In this month’s Atlantic, Nicholas Carr shows us his thinking has not improved since his lame-brained diatribe that claimed “IT doesn’t matter” in Harvard Business Review several years ago. This time around, he blames the net in general and Google in particular for putting his mind in such a jumpy state that he can no longer read books cover to cover.
Carr accuses the Googleplex of masterminding a plot to Taylorize the world’s culture. He says Sergei and Larry think humans would be better off were our brains replaced by artificial intelligence. “In Google’s words, there’s little place for the fuzziness of contemplation.”
Carr confuses the ease of search with the result of what search finds. When Google delivers my Zen koan of the day in seconds, my contemplation is no less arduous than if I found the koan in an old-fashioned book.
Speaking of books, maybe Carr’s inability to concentrate is due to the quality of what he reads. These “Business Bestsellers” are a sad commentary on the intellectual prowess of American businesspeople:
I am partway through Here Comes Everybody, The Lucifer Principle, Smart World, The Design of Future Things, Subject to Change, Weird Ideas that Work, Dreaming in Code, and Out of Our Minds. And I’m loving it. Today i decided to lock in another week of reading and reflection. I think I’ll give up reading The Atlantic.