Richard Katz, January 1, 2011 (view all comments by Richard Katz)
Carr persuasively argues that internet use affects our ability to engage deeply with text. This book builds upon his Atlantic essay "Google is Making us Stupid" demonstrating in a variety of paradigms that internet searching is producing a habit of fragmented attention.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No (2 of 4 readers found this comment helpful)
J M, October 18, 2010 (view all comments by J M)
I started this book with high expectations, but was ultimately disappointed. The author starts with a vivid premise: that our use of the Internet is changing the way we think. However, in reading the book it really felt as if the author only had the material for a brief paper, and the chapters were heavily padded out to bring this to book length.
The meticulously-cited and detailed history chapters contrast starkly with the sections that deal most directly with the premise, where the logic and details leading to the conclusions are sketchy and weakly supported.
Though the author frequently disavows whether the changes are good or bad, the reader has no doubts which he thinks it is -- though the ramifications of this change (where might the shallows take us?) are only alluded to in vague yet sinister ways. A more in depth discussion of "what does this mean?" would have been good.
In short: thoroughly researched window-dressing on a very interesting but weakly constructed premise.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No (6 of 9 readers found this comment helpful)
Kristin Bell, September 3, 2010 (view all comments by Kristin Bell)
“The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains” by Nicholas Carr is a terrific and fascinating book. I couldn’t put it down. It would be easy to dismiss Carr and say “oh yah, whatever, the internet is making us all dumb, riiiiiiight,” but his case is compelling and hard to dismiss. He isn’t even so much saying that technology is bad at all. His point seems to be that we should be more mindful of the impact that technology has on us. Only Carr talks about it with interesting and thought-provoking examples from ancient history to current psycho-biology! You’d do well to read this book in print and NOT on an ebook reader too!
This book is engaging, well written and thought-provoking. If you really believe you are getting so many things done by doing 100 things at once, you should pick up this book and think again. Well worth the thoughtful contemplation time.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No (1 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)
bookdartsbob, August 5, 2010 (view all comments by bookdartsbob)
Carr is decent, intelligent, conscientious and inquisitive, just the kind of person you would want to spend some time with. It's a good thing because the book takes some reading and, I think, requires a full reading. I have the strong feeling that some of the reviewers have only scanned the book because they did not nearly use the best stuff.
The temptation to scan everything, especially non-fiction, is overwhelming given the flood of information besetting us within the time we have for it. This book should be the exception and reading it fully helps make his argument that we miss a lot by failing to read deeply.
Reading deeply means thinking deeply, but our shift over to digital multitasking makes us the prey of uncontrolled sequences and bits of information.
We don't really fear the sci-fi specter of our computers taking over, like Hal in "2001". But we should fear becoming more like our computers, losing empathy and meaning and being subject to whatever garbage feeds itself into our little minds.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No (2 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains
0 stars -
W. W. Norton & Company -
"Review A Day"
by Edward Tenner, The Wilson Quarterly,
"Two recent books on the future of media go against the grain of their authors' professions. Nicholas Carr is a journalist who has written mostly for business and technology publications but has courageously challenged some of his readers' most cherished assumptions. In Does IT Matter? (2004), he argued that the transformative power of corporate computing is overrated. In The Shallows he goes further, questioning the faith of many computer industry leaders that the Web can enhance thinking and accelerate learning." (Read the entire Wilson Quarterly review)
The bestselling author of The Big Switch returns with an explosive look at technology's effect on the mind.
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.
by Hold All,
'Is Google making us stupid?' When Nicholas Carr posed that question in a celebrated Atlantic Monthlycover 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. Weaving insights from philosophy, neuroscience, and history into a rich narrative, The Shallowsexplains how the Net is rerouting our neural pathways, replacing the subtle mind of the book reader with the distracted mind of the screen watcher. A gripping story of human transformation played out against a backdrop of technological upheaval, The Shallowswill forever alter the way we think about media and our minds.
Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and eBooks — here at Powells.com.