Is the Internet changing your brain?

When I was a kid, I used to think how cool it would be if there was a gadget that could answer your every question or show you whatever you wanted to see: “gadget – show me what Sea Monkeys really look like” or “what is x thinking about right now”. Now at the time that seemed like the fever dream of a child with too much time on his hands (OK – it was), but unless you’re sitting in a yurt reading a print-out of this, you probably know of something eerily similar.

THE INTERNET. Ok, more accurately the World Wide Web, but let’s not split hairs. Admittedly mind-reading remains a challenge, but it’s quite easy to view Sea Monkeys remotely.

The joys of crustacean viewing aside, some commentators are exploring how the internet and associated technologies might be influencing mind and behaviour – for better or worse. Are we enhanced through our interconnection or is it dumbing us down?


Blog post: The extended mind – how Google affects our memories
“Information has never been easier to find or record. Within seconds, the Internet lets us find answers to questions that would have remained elusive just a few decades ago. We don’t even have to remember the answers – we can just look them up again. Now, three psychologists have shown how our memories might react to this omnipresent store of information…”

Yong, E. (2011). The extended mind : how Google affects our memories. Retrieved November 2, 2011 from Discover Magazine.

Image credit: University of Maryland Press Releases.


Syndetics book coverThe shallows : how the Internet is changing the way we think, read and remember / Nicholas Carr.
“Is Google making us stupid?” When Nicholas Carr posed that question, in a celebrated Atlantic Monthly cover story, he tapped into a well of anxiety about how the Internet is changing us. He also crystallized one of the most important debates of our time: As we enjoy the Net’s bounties, are we sacrificing our ability to read and think deeply?

Syndetics book coverFuture minds : how the digital age is changing our minds, why this matters, and what we can do about it / Richard Watson.
“In this absorbing new book, Watson argues that despite the advances of the digital age, it has also robbed us of some of our best ideas” (Syndetics summary)?

Syndetics book coverI live in the future & here’s how it works : why your world, work, and brain are being creatively disrupted / Nick Bilton.
“Bilton, a technology reporter, considers how technology is changing people’s lives and behavior and argues for its positive effects. After relating how, as an employee of the New York Times, he cancelled his subscription to the paper, he considers the effects of technology and discusses…the usefulness of social networks, myths about multitasking, whether video games are bad…and how news and media content need to go beyond information and create a unique and meaningful experience.(Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverYou are not a gadget : a manifesto / Jaron Lanier.You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto
“For the most part, Web 2.0–Internet technologies that encourage interactivity, customization, and participation–is hailed as an emerging Golden Age of information sharing and collaborative achievement, the strength of democratized wisdom. Jaron Lanier isn’t buying it. In You Are Not a Gadget, the longtime tech guru/visionary/dreadlocked genius (and progenitor of virtual reality) argues the opposite: that unfettered–and anonymous–ability to comment results in cynical mob behavior, the shouting-down of reasoned argument, and the devaluation of individual accomplishment. (Amazon review).

Free wifi access @ the Central Library

Did you know that the new free wifi network for the CBD in Wellington also covers the Central Library? cbdfree is Wellington’s new free wifi network, and is up and running from today (Thursday 1 September).

To connect, you’ll need a wifi capable device. Most smartphones, tablets and laptops are able to connect to the new network (look for ‘cbdfree‘ in your list of available wifi networks on your device), and if you experience any issues connecting, more information is available on the network’s Facebook page.

Please note also, printing facilities aren’t available.