Article: The Creative Destruction of IntelligenceDec 17


The Creative Destruction of Intelligence: How Television, Mobile, and Internet Technology are Destroying the Discerning Mind

By Brett Staron

With the advent of mobile and internet technology, modern man now commands an unprecedented insight into and control over information. Not only can the average human being create or access the type of information he or she is looking for in an efficient and rapid manor, but the sheer size of accessible information has grown exponentially in the little time spanning from the early 1990s to present day. A veritable tsunami of good information and poor information alike now inundates all channels of communication, ranging from newer technologies such as the internet to revamped technologies such as television and radio broadcasting. These technologies and the information they broker have often created as much demand as they have met existing demand.

The way in which we access information reflects the quality of that information itself: attention grabbing headlines with little or no content fit well into the paradigm of Twitter, Facebook, and Wikipedia whereas accessing quality information requires a more patient user. However, it is important to separate these two concepts, the information versus the tool, as the two aren’t inextricably linked. Good information can be just as readily accessed in today’s society as poor information, and tools such as Twitter broker both. In a library, you will also find good and poor information – depending on the author you’re reading. The difference lies in the relative affinity bad information has with today’s tools versus the lack of affinity good information has with these same tools.

The following argument therefore rests on the assumption that informational technology catering to short attention spans has a much higher probability of carrying poor or shoddy information than those catering to patient and discerning attention spans. This is because of 1) the lack of discerning gates or checkpoints on that information and 2) the fact that much of this information can be created without a market mechanism guiding it. The argument also rests on the second premise that technologies do not follow a developmental trajectory (i.e. the “best” technology rises to the top), and instead follow a path of “creative destruction”. As a result, the argument proposes that mediums dominating today’s society, by virtue of their enormous following – particularly among younger generations – carry an imminent risk of turning users away from some of the better information and the technology disseminating it to the detriment of society as a whole…

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