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Chira Tochia: The Web and cognitive thinking

After reading technology writer, Nicholas Carr’s ‘The Shallows‘ I have decided that I would like to┬áfurther explore┬áhow our cognitive thinking is being affected by the Web.

Carr’s article “Is Google making us stupid” is the foundation to his book. He discusses how our use of the Web is affecting our brains to be rewired but with negative effects. He touches upon NeuroScience and our┬áInternet addiction causing us to have a shorter attention span and therefore not being able to concentrate on longer prose of text.

Cass Sunstein and Eli Pariser have coined┬áthe ideas of ‘filter technology’ and ‘filter bubbles’, respectively, and I believe that this type of terminology is derived from new online behaviours of people consuming information as short and snackable content. How can our opinions grow if they aren’t rooted in a depth of knowledge on a subject, but simply a skimmed read of a headline and a few comments by friends?

I believe this topic would fall into the following disciplines: Psychology | Biology | Sociology
My research question would be: Does the Web affect our cognitive thinking and the way we consume information?’

4 thoughts on “Chira Tochia: The Web and cognitive thinking

  1. Jo Dixon says:

    I enjoyed reading Carr and Pariser too. For me the scary thing is that I think certain types of people are likely to be more affected by this than others. I think (and this is just me personally, not based on reading, but perhaps based on contact with a lot of people who do not have a high level of literacy or of education) if you are highly literate and educated, perhaps you’re more likely to seek out and read longer texts about topics that interest you. You may habitually be skimming short texts more frequently than pre-web but you are reading different things differently depending on your purpose, and still – maybe – doing enough sustained reading of longer texts to save your brain. But people who find reading difficult are perhaps more likely to be satisfied with short texts. In fact this gives them access to ‘news’ and (mis-)information in a way that they may not have had pre-web. But they are less likely to read and think critically, and arguably less likely to have many contacts who do, so I fear that the ‘filter bubble’ effect, where someone’s erroneous ideas are magnified or reinforced by their online contacts and information sources, is more likely to affect less literate and/or less educated people, and therefore may just amplify the disadvantage they already experience. Maybe…. (sorry, off the top of the head comment!)

    • Chira Tochia says:

      No this is brilliant Jo, really interesting thoughts. I might make my project more of an education angle now. Will read into the topic a bit more with this in mind.

  2. Maria Priestley says:

    Hi Chira!
    I enjoyed Carr’s book too and found it very convincing

    …but then Les asked us to read something in the first week and I accidentally picked “Now you see it” by Cathy Davidson, who has a totally different perspective on this. She describes how the Web can be good for our brains, helping us to become more adaptable and creative. So I really recommend you read it too if you get a chance, just to have another side to the argument. Especially if you’re thinking about education, Davidson discusses how the digital age has enabled new opportunities that foster collaboration, problem solving and improved learning ­čÖé

    • Chira Tochia says:

      Thanks Maria, an opposing argument to the topic would be very useful to choose what discussion route I want to take.


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