Writer and scholar, Nicholas Carr, is having trouble concentrating.
So am I. Perhaps you are too.
As the media theorist Marshall McLuhan pointed out in the 1960s, media are not just passive channels of information. They supply the stuff of thought, but they also shape the process of thought. And what the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation. My mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.
I made myself read every word of Carr’s piece in The Atlantic. It wasn’t too difficult. However, knowing what to do with his argument is.
There are times when I want to close this machine and walk away. But that seems extreme. Even if I were to curtail all content production, would I not want to read several newspapers and magazine and maybe a few blogs online?
One obvious answer is to turn all disruptive applications off while reading. Although that’s far from perfect, given the cluttered, blinking, overly commercial nature of the sites I visit.