It's fashionable to cry about how Twitter and other new forms of electronic media are making us intellectually lazy and downright stupid. In fact, the opposite is true, writes Harvard's Steven Pinker. "Don’t rail at PowerPoint or Google," he writes. "It’s not as if habits of deep reflection, thorough research and rigorous reasoning ever came naturally to people. They must be acquired in special institutions, which we call universities, and maintained with constant upkeep, which we call analysis, criticism and debate."
Instead of carping about distractions, use a little "self-control" and, say, turn off the BlackBerry during dinner, writes Pinker in the New York Times. "Knowledge is increasing exponentially; human brainpower and waking hours are not. Fortunately, the Internet and information technologies are helping us manage, search and retrieve our collective intellectual output at different scales, from Twitter and previews to e-books and online encyclopedias. Far from making us stupid, these technologies are the only things that will keep us smart."