Is Google Making Us Stupid: The Surface Skim

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Before I actually read the “Is Google Making Us Stupid” article in detail and wrote this other blog, I had several conversations about it. Some of these conversations were last weekend, which I spent in the mountains with several friends. On our various drives to the slopes, intellectual debates abounded, with a liberal, libertarian, conservative and independent all offering viewpoints, three of whom were armed with iPhones ready to dig up any fact and one whom the other three were trying to convince having constant internet access made life so much better. Whether we wanted to know which states used capital punishment, which states outlawed radar detectors, what the new features were in the iPhone 3.0 operating system, or who the 12 contestants were on American Idol, we had the answer in a minute.

I couldn’t help but remember another drive, one of my favorite Breytspraak family moments, when I was chauffeuring my family on the Autobahn and my brother was very, very excited about our speed. While my brother surreptitiously videoed us, my overly educated family spent five minutes trying to figure out how to convert miles to kilometers to no avail (my defense is that I was driving too fast to concentrate on math). But what if we’d had Google at our fingertips (or mouth, via the iPhone voice app) then? We could have moved on to more interesting topics. Of course, we wouldn’t have had all the amusement in the years since watching it.

I’m of the strong opinion that Google can make us smarter, assuming we use it to its advantage. We don’t waste time debating or guessing facts that we can go dig up. Yes, there’s misinformation out on the Net, but less than you get while discussing something with a friend who can’t remember an exact detail. I think overall, it’s making us smarter.

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