Is the Internet Making Journalism Better?

The polls have closed over at The Economist debate. At issue was the following motion: “This house believes that the internet is making journalism better, not worse.” And Nicholas Carr, of “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” fame, instead of a concession speech, provides readers with a post on his Rough Notes blog containing a listContinue reading “Is the Internet Making Journalism Better?”

Private Music, Public Music: Vandals Trash Kumbaya – Is Music Making Us Stupid?

I’m shocked to find the lovely, spiritual folk song Kumbaya trashed by pundits and politicos alike in a bipartisan effort to discredit one of the solid gold traditions my generation sought to carry on – the healing power of music. Yet it should come as no surprise, for music, like politics, suffers from an infectionContinue reading “Private Music, Public Music: Vandals Trash Kumbaya – Is Music Making Us Stupid?”

John Cage and Attitudes Toward Reading Today

In John Cage’s A Year from Monday, a 1969 collection of his then New Lectures and Writings, we find a delightful, short piece titled “Seriously Comma,” and we are told the article was in answer to an inquiry regarding “attitudes toward Serial Music Today.” We find it difficult to pass on articles with the wordContinue reading “John Cage and Attitudes Toward Reading Today”

Nicholson Baker, Nicholas Carr, and Googling Clothespins

Nicholas Carr might argue I got stupider this week, and I admit that I did spend more time than usual on Google. Carr’s influential Atlantic article, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” (July, 2008), has been picked up by the English teaching gaggle to promote reading. I’m going to save that argument for another time and place.Continue reading “Nicholson Baker, Nicholas Carr, and Googling Clothespins”

Where readers eSurface but authors lose control

One advantage of the eBook is lightness. And library books “just disappear” from the little light box on the due date – so no overdue notices, an article in this week’s Christian Science Monitor (print edition) illustrates (we’ve noticed our print books disappearing occasionally, reminding us of bumbling Polonius’s advice, “Neither a borrower nor a lenderContinue reading “Where readers eSurface but authors lose control”

This Is Your Brain On Books

Over at the Frontal Cortex, Jonah Lehrer has posted his review of a new book about the effects of the brain on reading: Stanislas Dehaene’s Reading in the Brain. Lehrer says that the “moral of Dehaene’s book is that our cultural forms reflect the biological form of the brain; the details of language are largely aContinue reading “This Is Your Brain On Books”

Double Shot, Hold the Book

The end of books is closer than we thought. A short article in today’s Christian Science Monitor discusses a private high school that has replaced the books in its library with a $12,000 espresso machine, three sports bar like TVs, Kindles with e-books, and laptops. Apparently, the old, hard copy books were not being checked out andContinue reading “Double Shot, Hold the Book”

Rolling Stone’s 50 Reasons to Watch TV

The cover story of the September 17 issue of Rolling Stone gives us the best reasons to watch television. It’s all about content, of course – not a word about form. Marshall McLuhan, in Understanding Media, gives us the real best reasons for watching TV. “With TV, the viewer is the screen,” McLuhan says (p.Continue reading “Rolling Stone’s 50 Reasons to Watch TV”

Baseball Breaks Sound Barrier

Not only is the globe growing warmer – it’s getting noisier, too. Deniers of these facts were not at the Triple-A Portland Beaver baseball game last night. Nicholas Carr, in his influential Atlantic essay, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?,” argues persuasively that frequent Internet use, chasing links like shagging balls in an increasingly remote outfield,Continue reading “Baseball Breaks Sound Barrier”

Strangers to the future

When Nicholas Carr tries to walk a straight line in the web, he’s a different kind of stranger in a strange land. Google’s goal is not to make us smart, but rich, a goal it has surpassed. What passes for smart in the land of Carr is linear and vertical, long and deep, but whatContinue reading “Strangers to the future”