DISCUSSION: “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” and “The Internet Is Saving Culture, Not Killing it”

Do Carr and Manjoo agree on anything? Is there any common ground between the essays? Where do the essays diverge from this common ground? Explain your reasoning.

10 thoughts on “DISCUSSION: “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” and “The Internet Is Saving Culture, Not Killing it”

  1. Both authors recognize the drastic changes that the boom of the internet and online networks are causing in our society, but they differ in their thoughts on the nature and end results of such changes. Additionally, it seems that both Manjoo and Carr agree that the internet provides us with an overwhelming number of choices. For Manjoo, these choices yield positive results — the internet is in the process of enriching our culture and art because it lowers barriers to entry to provide more opportunity for rising artists, creators, and entrepreneurs. Subsequently, a closer relationship will form between the people and those who make art as a result of the internet-based platforms offering a wider variety of content. Opposingly, Carr sees the presence of the overwhelming number of choices as a staunchly negative circumstance for humanity. These choices and distractions only serve to alter our ways of learning and reading for the worse and flatten our ability to analyze and make deep and meaningful connections with texts.
    Overall, the two articles diverge significantly in the ways in which they view the internet. Manjoo views the internet as a benevolent crutch towards a more cultured world, while Carr considers Google to be causing the downfall in our ability to make our own deep associations and have complex ideas about a subject. Also, the two are aiming at different kinds of consequences, in my opinion. The article by Manjoo mainly focuses on the outward societal effects of the internet and how it is reforming the media industry and news/business industry in ways that allow for more immediate connections to consumers. On the other hand, it seems like Carr is getting at the psychological implications of this boom on society, as our physical brain function and abilities are changing at the hands of the internet’s content.

  2. Though the two authors have very different standpoints on the issue, they both agree with the fact that the internet has made it far simpler, faster and easier to find, retrieve and study just about anything you could imagine. They find common ground in addressing the ways in which the internet is vastly expanding our horizons in the sense that it can get you what you want, when you want it without the hassle of driving to the library, finding books, and searching endlessly for that one excerpt that you actually needed. However, after explaining this, they take their arguments in very different directions.
    Where Carr goes on to explain the ways in which this could be a detriment to the way in which humans study and fully absorb the text they are reading, Manjoo explains that this development is leading to greater benefit and opportunity for aspiring musicians and businessmen. Carr explains that our new innate ability to literally have the world at our fingers is causing us, as a society, to become far less attached to the subject matter in whatever form of literature that we’re reading. Rather than sit and learn something about the subject at hand, we opt to skim the reading, find what we need and close the tab. Often times, we do this unconsciously, not even realizing what we’re missing out on. In addition to this, Carr explains how our expectation, and the deliverance, of having everything we want right in front of us for free has been a huge blow to the world of printing, independent bookstores, newspapers and other industries that rely upon our paid consumption of their goods. On another hand, Manjoo explains to the reader the ways in which small online businesses have been able to flourish with the new, modern consumer’s interest in being able to connect with artists and businesses on a more personal level. This closer connection not only draws more technologically-advanced consumers in, but it also allows for aspiring entrepreneurs to control their own brand and build a profit without the concern of being exploited by larger online businesses.

  3. The only significant similarity I found between these two arguments is their acknowledgment of the incredible growth of the internet and the accessibility to information. Also in an odd way, their arguments cross each other at one point when they recognize the counter argument. Carr mentions that he might just be overreacting as a worrywart and recognizes that previous technological innovations such as the printing press brought on incredible benefits despite extreme worries. Manjoo recognizes that the growth of the internet has threatened cultural business such as private bookstores.
    However I think the similarities stop there. The two writers are arguing on two very different aspects of the internet. Manjoo argues specifically about the art/cultural industry that is benefitting from paid subscriptions, while Carr argues about the more subtle psychological effects that the internet has had specifically on our attention span and willingness to engage deeply with writing. Manjoo’s argument comes across very easily to me because his evidence comes from data such as the numbers of subscriptions and short anecdotes of successful artists and their incomes. Carr’s argument is more aloof because it’s not something that can be proven from data or research. Ironically though, I thought Manjoo’s article and my contrasting levels of comprehension on the two arguments supplemented Carr’s argument. Manjoo’s article is much shorter and right to the point. I was able to understand it clearly and easily thanks to its short length and short paragraphs. Carr’s article on the other hand, was quite long and hard to understand. As Carr argued, I was unwilling to give the entire article my full attention and/or engage deeply with what he was saying. Rather, I just quickly moved on to Manjoo’s article, relieved at how short it was, and dismissed Carr’s argument.

  4. The two essays took two completely different stances on the topic of online databases and online searches. The only point these two essays fundamentally agreed upon was the fact that internet searches greatly simplified the process of research and writing. Other than that, the two essays just disagreed. Carr reiterated the point that internet searches caused us to be superficial and unable to focus on long pieces of writing. Changing the way humans read. The author even goes on to arguing that the presence of technology changes the way we write, as our malleable brain takes into account almost everything we encounter. Giving the example of Nietzsche whose switch over into the typewriter changed completely the way he writes. The complexity and omnipotence of the internet scatters our cognition decisively shortening our focus spans. the author argued that the internet in a way made people into machines that carry out only tasks they are designed to carry out.
    While the second article argued that the advent of the internet is actually boosting originality. By broadcasting original thoughts in a way that was never before possible, it is actually bringing about a renaissance. And that the free/ ad-based business format is allowing the young generation to better appreciate the cultural projects that decades before they had to pay for. Furthermore, artists today can reach the effects they want by sitting at home and playing in front of a computer screen instead of the constant travel they would have had to preform years ago/

  5. These two arguments are opposites. Carr talks about the destruction of culture due to the evolution of media and Manjoo argues that the evolution of media is actually very helpful for the modern era. Carr layers his argument with historical examples of media changing (speech to written language, newspaper into news online) and evidence from college professors. He also talks about how faster access to technology makes people less focused on retaining the information they were taught. This is a completely valid point and can easily be seen in the change of our language over time. Manjoo, while having a different perspective, doesn’t go against Carr’s paper, rather explains how the internet is helping culture. With access to this free market, independent artists and creators are given more room for creativity and to strive. I particularly liked the example at the end where Manjoo used Peter Hollens as an example for how artists can use the internet to create a living.
    I also enjoyed reading about Carr’s skepticism. He did a good job at depicting the issues with his argument. Even though I found Manjoo’s perspective true, I still partially agree with Carr’s argument despite the great benefits the internet bring.

  6. Carr and Manjoo do agree. As a matter of fact, both of their main points agree. It is at first confusing because Carr takes a long time to narrow in on his point and his title it deceptive. Google is not making us stupid, it is changing us into robots. Carr would agree with this, but his writing style includes many examples and quotes so it takes him up until the concluding words to say “it is our own intelligence that flattens into artificial intelligence.” The real issue I believe Carr is trying to tackle is that Google is making us emotionless. In the process of becoming robots Google is ruining our reasoning, thinking, and creativity and replacing it with a system similar to a computer. The essays still differ immensely because Manjoo only speaks of the benefits in a positive manner, while Carr’s writing has a negative tone. They are also different because Manjoo is writing about the internet’s emerging support for small niche artists and creators while Carr is saying that Google will make everyone very similar in the way that they operate and process information, eliminating room for creativity. In totality, both papers are similar in their main points because they discuss how technology is advancing society.

  7. Both of the authors definitely agree on one thing: people are more connected than ever. Manjoo describes a society in which everyone has the ability to subscribe to everything. Music, news, videos, anything you want. The surge in recent subscriptions isn’t a fluke because it’s happening to almost every genre available. In fact, even Carr agrees! He describes us as nearing pancake people, spread far and thin across a vast area. Now, though, we see their differences in opinion. Carr believes that the way the internet is structured now prevents the skills we’ve relied on for centuries: reading and understanding in depth. He believes that in our digital age with tools like google and YouTube, we are less likely to read an entire article and more likely to just skim a few different articles. To be honest, I agree with him. I found that I was skimming parts of his article myself after seeing it was 13 pages. Only after I read him say it, and I felt personally called out, did I go back and read comprehensively. This being said, both authors still feel as though the internet has the capability to make us more connected with one another.
    Although both the authors believe in the connective power of the internet, they differ in how that affects society. Manjoo writes that he thinks this connectivity helps individual citizens. He mentions how it’s possible to crowd-fund artists now, and how everyone can have access to databases of information like the New York Times. His stance on this is that it will lead people to want to learn and explore more than they did previously. Carr believes the opposite. He believes that this access means that people would rather skim headlines and click on dozens of links rather than read a chapter book. An analogy for his belief is that he believes people aren’t willing to read a chapter book anymore, they’re only willing to read one single chapter. Both men differ on how these advancements will affect future society, but they agree on the capabilities it’s providing.

  8. Carr and Manjoo agree that today we have more immediate access to information. New technology forces us, consciously or not, to adapt. At this point, the authors’ arguments diverge: Carr argues that these adaptations are biological, and we should recognize the way computers are changing our cognitive abilities. He believes that if our neuro pathways are altered so that we process information like computers, all of our human ambiguity, ambiguity that is valuable and insightful, will be lost. Carr mentions how the invention of the clock revolutionized human thought: “In deciding when to eat, to work, to sleep, to rise, we stopped listening to our senses and started obeying the clock.” Its mechanical, methodological process spurred scientific, regimented thought. Its invention even changed our rhetoric. We began to refer to the way people tick, just as we now refer to humans decoding or processing information; it’s as if we are becoming the machines.
    Manjoo on the other hand feels that technology is revolutionizing the way we interact, while preserving what we value: individualism, opportunity, and success. Using online subscription as an example, he spins the classic argument that the internet is making us more connected. Manjoo explains that platforms such as Patreon eliminate the middle man; people can direct their monetary contributions and immediately get content in return. This directly supports artists, making their lives more normal. They have enough consistent income to focus on their craft while maintaining a normal home life. It is as if the internet has made our lives more humane.

  9. The most obvious point that they agree on is that the internet has grown overtime and has made some drastic changes to our lives. Carr acknowledges that fact when he says, “the Net is becoming a universal medium, the conduit for most of the information that flows through my eyes and ears and into my mind.” However, he’s not too happy about this. He feels like he, and others, is slowly becoming less of himself in terms of his love for literature. It’s hard for him to stay focused and delve deeply into whatever he’s reading. He thinks that this unlimited access to articles and blogs is more of a curse than a blessing. He easily gets distracted and finds himself jumping from one sit to another. I completely understood where he was coming from as I’ve seen this type of behavior in myself. I even found myself not being able to focus while reading his article, mainly because it was hard to understand and quite lengthy. His article basically defeated the whole purpose of his point. Manjoo on the other hand talks about how this development of the internet has made people’s lives for the better. He discusses how the growth of the internet has had positive societal impacts. Business are growing, platforms are being created, and lives are being improved. Manjoo keeps the article very straight forward by including many facts, but keeping it all cohesive. Also his positive outlook and the inclusion of the anecdote at the end just made the article much more enjoyable.

  10. Carr and Manjoo agree on two general points, though their opinions on these points differ. They agree that technology is fundamentally changing the way we create and view art and older technologies. They also agree that our culture is changing in relation to technology. However, it seems that Carr believes the changes in the internet cause our changes in culture, as it changes the way we think. On the other hand, while Manjoo also discusses the ways the internet changes culture, he focuses more on the ways that our changing culture (related to concerns about social impact) can impact the internet. The two also agree that technology helps economic progress, and it increases human connection and efficiency. However, they disagree on whether this economic progress is beneficial or harmful to our growth as humans. Manjoo discusses how the “digital economy” has found a sustainable way of creating content, saying that economic progress is beneficial, forges connection, and allows artists to have better careers. He says that the increase in available information helps with networking and connection. Carr argues that while technological and economic progress increases productivity and efficiency, this efficiency is separate from and harmful to our humanity. He says that the increase in available information spreads human minds too thin instead of allowing them to deeply develop.

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