Sunday, January 10, 2010

Does the Internet change the way we think?

The online salon recently posed this question to 109 scholars: "How Has The Internet Changed The Way You Think?" The answers are diverse, often conflicting and utterly fascinating. One warning: this site is a) laid out very poorly and b) a time suck -- you will skip from thinker to thinker and before you know hours have gone by. If you'd like a brief overview, check Sharon Begley's article in Newsweek. Here are selected thoughts from some of the psychologists who participated:
  • Gerd Gigerenzer - "The Internet is a kind of collective memory, to which our minds will adapt until a new technology eventually replaces it. Then we will begin outsourcing other cognitive abilities, and hopefully, learn new ones.")
  • Stephen Kosslyn - "I am a better thinker now than I was before I integrated the Internet into my mental and emotional processing."
  • David Myers - "In the echo chambers of virtual worlds, as in real worlds, separation + conversation = polarization."
  • Sherry Turkle - "To me, opening up a conversation about rethinking the Net, privacy, and civil society is not backward-looking nostalgia or Luddite in the least. It seems like part of a healthy process of democracy defining its sacred spaces."
  • Simon Baron-Cohen - "This year's Edge question at least gives me pause to think whether I really want to be spending 1000 hours a year on email, at the expense of more valuable activities."

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