Monday, February 8, 2010

Google, I know You'll Read This Too

I was first alerted to the "Is Google Taking Over the World" theory some months ago when I came across a video about "Google's Opt-Out Program" on a fake news site that I visit about once a week. While this video is clearly a parody, it did get me to begin thinking about the privacy issues involved in using such a service. But until I read Nicholas Carr's "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" article, it had never really occurred to me that not only could the privacy of my personal information be at stake, but also the privacy of the inner sanctum of my own mind.
Carr does present an interesting observation that he now seems much more distracted because of the way he uses the internet, and particularly because of the constant barrage of images he is inundated with when he surfs the web. To relate my own experiences to Carr I need only to look back to the previous sentence; as I was typing the word "inundate" I had to look up the spelling of the word, so mid-sentence I used the hot corners feature on my computer to display all of the opened windows so that I could travel to Including this site I had open 9 websites, all consisting of entirely different content, each containing thousands upon thousands of possible links, images, and blurbs. The effect of Carr's argument quickly clicked (no pun intended) in my mind. I realize now that the way I absorb information is one of quickly moving through a series of "highlights." Given the way the internet is set up, I do not find this all too surprising.
What did really surprise me, however, is when I noticed how this way of absorbing information has now revealed itself in situations where I am not in front of a screen. This past weekend we visited the Prada Museum and the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid which contained the Royal Collection, one of the finest art collections in the world. I didn't notice it at the time but I am now noticing the way I went through the museum is very similar to the way I might scroll through a group of pictures on line. As I walked through the long halls I would skim the paintings, not really even seeing them until one caught my eye. I would view this work in greater detail and then continue skimming until my eye was again caught. The museum it seems even knew that this was the way people were viewing the museum and created a "Masterpiece Checklist" so that one might skip over the other stuff and see only the most famous pieces. There were only two or three works where I really stopped and took a good amount of time viewing a painting (surprisingly neither of the two were on the "checklist"). I now am wondering whether someone who is web illiterate would go about the museum in a similar fashion. I am also interested in thinking about whether my way of thinking has been altered from a previous state as Carr suggests, or rather, because I was born in this visual age, perhaps I have always absorbed information in this manner. Either way the discussion is an important one in that if what Carr is asserting is true, perhaps there is a way in which we can alter the system to use this way of learning to our advantage, propelling the human race to an even greater understanding of what it means to communicate with one another.

1 comment:

  1. Great observation on the comparison of museum navigation to web navigation!! Love the "snapshot" of your screen as you check spelling for inundate.

    Related TIP: When you find a vid you wanna share (like the one from The Onion) try the "embed" option so your reader won't have to leave your blog page.