“What Taylor did for the work of the hand, Google is doing for the work of the mind.”

When I first discovered the idea of Taylorism in HRD Management last semester, I was astounded at how often we may find the principles still at work today.  While images of a stopwatch and a harried worker may be the first thing that comes to mind for those that are familiar, think sincerely of your own workplace and whether or not a more modern version of that same picture may very well still be at play.  Now, take it a step further and apply that same framework to the internet and how we read and process information in today’s world.  Does this statement hold some truth?

I believe that Nicholas Carr, albeit that he pointed this out in his article Is Google Making Us Stupid in 2008, may have truly been on to something.  As quipped by the author in the article when referencing a conversation with an acquaintance, many minds are finding that they are beginning to think in a sort of “staccato” quality.  We scan information, stopping mid-way through to check email as it dings to alert its incoming.  We then return to that information, only to stop a few moments later again to ‘google’ a word and its meaning.  In class we crave interaction and may struggle to sit still long enough to read a lengthy passage or text.

It’s this sort of scattered thought or processing of information that Carr believes has come from our increased use (dependence?) on technology, or more specifically, the internet.  But it causes me to ponder whether or not this change in the taking in of information has also affected the way that we learn as well.  Our methodologies have changed due to technology’s influence, we now incorporate blogging and various methods into our learning assignments in class (as we do and are studying in 641!).  But is this more effective overall (collaboratively, cognitively, expansively)?  Or simply more effective as a result of the change in the way that our mind takes in information?


About hdjackson

Graduate Student at Virginia Commonwealth University studying the theoretical world of Adult Learning along with its relation to Human Resources Developement. View all posts by hdjackson

One response to ““What Taylor did for the work of the hand, Google is doing for the work of the mind.”

  • lsniestrath

    It’s interesting that you should respond to Carr’s article the way that you did. I just finished reading his book, The Shallows” yesterday. The title is a great marketing ploy. I was fully prepared to “read against the text,” (Adult 650) He spent several chapters whining about society and life in general, which cause me to turn the book over several times wondering about his age. His diatribes remind me of the comments that some of my older friends have made this year. Carr’s criticism of Clay Sharky createda feeding frenzy for those in the information technology world. His critics laughed when they learned of his move from Boston to Boulder and his relase of his net presence, however, they failed to read far enough to discover that he missed his presence and slowly resurfaced digitally. Once the complaints ceased, I was able to read along with him and to begin to understand his contention with what Google and the internet are doing to a reader’s ability to read in depth. In spite of his contentions, Carr is just like the rest of us who love the net and our tech toys.

    I recognized in myself a change in my reading habits when I read online. Carr said that many of those who had written to him after he wrote “The Shallows” expressed ideas that compulsive online readers resembled compulsive nibblers of info-snacks. I would submit that reading online isn’t alwyas relegated to shallow reading. Reading with depth takes concentration and the ability to ignore all of the stimulous associated with digital pages. This is certainly a significant difference between linear reading in a book and reading online. The abundance of information, the speed at which it flows, the excessive distractions of the left and righ hand side of the page should be considered when providing digital literacy to adult learners.

    I’ll never abandon my love for all things techy and thrive using the net. However, I still make space for lots of indepth reading and am adding meditation and yoga to my life. (Too much net time=need for mindful practice?) Gotta find someway to balance the constant flow, yes?

    Looking forward to reading and learning along with you. Guess I’ll have to find you on Twitter so that you can tell your husband that you have “real” followers!

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