People Get Distracted! Blame Technology!

from the trend-pieces dept

With Nick Carr's book out, misleadingly suggesting that the internet is bad for our brains, it looks like the NY Times has decided to a trend piece on the same concept, except even more misleading. Practically the entire article hinges on one family whose father is sometimes distracted. The article opens with the fact that he once missed an email from someone who wanted to buy his company. And, um, it's because the internet makes us dumb? The connection is never made. The fact that people miss emails all the time, just as they might have missed snail mail in the past, is never made either. Honestly, the guy in the article sounds a lot like me, in terms of how I work, but he also sounds a lot like my Dad back when I was a kid and he would have his desk of papers disorganized. That's not a condemnation of technology. It's just that some people can be a bit absent-minded at times. Of course, the article throws in quotes from neuroscientists and other studies to give it that scientific coating, but what the researchers talk about has absolutely nothing to do with what makes someone miss an email or want to spend some time playing video games. It's one of those newspaper trend pieces that sounds good, but doesn't even come close to holding together its central thesis if you look at the details.


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    Ryan, Jun 9th, 2010 @ 3:54pm

    Par For the Course

    Practically the entire article hinges on one family whose father is sometimes distracted. The article opens with the fact that he once missed an email from someone who wanted to buy his company. And, um, it's because the internet makes us dumb? The connection is never made. The fact that people miss emails all the time, just as they might have missed snail mail in the past, is never made either.

    This is just the same type of journalism the mainstream media publishes ALL...THE...TIME. It's really maddening, and I think the NY Times is one of the worst offenders.

    Earlier today there was some article (I think on CNN, possibly from the AP) about the dangers of traveling on planes with kids in your lap. There were, of course, no statistics or general evidence that might support an article on the subject - just a couple individual examples.

    The first mentioned that a young kid being held by his mom died in a plane crash along with 100+ other people while the mom survived. I guess the other 100 or so must not have been buckled up either, because I've never heard of somebody dying in a fucking plane crash with their seat belt on...

    The second example mentioned a little boy that bumped his head in severe turbulence and was fine. Why the concerned parents in the article must be forced to buy an extra seat by the government instead of, you know...just buying an extra seat? I have no idea because that was never explained. Sounded like the paper was paid off by somebody with a financial incentive to sell more airplane seats.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2010 @ 4:02pm

    omfg, this reads like "how to write for techdirt". take a current trend, jump in front of it, and try to ride the wave. perhaps you can get on the distraction wave as soon as you finish saving journalism and fixing the music industry.

     

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    Anome (profile), Jun 9th, 2010 @ 4:08pm

    It's the wrong way around

    People seem to keep getting the wrong end of the stick. It's not that the Internet makes you stupid, it's that stupid people use the Internet.

    Unfortunately, stupid people also write about the Internet, which is how we get this problem.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2010 @ 4:25pm

    "Honestly, the guy in the article sounds a lot like me, in terms of how I work, but he also sounds a lot like my Dad back when I was a kid and he would have his desk of papers disorganized."

    Your desktop (in opposed to desk) is so disorganized you need to clean it up. You have documents scattered everywhere, folders all over the place, what a mess.

     

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    John Doe, Jun 9th, 2010 @ 4:51pm

    Journalism makes you dumb

    Reading newspapers is dumbing down America, not the internet or video games or social networking.

     

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    abc gum, Jun 9th, 2010 @ 6:23pm

    I think that a certain percentage of the world population was in the category "dumb" before the advent of the internet and futhermore, this percentage has probably decreased over the past twenty plus years.

    Nick Carr and the NYT are just trying to make money off those who are gullible.

     

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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Jun 9th, 2010 @ 10:24pm

    All this reading about the old farts in the US newspaper industry trying to demonize the intertubes is pretty funny. Right now our main newspaper is pretty much heading the whole internet revolution with its own social network to rival Facebook, an incredible online news network where you can pretty much read every single news (AND comment) and watch video interviews with everyone.

    They're hiring the highest amount of social media managers than any other company has ever done in this country.

     

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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jun 10th, 2010 @ 1:34am

    Technology Is Bad

    Don’t do technology, m’kay.

     

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    Peter Blaise Monahon (profile), Jun 10th, 2010 @ 2:52am

    The computer cannot be any smarter than the person sitting in front of it.

    Actually, this happens all the time -- people blaming technology for not living up to their dream expectations. It's all in the glossy advertisements: "... buy this and your life will change ..." Although that's nothing new, no one sues aftershave or cologne or perfume makers when they fail to "win" a date (or "win" on a date). But people think technology stuff is smarter then they are, and so they think it will magically compensate for their own lack of thinking. As a technical consultant, I have to address this daily: The computer cannot be any smarter than the person sitting in front of it.

     

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      TtfnJohn (profile), Jun 10th, 2010 @ 11:29am

      Re: The computer cannot be any smarter than the person sitting in front of it.

      Nor any less prone to "distraction".

      If the dad in the article couldn't run off every 10 minutes to check his email or whatever, if he didn't have 4 screens staring him in the face he'd find something else to "distract" with.

      (I only hope his attempts at love making don't take 10 minutes. Just imagine! ;-))

      Actually he sounds and comes off as someone who would invent things to do no matter what technology was around to enable it.

      He's become a human doing rather than a human being. And that don't take no internet or all its tubes and other mythical connections!

       

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    Chris Brand, Jun 10th, 2010 @ 12:25pm

    Makes perfect sense to me

    If he didn't use the internet, obviously he wouldn't have missed that email. Unless, of course, he'd need the internet to get email...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2010 @ 6:00pm

    to a point always some truth in everything, most people when the puter dies, cannot function in the office, they cant fill out forms, they cant process a claim etc.. so maybe it has brought down todays people, we cant work without the net or the puter, no one can use a pencil and paper anymore

     

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    bubha, Dec 12th, 2012 @ 10:31am

    why

    i love compurter i love hair and men feet big hairy feet

     

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