Opposite Sides of the Internet: An interview with Nicholas Carr and Clay Shirky


Shirky-Hello Nicholas, very glad to finally get to talk with you in person.  I have been following your work, and while you prove a very interesting argument, im not sure I completely agree.   While some of your points may be quite valid and relate to many internet users, I was wondering if you could expand on your thought that the internet is “reprogramming us”?

Carr-Hello Clay, wonderful to be meeting with you as well.  Yes, as I stated before, I believe that the internet has taken a huge toll on the way we think, learn, and express ourselves.  With the fast access and demand of what the internet has to offer, people have been trained to keep up with this pace, not giving them the patience to do something as simple as reading a book online without changing the page 3 paragraphs in.  With so many distractions, who could ever be able to do something like that!

Shirky-I understand your point, but for many people, the internet has been a very useful tool.  Don’t you think is amazing how fast it is! I mean, common, with society today, as fast as it is, we need the internet to help us keep up and stay on top of everything.

Carr-Yes, but it is almost too fast.  It causes stress for us to keep up with the internet, not society.  Everything’s published on there.  We’ll never know what its fully capable of, nor be able to monitor what’s out there.

Shirky-But how can you not love that about the internet! It has everything we need!

Carr- I just think its stupid, and its making us stupid! The new generations no longer knows how to navigate through library or read a long novel.  The internet has given us short-cuts and easy passages to summaries and any other fast accessible info.  I don’t agree with this, and think that we should find ways to teach around it.  You cant trust people with what they’re releasing out there.

Shirky-I do agree with the fast access. But how individuals use it, is their own choice.  I think it brings people together and helps everyone stay up to date.  People need to learn what to trust and what not to trust.   I just think that cognitive surplus can allow for huge advances as the internet is a huge part of our future.  Just know that the internet is there, use it or don’t.

Carr-Well I believe that sums up our meeting.

Shirky- Yes it does, have a good day!

Carr- You as well.  Ill be sure to keep your points in mind.



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