From an n+1 post today on the future of reading:
I think probably people’s fears about the intellectual effects of TV and even the railroads were justified enough: TV would cause you to zone out and the railroad journey would mean you didn’t notice the same things about the countryside that Goethe did when he traveled to Italy by carriage. For that matter I think cheap printing was in its way a destructive technology, in that people presumably read less epic and lyric poetry and more novels, mostly bad ones, and certainly a lot more newspapers. They’d already entered the shallows.
But there’s good news, too!
If we could really gauge the effect of the internet on people’s minds, we might find out some good news—aren’t people funnier today, as in more witty, than adults were when we were growing up?