Clay Shirky responds to Nicholas Carr’s assertion that “the Internet is making us dumber” with his essay, “Does the Internet Make You Smarter” in the Wall Street Journal. Shirky thoughtfully makes the case that we are living in a transitory period in which new forms of reading and writing are emerging as well as evolving meanings of “literacy.”
Every increase in freedom to create or consume media, from paperback books to YouTube, alarms people accustomed to the restrictions of the old system, convincing them that the new media will make young people stupid. This fear dates back to at least the invention of movable type.
This essay can help educators and librarians better conceptualize the scale of change and provides insights into the paradigm shift we are experiencing in how we define literacy.