This month’s Atlantic cover story by Nicholas Carr which asks the pressing question “Is Google Making Us Stoopid?”
After examining several ways in which our brains have been rewired by our dependence on the web, Mr. Carr notes:
When the Net absorbs a medium, that medium is re-created in the Net’s image. It injects the medium’s content with hyperlinks, blinking ads, and other digital gewgaws, and it surrounds the content with the content of all the other media it has absorbed….
The Net’s influence doesn’t end at the edges of a computer screen, either. As people’s minds become attuned to the crazy quilt of Internet media, traditional media have to adapt to the audience’s new expectations. Television programs add text crawls and pop-up ads, and magazines and newspapers shorten their articles, introduce capsule summaries, and crowd their pages with easy-to-browse info-snippets. When, in March of this year, The New York Times decided to devote the second and third pages of every edition to article abstracts, its design director, Tom Bodkin, explained that the “shortcuts” would give harried readers a quick “taste” of the day’s news, sparing them the “less efficient” method of actually turning the pages and reading the articles. Old media have little choice but to play by the new-media rules.
Are these new-media rules? Or just a different old medium’s?
In February, The Observer‘s John Koblin talked to Mr. Bodkin who said this of The Times‘ front-of-book rejiggering: “This will be a bit of a magazine model.”
“If you skim through page one and then go through two and three, you’ll sort of touch every major news story of the day and every significant story in the paper… All of the changes are going to address some perceived issues with the paper that we anecdotally hear from readers—that they don’t have enough time to get through the paper. This is a reader’s service.”