I feel stupid.

Is Google making us stupid? Nicholas Carr addressed this question in his article. After reading his article along with Ulmer’s article on Electracy, I have come to the conclusion that I feel stupid.

Most scholars who try to understand the complexities in theory and vocabulary of Ulmer probably feel the same. So, as a 20-year-old college student studying communication, I felt stupid. But anyways, here is my very limited knowledge of Ulmer’s theory. It might help to start by watching this video to get a general knowledge of his theory in Ulmer’s own words.

 

“‘Electracy'” is to digital media what literacy is to alphabetic writing: an apparatus, or social machine, partly technological, partly institutional.” (Ulmer, 1). He combines the words electrical and literacy to create this term used to describe the skills needed to reach the full potential in what the digital world has to offer.

His chart reveals the complexity of his theory and all that goes into electracy. While the institution of orality is the church, the institution of electracy is the Internet. And while the behavior of orality may be worshipful, electracy is more playful. I still in no way fully understand Ulmer’s theory, but I do think it is interesting to think about all the complexity and intricacy needed to reach a fuller understanding of a completely reimagined digital world.

 

Carr’s argument was manifested perfectly, simply in the reading of his article. As I tried to force myself to focus and think deeply about his words, I found myself thinking about what I should eat for lunch or reminding myself to call my mom later. Carr argues that the digital world in which we live is causing us to be less likely or less capable of reading large amounts of information. And his article with 4,220 words and 25,283 characters, was no exception. I did find it interesting that he pointed out the fact that we are reading more, but simply in different forms. As we move towards a society with quick, short communication such as a text message or the 140 characters allowed in a Tweet, we do not read as well. We like to get information in a format that is easy to read, or as Carr points out, simply skim for the information we need or want.

 

What worries me is the effect this kind of society will have on the next generation. This is not a fixable problem, but one we will have to learn how to incorporate into our society at large.  To me, this means we must completely change the way our schools educate children. Why should children be forced to read long chapters of information on subjects they are not passionate about if we, as college students and adults can no longer do the same?

That’s all for now, because (according to Carr) you’ve probably stopped reading anyway…

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