Carr’s assertions of the production of stupidity on the internet are grounded in a similar argument made by Marshal McLuhan, whose famous aphorism, “The Medium is the Message,” is now more or less ubiquitous. It refers to a very similar phenomenon described by Carr in his examples of the clock and the telegraph, as well as Nietzsche’s use of a typewriter. McLuhan’s aphorism asserts that any message in a new medium is necessarily co-determined by previous technologies. Walter Benjamin writes of just this sort of effect of the relation between photography and commercial society: the photograph’s reproducibility exploded on the commodity scene as a revolutionary force. Carr is outlining the passage from the enlightenment to now in a historiography of technology–somewhat arbitrary and incomplete. Was it not the enlightenment that first conceived of the rationalization of civil society, and the movement from mythological knowledge into scientific?
At any rate, I started skim-reading when I entered grad school in which I am assigned far too much reading than can be realistically done in the chunks of time given. Who can read 400 pages of dense theory a week for one class? And yet the pages are assigned, nonetheless. Some of the more honest professors will of course tell me that I shouldn’t even try to finish all of it. I can also say that I MUCH prefer reading deeply, and if anything is hindering me from that, it’s the bulk of readings I must charge through every week. That’s not to say that education done in this way isn’t useful, but it is to point out that my relation to the internet does not lessen my interest in deep reading.