In his 2010 book, The Shallows, Nicholas Carr, an American author whose work covers technology, business and culture discusses his experience with the Internet in the last 10 years and explains how it has changed the way his brain receives information. He identifies that now he will find his mind wondering off and argues that it is his obsession and reliance on the Internet that has caused this change. He states that the net is a tool which houses an abundance of information but because of its infrastructure we find ourselves intercepting small pieces of information which are often not thoroughly developed. It is this concept that he ultimately argues is the result of us living in ‘the shallows’ of the medium.

It was Carr’s book which inspired the Interest for this project. Obviously he considers a very current and important debate surrounding the internet. I was able to relate very well to his words as I use the Internet very frequently for my own learning.

Vannevar Bush, As We May Think –

Ted Nelson, Project Xanadu –

Figure 1.Bush's As We May Think paper (1945).

Figure 1.Bush’s As We May Think paper (1945).

Figure 2. Nelson's Project Xanadu (1960).

Figure 2. Nelson’s Project Xanadu (1960).

I also thought about the historical context of this by looking at Vannevar Bush and the ‘Memex’ and Ted Nelsons ‘Project Xanadu’ (both above) to see how these ideas have materialized into the world wide web. This will provide me with the knowledge to understand how the issues I am looking at have developed. I also thought about varying implications of using the Internet as a learning tool as this will form the main content of my project. I have listed these below.

  • The authority and trustworthiness of information.
  • The ability to look for credible information and skill to decipher what is relevant and reliable.
  • The surge of video tutorials and entertainment platforms such as YouTube as a learning environment.
  • The changing habits of intercepting information, from chronologically reading a book to skipping between links.
  • The change in format, from typically written work to multimedia.
  • The physical vs virtual security of content (a book is constant, a web page can become unavailable and is forever gone).
  • Participatory culture and its effect on creativity, self learning and autonomy.
  • The democracy and widespread of blogs.
  • The effects of having immediate access to a huge wealth of information.
  • The implications of developing our knowledge and collective intelligence and how effectively we are achieving this.

These are all of the implications of online learning that I have been thinking about and are what my research of content will continue to develop on. Some of these can be grouped together and some share similar characteristics that underline the same argument or point. Of course 10 single elements is quite a lot therefore I think it will be best to group them together so I have fewer but more in depth areas to focus on.

Some of those elements listed below are not particularly discussed in Carr’s work but are still very relevant to my area of discussion. Although each area still has a lot of great individuals who have produced great research into the respective area. For example Henry Jenkins and the idea of Participatory Culture as well as Mark Prensky and John Naughton who look at the changing habits of intercepting information.

At the moment I am establishing my idea and inspiration behind it. I will look to establish evidence of its relevance and define the scope of my project before continuing to develop my research in line with the 9 implications I listed above. Once this research grows I will be able to shape my project with a lot more concision.




Figure 1. Bush, V. (1945) As We May Think. Image available at: [Accessed on 19/03/15]

Figure 2.Nelson, T. (1960) Project Xanadu. Image available at: [Accessed on 19/03/15]