When I read the introduction to Nicolas Carr’s The Shallows, I was struck the most by this phrase in particular, “A medium’s content matters less than the medium itself in influencing how we think and act.” I cannot think of an explanation more fitting for today’s society.
Let’s be honest here.
In addition to using technology that includes laptops, tablets, and smart phones for the professional and academic purposes the majority of people I know, including myself, are using these gadgets as a means of entertainment. Facebook, Snapchat, Vine, Pintrest, Tumblr, Netflix. And there’s nothing wrong with that. What intrigues me is that the way we as a society seek academia, news, and entertainment has dramatically changed in the past twenty years.
Twenty years ago, if you had a research project for school, you would go to the library and go to the references section. Now, the first the you do is Google the topic with one of the many devices within your reach. If you wanted to apply for a job, you would grab a newspaper and highlight the Classifieds. Now you go on Monster.com and attach your CV in an email.If you were bored as hell you’d call your friends from a landline and drive around for fun. Now, you grab your smartphone and start obsessing over getting to the next level of Candy Crush.
My point is that society has always had the need to do research, to apply for a job, and to be entertained. It’s just that in the past, all these needs were met by different mediums. So when a new medium like the smartphone does all of the above and more, it changes a society. And it focuses almost all needs into one medium. Therefore, when Carr writes that content is less relevant that what is supplying that content, he channels the lives of modern day individuals and highlights the fact that humans do and will do the same processes until the end of time. It’s the way they do them that matters.