Medium over Content

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  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.


2 comments on “Medium over Content

  1. Yeah I do agree that many people get easily distracted by different medias, but I think it is important to address that the readily available information has made us much more intelligent as a society and its benefits are far greater than any harms it may have inflicted. Before, if someone didn’t know the answer to something they would either find the answer studiously, or the more probable method of just letting curiosity fade. Nowadays, there is no answer left unanswerable. Even after talking to young children, it is clear to see that they are incredibly sharp, much sharper than I think I remember being at their age. We have come up with a way to get rid of the tedium of academia so that we have fewer questions we need to answer, leaving us all the more time to get to the next level of Candy Crush.

  2. I like what you pointed out, Alex, that people are more intelligent nowadays than in the past. I definitely agree that people nowadays are able to get the answers to things easier than they were in the past. However, I would have to say that despite how intelligent our society is, I will have to agree with older generations that we do NOT work as hard as they once had to. Like Sabrina pointed out, people used to actually have to go to a library and find their research and now all we need to do is go on Google and type in our question. I think that despite how much more information we are able to receive through computers, phones, and other technological devices, we still lack something that older generations had.

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