The Shallows – Odabir misli

At first I’d figured that the problem was a symptom of middle-age mind rot. But my brain, I realized, wasn’t just drifting. It was hungry. It was demanding to be fed the way the Net fed it—and the more it was fed, the hungrier it became. Even when I was away from my computer, I yearned to check e-mail, click links, do some Googling. I wanted to be connected. Just as Microsoft Word had turned me into a flesh-and-blood word processor, the Internet, I sensed, was turning me into something like a high-speed data-processing machine, a human HAL. I missed my old brain.

the-shallows

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The Shallows (Nicholas Carr)

– Your Highlight at location 1884-1887 | Added on Wednesday, 28 February 2018 00:22:25

The news is even more disturbing than I had suspected. Dozens of studies by psychologists, neurobiologists, educators, and Web designers point to the same conclusion: when we go online, we enter an environment that promotes cursory reading, hurried and distracted thinking, and superficial learning. It’s possible to think deeply while surfing the Net, just as it’s possible to think shallowly while reading a book, but that’s not the type of thinking the technology encourages and rewards.

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The Shallows (Nicholas Carr)

– Your Highlight at location 2076-2084 | Added on Wednesday, 28 February 2018 00:35:40

Even though the World Wide Web has made hypertext commonplace, indeed ubiquitous, research continues to show that people who read linear text comprehend more, remember more, and learn more than those who read text peppered with links. In a 2001 study, two Canadian scholars asked seventy people to read “The Demon Lover,” a short story by the modernist writer Elizabeth Bowen. One group read the story in a traditional linear-text format; a second group read a version with links, as you’d find on a Web page. The hypertext readers took longer to read the story, yet in subsequent interviews they also reported more confusion and uncertainty about what they had read. Three-quarters of them said that they had difficulty following the text, while only one in ten of the linear-text readers reported such problems. One hypertext reader complained, “The story was very jumpy. I don’t know if that was caused by the hypertext, but I made choices and all of a sudden it wasn’t flowing properly, it just kind of jumped to a new idea I didn’t really follow.” A second test by the same researchers, using a shorter and more simply written

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The Shallows (Nicholas Carr)

– Your Highlight at location 2076-2085 | Added on Wednesday, 28 February 2018 00:35:48

Even though the World Wide Web has made hypertext commonplace, indeed ubiquitous, research continues to show that people who read linear text comprehend more, remember more, and learn more than those who read text peppered with links. In a 2001 study, two Canadian scholars asked seventy people to read “The Demon Lover,” a short story by the modernist writer Elizabeth Bowen. One group read the story in a traditional linear-text format; a second group read a version with links, as you’d find on a Web page. The hypertext readers took longer to read the story, yet in subsequent interviews they also reported more confusion and uncertainty about what they had read. Three-quarters of them said that they had difficulty following the text, while only one in ten of the linear-text readers reported such problems. One hypertext reader complained, “The story was very jumpy. I don’t know if that was caused by the hypertext, but I made choices and all of a sudden it wasn’t flowing properly, it just kind of jumped to a new idea I didn’t really follow.” A second test by the same researchers, using a shorter and more simply written story, Sean O’Faolain’s “The Trout,” produced the same results.

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The Shallows (Nicholas Carr)

– Your Highlight at location 2167-2173 | Added on Wednesday, 28 February 2018 00:42:37

Navigating the Web requires a particularly intensive form of mental multitasking. In addition to flooding our working memory with information, the juggling imposes what brain scientists call “switching costs” on our cognition. Every time we shift our attention, our brain has to reorient itself, further taxing our mental resources. As Maggie Jackson explains in Distracted, her book on multitasking, “the brain takes time to change goals, remember the rules needed for the new task, and block out cognitive interference from the previous, still-vivid activity.”31 Many studies have shown that switching between just two tasks can add substantially to our cognitive load, impeding our thinking and increasing the likelihood that we’ll overlook or misinterpret important information.

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The Shallows (Nicholas Carr)

– Your Highlight at location 2197-2206 | Added on Wednesday, 28 February 2018 00:44:26

In 2006, Jakob Nielsen, a longtime consultant on the design of Web pages who has been studying online reading since the 1990s, conducted an eye-tracking study of Web users. He had 232 people wear a small camera that tracked their eye movements as they read pages of text and browsed other content. Nielsen found that hardly any of the participants read online text in a methodical, line-by-line way, as they’d typically read a page of text in a book. The vast majority skimmed the text quickly, their eyes skipping down the page in a pattern that resembled, roughly, the letter F. They’d start by glancing all the way across the first two or three lines of text. Then their eyes would drop down a bit, and they’d scan about halfway across a few more lines. Finally, they’d let their eyes cursorily drift a little farther down the left-hand side of the page. This pattern of online reading was confirmed by a subsequent eye-tracking study carried out at the Software Usability Research Laboratory at Wichita State University.34 “F,” wrote Nielsen, in summing up the findings for his clients, is “for fast. That’s how users read your precious content. In a few seconds, their eyes move at amazing speeds across your website’s words in a pattern that’s very different from what you learned in school.”

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The Shallows (Nicholas Carr)

– Your Highlight at location 2230-2238 | Added on Wednesday, 28 February 2018 00:48:19

That’s true even when it comes to academic research. As part of a five-year study that ended in early 2008, a group from University College London examined computer logs documenting the behavior of visitors to two popular research sites, one operated by the British Library and one by a U.K. educational consortium. Both sites provided users with access to journal articles, e-books, and other sources of written information. The scholars found that people using the sites exhibited a distinctive “form of skimming activity” in which they’d hop quickly from one source to another, rarely returning to any source they had already visited. They’d typically read, at most, one or two pages of an article or book before “bouncing out” to another site. “It is clear that users are not reading online in the traditional sense,” the authors of the study reported; “indeed there are signs that new forms of ‘reading’ are emerging as users ‘power browse’ horizontally through titles, contents pages and abstracts going for quick wins. It almost seems that they go online to avoid reading in the traditional sense.” 40

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The Shallows (Nicholas Carr)

– Your Highlight at location 2252-2256 | Added on Wednesday, 28 February 2018 00:52:06

The findings, said Liu, indicate that “the digital environment tends to encourage people to explore many topics extensively, but at a more superficial level,” and that “hyperlinks distract people from reading and thinking deeply.” One of the participants in the study told Liu, “I find that my patience with reading long documents is decreasing. I want to skip ahead to the end of long articles.” Another said, “I skim much more [when reading] html pages than I do with printed materials.” It’s quite clear, Liu concluded, that with the flood of digital text pouring through our computers and phones, “people are spending more time on reading” than they used to. But it’s equally clear that it’s a very different kind of reading. A “screen-based reading behavior is emerging,” he wrote, which is characterized by “browsing and scanning, keyword spotting, one-time reading, [and] non-linear reading.” The time “spent on in-depth reading and concentrated reading” is, on the other hand, falling steadily.42

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The Shallows (Nicholas Carr)

– Your Highlight at location 2303-2318 | Added on Wednesday, 28 February 2018 00:57:29

University of Michigan neuroscientist and one of the leading experts on multitasking, makes a similar point. As we gain more experience in rapidly shifting our attention, we may “overcome some of the inefficiencies” inherent in multitasking, he says, “but except in rare circumstances, you can train until you’re blue in the face and you’d never be as good as if you just focused on one thing at a time.” 49 What we’re doing when we multitask “is learning to be skillful at a superficial level.”50 The Roman philosopher Seneca may have put it best two thousand years ago: “To be everywhere is to be nowhere.”51 In an article published in Science in early 2009, Patricia Greenfield, a prominent developmental psychologist who teaches at UCLA, reviewed more than fifty studies of the effects of different types of media on people’s intelligence and learning ability. She concluded that “every medium develops some cognitive skills at the expense of others.” Our growing use of the Net and other screen-based technologies has led to the “widespread and sophisticated development of visual-spatial skills.” We can, for example, rotate objects in our minds better than we used to be able to. But our “new strengths in visual-spatial intelligence” go hand in hand with a weakening of our capacities for the kind of “deep processing” that underpins “mindful knowledge acquisition, inductive analysis, critical thinking, imagination, and reflection.”52 The Net is making us smarter, in other words, only if we define intelligence by the Net’s own standards. If we take a broader and more traditional view of intelligence—if we think about the depth of our thought rather than just its speed—we have to come to a different and considerably darker conclusion.

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The Shallows (Nicholas Carr)

– Your Highlight at location 2410-2421 | Added on Wednesday, 28 February 2018 01:05:27

We’re not smarter than our parents or our parents’ parents. We’re just smart in different ways. And that influences not only how we see the world but also how we raise and educate our children. This social revolution in how we think about thinking explains why we’ve become ever more adept at working out the problems in the more abstract and visual sections of IQ tests while making little or no progress in expanding our personal knowledge, bolstering our basic academic skills, or improving our ability to communicate complicated ideas clearly. We’re trained, from infancy, to put things into categories, to solve puzzles, to think in terms of symbols in space. Our use of personal computers and the Internet may well be reinforcing some of those mental skills and the corresponding neural circuits by strengthening our visual acuity, particularly our ability to speedily evaluate objects and other stimuli as they appear in the abstract realm of a computer screen. But, as Flynn stresses, that doesn’t mean we have “better brains.” It just means we have different brains.11 The Church Of Google Not long after Nietzsche bought his mechanical writing ball, an earnest young man named Frederick Winslow Taylor carried a stopwatch into the Midvale Steel plant in Philadelphia and began a historic series of experiments aimed at boosting the efficiency of the plant’s machinists.

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The Shallows (Nicholas Carr)

– Your Highlight at location 2410-2418 | Added on Wednesday, 28 February 2018 01:05:35

We’re not smarter than our parents or our parents’ parents. We’re just smart in different ways. And that influences not only how we see the world but also how we raise and educate our children. This social revolution in how we think about thinking explains why we’ve become ever more adept at working out the problems in the more abstract and visual sections of IQ tests while making little or no progress in expanding our personal knowledge, bolstering our basic academic skills, or improving our ability to communicate complicated ideas clearly. We’re trained, from infancy, to put things into categories, to solve puzzles, to think in terms of symbols in space. Our use of personal computers and the Internet may well be reinforcing some of those mental skills and the corresponding neural circuits by strengthening our visual acuity, particularly our ability to speedily evaluate objects and other stimuli as they appear in the abstract realm of a computer screen. But, as Flynn stresses, that doesn’t mean we have “better brains.” It just means we have different brains.11

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The Shallows (Nicholas Carr)

– Your Highlight at location 2910-2922 | Added on Wednesday, 28 February 2018 01:27:37

The Dutch humanist Desiderius Erasmus, in his 1512 textbook De Copia, stressed the connection between memory and reading. He urged students to annotate their books, using “an appropriate little sign” to mark “occurrences of striking words, archaic or novel diction, brilliant flashes of style, adages, examples, and pithy remarks worth memorizing.” He also suggested that every student and teacher keep a notebook, organized by subject, “so that whenever he lights on anything worth noting down, he may write it in the appropriate section.” Transcribing the excerpts in longhand, and rehearsing them regularly, would help ensure that they remained fixed in the mind. The passages were to be viewed as “kinds of flowers,” which, plucked from the pages of books, could be preserved in the pages of memory.3 Erasmus, who as a schoolboy had memorized great swathes of classical literature, including the complete works of the poet Horace and the playwright Terence, was not recommending memorization for memorization’s sake or as a rote exercise for retaining facts. To him, memorizing was far more than a means of storage. It was the first step in a process of synthesis, a process that led to a deeper and more personal understanding of one’s reading. He believed, as the classical historian Erika Rummel explains, that a person should “digest or internalize what he learns and reflect rather than slavishly reproduce the desirable qualities of the model author.” Far from being a mechanical, mindless process, Erasmus’s brand of memorization engaged the mind fully.

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The Shallows (Nicholas Carr)

– Your Highlight at location 2930-2938 | Added on Wednesday, 28 February 2018 01:29:37

Erasmus’s recommendation that every reader keep a notebook of memorable quotations was widely and enthusiastically followed. Such notebooks, which came to be called “commonplace books,” or just “commonplaces,” became fixtures of Renaissance schooling. Every student kept one.6 By the seventeenth century, their use had spread beyond the schoolhouse. Commonplaces were viewed as necessary tools for the cultivation of an educated mind. In 1623, Francis Bacon observed that “there can hardly be anything more useful” as “a sound help for the memory” than “a good and learned Digest of Common Places.” By aiding the recording of written works in memory, he wrote, a well-maintained commonplace “supplies matter to invention.”7 Through the eighteenth century, according to American University linguistics professor Naomi Baron, “a gentleman’s commonplace book” served “both as a vehicle for and a chronicle of his intellectual development.”8

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The Shallows (Nicholas Carr)

– Your Highlight at location 3137-3144 | Added on Wednesday, 28 February 2018 01:41:36

“Unlike a computer,” writes Nelson Cowan, an expert on memory who teaches at the University of Missouri, “the normal human brain never reaches a point at which experiences can no longer be committed to memory; the brain cannot be full.”31 Says Torkel Klingberg, “The amount of information that can be stored in long-term memory is virtually boundless.”32 Evidence suggests, moreover, that as we build up our personal store of memories, our minds become sharper. The very act of remembering, explains clinical psychologist Sheila Crowell in The Neurobiology of Learning, appears to modify the brain in a way that can make it easier to learn ideas and skills in the future.33

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The Shallows (Nicholas Carr)

– Your Highlight at location 3167-3173 | Added on Wednesday, 28 February 2018 01:44:59

Recent experiments with mice indicate that the act of paying attention to an idea or an experience sets off a chain reaction that crisscrosses the brain. Conscious attention begins in the frontal lobes of the cerebral cortex, with the imposition of top-down, executive control over the mind’s focus. The establishment of attention leads the neurons of the cortex to send signals to neurons in the midbrain that produce the powerful neurotransmitter dopamine. The axons of these neurons reach all the way into the hippocampus, providing a distribution channel for the neurotransmitter. Once the dopamine is funneled into the synapses of the hippocampus, it jump-starts the consolidation of explicit memory, probably by activating genes that spur the synthesis of new proteins.37

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The Shallows (Nicholas Carr)

– Your Highlight at location 3189-3195 | Added on Wednesday, 28 February 2018 01:47:33

Socrates may have been mistaken about the effects of writing, but he was wise to warn us against taking memory’s treasures for granted. His prophecy of a tool that would “implant forgetfulness” in the mind, providing “a recipe not for memory, but for reminder,” has gained new currency with the coming of the Web. The prediction may turn out to have been merely premature, not wrong. Of all the sacrifices we make when we devote ourselves to the Internet as our universal medium, the greatest is likely to be the wealth of connections within our own minds. It’s true that the Web is itself a network of connections, but the hyperlinks that associate bits of online data are nothing like the synapses in our brain. The Web’s links are just addresses, simple software tags that direct a browser to load another discrete page of information. They have none of the organic richness or sensitivity of our synapses.

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The Shallows (Nicholas Carr)

– Your Highlight at location 3493-3503 | Added on Wednesday, 28 February 2018 01:58:39

The findings indicated, as van Nimwegen reported, that those using the unhelpful software were better able to plan ahead and plot strategy, while those using the helpful software tended to rely on simple trial and error. Often, in fact, those with the helpful software were found “to aimlessly click around” as they tried to crack the puzzle.27 Eight months after the experiment, van Nimwegen reassembled the groups and had them again work on the colored-balls puzzle as well as a variation on it. He found that the people who had originally used the unhelpful software were able to solve the puzzles nearly twice as fast as those who had used the helpful software. In another test, he had a different set of volunteers use ordinary calendar software to schedule a complicated series of meetings involving overlapping groups of people. Once again, one group used helpful software that provided lots of on-screen cues, and another group used unhelpful software. The results were the same. The subjects using the unhelpful program “solved the problems with fewer superfluous moves [and] in a more straightforward manner,” and they demonstrated greater “plan-based behavior” and “smarter solution paths.”28

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The Shallows (Nicholas Carr)

– Your Highlight at location 3558-3563 | Added on Wednesday, 28 February 2018 02:01:38

WHAT EXACTLY WAS going on in Hawthorne’s head as he sat in the green seclusion of Sleepy Hollow and lost himself in contemplation? And how was it different from what was going through the minds of the city dwellers on that crowded, noisy train? A series of psychological studies over the past twenty years has revealed that after spending time in a quiet rural setting, close to nature, people exhibit greater attentiveness, stronger memory, and generally improved cognition. Their brains become both calmer and sharper. The reason, according to attention restoration theory, or ART, is that when people aren’t being bombarded by external stimuli, their brains can, in effect, relax. They no longer have to tax their working memories by processing a stream of bottom-up distractions. The resulting state of contemplativeness strengthens their ability to control their mind.

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