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Using Google 'reduces ability to concentrate'

Author believes making things simple doesn't help when learning

Using search engines such as Google could result in an inability to concentrate.

Nicolas Carr, the author behind 'The Shallows: what the internet is doing to our brains', believes that although software and the web offer assistance when completing tasks, it can cause our brains to stop learning how to do something properly.

Carr told the BBC he had studied "people who hadn't had experience with the web" as they began to use Google, for just an hour a day, to search and surf the web.

"On the one hand, a lot of their decision-making parts of their brain were activated which means it can help keep a mind sharp, for instance, as we get older. But it also seemed to indicate the kind of patterns of activity that would make it hard for you to concentrate," Carr said.

"In many ways I admire Google, but I think they have a narrow view of the way we should be using our minds. They have this very much of an industrial view that everything's about how efficiently you can find that particular bit of information you need - and then move on to the next."

He also slammed Google Books – the search engine's project to scan out-of-copyright books – to ensure they can be access by all web users.

"They're scanning these books, I think, with a view that will not take in the whole books, but they'll become more content for its search engine," he said.

"What it's purveying is this view of all information being delivered as snippets. When you go to a Google Books page, you're not engaged in a long narrative in the book."

Carr said if Google and other search engines made tasks more difficult, our brains would still get the work-out they need.

Google told The Telegraph "web search is now a fundamental part of peoples' lives" and that "users want to find answers to their questions and they want these answers blazingly fast".

"The faster we can get people to the information they're after, the more time they can spend doing what really matters: thought, ideas and solutions. With that in mind, we'll continue to make users' lives easier by innovating and making Search faster and getting users the relevant results they seek."

See also: Google: 'Concerns over Instant unwarranted'


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