Does Google Make Us Stupid?

Does Google Make Us Stupid? Originally put forth by Nicholas Carr in the July/August 2008 issue of The Atlantic, this idea received a rebuttal one year later by Jamais Casico (“Get Smarter“) in that same publication. The next chapter in this debate is being written by experts responding to the Pew Research Center (“Does Google Make Us Stupid?“) – and the answer seems to be a resounding, “No.” 76% of respondents (internet experts) agreed that, “By 2020, people’s use of the internet has enhanced human intelligence; as people are allowed unprecedented access to more information they become smarter and make better choices. Nicholas Carr was wrong: Google does not make us stupid.”

Curiously, Janna Quitney Anderson and Lee Rainie, who authored the description of the survey, seemed to assume that just because experts suppose so, it will be true. To my eyes, Nicholas Carr isn’t wrong – yet. Only time will tell.

Capitalist 2.0

“80 to 90% of user-generated content on the web, including comments and questions, is created by less than 10% of web users,” according to Rubicon, a strategy and marketing consultancy [1]. The findings included in their most recent report must seem a breath of fresh air to  Jack Nielson, who predicted somewhat similar numbers two years ago [Link]. Together, these two models challenge the notion that material found online hardly represents society’s true sentiment, rather than just the views of a small number of energetic enthusiasts.

Deep in Cups

The societal effect of social networking sites and Web 2.0 is difficult to fully understand, for obvious reasons. In addition to the burgeoning number of books and essays by scholars and laypersons eager to explain the many nuances of these new developments and their impact, sometimes a short quip can prove more revealing and worthwhile.

Take, for example, this metaphor from Tim Barker of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

“Social networks are the bars and nightclubs of the Internet.

Some cater to folks looking for a quiet evening on the town. Others offer a spot to share a quick story and a cold beer after a long day at work. And then there are those places where you can usually count on someone drinking too much and taking off their clothes.”

Very apt.


I was sent a link to a speech by Newt Gingrich on Education. Not expecting much, I was surprised by the saliency of his speech. His “world that works” and “world that fails” model begs critical thinking.

View his speech here.

Alternately, if you’re just interested in hearing a briefer introduction to his argument, view this clip, entitled “FedEx vs Federal Bureaucracy.”

Leadership Over Lunch

Over the last few weeks, I have been asked to participate in interview luncheons for candidates to the Assistant Professor in Leadership position open at the McDonough Center. Each candidate has been posed the question, “What is your definition of leadership?”

This question is interesting, and problematic to me for a variety of reasons – not the least of which is the underlying assumption that such a concept needs distilled down to basic, elemental parts; an assumption which seems to be relentlessly compulsory.

Although I seem to contradict myself, one definition attracted me more than any others. Dr. Bechtold, of the University of Hawaii (I believe), suggested that “Leadership is the process in which a leader creates a message which followers can endorse.”

Food for thought.