Saturday, February 20, 2010

Does the Internet Make You Smarter?

Does the Internet Make You Smarter?

Does the internet make you smarter? Seems that most people think so, or at least that's what a recent study shows. The Imagining the Internet Center at Elon University in North Carolina together with the Pew Internet and American Life project conducted an online survey of 895 web users. More than 75% of those questioned said they do believe the internet will make people smarter in the next ten years.

Respondents even went as far as to say the internet would improve reading and writing skills in the next ten years. Janna Anderson, director of the Imagining the Internet Center and a co-author of the study said, "Three out of four experts said our use of the Internet enhances and augments human intelligence, and two-thirds said use of the Internet has improved reading, writing and the rendering of knowledge."

On the other hand, about 21% of those surveyed have opposite opinions. They even feel those who use the internet often will end up with lower IQs. Anderson says there are still a number of people out there who are critical of Google, Wikipedia, and other internet tools.

Of the people surveyed, 371 of them were considered "experts." The group was made up of scientists, business leaders, consultants, writers, technology developers, and other people who were carefully screened by the authors of the study.

The subject of the study has been a source of debate over the last few years. In August 2008, technology writer David Carr wrote a cover story for Atlantic Monthly, entitled "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" Carr feels that using the internet often takes away from deep thinking and concentration in individuals.

Carr participated in the study and said he has not changed his mind. "What the 'Net does is shift the emphasis of our intelligence away from what might be called a meditative or contemplative intelligence and more toward what might be called a utilitarian intelligence. The price of zipping among lots of bits of information is a loss of depth in our thinking," he said in a statement released with the study.

On the other hand, Craigslist founder, Craig Newmark disagrees, "People are already using Google as an adjunct to their own memory," he said in the same release. Adding, "For example, I have a hunch about something, need facts to support and Google comes through for me."

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