Nicholas Carr’s book The Shallows is, ultimately, Carr sharing a well worded warning due to his fear of what humanity is to become if we are to stay on the path we currently travel as a species. He fears that mankind is to become so dependent upon the technology that is provided to us via the Internet that it shall come to a point where, as he said, our “…’human elements’ are outmoded and dispensable.” This fear, as evidence of Carr’s entire book, is warranted due to the evidence he presents. Yet, Carr does not really present a proposed solution to this fear of his; he makes it clear that he understands that the benefits seemingly outweigh the negatives, and then does not really say what we can do to avoid this science fiction-like demise. I feel that had Carr taken a bit of a broader look at history in perspective to the issue he wrote about, he would see historically there is an answer that is tried and true. Moderation in advancement. Throughout all of modern history man has made strides within the realm of technology, and within each of these eras the most miraculous of these advancements were looked upon as a possible danger; traditionally what one does not understand must be feared. When antibiotics were first introduced it many were skeptical of ingesting some concoction drummed up in a lab that would miraculously eliminate sickness. Should we then take these pills whenever we feel something wrong with us? Additionally many feared the radio when it first gained popularity in the early 20th century, as it was inane to think a person miles away could be heard in your own home. And what else could be possible as a result of such technology, could they unbeknownst to us allow others to hear us too? Will this advancement eliminate the need for the printed word now that we can hear news and stories at any time any place? These technological and societal advancements, just like the Internet today, do provide more questions and unknown fears than straight up answers. Yet how were these fears and questions quelled? Through moderation of these advancements and by not relying completely upon them. We now know that antibiotics and radio, while perhaps worrisome at first, ended up being significantly beneficial. The fears associated with the radio and the medication, while warranted at the time, ultimately were handled by moderate use of both. The radio did not take over society; it did not become the only form of communication. Antibiotics like penicillin were not this inexplicable cure-all that could be taken at anytime for everything. The same can be said for the 21st century with the Internet, it does not have to turn us into robots that no longer have any ‘human elements’. If we as Internet users use the source in moderation and understand it, we will be fine. Not relying on the Internet for all information and for all communication and entertainment while also understanding its benefits to us as a race will result in a safe and secure future. For the rest of human existence miraculous inventions will be created and people will fear what they may become or what they may lead to; this is expected. However, when we take a step back, look at what is before us and figure out the proper way to utilize and handle this new advancement, our society will not collapse, just as it hasn’t for generations past when they came across a technology we now look at as benign and common place.
Technogical should be a little easier to understand than this.