This year’s Question is “How is the Internet changing the way YOU think?” Not “How is the Internet changing the way WE think?”

The Edge Annual Question — 2010

Personally, for 2010 it’s not how it changes the way I think – but how it helps me change the way I act.

HOW IS THE INTERNET CHANGING THE WAY YOU THINK?

Read any newspaper or magazine and you will notice the many flavors of the one big question that everyone is asking today. Or you can just stay on the page and read recent editions of Edge …

Playwright Richard Foreman asks about the replacement of complex inner density with a new kind of self-evolving under the pressure of information overload and the technology of the “instantly available”. Is it a new self? Are we becoming Pancake People — spread wide and thin as we connect with that vast network of information accessed by the mere touch of a button.

Technology analyst Nicholas Carr wrote the most notable of many magazine and newspaper pieces asking “Is Google Making Us Stupid”. Has the use of the Web made it impossible for us to read long pieces of writing?

Social software guru Clay Shirky notes that people are reading more than ever but the return of reading has not brought about the return of the cultural icons we’d been emptily praising all these years. “What’s so great about War and Peace?, he wonders. Having lost its actual centrality some time ago, the literary world is now losing its normative hold on culture as well. Is the enormity of the historical shift away from literary culture now finally becoming clear?

Science historian George Dyson asks “what if the cost of machines that think is people who don’t?” He wonders “will books end up back where they started, locked away in monasteries and read by a select few?”.

Web 2.0 pioneer Tim O’Reilly, ponders if ideas themselves are the ultimate social software. Do they evolve via the conversations we have with each other, the artifacts we create, and the stories we tell to explain them?

Frank Schirrmacher, Feuilleton Editor and Co-Publisher of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, has noticed that we are apparently now in a situation where modern technology is changing the way people behave, people talk, people react, people think, and people remember. Are we turning into a new species — informavores? — he asks.

W. Daniel Hillis goes a step further by asking if the Internet will, in the long run, arrive at a much richer infrastructure, in which ideas can potentially evolve outside of human minds? In other words, can we change the way the Internet thinks?

What do you think?

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