Schoenhoff-Blog Post #1

Both Nicholas Carr’s article in The Atlantic and The Huffington Post article highlight today’s unprecedented availability of information; which can, if used responsibly, enrich our lives through greater efficiency accomplishing everyday tasks. Seamless access to information can also go beyond efficiency to degrading social, professional and familial relationships.

The boundary between efficient usage of the Internet to accomplish everyday tasks and overuse was blurred by the inception of mobile Internet-enabled devices and social media. Before Apple released the iPhone in 2007, the Internet was accessed via laptops and desktop computers. Thus, access to the Internet was not omnipresent. A user would have to be still in a single location for a certain amount of time to use the device. It would seem out of place to carry a laptop or desktop computer out to dinner with a friend or on a walk to the grocery store. The introduction of the iPhone and other subsequent smartphones and tablets eroded this compartmentalization of Internet usage. As an owner of a smartphone and laptop computer, this compartmentalization seems like a valid method of avoiding the flattening of human intelligence into artificial intelligence that Carr referred to in his article; and ensure that Internet usage remains a tool to realize greater efficiency in our lives.

The combination of social media and applications for smartphones provide the potential for misuse of the Internet and its information. It no longer seems out of place for people to take their personal computer (smartphone or tablet) with them to a meal with a friend. According to an article in The Economist, half of the adult population today owns a smartphone. By 2020, 80% of adults will own a smart, mobile phone. Smartphones’ rapid rise to social ubiquity provides the potential for degradation of human intelligence that Carr wrote about in his article.

The Economist’s statistics show that access to information is only going to expand long term. To fit this trend, for example, news will be communicated in fewer and fewer characters. Smart consumers of information however also recognize the value of a capacity for concentration and contemplation. Also, people should appreciate the power of the Internet to connect to each other, but once they are physically together; acknowledge each other, not their mobile devices.

About Henry Schoenhoff

Exec Dir for the Arts
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1 Response to Schoenhoff-Blog Post #1

  1. T.J. Alexander says:

    I definitely agree that the innovation of smartphones has been the reason for our growing dependency on the Internet. I remember when I was in middle school, prior to my smartphone days, my only connection to the internet was through a desktop computer. It was used primarily for schoolwork, the occasional online game, or AIM. But once I was away from the computer and with my friends, I was present and enjoying their company. Now that I have an iPhone, I have the option to be present when I am with friends or to engage with social media, texting, etc. At times I’ve debated whether or not to keep my smartphone or revert to an older model. I think it has negatively affected my relationships as you mentioned. I’m a lover of history, and when I reflect upon the nature of friendships before the modern age, I’m reminded of how we seem to have lost the love of a person’s being. When I read some of their letters, their praise of one another is something we would describe as romantic today, but in that time it was not strange between friends. I agree that when we are physically with one another it’s important to acknowledge and appreciate one another. It’s one thing to hit the ‘Like’ button, because the image a person presents online can be completely different from their actual selves. It’s another thing entirely to be in their presence and communicate your appreciation for the person they actually are.

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