Creating a Thought Stack

Post ImageI came across a really interesting post yesterday at Mashable! entitled Why Google Is Making Us Dumber. Eye-catching title is it not? Stan, the author, argues that our growing reliance on Google might cause problems when Google isn’t around:

I used to be able to quickly convert pounds to kilograms. Currently, I lack this knowledge, because I know that Google has built-in unit conversion capabilities. Simply type X pounds to kilograms into Google and you get the answer.

What happens if I’m abroad and need to quickly convert between pounds and kilograms? Problem.

As for being abroad: the Internet is almost everywhere! Soon it will be, so I am not sure we should be so concerned with that. It’s true, Google knows all kinds of great information: math, conversions, capital cities, currency conversions, etc. I relied very heavily on the conversion capabilities while doing my astronomy homework this past year. Does that make me dumber? No.

I think Stan is wrong to suggest that Google is making us dumber. Instead, Google allows us to put our energy towards more important thought activities. Generally speaking, math or unit conversions are just small pieces in a larger puzzle. If we don’t have to worry about these smaller pieces, we can put more effort into solving the puzzle.

I think Google is just one piece in a “thought stack” – roughly analogous to a web server in a technology solution stack. Imagine if you had to build a web server every time you wanted to create a website…you’d never get the website built! It wouldn’t be worth the effort. So instead we have a general purpose web server that we build on top of. Google is like that general purpose web server, but for basic kinds of thought activities. Instead of doing a conversion everytime you are designing a widget, Google does the conversion and you focus on the widget.

(It should be noted that Google could be replaced with something else, just like Apache and IIS do the same job and are replacements for one another.)

If you like the idea of the technological singularity, this “thought stack” should make a lot of sense. Perhaps one day the Google-like module will be embedded directly into our brains.

Read: Mashable!

2 thoughts on “Creating a Thought Stack

  1. I think that for you, I and others, your comments are valid Mack. Conversely, I’d also so that for lazy people, Google is a tool to enable them to become more lazy – they don’t use those extra cycles for anything else productive.

  2. I don’t know. Calculator and ink filled pens used to be the scouge of the new World.

    "’There is no reason why anyone would want a computer in the home"

    Ken Olson, President, Chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corporation, 1977

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