Monday, March 21, 2011

Deep vs. shallow

As a continuation on the "internet makes you stupid" posting from yesterday, there was a kind of opposing view in an article at NYT, Andy Selsberg writing about Teaching to the Text Message:

A lot can be said with a little — the mundane and the extraordinary. Philosophers like Confucius (“Learning without thought is labor lost. Thought without learning is perilous.”) and Nietzsche were kings of the aphorism.

And short isn’t necessarily a shortcut. When you have only a sentence or two, there’s nowhere to hide. I’m not suggesting that colleges eliminate long writing projects from English courses, but maybe we should save them for the second semester. Rewarding concision first will encourage students to be economical and innovative with language. Who knows, we might even start to leave behind text messages and comment threads that our civilization can be proud of.

So, who is right, Nicholas Carr who says that internet makes human beings shallow, or Andy Selsberg who likes the concise format of writing in electronic communications?


Sven W said...

I think they are both right!

It's one matter to continually skim / surf when reading vs really understanding a topic then writing about it concisely.

Two different skills -- reading vs writing -- require two different approaches.

[Having said this, there are times with skim reading are appropriate.]

Further, the skills behind writing concisely could be pressed into service for creating a good photograph. With a photograph you are limited to what's in the frame.

Juha Haataja said...

@Sven W: I guess it is a matter of doing some things well - and knowing what is important.