Author Nicholas Carr notes that we may be reading more than ever before. And consumers have benefited enormously, no doubt, from having easy access to information that a decade or two ago would have taken considerable legwork to obtain. We can credit technology for some of this fact - cable modems, wireless phones and fast computers. The rest of the credit goes to Goggle and its development of the modern search engine. Goggle algorithms do a remarkable job of finding and rank ordering information for Web surfers.
But is there a downside to how this information is organized and presented? Carr notes that Goggle finds and rank orders information not on the basis of page views, not on the basis of what you want to see. This approach permits Google to sell more advertising. So, rather than adding to diversity of thought and a wider spectrum of ideas, the search engine is ironically narrowing the searcher's field of vision.
My question is this: What impact is the science of search having on our current (lack of) political discourse and the public's literacy when it comes to current events? We have moved from a nation with a middle class made up of Democrats, Republicans and independents to one that is torn torn by extremism, violence, hatred and bigotry. What were once simple debates are now the subject of verbal combat and roadblocks. (Witness the recent debates in Congress on the deficit.) And we seem to be less informed, or maybe more misinformed is a better term, when it comes to current events.
Carr and other critics are saying the Internet is playing a role here by narrowing (not expanding) the searcher's field of vision. Weren't we all supposed to be better informed? If the Internet has made us so much better informed then why do people believe OBama isn't a U.S. citizen? Or why do Americans believe that corporate taxes need to be slashed when in fact 50% of U.S. companies pay no tax? Obviously the media plays a role here (see Daily Show clip), but what role does the search engine play in shaping public attitudes given what Carr has to say about it?
Please offer your thoughts about what role does the Internet and the science of search play given that our discussion about how search engines tend to narrow-cast the results and make us less informed on national issues. Refer to the Carr articles as necessary to craft your argument(s).