Monday, March 2, 2009

How Google is Making Us Smarter

Please take a moment before reading the article to watch the following video. Count the number of times any of the players dressed in white pass a ball. Write the number down on a piece of paper, then continue on to the article.




  1. The article says that some participants reported that they didn't notice the gorilla. I do understand that they were not consciously aware that there was a gorilla, but did some part of their brains register the information on some subconscious level? If so, how?

  2. Socrates believed that writing would make people forgetful. In a way, it did, as we are no longer memorize epic poems. However, as the author states, we have gained more than we have lost with the development of the written word. My question is: what are we gaining and losing by letting electronic sources like google form the way our brains perceive the world around us?

  3. I noticed the gorilla, but not until I thought, "Oh look, they're trying to get tricky on me by adding another guy on the black team." Then, when no one passed to it, which I noticed right around the time it did a little booty shake, I realized it was one of those 'did you notice?' tricks, like the visual cousin of the riddle, "Is there a fourth of July in England?"
    I think many of us have felt guilty at least once about how easy it is to access any information with the technologies we have now. They are tools exactly like the Monkey's rake -- so Nicholas Carr really just mean to say we were getting lazier? Or is there a different place for laziness with the extended mind?

  4. When I read this article I thought of the "" commercial in which Alec Baldwin menacingly explains that hulu is softening your brains into mush, by allowing you to watch tv on your computer- easy access to an apparently destructive activity.

    I wonder if this is true? The author states that we should embrace our brain's malleability, let it extend to technology. Does the potential desire not reside in technology itself but rather the lack of reciprocal stimulation? Our minds react to the internet, but can we interact with the internet?

  5. As I had previously watched that video in another class 5 years ago I immediately remembered that there would be a gorilla and had no problem noticing it. I think this is a good example of the speed at which the brain can learn from error, especially in relation to sight. I am curious about other studies concerning visual perception and ways of seeing. What tiny snippets of information we focus our attention on is intimately connected to our subjective experience of the world. I wonder if there are studies on differences in perception between people of different occupations (ex: artist vs. lawyer) or even of different cultures?

  6. I noticed the gorilla near the end, after probably ignoring him for several seconds. My thought processes after that went precisely as follows: "Huh, a gorilla. Did I miss a throw? No. 13, 14..." In other words, I saw the gorilla but didn't stop my assigned task to ask myself why he was there. Maybe that's a bad thing?

    However, although they put in a gorilla that most people don't notice or take a while to notice, they still had to "sneak" him in. If he had been a blue gorilla, or twice as tall as the other students, it probably would have been a lot easier for people to notice him. Similarly, if they'd been asked to count the throws of the black-shirts instead of the white-shirts, they would have also noticed him sooner, as black would have been the color they were paying attention to while white would have been the one they were "tuning out."