Saturday, July 05, 2008

Carr's annoying Atlantic article on Google's mind perversion

The Atlantic delays online publication of articles by a month or so. 

It's a hoary tradition in print magazines, but it really breaks the blogging model. 

So I was going to wait until Nicholas Carr's article was online before commenting on it, but his latest post forced my hand: Nicholas Carr's Blog: More food for thought

Basically Carr says that Google and the Net have rotted our minds, turning us into bovine grazers of grassy irrelevances rather than the taut hunters of elusive game we used to be. Dozens of worthies have written to agree that they can no longer handle anything longer than a screen's worth of text. Doris Lessing would be pleased. 

Bah. This "new stuff rots the mind" meme has been sure-fire best seller since the discovery of fire, but it's boring and superficial.

Sure, search and retrieval will change the way we think over the next hundred years or until the Singularity (whichever comes first), but I don't buy the "rots the mind" meme.

My equally well researched opinion is that I am as able as ever to read a novel I like, or even a non-fiction book I like, but I have no patience for flab. 

I always found it hard to work through the "pad-the-word-count" faux-suspense fat of a NYT Magazine article, but now it's flat out impossible. I want the author to "get to the point", and then move on to new stuff. If they have tons to teach me then write for pages, if not, then say it in 3 paragraphs. 

That's not the same as becoming a bovine grazer. It's more like becoming a faster, stronger carnivore who wants tastier prey and more of it.

1 comment:

Bree said...

I agree! It isn't so much that I *can't* read long articles (I actually did read the whole Atlantic article, in spite of the repetition and overly-suspenseful presentation), it's that I don't *have* to.

Web surfing, where all content is suspect until I decide otherwise, has taught me to abandon quickly the junk, the "flab" as you call it. I'm not less patient or able, I'm more discerning of how I spend my reading time.

Or so I tell myself :)