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Seb Anthony

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Did you listen to Analysis on Radio 4 last night?


Well worth a listen:

Here's a bit from the synopsis:

"A growing number of scientists are concerned that we are creating a digital generation, growing up online but unable to think, concentrate and learn in the way that their forebears did.

Kenan Malik examines the latest research to ask whether they are right to worry - or whether we should we asking wider questions about how we all use new technology.

Kenan Malik asks if the internet is making us stupid.

He hears from leading neuroscientist Maryanne Wolf of Tufts University.

"My worry is that the child who will be so immersed in digital media will really have the benefit of only part of that entire reading circuit," she says, "rather than a deeper probative function of that information, the going beyond the information given."

An opposite point of view comes from the Canadian web guru Don Tapscott, who believes we are creating the brightest generation in history.

"Time online is not taking away from hanging out with your friends, learning the piano, talking to your parents or doing your homework," he says. "It's taken away from television."

Contributors to the programme were:

Stephen Fry Writer and broadcaster

Professor David Nicholas Department of Information Studies, University College London

Don Tapscott Author "Grown-Up Digital"

Gurnoor, Mariam, Novjita, Rohit, Raja and Jiyanshu Students at Villiers High School, London

Professor Maryanne Wolf Author "Proust and the Squid"

Jonathan Douglas Director, National Literacy Trust

Professor Tara Brabazon University of Brighton

Professor Martin Westwell Flinders University, Australia

Here's the link to more information

Or to listen again go to:

Susie Finch
Editor, features

Susie Finch

3 Responses

  1. No I didn’t

    I didn’t but I agree that its taking something away, I have taught martial arts for 5 years and have noticed a decline in childrens concentration level over this time. Even my own as I am “hyper-connected” and an e-mail addict, because it is easier to interact on line than it is in person, people tend to lean towards this mode. I guess its all about keeping that balance and being concious about it


  2. my three ha’pence worth
    “Kenan Malik asks if the internet is making us stupid.”
    My answer; it depends what you use it for….I use the internet widely for research…it is the most amazingly rich source of published and unpublished information, it is immediate and convenenient, it is international. I cannot believe that this is making me (more)stupid.
    I don’t spend any time on Facebook or playing World of Warcraft so I’m not qualified to comment on the effect they may have on users, but I certainly read that they have a detrimental effect on people.
    A survey last month by Kodak revealed that “half of all stay-at-home mothers now use computers to earn extra cash on the internet, with one in 20 earning at least £200 a month from the using a computer at home.”…that ain’t stchoopid!

  3. The future
    Thanks for sharing the info. Indeed this is a topic that will become more and more important overtime. However, we need to be very careful with the conclusions we make.

    The shortening of attention span is not necessarily because of the Internet. It is more because of the general progress of humanity. We simple have a lot more content, activities, things that we can can do that we were never capable of doing in the long history of mankind. The more there is, the less time we can allocate for anything, so we develop a shorter attention span. Wait another 50 years and surely the children of that era would have even less attention span than now.

    What this means is that we will become a lot more selective. Because of this availability of activities, children are learning to be even more selective. They will no longer tolerate a sub-standard teacher in school who might be ‘wasting’ their time. Instead they want to focus on what they really like.

    All in all, technology can come to help us beat the pressure we feel as a result of the very same technological progress we are making. At the moment, we just consume information and have only recently learned how to search and have good enough tools to do so. That’s not all there is to it though. In the future we can be ‘told’ what we even need to search for and results can be given to us before we even come to think about them based on our preferances. In that world, attention span is no longer selected by you, instead it is selected by the machines.

    These speakers in the radio program seem to be worried about the reduced attention span, but if in the future you are going to rely on the machines to tell you want is more suitable for you to look at, then the argument is already dead. The progression of technology will eventually lead to machines ‘advising’ us on what is best to learn and do with such accuracy that it would be ‘foolish’ to disapprove with them.

    Of course that’s when we get to singularity and let me stop at this point.

    The subject is food for thought and we certainly need to be conscious of it as we progress forward into a future full of automated machines and readily available information.

    Let’s keep our fingers crossed…

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