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We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

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Don't Fear the Internet: It's Not Stealing Your Attention, Memory, or Life

August 13, 2014, 5:00 AM
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One doesn't need to look for too long on, ahem, the Internet to learn that the Internet is stealing your attention, your memory, and your life. But this fear misunderstands how we have historically integrated technology into the fabric of society. Each wave of new technology has drawn criticism for changing cultural norms. The telephone was first considered a gossip machine used by housewives; the car, an absurd luxury that would only interest the super-wealthy. The rest, they say, is history.

It is true that using the Internet "rewires" the brain, but just about anything does. Neuroscientists now understand that the brain is a highly plastic organ, meaning it adjusts to and accommodates new incoming information. If we are afraid to change the way our brain functions, then the massive social efforts spent on teaching children to read (attending classes five days a week for many years) should also be suspect. In reality, the popularity of new technology demonstrates our ability to thrive under novel and different conditions.

Nor is technology turning everyone into a vain narcissist. In a series of experiments, communications scholar Keith Hampton obtained films taken in public spaces during the '70s and '80s. Their hypothesis that the use of public spaces had declined as a result of personal technology proved false. What's more, more people spend time in groups while in public than in past decades. Mere pieces of metal and plastic cannot suddenly remove individuals from their deep need of social interaction.

Read more at the Boston Review

Photo credit: Shutterstock

 

Don't Fear the Internet: It...

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