(Originally posted on June 3, 2010)
Using the Internet rewires the human brain, and the result often is worse comprehension of information: “Dozens of studies by psychologists, neurobiologists, and educators point to the same conclusion: When we go online, we enter an environment that promotes cursory reading, hurried and distracted thinking, and superficial learning. Even as the Internet grants us easy access to vast amounts of information, it is turning us into shallower thinkers, literally changing the structure of our brain.”
A South Carolina journalism professor read the above-linked article and wonders in a blog post whether multimedia journalism is a positive thing, even though he and others in his school enthusiastically back it. Maybe he’s asking the wrong question.
Is it the inherent nature of the Web that promotes “cursory reading, hurried and distracted thinking, and superficial learning,” or is it the way that information on many — if not almost all — websites is presented that causes that? How “busy” is a typical Web page? If you have a page full of distractions and no visual center of gravity, with text that does not clearly and quickly tell you what you need to know, you create the same problem as on a similar-looking printed page.
6/7/10 UPDATE: The Nieman Journalism Lab provides some thoughtful analysis of the hubbub on the above issue.