Nicholas Carr, an acclaimed writer on technology, came to the Sanford/Lake Mary campus Sept. 19 as part of the Speaker Series.
Carr has been known to urge caution on implementing technology, which comprises the bulk of his writings and speeches. Before his speech, Carr spoke with The Scribe and focused on how he views technology as affecting students, both here at Seminole State and at other institutions.
Many students here at Seminole State are familiar with his essay, “Is Google Making Us Stupid,” from their English I textbook. In particular, IT students fulfilling their English requirement might be inclined to read this essay above the others in the book.
Carr said it was gratifying that the essay has an influence on IT students.
“When I wrote that essay back in 2008 … I didn’t know whether it would have a big influence,” Carr said. “It’s really kind of a thrill to know it has that effect.”
The Scribe also asked Carr how he believes technology should be implemented here at Seminole State, and at colleges in general, to which he replied, “Carefully.”
“I think as a society we’re too quick to think that technology itself can solve all problems,” he added. “To me, the important thing is to remember that technology is just a tool. It works well for some things.”
He also voiced fears about how an overreliance on technology in the classroom could lead to ill effects.
“I fear that sometimes schools, both high schools and elementary schools, as well as colleges and universities, kind of think that the technology can replace good teachers, good classroom interaction among students,” he explained.
When asked what some upcoming projects he was working on were, Carr said he would be teaching for the first time in Massachusetts. He is also republishing his book, “The Shallows,” as part of its 10th anniversary, and it will include an additional chapter.
When asked where technology would ultimately take us, Carr said that he tries not to make predictions because “the way we think it’s going to play out is never the way it actually happens.” What he hopes, however, is that we are able to build structures that let us think critically about technology.
The main idea behind his speech given later that night, “What Our Smartphones Are Doing to Our Minds,” is as the title suggests. During the speech, he provided arguments and statistics on how smartphones merely being in the same room as us harms our attention to detail.
“We’ve never really experienced a technology like this,” Carr said during the speech, and then went on to talk about how smartphones are affecting us in ways that we may not even realize.
In a Q&A session after his speech, Carr answered questions asked by students and teachers. On the topic of augmented reality, he urged caution, and drew a comparison to an issue fighter pilots face—while in the sky, they could potentially be distracted by the cockpit’s display—and said that this could be the case with augmented reality physically distracting us. He also stated that there is no easy solution to technologic oversaturation.