Is Google Making Us Stupid?

Is Google Making Us Stupid? - The Atlantic

Illustration by Guy Billout

“When the Net absorbs a medium, that medium is re-created in the Net’s image. It injects the medium’s content with hyperlinks, blinking ads, and other digital gewgaws, and it surrounds the content with the content of all the other media it has absorbed. A new e-mail message, for instance, may announce its arrival as we’re glancing over the latest headlines at a newspaper’s site. The result is to scatter our attention and diffuse our concentration.

The Net’s influence doesn’t end at the edges of a computer screen, either. As people’s minds become attuned to the crazy quilt of Internet media, traditional media have to adapt to the audience’s new expectations. Television programs add text crawls and pop-up ads, and magazines and newspapers shorten their articles, introduce capsule summaries, and crowd their pages with easy-to-browse info-snippets. When, in March of this year, TheNew York Times decided to devote the second and third pages of every edition to article abstracts , its design director, Tom Bodkin, explained that the “shortcuts” would give harried readers a quick “taste” of the day’s news, sparing them the “less efficient” method of actually turning the pages and reading the articles. Old media have little choice but to play by the new-media rules.” (Nicholas Carr, The Atlantic)

Web Deals Cheer Hollywood, Despite Drop in Moviegoers

Web Deals Cheer Hollywood, Despite Drop in Moviegoers - New York Times

Photo: J. Emilio Flores for The New York Times

“Instead of Hollywood suffering its own Napster moment — the kind of digital death trap that decimated music labels first through the illegal downloading of files and then by a migration to legal downloads almost solely through iTunes — several deals announced this month have it feeling more in control.

While studios still consider piracy a huge problem and feel stymied by Silicon Valley (and Washington politics), they nevertheless control their content. And now the Web is coming to them.” (Brooks Barnes,

Antipiracy Case Sends Shivers Through Some Legitimate Storage Sites

Antipiracy Case Sends Shivers Through Some Legitimate Storage Sites - New York Times“The Megaupload indictment reminds companies that how they manage copyrighted material on their sites could determine whether they continue to operate freely or face legal consequences. At the same time, it offers a look at just how widespread such piracy is and how tricky it can be to cut down on it, given the many ways people can send files to each other online.” (Nicole Perlroth & Quentin Hardy,

Google’s ‘Babel fish’ heralds future of translation

Google’s ‘Babel fish’ heralds future of translation - Tech Central

Image: Quatermass - Wikimedia Commons

“Because of the statistical approach, you may enter something and get some crazy translation. What we are trying to do is limit those crazy translations and ensure in all cases we are providing a reasonable translation.  This really comes from the fact that this is a statistical system. We’ve built it so you can literally put anything into it. We will translate anything you give us. It might be good or it might be bad, but on average it will be quite impressive.” (Ashish Venugopal, TECH CENTRAL)

And check out the Google Gadget Babel Fish Language Translation.

Digital Divide and Social Media: Connectivity Doesn’t End the Digital Divide, Skills Do

Digital Divide and Social Media: Connectivity Doesn’t End the Digital Divide, Skills Do - Scientific American

‘No Technology’ by Sammy0716 on Flickr

“The notion of being social on the Web is constantly evolving since we are connected not only via computers but also via mobile phones or handheld devices. The web is getting more powerful and social: new messaging services emerge each month; streamed media is becoming real even for the non-technical consumer; Google reshapes its services like a child rearranging building blocks; new ideas in federated rather than centralized systems are being explored, and more. The frequent change in layouts, privacy settings and interaction tools indicate that online dynamics require new classes of knowledge and skills to adopt such major changes on Facebook, Google, Twitter and other places in order to navigate and socialize online.

What is important to emphasize is that these digital divides, that go far beyond the pure infrastructure issues, need to become a key focus of engagement for profit and nonprofit organizations as they continue their missions to develop programs for social and digital inclusion.” (Danica Radovanovic, Scientific American)

A New YouTube, Herding the Funny Cats

A New YouTube, Herding the Funny Cats - New York Times

Image: New York Times

“But beyond aesthetics lies a deeper change, one that the naysayers have perceived, explicitly or intuitively: the redesign is a muted but firm declaration that the party is over. It’s YouTube’s strongest step away from what will be seen as its short-lived early heyday as a largely unregulated repository of funny cats, anonymous guitar masters, angry Asian bus riders and countless other weird and wonderful things.” (Mike Hale,