Upon opening this site for the first time, my childhood chum exclaimed – whoa, text heavy! This is hardly surprising, coming from George who is a creative director and visual by nature. I suspect however that a host of others plugged into Web 2.0 and its requisite gadgets also find my blog more of a slog – like, where are the streaming videos? There simply are too many words! Where are the distractions?
In a recent issue of Atlantic magazine, Nicholas Carr examines what the Internet is doing to our brains. In “Is Google Making Us Stupid? “ he describes troubling symptoms:
Over the past few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory. My mind isn’t going—so far as I can tell—but it’s changing. I’m not thinking the way I used to think. I can feel it most strongly when I’m reading. Immersing myself in a book or a lengthy article used to be easy. My mind would get caught up in the narrative or the turns of the argument, and I’d spend hours strolling through long stretches of prose. That’s rarely the case anymore. Now my concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages. I get fidgety, lose the thread, begin looking for something else to do. I feel as if I’m always dragging my wayward brain back to the text. The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle.
Because of the way information pops, scrolls, flashes and links through pages of text, pics, videos and sound in the Internet, we are easily distracted. Let us try reading about the Russian-Georgian conflict on NY Times online.
Peace Plan Offers Russia a Rationale to Advance… TBILISI, Georgia … click … Georgia emerged from breakup of the Soviet Union divided by its own separatist conflicts and afflicted with corruption and poverty. It has transformed in recent years into one of the more democratic countries in the region thanks largely to reforms by the government of President Mikheil Saakashvili …didn’t he study and live in the US? Let’s google him … good ole Wikipedia … Mikheil Nik'olozis dze Saakashvili (Georgian: მიხეილ ნიკოლოზის ძე სააკაშვილი) (born December 21, 1967) … scroll … aha! … receiving a fellowship from the United States State Department … Columbia Law School ... 1994 and … classes … The George Washington University Law School … that’s a great inaugural pic ... where am I?
Thus am I not surprised if only one or two of those who stumbled on this post got this far.
While a hundred words or less can describe how one feels today, thinks about Edwards’ philandering during his wife’s cancer remission, a find on Ebay, and even a profound thought, it is not enough to truly examine, understand and analyze anything or anyone. Post Soviet geopolitics requires many more words. Tackling substantive matters requires the thick description of Geertz – going beyond simple description and digging deep into detail and context.
So for the faint of heart, all this text might not be for you. Then again, you’ve long moved on, haven’t you?
Image: Words are Sweet Sounds for Objects Unreal, Justin Simoni, 2004