This theme is continued with a speech from July, 2010 by Nicholas Carr, on "The Internet and Your Brain". He speaks about how human thinking is affected by our tools. If we try to be present in all kinds of places, we will not be really present anywhere, he warns. His interest in the topic started when his own inability to concentrate lead him to suspect that his heavy use of the Internet had changed his own brain. The internet, and multi-tasking, he warns, are part of what Cory Doctorow refers to as an "ecosystem of interruption technologies". 10 minutes of selected questions and answers follow his speech.
In our second hour, Ivan Illich gives historical perspective with his remarks on how the human sense of sight has changed since the time of Leonardo da Vinci, and how "virtual spaces" have come to dominate people's realities and information materials. We conclude the show with a wide ranging but accessible 2005 speech by Heather Menzies. Echoing the ideas of Murray Bookchin from episode 512, she speaks about how reliance on standardised units and measurements inevitably blinds systems and organisations to qualitative aspects of reality. She speaks of how abstractions, performance targets and flashing computer screens distract people from what really matters to them, and of the debilitating effects of stress. In the post 9/11 world, she warns, the American population is being prepared for totalitarianism by being disconnected from society, from each other and ultimately from the realities of their own lives.
Contributors: Steve Talbott (reading), Nicholas Carr, Ivan Illich, Heather Menzies