“We become adept at using useful tools, and hence perfect new skills. Other skills may diminish. I agree with Carr that we may on the average become less patient, less willing to read through a long, linear text, but we may also become more adept at dealing with multiple factors. Note that I said ‘less patient,’ which is not the same as ‘lower IQ.’ I suspect that emotional and personality changes will probably be more marked than ‘intelligence’ changes.” —Larry Press, professor of computer information systems, California State University–Dominguez Hills
The Internet, the Web, and online applications—and any new communications tools—enable people to extend their inherent tendencies. If they are motivated to learn and they are shrewd, they will use the tools to make new knowledge, explore, and innovate. If they are lazy, are incapable of concentrating, or prefer mostly to be entertained, they will find new ways to be distracted, waste time, and goof off.
“Google will neither make us smart nor stupid. History teaches us that the ancient Greeks and Romans were capable of deep thought and profound insight, without Google and without Gutenberg. They were also capable of cruelty, venality, and depravity. Our human potential has remained roughly the same over the past few thousand years. But we also know that more stimulating environments lead to greater curiosity and insight. To that extent, I’d side with Google—and the Internet—making us smarter.” —Dean Thrasher, founder, Infovark, a software company that makes Enterprise 2.0 tools
“The question is all about people’s choices. If we value introspection as a road to insight, if we believe that long experience with issues contributes to good judgment on those issues, if we (in short) want knowledge that search engines don’t give us, we’ll maintain our depth of thinking and Google will only enhance it. There is a trend, of course, toward instant analysis and knee-jerk responses to events that degrades a lot of writing and discussion. We can’t blame search engines for that. What search engines do is provide more information, which we can use either to become dilettantes (Carr’s worry) or to bolster our knowledge around the edges and do fact-checking while we rely mostly on information we’ve gained in more robust ways for our core analyses. Google frees the time we used to spend pulling together the last 10% of facts we need to