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Michel Roland-Guill

The End of Solitude - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education - 0 views

  • The camera has created a culture of celebrity; the computer is creating a culture of connectivity. As the two technologies converge — broadband tipping the Web from text to image, social-networking sites spreading the mesh of interconnection ever wider — the two cultures betray a common impulse. Celebrity and connectivity are both ways of becoming known. This is what the contemporary self wants. It wants to be recognized, wants to be connected: It wants to be visible.
  • I once asked my students about the place that solitude has in their lives. One of them admitted that she finds the prospect of being alone so unsettling that she'll sit with a friend even when she has a paper to write. Another said, why would anyone want to be alone?

  • Man may be a social animal, but solitude has traditionally been a societal value. In particular, the act of being alone has been understood as an essential dimension of religious experience, albeit one restricted to a self-selected few. Through the solitude of rare spirits, the collective renews its relationship with divinity.
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  • Communal experience is the human norm, but the solitary encounter with God is the egregious act that refreshes that norm.
  • Like other religious values, solitude was democratized by the Reformation and secularized by Romanticism.
  • The child who grew up between the world wars as part of an extended family within a tight-knit urban community became the grandparent of a kid who sat alone in front of a big television, in a big house, on a big lot. We were lost in space.

    Under those circumstances, the Internet arrived as an incalculable blessing

  • For Emerson, "the soul environs itself with friends, that it may enter into a grander self-acquaintance or solitude; and it goes alone, for a season, that it may exalt its conversation or society."
  • Modernism decoupled this dialectic. Its notion of solitude was harsher, more adversarial, more isolating. As a model of the self and its interactions, Hume's social sympathy gave way to Pater's thick wall of personality and Freud's narcissism — the sense that the soul, self-enclosed and inaccessible to others, can't choose but be alone. With exceptions, like Woolf, the modernists fought shy of friendship. Joyce and Proust disparaged it; D.H. Lawrence was wary of it; the modernist friendship pairs — Conrad and Ford, Eliot and Pound, Hemingway and Fitzgerald — were altogether cooler than their Romantic counterparts.
  • Protestant self-examination becomes Freudian analysis, and the culture hero, once a prophet of God and then a poet of Nature, is now a novelist of self — a Dostoyevsky, a Joyce, a Proust.
  • Romantic solitude existed in a dialectical relationship with sociability
  • My students told me they have little time for intimacy. And of course, they have no time at all for solitude.

    But at least friendship, if not intimacy, is still something they want.

  • In fact, their use of technology — or to be fair, our use of technology — seems to involve a constant effort to stave off the possibility of solitude, a continuous attempt, as we sit alone at our computers, to maintain the imaginative presence of others.
  • The more we keep aloneness at bay, the less are we able to deal with it and the more terrifying it gets.
  • the previous generation's experience of boredom
  • The two emotions, loneliness and boredom, are closely allied. They are also both characteristically modern. The Oxford English Dictionary's earliest citations of either word, at least in the contemporary sense, date from the 19th century.
  • Boredom is not a necessary consequence of having nothing to do, it is only the negative experience of that state. Television, by obviating the need to learn how to make use of one's lack of occupation, precludes one from ever discovering how to enjoy it. In fact, it renders that condition fearsome, its prospect intolerable. You are terrified of being bored — so you turn on the television.
  • consumer society wants to condition us to feel bored, since boredom creates a market for stimulation.
  • The alternative to boredom is what Whitman called idleness: a passive receptivity to the world.
  • Loneliness is not the absence of company, it is grief over that absence.
  • Internet is as powerful a machine for the production of loneliness as television is for the manufacture of boredom.
  • And losing solitude, what have they lost? First, the propensity for introspection, that examination of the self that the Puritans, and the Romantics, and the modernists (and Socrates, for that matter) placed at the center of spiritual life — of wisdom, of conduct. Thoreau called it fishing "in the Walden Pond of [our] own natures," "bait[ing our] hooks with darkness." Lost, too, is the related propensity for sustained reading.
  • Solitude, Emerson said, "is to genius the stern friend." "He who should inspire and lead his race must be defended from traveling with the souls of other men, from living, breathing, reading, and writing in the daily, time-worn yoke of their opinions." One must protect oneself from the momentum of intellectual and moral consensus — especially, Emerson added, during youth.
  • The university was to be praised, Emerson believed, if only because it provided its charges with "a separate chamber and fire" — the physical space of solitude. Today, of course, universities do everything they can to keep their students from being alone, lest they perpetrate self-destructive acts, and also, perhaps, unfashionable thoughts.
  • The last thing to say about solitude is that it isn't very polite.
  • the ability to stand back and observe life dispassionately, is apt to make us a little unpleasant to our fellows
Michel Roland-Guill

Brain doctor: Spend five hours on the Internet and call me in the morning | j. the Jewi... - 0 views

  • Dr. Gary Small says bringing younger and older people together helps optimize the neural circuitry for both generations.
  • Small, director of the UCLA Center on Aging, described results of research he and colleagues performed with volunteers between the ages of 55 and 76.
Michel Roland-Guill

Nicholas G. Carr - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - 0 views

  • Carr originally came to prominence with the 2003 Harvard Business Review article "IT Doesn't Matter" and the 2004 book Does IT Matter? Information Technology and the Corrosion of Competitive Advantage (Harvard Business School Press). In these widely discussed works, he argued that the strategic importance of information technology in business has diminished as IT has become more commonplace, standardized and cheaper.
  • In 2005, Carr published the controversial [4] article "The End of Corporate Computing" in the MIT Sloan Management Review, in which he argued that in the future companies will purchase information technology as a utility service from outside suppliers.
  • Through his blog "Rough Type," Carr has been a critic of technological utopianism and in particular the populist claims made for online social production. In his 2005 blog essay titled "The Amorality of Web 2.0," he criticized the quality of volunteer Web 2.0 information projects such as Wikipedia and the blogosphere and argued that they may have a net negative effect on society by displacing more expensive professional alternatives.
Michel Roland-Guill

Rough Type: Nicholas Carr's Blog: Minds like sieves - 2 views

  • we may be entering an era in history in which we will store fewer and fewer memories inside our own brains.
    • Michel Roland-Guill
       
      conclusion un peu rapide: plutôt que moins de mémorisation ce peut être une différente forme de mémorisation, plutôt que mémorisation des faits mémorisation des lieux de stockage des faits.
  • external storage and biological memory are not the same thing
  • When we form, or "consolidate," a personal memory, we also form associations between that memory and other memories that are unique to ourselves and also indispensable to the development of deep, conceptual knowledge. The associations, moreover, continue to change with time, as we learn more and experience more. As Emerson understood, the essence of personal memory is not the discrete facts or experiences we store in our mind but "the cohesion" which ties all those facts and experiences together. What is the self but the unique pattern of that cohesion?
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  • We are becoming symbiotic with our computer tools
  • "It seems that when we are faced with a gap in our knowledge, we are primed to turn to the computer to rectify the situation."
  • "when people expect to have future access to information, they have lower rates of recall of the information itself and enhanced recall instead for where to access it."
  • we seem to have trained our brains to immediately think of using a computer when we're called on to answer a question or otherwise provide some bit of knowledge.
  • people who believed the information would be stored in the computer had a weaker memory of the information than those who assumed that the information would not be available in the computer
  • believing that one won’t have access to the information in the future enhances memory for the information itself, whereas believing the information was saved externally enhances memory for the fact that the information could be accessed, at least in general.
  • when people expect information to remain continuously available (such as we expect with Internet access), we are more likely to remember where to find it than we are to remember the details of the item.
Michel Roland-Guill

Internet : pourquoi le net ne dispense aucune connaissance | Atlantico - 0 views

  • Connaître un objet ne consiste pas, en effet, à collectionner les informations relatives à cet objet.
  • la compétence est une composante indissociable de toute connaissance
  • la connaissance doit s’appuyer sur des institutions, des universités, des traditions, des principes…
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