Been thinking about Clive Thompson‘s article in the latest Wired magazine. It’s called Advantage: Cyborgs and discusses how a partnership between humans and machines enhances human intelligence and productivity, which is better than coming to some definitive decision about whether humans or machines are smarter.
Thompson goes on to discuss the differences between those who love and thrive on technology and those who’d rather have nothing to do with it. He says:
“People who are thrilled by personal technology are the ones who have optimized their process — they know how and when to rely on machine intelligence. …. The upshot is that they feel smarter, more focused, and more capable. In contrast, those who feel intimidated by online life haven’t hit that sweet spot. They feel the Internet is making them harried and — as Nicholas Carr suggested in The Atlantic — “stupid.””
I don’t think anti-technology people necessarily think the internet is making them stupid; I think they think it makes them feel stupid. It’s a fine distinction, to be sure, but it’s an important one. The yammering know-it-all at a party doesn’t diminish the IQs of those stuck listening to him; his blathering merely deflates them on an emotional level and causes them to want to retreat.
I live with a prime example of this phenomenon: my husband. Hubby is a brilliant guy, and I’m not just saying that because I love him. His mind works in such a highly logical way that he can easily out-argue everyone around him. In addition, he often thinks of points surrounding an issue that no one else can figure out, but that make perfect sense once he mentions them.
Because of the way his mind operates, he has trouble making “Chick Leaps,” which I do every other second. A Chick Leap, for those of you unfamiliar with the term, is when a person leaves out a crucial bit of information about a topic during conversation, which can cause those unfamiliar with the topic to lose track of what’s being discussed.
Hubby cannot follow Chick Leaps. While computers may be built on highly logical language (the coding behind programs and the internet), the interfaces or applications that result from this logical language are often feature Chick Leaps. A prime example from Windows XP is clicking the “Start” button in order to shut down the computer.
There is nothing wrong with Hubby’s thinking, but I’ve observed that many computer apps don’t work with the way his brain functions. I wonder if perhaps that’s why so many people remain “intimidated by online life.” The machine is not optimized for their particular style of thinking. They can’t make the Chick Leaps required to figure things out and it makes them nuts.