The Internet changes who we are?

Nicholas Carr’s book, The Shallows is a necessary addition to our dialogue about technology’s role in education. Below is a highlighted excerpt where he admits struggling with the notion that our brains are being affected by the Internet.

Now I know most of the edtech crowd accepts this idea, but we seem to think we can’t do anything about it. We seem to say, “well, kids use the Internet now, so we have to cater to their rewired brains.” I disagree. I think this view is needed in some respects. Yet, we also need to ask, “what kinds of thinking do kids lose with so much Internet use? How can we help them regain the ability to think in the ways lost?” If we do not wrestle with these questions, we do not help our students expand their mental repertoire, we help them become more ingrained, more rigid, & less flexible in their thinking. As with all things, we need balance. What balance disruption has the Internet caused that you think needs to be restored?

Instead of taking Socrates’ stance against a new medium, let us follow Plato’s lead & acknowledge that the new & old ways of thinking have value & that we can explore the new while conserving the old.

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4 Responses to The Internet changes who we are?

  1. johntspencer says:

    Definitely makes me want to read this book. Thanks for your insights.


  2. Jerrid kruse says:

    It is a good book. Puts some words & examples to ideas I find valuable/important.


  3. courosa says:

    Similar sentiment from this recent article:

    “How much, I began to wonder, was I shaping my Twitter feed, and how much was Twitter shaping me?”

    … and from Hamlet’s Blackberry by William Powers

    “in one sense, the digital sphere is about differentiating oneself from others. Anyone with a computer can have a blog now, and the possibilities for self-expression are endless. However, this expression takes place entirely *within* the the digital crowd, which frames and defines it. This makes us more reactive, our thinking contingent on others. To be hooked up to the crowd all day is a very particular way to go through life.” (p. 3)


  4. I agree completely. I feel that people need to find balance between their online and offline thinking. Yes, make use of your speedy jumpy thinking online, but also take time to think about something offline.


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