Thursday, May 05, 2005

One World - Reflected by 6 Billion Minds

My extremely significant other alerted me to this news of Joseph Weizenbaum, who gave a talk at the world's largest computer museums in provincial Paderborn/Germany. Unfortunately I only found German sites, so here is what he said.
'The internet is a dungheap with pearls in it. But you have to ask the right questions to find those pearls. This is what most people can't do.'
'We have the illusion of living in an information society. We hve the internet, we have google, the search engine, we are under the illusion that the knowledge of all mankind is at out fingertips.'
But 'it's the work of interpetration inside the head that transforms the signs we see on the screen into information. Most of the time we don't get the signs that are important for our decision.'
Weizenbaum claims that even at the best of universities students can no longer write their essays without resorting to writing programmes or even... no he doesn't say it, but submitting essays found on the internet seems to become increasingly common.
The worst, Weizenbaum thinks, is giving computers to smaller children - it would turn their brains into applesauce.

Then, applesauce dribbling from my ears I dive for the next pearl. Is this it? A Wired article in which Steven Johnson propounds the "cognitively demanding leisure" hypothesis. It is a fact that we are getting constantly better results an IQ-tests. So much so that IQ-test companies have had to grade us down over the last decades, so that results peak at 100 points. Johnson thinks that having to wrestle with VCRs and user-unfriendly software may well have contributed to this rise of intelligence. Via Boingboing.
So which of these informations is the pearl? Both, of course.

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