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L’era de la desinformació

Stoooopid
Fa uns mesos la Pilar Pérez em va parlar d’un article publicat el 20 de juliol al The Sunday Times, que tracta sobre les dificultats creixents de concentració que tenim les generacions que vivim permanentment connectats als sistemes d’informació e les noves tecnologies. Darrerament, l’acumulació de feina em fa adonar de la ineficàcia i la manca de concentració que comporta el fet d’estar

Unes hipòtesis encara per contrastar però
Així doncs, gràcies al Google, he torbat l’article esmentat, i que reprodueixo a continuació.


July 20, 2008

Why the Google generation isn%u2019t as smart as it thinks

The digital age is destroying us by ruining our ability to concentrate

On Wednesday I received 72 e-mails, not counting junk, and only two text
messages. It was a quiet day but, then again, I%u2019m not including the
telephone calls. I%u2019m also not including the deafening and pointless
announcements on a train journey to Wakefield %u2013 use a screen, jerks %u2013 the
piercingly loud telephone conversations of unsocialised adults and the
screaming of untamed brats. And, come to think of it, why not include the
junk e-mails? They also interrupt. There were 38. Oh and I%u2019d better throw in
the 400-odd news alerts that I receive from all the websites I monitor via
my iPhone.
[@more@]

I was %u2013 the irony! %u2013 trying to read a book called Distracted: The Erosion of
Attention and the Coming Dark Age by Maggie Jackson. Crushed in my train, I
had become the embodiment of T S Eliot%u2019s great summary of the modern
predicament: %u201CDistracted from distraction by distraction%u201D. This is, you
might think, a pretty standard, vaguely comic vignette of modern life %u2013 man
harassed by self-inflicted technology. And so it is. We%u2019re all distracted,
we%u2019re all interrupted. How foolish we are! But, listen carefully, it%u2019s
killing me and it%u2019s killing you.

David Meyer is professor of psychology at the University of Michigan. In 1995
his son was killed by a distracted driver who ran a red light. Meyer%u2019s
speciality was attention: how we focus on one thing rather than another.
Attention is the golden key to the mystery of human consciousness; it might
one day tell us how we make the world in our heads. Attention comes
naturally to us; attending to what matters is how we survive and define
ourselves.

The opposite of attention is distraction, an unnatural condition and one that,
as Meyer discovered in 1995, kills. Now he is convinced that chronic,
long-term distraction is as dangerous as cigarette smoking. In particular,
there is the great myth of multitasking. No human being, he says, can
effectively write an e-mail and speak on the telephone. Both activities use
language and the language channel in the brain can%u2019t cope. Multitaskers fool
themselves by rapidly switching attention and, as a result, their output
deteriorates.

The same thing happens if you talk on a mobile phone while driving %u2013 even
legally with a hands-free kit. You listen to language on the phone and lose
the ability to take in the language of road signs. Worst of all is if your
caller describes something visual, a wallpaper pattern, a view. As you
imagine this, your visual channel gets clogged and you start losing your
sense of the road ahead. Distraction kills %u2013 you or others.

Chronic distraction, from which we all now suffer, kills you more slowly.
Meyer says there is evidence that people in chronically distracted jobs are,
in early middle age, appearing with the same symptoms of burn-out as air
traffic controllers. They might have stress-related diseases, even
irreversible brain damage. But the damage is not caused by overwork, it%u2019s
caused by multiple distracted work. One American study found that
interruptions take up 2.1 hours of the average knowledge worker%u2019s day. This,
it was estimated, cost the US economy $588 billion a year. Yet the rabidly
multitasking distractee is seen as some kind of social and economic ideal.

Meyer tells me that he sees part of his job as warning as many people as
possible of the dangers of the distracted world we are creating. Other
voices, particularly in America, have joined the chorus of dismay. Jackson%u2019s
book warns of a new Dark Age: %u201CAs our attentional skills are squandered, we
are plunging into a culture of mistrust, skimming and a dehumanising merger
between man and machine.%u201D

Mark Bauerlein, professor of English at Emory University in Atlanta, has just
written The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young
Americans and Jeopardises Our Future. He portrays a bibliophobic generation
of teens, incapable of sustaining concentration long enough to read a book.
And learning a poem by heart just strikes them as dumb.

In an influential essay in The Atlantic magazine, Nicholas Carr asks: %u201CIs
Google making us stupid?%u201D Carr, a chronic distractee like the rest of us,
noticed that he was finding it increasingly difficult to immerse himself in
a book or a long article %u2013 %u201CThe deep reading that used to come naturally has
become a struggle.%u201D

Instead he now Googles his way though life, scanning and skimming, not pausing
to think, to absorb. He feels himself being hollowed out by %u201Cthe replacement
of complex inner density with a new kind of self %u2013 evolving under the
pressure of information overload and the technology of the %u2018instantly
available%u2019%u201D.

%u201CThe important thing,%u201D he tells me, %u201Cis that we now go outside of ourselves to
make all the connections that we used to make inside of ourselves.%u201D The
attending self is enfeebled as its functions are transferred to cyberspace.

%u201CThe next generation will not grieve because they will not know what they have
lost,%u201D says Bill McKibben, the great environmentalist.

McKibben%u2019s hero is Henry Thoreau, who, in the 19th century, cut himself off
from the distractions of industrialising America to live in quiet
contemplation by Walden Pond in Massachusetts. He was, says McKibben,
%u201Cincredibly prescient%u201D. McKibben can%u2019t live that life, though. He must
organise his global warming campaigns through the internet and suffer and
react to the beeping pleading of the incoming e-mail.

%u201CI feel that much of my life is ebbing away in the tide of minute-by-minute
distraction . . . I%u2019m not certain what the effect on the world will be. But
psychologists do say that intense close engagement with things does provide
the most human satisfaction.%u201D The psychologists are right. McKibben
describes himself as %u201Cloving novelty%u201D and yet %u201Ccraving depth%u201D, the
contemporary predicament in a nutshell.

Ironically, the companies most active in denying us our craving for depth, the
great distracters %u2013 Microsoft, Google, IBM, Intel %u2013 are trying to do
something about this. They have formed the Information Overload Research
Group, %u201Cdedicated to promoting solutions to e-mail overload and
interruptions%u201D. None of this will work, of course, because of the
overwhelming economic forces involved. People make big money out of
distracting us. So what can be done?

The first issue is the determination of the distracters to create young
distractees. Television was the first culprit. Tests clearly show that a
switched-on television reduces the quality and quantity of interaction
between children and their parents. The internet multiplies the effect a
thousandfold. Paradoxically, the supreme information provider also has the
effect of reducing information intake.

Bauerlein is 49. As a child, he says, he learnt about the Vietnam war from
Walter Cronkite, the great television news anchor of the time. Now teenagers
just go to their laptops on coming home from school and sink into their
online cocoon. But this isn%u2019t the informational paradise dreamt of by Bill
Gates and Google: 90% of sites visited by teenagers are social networks.
They are immersed not in knowledge but in %u201Cgossip and social banter%u201D.

%u201CThey don%u2019t,%u201D says Bauerlein, %u201Cgrow up.%u201D They are %u201Cliving off the thrill of
peer attention. Meanwhile, their intellects refuse the cultural and civic
inheritance that has made us what we are now%u201D.

The hyper-connectivity of the young is bewildering. Jackson tells me that one
study looked at five years of e-mail activity of a 24-year-old. He was found
to have connections with 11.7m people. Most of these connections would be
pretty threadbare. But that, in a way, is the point. All internet
connections are threadbare. They lack the complexity and depth of real-world
interactions. This is concealed by the language.

Join Facebook or MySpace and you suddenly have %u201Cfriends%u201D all over the place.
Of course, you don%u2019t. These are just casual, tenuous electronic pings.
Nothing could be further removed from the idea of friendship.

These connections are severed as quickly as they are taken up %u2013 with the click
of a mouse. Jackson and everyone else I spoke to was alarmed by the
potential impact on real-world relationships. Teenagers are being groomed to
think others can be picked up on a whim and dropped because of a mood or
some slight offence. The fear is that the idea of sticking with another
through thick and thin %u2013 the very essence of friendship and love %u2013 will come
to seem absurd, uncool, meaningless.

One irony that lies behind all this is the myth that children are good at this
stuff. Adults often joke that their 10-year-old has to fix the computer. But
it%u2019s not true. Studies show older people are generally more adept with
computers than younger. This is because, like all multitaskers, the kids are
deluding themselves into thinking that busy-ness is depth when, in fact,
they are skimming the surface of cyberspace as surely as they are skimming
the surface of life. It takes an adult imagination to discriminate, to make
judgments; and those are the only skills that really matter.

The concern of all these writers and thinkers is that it is precisely these
skills that will vanish from the world as we become infantilised
cyber-serfs, our entertainments and impulses maintained and controlled by
the techno-geek aristocracy. They have all noted %u2013 either in themselves or
in others %u2013 diminishing attention spans, inability to focus, a loss of the
meditative mode. %u201CI can%u2019t read War and Peace any more,%u201D confessed one of
Carr%u2019s friends. %u201CI%u2019ve lost the ability to do that. Even a blog post of more
than three or four paragraphs is too much to absorb. I skim it.%u201D

The computer is training us not to attend, to drown in the sea of information
rather than to swim. Jackson thinks this can be fixed. The brain is
malleable. Just as it can be trained to be distracted, so it can be trained
to pay attention. Education and work can be restructured to teach and
propagate the skills of concentration and focus. People can be taught to
turn off, to ignore the beep and the ping.

Bauerlein, dismayed by his distracted students, is not optimistic. Multiple
distraction might, he admits, be a phase, and in time society will
self-correct. But the sheer power of the forces of distraction is such that
he thinks this will not happen.

This, for him, puts democracy at risk. It is a form of government that puts %u201Ca
heavy burden of responsibility on our citizens%u201D. But if they think Paris is
in England and they can%u2019t find Iraq on a map because their world is a social
network of %u201Cfriends%u201D %u2013 examples of appalling ignorance recently found in
American teenagers %u2013 how can they be expected to shoulder that burden?

This may all be a moral panic, a severe case of the older generation wagging
its finger at the young. It was ever thus. But what is new is the assiduity
with which companies and institutions are selling us the tools of
distraction. Every new device on the market is, to return to Eliot, %u201CFilled
with fancies and empty of meaning / Tumid apathy with no concentration%u201D.

These things do make our lives easier, but only by destroying the very selves
that should be protesting at every distraction, demanding peace, quiet and
contemplation. The distracters have product to shift, and it%u2019s shifting. On
the train to Wakefield, with my new 3G iPhone, distracted from distraction
by distraction, I saw the future and, to my horror, it worked.







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L’era de la desinformació?

StoooopidFa uns mesos la Pilar Pérez em va parlar d’un article escrit per Brian Appleyard i publicat el 20 de juliol al The Sunday Times, que tracta sobre les dificultats creixents de concentració que tenim les generacions que vivim permanentment connectats als sistemes d’informació i comunicació relacionats amb les noves tecnologies. Segons l’autor de l’article, les interrupcions constants dels correus electrònics, missatges de mòbil i trucades telefòniques i el fet d’utilitzar les noves tecnologies per evitar el més mínim esforç mental acaben tenint  com a conseqüència un atrofiament de les nostres capacitats intel·lectuals.

Potser sembla una hipòtesi excessivament catastrofista, però en tot cas, no sona gens exorbitada. Només cal trobar-se un mateix davant l’ordinador, amb desenes de finestres obertes i intentant fer 5 coses a l’hora sense ser capaç d’enllstir-ne cap per adonar-se que la situació descrita per l’autor reflecteix la quotidianitat de la major part dels membres de la nostra generació.

Intentant defensar-se de les acusacions que li imputa l’autor, el Google no ha trigat ni 10 segons a trobar l’article del Sunday Times que us reprodueixo a continuació.


Why the Google generation isn’t as smart as it thinks

The digital age is destroying us by ruining our ability to concentrate, warns Bryan Appleyard

July 20, 2008

On Wednesday I received 72 e-mails, not counting junk, and only two text
messages. It was a quiet day but, then again, I’m not including the
telephone calls. I’m also not including the deafening and pointless
announcements on a train journey to Wakefield – use a screen, jerks – the
piercingly loud telephone conversations of unsocialised adults and the
screaming of untamed brats. And, come to think of it, why not include the
junk e-mails? They also interrupt. There were 38. Oh and I’d better throw in
the 400-odd news alerts that I receive from all the websites I monitor via
my iPhone.
[@more@]

I was – the irony! – trying to read a book called Distracted: The Erosion of
Attention and the Coming Dark Age by Maggie Jackson. Crushed in my train, I
had become the embodiment of T S Eliot’s great summary of the modern
predicament: “Distracted from distraction by distraction”. This is, you
might think, a pretty standard, vaguely comic vignette of modern life – man
harassed by self-inflicted technology. And so it is. We’re all distracted,
we’re all interrupted. How foolish we are! But, listen carefully, it’s
killing me and it’s killing you.

David Meyer is professor of psychology at the University of Michigan. In 1995
his son was killed by a distracted driver who ran a red light. Meyer’s
speciality was attention: how we focus on one thing rather than another.
Attention is the golden key to the mystery of human consciousness; it might
one day tell us how we make the world in our heads. Attention comes
naturally to us; attending to what matters is how we survive and define
ourselves.

The opposite of attention is distraction, an unnatural condition and one that,
as Meyer discovered in 1995, kills. Now he is convinced that chronic,
long-term distraction is as dangerous as cigarette smoking. In particular,
there is the great myth of multitasking. No human being, he says, can
effectively write an e-mail and speak on the telephone. Both activities use
language and the language channel in the brain can’t cope. Multitaskers fool
themselves by rapidly switching attention and, as a result, their output
deteriorates.

The same thing happens if you talk on a mobile phone while driving – even
legally with a hands-free kit. You listen to language on the phone and lose
the ability to take in the language of road signs. Worst of all is if your
caller describes something visual, a wallpaper pattern, a view. As you
imagine this, your visual channel gets clogged and you start losing your
sense of the road ahead. Distraction kills – you or others.

Chronic distraction, from which we all now suffer, kills you more slowly.
Meyer says there is evidence that people in chronically distracted jobs are,
in early middle age, appearing with the same symptoms of burn-out as air
traffic controllers. They might have stress-related diseases, even
irreversible brain damage. But the damage is not caused by overwork, it’s
caused by multiple distracted work. One American study found that
interruptions take up 2.1 hours of the average knowledge worker’s day. This,
it was estimated, cost the US economy $588 billion a year. Yet the rabidly
multitasking distractee is seen as some kind of social and economic ideal.

Meyer tells me that he sees part of his job as warning as many people as
possible of the dangers of the distracted world we are creating. Other
voices, particularly in America, have joined the chorus of dismay. Jackson’s
book warns of a new Dark Age: “As our attentional skills are squandered, we
are plunging into a culture of mistrust, skimming and a dehumanising merger
between man and machine.”

Mark Bauerlein, professor of English at Emory University in Atlanta, has just
written The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young
Americans and Jeopardises Our Future. He portrays a bibliophobic generation
of teens, incapable of sustaining concentration long enough to read a book.
And learning a poem by heart just strikes them as dumb.

In an influential essay in The Atlantic magazine, Nicholas Carr asks: “Is
Google making us stupid?” Carr, a chronic distractee like the rest of us,
noticed that he was finding it increasingly difficult to immerse himself in
a book or a long article – “The deep reading that used to come naturally has
become a struggle.”

Instead he now Googles his way though life, scanning and skimming, not pausing
to think, to absorb. He feels himself being hollowed out by “the replacement
of complex inner density with a new kind of self – evolving under the
pressure of information overload and the technology of the ‘instantly
available’”.

“The important thing,” he tells me, “is that we now go outside of ourselves to
make all the connections that we used to make inside of ourselves.” The
attending self is enfeebled as its functions are transferred to cyberspace.

“The next generation will not grieve because they will not know what they have
lost,” says Bill McKibben, the great environmentalist.

McKibben’s hero is Henry Thoreau, who, in the 19th century, cut himself off
from the distractions of industrialising America to live in quiet
contemplation by Walden Pond in Massachusetts. He was, says McKibben,
“incredibly prescient”. McKibben can’t live that life, though. He must
organise his global warming campaigns through the internet and suffer and
react to the beeping pleading of the incoming e-mail.

“I feel that much of my life is ebbing away in the tide of minute-by-minute
distraction . . . I’m not certain what the effect on the world will be. But
psychologists do say that intense close engagement with things does provide
the most human satisfaction.” The psychologists are right. McKibben
describes himself as “loving novelty” and yet “craving depth”, the
contemporary predicament in a nutshell.

Ironically, the companies most active in denying us our craving for depth, the
great distracters – Microsoft, Google, IBM, Intel – are trying to do
something about this. They have formed the Information Overload Research
Group, “dedicated to promoting solutions to e-mail overload and
interruptions”. None of this will work, of course, because of the
overwhelming economic forces involved. People make big money out of
distracting us. So what can be done?

The first issue is the determination of the distracters to create young
distractees. Television was the first culprit. Tests clearly show that a
switched-on television reduces the quality and quantity of interaction
between children and their parents. The internet multiplies the effect a
thousandfold. Paradoxically, the supreme information provider also has the
effect of reducing information intake.

Bauerlein is 49. As a child, he says, he learnt about the Vietnam war from
Walter Cronkite, the great television news anchor of the time. Now teenagers
just go to their laptops on coming home from school and sink into their
online cocoon. But this isn’t the informational paradise dreamt of by Bill
Gates and Google: 90% of sites visited by teenagers are social networks.
They are immersed not in knowledge but in “gossip and social banter”.

“They don’t,” says Bauerlein, “grow up.” They are “living off the thrill of
peer attention. Meanwhile, their intellects refuse the cultural and civic
inheritance that has made us what we are now”.

The hyper-connectivity of the young is bewildering. Jackson tells me that one
study looked at five years of e-mail activity of a 24-year-old. He was found
to have connections with 11.7m people. Most of these connections would be
pretty threadbare. But that, in a way, is the point. All internet
connections are threadbare. They lack the complexity and depth of real-world
interactions. This is concealed by the language.

Join Facebook or MySpace and you suddenly have “friends” all over the place.
Of course, you don’t. These are just casual, tenuous electronic pings.
Nothing could be further removed from the idea of friendship.

These connections are severed as quickly as they are taken up – with the click
of a mouse. Jackson and everyone else I spoke to was alarmed by the
potential impact on real-world relationships. Teenagers are being groomed to
think others can be picked up on a whim and dropped because of a mood or
some slight offence. The fear is that the idea of sticking with another
through thick and thin – the very essence of friendship and love – will come
to seem absurd, uncool, meaningless.

One irony that lies behind all this is the myth that children are good at this
stuff. Adults often joke that their 10-year-old has to fix the computer. But
it’s not true. Studies show older people are generally more adept with
computers than younger. This is because, like all multitaskers, the kids are
deluding themselves into thinking that busy-ness is depth when, in fact,
they are skimming the surface of cyberspace as surely as they are skimming
the surface of life. It takes an adult imagination to discriminate, to make
judgments; and those are the only skills that really matter.

The concern of all these writers and thinkers is that it is precisely these
skills that will vanish from the world as we become infantilised
cyber-serfs, our entertainments and impulses maintained and controlled by
the techno-geek aristocracy. They have all noted – either in themselves or
in others – diminishing attention spans, inability to focus, a loss of the
meditative mode. “I can’t read War and Peace any more,” confessed one of
Carr’s friends. “I’ve lost the ability to do that. Even a blog post of more
than three or four paragraphs is too much to absorb. I skim it.”

The computer is training us not to attend, to drown in the sea of information
rather than to swim. Jackson thinks this can be fixed. The brain is
malleable. Just as it can be trained to be distracted, so it can be trained
to pay attention. Education and work can be restructured to teach and
propagate the skills of concentration and focus. People can be taught to
turn off, to ignore the beep and the ping.

Bauerlein, dismayed by his distracted students, is not optimistic. Multiple
distraction might, he admits, be a phase, and in time society will
self-correct. But the sheer power of the forces of distraction is such that
he thinks this will not happen.

This, for him, puts democracy at risk. It is a form of government that puts “a
heavy burden of responsibility on our citizens”. But if they think Paris is
in England and they can’t find Iraq on a map because their world is a social
network of “friends” – examples of appalling ignorance recently found in
American teenagers – how can they be expected to shoulder that burden?

This may all be a moral panic, a severe case of the older generation wagging
its finger at the young. It was ever thus. But what is new is the assiduity
with which companies and institutions are selling us the tools of
distraction. Every new device on the market is, to return to Eliot, “Filled
with fancies and empty of meaning / Tumid apathy with no concentration”.

These things do make our lives easier, but only by destroying the very selves
that should be protesting at every distraction, demanding peace, quiet and
contemplation. The distracters have product to shift, and it’s shifting. On
the train to Wakefield, with my new 3G iPhone, distracted from distraction
by distraction, I saw the future and, to my horror, it worked.







2 Comments

   metin2 yang wrote @ novembre 23rd, 2009 at 6:50   

metin2 yang

   Dissertation Writing wrote @ novembre 19th, 2010 at 10:35   

Wonderful and nice post about “L’era de la desinformació?”Custom Dissertation

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