Saturday, July 23, 2011

How has the Internet changed the way you think?

Just yesterday, my son asked if he should take Huxley's Brave New World on a flight with him to Los Angeles.  The book is a dark portrayal of a dystopic future.  I guess the questions and my mood made be a bit more sober than usual.

Then, a friend (Bruce Frank) was reading from a compilation of articles published on which answered the question: "How has the Internet changed the way you think?"

Here is my response...

The ability to connect 24/7 with media has affected everything.  I'm sure a book could be written, but in a sort of recursive way (like the way Escher painted,) the answer is 'infected' with the Internet.  Like defining a word using the word.

The first thing I did was Google it.

I read an article recently that claimed one of the changes is the way we remember information.  Why do you need to remember anything if you can find the answer on your mobile phone?  I used to pride myself on my memory of clients' phone numbers.  I can honestly say I don't know my mom's phone number: it's in my cell phone along with (I was aghast to learn when I backed it up) 900 other contacts.  HOW CAN THAT BE POSSIBLE?

And why would kids want/need to learn anything?  They all have iPads (or will) and the answer to any question will be delivered by Google.  And if Google can't find it - how important can it be?

What about spelling, grammar or punctuation.  Seriously, when I'm texting you and using Ur, 4, 2, sup? and :) to communicate, who cares about apostrophes, possession, conjugation or tense agreement?

You've all chided me for my multiple e-mail addresses.  I recall creating them.  Each was an escape from the torrent of messages.  It used to be Spam.  Now, the Spam is gone - but the torrent remains!  Good messages from important people I should read, file, respond to or just think about.  It's like getting 50-70 pieces of mail a day!  How can you deal with that?

The Luddite movement responded to the onslaught of automation with violence.  John Henry supposedly died competing with a machine.  And now Chess and Jeopardy are proving that machines are as smart as they are strong.  No less, the Internet?

Of what use are humans?  To keep the lights on?