Here is annotation of two articles that I submitted to the newsletter of the NCGE, including one from The Atlantic about the computer as a tool for communication:
Shasha, Cloe. 2008. Will GPS make us dumb? Experts say direction-giving phones could make us lose our way. ABC NEWS, June 17 http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=5179471
(accessed June 18 2008).
Carr, Nicholas. 2008. Is Google making us stupid? The Atlantic, July/Aug.:56-63.
Certainly I "power-browse" everyday, sometimes for hours, just the way the article explains. In fact, just before typing this I power-browsed an academic data base for the causes of ADD/ADHD (conclusion: two clinically-shown causes are food sensitivities, especially to food additives; and nutritional imbalance away from omega-3 fatty acids).
It's interesting that the same argument about the destruction (or at least change) of communicative abilities was made for the telephone when it was being adopted in the U.S early in the 20th century. People thought that it would take away from people visiting face-to-face, on the front porch, etc., (it did), if the "long-distance sound" was widely diffused. No doubt, technologies affect how we see and relate to the world and each other. The invention of the clock must have had a big impact on how humans experience and think of time. Its experiential and philosophical impact might be that it disassociates time from human events and nourishes the belief in an independent world (from ourselves); i.e., we see a universe that is measurable in time units, the world as outside ourselves.
I want to briefly bring into the picture something of Marshall McLuhan. You know him as the one who aphorized that "the medium is the message;" meaning that the clearest way to understand one's culture is to attend to its tools for "conversation" or communication. In that case, television, the computer screen, etc., are the things to think about. Which is the point of The Atlantic article!