According to the online survey of Web users and experts,
more than three-quarters believe the Internet
will make people
smarter in the next 10 years. Additionally, most respondents thought the
Internet would improve reading and writing skills by 2020. The survey was
conducted by the Imagining the Internet Center at Elon University in North
Carolina and the Pew Internet and American Life project.
"Three out of four experts said our use of the Internet
enhances and augments human intelligence, and two-thirds said use of the
Internet has improved reading, writing and the rendering of knowledge,"
said study co-author Janna Anderson, director of the Imagining the Internet Center.
The survey gathered opinions from scientists, business
leaders, consultants, writers, technology developers, and Internet users
screened by the authors. Of the 895 people surveyed, 371 were considered
The study was partially prompted by an August 2008 cover story in the Atlantic Monthly entitled
Is Google Making Us Stupid? In the
story, technology writer Nicholas Carr suggested that the use of the Web was
negatively affecting users' capacity for concentration and deep thinking.
Carr also participated in the Elon University study and told
the authors he still agreed with the piece. "The price of zipping among
lots of bits of information is a loss of depth in our thinking" he said.
In the survey, 21% of respondents agreed, believing the Internet could lower the
IQs of some who use it a lot.