Much Information, but No Context: The Twitter Trap

Enough talk about women and work this week, let’s talk about brains. Just joking. I am a woman, after all. So: a recent article by Bill Keller reminded me that there can never be too many articles worrying about what the new digital media are doing to our brains and behaviours.

Paul Klee: Twittering machine (seen here: http://nellyo.wordpress.com/2011/05/22/twittering-machine/)

Paul Klee: Twittering machine (seen here: http://nellyo.wordpress.com/2011/05/22/twittering-machine/)

As someone who belongs to that bizarre generation born just before the generation of young cyborgs, I doubt that my own brain will ever adapt to the splintered attention span increasingly required by the constant use of computers.  Worse still, I am between both worlds: no longer able to sustain concentration for long enough to write even this short, unacademic paragraph without doing fifteen other things at the same time; yet not agile enough to manage this without succumbing to that contested condition aptly named `internet addiction’, or without bearing the burden of that constant low-level stress that has not even been theorised and understood yet (but which I know exists, because my health has seen its consequences). I like reading articles such as this one. They may contain more moral panic than sociological analysis, but they fulfil an important psychological purpose: I am not alone in being baffled by what `outsourcing our brains to the cloud’ has done to me.


Draconus: an Atari computer game from 1988, long before the age of Twitter. (source of image: Atariage.com)

Draconus: an Atari computer game from 1988, long before the age of Twitter. Atari did manufacture computers. Mine had the whooping RAM of 64 KB. The games came on audio cassettes and took 25 min to load (source of image: Atariage.com)

Click here to read the article by Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times.


Categories: The Idle Ethnographer

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