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Nicholas Carr may be asking if Google is making us stupid, but I’m pretty sure that technologies don’t make us stupid. Why? Because they can’t make us smarter or better.

That is: a technology might make me better at something, or it might make me worse (especially if I’m missing it). But it can’t inherently confer “stupidity” or “intelligence” on me.

Case in point: Kris Krug and a couple of his writing partners just published Killer Photos with Your iPhone, and – happy coincidence – I also just came across Gizmodo‘s 395 Photos That Prove Cellphones Make Great Cameras, …which is total wow-eye-candy material.

This (to my mind) raises the question: If I get an iPhone, will I be able to take the kind of “wow” photos that Kris or the  Gizmodo site talk about? That’s sort of the flip side of thinking that the technology will make me stupid – it’ll make me smart, right? …Oh, ok, didn’t think so… I’ll still be a pedestrian photographer (unless I apply myself and really work it!)…

The technology has less power than we think. It’s still up to users.


  1. What the “Google” and the Internet provides is the exposure to things that you may not thought about. It’s all about thinking not stupid or smart. Now that you have had that exposure, you may not create works of art with your camera phone but you might just take that extra second to think about changes to making a better image.

    Comment by jr — July 11, 2010 #

  2. I think that Nick Carr is on to something. I am not sure it is making us smarter or dumber but it certainly making us different. I see this a lot in the generation that is just finishing Uni now. If you ask them a recall question they often are not able to produce an answer, but conversely they can find the answer to almost anything in a split second. Thus in some ways the internet is becoming like that external hard drive we all need now and it allows our brain to focus on current in the moment events rather than long term storage. Dumber? I am not sure, but it is different.

    Comment by Thomas Guerrero — July 11, 2010 #

  3. A friend of mine mentioned a quote from someone about cellphones as cameras, and it was pretty esoteric but incredibly practical. “The best camera you have is the one that you always have with you.” This means that the big clunky SLR that you’re afraid to take out with you because you’ll have to babysit will not find itself in as many or as much interesting situations as your cell camera.

    But if you have the skills and/or vision to shoot properly with a camera, pretty much anything will do if you’re in an interesting circumstance..

    Comment by Davin Greenwell — July 15, 2010 #

  4. Also, thanks to Google we spend less time speculating over facts and arguing with people over tea about things that can easily be settled by a simple search.

    My family used to spend houuuuuurs arguing about stuff that would require a library to settle. No longer.. no our brains are free to move on past some facts and on to larger discussions. In this way, I would say it’s given us the resources to become more intelligent through freer mental space.

    Comment by Davin Greenwell — July 15, 2010 #

  5. ^ Indeed (re. google freeing up our brains to move on to larger discussions), Davin.

    Comment by Yule — July 18, 2010 #

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