Is technology helping or hurting the development of our minds? And what about the future of libraries?
The controversy continues. Is technology improving our lives and our brains, or ruining them?
If we are to believe Clive Thompson in his new book “Smarter Than You Think,” the Internet and specifically social media positively motivates us to question, think, and write more than ever before.
One example. Analysis shows that in the past, most of us would rarely consult reference books like encyclopedias to answer questions even if we had our own set at home. In contrast, online dictionaries and search engines are so easy to access and use, that we may use them daily to look up information.
According to Mr. Thompson, we are also writing more than ever, and especially kids are finding the motivation to write through their audiences on sites like Facebook. Writing has increased exponentially, but what about the value of spending face-to-face time with friends and critical thinking?
Now that we have ever increasing sources of information, we must choose what to read and believe from literally billions of choices. This creates a hierarchy of knowledge where, according to Mr. Thompson, the best resources “float to the top.”
Is this leading to an ever increasing exchange of knowledge globally, or lowest common denominator thinking? Time will tell.
What about the future of libraries?
Libraries were the original keepers of knowledge. Now it seems some are becoming the keepers of the latest technology.
I have always been a seeker of knowledge, so becoming a librarian at age 24 seemed like an obvious choice. I would add, librarianship has been very very good to me!
Although I enjoyed few of the bureaucrats or the politics of academic libraries in my 25-year career, I loved being a spreader of information and knowledge.
My motto was: “I certainly don’t know everything, but I do know how to find most of the information available today!
By interacting with books and people everyday, I gained an ever expanding appreciation of critical thinking and the power of learning.
Now the BiblioTech in San Antonio. Texas, has become the only public bookless library. Here, residents of a community where Internet access at home is rare, take advantage of the library’s technology classes, children’s center and inexpensive e-readers.
This changes everything. What is the future of technology and libraries? Who knows…