Sunday, September 20, 2009

How the Prevalence of Technology Affects Us Directly

By: Michael Lenoch

Specifically, the internet, one of man's many impressive innovations in technology throughout the past 100 years has rendered as a primary aid to many, and a detriment to even more. As a preface, according to Wikipedia, one of the most cautiously trusted, yet popular websites of today, the year 1996 witnessed an enormous growth of internet users, up to a 100 percent increase. Personally, I can remember as a mere toddler witnessing the rudimentary AOL screens my father browsed as he shared information with friends throughout the early nineties. Now, the internet has spanned tremendously throughout the past several years, so much so, that computers in schools are becoming a commodity. This is both for better and for worse: children have an entire world of information at their fingertips, yet with such information it's as if children these days are implicitly being encouraged by their parents and teachers to live unscrupulous and unconcerned lives, lacking the thoroughness their parents boasted. As parents haven't grown up with the internet, they generally don't understand what it is like to become less as thorough in one's work or research, and ultimately do whatever they can to encourage leisurely internet "research" or "learning", scouring the mostly trustworthy words of Wikipedia.

From my own perspective, living in America, industries always seem to be on the move, businessmen seem to never be ceasing, and people driving on even the most tranquil of suburban streets are constantly rushing to reach his or her next destination. Psychologically, as most people these days seem to essentially live, or carry out business, communicate with friends or family, read the latest news, listen to music, or to conduct any number of a modern human's day-to-day needs on the internet, peoples' rushed lifestyles seem to be directly be correlating to the streets, boardrooms, and classrooms of today.

To demonstrate this 'failing' [by traditional standards] of a generation, take a look at any given message board. Message boards are intended to serve as virtual places where people can intelligently communicate and share opinions on specific topics. For the most part, any message board that is not met with sufficient moderating is doomed to fall to the wayside and to diminish in popularity, as the discussions will inevitably lose their focus, and no longer will users exemplify a desire to talk in-depth about the given matter or topic. Coincidentally, when researching to get somewhat acquainted with the topic of the 'short attention-span generation of internet users', I entered that very query on Google, which yielded this message board discussion: .

The original poster says:

"Does the internet encourage short attention spans?

I was at an internet site a few minutes ago looking up some code (DOM event models as it happens ;)) and although I was at an excellent, visually appealing site with just the sort of content I was looking for, I found myself instinctively scanning the page to find the information I wanted as quickly as possible, get the information in a hurry and then head off (after a quick bookmark I will probably never see again) somewhere else.
I think this might be a symptom of internet search culture, in that you are forced to analyse information at a fast rate in order to find the best site and good content, or risk getting bogged down in poor sites and pages.

I scan the serps looking for the ideal match, click through several sites after looking around briefly to see if the result was a good match. If I don't find it fast, I'm outta there.

Which would be fine if I only did this when trying to find a good site, but now I'm catching myself doing it on really useful sites too...

I'm sure we've all seen lots of 'hit and runs' on our sites in referrer logs. Designers (and SEOs) are encouraged to put the content we think visitors want as noticeably and as high up the page as possible, so we are teaching visitors that if it's not there, it's not a match.

Is it just me? Do I need to take some deep breaths and stop drinking so much coffee, or are attention spans on the web destined to go the same way as TV audiences?

Be interested to hear any thoughts :)"


In that message board discussion, the participating users commonly misspell words, and often neglect grammar rules, which is a similar behavior to that of the average YouTube user, commenting on any number of videos. Why is it though, that internet users generally always seem to be in a hurry, or carelessly cobble together words that are supposedly representative of some asinine thought that no one else but him or herself will have any hope on earth of understanding? Now how was that for long-winded?

As a perfect example of this short attention-span generation of degenerates, my sister demonstrates a lack of desire to think or contemplate abstractly. In school, she thinks with a single-layered intellect: "Do the work, quickly." It's possible she's been influenced by my father's strict, Machiavellian-like work ethic that he has surely ingrained in her, or even a lifestyle she's carved out in order to cope with her homework load. Her lack of any perceivable abstract thought whatsoever may be due to the way her friends communicate or perceive the world, which is on a single-dimensional, or concrete basis. Though, if my sister were to speak intelligently among, [which by that, I mean not saying the word "like" every sentence], it would be considered obstructive or strange, when the descriptive depiction is not entirely necessary. So, it all comes down to context, I suppose.

But even then, supposing "it all comes down to context", ignores how shallow her intellect truly is. And to me, that's not fair. People like myself, who think of politics, society, and current events in-depth are rewarded on a relatively rare occasion in terms of grades, with English papers and History essays for example. While schools have become more attune to teaching students with pitiful vocabularies and an unassuming imaginations, recommending concretely-minded mathematicians to prestigious universities, while the Philospher Kings [like myself, of course], by their innate abilities may as well get them no where. For all intents and purposes, no one cares in this day and age how beautifully one can construct a sentence, but how efficiently one can solve a problem that requires no extent of imagination. We are sorely in need of a renaissance. God knows how many mechanics working at Mike's Tires and Oil Shop are secretly brilliant composers of spirit and word, without half knowing it themselves. I digress.

As I come to a close, the most interesting part of all of this chatter is how people in this modern age are nearly encouraged to carry out these simplistic, mathematic, take-it-for-what-it-is type of lifestyles, and are gratified even though they rarely seem to exude any degree of thought. We who think outside the box are flogged and discouraged. Whoops, there goes another artist of superb intellect. Gone forever.

By my own observation, it is a shame the common populace of today demonstrates such little discernment that was once present many moons ago. People seem to instinctively carry out the processes of life, and to let the flow of life carry them.

"Does the internet encourage short attention spans?" Webmaster World. Web. 20 Sept. 2009. .

1 comment:

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