Garbage In

As much as I like think that I know a lot about anything (I don’t), it’s always important to remember the fundamentals.  Like this nugget I learned way back in grade ten computer class:

“Garbage In, Garbage Out”

This lesson was taught to us with the thinking that the computer was just a machine.  If you put garbage in, it’ll spit garbage out.  A simple and sweet adage (or disgusting depending on how you look at it), just how I like it.

Recently though, this lesson has resonated with me again as I dive deeper into The Shallows, by Nicholas Carr.  He tries to uncover the answer to an important question in our age of information: “As we enjoy the Net’s bounties, are we sacrificing our ability to read and think deeply?”  The brain after all is a computing device (albeit not a Von Neumann machine).   If we spend all day on the internet inputting Facebook, Twitter, Digg, reddit, WoW, porn… into our brains, what happens to it?  Garbage in…

The result just can’t be the same as someone who spends their time reading (entire) books and interacting with real people.  For me, my brain is one of my most important assets.  I’m going to make sure I put something useful inside, so I don’t have garbage coming out.