Q&A: Nicholas Carr on 'the big switch' to cloud computing

Author says cloud approach is reliable enough for many apps, but warns about vendor lock-in

Nicholas Carr

Nicholas Carr

On the show, and in an essay that you wrote for The Atlantic, you said that Google has made us all "stupid." But there also has been research that suggests the Internet may actually stimulate some neural activity. How do you marry those two viewpoints?

I think [the Internet] can do both things. The study you're talking about came out of a college in California [and] showed that when we use the Internet, a lot of the areas of our brains are active, including decision-making parts that aren't very active when you read. So on the one hand, as you get older and you want to exercise your brain, that seems to be a pretty good way. [The researchers] compared it to doing a crossword puzzle.

But exercising your brain is a very different thing than the quality of thinking that's going on in your brain. What I wonder about is the fact that so many areas of your brain are activated when you're online, and does that actually hinder the type of concentration and reflectiveness that occurs when you're sitting quietly reading?

Does using the Internet hinder your own ability to write for extended periods of time?

Yeah, whether I'm reading or writing. You get into these very deep habits from using the Net, where you're used to being distracted, you're used to checking your e-mail every three seconds. And to sit down and not do that becomes very, very hard.

What I find is that you have to force yourself to turn off your e-mail system and your Net connection and kind of retrain your brain or your nervous system or whatever. It takes time to get back into that ability to spend a few hours writing. I write a blog, and I notice that the act of writing a blog is very different from the act of writing a book or a long, extended article. You do have to force your brain to switch gears, and you can hear the gears kind of clanking.

There's been a lot of buzz at this conference about the need for CIOs to change the way they approach IT, especially in light of the troubled economy. What suggestions would you make?

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags cloud computingNicholas Carr

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Thomas Hoffman

Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers


This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang


It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries


As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr


The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?