Sarah Joseph - Manifesto

1. We should continue to read books in print forms, instead of electronic forms.

As Carr discusses in chapter 6 of “The Shallows, “ printed books give us many benefits that electronic copies take away. Because electronic copies can be updated at any time, both readers and writers loose their sense of closure when finishing a book. This loss, in turn, may lead to a change in the way we think about books. As Carr says, “the pressure to achieve perfection will diminish along with the artistic rigor that the pressure imposed” (107).

I adopted this principle because I believe that books should be static. Because books remain unchanging, they are like stories themselves. Each copy has a story behind it of how it was printed and bound and then shipped to either a store or customer. Because of the physical aspect someone had to decide on what materials were best suited to make the book. These materials help tell the reader something about the book. After the book is bought and read, its story is only strengthened. How the reader treats his or her book tells a story about the reader’s relationship with the book. Without printing physical paper copies of books, we loose whole other stories that are never published.

As English majors, we all most likely fell in love with books at an early age. By switching to electronic copies, we drastically change the way the next generation will experience reading. Instead of carrying around a worn-out copy of their favorite book, this newer generation will instead be carrying around a computer.

Carr, Nicholas. The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2010.

2. Users should continue to use digital cameras to record important aspects of life.

Ever since the camera was invented, people have used this technology to record pictures of important people, places, or moments. Before digital cameras were invented, users had to pay for each individual picture taken. This resulted in them taking pictures only on special occasions. These film pictures were used as a way to remind the viewers of a moment or a day. These pictures stimulated their memory to remember beyond the picture.

Ever since digital cameras were invented and became affordable, our use of cameras and pictures has changed. Because pictures don’t cost anything to take and view, we take many more pictures then we ever used to. As Kelley observes in “What Technology Wants,” this new technology leads to “a sense that there is no significance outside of the camera view” (Kelley 299). Because we have the capability of recording so many moments, and because these moments are free and simple to view over and over again, we have started to depend on the recordings to aid our memory. As Carr observes in Chapter 9 of “The Shallows,” we have started to “outsource” (Carr 191) our memory to other technology. This outsourcing leads to a greater dependence on technology. We literally cannot remember an event or a moment if we do not have photographic proof showing the scene.

Because we are now dependent on cameras and the records of past moments they provide, we should continue to take pictures to help us remember. By understanding how pictures impact our memory, we can use the information to ensure that we “remember,” or record important moments.

Carr, Nicholas. The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2010.

Kelly, Kevin. What Technology Wants. New York: Penguin Group, 2010.

3. Users ought to be wary of giving so much information to Google.

Google, one of the biggest, and most powerful sites on the Internet, is not just a search engine. It has branched out to mapping, emailing, scheduling, and collaborating, just to name a few. While the new technologies and resources that Google provides are beneficial and what the users want, we should be aware of just how much information we are giving one company. Not only can Google keep records of everything that occurs on its servers, it is trying to digitize all books (Carr 161). As Carr points out, although Google’s programs seem harmless now, “what will happen if its current leaders sell the company or retire?” or “what will happen if Google favors profitability over access” (164)? Because we have given the company so much information, there is no telling what the company may do with it in the future. If Google possesses every book ever written, photographic maps of the whole globe, information on what all Internet users are searching for and looking at, plus all of the personal information transmitted through emails, shared documents, and shared calendars, then it will be a very powerful and potentially dangerous company.

I am not saying that we should not use Google products. We should simply be aware of how much information Google has, and just how powerful the company really is. By following this principle, users can ensure that they don’t give Google any information they don’t want to share.

Carr, Nicholas. The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2010.

4. Users ought to try taking a break from the Internet.

As the Internet has developed and gained momentum, we have started using it more and more for a variety of uses such as research, banking, and socializing. We use the Internet because it makes people and resources more accessible and manageable. Some of these resources, such as facebook, are more distracting than we sometimes realize. Not only can people literally spend hours a day on this site, sometimes, they don’t even realize they have accessed the site. In “The Shallows,” Carr discusses how this increased use of the Internet not only changes the way we spend our time, but also changes our brains’ makeup at the most basic level of neural circuitry (121). Because the Internet always has so much going on at once, it teaches users to be good multi-taskers, which also means that they give up being able to focus deeply on one task for an extended period of time.

By taking a break from the virtual world for just a short time, users can reconnect with the physical world, and change their brain’s neural circuitry back to the way it was before computers. This means that the users might start to be able to concentrate on one task easier, and may even reevaluate some of their priorities such as reading a book over checking their facebook wall. When writing his book, Carr did this experiment himself. He forced himself to stop using the Internet, and although it was difficult at first, he realized that after a while, his “cravings” for the Internet went away, and he could focus all of his attention on his book (199). By trying this experiment, users might surprise themselves with the results, and realize that although staying connect all of the time seems important now, they may feel differently after disconnecting for awhile.

Carr, Nicholas. The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2010.

5. Users should test new technology before committing to it.

Not all technology is good or beneficial, but every time a cool new gadget comes out, users jump at the chance to be the first person to start using the new technology. These users accept the technology before they ever try it out. As Kelley says in “What Technology Wants,” these users tend to accept technology “ ‘on faith’ based on what the media says, with no testing at all” (254). The Amish on the other hand take new technology very seriously, and don’t adopt anything before they have tested it. They make sure that the technology is beneficial to them, and doesn’t distract from the way they want to live their lives (254). If they find that the technology does not serve their purposes, they reject it.

The Amish standards and testing are very strict, stricter than any nonreligious group would want to follow. However, their idea of testing a new technology before adopting it has its merits. Even though companies test their technologies before releasing them to the public, the public can give themselves a trial period for testing out a new gadget before investing themselves too deeply, in order to decide whether the new technology really adds any value to their lives.

Kelly, Kevin. What Technology Wants. New York: Penguin Group, 2010.

6. If groups of users want to use social media to collaborate for a cause, they should be encouraged.

In Chapter 2 of “Cognitive Surplus,” Clay Shirky cites examples of causes that were brought about by groups collaborating on social media sites. These groups were made up of unlikely people, but because of the Internet, these groups were able work among themselves to achieve their desired goals. For example, in Korea, in 2003 protests broke out over the news that Korea was going to let U.S. beef back in the market. These protests were set up by the unlikely group of teenage girls, who happened to meet on a band’s website. This website was used to organize the protests, and in the end effect the government’s decision about U.S. beef (32-36). As Shirky says,” our social media tools aren’t an alternative to real life, they are a part of it” (37). Because of these tools, these groups can affect real change in the world around them.

Adopting this principle encourages people to work for causes they believe in. It shows that even unlikely groups of people can make a difference if they have a place to collaborate. By using this technology, ordinary people make their voices heard in ways that did not exist just a few years ago. Because governments know that citizens have the power to collaborate over the Internet, they people can hold the governments accountable in a much more direct way than they ever have been before.

Shirky, Clay. Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age. New York: Penguin P, 2010.