Is The iPhone Making Us Stupid?

That's one of the topics Walter Mossberg gestured at this afternoon in a talk on "the Future of the Internet and Rise of the Cell Phone," in which he declared that the PC has peaked, and that the future of the internet belongs to pocket computers like the iPhone. The future of the internet, and the future of us: "The internet is a grid," he remarked, "and we're all going to be living on it, and carrying it in our pocket all day long." Mossberg delivered this assessment with a strong note of techno-pessimism woven in: A lot of his talk had to do with the issues constant connectivity raises for deep knowledge ("people hate iPhone users," he remarked, "because you can never have an argument about facts without them whipping out the phone and looking up the answer" - a description that I'm afraid I resemble, even though I have a Blackberry and not an iPhone) and deep reflection (in the future, Mossberg noted, we may never be free of "that subtle feeling that maybe you need to check Slate, or Facebook"), and he echoed some of the points that Nicholas Carr makes in his Atlantic essay on how the internet may be changing the way we think, and not necessarily for the better.

Tellingly, nearly all the questions that followed had to do with how the attendees could get their internet service to work more cheaply and smoothly - especially in Aspen.