Question Forum 2

1. As mentioned in the reading, people used to tone out everything in order to read. Do you think we still do that or do we use these distractions to help with our reading?

2. Like with the letter press, mentioned in Chapter 4, people used to be wary/afraid of new technology. Today are we still afraid of technology we don't understand? Why or why not?

3. According to a 2006 survey, mentioned in Chapter 5, 42% of avid TV users are also the most intensive users of the Internet. Do you think there is a correlation between Internet use and TV use? What is your personal experience with this?

4. How have technological mediums (TV, Computer, Music players, Etc. ) changed over your lifetime? How do you see them changing in the future?


Question 4

I think that most technological mediums have changed over my lifetime. Obviously, people are coming up with newer ideas for technology everyday. The goal is to be more efficient, easier to use, cooler, more fun, etc. We have moved from video tapes, to DVDs, to blue-ray DVDs, to watching things on the internet, or even streaming video through gaming devices. We can even watch videos on our computers, or recently, our cell phones. I know that I can stream Netflix, with an internet connection, through my ipod touch. I think they will continue to make video or television at our fingertips, literally. I am sure the iphone and droid cell phones are available to stream video. The same goes for music. I remember having cassette tapes, although I was very young. We had to have the patience to rewind things (which we also had to do with video tapes) instead of just jumping from track to track. Now we have the capabilities to make our own music with computers, upload that music to a website and sell it without leaving our couch. We have the ability to rip files and steal music as well, without walking into a store and getting caught redhanded. Everything is becoming more "convenient" and in turn is readily available. Computers have changed as well, and while we still use them for everything, as we mentioned in class, they are becoming more obsolete with the use of smart phones. You can check your email, type a document, surf the internet and listen to music, all from your cell phone. I think technology will continue to move forward, but in an all inclusive type device. We will be able to video chat, type a document, lock our cars, set our home alarms, answer emails, buy groceries and work all from one central device.

Megan Forbes


Question 2

People are often wary of new technology. I think this is directly related to the fact that technological advancements aren’t understood by the masses. It is nearly impossible for someone without an educational background in engineering, computer science, or other related fields to completely understand how many technologies operate, and for that reason, people tend to question the legitimacy, necessity, and safety of technological advances. I wouldn’t necessarily argue that the majority of people are “afraid” of technology we don’t understand, but there is certainly a level of skepticism involved when many new technologies are introduced; however, there are also plenty of technologies that most people do not understand but are not at all afraid of. Most people will drive a car without knowing exactly how the engine operates or turn on a light switch without fully understanding the inner wirings. For that reason, I’d answer by saying no, we aren’t still afraid of technology we don’t understand, but new technology definitely arouses some suspicions for people.

Jennifer Romeo


Question 1

I personally still need quiet to fully understand what I read. I'm pretty sure others continue to share the same view; for example, we still have "quiet areas" in libraries so that scholars can focus on what they read or write.

We may have more distractions today—I know I'm guilty of forgetting why I turned on my laptop. I start automatically checking certain sites, actions ingrained in me so that I do them without thinking; the way we might drive somewhere half-asleep before we realize we meant to take a different route. But distractions always exist in our world, and just because they increase doesn't mean we need to let them damage our reading.

In a way, it's like Carr says: we can retrain our brains if need be. A number of us can still focus, zone out, and "lose oneself in the pages" (63). I've heard that we need either complete silence or complete noise to focus, but that implies something about human nature, not about technology. Silence with intermittent sounds distracts us. And classical music doesn't steal our attention from reading, but lyrics may, because we hear words that collide with the words from our visual senses. I still can't handle that; my brain doesn’t divide up into compartments like that.

What I find interesting, though, is that we originally needed "fast-paced, reflexive shifts in focus" to survive, and that reading “was to practice an unnatural process of thought" (64). That begs the question, what do we really lose then? We lose the contemplative "deep thought" that we learned from "deep reading," according to Carr? His believes the book reformed our minds as “contemplative, reflective, and imaginative” (75), and I could easily agree. What I don’t understand is what he fears so much about the Internet; why can’t we continue to contemplate, reflect, and imagine, when we encounter such amazing reality as the Internet? More ideas abound on screen, and while it seems more fast-paced than a book, I think it adds more to our brains than detracts, because I know we still have the ability to engross ourselves in books. That means the Internet simply gives me another skill set. It doesn’t take one away.

Shannon Yen


Question 1

I think that today, it is much harder to tune out everything. Our attention span is considerably shorter because we are used to having almost instantaneous access to information via the Internet. A book is a slower means of acquiring information. It also requires more to concentrate and understand a book because the text of a book is typically longer and more detailed than text found on a website. In addition to this Internet-born expectation that information must be obtained quickly, we are constantly bombarded by distractions. On page 91, Carr outlines all the devices that constantly beckon us away from deep moments of concentration. Examples he mentions include text messaging, email, Facebook, and Twitter.

It is not surprising that the majority of society now has difficulty completing immersing themselves in the pages of a book, and not only because it is a slower-paced technology and requires more effort. On page 64, when describing the early age of print, Carr writes that the act of reading a book is not a behavior natural to human beings. He writes, “To read a book was an unnatural process of thought, one that demanded sustained, unbroken attention to a single, static object.” This helps to explain why many people are turning to faster forms of media, chiefly the internet, to obtain information. Learning to slow down and focus one’s attention requires training and discipline. Many people are beginning to think that this training is not necessary since the Internet provides all the information in a fast, easily accessible format.

Question 3

I think that there is a correlation between Internet and TV use. I believe that this is because it takes less effort to live our lives in front of screens than it does to actually engage in the world. One question I had about the weekly Internet-use figures listed on page 86, was whether the number of hours spent online included time spent online for work. I think that the number of hours I spend online would be significantly lower if I were not required to use the Internet for schoolwork. However, if you only consider leisure time, I do view a correlation between TV and the Internet. They are both forms of entertainment that require minimal effort and engagement. Just as you can spend hours in front of the TV, you can also spend hours wandering aimlessly through cyberspace. I’ve noticed that even the hyperlinks on Wikipedia can be addictive and burn up hours of time because once I learn one fact, I become curious about something else and so on. I’ve noticed that my state of mind during this process is similar to the semi-conscious state I’m in after I watch TV for hours. Usually, once I walk away from the technology, I forget everything that I “learned”.

Emily Whitesell


Question 1
Every person reads differently. Some people can read with six other media going, while others can’t focus unless they’re in complete silence. Younger generations may have a higher tolerance for distractions while reading just because they’re more accustomed to splitting their attention. Generations who grew up without easy access to television, stereos, computers, etc. should have a more difficult time concentrating when those media are on.
Generational differences could be the main difference between people who need silence to read and people who need distractions to concentrate, but I think it goes even further than that. I think the material we read and how we read that material has everything to do with whether or not we want distractions while we read. When I read textbooks, I’m not really reading. I’m skimming. I can skim with music blaring, computer surfing, and the tv tuned to the news. Granted, that means I’m not really taking in much information, but I get the gist of it. But if I’m reading the newspaper-or something that I am deliberately trying to absorb, then I don’t like having distractions. I like a quiet environment because it allows me to concentrate harder on the articles that I really want to understand. Of course if the material I’m reading is engrossing, then I couldn’t care less what’s going on around me-I can’t hear it anyway, because I’m in the story.
Carr sites that “the natural state of the human brain, like that of the brains of most of our relatives in the animal kingdom, is one of distractedness,” so the ability to sit in silence and concentrate is a learned skill (63). Perhaps the only difference between the generations is that the older generation learned how to concentrate and think more deeply when reading, and younger generations never did. In other words, some people know how to read in silence and some just haven’t learned how yet.

Katelyn McDaniel


*Question 2*

I believe my generation does not fear new technology. On the contrary, we embrace it. I think every generation goes through a technological breakthrough. What is different for my generation is the pace at which things seem to be changing.
Looking back at history, you can use the telephone as an example. It was connected from its beginning by copper wire from each house through a switchbox to another house. There were small improvements as far as how the system worked, but generally there was no rapid change in the technology for decades. In comparison with my generation, we started with a landline at home which evolved to a cell phone to take calls, which now has the ability to download data at the push of a button. For someone who grew up with the copper wire landline, this rapid change can be intimidating because of the fact that you have to learn how to use it.
I think if you are growing up at the time of new technology’s introduction, you are more accepting of it. If you are used to doing something, such as using a landline, it may be hard to switch to something new. I don’t believe it is fear of the new technology as much as it is a level of comfort with something you are used to and know how to operate.
Another aspect of this discussion has to do with whether or not one finds the new technology appealing or desirous. I can use my parents as an example. When they were my age, they collected records. My dad still has several boxes in the garage that are filled with LP albums. He also has a fair collection of cassette tapes. However, he does not have many CDs. I asked him about this and he said when the CDs came around, he was at an age where he wasn’t that much into music and didn’t want to replace all his old albums with the newer CDs of the same cassettes or LPs. So he did not embrace the new technology. He was just not in the market for what was being offered at the time. He wasn’t afraid of it. It just did not meet his needs. However, with the introduction of digital downloads, my father now has a collection of oldies and contemporary music that rivals my own collection. Why? It is because it is easy to locate and easy to download. He can find specific songs instead of buying a whole CD or album. He can mix his tracks and apparently he has more time to do this or it takes less time to acquire it. The bottomline is that the current state of the music industry meets my father’s needs where it didn’t several years ago because of the available technology then compared to the way technology is today. If we had not advanced past the CD stage, my father would probably have some more CDs in his collection but nowhere near the amount of music he currently has from digital downloads.
Since my generation, and even my parents’ generation, has lived through a period of rapid technological change, I believe we expect more of it. Therefore, we won’t be afraid of it. If technology only changed once in a generation, it would be sort of accepted as “that is just the way it is” for most people. But, when “the way it is“ is rapid technological change, people tend to go with it. There is no status quo. If it meets their needs, they will embrace it. If the new technology doesn’t click with people, it will go away or be replaced by something that will resonate with people.
There is one group of people that fears new technology. The technology that improves communications is feared by leaders and governments that try to control their people. You can see this today in Egypt. As soon as there was unrest, the government shut down the internet access. Granted, bad things can be communicated via the internet, but to shut down everyone’s access shows a fear of the people you are governing. I think these are the people today who fear the new technology just as when the printing press was created. The people in power want to control it because it offers a way for the general population to communicate among themselves to seek the truth and not have to work through a system that is controlled by the governments.

Brittany Hansen


Question 3:

As I sit responding to this question, I have my TV on in the background. It’s muted and I’m not even paying attention to what’s on the screen; it’s just on. It stays like this most times I’m in my room or working on my computer. For me, the habit of having a TV constantly turned on, began as a way for me to create a little more background noise when I was living alone for a summer. At this point it, it’s simply routine (maybe leaning towards classical conditioning?) for me to walk into a room and flip the TV on, and this usually coincides with my opening my laptop and checking email, turning on iTunes, getting on the internet etc. So in theory, yes I believe there is a correlation between Internet and TV use.

I have a sneaking suspicion that my two-screen system will soon be out of date and a thing of the past. Most recently, I have been hearing about and seeing commercials for this idea of your computer and Internet on your TV. That’s right, now your TV that streams movie channels, ESPN, The Today Show, etc., is adding to itself Facebook, Gmail, “apps”, you name it. Apple has already released “AppleTV” (http://www.apple.com/appletv) which boasts its capabilities of streaming movies, TV, music, photos, and more through your TV screen simply with the purchase of a $99.00 small, black box and a single cable. Google has also entered this world of duality with their very own version, originally named “Google TV” (http://www.google.com/tv/). Google TV essentially is an open software platform. It’s aim is to turn your TV into the most accessible screen in your home—maybe even your world. One more screen enters the picture with the use of the Apple/Google TV and that’s your smart phone (must be iPhone or Android though—Blackberry is gettin’ kicked to the curb!) An app will have the capabilities to control your TV and computer, with the flick of the screen and even voice commands.

To relate this to Carr’s text, he mentions on page 84 the evolution of images that first occurred with Gutenberg’s printing press and eventually transitioning to the World Wide Web. Similarly, images that were once small, blurry, and tiny online, have now reached such a high quality; introduce these images to a high definition 40+ inch flat screen and we all have something beautiful to look forward to. Time only separates the evolution of the TV screen and 24-hour access to online world of the Internet.

Rachel E. Blackwell


Question 3

I think that the results of the 2006 survey that Carr cites are probably correct and that there probably is a lot of overlap between frequent TV watchers and frequent Internet users. Both activities can be pretty mindless sources of entertainment, which is why I think they appeal to many of the same people. Though not all TV programs or Internet content is mindless, it is my opinion that many of the people who spend most of their time either on the Internet or watching TV are probably using these technologies for the purpose of easily entertaining themselves. I think this is largely a matter of convenience. Many people do not want to put effort into entertaining themselves, so they instead seek easy entertainment in shows like Jersey Shore, YouTube videos, or online games. Those looking for this sort of entertainment can find it in abundance on TV and online, which is possibly a reason for overlap between avid TV and Internet users.

On pages 86 and 87, Carr lists the average amounts of time people spend online and watching TV. According to the average for my age group, my Internet use falls within the norm at about 20 hours per week. However, I typically do not watch any TV, and if I do, it’s less than an hour per week, so I am quite far from the average. One factor that might affect this is that I did not grow up having cable, so I watched very little TV when I was a kid. Now I don’t really have a desire to watch TV, and I can’t help but think that much of what’s on is pointless. In my case, there is no correlation between my Internet and TV use, though I think my experiences might make me an exception. I’m not sure if 20 hours per week of being on the Internet would classify me as an “avid” user or not, but I do know that my Internet use and TV use are not related, because my TV watching has remained the same, while my Internet use has increased.

Amy Gay


Question 2

People have always been afraid of change. As discussed in the book, when technology such as books and printing presses were invented, people were concerned about how the new technology would affect their way of life. They were unfamiliar with the technology of writing, and were therefore wary of how it would change them. When the printing press came out, people thought the new books were sent from the devil. Because they didn’t understand how the books were created, they didn’t trust them.

Although a lot has changed since the time of the first printed books, many people today are still scared of new technology. Today, technology is constantly changing and we are used to this. However, because it is changing so fast, many people are scared of the future. We have seen how quickly we have come to depend on technology such as computers and cell phones, that only twenty years ago were not widely used. Because new technology is being invented at an exponential rate, it is impossible to know what life will look like in fifty years. Many people find this idea scary because, unlike past generations who may have thought their traditions and ways of life would always be the same, we know that technology will continue to change and effect the way we live.

Many other people are not scared of new technology. They get excited whenever they hear of a new gadget or machine that sounds as though it will either make their lives easier or make their lives more enjoyable. These people also know that our future will be filled with currently undreamed of technology, but instead of fearing this idea, they are excited. They believe that all of these new inventions make their lives easier and more enjoyable, and can’t wait to see how these aspects of their lives can be improved more using even newer technology.

Generally speaking, I think most people are both excited and scared. The unknown is a scary concept, but with such advancements of technology in the last few years, many people think that the future, while unknown, looks promising.

Sarah Joseph


Question 1

I think whether people ignore everything else going around them varies person to person, as does how much they ignore. I think it also depends on what kind of distraction is happening. When I walk through the library, I usually see at least a few people reading books. If I’m just walking nearby them and not really in their immediate area, not many will look up. If I sit down at the table or desk their at, they usually do look up briefly. I’m closer to them now, I’m practically interacting with them—especially if I’m at a table, where everything is open and we at least have to acknowledge that we know someone else is at the same table.

In my personal experience, I know only two people who really focus on a book to the exclusion of everything else: my mom and I. She can tune everything else out to the point of not responding if you ask her a question, which amuses and annoys the rest of us. I remember a time when I didn’t tune everything out, but as I got more and more interested in reading, I fell deeper and deeper into the text rather than the world around me. Though Nicholas Carr values being able to read like this, it is a problem, at least for me. I had no trouble ignoring distractions no matter where I was. At home, this wasn’t a big deal. At school, when we read for a while and then had to pay attention to the teacher without…to be fair, I had no trouble noticing if everyone was getting up and changing classrooms, which we did on certain days. It was only the days that class began with our teacher telling us to put the books away and moving right into the lesson that I had trouble.

I learned to be a little more aware of what was going on around me as I got older. Now, I can focus on what I’m reading, but at least know if someone is trying to tell me something and might respond. Mom’s still oblivious most of the time. The ability to focus on what is going on outside a book isn't new with our generation. I couldn't say if tuning out everything but what someone is reading is becoming rarer over time.

Terri Munns


Question 4

The most obvious way that technology mediums have changed over my lifetime is in size. Computers have gone from occupying entire rooms to fitting in a pocket. But technology has also advanced in other ways, such as speed, clarity, and compatibility. It amazes me how spoiled we have become in regard to internet speed. I remember having AOL and waiting minutes for the dial-up to connect. Now I get annoyed if a webpage takes longer than a few seconds to load. I also think of the leaps in technology in terms of high definition monitors and TVs, making the virtual world drastically more realistic. I think this increase in clarity has had a resounding effect on our reliance of digital technology. Consider the black and white TV: at a certain point, it was difficult to fully immerse yourself in that world because it was a far cry from the world outside your window. But with the HD screens that have become so commonplace, it becomes easy to almost believe you’re at the football game when you can see every mud stain and blade of grass. The advent of this incredibly realistic virtual world makes it even easier to lose yourself in it which is responsible for the hours and hours which some people spend glued to their computers and TVs. Compatibility has also had a massive effect on our overall use in technology; your phone hooks up to your computer which hooks up to your TV. This has made using only one of these technologies much more difficult because they rely on each other and make each other more (hopefully) efficient. Of course, to some degree, they have begun taking on each others’ features to the point where maybe all three devices will be combined into one. The phone has already overtaken the personal computer, unless you need something crazy like a full keyboard. All of these issues, size, clarity, and compatibility, are interrelated as advances in one area often correlate with advances across the board. Although it may sometimes be difficult for us to notice as we are constantly surrounded by it, technological mediums have changed leaps and bounds during our lifetime.

Ted Brasfield

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Question 1

I do not like to read with any distractions, but I have adapted to reading with distractions since being in college. When I was in high school it was so much easier to retreat somewhere quiet, but since living in a dorm freshman year and then having roommates every year after that, it becomes extremely difficult to find somewhere quiet. Because of this I have learned to read while my roommate is talking on the phone, has the TV/music on, etc. Though I do not prefer to read with these distractions, it is hard to avoid them because we and/or the people around us are always plugged in.

I do not think that we still tune out everything in order to read because there are so many distractions now a day that we have gotten used to them and adapted. I personally cannot read with music or the TV on, but everyone that I know can not only read with distractions, but also prefer to read with distractions. I think because we are so used to always being plugged into something, reading with these distractions has become normal to us because no matter what we are doing we are used to being plugged in. Not being plugged in seems strange to us, even if we are reading.

Laura Nolan

1. People study and read based on their individual needs. Some days, I can only read with complete silence. Some days, I have to read around people; for example, at the library or in a coffee shop. Something about being around people but not being in conversation with them helps me focus. It depends on the day and on the person. I will say that it seems that being “plugged in” helps. Most people seem to study with music in the background, either entirely instrumental or with lyrics. People who do not study or read with music seem to get the same amount of work done as people who read while being
“plugged in.”
The distractions sometime help with studying and reading. I get into a “flow” as I start to do work, and then I realize it has been hours and I marvel about how much work I got done. However, I enjoy studying for an hour in one place, then walking to my next study spot. The fresh air and bit of physical activity keeps me focused. Distractions like being mobile, seeing people you know and having short conversations, or getting up to change the music help keep me concentrated. These distractions do not totally disrupt my “flow,” but I get a little break in between projects and reading.
When I am working on something very heavy and involved, a project or a research paper, I need less distraction to get work done. Normally I get in bed with coffee and my laptop and do not come out for hours because of the natural “flow” I’ve gotten in.
To summarize, we mostly seem to use distractions because it helps give us breaths of fresh air in our reading. We do not like losing ourselves in our books anymore because we seem to need to be aware of everything around us. When reading something demanding or consuming, we seem to need less distraction because of how much more attention the work seems to require.
2. New technology seems so overwhelming to me. It’s expensive and requires prior knowledge on the product, company, and use or function of the product. Those who like to be connected or consistently “plugged in” are not afraid of technology they do not understand. Mostly, they seem to see it as an opportunity to learn more about a company, the product, or themselves and others. They utilize new technology to connect with others in different ways, to understand a new kind of; for example, brains and fingers comprehend a phone keypad and a keyboard, but now companies make phones with a keyboard.
Many people seem to use new, profound technology as a means to learn more and explore more about being “plugged in” and connected, while others seem to be wary of new technology because of unfamiliarity or being uncomfortable with the idea.
3. I do not have a television, but I watch television at the gym, at other people’s house, and on the internet. Even though I do not have a television in my apartment, I probably watch about five hours a week. Television is everywhere; it’s even in bars. Knowing current events and pop culture comes from watching lots of television and it seems to also signify your cultural knowledge. Not knowing much about famous people or what’s going on in Egypt implies social ignorance because you should want to know these topics, and you should have an opinion about it. I have noticed that people do not often have opinions about these events and issues, but can quote a stream of news anchors and interviewees on what they think about an issue.
Though I do not have a television, I am on the internet for hours a day. Professors recommend students bring their laptops to class, I have to work on a website for my magazine, I am doing my job search for after May through the internet, and if I am not calling or texting with someone, I am e-mailing them.
There is a correlation between internet and television use because the two represent cultural ideals of being connected and “plugged in.” We use them both to stay in touch with the world, to stay on top of current events and issues, and to stay above the masses with our cultural knowledge and perceptions. It is possible to never watch television and use solely the internet to stay connected, but with television networks using their websites to upload full episodes, sites like Hulu and NetFlix, and the pervasiveness of television in our world, there is no way you can avoid being “connected” as such.
4. At first it was “the bigger, the better.” The bigger television screen you had, the better you could watch your crap (oops) and the bigger your laptop screen, the better you could see your e-mail. Now the fad appears to be flat screen television and laptops so thin they can fall through cracks in the floor. This seems to be the new trend because companies want to amaze you with how much memory and capacity can be fit into something so trim and small. Music devices shifted from cassette tapes to less bulky CD players and stereos to an entire nation of Apple products: the iPod, the iHome to play your iPod, and the iRoad to play your iPod while in the car.
In the future, everything technological will probably only be online. The most important thing to have will be the computer. Nowadays, you can check your voicemail and listen to the music on the computer. Cameras seem obsolete; phones will be transferred to entirely online, as will music devices and television. Technology will be entirely, completely computer based.

Rosalie Wind


Question 2:

I think that technology is always welcomed into society with a grain of salt. While there is typically a large group of techies excited for the opportunities that new technology brings, there is an equally large group that is hesitant to trust the new technology. I think that a factor that inhibits users from jumping on the band wagon immediately is usually the high cost of developing modern technology. For many consumers, the high price point of new “smart” technology is not worth the sacrifice. This is the main reason why so many cell phone customers have not switched to smart phones. Not only are the phones themselves expensive, but the data plans that they require are also expensive – continuing their expense long beyond the initial purchase. This fearful trend of new technological development may be disappearing with the newest generations. Because children today are so reliant on technology at such an early age, they are more likely to be less resistant when new gizmoes are introduced.

Carey Callaghan Bald