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.