Clive Thompson - Smarter Than You Think

“We think in public,” Clive Thompson tells the audience at #IF14. Author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Lives for the Better, Thompson makes a compelling case that our new technology actually enables us to become better thinkers.

Critics often say that our over-connected world is causing us to be less mindful, but Thompson argues the opposite: it can improve our intelligence.

One of the strongest illustrations of how technology causes us to become more thoughtful is the audience effect, Thompson says. It happens when we Tweet, post on Facebook, or send text messages. “Presenting, talking, or communicating in front of an audience actually has an effect on us— we start thinking harder,” he says.

Thompson has seen this on the subway. “It’s interesting to watch someone struggle to compose a Tweet,” he says. “There’s a lot of thought put into it.”

Another way technology is improving how we think is by connecting us with other thinkers, making us part of an intellectual community. Students asked to post to Wikipedia for a class assignment ended up feeling a sense of accountability for their work — which, in turn, caused them to put more care into the final product.

“One of the great delights of our modern age is that it decreases our isolation,” Thompson says. When we think together, we think better.

Kind of like at IdeaFestival.

Till next year!

Hope Reese @hope_reese