What Do To

What to do?

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The information overload will most probably also affect the way we read, and several writers have pointed this out. Stephen Carr mentioned in his article “Is Google making us stupid” from 2008 that because of all the flow of information, he cannot read a book anymore, because his reading habits has changed when reading online. He says that he know uses a form of skimming activity, instead of the kind of deep reading we use when reading books. Even though Information Overload can affect the way we read, our brain adapts quickly to techniques. Guinevere Eden, director of the Center for the Study of Learning at Georgetown University, said to the New York Times that "The brain is malleable and adapts to its environment. Whatever the pressures are on us to succeed, our brain will try and deal with it."[1]

The same NYT article mentions an example that shows that we tend to be less critical about what is true and not when reading online. Donald Leu, who researches literacy and technology at the University of Connecticut, asked 48 students to look at a spoof Web site [2]about a mythical species known as the "Pacific Northwest tree octopus." Nearly 90 percent of them missed the joke and deemed the site a reliable source [3].

Take responsibility

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So how can we deal with this huge amount of information in a most affordable way – a way that does not distract our focus or helps us becoming worse readers and lazy intellectuals? Even though studies will continue to show that multitasking is taking our concentration away or that the way we read online has changed the way we actually read, there must be some kind of steps we can take to benefit the most from this information overload – a term which sends negative signals. An overload of something is seldom very good. It means that it is too much. In this case, there is too much information. So what can we do? One answer could be that we use the Internet for researching and to find articles and news. If you are working on a paper or writing an academic text, the Internet gives you the ability to search amongst a huge amount of documents, books and articles. When you find what you are looking for, there is no reason that you have to read it online. Maybe it distracts you and maybe you realize it. Print it out and read it in the old fashioned way on a paper. There is no reason that the Internet and the overload of information necessarily shall be a bad thing. It is important to be aware of the “dangers” of the Internet: As shown in some of the former examples, it is important to be critical when looking for sources on the Internet. When typing in the name of a book in the library or ask the librarian for books about your topic, they are not biased in any way. But when you are typing in something on Google or Yahoo or Bing or Whatever, they have an agenda and there is no reason in just checking out the first two pages. The Internet has great and enormous opportunities to give you a lot of information in a short time, but is important that you treat it with a critical sense as well.