The Shallows Part 1

Is the free and open internet making us smarter or dumbing us down?

The short answer is that it’s doing both. We are more knowledgeable but tend to know a breadth rather than depth of things now. Learning a new skill is much simpler than it was in the pre-internet age, but it's harder to find the time that being an expert at anything requires; our attention spans are too short, and we're constantly seeking new stimulation. While a large population seems to resent this change, but not everyone. As the reading states, “Karp has come to believe that reading lots of short, snippets online is a more efficient way to expand his mind than reading ‘250-page books.’” Our brains are being rewired, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

We are smarter in that we are more aware. We are more aware in that we are constantly being exposed to new data, but I think there is a tendency to overestimate our own awareness; social media has the danger to become an echo chamber for your own interests and beliefs. And we are dumber, in that internet has become so integral as to become necessary; we're reliant. Problem solving has become a matter of good googling and finding facts rather than establishing a base of knowledge and critically thinking our way to an answer based on similar scenarios. Luckily for us, by and large this works just fine. The internet is always at our fingertips, and by using the experience of others we can save a considerable amount of time and effort.

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