Submit your own Neatorama post and vote for others' posts to earn NeatoPoints that you can redeem for T-shirts, hoodies and more over at the NeatoShop!

Is The Internet Killing "Big Ideas?"

Is information overload via the internet and social media killing our thirst for new "big ideas?" Some say we no longer have great thinkers like Freud and Einstein since we are all so distracted by the hoard of information at our fingertips that is less qualitative and more quantitative. I was struck by the grand profunditiy of this idea, but then remembered I had a few more posts to do. Do you think the web is a distraction from thinking about big ideas?
It is certainly no accident that the post-idea world has sprung up alongside the social networking world. Even though there are sites and blogs dedicated to ideas, Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, Flickr, etc., the most popular sites on the Web, are basically information exchanges, designed to feed the insatiable information hunger, though this is hardly the kind of information that generates ideas. It is largely useless except insofar as it makes the possessor of the information feel, well, informed. Of course, one could argue that these sites are no different than conversation was for previous generations, and that conversation seldom generated big ideas either, and one would be right.

Don't think this is necessarily true. There are still some great scientists and mathematicians living in the world. Perhaps it is true that scientific work is drowned out on the internet between all the other random things, but that is how it always was - not everyone discusses science all the time.

Plus now there are so many people with an access to education, especially in technical fields, and especially in the richer countries, that we cannot keep track of all the scientific achievements going on. Research budgets have also ballooned by such a large amount, so that there is so much research going on in such a diverse number of fields. We cannot sit down to report each and every single thing.

Perhaps in the past, breakthroughs were few and far between. But now there are exciting things happening all over the place.

And I don't know why the heck did the NY Times start off by quoting some s**t article in The Atlantic - who cares? At least they can TRY to bother using some facts, rather than trying to cause hysteria.

The internet has sure brought in a lot of information - but it is not necessarily quantity over quality. If people chose read celebrity gossip blogs, so be it. But there are also a great deal of professional scientists and mathematicians who keep blogs about their research. These things inspire other people. The internet acts as a platform for a diversity of people to publish their ideas, where as in the old days, you could only try to reach out to a magazine or journal if you wanted any idea published.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
No, no, and also no. We do have Einsteins and Freuds, but we have more of them and it is not as easy to go "That guy!" unless he's in a wheel chair with a computer talking for him.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
I think it's also a function of all the "easy" ideas, discoveries, inventions, etc. already being done. Now, new things require the synthesis of multiple fields of expertise.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
It is not that there are no more einsteins or freuds, there are, and there are lots of them. There are great scientists and artists and thinkers around. The problem is that there is also a huge mass of "regular" people who are indeed becoming less and less real thinkers.

Big ideas and creativity need that we learn how to think and how and when not to think at all, not that we get habituated to any kind of compulsive information comsumption which is what all the social networking phenomena encourages.

It's not just social networking, it is in fact a feature of the internet itself, or even computers. We just NEED to learn to turn things off, once in a while. Tools are tools, and they are extremely powerful companions when we are their masters. Nowadays, however, we people seem to be technology's tools instead. We've gotta observe ourselves a little bit better.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
When I read old writings, they have a different tone, a different language, demeanor, and are 100,000 times more brilliant than most of what is printed today.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Login to comment.
Click here to access all of this post's 12 comments

Email This Post to a Friend
"Is The Internet Killing "Big Ideas?" "

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.


Success! Your email has been sent!

close window

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
Learn More