For reasons too complicated to go into, I found myself with about a half-hour/forty minutes to kill, which was not quite enough time to go on the “power walk” in a nearby park or to go to the gym before picking up Will. So I took the quasi-lazy way out and decided to catch up on some email, a bit of teaching work, and some web reading. This included the recent Atlantic Monthly article with the provocative title “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” by Nicholas Carr. I was all set to be angry about it because, frankly, the title itself is kind of stupid. “Um, no, stupid,” is basically my answer. But I guess the folks at the Atlantic didn’t think an article with a title like “What Google has to do with previous technologies of the mind and artificial intelligence” wouldn’t sell a lot of magazines.
I don’t agree with everything that Carr is saying here, but I actually do agree with a lot of it and I think this will be a good addition to my “invent your own technology” assignment in English 328. Carr makes specific references to folks like McLuhan, Nietzsche’s reflections on the typewriter, Alan Turing, re-mediated ala Bolter/Grusin, and even Plato’s Phaedrus, and throughout the whole thing, I hear a sort of “back-current” of Walter Ong on the shaping power the external technology of literacy on human consciousness.
Not stupid at all, but like I said, stupid sells magazines.
I think this will certainly be something I include in the revamped version of English 328 I hope to roll out in the Fall term.