First thoughts about ENG 140

Greetings, class!  Share your first thoughts on the ENG 140 readings thus far!  Is Google making us smart or stupid?  What do principles of 1920s avant-garde art have to do with computer software?  What makes the phonetic alphabet or the printed page a technology?  Write!  Discuss!  Debate!  Let’s explore ways to be critical, thoughtful and inspired digital subjects.

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16 responses to “First thoughts about ENG 140

  1. bluejays_bluedays

    In reading “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” Nicholas Carr states “In Google’s world the world we enter when we go online, there is a place for the fuzziness of contemplation. Ambiguity is not on an opening for insight but a bug to be fixed. The human brain is just an out dated computer that needs a faster professor and a bigger hard drive.” In this article the author suggest that the human brain is slow and the computer or even Google is going to help improve it or make it faster. Using the computer may improve the brain and increase the speed, but not like reading a book. Reading allows for adventure and creativity. So in a sense Google might be making us stupid.

  2. In Mark Buchanan’s “Nexus”, the Internet is described as the physical hardware of computers linked together across the globe. In contrast, the World Wide Web is intangible. It is created by us (and, as some assert, creates us) in the multitude of Web pages connected by hyperlink text. I find it interesting that this parallel exists within the digital world. We create the Web in every computer added to the worldwide network yet we cannot control the direction in which it will go next.
    According to Michael Wesch’s “The Machine is Us/ing Us”:

    “A database web is different. The web is different. We are the web. When we post and then tag pictures online, we are teaching the Machine. Each time we forge a link between words, we teach it an idea.”

    If this is the case, it seems that we have no way of knowing which way the Web will evolve next. Moreover, what will we teach the Machine next?

    As Buchanan describes, the small-world Web behaves according to a predictable pattern. Because of research by Bill Cheswick and Hal Birch, we have a topological map of what the Internet looks like. This is astounding as Buchanan describes that,

    “Not one of these networks had a designer, and yet each of them managed to arrive at much the same trick, as if they had been crafted, almost for some purpose.”

    This leads me to wonder if there is an inherent structure of the Web. If it follows patterns, sans designer or master planner, can we predict the future direction of the Web based on past trends and occurrences? Can we use tools such as this map of the Web’s global topology to figure out what the Machine may learn next? If computers are a science, what can we hypothesize about the next phenomenon of the Web? Can we study digital media as a science, like chemistry or biology, even though we are dealing with an ethereal Web? Perhaps the Machine can tell us…

  3. As I read the article, “Is Google Making Us Stupid” by Nicholas Carr, I noticed that one main issue he addressed that online text has changed the way we read. He states that “our ability to interpret text, to make the rich mental connection that form when we read deeply and without distraction, remains largely disengaged.” He feels that our deep reading ability has diminished. Personally, I disagree with Carr. I feel that online text has broadened our horizon in the way we read. From personal experience, I have been able to read novels online for hours without feeling disengaged. I also think that online text has allows people read things that they would have never read, if it were in paper form. Online text has been very beneficial

  4. “Is Google Making Us Stupid” makes us realize that there are pro’s and cons to the internet. It can only make you “stupid” if you allow it. The young world grew up on the internet practically so I feel like, they are they ones who gain more. Nicholas Carr spoke about socrates feelings on the development of writing. He quotes a character in Phaedrus, ” cease to exercis their memory and become forgetful”.Although, there is information, I feel like some of us have become lazy with learning. Everytime a questioned is asked, “google it”, is the response. Carr feels that Socrates was shortsighted. I agree with Socrates. What good will readings and writings do if it isn’t stored. We aren’t exercising our brains and memory.

  5. In Nicholas Carr’s, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” Carr states that internet is effecting the populations mental ability to read deeply for long periods of time. I believe that if you surf the web with no point, you’ll find yourself easily distracted and probably jumping from one thing to another, but when it is time to focus, there are as many things in the outside world to distract us from reading as there is on the computer. Between television, music, phones, social distractions, pets, responsibilites and regular hobbies like, say playing piano or yoga, not to mention, the computer itself, you can be just as torn trying to read a book as you are trying to read on the internet.
    James Olds said that the brain, ‘has the ability to reprogram itself on the fly, altering the way it functions.’ If all you do is pointlessly surf the web without any meaningful consentration for years on end, I can see how you may begin to experience problems, but many believe (Maria Montessori specifically) that consentration is a developed skill. I don’t believe it can be lost simply by reading on a screen that has flashing lights or the occasional ringing sound. I agree that the internet means to scatter our attention, but I think allowing it to do so is solely in the hands of the induvidual at the keyboard.
    I think the danger lies not in loosing the capasity for deep consentration, but in loosing the ability to obtain the meaning or value of text without the skimming and summarizing availible on the internet. That is a skill that is still taught in school, but isn’t really monitored as you get old enough to use SparkNotes and Wikipedia for research or study guides.
    Overall, it kind of reminds me of the Seasame Street debate. The show would teach letter sounds and numbers in concentrated one-minute doses. Critics suggested that the show interferred with a small childs ability to stay on task for more than a few minutes, but somehow, my generation survived with our minds intact (but maybe it is to blame for our minds being to wired for the internet <–a joke, lol).

    On a totally unrelated note: When we were discussing Shelley Jackson's "my body: a Wunderkammer" in class, it reminded me of a site I used to frequent in my high school days called nobodyhere.com . While it was more interactive and followed lines of thought rather than anatomically connected memoires, the concept and the personal nature of the content struck a cord in me, leading me to spend a fair amount of time exploring the site (school time, too, unfortunately, hehehe).

  6. RadicalDreamer617

    Upon reading “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”by Nicholas Carr, I find myself in similar situation where after years of using online resources, I tend to have little focus while reading a print material. Carr cited a study conducted by University college London explaining this as a result of “users ‘power browse’ horizontally through titles, content pages and abstracts going for quick wins.” As viewers look through such variety of resources, they would develop a habit of depending solely on the highlights and slowly losing the ability “to make the rich mental connections” they have while reading traditional print. In my opinion, the variety of information offered online is not the only factor that leads to such phenomenon. Advertisements also act as a major distraction with all the flashing pop ups, colorful banners, and tempting offers. Not only they disturb our peripheral vision, but they also drive our attention away from our primary goal in the virtual world. I certainly do see how new media actively improves our life but there is a bigger picture behind it, where the main target of these creations is “consumerism.”

  7. Are we making ourselves stupid? After reading the article “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”, I started thinking about the technological advances of our current world and I have come to the conclusion that not only is Google making our minds alter the way we think as a society, the whole of our technological society, including all technological advances of human history, are aiding in this change as well. Sure, Google functions as an incredibly useful information tool for those who have the internet at their convenience, which is a large amount of people, but the rapid growth in production within our capitalistic economy has also aided in the way our brains have evolved in the last forty years. We have completed revolutionized the way human beings naturally function. We have established job markets, which also establish the infamous 9-5 job, in which human beings awaken at a specific time, eat lunch at a specific time, and pick up the kids or go home, also at a specific time. Humans have adapted to a symbolic time frame which has altered the way we treat our bodies and in turn our brains. To support this claim the article states “In deciding when to eat, to work, to sleep, to rise, we stopped listening to our senses and started obeying the clock” (4). There is no doubt that we live in a fast paced society that no longer focuses on primal human needs. Our economy has everything set up for us. We can go to Kroger to buy food for dinner, go to a Realtor to buy a house for our family, and go to the doctor, by using our insurance provided by our 9-5, in order to take care of our bodies and the bodies of our children. This leaves time for humans to focus on more abstract ideas and technological advancements. This includes the ever so famous Google search engine. Google is a byproduct of the changes in our brains and in turn will function to evolve the way we think as human beings even more. But like I said, there are many other aspects around us within current society that pose the threat of making human beings “stupid”, and I think it is important to acknowledge that fact.

  8. pferd von Gestreift

    Aside from learning that Nicholas Carr is a want-to-be Luddite, I began to understand the struggles a writer of past years is fighting in the age of computer-generated literature from “Is Google Makin Us Stupid?”(The Atlantic. July/August 2008.) My impression of writing using a word processor versus a typewriter is based only on the complaints of friends and Greg Kinnear’s Luddite writer character in “You’ve Got Mail”. While reading, I heard Greg Kinnear speaking what Carr had written. To anyone of the opinion that computers are destroying the future of literature, this situation falls directly into Carr’s statement, “. . .what the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation. My mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.”
    I believe that my attention was not lost, just redirected, like clicking on a link to a more attractive version of the same text. Honestly, the rise of the machines looming in the great, stainless steel distance scares me, but I do not think the uprising will be so destructive as it has been set up to be. Computers are not destryoing the book, they are modifying it to make it more appealing to the technologically-inclined generations of today and the future, thus creating a greater desire for reading material. Computers are not only creating that desire, but they are fulfilling it.

  9. In “Is Google Making Us Stupid” Carr states that he once “was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.” This was his way to saying that he can no longer focus on a long work, instead he would rather get a lot of pieces of information faster. I believe that it depends on the medium. When a person goes online to find something they usually are doing it because it is faster, but when someone wants to read a book they want the whole thing not just a few points. I do not believe Google is making us stupid only that it is giving us what we want when we search for something online.

  10. While reading “Remediation,” it struck me that the internet seems to be used as a signifier for mankind. Well, not the internet specifically, but the ‘main mode’ of media at a specific moment in time. “Remediation” identifies a search by humans for authenticity of the media in which they are submersing themselves, but if taking a modern critical standpoint, nothing is authentic and no truth can exist. The internet is something to distract ourselves until the next thing that is ‘more authentic’ comes along. “Remediation” also identifies this by saying that no new media is ever throttled to popularity unless it can supplement or completely replace an older technology. What does this say about us as human beings, idolizing technology and rejecting ‘outdated’ items? I’m not sure one should classify this as a bad thing, but it’s definitely interesting to witness.

  11. I feel that the article “Is Google Making Us Stupid” is saying that there are up and down sides to reading online. You can learn a lot like what other people around the world are thinking about a particular topic. Where as with reading a book you can only discuss it with your classmates and people you interact with on a daily basis. Reading online down side is that you may get side tracked by other things on the internet but you can also have those distractions without getting online. Reading online allows you to get more things done also because you can look at notes and thoughts on a topic without having to read the whole article or book. “Thanks to the ubiquity of text on the Internet, not to mention the popularity of text-messaging on cell phones, we may as well be reading more today than we did in the 1970’s or 1980’s, when television was our medium of choice. ” Taking this quote, you can read wherever and in whatever form you choose but there will always be something there to distract you, you just have to determine if your going to let it.

  12. In my opinion Digital Media is nothing but taking something that is already there and simply trying to figure it out. There are ups and downs to this “research.” One may have the techy people that love to analyze and figure out why digital media is ever growing and changing. According to Nexus “the network would be adaptive- it would have a kind of intelligence of its own.” If the networks have, or will soon have an intellligence of its own, what purpose will people serve trying to figure out what its doing and how it functions? We have already made it smarter by placing information throughout the internet. What happens when technlogy decides it wants to take over the process?

  13. According to Nicholas Carr the overtaking of the digital age has greatly reduced our ability to deeply read and take in any form of text. This is due to the constant distractions we are faced with while reading online, caused by various flashing ads, chiming email alerts, and temping links. As the internet becomes a “universal medium” many find less and less of a use for reading actual printed text, which provides simple, distraction free reading. With all this online reading going on studies, like one carried out by the University College London, found that “people using the sites exhibited ‘a form of skimming activity,’ hopping from one source to another and rarely returning to any source they’d already visited.” It is also mentioned that this change may have a great effect on the future of how we interpret readings since the act of reading “is not an instinctive skill for human beings.” While I do agree with what Carr states in this article, I also believe it depends on the individual. I, too, seem to have acquired said erratic skimming activity and find it very difficult to focus on a long body of text anymore while in the presence of technology, such as my laptop or television. Yet when I pull myself away for awhile I am able to deeply read large novels in a short period of time.

  14. In the reading “Remediation”, it is deduced that remediation is the way in which a medium is used to improve another medium or representation, by fostering higher levels of immediacy and hypermediacy within the audience. As our society begins to focus more on technology, we move away from the forms of media that were once prominent, as the American society as a whole no longer responds to these forms the way they did when they first premiered. The increase in technology has introduced experiences that have more immediacy and the older forms now lack the necessary transparency that keeps an audience interested. Consequently, these mediums are being improved upon by newer forms such as the internet and the movies. Marshal McLuhan states in his article “The Galaxy Reconfigured” that “Art reversed its role from guide for perception into convenient amenity or package. But the producer of artist was compelled, as never before, to study the effect of his art”. Therefore, if it is true that art is created for the way it will be perceived by the audience, art forms that no longer produce the desired effect of immediacy or transparency or a hypermediated experience are in danger of being phased out in favor of forms that are preferred by a technologically amorous society.

  15. Congrats, brave student! You are the first to post to the ENG140 blog. We will continue to discuss how technologies like the Hansen Writing Ball changed the way we think, write and produce ideas. On a side note, I think your username reference to chessmaster Susan Polgar is quite inspired as well!

  16. The main point that resonated the most in “Is Google Making Us Smart or Stupid” was the part of the article that discussed how Nietzsches writing changed when he started using a typewriter. I think that the computer has made quite an impact on the way that we write. Going from everything being hand written to being able to edit your work while writing on the computer has created a writing style that seems more perfected and less pure and natural.

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