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Will the Internet Fry Your Brain?

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The Boston Globe has a good article/ book review on the latest quasi-luddite attack on the Internet (an attack in the name of brain science no less, and with cool brain scans). The new book in question: "The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains."

In the article "The Internet ate my brain", Nicholas Carr says that our online lifestyle threatens to make us dumber. But resistance may not be futile.

The reporter, Wen Stephenson, adds the proper perspective, in my view, by ending the article with the observation:

"Books and the Internet, literary culture and digital culture have coexisted for many years. It may be that an engaged intellectual life will now require a sort of hybrid existence -- and a hybrid mind that can adapt and survive by the choices one makes. It may require a new kind of self-discipline, a willed and practiced ability to focus, in a purposeful and almost meditative sense -- to step away from the network and seek stillness, immersion... Now, you can call this hybrid mind shallow. I call it my only hope."

Wen: you're quite right. Not only that, but the Internet-enabled "weaponry to resist", what we prefer to call a "toolkit" to monitor and enhance cognition/brain fitness in ways we couldn't do before, is growing by the day. We'll just need to learn to use it properly -- and the Internet as a whole, to be sure -- to enhance our lives. My bet is: we will.

Nicholas Carr does a great job highlighting the implications of lifelong neuroplasticity -- everything we do/think/feel has a physical and functional impact on our brains, for better or for worse -- but might misidentify the brain's most likely enemies (watching TV? chronic stress?), and fails to consider that we tend to learn how to ride bikes by riding bikes (plus, this bike is only being built).

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