This is how I sometimes feel…
My mind isn’t going—so far as I can tell—but it’s changing. I’m not
thinking the way I used to think. I can feel it most strongly when I’m
reading. Immersing myself in a book or a lengthy article used to be
easy. My mind would get caught up in the narrative or the turns of the
argument, and I’d spend hours strolling through long stretches of
prose. That’s rarely the case anymore. Now my concentration often
starts to drift after two or three pages. I get fidgety, lose the
thread, begin looking for something else to do. I feel as if I’m always
dragging my wayward brain back to the text. The deep reading that used
to come naturally has become a struggle.
Check out this great article from The Atlantic Online which talks about how people read, how they do research and how that's changing in the age of the Internet among many other related topics that are covered.
The process of adapting to new intellectual technologies is reflected
in the changing metaphors we use to explain ourselves to ourselves.
When the mechanical clock arrived, people began thinking of their
brains as operating “like clockwork.” Today, in the age of software, we
have come to think of them as operating “like computers.” But the
changes, neuroscience tells us, go much deeper than metaphor. Thanks to
our brain’s plasticity, the adaptation occurs also at a biological
Where does Google fit in all of this?
The idea that our minds should operate as high-speed data-processing
machines is not only built into the workings of the Internet, it is the
network’s reigning business model as well. The faster we surf across
the Web—the more links we click and pages we view—the more
opportunities Google and other companies gain to collect information
about us and to feed us advertisements. Most of the proprietors of the
commercial Internet have a financial stake in collecting the crumbs of
data we leave behind as we flit from link to link—the more crumbs, the
better. The last thing these companies want is to encourage leisurely
reading or slow, concentrated thought. It’s in their economic interest
to drive us to distraction.
Lots to think about!