Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Dumbest Generation

Much to late to the party but I finally got around to reading Mark Bauerlein's The Dumbest Generation. My workplace is predominantly thirty and under and Bauerlein advocates not trusting anyone in that age group - presumably their dumbness makes them a little dangerous. In my experience, the fundamental difference between "them" and the rest of us lies in how we get our information and how we process it. I don't know about them being spectacularly stupid - their ability to navigate the online world effortlessly is an asset in our line of work. I learn about nifty productivity tools and applications from them all the time. That said, my interaction tends to be fairly one dimensional so I was curious to see what Bauerlein had to say.
For a book with such a provocative topic and such a lot of good material to use for a thesis, I was amazed at how hard it is to read it. I was looking for a well thought out essay. This book makes abrupt jumps between statement, references, quotes, statistics and opinion. I tried hard to keep up with any idea I could latch on to and see it through a progression and conclusion. Sadly that just does not happen in this book. The same themes are visited over and over again, new data is trotted out to support every variation of the same theme - i.e  being constantly connected and online is has a dumbing down effect. It is almost as if the author is not confident of the position he is taking and trying to inundate us with data to convince us he is right. No argument is complete without making the case for the other side. Isn't there something to be said for information democracy or the efficiencies associated with being able to do so much online ? What about the case for the optimum level of online engagement ?

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