As I challenge you to read this entire post, without skimming, I will be discussing the reasons why you will not be able to do it. Ready to take on this challenge?
In a world where we have access to information at our fingertips, some argue that this is not making us any smarter. In fact, Nicholas Carr, in his article Is Google Making Us Stupid? discusses how the evolution of the technology and being able to have instant gratification has changed the way in which we learn and think.
Carr discuss how he has noticed that he can no longer dive deep into a novel or long news article without being distracted or bored after the first two paragraphs. Is this how you feel now? You can stop if you want–but then you will be defeated by electracy.
What is electracy you ask?
The term electracy is used by Gregory Ulmer in his article Introduction: Electracy to describe the new way we process information due to the digital age in which we live. He describes electracy as an “apparatus” to digital media, that is “partly technological [and] partly institutional.”
Ulmer describes how the Internet is our new classroom, our new Academy, and that we are able to gain more and more information from it then ever before. He even provides a chart as shown below that describes how this new thought and learning process of electracy links to and has evolved from orality and literacy.
But is this new way of processing information ultimately making us dumber?
Do you feel yourself struggling to read this word for word?
Don’t you just want to skip ahead to the end and see my closing remarks?
Or what about that email that just popped up? Click it. I dare you.
This is the concern that Carr discusses in his article. While Ulmer finds electracy as a new science that should be taught in the classroom along with math and literature, Carr believes that this is what is causing our diminishing ability to finish a book. We want information at the click of a button; we no longer want to read 400 pages to find out if Bella chose Edward or Jacob.
This phenomenon of instant gratification is found everywhere. I’m sure many of you have heard of the daily email newsletter, The Skimm? Even the name tells you what it does. On the website it even states, “We do the reading for you and break down the latest news and information with fresh editorial content.” But the tagline sums it up, “We read. You Skimm.”
Are you still with me? This is what technology has done. While Ulmer’s idea of electracy seems to be ever so true, I have to agree with Carr about trying to avoid this way of learning. It is already taking over as we know it, but how far is it going to go?
Mentioned in Carr’s article is Google’s aim to develop an artificial intelligence on a large scale. What would this do? Allow us to not have to think on our own anymore. As relieving as that might sound at first, take a second and think about how unsettling that really is.
As hard as it was for you to keep up with me, don’t you feel more accomplished? Maybe even a tad smarter? We are able to accomplish thinking deeply and reading for hours–we have been able to for a while, and always will be…for now at least.
But we know that it is hard to catch up to what the Internet can do, and Carr even says, “the human brain is just an outdated computer that needs a faster processor and a bigger hard drive.”
Electracy and its skill set is needed in today’s world, but don’t forget about orality and literacy.
After reading this, do you agree that it was a struggle to do so? You could have just relied on Google to tell you what electracy was or listened to a quick video on the future of learning. But instead, you read this.
You defeated electracy…for now.