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The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to…
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The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains (2010)

by Nicholas Carr

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 109 (next | show all)
This book is very timely and raises awareness of one of most important concerns for the 24x7 wired human race – the impact of internet on human cognition. As a leader, I am already observing the impact of the internet on critical thinking and problem solving capabilities at the workplace. The internet provides answers to so many of our daily problems that we end up not exercising critical thinking muscles of our brain. Anytime you have a problem, just search for it and then follow step-by-step instructions to solve it. In other words, no need to use your brain. The internet helps in many ways – you have access to information and information is power, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel or learn the hard way, you can spend your time and energy somewhere else. But what happens when you have to solve a novel problem? A problem that does not have a solution on the internet. When you cannot access internet? When you have to think on your feet? The book does not provide answers to the problem, but it raises very important questions that we (parents, leaders, influencers, policy makers) must answer. ( )
  JagRandhawa | Apr 2, 2014 |
Interesting book not for its thesis, but for the historical survey on past predictions of the demise of books (which in some cases smacked more of elitism than anything else)

Therefore, also if you don't agree with the author (and I do only partially- but I shared online my over a quarter of a century of experience in transmitting knowledge and how technologies impacted), worth reading

If anything... as a gateway to other material that is not quoted that often ( )
  aleph123 | Feb 22, 2014 |
The question asked, in short, is "Is Google making us stupid?" Sadly, I believe the answer is yes. ( )
  Lyndatrue | Jan 31, 2014 |
I'm usually not one to declare a book a "must-read" for everyone, but I think The Shallows should be required reading for anyone in education at the very least. In the same vein as Jaron Lanier's _You are Not a Gadget_, Carr looks closely at how computer technology, particularly the Internet, has changed our thinking. This is not just a superficial adaptation to a new media, we are literally changing our brains--re-writing neural pathways, growing sections, shrinking others, as a result of the constant barrage of informational tidbits, multimedia mash-ups, super-hyper-highway links and all that comes with being hip with the techno-trends.

This is not a diatribe on the ills of technology, but it is a warning that too much of a "good" thing can have detrimental effects. Starting with reading and writing (the first of many technologies), Carr maps how the brain's structures have been altered by the technological tools humans have developed over the years. Yet, as he point out, until the advent of accessible network technology, all human tools served specific functions that kept them limited: radios only broadcast audio, film and television sent images and sound, cassettes and vinyl, audio. In contrast, computer technology is a media that "does it all"--it is the one-stop shopping for all communications, entertainment, information. It is all-encompassing, and all-enslaving.

The Shallows raises questions about when enough is too much, and how we can become more conscientious users of informational technologies so that we don't lose the richness and depth that is human thought and the human mind. ( )
  Ellesee | Dec 17, 2013 |
Very interesting insights about the impact of the internet on our brains. Carr may be a bit pessimistic (and in the end a bit inconsistent), but my personal conclusion is that internet is and should remain an instrument and not a goal or a pass-time. It's also a book that made me think of my own use of the internet and its efficiency. ( )
  JustJoey4 | Nov 18, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 109 (next | show all)
Like the majority of contemporary books, then, The Shallows does not justify its length: its natural form was always that of a pithy provocation, so as an argument for the superiority of book-length prose it is rather self-defeating.
added by mikeg2 | editThe Guardian, Steven Poole (Sep 11, 2010)
 
Carr’s ability to crosscut between cognitive studies involving monkeys and eerily prescient prefigurations of the modern computer opens a line of inquiry into the relationship between human and technology. Hopefully, other writers will follow.
added by lorax | editA.V. Club, Ellen Wernecke (Jun 3, 2010)
 
His new book is an expanded survey of the science and history of human cognition. ... Mr Carr’s contribution is to offer the most readable overview of the science to date. It is clearly not intended as a jeremiad. Yet halfway through, he can’t quite help but blurt out that the impact of this browsing on our brains is “even more disturbing” than he thought.
added by tim.taylor | editThe Economist (pay site)
 
Carr is a beautiful writer. His word choice, his syntax, his sequencing... all great.
 
Born in 1959, Carr straddles the book-dominated and web-dominated worlds and is at home in both. Members of his generation, he believes, have lived their lives as a “two-act play,” consisting of an analogue youth and a digital adulthood. You could conclude that when the people educated after, say, 1990 die, there will be, in the strictest sense, no literary culture left to speak of. Mild-mannered, never polemical, with nothing of the Luddite about him, Carr makes his points with a lot of apt citations and wide-ranging erudition. Either he is very well read or he is a hell of a Googler.
 

» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Nicholas Carrprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pietiläinen, AnttiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
And in the midst of this wide quietness
A rosy sanctuary will I dress
With the wreath'd trellis of a working brain...
- JOHN KEATS, "Ode to Psyche"
Dedication
to my mother
and in memory of my father
First words
In 1964, just as the Beatles were launching their invasion of America's airwaves, Marshall McLuhan published Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man and transformed himself from an obscure academic into a star.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0393072223, Hardcover)

Finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction: “Nicholas Carr has written a Silent Spring for the literary mind.”—Michael Agger, Slate

Finalist for the 2011 PEN Center USA Literary Award

“Is Google making us stupid?” When Nicholas Carr posed that question, in a celebrated Atlantic Monthly cover story, he tapped into a well of anxiety about how the Internet is changing us. He also crystallized one of the most important debates of our time: As we enjoy the Net’s bounties, are we sacrificing our ability to read and think deeply?

Now, Carr expands his argument into the most compelling exploration of the Internet’s intellectual and cultural consequences yet published. As he describes how human thought has been shaped through the centuries by “tools of the mind”—from the alphabet to maps, to the printing press, the clock, and the computer—Carr interweaves a fascinating account of recent discoveries in neuroscience by such pioneers as Michael Merzenich and Eric Kandel. Our brains, the historical and scientific evidence reveals, change in response to our experiences. The technologies we use to find, store, and share information can literally reroute our neural pathways.

Building on the insights of thinkers from Plato to McLuhan, Carr makes a convincing case that every information technology carries an intellectual ethic—a set of assumptions about the nature of knowledge and intelligence. He explains how the printed book served to focus our attention, promoting deep and creative thought. In stark contrast, the Internet encourages the rapid, distracted sampling of small bits of information from many sources. Its ethic is that of the industrialist, an ethic of speed and efficiency, of optimized production and consumption—and now the Net is remaking us in its own image. We are becoming ever more adept at scanning and skimming, but what we are losing is our capacity for concentration, contemplation, and reflection.

Part intellectual history, part popular science, and part cultural criticism, The Shallows sparkles with memorable vignettes—Friedrich Nietzsche wrestling with a typewriter, Sigmund Freud dissecting the brains of sea creatures, Nathaniel Hawthorne contemplating the thunderous approach of a steam locomotive—even as it plumbs profound questions about the state of our modern psyche. This is a book that will forever alter the way we think about media and our minds.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:33:51 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

As we enjoy the Internet's bounties, are we sacrificing our ability to read and think deeply? Carr describes how human thought has been shaped through the centuries by "tools of the mind"--from the alphabet to maps, to the printing press, the clock, and the computer--and interweaves recent discoveries in neuroscience. Now, he expands his argument into a compelling exploration of the Internet's intellectual and cultural consequences. Our brains, scientific evidence reveals, change in response to our experiences. Building on insights of thinkers from Plato to McLuhan, Carr makes a case that every information technology carries a set of assumptions about the nature of knowledge and intelligence. The printed book served to focus our attention, promoting deep and creative thought. In contrast, the Internet encourages rapid, distracted sampling of small bits of information. As we become ever more adept at scanning and skimming, are we losing our capacity for concentration, contemplation, and reflection?--From publisher description.… (more)

» see all 6 descriptions

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