Does This Smartphone Make My Brain Look Bigger?


Edward R. Murrow from a speech in 1958: “This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it’s nothing but wires and lights in a box….” words that ring true, a half century later, for that smartphone in your hand.

In the same speech to the Radio & Television News Directors Association he said,”You will forgive me for not telling you that instruments with which you work are miraculous, that your responsibility is unprecedented or that your aspirations are frequently frustrated. It is not necessary to remind you that the fact that your voice is amplified to the degree where it reaches from one end of the country to the other does not confer upon you greater wisdom or understanding than you possessed when your voice reached only from one end of the bar to the other. All of these things you know.”

As with any iteration in the evolution of communication, from the stones of Moses, to the Gutenberg press, radio, television and smartphones.. they are tools. They are no more responsible for our knowledge or intelligence, than the slide rule is for creating the atomic bomb.

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