ENG287H1 Lecture Notes - The Digital Age, Sven Birkerts, Clay Shirky

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Published on 14 Apr 2013
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ENG287
January 9 2013
- Is Google making us stupid?
o Article argues that because of the internet we do not read like we used to
The writing hasn’t changed
The Reading has changed
- Reading is a window into our culture
o Demands a kind of attention
- The internet is “chipping away” at “capacity for concentration and contemplation”
- We are “not only what we read, we are how we read”
o Internet weakening our capacity for reading
- Reading onlinewe are mere decoders of information
o We become disengaged
The reader created by long, complex, continuous printed books:
- Undistracted
- Capable of deep reading
- Capable of forming “rich mental connections”
- An active, engaged reader
The reader created by short, simple online texts delivered in the discontinuous , instantly-accessible
online environment:
- Distracted
- Incapable of deep reading
- Incapable of forming rich mental connections
- A passive reader
“The experience of losing our internet connection becomes more and more like losing a friend
Sparrow/Lir/Wegner, “Google Effects on Memory”
- People are freaking out about the advent of the digital age. But people have been freaking our
in precisely this way literally since the invention of literature.
The four “ages” of literature
i. The oral age
- i.e. Homer
ii. The chirographic or manuscript age
iii. The print age
iv. The digital age
- Literature is dying, yes, but it deserves to die, because it is elitist and snobby, and normal
people don’t care about it anymore.
o Internet has brought reading back as an activity
o Why focus on what’s going away?
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Document Summary

Is google making us stupid: article argues that because of the internet we do not read like we used to. Reading is a window into our culture: demands a kind of attention. The internet is chipping away at capacity for concentration and contemplation . We are not only what we read, we are how we read . Reading online we are mere decoders of information: we become disengaged. The reader created by long, complex, continuous printed books: The reader created by short, simple online texts delivered in the discontinuous , instantly-accessible online environment: The experience of losing our internet connection becomes more and more like losing a friend . People are freaking out about the advent of the digital age. But people have been freaking our in precisely this way literally since the invention of literature. Literature is dying, yes, but it deserves to die, because it is elitist and snobby, and normal people don"t care about it anymore.

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