While scanning through some of the articles I missed during the holiday season (you really do not need a computer on a terras in Barcelona eating Tapas and drinking wine) I came across this Article from Nicholas Carr (Is Google making us stupid). Central them of the article is that due to jumpy way we read on the Internet (following another link after some paragraphs of reading) our way of thinking may be changing. More and more it is becoming difficult for a lot of people to concentrate on long texts, let alone long books like war and peace.
I do think this is a risk we are facing at the moment. In workplace research there is something that is called Attention Deficit Disorder. What it means is that people are so accustomed to browsing and wandering of a subject, checking mail all the time, reacting to chat and other disruptions that in the end they are not capable anymore of creating things that need concentration for a longer time. They are reacting instead of acting. I myself can sometimes feel this way: you have to force yourself to stay away from email and chat for several hours do finish something that you really have to think about.
A lot of our philosophical heritage is coming from people that were accustomed to do a lot of thinking without interruption. Of course, Plato and Socrates had little choice without broadband Internet available to them… What does this fragmented way of collecting information and maybe the resulting fragmented way of thinking lead us to in the future?
There definitely are positive aspects too. Now it is much easier to connect different information parts because they are all easy to find, or somebody else already connected them for you.
At the least this new way of reading and its consequences for our way of thinking is something we need to take into careful consideration when designing our new tools for the workplace.
Interesting read and food for thought. Do not forget to read the whole lengthy(?) article …