Today’s blog post deals with an interesting article that I came across in our the national dailies here yesterday.

For those of you who don’t know about the literary circuit here in India; although I myself am not that much conscious about; the annual Jaipur Literary Festival has come to a close last week bringing about an interesting take on books, literature and the written word.

Well although I don’t attend such festivals owing to my impatience to finish a full book, the irony is that I aspire to get some of my works published. How sadistic is that šŸ˜‰ ! I want everyone to read my work, but don’t want to read works by others. Well, lets leave it for another blog post, shall we???

The author of the article had brought some really interesting excerpts, and other happenings that took place there. Apparently it came to a conclusion that “technology” literally reprogrammed the written word. With an extravagant presence of Kindle’s and the iPad’s, he quoted that there was a debate that revolved around the challenge these gadgets pose to books in general.

He further went to add that handheld gadgets like those above-mentioned, allow users to download e-books and “speed read” them. He went to quote Author Richard Foreman who coined up with a phrase that describes us as to how and why we prefer to flaunt our glitzyĀ tech toys rather than the ill-smelling yet intellectually fulfilling books.

The word used in connotation with the debate was called the “Dumb Down effect”. With the advent of the Internet we as human beings “skim the surface of a variety of interests and subjects at the same time rather than delve deep into a particular discipline.

“Be a Master of one, rather than a Jack of all trades”

The above mentioned quote was what immediately came to my mindĀ as I read onĀ with “rapt attention”.Ā The article also highlights that rather than aiding us, technology is making us more “unintelligent”Ā ( Now that’s not very nice šŸ˜‰ )

According to a 2008 report commissioned by theĀ British Library titled ‘Information Behaviour of the researcher of the future” it quotes that “Deep log studies show that people exhibit a strong tendency towards shallow, horizontal, ‘flicking’ behaviour in digital libraries. Society is dumbing down”

I do in fact completely agree with the report. Gone are the good old days of poring over piles of books and journals for our research, whereas now with the click of a button we have report readyĀ (cut-copy-paste) in a jiffy!!!

Literacy expert Maryanne Wolf says that the style of reading promoted by the Net puts “Immediacy” and “efficiency” above all else. She also goes to add that the Net may be in fact weakening our capacity for the kind of deep reading that emerged when an earlier technology, the printing press, made long and complex words of prose commonplace.

The Internet has extended to be a part of our cognitive thinking in modern times, that we completely rely on it for various needs. Never has any otherĀ such communication system exerted such an influence as the Net.

Harvard educated author Nicholas Carr argues that the Internet grants us easy access to unprecedentedĀ amounts of info but a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that, with its constant distractions and interruptions, it is also turning us into scattered, superficial thinkers.

Image Courtesy: Typedesk.com

The advantage of having information at our fingertips does indeed come with a price.

“The Net is aĀ fulfilling partner but a dangerous one,lulling you into a false sense of security.”

The Net offers the ultimate distraction, you can be alone and yetĀ amidst a crowd, isolated but still part of a community.

Recent studies conducted by scientistsĀ depict results that are worrisome. Studies show that those who read text studded with links, as on theĀ Net, comprehend far less than thoseĀ who read traditional linear text. Also, people who are continuously distracted by emails, alerts and other messages absorb less than those who are able to concentrate.

The common factor is division of attention rather than undivided attention!

The depth of our thoughts, memories and even our personalities sticks on our ability toi focus our mind; when we’re constantly distracted and interrupted, we become processing units collecting disjointed bits of info.

While some argue that intelligence has in fact increased the level of intelligence even amongst the illiterate, others counter-argue that the literates have now “dumbed down”Ā  ( Ouch!Ā šŸ™‚ )

In the never-endingĀ contest between the text typed or the written word, the written word is now taking a backseat while technology is basking in the glory created by the awe of millions of people around the world. However as a popular saying goes “What goes up, must come down!”, there might be a situation wherein we lose access to technology at some point of time in the future. We will then be able to come to a conclusion.

The article concludes with the following quote: “A Paperback now has now ‘wow’ factor; A kindle or iPad does!”

And I completely agree… Don’t be Dumb šŸ˜‰

PS: Oh, and this post was written by a person who wants or aspires to purchase an iPad sometime in the near future šŸ˜‰ !!!

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