Carr and Ulmer

In his article, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?,” Carr makes the argument that the Internet and the limitless access to information it grants us is, in actuality, becoming detrimental to our intelligence. For the most part, I would have to agree with Carr. The Internet makes it possible to research and gather information with such ease that it is only reasonable to say at some point it probably does in fact hinder our capability to contemplate and interpret information as individuals.

Many of us (I hate to say myself included), either when crunched for time or when simply uninterested in a book, have turned to Sparknotes or other similar sites that offer study guides for literary works as a fruitful albeit rather shameful alternative to reading the book itself. These sites extract the most essential details of every chapter, summarize the characterization of every character, and list every theme and symbol your professor could possibly ask for on an exam (unless said professor actually goes to the pains of creating questions designed specifically to screw over the Sparklers….thank you, Dr. Howard and your Grapes of Wrath quotations test). This one website, intended to help students achieve a deeper understanding of literature, can be and is used frequently as a simple cheat sheet, freeing students from the task or, more correctly, the experience of actually reading the book and perceiving it through their own eyes.

With the Internet, everything you could possibly want to know is never more than a few clicks away, and most everything you see on the Internet is an interpretation, a viewpoint, or a reading. While it is true that this could work to inhibit an individual’s capacity to formulate his or her own ideas, it is also true that the Internet, a compilation of ideas and interpretations, has allowed for an easier way to share ideas and has thus contributed to a more rapid growth of human knowledge and creativity. As Ulmer states in his article, “Introduction: Electracy,” “electracy needs to do for digital imaging what literacy did for the written word.” Times are changing, and, in order to keep up with the ever-expanding breadth of new information which digital media presents, we must learn to navigate the Internet as another common skill set but learn to do so without abusing it.

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