Parallel lines

I find Nicholas Carr’s article on whether Google is making us stupid, very interesting. Especially because, I recently had a conversation with my grandmother along parallel lines. Whiles my conversation with my grandmother is not on reading, I can actually draw some similarities with this article. My grandmother recently moved in with one of my aunties who had just had a baby and needed help looking after the baby since she has a 9 to 5 job. My grandmother is not happy at all in her new environment and I was a little perplexed since she loves babies and she has more people to talk to now than she did when she was living in her own home. Everyone is confused about her behavior and I got appointed to ask her about her strange behavior.

After much probing, she finally confessed that she wasn’t happy because the food tasted very differently! I was very surprised since she actually cooks the meals for the household herself. So I asked her if it was because she couldn’t get all the ingredients she needed for the food in that neighborhood, to which she replied that she did indeed get all the ingredients she needed. Frustratingly, I asked her what then was the problem and she replied in an equally frustrating tone that it was because she had to cook the meals on a gas stove!

Back in her home, she always cooked on a coal pot that used charcoal but in the city where my auntie lives, she had to cook on a gas stove. She went on to complain bitterly about how the gas stove heats up the food differently than how the coal pot does, resulting in the different taste of the food. As ridiculous as that sounded, I was reminded of how I thought my food tasted differently here than when I cooked in Ghana. I was using the same ingredients but they tasted differently and I remember telling my roommates how I thought certain foodstuff in the states tasted differently resulting in a slightly different taste of my food.

Looking back, and reflecting on the conversation with my grandmother as well as on the thoughts of Carr in his article, I am tempted to believe that my grandmother must be right. Perhaps, my food tasted differently now because I cooked on an electric stove here when I had always cooked on a gas stove in Ghana. I remember asking myself why my food always tasted different from my grandmother’s although I used the same procedure (mind you, I am a very methodological person). Maybe, it was because my grandmother always cooked on a coal pot and I cooked on a gas stove.

Just like Google is making it easier for us to find the information we need and actually reducing the amount of time we spend on researching, electric and gas stoves are making it easier for people to cook. But perhaps, this easy mode has a slightly different effect on our wiring or cognitive thinking and in mine and my grandmother’s case, on our taste buds. It will be very interesting to see how much research reveals in the future about how recent technologies and small changes in lifestyles, affect us….

mnorris

Thank you for sharing the story of your grandmother, Iris. I agree that it is sometimes hard to see how the small changes in our environment are changing how we think and organize information. Certainly, it changes how we write and probably how we speak. The question is whether we need to all learn to cook on all of the stoves, or is it okay to just use one?

Dan Li

I like your story of cooking. I feel that it is interesting to compare the cooking method to the method we capture information. “Just like Google is making it easier for us to find the information we need and actually reducing the amount of time we spend on researching, electric and gas stoves are making it easier for people to cook. But perhaps, this easy mode has a slightly different effect on our wiring or cognitive thinking and in mine and my grandmother’s case, on our taste buds.” I really like how you can relate the cooking story to the way we learn about information. I agree that Google change the way we think. We are totally affected by it even without realizing. The problem is how it affects us. Thank you for sharing.

Christina Devine

Great analogy! I definitely agree that technology is changing the way we we conduct research and learn. I guess the question is, how big is this change and is it a good thing or a bad thing? When I was reading Carr’s article I wasn’t really able to see where he was coming from because I grew up having google at my fingertips so therefore I don’t know how not having google would effect the way I learned/processed things, just like someone who has never cooked on a coal pot wouldn’t really know what they are missing out on by cooking on a gas stove.

Michelle Soledad

Thank you for sharing your story, Iris! I could resonate with both lines that you shared – the differences we detect in our food and what Google has done for the way we now find and consume information. I too have been frustrated by my inability to truly capture the tastes from home, and one reason is that I think I could not control how an electric stove would heat what I was cooking at various stages of preparation the way I could when I cooked with flame from a gas burner. In the same way, Google has provided pros and cons to the information search and consumption process; we now have access to more information, but it can now be difficult to really do a deep dive on everything that we find.

Khang Pham

I really like your story! You are correct that the tools that are available to use make us think differently. I have a story similar to yours. I used to cook steaks in Teflon pans, but I never really got a nice sear on a steak as a cast iron pan or a grill. After a bit of investigating I discovered what sear actually does, and fundamentally mimic the different variables that are needed to get a good sear on the meat. In relation to how the internet affect the way that we think, we have to understand the underlying cause and effect of each situation. Once we have those understand we can utilize each tools to the full advantage. The ways that we use the tools changes the way that we think.

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had just had a baby and needed help looking after the baby since she has a 9 to 5 job. My grandmother is not happy at all in her new environment and I was a little perplexed since she loves babies and she has more people to talk to now than she did w

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