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Does the Internet Make You Smarter

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The title of this article is Does the Internet Make You Smarter? It is written by Clay Shirky. The article is written in the Wall Street Journal. This journal entry is written to people who are used to the old routines of past and think that the internet is going to make the new generation stupid. This is also written to the new generation that is supposedly going to be so stupid, as a challenge to doing something great with the opportunity we have been given with this newfound technology. This journal points to the fact that history repeats itself with every new technology and every new invention. People think that it is going to corrupt our society. Then it ends up being something great, something that we really needed and something that helped us become more intellectual. Why is this the case? Why does it take our society so long to accept new ways of doing thing? Why do we have to jump to the conclusion that we are going to misuse it and nothing good will come from it? Clay Shirky starts his journal by stating the beliefs of people today.

He says, “The bulk of publicly available media is now created by people who understand little of the professional standards and practices for media (Shirky).” He says this makes people worry about the future and that this will “lead to increasingly alarmed predictions of incipient chaos and intellectual collapse (Shirky).” He says that the older generation believes this to be true because people are not adhering to the traditional ways that media has been produced. This automatically means that there is no quality to their work and it is not as good as it used to be. Shirky says this is the way society has always dealt with new media and he gives examples to prove it. One example is with the invention of the Gutenberg press. He said this allowed the Bible to be translated into many languages, but it was also met with, “a flood of contemporary literature, most of it mediocre (Shirky).”

He followed this statement with, “Vulgar versions of the Bible and distracting secular writings…would lead to chaos and the dismemberment of the European intellectual life (Shirky).” Shirky does say that although they were right that the European intellectual life did, in fact, fall with the Protestant Revolution, “we built new norms around newly abundant and contemporary literature (Shirky).” As a society we further advanced and made more progress with our capability to learn new things, or as Shirky put it, “had the effect of increasing … the intellectual range and output of society.” Why does it take our society so long to accept new ideas and new sources of media? Why does our society have to act like the father of a little girl that is all grown up with a new boyfriend who likes to play rock music and is in a band? The father is so afraid that the new boyfriend is going to ruin his little girl.

He has forgotten to put his trust in her to make the right decisions. This seems to me to be the case with the point Shirky is trying to make. The older generation of our country wants things to stay the same. Why does the older generation have to assume that we are not going to appropriately use this new source of media? This has to do with the fact that people are scared of change. People do not like change. Even in my own life, when I began college I was scared that with all the studying that I was going to have to do. I was scared that I was not going to have enough time for my daughter or enough time to do anything around the house. I was used to a routine of going to work, coming home and taking care of my daughter. This all changed when I decided to go to school full time, my husband would work full time, and I would take care of our baby girl.

Even though this scared me at first, the more I did it, I saw that I was able to manage my time effectively. This made me more confident that I could handle this new obstacle. This example shows that change is not an easy thing. If it was we would just accept it and move on never to worry or fret about it. Technology poses a threat to the old traditional ways of doing things. The same way the printing press changed the way the Bible way written, as It is an opportunity for us as a society to grow and learn new things. People that are used to going to the mail and only being able to make calls from home are not going to know what to think about being connected to the phone 24/7. They think that the way they did things always worked so why change it.

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