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This is a great post! I would offer, though, that if there is a Net Generation, that it's reach is much farther than just the under 30 year-olds, and that in fact people of older ages - while they are more linear in cognitive patters of processing - some are rapid adopters of a more networked and data-rich world.

Thanks for this post!


That's funny Beth. I laughed out loud at the reference to JFGI. Just the other day I went to a deep and cluttered drawer in the study and instinctively started looking for a search facility. Seriously.


Anything can become an addiction. It's just a question of degree. I guess for me reading good blogs has become an addiction. ;-)

Scott Rooks

I liked the post but the 7 items at the end on helping to keep a sharper mind was very informative....if I remember correctly? Sorry I am a baby boomer so my thinking must be more linear!

Good post

Julie Borders

Fascinating post, though long! Gotta get back to FB, jonesin' for updates! ;0P

John Powers

I loved this post as a baby boomer. A part of that experience was "the generation gap." One of the symbols of that for us was music. But the kids today often know "our" music better than we do! The Internet is the obvious difference today.

In the new SEED magazine--doesn't appear online yet--is a discussion between Albert-Laszlo Barabasi and James Fowler. Fowler discusses the change in being aware of friends of friends of friends and notes that in his own life it's made him feel more responsible. Old folks like me easily focus on the downsides of the Internet and the constant admonishment"that goes on your permanent record!" without attending to the many acts of responsible kindness so important to younger people. As Fowler notes being connected makes us very aware of issue of how to get along.

Emotions are not just a product of the brain, lots of chemicals involving the whole body as we all know. The brain aspects are important and interesting, but so are the differences in the emotional landscape. George Lakoff and Mark Johnson are known for their work on how people use metaphors to think and how those metaphors are embodied. I don't think like digital natives do, but there is much to learn from them. One of the differences I think may be differences about where the mind is. We keep looking to the brain, but I'm not so sure that's where the kids are looking for it.

Carol Torgan

Thanks so much for the thought-provoking post and reference to my post "Your Brain on Facebook."

Your question of how being immersed in using the Internet, Web, and social media in general may change the way our brains function, the way we think and our capacity to absorb information is extremely important. There are two articles that have come out in the last week that help shed light on this.

On the technical side, a complete connectional map (connectome) of a mammalian neural circuit has now been published. Lichtman and colleagues validate some basic organizational and functional principles. They also reveal that neurons are longer and their wiring much more variable than ever imagined. This is stunning and painstaking work.

On the more user-friendly side, there is a great article by senior editor Sharon Begley in Newsweek on ‘Blackberry brain.’ The article addresses the cognitive and social effects of mobile technology use. It's no surprise that 'partial attention' and 'multi-tasking' are oxymorons and that the loss of mental downtime induced by frequent Blackberry use can inhibit creativity.

It will be very interesting to follow the science and ultimately see what happens to 'Your Brain On Social Media.' Thanks for your great posts and for always making our neurons fire.

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