What first came to my mind when I read “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” was a news service that my mom and my sister really enjoy using. It’s called The Skimm. Basically, it condenses the most important highlights of the happenings in the world and sends them to users every morning. Here’s a link to the most recent one: http://www.theskimm.com/recent. While my mom and sister love using it, I’ve grown to hate it. I’m also the person that sits in a comfy chair every morning and reads the New York Times. (But it is on my phone so perhaps that’s the pot calling the kettle black.)
What I don’t like about The Skimm is exactly the reason that I love reading the Times. You’ll notice in the most recent one that there’s a subheading labeled “theSKIMM” where they tell you why the State of the Union is important. They claim it is because it’s an election year and President Obama would like to steer the country towards a Democratic candidate. Somebody else could say that the State of the Union is important because it gives added direction to Congress in its next legislative session. However, that possible reason is not cited in The Skimm because it is meant to be a brief overview, not an in depth analysis.
That brings me to why I like the New York Times’ long articles. Because when I read those articles, I am able to decide for myself what is most important about the State of the Union or military action against ISIS or an economic downturn in China. This difference is something that is noted in Carr’s article. He opines that it is “In the quiet spaces opened up by the sustained, undistracted reading of a book, or by any other act of contemplation [that] we make our own associations, draw our own inferences and analogies, foster our own ideas.” Google is a great tool for database searching but it has limitations. The one that might distinguish it from a human mind is that it does not possess the ability to create like a human mind can. Within Google’s confines is nearly the entire wealth of human-generated knowledge. It is easily accessible with just a few keystrokes, but it does not allow for the creation or connection of anything further. I can’t say with confidence whether it is possible that it will develop that capability one day, but I can say with confidence that I side with Nicholas Carr on that matter. If we rewire our brains to work as systems like Taylor envisioned, we will lose our ability to forge our own ideas and concepts.