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Researcher: Technology might be returning us to Stone Age-thinking

By Meris Stansbury, Online Editor
November 1st, 2011

Carr said there needs to be a balance between deeper thinking and quick information gathering.

It’s not a new concept: Technology is changing the way we think. But one prominent researcher at a recent conference discussed a more controversial idea: Technology could be moving us away from innovation and progress, and closer to the Stone Age in terms of how we process information—a scary thought, considering the country’s desperate call for 21st-century thinking.

This disturbing theory comes from Pulitzer Prize nominee and New York Times bestseller Nicholas Carr’s book The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brain. And at the 15th annual American Association of School Librarians (AASL) conference in Minneapolis, Minn., Carr emphasized that it’s not just adults who should be worried.

“Schools and libraries are good places to see a snapshot of the cultural mindset on digital issues and change, and what they’re showing us is that instant access to information is everywhere,” said Carr.

Carr began his opening keynote by relating his own experiences with technology and the internet, saying he one day realized he had a harder time concentrating on one task.

“My mind wanted to jump around and not go word-to-word in a linear way. I thought: My mind wants to behave like the internet, like my smart devices,” he explained.

Carr then began to research why this brain pattern change could be happening. The answer, he found, lies in neuroscience and psychology.

According to Carr’s research, the invention of the internet is nothing new, in terms of history—objects like the map and the clock also changed the way our brains operate.

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