Alongside a bunch of much more worthy thinkers than me – from Richard Dawkins to Nassim Taleb, and a hundred in-between — I was asked to contribute to the annual Edge question this year. The topic was How the Internet changes the way you think. Here is the opening of my offering:
Three friends have told me recently that during their just-completed holidays they unplugged from the Internet and had big, deep thoughts. This worries me. First, three data points means it’s a trend, so maybe I should be doing it. Second, I wonder if I could disconnect from the Internet long enough to have big, deep thoughts. Third, like most people I know, I worry that even if I disconnect long enough, my info-krill-addled brain is no longer capable of big, deep thoughts (which I will henceforth calls BDTs).
Could I quit? At some level it seems a silly question, like asking how I feel about taking a breathing hiatus, or if on Tuesdays I would give up gravity. The Internet no longer feels involuntary when it comes to thinking. Instead, it feels more like the sort of thing that when you make a conscious effort to stop doing it bad things happen. As a kid I once swore off gravity and jumped from a barn hay mow, resulting in a sprained ankle.
Read the rest here.