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: 'SwaziLeaks' looks to shake up jet-setting monarchy

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

'SwaziLeaks' looks to shake up jet-setting monarchy

1 hour ago

As WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange prepares to end a two-year forced stay at Ecuador's London embassy, he may take comfort in knowing he inspired resistance to secrecy in places as far away as Swaziland.

Ecuador heralds 'digital currency' plans

1 hour ago

Ecuador is planning to create the world's first government-issued digital currency, which some analysts believe could be a first step toward abandoning the country's existing currency, the U.S. dollar, which ...

WEF unveils 'crowdsourcing' push on how to run the Web

15 hours ago

The World Economic Forum unveiled a project on Thursday aimed at connecting governments, businesses, academia, technicians and civil society worldwide to brainstorm the best ways to govern the Internet.

Study: Social media users shy away from opinions

Aug 26, 2014

People on Facebook and Twitter say they are less likely to share their opinions on hot-button issues, even when they are offline, according to a surprising new survey by the Pew Research Center.

US warns shops to watch for customer data hacking

Aug 23, 2014

The US Department of Homeland Security on Friday warned businesses to watch for hackers targeting customer data with malicious computer code like that used against retail giant Target.

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.