Is the internet somehow responsible for reducing our collective intelligence? Web giant Google, standing in for the internet in general, has been accused of everything from killing critical thinking to ruining modern imagination. An article in a leading American magazine has gone so far as to suggest that the internet is 'flattening' our intelligence by leaving us unable to read offline. So, do these doomsayers have a point? Has the so-called information revolution mortally wounded mankind's ability to think critically? We think not. It is hard to think of a technology that didn't inspire fear when it was introduced. Socrates feared the impact that writing would have on the way people thought. Recent commentators have shown a Luddite attitude towards the internet in much the same way that people once protested against the book. When the book became indispensable to our intellectual pursuits, television was - and sometimes still is - characterised as the 'idiot box'. And now that the internet has become so much a part of the fabric of our lives, reactions to it have got stronger. That the internet has made so much information easily accessible to us in so short a time has meant that we have developed the capacity to absorb information at a speed undreamt of in history. This process is bound to affect our reading habits. While on paper, the reader must focus on the author's vision for a sustained period of time, on the internet she is free to skip around and compose her own narrative structure, reading a paragraph here or there. Perhaps it is true that more people are getting their information online, at the expense of reading offline. This isn't a bad thing, however. The internet makes us develop different kinds of skills, such as locating information quickly and corroborating that information from other sources. These skills can be just as demanding as wading through a 400-page book. The mistake that critics of the internet make is in regarding it as something of a Frankenstein's monster, a creation of mankind that has already spun out of control and will come back to haunt him. But this is hardly accurate. When any civilisation comes into contact with a new technology, it changes in profound and unexpected ways. That's happened before and will happen again.