could even drive because my sister was too involved with her phone. And I’ve prevented a number of accidents by saying, “oh, hey, your veering off the road”, once my sister told me she was playing 20 questions with her boyfriend, she’s 23. I want to take her by the shoulders and shake some sense into her. The only stance I can really make is really voicing my opinion about texting and driving (which I do) and either hoping they respect me and don’t do it while I’m with them or I choose not to be in a car with certain people.
            Basically, I think technology has changed us in many ways, not just the points Carr makes, and it goes much further. Some of us have not allowed this change while others are becoming dangerous. I believe technology is what we make of it, and whether we allow it to become a big part of our life. A part of that I believe has to do with maturity, understanding consequences may it be texting and driving, or procrastinating. Lastly, I think as time progresses many more people will be diagnosed with ADD and other types of attention disorders due to these technologies. Partly because last semester at UMD a professor in my human science class told us that until more recently asthma was not seen in such high numbers but houses are built tight with extra insulation now and not allowing drafts therefore asthma as become much more common. Same with technology.

By Allison Saffie

Google Design

After reading The Shallows, Carr’s chapter “The Church of Google” really got me thinking. What is Google trying to achieve? Carr writes that the company’s main mission is to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” (182). I think most can agree that Google has succeeded in its mission even though Schmidt, the CEO of Google claims this will take at least 300 years. It is an obvious fact that Google is the top visited search engine, and has reached its goal in organizing bountiful amounts of information that is useful in everyday life, and any person with access to the Internet can access it. What else does the website want to achieve? The more immediate goal is to “create the perfect search engine that understands exactly what you mean and gives you back exactly what you want” (152). I cannot imagine what else the Google Corporation could possibly do to make the search engine any more precise, fast, or useful…but then again, Google is always coming up with new features that don’t fail to  shock me…

I use Google every day, more than several times a day. Whenever I log on to a new computer or phone, I always set Google as the main default for my Internet. I also just realized while typing this that of the three ways to access the Internet, through Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome, I always pick Google chrome. For some reason, I just find it the simplest, least cluttered without all the toolebars and add-ons, and the fastest. When we were reading this chapter and discussed it in class, we talked about how Google tested forty-one shades of blue that had the most visitors for the website. Two things crossed my mind…Who has enough time to actually test that many colors and who actually can tell the difference between forty-one shades of blue? Apparently whatever the corporation is doing is working because billions of searches are done every day. About a month ago I noticed my home page of Google began changing with background pictures.  Sitting bored at work, I realized you can scroll through pictures that seem never ending and pick one of your own choice. I now have a cool picture of a pug that welcomes me to my homepage every time I go to use the internet. Carr also writes about the specialized services Google offers, such as “images, videos, news stories, maps, blogs, and academic journals” (159). I guess until after reading this I did not realize how much I rely on Google. Since it is my homepage, clicking on the maps button is faster than typing in the website Mapquest in my browser. Clicking on the videos link is right there instead of having to type in Youtube. The designers of the Google website believe the “design has become much more of a science than an art” (181). The makers actually measure differences on the site and mathematically learn which one is right (181). I think it is bizarre how much time they take into researching into so much depth to see what the users may like better, but I guess it is working. 

Kaleigh Sullivan

Could the Internet Interfere with Our Ability to Think Deeply?

                In Nicholas Carr’s book The Shallows, he talked about the tale of Sleepy Hollow, and how Hawthorne was deep in thought, but then all of a sudden he hears the whistle of a locomotive and the packs of business men. He was disrupted and could not think straight anymore because the “contemplative mind [was] overwhelmed by the noisy world’s mechanical busyness” (167). Carr related this to the internet by saying that the Net, like the train, distracts us from being able to think deeply, and consequently, our minds are always in “perpetual locomotion” (168). Carr believes “there is no Sleepy Hollow on the Internet, no peaceful spot where contemplativeness can work its restorative magic” (220). I do not really think Carr thought this statement through, because although the Net can interrupt our deep thought process, there are some spots on the Internet where one can think deeply and write down his/her thoughts. 
                I do agree that while we are surfing the internet, we could instead be being productive and deeply thinking about other subjects. But honestly the Net is a nice break from thinking too hard, and it feels nice to surf the internet and talk to friends, while not having to think too deeply. Although this is true, some people could be in deep thought, and then get a notification or email for example, disrupting the person’s thinking. Personally, this happens to me very often.
                Although it may seem that the Internet totally prevents us from thinking deeply, this is not totally accurate or true at least in my eyes. There are indeed places one can go to contemplate. For example, one can make a blog and write down their thoughts while in deep thought and share them with the world.  People could come to the blog and respond to these ideas while also sharing their own, and this in turn would make the original writer think even deeper about the topic, how they think about it, and what they have written. Also, one actually has the choice whether or not he/she gets distracted. People may argue for example that they can’t help it if they get a notification and they have to look at their phone or their computer screen. They may also say that even if they put their phones away, they will still be thinking about the notifications they are getting. One could counter argue that if someone really wants to focus and has the motivation, he/she will make himself/herself focus, and clear his/her mind while also keeping the internet and his/her phone out of sight.
                It seems that there are many ways one could think about this topic. To sum up my thoughts, the internet can interfere with our ability to think deeply if we let it or we use it too often.  It is possible to think deeply on the web by writing down our own thoughts or reflecting on those of others. One can choose to let the internet distract them, or to only use it in moderation. The social norm, though, is telling people like us that it’s okay to be connected to the internet all the time.

-Jill Zalewski

Technology & Our Lives

Carr discusses how technology is such a major part off every human beings lives. He says that “the Web is so essential to their work and social lives that even if they wanted to escape the network they could not” (199). I have to agree with Carr. Almost everything that we do revolves around the Internet.
The Internet is home to many helpful and harmful portals. Almost anything in the world that has been discovered or thought can be found somewhere on the Internet. It is so vast that one can’t even fathom how many websites it holds. If you can’t remember the name of an actor but you have your phone on you it can be quickly Googled. If you’re lost and need directions, you can Google them. The Internet is such a major part of our lives that Google has become a verb.
We often use the Internet without even realizing that we are doing so. With the invention of smart phones the Internet is used for almost every application. Some cars even have the Internet built into their dashboards. If we can make it through class without having to take a break to check Facebook or Twitter we run straight to the computer when we get home. After all, you never know who has posted a witty status, who broke up with whom, and who made a fool of themselves this weekend until you take a look for yourself.
Schoolwork can’t even be completed without the use of the Internet anymore. In order to conduct research we have turned to the Internet to find our reliable sources. Having to go to the library, check out a book and read it is tedious when you can use Google to find the same information. Without the Internet teachers wouldn’t be able to email their students sudden and important information they need to know before the next class.
People even use the Internet to lose weight. Weight loss programs such as weightwatchers are primarily conducted online.  The Internet is convenient. You don’t need to call someone to tell them what you ate you can simply track it online and see what else you can afford to eat in the day.
The Internet has also replaced movie stores leaving them almost obsolete. With website such as Netflix, there is no need for them. When go to the store when you can sit on your couch with your remote and browse thousands of movies and tv shows? If you’re too lazy or busy to go food shopping you can order your grocery list online and have the items delivered to your house. If you want pizza and don’t feel like picking up your phone to place an order you can go online and submit it without having to talk to anyone.
Our society is so reliant on the Internet that it is scary to think of what would happen if it suddenly disappeared or stopped working. While the Internet is convenient and a great resource we need to admit that without it we would be in major trouble and would have a hard time figuring out what to do with ourselves. 
Nikki Gaspari

A Quick Review

Although I may not willingly like to admit this, Carr has changed the way I feel about the Internet.  Not dramatically, but the Shallows has allowed me to explore the cognitive processes that are involved with using the Web and gaps in privacy.

I do appreciate that Carr's work was well researched.  His ideas were strongly supported.  "The Church of Google" was a chapter that exemplified this point perfectly.  After reading the chapter, I was thinking there was no way Google could be so iffy on privacy.  However, I started working in a computer science lab about a week later, and two of the lab members were talking about major flaws in Google's protective services.  I actually went back and re-read the chapter and saw that Carr is certainly well aware of things going on in the high-technology field.

It was hard for me to fully trust Carr's ideas because he seemed very one sided, though.  He barely mentioned any positive things that technology has done for us.  I can think of two examples off the top of my head.  1) Saving paper. Scientists constantly tell us that deforestation is a huge problem.  If we take away the tress, we take away this earth's major source of oxygen.  Digitalizing articles and books has allowed us to save paper.  2.) Saving lives.  Being connected allows for people to collaborate and help one another in unfortunate situations.  For example, students in the Virginia Tech shootings a few years ago were able to alert other students of the location of the gunman via texting. As much as technology may detract from focus, it has given us many opportunities for positivity, as well.

The world is overpopulated.  We have to rely on certain technologies to survive.  I do feel like there's room for the improvement when it comes to Internet.  We need to learn to control of "technological urges," however, there is a crucial need for the Internet and computers, and I think it would be best to learn to accept these technologies and embrace them properly starting at a young age.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Progression of Social Media

Back when I was in middle school, junior high maybe, the most popular thing to be doing on the computer was to be on AIM. We would change our screen names like once a week and it was just a fun way to communicate because it was new and exciting. That's the first thing I think of when I think back the farthest I can in relation to being online. Then a few years later came Myspace, which I don't even think exists anymore, it's mainly for music. I remember going posting pictures, changing the song and layout on your profile, that was also something so new and everyone had one. Being this age, we all saw the start of the internet and the start of social media sites developing and becoming more and more popular.
However, now people don't use AIM and Myspace, but we use multiple different social networking sites. I personally, have a Facebook, a Twitter, and an Instagram. I would have to say my favorite out of the three is Twitter, and I least likely will spend time on Facebook. Facebook is one of things that everyone has but everyone also says they hate.. which doesn't make a lot of sense. I think that too many adults, parents, and relatives got Facebook's so people our age started to get Twitter's and Instagram's so we don't have to watch what we say or post.
To think that we were around when social networking sites started to become popular and then see it now, we don't even have one thing to log into everyday, we have 3.. even 4 or 5, if you use viddy, or gifture. I wonder what new things will come out in the next few years... let alone the next few months. It seems like I always hear of a new site, or app, people are getting, and then suddenly everyone has one. People need to feel included and in the loop of things so when a new social networking site becomes popular, some people feel obligated to get it as well.
-Michele Lemieux

instant gratification and the web

When I finally reflect on carr after reading the final end of the Shallows I can't say I agree with him on most topics. I heard from frontline that 90% of teenagers are on the web at any given time but I think he forgets about the one trait that drives all humans. Instant graitification. It drives us all. I think even more when we connect to the internet. if we want to connect with our friends we can online and through wifi on our phones. We know intimate details about our friends at any given time. if we want to shop. My prime motivator and we just saw something we want in a magizine we no longer need to go out to the stores and buy it we can just go into our home office or basement and buy it with one click. Some web sites even take advantage of this. Some products like for example mac cosmetics are only available online. They know and understand its a weakness because computers are very accessable and if we want some and have the accessibilty to get it we probably will. even bridal showers and baby showers sometimes more than half their registry is from off line. To be honest sometimes its more convient to just buy off line off the rejestry because the company will ship the gift to the bride or expectant mother's house. They know convience is America's weakness. Just look at music. i only download my music. I haven't bought a cd in like 5 years. movies are becoming rarer for me to buy too. even though I am an avid movie lover instead of having to pay $20.00 at Barnes and nobles or best buy for a movie now I can just buy it from cinema now and stream it onto my tv. I don't think ultimately the internet is making us dumber although sometimes after completing two ten page papers in one day after staring at a screen, I feel like a zombie. but I still disagree with Carr's point I don't think the internent is making us stupid i think in the long run it just caters to our needs of convience and instant gratification. making us a little more less motivated but other than that I can't find any other reason that the internet is out to get me.
Kelsey Coughlin

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Finally, The Book is Over

Meagan Cox

Now that the book is over, I have decided to make the last blog entry for this class as a collection of my personal opinions, thoughts, and ideas of the overall concept of Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows. As the class has gone on, I have noticed that the general consensus of the class seems to be that much of what Nicholas Carr wrote about in his book can be viewed as controversial, and the class seemed to disagree with a lot of the things Carr had to say. I am one of those people; for I often disagreed with what Carr had to say. I have to admit though, that I somewhat agree with what I took to be his final point- that the internet is not a bad thing, if it is used in moderation. However, his final point seemed to contradict the rest of his book, for while his conclusion seemed to be that he felt somewhat neutral about the use of the internet, many of the points that he made seemed to be strongly against it.

To me, Carr often exaggerated things in his book. He took simple ideas, and made big deals out of them. It seemed as though Carr spent a lot of time saying that the internet was going to take over the world through most of the book, so it sort of came as a surprise to me that in the end, he sort of summed up the whole thing by saying that it is fine in moderation. Nicholas Carr spent a lot of time in his book describing ways that the internet has taken over our daily lives- from the creation of online books, to the introduction of search engines such as Google, and in my opinion, he overstated these ideas, and made them seem much more powerful than they actually are. Though I realize that the internet has quickly become a large part of our lives, I definitely do not think it is going to completely take over our lives if we do not let it.

            In addition to exaggerating, Carr over-generalizes a lot in his book. He seems to make it seem as though everyone on this earth is addicted to the internet. While there are, in fact, many people who are probably addicted to the internet, there are also many people who are not, and there are just as many people who are neutral. Carr seems to overlook this fact, and focus solely on those who are fascinated by the internet.

            The fact is that the internet is only as powerful as we enable it to be. Though Carr seemed to personify it, the internet is far from human, and it does not control us. Yes, the internet can draw users in, and make things like researching easier, but it is humans who are in control of the internet, not the other way around. After all, it is humans who created the internet, it is humans who monitor the internet, and it is humans who choose to take part in the internet. I am so glad that this book is over.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Watch where you're going!

Now that technology is so advanced, we are able to carry it around with us constantly. It takes on the form of a laptop or maybe a phone. Laptops usually require you to be settled and sitting, but the phone is where it gets dangerous.

People get so absorbed in the whole "technology in the palm of my hands" idea, that they don't even know where they are going. Constantly I see people walking looking down at their phones, and never looking up before they get to their destination. Sometimes this method works, and other times you are the unfortunate person who gets bumped into.

It is not that to keep your phone in your pocket for appx. 3 mins while you travel to your class. When you are off examining your phone, you are the one who makes others late due to the fact that you become an obstacle in their attempt to get to class on time.

I realize that having everything you need at the tips of your fingers is exciting, but wait until you are stationary to start taking advantage of it. People think texting and driving is dangerous, well so is texting and walking. You could walk into a person, walk into a pole or wall, and even step directly into a puddle on rainy days like today.

So please, before you text and walk, think of all the embarrassing things that could happen along the way. All of which could be avoided if you just wait to use your phone.

~Nicole VanKuilenburg

Hard Cover books

“So many books-so much confusion!
All around us an ocean of print
And most of it covered in froth.”
-All Citizens are Soldiers by Christain Lope de Vega pg.71
Throughout Carr’s book, he has an interesting way of grabbing the reader’s attention. He makes many references to writings of old philosophers like Plato and Nietzsche. These references draw in the attention and support the opinions he makes with evidence from not only recently but also long ago. He has an interesting way of tying the reader into these comparisons and insights into the past present and future and the technologies in each time period. These have all increased into more and more complex things over the years.
            Hard cover books are something Carr talks about a lot throughout The Shallows. They are an important part in history and I think many people would agree that they were probably one of the biggest influences in history on us as humans. They give us information that some of us wouldn’t know, they provide us with past documented events and stories. They also give us a for of entertainment. For me I like reading books, certain categories of books interest me more than others but I think that sometimes you can get caught up in a book or series for fun. They improve our reading skills and I think they improve our intelligence. Books are something that have been around for centuries and always have provided us with that information even from the time that the Romans controlled much of the earth they used wax tablets and sticks to carve words and create stories eventually leading to books. Books continued to evlove anv evolve and then eventually you lead to a creation like the computer. Both of these equally having affect over our minds and power.
            Most of the time I think that many people choose to not read books simply because they are not interested. When people find books they like or are easily engaged in they will read them. I don’t think that it is a fact of weather or not the internet plays more of a significant in someone’s role than another and that’s some why people are able to read books and some are not. On page 44 of The Shallows Carr says that’s “Every technology is an expression of human will. Through our tools we seek to expand our power and control over our circumstances.” This includes books as well. Books are a tool that was created from human will. They were invented to teach us to expand our power and control over certain things just like the Internet was created to do as well.  While Carr half the time explains how the internet both does and does not expand our power, every tool we have created as humans expand our power in a certain way. The way we decide to use the different technologies we create determines how much power it give us and how it affects us.
-Salena Zona

During class last week, Professor LeBlanc made my College Writing II class do a little assignment. Each student was paired up with the person next to them and assigned a quote from Nicholas Carr’s book The Shallows.  Our assignment was to find the assigned quote in the book and state whether we agreed or disagreed with it.  We also had to find evidence in surrounding paragraphs that backed up what the quote meant.  For this blog entry post I wanted to comment further on this classroom assignment. 

My assigned quote was “But as a device for reading, the book retains some compelling advantages over the computer” from Chapter 6, on page 99.  I definitely agree with this quote, one of the few quotes I actually agree with in the book.  Although having technology such as a laptop, a cell phone, and an iPod is nice and efficient, many occurrences such as the weather or traumatic accidents can destroy these.  A book, although sometimes can be old and falling apart, can withstand most weather conditions and traumatic accidents.  Carr backs up his quote by saying that you can bring a book to the beach without worrying about sand getting on it or in it, you can fall asleep with it on your bed and not worry that it’s going to fall off your bed, you can put it down and pick it up right where you last left off, and you can throw it, drop it, or sit on it without breaking it.  As for a laptop, you cannot bring a laptop to the beach because sand will ruin it, you cannot fall asleep with a laptop on your bed because a fall will break it, you cannot put it down and pick it up right where you last left off because the battery may have died or the internet connection may have been lost, and you cannot throw it, drop it, or sit on it because you will damage it. 

After stating most, if not all, of the pros of a book and cons of a laptop, it seems strange to me that people continue to purchase kindles or any other electronic books fully knowing that it can be damaged extremely easily.  I feel as if a book is meant to be read in places all over, and a laptop is meant to be used in certain locations that have access to outlets and that have a safe environment for a laptop.  But then again a Kindle allows you to access many books at one time, and it does save the environment by not wasting paper.  However, although I agree with Carr in saying that a book is basically more function able and easily cared for than a laptop, I do still think laptops are better than books for different reasons.  A laptop can allow a person to look up information in a matter of seconds, sometimes even allowing a person to scan through hundreds of books with a click of a button.  So a book has both pros and cons, and technology has both pros and cons. 

Michelle Salvati