A sobering and insightful article by Nicholas Carr in the latest issue of Wired on the Web as “an interruption system”. The incessant interruptions of the Web which we receive and allow (and even crave) effect our long-term mental growth and strength, as well as our general ability to focus on something.

We crave the new even when we know it’s trivial.

And so we ask the Internet to keep interrupting us in ever more varied ways. We willingly accept the loss of concentration and focus, the fragmentation of our attention, and the thinning of our thoughts in return for the wealth of compelling, or at least diverting, information we receive. We rarely stop to think that it might actually make more sense just to tune it all out.

And here, citing research by Patricia Greenfield:

She concluded that “every medium develops some cognitive skills at the expense of others.” Our growing use of the Net and other screen-based technologies, she wrote, has led to the “widespread and sophisticated development of visual-spatial skills.” But those gains go hand in hand with a weakening of our capacity for the kind of “deep processing” that underpins “mindful knowledge acquisition, inductive analysis, critical thinking, imagination, and reflection.”

The Web can be a place of growing in knowledge, creativity, and inspiration, but by the nature of our interaction with it we actually diminish our ability to learn, create, and be inspired.

(Via Chris.)

The Web Shatters Focus, Rewires Brains