Friday, December 17, 2010

Quotes: Nicholas Carr + Richard Holbrooke

"The constant distractedness that the Net encourages--the state of being, to borrow another phrase from Eliot's Four Quartets, "distracted from distraction by distraction"--is very different from the kind of temporary, purposeful diversion  of our mind that refreshes  our thinking when we're weighing a decision. The Net's cacophony of stimuli short-circuits both conscious and unconscious thought, preventing our minds from thinking either deeply or creatively. Our brains turn into simple signal-processing units, quickly shepherding information into consciousness and then back out again.
     "In a 2005 interview, Michael Mezernich [Emeritus professor of neuroscience at the University of California, San Francisco] ruminated on the Internet's power to cause not just modest alterations but fundamental changes in our mental makeup. Nothing that 'our brain is modified on a substantial scale, physically and functionally, each time we learn a new skill or develop a new ability,' he described the Net as the latest in a series of 'modern cultural specializations' that 'contemporary humans can spend millions of "practice" events at [and that] the average human a thousand years ago had absolutely no exposure to.' He concluded that our brains are massively remodeled by this exposure.'"--Nicholas Carr, from The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2010, pp. 119-120. (H/t and thanks to Lisa Moore)


Could the late Ambassador Richard Holbrooke (1941-2010) have put things more simply and candidly as his last words as he was being wheeled into surgery? Is there anything concerning the ongoing foreign policy disasters, warmaking, failed nation-building, and budget busting to fill the coffers of the military-industrial complex that this current president (and any future ones) need pay more attention to? Here's a suggestion: why don't each of us print out this statement, properly quoted and attributed, on a postcard (to save money) or a piece of paper, and send it to our Congresspeople? (We might even consider sending one at least once a week for the month of January, as a wakeup call to them. Perhaps I'll organize this on the other blog, and let's see how this goes...)

""You've got to stop this war in Afghanistan." - Richard Holbrooke

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