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Carr Would Have Hated Writing

June 1, 2010 5:55:38.000

It's useful to read Nick Carr from a "there's a set of ideas to avoid" standpoint. Take his latest on the humble link:

Sometimes, they're big distractions - we click on a link, then another, then another, and pretty soon we've forgotten what we'd started out to do or to read. Other times, they're tiny distractions, little textual gnats buzzing around your head. Even if you don't click on a link, your eyes notice it, and your frontal cortex has to fire up a bunch of neurons to decide whether to click or not.

Now, imagine Carr a few thousand years ago, when the written word appeared. He would have fulminated against it as the "death of storytelling". To an extent, he would even have been correct - no one develops memorization skills as our ancestors did anymore. Then again, we don't have to - Wikipedia (et. al.) are never more than a link away.

Carr has become a force in favor of inertia. He's comfortable with a certain level of technology, and pretty much wants things to stay in his comfort zone. The trouble is, he sounds just reasonable enough to get a few shallow thinkers to follow along.

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posted by James Robertson


Maybe our memory's fine

[George] June 1, 2010 14:19:00.392

Jim: maybe writing hasn't really hurt our memory that much. Imagine writing down everything you know about Smalltalk: the text would probably be within an order of magnitude the size of the Iliad. You could argue that you're not a typical modern man, but likewise the ancient bards were probably not typical of their time.

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