Using Internet sites such as Google makes people smarter, survey says

Feb 22, 2010 By Frank Michael Russell

Google and other Internet sites aren't making us stupid: They're making us smarter, according to an overwhelming majority of 895 experts surveyed by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project and the Imagining the Internet Center at Elon University.

"Three out of four experts said our use of the Internet enhances and augments human intelligence, and two-thirds said use of the Internet has improved reading, writing and rendering of knowledge," study co-author Janna Anderson said in a statement Friday.

"There are still many people, however, who are critics of the impact of , Wikipedia and other online tools," said Anderson, director of the Imagining the Internet Center at North Carolina's Elon University.

Anderson and Lee Rainie, director of the Pew project, conducted the survey in response to author Nicholas Carr's July/August 2008 Atlantic Monthly cover story, "Is Google Making Us Stupid?"

Anderson and Rainie invited business executives, scientists, consultants, writers and tech developers "to share their views on the Internet's influence on the future of human intelligence." The survey was "opt-in," so it wasn't a representative sample.

From the Pew project's site at pewinternet.org, here's a selection of responses, including from Carr:

• Carr: "What the Net does is shift the emphasis of our intelligence, away from what might be called a meditative or contemplative intelligence and more toward what might be called a utilitarian . The price of zipping among lots of bits of information is a loss of depth in our thinking."

• Google chief economist Hal Varian: "Google will make us more informed. The smartest person in the world could well be behind a plow in China or India. Providing universal access to information will allow such people to realize their full potential, providing benefits to the entire world."

• Craigslist founder Craig Newmark: "People are already using Google as an adjunct to their own memory. For example, I have a hunch about something, need facts to support, and Google comes through for me. Sometimes, I see I'm wrong, and I appreciate finding that out before I open my mouth."

Explore further: Twitter takes note of other apps on smartphones

5 /5 (3 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Google donates $2 million to support Wikipedia

Feb 17, 2010

(AP) -- Google Inc., the Internet's most profitable company, is giving $2 million to support Wikipedia, a volunteer-driven reference tool that has emerged as one of the Web's most-read sites.

Recommended for you

UN moves to strengthen digital privacy (Update)

Nov 25, 2014

The United Nations on Tuesday adopted a resolution on protecting digital privacy that for the first time urged governments to offer redress to citizens targeted by mass surveillance.

Spotify turns up volume as losses fall

Nov 25, 2014

The world's biggest music streaming service, Spotify, announced Tuesday its revenue grew by 74 percent in 2013 while net losses shrank by one third, in a year of spectacular expansion.

Virtual money and user's identity

Nov 25, 2014

Bitcoin is the new money: minted and exchanged on the Internet. Faster and cheaper than a bank, the service is attracting attention from all over the world. But a big question remains: are the transactions ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

paulthebassguy
not rated yet Feb 22, 2010
"Sometimes, I see I'm wrong, and I appreciate finding that out before I open my mouth".

heh, this guy must really be one of the smartest people in the world. Case and point.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.