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Is the Internet Making us Smarter or Not?

By  Jun 17, 2010

Topics: SQL Server, Data

I’ve been reading recently about an exchange among some very bright folks, some who posit that the Internet with its instant-on, sometimes-right, big-statement-wins mentality is making people think in a more shallow way, teaching us to rely on others as experts and diluting our logical thought process. Others state that it broadens our perspective and extends our mental reach. Whenever I see this kind of exchange on two ends of a spectrum, I begin to wonder if both sides might be correct.

I can certainly say that I have changed my way of learning, reading, and social interactions because of the Internet. And my tolerance for reading long missives has indeed gone down. I tend to (mentally and literally) “bookmark” things I never seem to have time to get back to. But I also agree that I’ve been exposed to thoughts, ideas and people I never would have encountered any other way. So how to deal with this dichotomy?

Well, I’m going to go off and think about it. No, I’m really going to go off for a full week to a cabin I’ve rented in a National Forest in the Midwest. It has no indoor plumbing, phones, Internet connections or anything else – only a bed to sleep in and a place to cook a little. I’m taking one book, some paper, and a guitar with me and that’s it. I plan to spend my days walking, reading a little, playing a little on the guitar, but mostly just thinking.

Those of you who know me might find this unusual. I’m an always-on, hyper-caffeinated, overly-busy, connected person. I haven’t taken a vacation in five years, at least for more than two or three days at a time. Even then, I keep us on the move constantly – our vacations aren’t cruises or anything like that. I check e-mail, post and all that. When I’m not on vacation, I live with and leverage lots of technology, and work with those that do the same. This, however, is a really “unplugged” event, and I’m hoping that it will let me unpack the things I’ve been stuffing in my head. I plan to spend a lot of time on a single subject, writing notes, thinking, and writing more notes.

I’ll be “going dark” for a week. No twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn, e-mail, chat, none of my five blogs will get updated, and I’ll have to turn in my two articles for InformIT.com early. I won’t have access to my college class portal, so my students will be without me for a week. I will really be offline. I’ll see you in a week – hopefully a little more educated. See you then.

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