Clive Thompson’s book Smarter Than You Think is about “how technology boosts our cognitive abilities - making us smarter, more productive, and more creative than ever before.”
At one level this idea (technology augments human capabilities) is old and obvious, but Thompson’s work as a journalist for Wired and The New York Times enables him to see it differently and bring it to life through examples of the present day.
Public thinking. “Once thinking is public, connections take over … Propelled by the hyperlink, the Internet is a connection-making machine.” Some of the world’s biggest breakthroughs in thought have happened simultaneously as people have connected-the-dots (Thompson’s examples: the discovery of oxygen, logarithms, the invention of the radio).
New literacies. New literacies and numeracies are emerging alongside the technologies, especially with data. Data sets and visualizations are now a mode of expression and analysis used everywhere. They are not limited to the realm of statisticians and data scientists.
Ambient awareness. Thompson observes this “type of ESP” and references social science around the “proximal co-presence” created by mobile devices. The takeaway is that new tools that help groups think together (“collaborative cognition”) have many many positive applications.
STYT is definitely recommendable to forward thinking people interested in technology, society, media and how we acquire and use information to inform our lives now and next.