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Archive for June 18th, 2008

This is the title of an article by Nicolas Carr published in The Atlantic that I saw linked somewhere and read.

The thesis is that in our new media hyperlinked world we are thinking differently and that this spills over from what we do on screen and affects the way we carry out the rest of our life. We are becoming part of the search algorithm and skimming, evaluating and processing information rather than reading, contemplating and mulling it. Our attention span is reduced, we are requiring that everything be presented to us in the most efficient manner. We don’t have time to consider, assimilate, compare and contemplate.

We live hectic lives full of change and overloaded with realms of information at the command of our fingertips. As we are able to do more, know more, experience more we feel compelled to expand to our potential, but this is at the cost of peace, quiet and Carr would say wisdom and understanding.

Carr is suggesting that the web is making us think shallowly and mechanically and reducing our wisdom. Her concedes that in ancient Greece, there were those who decried the written word for devaluing wisdom just as the same was heard with the advent of printing.

In Judaism the codification of the oral Torah in the days of the second temple and thereafter were also accompanied by the same fears. Not all the wisdom is something that can be recorded and codified. You cannot be a Hacham (a wise person) without being a Talmid Hacham (a disciple of the wise). Judaism prescibes the need to live with (“serve”) Talmidei Hachamim in order to become one yourself.

This is the same in many if not most disciplines. You can’t learn everything from books. Not from Google either.

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