Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Reading Guide for Week 5

Reading Guide 

What is the big claim that Nicholas Carr makes about the relationship between the Internet and attention?

According to Carr, what does the Internet do to our brains?

What is "cognitive load"?

What are "switching costs"?

What's the difference between reading and "power-browsing"?

Blog Prompt

Agree or disagree with one of the theses on attention that we discussed in class.

1 comment:

  1. “The Net seizes our attention only to scatter it…the Net’s cacophony of stimuli short-circuits both conscious and unconscious thought, preventing our minds from thinking either deeply or creatively.” Nicholas Carr, The Shallows, p. 121-2.
    I agree with Carr, when he says, “The net seizes our attention only to scatter it.” The Internet is a universal tool that many of us are addicted to. We use this tool for countless things like research and most popularly social media. It draws us in with everything it has to offer, but also scatters our attention constantly second after second. A perk is that we access a plethora of readings for free. The problem arises when we try to focus solely on the reading, retain the information the first time through and deeply analyze what it is that we just read.
    The persistent pop up advertisements and notifications from the Internet draw our eyes away from anything we are trying to read online. This makes it difficult for out minds to think deeply or creatively about what we are reading. Juggler’s Brain, a term coined by Nicholas Carr describes this scattered attention and how we try to do more than one thing at a time. I concur with Carr when he says that it negatively impacts my capability of deeper thought. Whenever I try to do assigned readings online, I constantly check social media updates in between sentences of my reading, or click on the notifications and advertisements that are targeted directly at me. I tend to loose my train of thought, and find my self re-reading paragraphs. I completely forget what I was reading about, or where I left off because of these distractions.
    I do find it funny and a bit ironic that Carr’s reading was given to us in an online format. In the reading he mentions hypertext increases our cognitive load, but weakens our ability to comprehend and retain what we read. Carr makes the point that we become more focused on the machinery than the reading itself, which is totally true for me. I will start cleaning my screen or my keyboard, changing the brightness of my screen or the volume of my music or the song that is playing. Because I have a hard time reading anything over a few sentences, I definitely find myself skimming for key words and phrases. I noticed this happened more so with my readings that I have to do online, in comparison to reading from a textbook.
    Arguably the worst distraction the Internet poses on online reading is the hyperlink. This distraction allows you to click on a usually highlighted, colored or underlined word that brings you to a completely different page. They can lead to definitions, summaries, or even a related website. Hyperlinks can be helpful if a person is struggling to understand something, however they simultaneously distract the reader from the original reading. It is easier for us to retain things in our short term memory, rather than our long term. Reading off of the internet complicates the process of turning new information into long term memory.
    The link below is the first search result to come up on google when I typed in the word, “Dogs”. It takes you to a wikipedia page, full of hyperlnks. To the left are other links to differnet parts of the readings, and even further to the left are categories of links for tools, projects and languages. To the right are some images and other information on dogs. All of these extra links and information that I would need to wear blinders to avoid looking at them. The internet succesfully gathers your attention to an informational page, simply to scatter it to all of the other parts of the website.

    ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ <-- Someone juggling.