The things we need, they are not like things

The cover story1 of the July/August edition of The Atlantic hits an interesting note, if one that’s hit with a fair amount of frequency (if not depth). One of the points is that the way our tools2 process information affects the way we process information. Which should be obvious enough, but isn’t always.

The article’s focal point is Google, and the internet, and how the fragmenting, attention-scattering nature of the internet rewires our brains, making it more difficult for us to process long, deep passages of text. Nicholas Carr (the author of said article) worries, and sprinkles anecdotes of people who find their reading habits severely impinged upon by their internet browsing habits — people who can no longer delve into long works of fiction, who (as the author) can no longer read tomes they’d regularly re-read in the past; but, also, he is circumspect, and skeptical, and does not burn bridges: maybe it’s bad, and maybe it isn’t.

Reading the article, I couldn’t help but feel that, while my real-world (read: books, magazines, newspapers) reading habits haven’t been impacted by the internet, my internet reading habits have definitely evolved. Finding tasty morsels of facts on the internet has devolved from a thing of learning to a thing for its own sake. Trivia and ephemera are great, but when the fact only exists in memory long enough to lead to another fact, never to be recalled again — well, that’s just silly.

My folder of “read it later” bookmarks is poorly named, because I don’t know that I will. Or wouldn’t have. But conscious effort is intriguing. And maybe it will change.

This could be the beginning of more depth on here, or of nothing at all.

P.S. That’s not to say there will be fewer posts on here about secret iguana-smuggling compartments and such.

1 “Is Google making us stupid?” by Nicholas Carr
2 Also: written language; the printing press; clocks.