Nominet issues web-Luddite smackdown report

Paul Raven @ 05-07-2011

Against the continual traffic-noise drone of hand-wringing hacks and marginal psychiatric hucksters people banging on about how the intertubes are destroying [ literacy / civilisation / politeness / sanity / discourse / TheChildrenOhGodWon’tSomeoneThinkOfTheChildren ], here’s a counter in the form of a report from the Nominet Trust here in the UK [via New Scientist]. The main findings:

  • There is no neurological evidence that the internet is more effective at “rewiring” our brains than other environmental influences.
  • The internet is a “valuable learning resource and all forms of learning cause changes within the brain”.
  • Social networking sites, in themselves, are not a special source of risk to children, and are generally beneficial as they support existing friendships
  • Playing action video games can improve some visual processing and motor response skills
  • Computer-based activity provides mental stimulation and this can help slow rates of cognitive decline

As the NS piece points out, Nominet aren’t exactly unbiased on this issue, being an organisation that advocates and works toward increasing the availability of internet access to the less advantaged. But the onus is very much on the Rejectionistas to demonstrate proof of these terrible debilitating effects that technology is supposed to be having on us… and it’s telling that they’ve largely failed to find any thus far.

Of course technology changes us, changes the ways we think and work and play – it always has done, in fact, and that’s what’s shaped us as a species. What I take issue with is the notion that change is de facto a bad thing, and to be feared as such.

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4 Responses to “Nominet issues web-Luddite smackdown report”

  1. Sterling Camden says:

    I was just thinking this morning about how Jefferson sent numerous books to Madison while the latter was working on the US Constitution, and how thoroughly Madison researched the history of confederations in that process. He didn’t have the web! He didn’t have Google! He had to hunt page by page through dead trees instead.

    If he had had the web and a decent search engine, just think — we Americans could have a government based on LOLcats. Oh wait, we do.

  2. Rick York says:

    The “internet is melting our childrens’ brains” idiots fall into the “vaccination causes autism school”. No amount of objective evidence will change their minds.

    The real horror is that these numbskulls can vote. And, do.

  3. Wintermute says:

    Oh, good, now I can take all my “technology is the DEVIL!” posters down and cancel my panoply of L Ron Hubbard auditing sessions and The New Luddite subscriptions.

  4. Ivan says:

    I’m primarily fascinated by the idea that there has never been a generation of children whose world was so utterly different from the one their parents grew up in. The Nominet report inspired me to write an article (Here be Screenagers – http://tappinginto.org/screenagers-facebooks-age-limit) on all the new skills teenagers acquire (and need). In researching it, I was even more impressed to find more and more subtle skills that even my nieces – ten years my junior – pick up on. Amazing.

    In the end, I expect that more reports of this ilk will be issued, but that their social impact will stay at 0.0f.