Information overload

Information overload


Are we losing the interaction component between humans? Is the technology that we are using making us stupid?

These are both interesting questions. In this week readings Nicholas Carr argues that the information overload that society is having is causing major side effects to our productivity and memory storage. Nicholas article entitled, “Is Google making us stupid”, analyzes humans thought and memory process.

With all the distractions, that we have today, computers, television and cell phones it is almost impossible for us to focus on just one thing. Nicholas theory in this article is that today’s technology is making humans have trouble focusing on one main idea for along period. He explains that people in today’s society are comfortable with that because if we do not fully remember something we have the crutch of relying on technology to figure out the answer for us. In the early century’s they did not have the technology we have so because of this people are committing less and less information to memory because they can easily find and locate what they want to know.

Nicholas goes on to breaking down the psychology reasons of while people are so connected to their technical devices. He explains that we use our devices because it gives us information, and we want information because it gives us pleasure. In this new digital age you have every gadget, service, or database at your disposal and you are constantly sending and receiving information through tweets, emails, status updates, and text messages.

However, the most surprising piece of information that Nicholas talked about was how this information overload affected your memory. Working or short-term memory as it more popularly refereed to is what you can remember. Researches originally found that people can hold up to 7 pieces of information in our memory, but recently the number pieces of information we can remember has dropped to 2-4 pieces of information.

Working memory is constantly changing because new information that we are exposed too. This is a problem because you are never focus on one thing at a time. Your working memory will constantly be changing and you will convert fewer things to your long-term memory. Working memory to long-term memory is losing its process. Increasing evidence shows that we lose important information that we have learned because we replace it with what we see every day. Nicholas argues that this loss in memory shows less productivity. He believes that there is no such thing as multi tasking. He explores the point that multi tasking is not effective because you maybe taking in the information but you are not retaining it. He states, “When you multi task you are losing that deep connection with you topic or subject that is being presented to you.”

I 100% agree with the claims that Nicholas Carr is making. Even though Shirky makes some good points about being able to access this wealth of information is it good if you are exposed to information but you cannot retain it. I can look at the graduate program that I am in to be my evidence for Nicholas. Since beginning this program in July, I have been overwhelmed with so much great information but I can only retain some of it. Everyday I am leaning a new method or a new tool but half of time, I only put half of the information into my long-term memory bank. Part of it has to do with the amount of information I am receiving but a lot of it is while the instructor is teaching I am multi tasking. With the amount of work I have, I cannot afford not to!

So, what can we do? Some people in the academic world will argue nothing. I think people are just getting use to the Internet and the amount of information that they are taking in and once our generation evolves into this new digital age, some of us will become much better at multi tasking.