Episode 9: Clive Thompson on Smarter Than You Think
Clive is a really entertaining story teller, and he presents our current fears about the effect of technology on humanness in a historical context that attempts to show that our current state of affairs is really not so qualitatively different from many times that have come before. It’s enlightening to hear how Socrates had fears regarding the use of the written word; he may have been right that people’s ability to memorize huge volumes of spoken material would degrade, but he couldn’t have anticipated the incredible spread of knowledge for which books have been responsible. Clive describes many historical anecdotes like this that portray the most feared technologies (printing press, radio, copy machines, etc.) as being mainly about a shift from scarcity to surplus, and he argues that our current technologies are not making us dumber any more than learning to read and write does.
Clive has been writing about technology for a long time — I’m sure many of our listeners have read his work in Wired — and his depth of knowledge really shows in this entertaining conversation. It covers a lot of ground, from ancient Rome to modern online education and a lot in between, so sit back, listen to the interview, then buy the book!
Clive Thompson is the author of “Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better” (Penguin). He is a longtime writer on technology and how it affects everyday life, and is a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a Wired. He blogs at www.collisiondetection.net and is on Twitter as @pomeranian99.
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