Friday, June 27, 2008

Do computers really make us smarter (and/or more creative)?.... or not..?

Concerning an article in the The Atlantic monthly, July 2008,
by Nicholas Carr:

"Is Google making us stoopid?
What the Internet is doing to our brains"

Being the cover article, it caught my eye as soon as I pulled it out of my mailbox, I was reading it in the elevator to my floor and continued as I walked along the breezeway to my apartment.
The second paragraph begins:

".....Over the past few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory. My mind isn’t going—so far as I can tell—but it’s changing. I’m not thinking the way I used to think. I can feel it most strongly when I’m reading....."

Whoa! Can I relate to that?! Let me count the ways....!

I'd been thinking things along the same lines for a while now, but since I spend a clear majority of my time in front of a Mac with Photoshop, Dreamweaver and a few other programs open, and make 2/3 of my income from digital work, heading down a road called ' Biting the Hand that Feeds You' is one I should...uh..'drive slowly on'.

But since thoughts can be notoriously hard to control or contain, well, I keep thinking pretty much what Mr. Carr describes:
"My mind isn’t going—so far as I can tell—but it’s changing. I’m not thinking the way I used to think."

However, I would revise the subtitle "What the Internet is doing to our brains" to read: "What computers are doing to our brains".

I've spending a lot of time the last month or two going over all my proof sheets, just drawing sketches, and connecting various ideas. After my 'end of year(2007) darkroom binge', I felt like I needed to step back a bit, and try doing things a bit more like I did 10 or 15 years ago. My montage work has definitely changed in the last 7 or 8 years - it's simpler, and for lack of better terms, the connections are more linear/less surreal.
There's nothing inherently bad about that ( I don't think I'll ever stop being a bit surreal or less than linear) but the change has been noticeable, and leaves me scratching my head, wondering "hunh?(& why)??"
I thought perhaps it was a reaction to my different circumstances, having an apt. that was much less conducive to my impromptu darkroom, which made me work faster, looser & not spend nearly the time I did in the past sifting thru contact sheets to fill 'holes' in an image.
Then I started to think that spending so much time in front of a computer
( which is all VERY ' linear/point & click/ drag and drop' ) was inspiring me to work very improvisationally....

Thank you Mr. Carr, for clearing the cobwebs outta my brain.
Marshall McLuhan was right, the medium is the message.

Now if you'll excuse me, it's time to turn this thing off, and sift thru through some of those contact sheets again...