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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

The Once and Future Brain #3

We're continuing to talk this week about how the changes in communication affect our brains and our brains affect our communication.

Yesterday we talked about how our brains are physically different due to the information we process and the way we process information.

There are some fairly huge implications from this. Put simply, the internet is changing our brains. On Monday I mused that the changes hitting us that have been called a philosophical shift (postmodernism) might, in fact, be something deeper and more fundamental. 

See, this isn't the first time all this has happened. Along about 570 years ago some dude named Gutenberg got a bright idea and started printing stuff (HP promptly sued him for patent rights). Because of the shift in the way that the written word was available people's brains started changing. Words that were once rare and expensive to copy by hand were now being printed by the thousands and millions. It used to be that in order for text to be disseminated one had to have good ideas and the financial backing to pay for scribes to copy that idea. The printing press changed all that - words became exponentially cheaper and so more people could exchange ideas. One of the results of this was the Enlightenment, another was the Protestant Reformation. People's brains worked differently and that led them to different thoughts and to different actions and that changed the world forever.

Now words are free - anyone can post a blog about anything. Words are fast - if we have to wait for our information we get angry. Words are ubiquitous - we have to filter out most of the information we receive. Words are superfluous - most of the information we receive is in non-verbal channels. 

What other changes do you see happening because of the internet?

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