Has every great technological breakthrough been bemoaned by Cassandras who predict that it will cause doom, destruction, or some form of degradation? Or, in the pithier phrasing of Michael Masnick of TechDirt:
Did Pencils Make Us Dumber?
Masnick is responding to many critics--including Nick Carr of the Atlantic--who have claimed that Facebook, Google, and Twitter (among others) are demolishing Americans' attention spans or making them dumber. In his opinion, it just boils down to resistance to change:
For all the cries of "but this time, it's different," it's the same exact story we've seen pretty much throughout history. The technology makes it easier to communicate, and those who benefited from the older restrictions get most afraid of what the new technologies allow. Often, it just seems to be a fear that there will be more competition and more innovation, and the old-timers are afraid they're not equipped or able to keep up.
Is he right?
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.