Hillis and Kelly on Information Overload


In recent Edge.org piece both Danny Hillis and Kevin Kelly weighed in on the Atlantic cover story that asked “Is Google making us stupid?”  Here are a couple excerpts…

 For instance as evidence that new technologies can make us stupid he offers this story about the German writer Nietzsche. Near the end of his life Nietzsche got so blind and old he could not write with a pen but learned to touch type (no sight needed) on a Malling-Hansen Writing Ball typewriter. (BTW, this  device is one of the coolest gizmos I’ve seen. Check out the video here. )

Under the sway of the machine, writes the German media scholar Friedrich A. Kittler, Nietzsche’s prose “changed from arguments to aphorisms, from thoughts to puns, from rhetoric to telegram style.” 

So was his change in style due to switching to a machine or was it because Nietzsche was ill and dying?  Kevin Kelly

We evolved in a world where our survival depended on an intimate knowledge of our surroundings. This is still true, but our surroundings have grown. We are now trying to comprehend the global village with minds that were designed to handle a patch of savanna and a close circle of friends. Our problem is not so much that we are stupider, but rather that the world is demanding that we become smarter. Forced to be broad, we sacrifice depth. We skim, we summarize, we skip the fine print and, all too often, we miss the fine point. We know we are drowning, but we do what we can to stay afloat.  – Danny Hillis

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