A week before I was going to give my talk at Gov2.0 Expo I got hammered with something my doctor said was bronchitis/early pneumonia. Darn!! I got a very good friend to drive me down to the convention center so I could do my spiel and I’ve been slowly recovering since. If you’re interested in my talk you can read the presentation with complete speaker notes, including extremely lame jokes, here.
I noticed that Nick Carr’s new book on why the internet is making us shallow is getting a lot of play, oddly enough on Twitter, Facebook, and the blogs. (So if we read about his ideas on the internet, that’s like OK right?) I always get a touch sensitive when people use shallow for name-calling purposes because I proudly consider myself profoundly shallow. I haven’t read the book but I’ve read some of his previous articles and my first, basic issue with his argument is that, before he can convince me that the internet is making us dumber or more shallow, he needs to establish what the ideal mental state is first for the individual and second for the community. Until someone establishes that convincingly for me, I think all ideological positions on the internet, whether they argue that it makes us smarter or dumber, are just assertions. (Although as a profoundly shallow optimist, I of course believe humans will figure out how to make the technology work to our benefit.)
My assertion on the changes the internet is making to the species is that the new connectedness, the constant opportunities for randomness and serendipity are creating new “a-ha” opportunities. (HT to @NomdeB) So even if the arguments re shallower attention spans is true, you still have to balance that out against the advantages of increased serendipity. If someone knows where that already has been done, please let me know.