At any given moment, our most complicated machine will be taken as a model of human intelligence, and whatever media kids favor will be identified as the cause of our stupidity…Some machine is always showing us Mind; some entertainment derived from the machine is always showing us Non-Mind.”
A well-written piece by Adam Gopnik in the New Yorker charts the philosophical debates about the role of the internet and human psyche and civilization. He categorizes sentiments into three main groups: the Never-Betters (the cyber-utopians such as Clay Shirky), the Better-Nevers (the nostalgic Nicolas Carrs), and the Ever-Wasers (for example historian Ann Blair arguing that our relationship to the internet and all its possibilities and shortcomings is same same but different).
The article is filled with a number of gems, and it certainly does a good job synthesizing the tensions about our life in the networked age. Gopnik’s use of historical anecdote is never overdone, but instead it’s sprinkled intelligently throughout the article to qualify sweeping statements made by other authors and gives us pause on some widely-held assumptions about past and present views on technologies such as books, television, and “the kaleidoscope of disassociated imagery” people claimed the fractured, media-rich world of shellac 78s and color newspaper supplements provided.