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Original Essays | September 15, 2014

Lois Leveen: IMG Forsooth Me Not: Shakespeare, Juliet, Her Nurse, and a Novel

There's this writer, William Shakespeare. Perhaps you've heard of him. He wrote this play, Romeo and Juliet. Maybe you've heard of it as well. It's... Continue »
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The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains


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

ISBN13: 9780393339758
ISBN10: 0393339750
Condition: Standard
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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.
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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.
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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.
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The Instant Librarian, November 6, 2011 (view all comments by The Instant Librarian)
The way we read matters. Though the internet and the e-reader put the world's libraries at our fingertips, how we read on the screen is neurologically different than how we read on the page, and the difference has serious consequences. Carr's book is an informative portrait of our changing brain in its rapidly-evolving, media-saturated environment. Do you have trouble reading for sustained periods of time? Does your mind seem 'hungry' for distraction, given to multi-tasking even when there's no need to divide your attention? Do you get the sense that you're losing your capacity for deep reflection and thought? The Shallows provides a careful overview of the science behind the suspicion. In the tradition of Marshall McLuhan, Nicholas Carr offers an important (and surprisingly entertaining)warning for our times. Read it while you still can.
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(2 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
writermala, October 30, 2011 (view all comments by writermala)
What I'd expected from this book did not show up till chapter seven, "The Juggler's Brain." Till then the book set the reader up to understand the premise of the writer's thesis. It takes a lot of fortitude to read the book till then given that we are working with our internet adapted brains!

The writer has rightly defined the current brain as being subjected to an "ecosystem of interruption technologies."

It is rather ironical that I'm quoting a Rhodes scholar who said, "Why bother to read a book when you can Google the bits and pieces you need in a fraction of a second," in a site dedicated to books! The writer of our book alleges that Google is in the "business of distraction."

There is no doubt that the internet has changed the way we behave, this book just prove that the behavioral change is caused by changes to our brains over the years of change in its usage.

If you are looking for a "fast read" to tell you why you behave in a certain way now, this is not the book for you; but if you want a serious analysis of the evolution of the brain from pre-historic times to the current era, go for it.
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What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains
Carr, Nicholas
W. W. Norton & Company
Philosophy & Aspects
Publication Date:
8.25 x 5.5 in

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The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains Used Trade Paper
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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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