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Can The Internet Be Food For Your Brain?

February 20, 2010

Results released on Friday from an online survey of 895 Web surfers and experts, revealed that more than 75 percent believe the Internet will make people smarter within the next decade.

The survey, conducted by the Imagining the Internet Center at Elon University in North Carolina and the Pew Internet and American Life project, revealed that most of participants also feel the Internet would improve reading and writing skills within that time too.

Janna Anderson, director of the Imagining the Internet Center and co-author of the survey, told Reuters “Three out of four experts said our use of the Internet enhances and augments human intelligence, and two-thirds said use of the Internet has improved reading, writing and the rendering of knowledge.”

In contrast, 21 percent of the respondents believe the Internet will be responsible for lowering the IQs of those who use it frequently.

The online survey gathered opinions from people from all areas of the spectrum. Scientists, business leaders, writers, developers, and Internet users screened by the research team, as well as others partook in the study. Of the 895 people surveyed, 371 were considered “experts.”

The survey was conducted based partly on an August 2008 cover story in the Atlantic Monthly titled “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” by tech writer Nicholas Carr.

In the article, Carr implied that heavy use of the Web was obstructing concentration and deep thinking of its users. He stated that the Internet shifts the emphasis of our intelligence away from “what might be called a meditative or contemplative intelligence and more toward what might be called a utilitarian intelligence.”

Carr, who participated in the survey, told the authors he still agreed with his original stance. “The price of zipping among lots of bits of information is a loss of depth in our thinking.”

But Craigslist founder Craig Newmark said that people are already using Websites such as Google like they were an appendage to their own memory.

The survey also revealed that 42 percent of experts think that anonymous online activity will be cracked down on by 2020, due to tighter security and ID systems. 55 percent believe it will still be fairly easy to surf the “ËœNet anonymously by then.

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