Access vs Contemplation

Ben Carlson has an interview with Nick Carr:

The danger for the young is never developing the mental facility for contemplative thought, whether deep reading or being able to follow a single argument over a long stretch. I worry that we're training children to be distracted, to confuse getting access to information with intelligence.There seems to be a redefinition of our idea of intelligence itself that is emerging. The emphasis is on how quickly you can find information, rather than what you do with it, how deeply you think about it, and how you weave it into the knowledge you already have.

Carr rounds up reaction to his new book, including an review by Jonah Lehrer:

While Carr tries to ground his argument in the details of modern neuroscience, his most powerful points have nothing do with our plastic cortex. Instead, “The Shallows” is most successful when Carr sticks to cultural criticism, as he documents the losses that accompany the arrival of new technologies. The rise of the written text led to the decline of oral poetry; the invention of movable type wiped out the market for illuminated manuscripts; the television show obliterated the radio play (if hardly radio itself). Similarly, numerous surveys suggest that the Internet has diminished our interest in reading books. Carr quotes Wallace Stevens’s poem “The House Was Quiet and the World Was Calm,” in which stillness allows the reader to “become a book.” The incessant noise of the Internet, Carr concludes, has turned the difficult text into an obsolete relic.

And a counter argument by Clay Shirky:

The past was not as golden, nor is the present as tawdry, as the pessimists suggest, but the only thing really worth arguing about is the future. It is our misfortune, as a historical generation, to live through the largest expansion in expressive capability in human history, a misfortune because abundance breaks more things than scarcity. We are now witnessing the rapid stress of older institutions accompanied by the slow and fitful development of cultural alternatives. Just as required education was a response to print, using the Internet well will require new cultural institutions as well, not just new technologies.