In his 2012 book “The Shallows,” Nicholas Carr argues that the Internet’s distractive and time-consuming qualities erode our ability to focus (Carr, 2008). He says that with so many opportunities for distraction, our brains are becoming so scattered it would be no exaggeration to say that we now live in a society of attention deficit disorder (Carr, 2008). However, this theory has been criticized by computer scientists, who argue the book is not well-researched or founded on scientific data. This is a screencast of the article, but Nicholas Carr presents the idea differently here, potentially due to the format of a screencast. But, if you watch the video embedded in this article, it is largely the same information presented.
Carr addresses the argument that our brains adapt to new technology. He says, “Yes, our brains are changing, but for the worse, not for the better…It’s a little like blaming water that the fish is drowning in (Carr, 2008, p.53).” Carr references numerous studies by neuroscientists and psychologists that seem to support his claim. Carr lists these studies on his website if you are interested in them on his website NicholasCarr.com. In response to Carr’s book, computer scientist Jaron Lanier argues that we have an instinct as a species to use this technology as we do now – playing games and watching cat videos on YouTube. He says, “…it seems pretty obvious that this is one of the things people do when they have a lot of free time (Carr, 2008, p.15)”There is no evidence that our brains are getting ‘so scattered’ as he writes in his book (. Many contrary studies are available, but they are not well-known or cited in his book, “computer Scientist Jaron Lanier said on the Slashdot website. Lanier also suggests Carr might have been influenced by the siren call of data mining and big data, which allows us to know exactly what people like him want.
Carr, N. (2008). Is Google making us stupid? Teachers College Record, 110(14), 89-94.