Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Internet-Making us Smarter or Dumber??

There is an on-going debate about whether the Internet is making us as a society smarter or in fact dumber?  As with every societal issue there are pros and cons to both sides along with some interesting points. 

The Internet provides users with a wealth of instantly accessible information and an abundance of creative freedoms.  Of course a percentage of this information available is rubbish but there is plenty of information and videos accessible via the web that can be very beneficial to learning.  Videos are become ever-more popular, but the majority of information available is still provided through written text.  Users must read the information in order to benefit from reading it.  TV, another popular media, requires minimal, minimal reading and it could be easily argued that the TV has far less benefits than the Internet, but that would be a whole other debate. 

The Internet has also brought a whole new meaning to the word collaboration.  People from all around the world can easily collaborate and work together through the Internet.  A prime example of this is Wikipedia.  People have worked together to create and edit this online encyclopedia that has become a starting point for research in many student projects.  The increasing use of wikis in general for course work and interest, demonstrate ongoing collaboration, people learning from one another.  How can we argue that this is making us stupider when it seems obvious that it is making us smarter?

On the flip side there are the groups who would argue that yes in fact the Internet is making us dumber, and they would argue that they can demonstrate this through research that has been conducted.  They argue that evidence demonstrates that the constant and numerous distractions on webpage’s are turning us into very scattered thinkers.  They also argue that people who frequent the web comprehend less of what they read, that they are less creative and less productive, and have poor concentration skills.

The main argument for the idea that the Internet is making us dumber revolves around attention.  The constant distraction on the internet such as links, advertisements, and trying to multi-task several things, is affecting people’s ability to concentrate and focus their attention in on one thing.

I am not sure if saying a person is more distracted is saying the same as they are becoming dumber.  I believe there are pros and cons to the incredible use of the Internet, but that the pros easily outweigh the cons.  We have instant access to news and information, and an incredible easel with an audience for creativity, and the development of new skills.  However I think it is still beneficial for people to perform tasks that require their undivided attention, as these types of exercises (e.g reading a full book, etc) can be greatly beneficial to the brain. 

Following the lines of this debate, Matthew Nisbit a communications professor discusses if the Internet is making us smarter or dumber, addresses some of the positive changes and as well some of the negative consequences @ http://bigthink.com/ideas/21830

Does the Internet Make You Smarter?
Does the Internet Make You Dumber?

1 comment:

  1. Interesting post Alanna. I like you opinions on this subject matter, and like you said there can be a million different opinions. Personally my opinion on this would be that the internet has made us a greedy, lazy society. Now a days we exspect to get anything and everything as quick as possible, and for the most part we do. However, the one day where things go wrong and we can't get anything, whether it deals with the internet or everday life, we seem to freak out. Our society in general has just sped up and expecations are alot different, then they were even 10 years ago...