Does Google Make Us Stupid?

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                  First Quarter of the Flower Moon

“When life gives you lemmings, jump over the cliff.”  A quote from an unusually cynical book I’m reading right now.

Am also reading an article from the Atlantic which asks the question, “Does Google Make Us Stupid?”  The author says that he and other his literary friends now find it difficult to read a whole book, to sustain a long and complex thought process, to do anything more than speed read blogs.  They attach this tendency to the Web and their constant web presence, searching, reading, researching, writing. 

It makes for an arresting article title.  I wanted to read it.  The argument doesn’t track for me, however.  Unless it’s my age (compared to theirs), their experience does not match mine.  I don’t find reading a book a challenge.  I do notice that I have a shorter attention span at times, something I correlate more to the span between commercials on TV programs;  but, when I need the focus for a subtle or complicated book, it is there.

When I write a novel, it comes in daily chunks, not one long, intricate thread.  It must get there, of course, but it happens in discrete, manageable bites.  Reading complex material is the same process for me.  I read it at a pace that makes it accessible to me.  

When I started college, I took the Evelyn Woods Reading Dynamics Program.  I remember two things.  One, if you want to read fast, take an index card and follow it as you move it down the page, taking in lines whole, from the center, rather than left to right.  Two, no matter how fast you read, the material determines the pace you can read.  Where 1,000 words a minute might be possible for fiction, when reading philosophy 150 words a minute is fast.  This squares with my own experience and factors into the topic, too.     

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