Monday, February 16, 2009

Pancake People

I just received the current issue of "The Sun" magazine, my hands-down favorite. — and it's not just because it carries no ads.

Alas, this issue's stories and articles aren't listed on-line yet so I can't link you to them.

Each month the magazine features a long interview. In this March issue it is with Nicholas Carr, who has given considerable thought to how computers and the Internet are changing how we think. He is the author of last August's "Atlantic" article, "Is Google Making Us Stupid."

Because I'm teaching an information gathering class, which relies heavily on students' finding information on the Internet, I found the following passage intriguing because my students, while quite capable of finding information, often are weak about analyzing it.

Q: You've quoted Richard Foreman, author of the play "The Gods are Pounding My Head," who says we are turning into "pancake people.

Carr: We used to have an intellectual ideal that we could contain within ourselves the whole of civilization. It was very much an ideal — none of us actually fulfilled it — but there was this sense that, through wide reading and study, you could have a depth of knowledge and could make unique intellectual connections among the pieces of information stored within your memory. Foreman suggests that we might be replacing that model — for both intelligence and culture — with a much more superficial relationship to information in which the connections are made outside of our own minds through search engines and hyperlinks. We'll become "pancake people," with wide access to information but no intellectual depth, because there's little need to contain information within our heads when it's so easy to find with a mouse click or two.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Found your blog via searching for a link to Sun's excellent interview w/ Carr - (ha, searching for a link to the article about us searching and links). Interesting observation about your students and search /'s fascinating seeing the changes happening in us as we 'evolve' with the machines. Cheers.

3:15 PM  

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