Friday, February 6, 2009

Does the Internet Make Us Dumb?

Last semester, I added a "debate" to the discussion about user-generated content. During class, we explored two provocative authors:
  • Doris Lessing, Winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Literature, says that the "inanities" of the internet has created a culture where people read nothing and know nothing of the world. (Read the entire speech)

  • Andrew Keen, Author of "The Cult of the Amateur: How Today's Internet Is Killing Our Culture and Assaulting Our Economy", says that expertise is being replaced by rampant amateurism; opinion is mistaken for knowledge; and credentials, degrees, and years of experience mean virtually nothing. (Read this article for a taste of Keen or watch a hilarious interview with Steve Colbert)
Students divide into teams. One team argues that "The Internet IS Making us Dumb" and the other argues that "The Internet IS NOT Making Us Dumb". As you can imagine, the "IS NOT" point of view is easier to argue -- but I've been surprised by the thoughtful, well-supported, and passionate arguments to support the premise that the Internet IS making us dumb.

Maybe that statement alone proves the point?

What do you think? Is the Internet making us dumb?


Ian said...

Search has replaced knowledge. I don't need to know anything if I can search for it. Even if the results are of dubious origin, it is good enough in most cases.

I don't mind searching versus knowing. But the danger is that we do not strengthen our minds by forcing ourselves to know and remember things.

Akhira said...

Excellent post. Very useful.