In 2008 Nicholas Carr wrote an article in The Atlantic, titled Is Google Making Us Stupid. Very shortly, he argued that the way we engage with content online is ultimately having a detrimental effect on our ability to engage with longer, printed texts. Because we can open an article and search instantly for the exact piece of the text we need, we are slowly losing the ability to search for relevant information in textbooks and printed articles. (Hey! Perhaps that’s why my studies are such an uphill battle for me. It’s all Google’s fault.)
Carr’s article sparked numerous responses and studies into this topic, and we’ve yet to see whether he was right or not, but I believe that there’s another part of the internet that’s making us dumber. Or rather, lazier (though some might argue that’s the same thing).
I’m speaking of social media, and in particular, the sharing culture.
Over time in the Discworld novels, the inhabitants of the Disc came up with a long-distance communications method called “the clacks” – a cross between the telegraph and semaphore. Initially they’re only used in Anhk-Morpork, and mostly by the Watch, but soon there are towers all across the land conveying messages between cities and countries.
In Going Postal we learn that the clacks have something called “overhead”, meta-data, of sorts, for the messages being sent, not unlike the header data contained in emails or web pages which doesn’t appear on the screen, but which contains important instructions on how the page should be displayed. When one character questions the presence of a name in the overhead, another tells her it is the name of an operator who was killed. A code is transmitted with his name, ensuring that it will always be sent on to the next tower, for “A man’s not dead while his name is still spoken”.
I just missed a couple of posts, and then I missed a couple more. And I realised the world didn’t come to an end so I skipped a couple weeks, and still the Earth did not fall off its axis. But it’s a dangerous road to get on to start thinking this way. It gets much too easy to convince oneself that it would be okay to quit entirely.
Thing is, I did get to thinking, and questioning why I do this (blog, that is). Of late blogging has become a bit…mechanical for me. I got into a schedule (which is not of itself a bad thing) and all of a sudden blogging consisted only of figuring out the next review, or song title challenge, or whatever, and I never just write a post anymore because I read something or saw something or thought or felt something and I wanted to write about it.
So I thought some more, and I decided to change things a bit. For the foreseeable future I’ll be taking a step back. I’ll try to still post at least once a week, but I’m not making any promises. I’m going to allow myself to only post when I feel like it, just for a while.
I’m suspending the Song Title Challenge for the rest of the year – I’ll decide in January whether it’s coming back or not. Meanwhile, comments on all old challenges are still open, so you’re welcome to participate in any one of those. As for reviews and Percussive Etymology… You’ll see ’em when you see ’em.
Anyhow, I need to focus on NaNoWriMo now. I’m still figuring out the ins and outs of the new novel, but I’ll let you know once the synopsis is up and I’ll be posting excerpts as well as the month (and word count) progresses.
I hope the uncertainty does not drive you bonkers. Thanks for understanding.
(P.S. Bonus points if you got the title reference.)
In case any of you missed this, now might be a good time to update your WordPress and Gmail passwords (and Facebook, and Twitter, and Instagram, and Amazon…I should make a list of all my online accounts, methinks.)
This week, a group of hackers released a list of about 5 million Gmail addresses and passwords. This list was not generated as a result of an exploit of WordPress.com, but since a number of emails on the list matched email addresses associated with WordPress.com accounts, we took steps to protect our users.
We downloaded the list, compared it to our user database, and proactively reset over 100,000 accounts for which the password given in the list matched the WordPress.com password. We also sent email notification of the password reset containing instructions for regaining access to the account. Users who received the email were instructed to follow these steps:
Go to WordPress.com.
Click the “Login” button on the homepage.
Click on the link “Lost your password?”
Enter your WordPress.com username.
Click the “Get New Password” button.
In general, it’s very important that passwords be unique for each account. Using the same…
Would you believe that yesterday I forgot to post? That’s the truth, though, whether you believe it or not. My hammer and I have been fiddling about on the inside of if all else fails… and I just completely lost track of time. But it wasn’t time wasted: I’ve given the Song Title Challenge page a little makeover and it now boasts a streamlined index of all past challenges which will update itself automatically every time I post a new story. It might not impress you but it’s sure going to make my life easier.
Actually I’ve been tinkering quite a lot lately. I’ve been volunteering in the WordPress.com forums and a pleasant side-effect is that I’m learning much more about how WordPress and blogging works, and I’m trying to rectify some of the mistakes I made in the early days when I did not yet know any better.
A consequence of all this tinkering is that things around here might go a little awry, so if you happen to stumble across any missing images or broken links, please let me know in the comments and I’ll be right along with my trusty hammer to whack things back into shape. I do recommend wearing a hard hat, though. Don’t want you getting injured by a falling hammer.
In other news, (at the risk of jinxing it) I finally seem to be getting into my stride with the studies (took long enough!). It is only natural, then, that the universe appears to be conspiring against me working this week.
First my former boss wants me to check up on my replacement by moderating some of her students’ examination scripts from the mid-year exam. That means I’m once again grading English essays – something I’d hoped I’ll never have to do again. At least they pay me to do this.
I’m also suddenly getting inundated with requests for extra lessons by seniors finally realising that their final examinations are terrifyingly close and that they haven’t been paying attention in English for the last eleven-and-a-half years. Between my inability to say no and my intense desire to have a positive cash flow again for a month or two I’m trying to squeeze them in, but we’ll see how it goes.
And the final cherry on top is that the wife’s come down with a stomach bug. Which means she’s at home. Which means when I take a study break I’m playing nurse. Or washing dishes. Or cooking. Or doing laundry. Oh, the things we do for those we love (though I do the last three even when she’s not ill, but I’m complaining here – I don’t get the chance that often).
But busy is good, right? Hopefully I wont forget about this weekend’s review 😉