No, Google is not making us stupid. What Google and the Web are doing is helping us to learn through a rapid exchange of ideas in a social setting. Google is, indeed, making us smarter as we re-discover new ways to learn. Any new information technology has both supports and critics. Thousands of years ago, when the new technology of writing was implemented the classical Greek philosopher Socrates complained that it “will create forgetfulness in the learners’ souls because they will not use their memories”, same as now-a-days where people have the fear about Google, the new technology of today.
Saying that Google is making us stupid is like saying that discovering new information makes us stupid. Twenty years ago, if you wanted to know what a word meant, you had to look out in to the the big dictionary. If you started having some health issues, or if you want to check about the medicine that you got from the doctor you had to have a medical book to look up, or if you heard someone mention something about a lemur, and didn’t know what they looked like, you had to look out for a copy of an encyclopedia. Like wise there should be thousands of books that you should refer in order to get some information that you needed. Today Google merely reflects what we already did in the past, but in a more convenient manner. Now, rather than looking out a big book and flipping to the index to look up the keyword in order to find the pages relevant to your inquiry, we just type in our words to generate a similar list. Instead of only finding answers from the few books we might have in our own home, we find answers from millions of sources from all around the world. Access to the Internet’s information lets us think better and faster. By considering a wide range of information, we can arrive at more creative and informed solutions.
Carr believes that the reason for his problem is, the long years he has spent on the Internet. For a writer, researcher, and a blogger like him, the Net has been a blessing, he admits that by putting great volumes of information at his fingertips. But according to him, the blessing has also been a curse . “My mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles,” he says. “Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.”According to Science, we’re not necessarily losing our ability to remember things as Carr believes. Rather, the internet is changing how we remember things.
Carr admits that we, as a culture, read a lot more because of the Web, but he also laments that “our ability to interpret text, to make the rich mental connections that form when we read deeply and without distraction, remains largely disengaged.” And he highlights a quote from an essay by the playwright Richard Foreman:
“I come from a tradition of Western culture, in which the ideal (my ideal) was the complex, dense, and ‘cathedral-like’ structure of the highly educated and articulate personality–a man or woman who carried inside themselves a personally constructed and unique version of the entire heritage of the West.[But now] I see within us all (myself included) there placement of complex inner density with a new kind of self–evolving under the pressure of information overload and the technology of the ‘instantly available.'”
There is no question that our habits are changing: The Web has captured our attention and is now the default starting point for almost all work. The Web is different in almost all aspects from a book. Printed books have contained the essential truths of humanity for half a millennium. The Web is where we look for knowledge that usually exists not in final, authoritative, single-author text blocks but in the aggregate of wisdom from many sites.
Carr sees only one side of the change we are going through, the loss of book habits. But, for us over our thousands of years of learning, the book is the anomaly, not the Web. The book led us to think that one person could write a permanent compilation of truth. Books lived on over the years, with a single voice, implying that knowledge is a thing or a commodity, creating the legal fiction that one person “owned” the ideas in a book as though the author had grown up in isolation from all other humans and all the ideas had sprung, fully-formed, from his or her brain.
Therefore as Socrates was wrong, when comes to the written world: Writing has improved our law, science, arts, culture, and our memory. When the history of our current age is written in future, it will say that Google has made us smarter both individually and collectively because we have ready and free access to information through Google.