In the depths of twittering a lot, I have not done a real, big think blog post in a couple weeks. I apologize. I'm deliberately publishing this before it's finished. I want to think about this more.
But, perhaps it is with some sense of irony that I decided to write one about Nick Carr's piece Is Google Making Us Stupid?. I firmly believe that Google cannot make us stupid. Only we can make us stupid.
Carr makes some interesting observations about our changing behavior throughout the generations, noting the impact of the timepiece, scientific management, the printing press, as well as the Google. My favorite, of these is the idea (with which I largely agree) that in the over scheduled life there is a debasement of our existence. The late great Mitch Hedberg had a great bit about not wearing a watch, suggesting a meeting time with someone of "when that guy's eating a hamburger". Which guy? "You'll know." Being synchronous in our interactions and planning has made many things possible, but is this marked by a bond of obedience to the clock?
In deciding when to eat, to work, to sleep, to rise, we stopped listening to our senses and started obeying the clock.
It is true that we have shed the sun's dominance of our life's rhythms, that we have adopted new ways of organizing life around the concept of time as being finite.
So does this awareness of the finite nature of our literal "life time" improve our degrade the qaulity of our lives? Is electronic media, or the clock, or The Google somehow making us all worse off? And is that all the more devious because it is couched as progress instead of a negative trend?
If you can't read a book anymore, I submit to you that I can. I'm not bragging, but I love books and I think I will always love them. Maybe I'm the exception that proves the rule.
Books I have read this year (calendar 2008) so far:
Beneath the Tree of Heaven (Chung Kuo # 5)
White Moon, Red Dragon (Chung Kuo # 6)
Dry Ice by Stephen White
Currently reading (I don't usually read two books concurrently but it happens sometimes):
The Time Traveler's Wife
World War Z
So is it really true that we won't sit still to read anymore? That's pessimistic, I think. Is it the case that we can't appreciate a pace of life which does not revolve around the clock? That we cannot unplug, unlearn, optimize our behavior to adopt new technologies without destroying ourselves? I seem to be doing okay, if that';s any evidcence, and I hope we can all seek a third way, where we seek connection regardless of medium, and that leads to a balance between them all. If there is a detrimental effect of not being able to unplug, then in my view it falls on the plugged in, not the plugs, to change their behavior.