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Sunday, December 8, 2013
Purple State Of Mind News
Tracking Purple State of Mind across America…
There is a certain irony in the fact that we are presenting this information to you courtesy of the latest means of technology, but for whatever reason there was a spate of articles (several revolving around the publication of Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains) in the news this past week on the possible downside of both our constant reliance on technological devices and the way in which we process information via the internet.
Carr first stirred the waters with his provocative 2008 Atlantic article, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” While not a technological naysayer or prophet of doom, Carr effectively argues in his latest book and in this interview that the internet has led us to become increasingly distracted on both a social and cognitive level – with current research seeming to support this, as in this 2009 paper in in The Journal of Neuroscience - further encouraging and accelerating the emphasis on superficiality, or “the shallows”.
And preceding the above items, the technology editor of Newsweek contributed his comments in “Confessions of a Tech Apostate” on the heels of a recent commencement address, wherein President Obama proclaimed, “information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation.”
Finally, on Monday The New York Times had a front-page feature on the mental price we may be paying for our interactive multi-tasking lifetyles. Is it all too much? Feeling information overloaded yet? If so, then the Times also offers several suggestions on how to disengage and digitally detox. With a gentle nod to Timothy Leary, maybe it’s time to turn away, tune out, and log off.
The profileration of e-books and e-readers (viz., Kindle, iPad, Sony Reader, Nook, Kobo, et al.) has many in the publishing business and readers in general wondering whether books will ultimately survive in an age when it seems that nearly everything is being reduced to a series of 1’s and 0’s. Not surprisingly, it was the great topic of discussion at the recently concluded BookExpo America in New York. Last week, Garrison Keillor offered his rather gloomy assessment in this New York Times Op-Ed and lamented the end of the book industry as we know it, while Ruth Franklin suggested in The New Republic that reports of the death of the industry may be greatly exaggerated. As the venerable New Yorker just announced its next selection of “20 Under 40″ fiction writers, at least it hasn’t abandoned its tradition of honoring writers and supporting the cause.
There is nothing like the smell, feel, heft, and memory of of a good book, and it’s probably one of the few material possessions one can occasionally consider, in a sense, to be a good friend. So let’s hope the medium can both withstand the current maelstrom and also endure. And amidst all the chatter – whether optimistic and pessimistic – within the publishing industry, let us not forget, as Lewis Lapham remarked at the Expo, “the power of expression and the force of imagination.”
President Obama unveiled his administration’s new plans for the future direction of NASA and space exploration in a speech delivered at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Contending that NASA needs to think bigger and differently – and much to the disappointment of some – Obama’s plan calls for the end of the Constellation rocket program and, most significantly, scrapping the previously announced return manned mission to the moon. Although Obama had Buzz Aldrin at his side to lend support, among his chief critics are Neil Armstrong, Eugene Cernan, and James Lovell, who jointly signed this open letter yesterday in opposition to the plan. With competing visions and arguments between the old guard and the new, could this be the great space debate?
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