Saturday, February 20, 2010

Is the web ruining everything? I do not think so.

"When printed books first became popular, thanks to Gutenberg's press, you saw this great expansion of eloquence and experimentation.

All of which came out of the fact that here was a technology that encouraged people to read deeply, with great concentration and focus.

And as we move to the new technology of the screen ... it has a very different effect, an almost opposite effect, and you will see a retreat from the sophistication and eloquence that characterized the printed page."

-- Nicholas Carr (Is Google Making us Stupid?).

Well written quote -- almost convincing. But wrong!

My own feelings are that there is a clear and perceptible change in how we access, use and process information. Over time, good communicators will learn the use (and abuse) the new medium of web to ensure that the message gets across.

Sadly, I keep hearing far too many people rant that younger generation are being ruined by the web, multi-tasking, mobile phones, [[insert random item here]] far too often, especially in the ivory tower where I currently work.

If anything, we are still evolving and learning to make effective use the web. There is still a lot of experimentation that is taking place -- new ideas are being generated -- tried -- some live, some die. Overtime, some level of stability will emerge and we will learn to make effective use of the technology.

The web and Google are not going to make us stupid. The human-kind is capable of stupidity without any external inputs. The real stupidity is in the assumption that the web generation is going to be permanently distracted and be ruined by the web. Making statements like the web is going to make us stupid or is ineffective communication medium is like watching a baby learning to walk and conclude that the baby has no hope of ever running.

It is far more likely that the generation that grew up with the web and mobile technology will adapt to the new environment and figure out the most efficient and effective way to use it.