At the end of his recent lecture, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt was questioned by the (clearly exasperated) father of two teenage boys.
“You paint such a positive picture of the future of the internet but you should see the junk my boys spend their time looking at online. Aren’t you worried that the internet is simply dumbing things down?”
After a brief put-down (reminding the father that every device possesses an off button) he did admit to having some fears about the future.
“I am worried about the loss of ‘deep reading’. I worry a lot that nobody’s doing that, that nobody’s getting what comes from the deep reading of a book.”
We couldn’t agree more. Fewer and fewer people now read a book from start to finish. Fewer still are prepared to engage with a long and complex argument, of the sort that needs a book to express. There is even good evidence that people’s brains are physically changing.
What we observe – albeit anecdotal evidence only – is that people are sub-contracting their memory to Google and their opinions to Wikipedia.
And when it comes to marketing, we’re afraid, that’s massive.
UPDATE: The Guardian offers a much fuller report on the lecture.
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