English 248-002: Literature and Contemporary Life
Response 1: 15 Minutes of Solitude
DUE: September 5, 2013
In the excerpts from David Weinberger (CR pg. 6) and Nick Carr (CR pg. 15), you might have noticed these authors staging a debate about the effects of information overload. For Weinberger, the edgeless and shapeless structure of new digital media creates opportunities, while Carr sees things differently. For your first response, put their arguments to the test. Read something on paper for 15 minutes straight. You can read the last few pages of Carr or do reading for another class. If you have a roommate or a hectic environment, going to your car or locking yourself in the bathroom might help. Choose the quietest, least distracting space you can find and simply read without stopping for 15 minutes. Keep track of how you're feeling and what you're thinking. Make a note of whenever you have the urge to (or actually do) check your phone, look at your computer, or say something to someone. Also note any outside distractions you encounter. Your goal is to achieve a state of "deep reading" as Carr defines it.
When you're done with the experiment, write a response that considers your attempt at deep reading in light of Weinberger and Carr. You could form your response loosely around one or more of the following questions. Post your response in the comments below, and be sure to save your work in a separate document first. Just in case. As a reminder, here are the response guidelines as they appear in the syllabus. You must create and confirm your Disqus account before you can comment here.
- At the beginning of his chapter, Weinberger discusses Ackoff's DIKW hierarchy. Weinberger believes that in trading a pyramid for a network, "at last we have a medium big enough for knowledge" (17). If Weinberger wants us to see a network, what metaphors or analogies does Carr use to illustrate the internet and its effects? After considering that, think of your own metaphor/analogy -- one that effectively captures some aspect of your digital life or experience of the web. Explain your choice and discuss whether or not it fits more with Weinberger, Carr, both, or neither.
- Carr's vision of web surfing and multitasking is not positive. What points in his chapter resonate with you? What seemed strange or questionable? If your mind was calm during the 15-minute experiment, what about you or your environment contributed to your success? If your mind was buzzing, do you accept an "I told you so" from Carr, or would you say it's just your adaptation to the "new institution of knowledge" that Weinberger describes?
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