Nicholas Carr is one of the most outspoken and opinionated authors you'll ever come across. Several years ago he was the enemy of IT-types everywhere when he asked the question Does IT Matter? More recently he wrote an excellent book I reviewed here called The Big Switch. I enjoy his work and was delighted when a Wiley colleague left a Carr article on my desk entitled Is Google Making Us Stupid? How could I resist reading it last night?!
Carr's premise is that Google is making us lazy by encouraging more online surfing at the shallowest of levels. Read a headline and move on. Scan an article but don't read it thoroughly. It's the sort of thing I'm guilty of 99% of the time I'm online. Actually, what Carr talks about as a problem is exactly what Jeff Bezos refers to as "information snacking" and an issue he hopes will be counterbalanced by the Kindle.
I love some of the metaphors Carr uses in this article:
Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a JetSki.
...we risk turning into 'pancake people'--spread wide and thin as we connect with that vast netork of information accessed by the mere touch of a button.
Maybe that's why I've had such a strong desire to curl up with a good book lately! On a related note, this all raises a couple of billion dollar questions: Can we construct a new "book model" to address this? How do we evolve with these changing reading habits?