Friday, June 11, 2010

Better Living Through Technology

Nice to know that  I have some company--here's an op-ed by Steven Pinker that says that powerpoint and other technologies actually do not make us dumber.
"NEW forms of media have always caused moral panics: the printing press, newspapers, paperbacks and television were all once denounced as threats to their consumers’ brainpower and moral fiber."
But such panics often fail basic reality checks. When comic books were accused of turning juveniles into delinquents in the 1950s, crime was falling to record lows, just as the denunciations of video games in the 1990s coincided with the great American crime decline. The decades of television, transistor radios and rock videos were also decades in which I.Q. scores rose continuously.
Wow, facts.  Damn.  Pinker goes on to show that the brain is not so infinitely elastic that the new technology is really changing how brains work.  Yes, twitter can be distracting--believe me, I know.  I have now vowed to do more of my reading away from my computer so that I can return to pre-internet reading speeds.  Well, I'll try.
And to encourage intellectual depth, don’t rail at PowerPoint or Google. It’s not as if habits of deep reflection, thorough research and rigorous reasoning ever came naturally to people. They must be acquired in special institutions, which we call universities, and maintained with constant upkeep, which we call analysis, criticism and debate. They are not granted by propping a heavy encyclopedia on your lap, nor are they taken away by efficient access to information on the Internet.

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