Chapter 8: The Church of Google


Fredrick Taylor – Excellerated the efficincy of workers and improved productivity. Workers would be trained to perform a specific set of tasks in the “best way” … similar to how Google was created to provide efficiency to users.

“In the past man has been first, in the future the system must be first” Do you agree?

Comparing Taylor with Google

  • Google carries out thousands of experiments/tests – Taylor did the same
  • Algorithm or set of instructions – Google believes that citizens are best guided by algorithms which is exactly what Taylor beleived
  • Maximum speed, efficiency and output – Goals of both Taylor and Google
  • Goal to adopt the best method
  • The most efficient way – Both aimed at creating the best way of doing things

Google relies on cognitive psychology research  to make people use their computers more efficiently. “Its the next best thing to actually being able to read their minds”

Larry Page – Founder of Google says:

  • Google rganize the worlds information and makes it universally accessible
  • Google wants to know where you are and what you need to better help you
  • Google has made the internet more efficient in finding you information – engineered to produce better results

See more: Where’s Google going next?

Google Glass: Do you agree with this concept, will it benefit us or destroy us?

Google’s Secret Project?

“To be up to date requires the continual monitoring of message alerts” How do you feel when you can’t monitor or view notifications? How do you feel when you don’t have any messages or notifications? *


Black Mirror: One episode that really got me thinking…

Do you think its possible for the world to be like this one day or does this already reflect our current society?

The Digitization of Books: Google’s effort to bring more efficiency

  • Do you think in the future people will stop reading books and magazines because everything will be online and easily accessible?

“The contemplative mind is overwhelmed by the noisy world’s mechanical busyness”

The problem today is that we are losing our ability to balance the industrial and pastoral – the idea of efficiency and contemplation as two seperate states of mind. “Information overload is worse than ever”. We are flooded every moment by information when we are on the internet or smartphones. What happens if we start using google glass? What will be next?

“The ultimate search engine is something as smart as people or smarter”

Do you think computers will be able to replicate human thought? 

Talk to a computer – Cleverbot responds to anything you type, it learns more from each person it talks to, it accesses thousands of conversations to come up with a response.

As computers get smarter what does this do to our brains? We are becoming consumed by technology, will it control us one day?


Chapter 4, The Deepening Page

The Sumerians

Sumerian Cuneiform.  This style of writing can be found up to 8000 BCE according to the online encyclopedia of writing systems and languages.  It developed from pictographs (hieroglyphs).  These pictographs were pressed into small clay tokens.  Screen Shot 2017-02-13 at 10.17.13 PM.png

Overtime these pictographs evolved and became full fledged writing system by 3300 BCE.  Here is an example of their early writing system.

Screen Shot 2017-02-13 at 10.11.12 PM.png

Screen Shot 2017-02-13 at 10.23.15 PM.png

Notable features

  • Type of writing system: semanto-phonetic – the symbols consist of phonograms, representing spoken syllables, determinatives, which indicate the category a word belonged to and logograms, which represent words.
  • Direction of writing: variable – early texts were written vertically from top to bottom, but by about 3,000 BC the direction had changed to left to right in horizontal rows. At the same time the signs were rotated 90° anticlockwise and started to be made up mainly of wedges.
  • Number of symbols: between about 1,000 in older texts to 400 in later texts.
  • Many of the symbols had multiple pronunciations.
  • Used to write: Sumerian

By 2800 BCE the Sumerian writing system evolved to represent sounds.  Here is a small sampling of the phonetic “alphabet”.  See the source Omingot for a full list of symbols.

Screen Shot 2017-02-13 at 10.24.09 PM.png

Sample text on a clay tablet.

Screen Shot 2017-02-13 at 10.28.00 PM.pngScreen Shot 2017-02-13 at 10.29.17 PM.png

Scripta Continua

Blurry, but would we be able to read it anyways?!!


Screen Shot 2017-02-13 at 10.36.52 PM.png

This style of writing transcribed directly from speech.  Paul Saenger (Curator and researcher of rare books) in the Space between Words said of the development of scripture continua – “Greeks adapted the Phoenician alphabet by adding symbols for vowels”.  The addition of vowels allowed for “the reader to identify syllables swiftly within rows of uninterrupted letters”

The Gutenberg Press

Johannes Gutenberg

Screen Shot 2017-02-12 at 3.03.57 PM.png

Printing with a Gutenberg Press!



Book of Eli – 2010.  Eli must make his way across post-apocalyptic America to deliver a sacred book, the last of its kind, to the last vestige of civilized man that is trying to gather anything it can from the post-apocalyptic era.  To preserve civilization and the progresses humans have made since the Dark ages.  When things weren’t much different from what they are in the post-aocalytpic time of the movie.  The book he is carrying is taken away from him, but he carries on and makes it to his destination.  Eli, who is blind, was carrying a Braille version of the St. James Bible.  He has carried it since his youth and has memorized every last word.  He recites it orally to a scribe before he ultimately dies.  The book is printed on a version of the Gutenberg press.  They are dragging humanity back from he brink of destruction with a Gutenberg press!

The nuances of this was lost on this me until this moment!  Gutenberg press ushered in the Modern Period of man.  There was an explosion of knowledge and thought.  The Gutenberg press, created approximately around 1445 made possible:

  • The Renaissance – 1500 to 1800.  Michelangelo’s David.  Da Vinci’s creations and ideas.  Educational reform.  Perspective in oil painting.  Humanism.
  • The Reformation – 1500.  A schism from the Roman Catholic church gave rise to Protestant based religions such as the Lutherans, Anglican (Church of England, Calvinism.  Salvation Army!
  • Age of Enlightenment – 1700.  Modern Philosophy, Renes Descartes, David Hume, John Locke.
  • The Scientific Revolution – 1543, with Nicolaus Copernicus’s De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres).  Modern development in math, physics, astronomy, biology, chemistry.

Screen Shot 2017-02-12 at 2.59.03 PM.pngScreen Shot 2017-02-12 at 2.59.19 PM.png

Johann Fust, banker and money lender.  Peter Schoffer, talented Scribe and spy.

First rate Scoundrels who took away Johannes Gutenberg’s inventions, continued printing the Gutenberg’s Bible and put their names on it.

Let’s take a moment to honour the creation and loss suffered by Johannes Gutenberg!!

One last abstract point about technology, whether it is books or the internet.  Gord Downey of the Tragically Hip says it best!





The Shallows: Prologue and Chapter One

And let’s start with this!

  And this! Fpattern 5MbThe new media are not bridges between man and nature – they are nature…The new media are not ways of relating us to the old world; they are the real world and they reshape what remains of the old world at will. – Marshall McLuhan



“We are approaching the “technological simulation of consciousness, when the creative process of knowing will be collectively and corporately extended to the whole of human society”


This is Marshal Mcluhan; He is dead.





The debate summarized and explained by our friend, Nicolas Carr

The importance of the text.

Watch the video of Norman Mailer arguing with Marshal McLuhan
Transcript of the video

Marshall McLuhan: talking about the medium is the message.




The long cultural shadow of 2001: A Space Odyssey
On The Simpsons

Family Guy 

General cartoon appropriations of the film

The Space Odyssey explained

Roger Ebert’s (film critic) thoughts

Connections to other Sci-fi films 

TIFF recently hosted a retrospective of Kubrick’s films and art inspired by them

How much of Kubrick’s vision was scientifically accurate? (Engineering and Technology Magazine)

Internet Resource Archive on 2001

Articles/essays on Google Scholar




When computers say stuff with feelings (Scholarly article)

But, really, how is the internet affecting us?

How the Internet is changing the way we think

Are you really the dumbest generation? And how do you feel about that?

Author of  Interview


Screen vs paper–the differences in comprehension and recall

FpatternF pattern of internet reading

WHY READING is good for you

Reading on screen vs reading on paper, Excellent article on the history of reading, how to understand how reading on screen is different.
• Educational clip about the history of printing and reading
• Gutenberg then vs Gutenberg now: Project Gutenberg

Your Outboard Brain Knows All, Clive Thompson.

And…sigh…yet another indication that the internet/smart phones are rewiring our brains: Phantom Phone Vibrations.


The article that started it all: Is Google Making Us Stupid.–where it started

Counter opinions

Is Google Making Us Stupid? Nope!, Philip Davis

And, another anti-Carr response to the question about Google and our collective stupidity.

Nicholas Carr’s
book site | blog

How Google is Changing Your Information-Seeking Behavior, Lab Soft News Blog.

And, if you’re going to use Google, learn to really use it.


On The Media
Reply All
Internet History Podcast
Manners for the Digital Age

You are Not a Gadget and Who Owns The Future by Jaron Lanier
Alone Together

I Hate The Internet | In the Guardian | In the New York Times

The Circle (Dave Eggars)

AFK: The Pirate Bay

Aaron Schwartz: The Internet’s Own Boy

Google and The World Brain

Web Junkie

And, of course, BLACK MIRROR! on Netflix.



….take a stress pill and think things over.

The Vancouver Industrial band Skinny Puppy, included several samples from 2001: A Space Odyssey in the track Rivers on their 1989 album Rabies.  Rivers also includes samples form Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange and Polanski’s The Fearless Vampire Killers. It’s been been posted to YouTube including the scenes sampled – so good!

The Juggler’s Brain

Here’s the link to the intro video of the Chpater 7 + Digression presentation. See if you can watch it at home, or if it’s really just too hard to concentrate for that long:

About the Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex (the brain region stimulated in experienced internet users, mentioned in the chapter regarding Gary Small’s study)…Where is it located? Well, it’s right here:


Here is the scientific study illuminating the Top-Down processing purposes of the Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex:

Click to access mc1.pdf

Here’s the study’s diagram of all of the connections that this brain area makes, in case you’re looking to get straight to the point. With so many connections, it makes sense that it is stimulated when so many functions must be coordinated during Internet use:


Indecisive about your career path? That indecision may be more linked to your Internet use than you think:

Here are some of the University of Guelph’s resources to help you deal with your perfectionism-procrastination complex. Scroll down the page or Ctrl+F “procrastination” to find them:

Trying to quit multitasking and start focusing your attention? You may want to start by turning off all of your push notifications making your phone buzz and beep – they are apparently just as distracting as actually sending texts or checking your apps. Find out more:

Toward the end of the chapter, Carr references a study by Clifford Nass at Stanford, about how the multitasking brain functions. Here is an article that further explains the points touched upon in the book, as well as a TED Talk by Nass exploring his findings:

Here is a great blog post which puts into really understandable terms why we just can’t multitask:

As mentioned in the chapter, our working memory is quite limited, and theorized to only hold 7 items at a time. Marketers know this, and use “grouping” techniques to lump items together in ads so you retain more:

Here’s an example of “grouping” in an ad:


Here’s Torkel Klingberg’s TED Talk on how working memory works, and how you might be able to improve yours:

And here’s a link to his game:

The digression following chapter 7 is about the changes in IQ levels over time. Do you think we’re getting smarter, or are we just thinking differently?

If you’re curious about your IQ score, here’s a link to an online test:




How to spend Stephen King’s money

What happens when 2 authors release a book with the same title? In 2006 Emily Schultz published her debut novel Joyland (available in both print book and as an eBook), in 2014 Stephen King released his print only novel with the same title. Despite the fact that the eBook version of Joyland was authored by Emily Schultz, a few hundred people bought (online from Amazon), and read her eBook thinking it was Stephen King’s latest novel!!!!! Some of those people were confused and didn’t like “King’s‘ new book, so they returned to Schultz’s Amazon page to leave negative reviews.

The mistaken purchases resulted in a surprise royalty check for Schultz and because she is an artist, she took the experience to the next level and blogged about how she spent Stephen King’s money.




The Shallows Ch 6 – The Very Image of a Book

Evolution of e-readers

The introduction of the e-book reader gave us another medium format option for reading books. The first handheld e-book was the Rocket…Check out some of the early devices:

Concerns with Digital reading

The very things that are supposed to enhance our reading experience, like having links embedded in the text, internet connectivity, the ability to search for definitions, also make it very difficult for a person to get immersed in their book (like the deep reading issue we talked about before). These dynamic “enhancements” act more like interruptions for the reader because there are so many different things embedded within the medium to distract the user and shorten their attention spans.

This allows the reader to quickly dip in and out of the book they may be reading; read a quick few pages on the bus or while waiting in a line. But how much are we really retaining when we do this? There is a lot of debate around this answer. Many studies say that we read slower and less accurately from a screen whereas others believe that there are too many factors involved to choose sides.

Changing the Way We Read and Write

Something to think about: our e-readers are even tracking how we read our books: how many pages we read in one sitting, what words we highlight, the total hours to complete a book, etc. Publishing companies want this information in order to tailor the way books are written in order to do things like fine-tune manuscripts to reflect tastes based on the data.

Wall Street Journal Reporter Alexandra Alter talks about how this data shapes the way books are written, click here for the full audio clip   

Vooks and Interactive E-Books

Vooks: these are more than just e-books, they also have embedded video and links within them. Mimicking the style of the internet. Check it out below:

Interactive e-books are another example of the direction that the ebook is taking:

This format is much more interactive and takes advantage of the many gestures available on the ipad. Software developer, Mike Matas, explains his next generation of e-books:

What’s a Cell Phone Novel

Cell phone novels are actually books that use cell phones to write stories and are intended to be read on the same device. Writers upload texts to create short stories and readers can post comments and feedback directly to the author based on what they’ve read.

Here is a video describing what cell phone novels are:


“Greatest skill is discovering meaning among contexts that are continually in flux” 
– Mark Federman

but is it really?

This video, “How Multitasking Damages Your Brain” by SimplePickup2 demonstrates how multi-tasking is not effective.

The Moment App – Bored & Brilliant

Did you guys check this app out? For those of you that didnt, the app is something that tracks how many times you pick up your phone as well as the total screen time. Bored & Brilliant is a podcast with challenges to have you put down your phone and get creative!

Bored & brilliant challenges:

  • Keep your phone in your pocket
  • see the world through your eyes (not your phone camera)
  • Delete that app
  • Take a “fauxcation”
  • Make small observations you would have otherwise missed
  • Dream house