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Matthew OBrien
Professor Katherine Kellen

The Internet: A Tool to Build the Well of Knowledge

I believe that, contrary to the main point of Nick Carr's article "Is Google Making Us
Stupid", the Internet makes us specialized, instead of less intelligent. He speaks of the masses
being turned into pancake people (Carr 10), by the vast supply of information now readily
available to us in the form of the Internet. Instead, I offer to any that might read this the thought
that we will not become people with only a cursory knowledge of the world, but those that
possess an in-depth knowledge of matters far beyond the purview of our cultural restrictions.
Indeed even beyond culture lies the impact it will have upon the seemingly interminable
distances that separate us, severing them as though they were nothing. Though Carr speaks from
his heart, his impassioned words are undercut by the phobia of a man who is afraid of the future,
afraid of what will be lost without thinking of what will be gained. Without the Internet, people
can easily become a bland, homogenous mob that can only think alike one another.
Culture is a line that can divide even the closest of neighbors, even more so when those
cultures vastly differ and subsequently attempts to make us ignorant of the world at large.
However, race, religion, or class, all fall before the sheer might of the knowledge that the Internet
can provide. The Internet is not something that can be so easily silenced or censored as a book
that can be burned or a teacher that can be silenced. Even if a site is taken down, more rise in its
place, the mouths spreading knowledge only increasing as more and more censorship falls upon
it like the heads of a hydra. Though many balk at the anonymity of the Internet, even more

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forget that the same anonymity can be used to protect knowledge seekers who would otherwise
be slain at their desks, blood spattered over the pages of some illegal tome or burned out of their
hiding places because they would want to know a version of the truth different from the
official truth. This truth is not only broad as the sky, but as deep as the sea, only growing and
growing as people add to the proverbial well of knowledge. As new doors, doors that have never
even been dreamed of before, open, this allows bright young minds to pit their wit against
knowledge as we know it and begin to shape it from the earliest ages, no matter what background
they might come from. Imagine what a man of Einsteins intelligence could do had he the
resource of the internet from the time he could read.
Even when an individuals culture is open to the idea of learning, it used to be that the
simple grand expanse of the earth could prevent a man or woman from learning much of
anything; it was a simple matter of resources. For a young boy to learn to be a blacksmith, he
must leave his home to find a blacksmith, praying with all of his might that he might be accepted
as an apprentice and trade the labor of his hands for the gift of knowledge from one that already
possessed it, sometimes even doing this more than once if the skills of the teachers varied. A man
from Holland that wanted to learn to grow rice, would have no opportunity to do so in most cases
and perhaps would not even know what rice was in the first place. With the increase in books due
to the creation of the printing press, people could begin to learn not from others, but from the
written word, and even then the knowledge could only travel as far as the book itself circulated.
Now, however, we have a special kind of book, a book called the Internet that possesses nearly
all the wealth of knowledge that mankind has been able to accumulate over the course of its
existence. Beyond even this, the Internet is unparalleled in its ability to connect people around
the globe. Carr states that The kind of deep reading that a sequence of printed pages promotes is

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valuable not just for the knowledge we acquire from the authors words but for the intellectual
vibrations those words set off within our own minds (10) when referring to books, going on to
say that such a thing cannot be achieved with words on a screen instead of a page, but he has
forgotten something critically important. Instead of the empty space that is filled with the
discussion between myself and the book, it is not filled up with content but with the thoughts
and positions of a dozen of my intellectual equals, all attempting to wrap our minds around the
topic; a process similarly employed by the colleges that can decide our futures. The only
difference is instead of these people being in the same room as myself, they can be half way
around the world living a life that I can barely comprehend while still seeking the same
knowledge that I am.
While I do empathize with Carr in much of his article, by the end of it, I could only begin
to see the words that he has written as the phobia of a man that senses the end of his profession
much like his references to his predecessors: Socrates, Hieronimo Squarciafico, and Clay Shirky.
Through the beginning of his argument he is well read and eloquent, but as he goes on, his words
start to shift from his observations to his personal bias, speaking upon his fears and nightmares
rather than considering the positives. I do believe, however, he realizes this about himself as he
goes on to say the doomsayers were unable to imagine the myriad blessings that the printed
word would deliver. So, yes, you should be skeptical of my skepticism (Carr 10). Indeed he is
afraid, but not of the future, as it will come despite the words of poets and authors, philosophers
and men of letters, but of his place in it. He fears an unknown time and place that may render a
man of his skill obsolete, his passion and his intellect dying from disuse. Because of this, he
cannot see the brighter future that lies ahead, where knowledge can no longer be suppressed by
agendas, and the words will truly flow amongst the greatest minds of any generation for the

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betterment of all. I do not feel fear in the face of this future, but hope for a tomorrow that is as
close to paradise as I can imagine. As his words come to a close, a small shred of his fear peeks
out as he references one of the classic pieces of science fiction, saying Im haunted by that
scene in 2001. What makes it so poignant, and so weird, is the computers emotional response to
the disassembly of its mind: its despair as one circuit after another goes dark, its childlike
pleading with the astronautI can feel it. I can feel it. Im afraid (Carr 10-11). Indeed, I can
feel it, but it is not the death of a supercomputer that I can feel, but the fear of a writer as it
bleeds out through his words and into my soul.
In conclusion, it is not the Internet that makes us less intelligent, as it is the opportunity
for growth in ways unimaginable. It can cross all borders, cultural or geographical, cutting
through the walls that keep us separated like a sword through a Goridan knot. It cannot tell the
difference between a poor boy from the poorest parts of a third world country and a boy born to
the highest reaches of society in the first world. It provides information to all equally, as long as
one are willing to open up and dive deep into the splendors it can provide. One must be ready to
open themselves up to the opportunity, though for some like Nick Carr, the fear of the future
closes off their minds, preventing us from using the greatest resource that has ever been

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Works Cited
Carr, Nicholas. "Is Google Making Us Stupid." The Atlantic.
The Atlantic, 1 Jul. 2008. Web. 9 Feb. 2016.

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