Readings 2: Networks and New Media

Google: Is it making us Stupid or Smarter? This is the first topic that was raised in the first two articles this week.

I agree with statements brought to our attention by both Nicolas Carr and Jamais Cascio. Nicolas Carr brought up a few important things we should be thinking about. In his article “Is Google Making Us Stupid” he asks the question, how much do we absorb while reading online? This is extremely interesting because when you think about it he’s correct. We are distracted by ads, pop-ups, messages, etc. when we are trying to read online. The human brain absorbs more information when it is not distracted. He thinks that people in the 70’s and 80’s actually read more without the internet then we do now with the internet. They could focus and concentrate on the material they were reading. It is a whole new way of thinking. Personally, I understand what Mr. Carr is talking about. In elementary school and middle school I did not have access to the internet and my study habits were different then they are now. My brain was programmed differently. When I was reading his article I got distracted twice by a sidebar “just in” which were new articles that were recently posted on The Atlantic web page. I had to keep catching myself and redirecting myself back to the article. We have shorter attention spans then we use to.

In Jamais Cascio’s article “Get Smarter” he argues the opposite of what Mr. Carr was saying. Mr. Cascio argued the point that the internet makes us smarter. He touches on the subject of Cognitive Calisthenics. Cognitive Calisthenics is the idea of exercising our brains. He thinks that because we are exposed to so many details while reading online that we actually absorb more things without even realizing it. He thinks that the internet is actually helping our brains expand and become smarter.

Another topic in the article “Get Smarter” was about the prescription drug Modafinil. This is found particularly interesting to me because I had never heard of it. A question I immediately thought of was how is the use of Modafinil legal and Steroids are not? Essentially it is the same thing. Modafinil is an advantage to a scholar and steroids is an advantage to an athlete.

The articles “Seeking Thinsporation,” “It Gets Better Project,” and “Online Anorexia Videos Prompt Call For Website Restrictions” were a little upsetting to read. The fact that young youths are bullied because of their sexuality is unacceptable but the message the It Gets Better Project is sending out is great! In this instance the internet is being used in a positive and uplifting way. The articles touching on Anorexia hit home because a very close friend of mine use to use those types of websites to find tips on how to live an anorexic or bulimic lifestyle. It wasn’t until she needed help that I ever heard of such sites. The information posted on those websites were disturbing and twisted. The question of whether or not these sites should be restricted is tough because most argue that they are supportive in a recovery way and not supportive in a destructive way. I might be biased when saying this, but when websites give people step by step instructions or tips on how to live an anorexic or bulimic lifestyle, something should be done. I understand that they search to find those websites but if  they couldn’t find that information so easily then maybe they wouldn’t be able to train their minds into thinking in an eating disorder way. This leads us to the discussion on Net Neutrality. Should the internet stay a free domain? Or should the government have control? Should certain websites be faster than others based on how much they pay? 

The internet is a great source for job hunting however, it is also a great place for any employers to find dirt on their employees. In the “Building Your Online Brand” tips they ask, have you ever googled yourself? Well, for me, I never had. I immediately opened another tab on my laptop and typed my full name into the search engine. What popped up? My picture on my WordPress blog, my first Photoshop project in college, an abstract photo of my left eye, and a bowling article from when I played in high school. I know I shouldn’t have been surprised but I was. It’s scary how much is stored on the internet.

Some questions I thought of while reading the articles:

In regards to online reading and whether or not it is making us smarter or dumber:  Would you consider the iPad, Kindle, or Nook online reading? Why or why not?

Is there or is there not a difference between Modafinil for Scholars vs Steroids for Athletes?

What are your thoughts on Net Neutrality?

Do you think employers should be able to judge someone on what they find on Google? Why or why not?

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