The Positive Aspects Of Online Reading Far Outweigh The Negative Aspects.
Many people today are suspicious of certain changes the rapid advancement of technology has brought about… especially modern man’s growing dependence on the Internet. This reaction is nothing new historically, for there have been alarmists at every turning point in human progress. In Nicholas Carr’s article, “IS GOOGLE MAKING US STIPID?” the author voices this same fear. He writes, “When we read online…….we tend to become mere decoders of information.” Carr shares this argument with Maryanne Wolf, a psychologist at Tufts University and author of “Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of ...view middle of the document...
Even if our brains do store it in short-term memory during a busy time, later we can convert it into long-term memory through meditation and deep reflection. Sometimes I find myself doing that while driving to work – analyzing and reflecting on something I read online or heard on the radio. During these times I try to connect the new information with real life and to find ways to apply it. On a popular website, “The Atlantic Wire – What Matters Now”, Adam Clark Estes, the social editor at Huffington Post, asserts that use of the internet transforms how the human brain routes and stores memories by reconfiguring neural pathways. As that happens, certain aspects of brain function actually improve, so that not using Google may also make humans more stupid. His point is that some of these changes in the brain may be profitable, even if they cause some other functions to become less used or to decline.
Both authors, Estes and Carr, state in their writings that the new changes in brain function and storage are both the result of, and the further cause of, learning without the intention of forming permanent memories. This happens because we are starting to rely on nonstop internet access to supply information instead of really learning and memorizing it as we had to do previously. As a result, we store information only in our short term memory. We will individually, and collectively, contain less knowledge than previously, making us reliant on an external knowledge source, the Internet, instead of an internal one, memory and learning.
Internet use is a creative solution to the challenges of today’s fast-paced lifestyle, which is characterized by global communication, transportation and trade, and the explosive growth of information worldwide. In order to survive, both individuals and nations are forced to keep up with the rest of the world…made possible by the Internet. Without online access to such resources, the gap between those with means and education and those who are illiterate, or semi-literate, would become even wider than it has been in the past.
This reminds me of a conversation I had in Uganda with a successful businessman from my small hometown. Before going into business, he had taught in the Ugandan equivalent of a middle school in America. We were discussing the positive changes the new government of President Museveni had created in our country. I pointed out the prominent use of cell phones everywhere in Uganda, even in remote villages without electricity. His response was quick and simple. He said, “Even if Museveni were not in power, we still would have had this technology.” What he meant was that widespread cell phone use arose spontaneously to address a need in our country, not as a practice the government had to institute either by law or by persuasion. Use of the Internet has arisen in much the same way as cell phones, and for similar reasons – the human need to survive and prosper in...