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The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains

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The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains Cover

ISBN13: 9780393339758
ISBN10: 0393339750
Condition: Standard
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Awards

2011 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction Finalist

Staff Pick

Nominated as a finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction, The Shallows is a fascinating look at the cultural implications and neuroscientific consequences of the Internet Age. The Internet is an unprecedented educational tool and time-saver, but to the detriment of our attention spans. Carr examines our intellectual history and illustrates how our process of thinking is once again being reshaped.
Recommended by Andrea, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

"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.

Review:

"The Shallows certainly isn't the first examination of this subject, but it's more lucid, concise and pertinent than similar works....An essential, accessible dispatch about how we think now." Salon

Review:

"A must-read for any desk jockey concerned about the Web's deleterious effects on the mind. Persuasive....A prolific blogger, tech pundit, and author, [Carr] cites enough academic research in The Shallows to give anyone pause about society's full embrace of the Internet as an unadulterated force for progress...Carr lays out, in engaging, accessible prose, the science that may explain these results." Business Week

Review:

"Another reason for book lovers not to throw in the towel quite yet is The Shallows...a quietly eloquent retort to those who claim that digital culture is harmless — who claim, in fact, that we're getting smarter by the minute just because we can plug in a computer and allow ourselves to get lost in the funhouse of endless hyperlinks." Chicago Tribune

Review:

"Carr provides a deep, enlightening examination of how the Internet influences the brain and its neural pathways. Carr's analysis incorporates a wealth of neuroscience and other research, as well as philosophy, science, history and cultural developments....His fantastic investigation of the effect of the Internet on our neurological selves concludes with a very humanistic petition for balancing our human and computer interactions....Highly recommended. You really should read Nicholas Carr's The Shallows...Far from offering a series of rants on the dangers of new media, Carr spends chapters walking us through a variety of historical experiments and laymen's explanations on the workings of the brain...He makes the research stand on end, punctuating it with pithy conclusions and clever phrasing." Information Week (starred review)

Review:

"This is a lovely story well told — an ode to a quieter, less frenetic time when reading was more than skimming and thought was more than mere recitation.This is a measured manifesto. Even as Carr bemoans his vanishing attention span, he's careful to note the usefulness of the Internet, which provides us with access to a near infinitude of information. We might be consigned to the intellectual shallows, but these shallows are as wide as a vast ocean." San Francisco Chronicle

Review:

"A thought-provoking exploration of the Internet's physical and cultural consequences, rendering highly technical material intelligible to the general reader." The 2011 Pulitzer Prize Committee

Review:

"The subtitle of Nicholas Carr's The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains leads one to expect a polemic in the tradition of those published in the 1950s about how rock 'n' roll was corrupting the nation's youth....But this is no such book. It is a patient and rewarding popularization of some of the research being done at the frontiers of brain science....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. Christopher Caldwell

Review:

"Absorbing [and] disturbing. We all joke about how the Internet is turning us, and especially our kids, into fast-twitch airheads incapable of profound cogitation. It's no joke, Mr. Carr insists, and he has me persuaded. John Horgan

Review:

This is a measured manifesto. Even as Carr bemoans his vanishing attention span, he's careful to note the usefulness of the Internet, which provides us with access to a near infinitude of information. We might be consigned to the intellectual shallows, but these shallows are as wide as a vast ocean. Jonah Lehrer, author of How We Decide

Review:

"The core of education is this: developing the capacity to concentrate. The fruits of this capacity we call civilization. But all that is finished, perhaps. Welcome to the shallows, where the un-educating of homo sapiens begins. Nicholas Carr does a wonderful job synthesizing the recent cognitive research. In doing so, he gently refutes the ideologists of progress, and shows what is really at stake in the daily habits of our wired lives: the re-constitution of our minds. What emerges for the reader, inexorably, is the suspicion that we have well and truly screwed ourselves. Matthew B. Crawford, author of Shop Class As Soulcraft

Review:

"Nicholas Carr carefully examines the most important topic in contemporary culture — the mental and social transformation created by our new electronic environment. Without ever losing sight of the larger questions at stake, he calmly demolishes the clichés that have dominated discussions about the Internet. Witty, ambitious, and immensely readable, The Shallows actually manages to describe the weird, new, artificial world in which we now live. Dana Gioia, poet and former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts

Review:

"Ultimately, The Shallows is a book about the preservation of the human capacity for contemplation and wisdom, in an epoch where both appear increasingly threatened. Nick Carr provides a thought-provoking and intellectually courageous account of how the medium of the Internet is changing the way we think now and how future generations will or will not think. Few works could be more important." Maryanne Wolf, author of Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain

Synopsis:

“Nicholas Carr has written a Silent Spring for the literary mind.” Slate

About the Author

Nicholas Carr is the bestselling author of The Shallows, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, The Big Switch, and Does IT Matter? His articles and essays have appeared in The Atlantic, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Wired, and the New Republic. He has been writer-in-residence at the University of California-Berkeley and an executive editor of the Harvard Business Review. He lives in Colorado.

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 9 comments:

kfoley.bridger, January 30, 2013 (view all comments by kfoley.bridger)
An accessible review of neuroscience and how and why external stimuli affect brain physiology and a history of technologies that changed human culture and evolution, this book provides a fascinating view into how what we do affects how we think.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Mark Castner, February 19, 2012 (view all comments by Mark Castner)
If you're short on time for reading, jump right to chapter seven - The Juggler's Brain. This is the heart of Carr's argument. Don't be put off by the seemingly one-sided argument in the first two thirds of the chapter. Carr tries to balance the argument in the last one third, though rather weakly. His conclusion is clear.
If you're hooked on web browsing and know you disagree with Carr, read the book anyway. He will make you think, something we don't do enough of these days.
And before your read this book, try The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood by James Gleick. Carr's book will then hold more meaning and you will meet many of the same characters who have been important to the development of human thought.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Kiersta, January 1, 2012 (view all comments by Kiersta)
This is an excellent book about the social history of reading and the effect the internet is having on our ability to read deeply. It is thoughtful, fascinating and disturbing, although Nicolas Carr is an educator, not an alarmist. The "Notes" and "Further Reading" pages are almost as interesting as the book itself.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
View all 9 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780393339758
Subtitle:
What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains
Author:
Carr, Nicholas
Publisher:
W. W. Norton & Company
Subject:
Philosophy & Aspects
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20110606
Binding:
Hardback
Pages:
280
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 in

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Related Subjects

Computers and Internet » Computers Reference » Beginning and Reference
Computers and Internet » Computers Reference » General
Computers and Internet » Computers Reference » History and Society
Computers and Internet » Computers Reference » Social Aspects » Human and Computer Interaction
Computers and Internet » Internet » General
Computers and Internet » Internet » Information
Computers and Internet » Internet » Web Publishing
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » Anatomy and Physiology
Health and Self-Help » Psychology » Cognitive Science
Health and Self-Help » Psychology » Mind and Consciousness
Reference » Science Reference » Philosophy of Science
Science and Mathematics » Biology » Neurobiology
Science and Mathematics » Featured Titles in Tech » General
Science and Mathematics » History of Science » Technology
Science and Mathematics » Popular Science » Computer Science

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$10.95 In Stock
Product details 280 pages W. W. Norton & Company - English 9780393339758 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Nominated as a finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction, The Shallows is a fascinating look at the cultural implications and neuroscientific consequences of the Internet Age. The Internet is an unprecedented educational tool and time-saver, but to the detriment of our attention spans. Carr examines our intellectual history and illustrates how our process of thinking is once again being reshaped.

"Review" by , "The Shallows certainly isn't the first examination of this subject, but it's more lucid, concise and pertinent than similar works....An essential, accessible dispatch about how we think now."
"Review" by , "A must-read for any desk jockey concerned about the Web's deleterious effects on the mind. Persuasive....A prolific blogger, tech pundit, and author, [Carr] cites enough academic research in The Shallows to give anyone pause about society's full embrace of the Internet as an unadulterated force for progress...Carr lays out, in engaging, accessible prose, the science that may explain these results."
"Review" by , "Another reason for book lovers not to throw in the towel quite yet is The Shallows...a quietly eloquent retort to those who claim that digital culture is harmless — who claim, in fact, that we're getting smarter by the minute just because we can plug in a computer and allow ourselves to get lost in the funhouse of endless hyperlinks."
"Review" by , "Carr provides a deep, enlightening examination of how the Internet influences the brain and its neural pathways. Carr's analysis incorporates a wealth of neuroscience and other research, as well as philosophy, science, history and cultural developments....His fantastic investigation of the effect of the Internet on our neurological selves concludes with a very humanistic petition for balancing our human and computer interactions....Highly recommended. You really should read Nicholas Carr's The Shallows...Far from offering a series of rants on the dangers of new media, Carr spends chapters walking us through a variety of historical experiments and laymen's explanations on the workings of the brain...He makes the research stand on end, punctuating it with pithy conclusions and clever phrasing."
"Review" by , "This is a lovely story well told — an ode to a quieter, less frenetic time when reading was more than skimming and thought was more than mere recitation.This is a measured manifesto. Even as Carr bemoans his vanishing attention span, he's careful to note the usefulness of the Internet, which provides us with access to a near infinitude of information. We might be consigned to the intellectual shallows, but these shallows are as wide as a vast ocean."
"Review" by , "A thought-provoking exploration of the Internet's physical and cultural consequences, rendering highly technical material intelligible to the general reader."
"Review" by , "The subtitle of Nicholas Carr's The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains leads one to expect a polemic in the tradition of those published in the 1950s about how rock 'n' roll was corrupting the nation's youth....But this is no such book. It is a patient and rewarding popularization of some of the research being done at the frontiers of brain science....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.
"Review" by , "Absorbing [and] disturbing. We all joke about how the Internet is turning us, and especially our kids, into fast-twitch airheads incapable of profound cogitation. It's no joke, Mr. Carr insists, and he has me persuaded.
"Review" by , This is a measured manifesto. Even as Carr bemoans his vanishing attention span, he's careful to note the usefulness of the Internet, which provides us with access to a near infinitude of information. We might be consigned to the intellectual shallows, but these shallows are as wide as a vast ocean.
"Review" by , "The core of education is this: developing the capacity to concentrate. The fruits of this capacity we call civilization. But all that is finished, perhaps. Welcome to the shallows, where the un-educating of homo sapiens begins. Nicholas Carr does a wonderful job synthesizing the recent cognitive research. In doing so, he gently refutes the ideologists of progress, and shows what is really at stake in the daily habits of our wired lives: the re-constitution of our minds. What emerges for the reader, inexorably, is the suspicion that we have well and truly screwed ourselves.
"Review" by , "Nicholas Carr carefully examines the most important topic in contemporary culture — the mental and social transformation created by our new electronic environment. Without ever losing sight of the larger questions at stake, he calmly demolishes the clichés that have dominated discussions about the Internet. Witty, ambitious, and immensely readable, The Shallows actually manages to describe the weird, new, artificial world in which we now live.
"Review" by , "Ultimately, The Shallows is a book about the preservation of the human capacity for contemplation and wisdom, in an epoch where both appear increasingly threatened. Nick Carr provides a thought-provoking and intellectually courageous account of how the medium of the Internet is changing the way we think now and how future generations will or will not think. Few works could be more important."
"Synopsis" by , “Nicholas Carr has written a Silent Spring for the literary mind.” Slate
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