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Hamlet's Blackberry: A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Ageby William Powers
Synopses & Reviews
At a time when we're all trying to make sense of our relentlessly connected lives, this revelatory book presents a bold new approach to the digital age. Part intellectual journey, part memoir, Hamlet's BlackBerry sets out to solve what William Powers calls the conundrum of connectedness. Our computers and mobile devices do wonderful things for us. But they also impose an enormous burden, making it harder for us to focus, do our best work, build strong relationships, and find the depth and fulfillment we crave.
Hamlet's BlackBerry argues that we need a new way of thinking, an everyday philosophy for life with screens. To find it, Powers reaches into the past, uncovering a rich trove of ideas that have helped people manage and enjoy their connected lives for thousands of years. New technologies have always brought the mix of excitement and stress that we feel today. Drawing on some of history's most brilliant thinkers, from Plato to Shakespeare to Thoreau, he shows that digital connectedness serves us best when it's balanced by its opposite, disconnectedness.
Using his own life as laboratory and object lesson, Powers demonstrates why this is the moment to revisit our relationship to screens and mobile technologies, and how profound the rewards of doing so can be. Lively, original, and entertaining, Hamlet's BlackBerry will challenge you to rethink your digital life.
"Our discombobulated Internet Age could learn important new tricks from some very old thinkers, according to this incisive critique of online life and its discontents. Journalist Powers bemoans the reigning dogma of 'digital maximalism' that requires us to divide our attention between ever more e-mails, text messages, cellphone calls, video streams, and blinking banners, resulting, he argues, in lowered productivity and a distracted life devoid of meaning and 'depth.' In a nifty and refreshing turn, he looks to ideas of the past for remedies to this hyper-modern predicament: to Plato, who analyzed the transition from the ancient technology of talking to the cutting-edge gadgetry of written scrolls; to Shakespeare, who gave Hamlet the latest in Elizabethan information apps, an erasable notebook; to Thoreau, who carved out solitary spaces amid the press of telegraphs and railroads. The author sometimes lapses into mysticism — 'In solitude we meet not just ourselves but all other selves' — and his solutions, like the weekend-long 'Internet Sabbaths' he and his wife decreed for their family, are small-bore. But Powers deftly blends an appreciation of the advantages of information technology and a shrewd assessment of its pitfalls into a compelling call to disconnect. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
A crisp, passionately argued polemic that challenges the sacred dogma of the digital age--the more we connect through technology, the happier we are--and offers a new, practical philosophy for life in a world of screens.
“A brilliant and thoughtful handbook for the Internet age.” —Bob Woodward
“Incisive ... Refreshing ... Compelling.” —Publishers Weekly
A crisp, passionately argued answer to the question that everyone whos grown dependent on digital devices is asking: Wheres the rest of my life? Hamlets BlackBerry challenges the widely held assumption that the more we connect through technology, the better. Its time to strike a new balance, William Powers argues, and discover why it's also important to disconnect. Part memoir, part intellectual journey, the book draws on the technological past and great thinkers such as Shakespeare and Thoreau. “Connectedness” has been considered from an organizational and economic standpoint—from Here Comes Everybody to Wikinomics—but Powers examines it on a deep interpersonal, psychological, and emotional level. Readers of Malcolm Gladwells The Tipping Point and Outliers will relish Hamlets BlackBerry.
About the Author
William Powers, a former staff writer for the Washington Post, has written about media, technology, and other subjects for a wide variety of publications, including the Atlantic, the New York Times, and McSweeney's. This book grew out of research he did as a fellow at Harvard University's Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy. A two-time winner of the Arthur Rowse Award for media criticism, he lives on Cape Cod with his wife, author Martha Sherrill, and their son. This is his first book.
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