Brain attacks! Is the Internet changing the way we think?

Added by Sarah on 19 February 2010 16:48

There?s been a flurry of articles this week about the effects of the internet on young people?s minds, sparked by BBC2?s Virtual Revolution series, exploring how the web is reshaping our lives.

The next episode airing this weekend (20 Feb) will include University College London?s David Nicholas (part of the CIBER team) unveiling conclusions about the way children?s brains in the ?internet age? are changing.

It seems a lot of people feel the impact of the Internet is not going to be particularly positive for the next generation (see a recent article in the Times and Patrick Tucker in the Futurist) and feel it is provoking a down-turn in reading (especially reading anything in-depth or ?literary?) and is not equipping the young with traditional face-to-face social skills.

However, other commentators argue that this isn?t the case (see comments from Joshua Green and Steven Pinker in Newsweek and W Russell Neuman in The Chronicle). And perhaps there are some benefits of the Internet, and maybe even some amazing things that Generation M2 may be able to do in terms of processing huge amounts of information that we never dreamed possible. We may just have to wait and see how they deal with it.

As a recent possessor of an iphone, I have to admit that in the last month I?ve spent less time reading real books on my way into work on the train, replacing it with fiddling with new applications, checking my Twitter (which is verging on an obsession), and deleting the endless spam that hits my Yahoo mailbox.

Athought being a fan of all things web I do sympathise with Patrick Tucker’s views, especially his thoughts on how the written word may be rendered obsolete by new technologies ? this is very unsettling for those of us who have grown up loving the printed word and I think is extremely concerning for the library and information service profession.


An experiment has been launched in collaboration with the BBC’s The Virtual Revolution series - it’s a test that shows you what kind of ‘web animal’ you are. It takes about 20 minutes and is quite fun!


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