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Smarter Than You Think: How Technology Is Changing Our Minds for the Betterby Clive Thompson
Synopses & Reviews
It's undeniable — technology is changing the way we think. But is it for the better? Amid a chorus of doomsayers, Clive Thompson delivers a resounding "yes." The Internet age has produced a radical new style of human intelligence, worthy of both celebration and analysis. We learn more and retain it longer, write and think with global audiences, and even gain an ESP-like awareness of the world around us. Modern technology is making us smarter, better connected, and often deeper — both as individuals and as a society.
In Smarter Than You Think Thompson shows that every technological innovation — from the written word to the printing press to the telegraph — has provoked the very same anxieties that plague us today. We panic that life will never be the same, that our attentions are eroding, that culture is being trivialized. But as in the past, we adapt — learning to use the new and retaining whats good of the old.
Thompson introduces us to a cast of extraordinary characters who augment their minds in inventive ways. There's the seventy-six-year old millionaire who digitally records his every waking moment — giving him instant recall of the events and ideas of his life, even going back decades. There's a group of courageous Chinese students who mounted an online movement that shut down a $1.6 billion toxic copper plant. There are experts and there are amateurs, including a global set of gamers who took a puzzle that had baffled HIV scientists for a decade — and solved it collaboratively in only one month.
Smarter Than You Think isn't just about pioneers. It's about everyday users of technology and how our digital tools — from Google to Twitter to Facebook and smartphones — are giving us new ways to learn, talk, and share our ideas. Thompson harnesses the latest discoveries in social science to explore how digital technology taps into our long-standing habits of mind — pushing them in powerful new directions. Our thinking will continue to evolve as newer tools enter our lives. Smarter Than You Think embraces and extols this transformation, presenting an exciting vision of the present and the future.
"Does technology make us lazy, incapable of thinking smartly about solutions to cultural problems? Does it make us shallower thinkers, ever reliant on computers to help us mold our responses to any issues? In this optimistic, fast-paced tale about the advent of technology and its influence on humans, journalist Thompson addresses these and other questions. He admits that we often allow ourselves to be used by facets of new technologies and that we must exercise caution to avoid this; yet, he demonstrates, digital tools can have a huge positive impact on us, for they provide us with infinite memory, the ability to discover connections between people, places, or ideas previously unknown to us, and new and abundant avenues for communication and publishing. For example, Thompson shares the tale of Gordon Bell, who walks around equipped with a small fish-eye camera and a tiny audio recorder. Bell uses these devices to record every moment of his life, which he records on a 'lifelog' on his laptop. Because of these devices, Bell — and we, if we embrace the technology — lives in a world of infinite memory. Using technology also helps us make connections, not only with old friends on Facebook or other social media but with the world around us as we search for knowledge and facts about it. Thompson points out that 'transactive memory' — which arises out of our need to understand details and to connect to larger sets of facts outside our own limited social or familial setting — allows 'us to perform at higher levels, accomplishing acts of reasoning that are impossible for us alone.' In the end, Thompson believes, these features of digital tools will allow us to think more deeply and become more deeply connected both as individuals and as a society. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“A well-framed celebration of how the digital world will make us bigger, rather than diminish us.” Kirkus Reviews
“[An] optimistic, fast-paced tale about the advent of technology and its influence on humans.” Publishers Weekly
"We should be grateful to have such a clear-eyed and lucid interpreter of our changing technological culture as Clive Thompson. Smarter Than You Think is an important, insightful book about who we are, and who we are becoming." Joshua Foer, New York Times bestselling author of Moonwalking with Einstein
"Almost without noticing it, the Internet has become our intellectual exoskeleton. Rather than just observing this evolution, Clive Thompson takes us to the people, places and technologies driving it, bringing deep reporting, storytelling and analysis to one of the most profound shifts in human history." Chris Anderson, New York Times bestselling author of Makers, Free, and The Long Tail
"There's good news in this dazzling book: Technology is not the enemy. Smarter Than You Think reports on how the digital world has helped individuals harness a powerful, collaborative intelligence — becoming better problem-solvers and more creative human beings." Jane McGonigal, PhD, Author of Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World
"Thompson declares a winner in the cognitive fight between human and computers: both together. Smarter Than You Think is an eye-opening exploration of the ways computers think better with humans attached, and vice-versa." Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody and Cognitive Surplus
About the Author
Clive Thompson is a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and Wired. He also writes for Fast Company, and appears regularly on many NPR programs, CNN, Fox News, and NY1, among others.
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