The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr puts forth the thought that incessant multitasking is crippling our ability to focus and to apply deeper thought to higher level issues.
According to NPR, Carr believes that the Internet is a medium based on interruption — and it’s changing the way people read and process information. We’ve come to associate the acquisition of wisdom with deep reading and solitary concentration, and he says there’s not much of that to be found online.
Part of that reflects the perception that has become common – wisdom is “obtained” by focusing energy on deeper subjects. We can only know subjects well via in-depth study and deliberation according to accepted wisdom. Can it be that knowledge is acquired differently, that today’s cultures and information flow enable wisdom in different ways?
But read the book. It is a fascinating exploration of how we see information flow and processing. Dry at times due to the need to document assertions and comments, but worth a summary read.
Now an academic view: In a recent article in The Economist, Markus Reitzig, a strategy professor at London Business School talks about the difficulty of thinking simply.
It is right that MBA students learn how to distil complex business problems into their basic components, says Markus Reitzig, a strategy professor at London Business School. But, as the Fukushima disaster tragically illustrates, there is a downside: the danger of “overconfident oversimplification”
So which is it? Like many things, the answer most likely lies in that grey area in the middle.