The Edge has asked many experts, scholars, artists, and thinkers to address the question: HOW IS THE INTERNET CHANGING THE WAY YOU THINK?
The upshot of the many different takes on the question comes down to a discussion of the nature of thinking, the processes involved, the evolution of the brain, the relationship of neurons. Basically, the most honest correspondents conclude that we are in still in the dark ages when it comes to the way or ways we think.
My escape to India to work on a novel raises another question: How is the Internet Changing where you think?
Before the Internet the idea of “where” perhaps had less importance. Globalization has expanded and flattened our notions of “where” as most places become interchangeable as the moving wall of information resurfaces their culture, language, social, economic and political life. Places like China continue to erect digital dikes to stem the tide. They like their “where” as it is. They don’t want the way of thinking to seam through the great wall and flood the minds of citizens with strange, subversive ideas that might undermine authority.
I am mindful that not all places where Internet access is limited or restricted are a good place to escape. Going from a sea of free flowing information to a desert where the cup of information is handed out to the masses like bums in a soup kitchen is too great a stretch.
A writer needs a “where” that falls between these extremes. A place where the citizens haven’t yet been swallowed up and changed in the process by the information harvesting. That’s why I chose India. Access is possible if you are in need of a fix. But you can find places where access is difficult or nearly impossible. When I write, I want to be around people who still occupy the world of printed books and words that come from the pages of magazines, newspapers and broadsheets. They absorb information in the old way.
This “where” still demands an attention and concentration that is quickly leaving the building in the larger world. Surrounded by Internet deprived people is like time-traveling to the past. Their world is largely the same as the world of our ancestors. This was a world where books delivered to the reading class ideas, information, insight, and exotic beliefs. They were studied and discussed and passed along.
The idea of “Where” also raises much larger questions.
For that the Power of Ten is a useful way of thinking to illustrate the degree of our ignorance. The Known Universe is an object lesson in humility for a discussion of thinking and where thinking is done.