Synopses & Reviews
A digital innovator shows how we can thrive in the new technological age.
When Cathy Davidson and Duke University gave free iPods to the freshman class in 2003, critics said they were wasting their money. Yet when students in practically every discipline invented academic uses for their music players, suddenly the idea could be seen in a new light-as an innovative way to turn learning on its head.
This radical experiment is at the heart of Davidson's inspiring new book. Using cutting-edge research on the brain, she shows how "attention blindness" has produced one of our society's greatest challenges: while we've all acknowledged the great changes of the digital age, most of us still toil in schools and workplaces designed for the last century. Davidson introduces us to visionaries whose groundbreaking ideas-from schools with curriculums built around video games to companies that train workers using virtual environments-will open the doors to new ways of working and learning. A lively hybrid of Thomas Friedman and Norman Doidge, Now You See It is a refreshingly optimistic argument for a bold embrace of our connected, collaborative future.
"Davidson (The Future of Thinking) offers a stunning new vision for the future, showing how the latest advances in brain research could revolutionize education and workplace management. Davidson, formerly a vice provost at Duke and now codirector of the HASTAC/MacArthur Foundation Digital and Media Learning Competitions, begins with the concept of 'attention blindness,' a basic principle of neuroscience stating that individuals only see a portion of the world in front of them. Davidson asks how, whether working alone or collaboratively, we might overcome this deficit and gain a broader perspective on our mental and physical surroundings. She interviews pioneers who have demonstrated amazing success in accomplishing this goal. Her focus ranges from startup charter schools in rural North Carolina to IBM, demonstrating how to move to a world that recognizes the rich interrelationships inherent in the 21st century. Duke, for instance, allowed students to bring digital experience to their (and their professors') educational experience by giving students iPods and asking them to 'dream up learning applications.' Davidson has produced an exceptional and critically important book, one that is all-but-impossible to put down and likely to shape discussions for years to come. (Aug.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Her book Now You See It
celebrates the brain as a lean, mean, adaptive multitasking machine that - with proper care and feeding - can do much more than our hidebound institutions demand of it. The first step is transforming schools, which are out of touch with the radical new realities of the Internet era ... Davidson is such a good storyteller, and her characters are so well drawn ..."
-The New York Times Book Review
"In her galvanic new book, Now You See It, Ms. Davidson asks, and ingeniously answers, that question. One of the nation's great digital minds, she has written an immensely enjoyable omni-manifesto that's officially about the brain science of attention. But the book also challenges nearly every assumption about American education ... As scholarly as Now You See It is - as rooted in field experience, as well as rigorous history, philosophy and science - this book about education happens to double as an optimistic, even thrilling, summer read. It supplies reasons for hope about the future."
-The New York Times
"In a chatty, enthusiastic style, the author takes us on a journey through contemporary classrooms and offices to describe how they are changing-or, according to her, should change. Among much else, we need to build schools and workplaces that match the demands of our multitasking brains. That means emphasizing 'nonlinear thinking,' 'social networks' and 'crowdsourcing' ... Now You See It is filled with instructive anecdotes and genuine insights."
-The Wall Street Journal
"The book's purpose and strength are in detailing the important lessons we can glean from the online world. Rather than focusing on how games such as World of Warcraft or the social-networking services of Twitter and Facebook change our brains, Davidson believes we should foster these newfound skills, building curricula around interactive multiplayer games and training workers using virtual environments."
"Davidson isn't the first to point out [our] anxieties about texting tots ... But her work is the most powerful yet to insist that we can and should manage the impact of these changes in our lives."
"Cathy Davidson has one of the most interesting and wide ranging minds in contemporary scholarship, a mind that ranges comfortably over literary arts, literacy, psychology, and brain science. Her ambitious and timely book is certain to attract a lot of attention and to catalyze many discussions."
-Howard Gardner, Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education, Harvard University, author of Five Minds for the Future
"Now You See It is a stunning work, one that we have all been waiting for and that I endorse wholeheartedly. Only Cathy Davidson could pull off such a sweeping book. It's a true 'wow wow.'"
-John Seely Brown, formerly Chief Scientist of Xerox Corporation and Director of Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), and co-author of The Social Life of Information
"Now You See It starts where Malcolm Gladwell leaves off, showing how digital information will change our brains. Think Alvin Toffler meets Ray Kurzweil on Francis Crick's front porch. We need this book."
-Daniel Levitin, James McGill Professor of Neuroscience, McGill University and author of the New York Times bestsellers This Is Your Brain on Music and The World in Six Songs
"The technological changes around us are of unprecedented proportions. What effects this has on us and what it tells us about human nature more generally is a central question for society and for all of us personally. In this book Cathy Davidson integrates findings from psychology, attention, neuroscience, and learning theory to help us get a glimpse of the future and more importantly a better understanding of our own individual potential."
-Dan Ariely, James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics, Duke University and author of Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape Our Decisions
"In her galvanic new book, Ms. Davidson, one of the nation’s great digital minds, has written an immensely enjoyable omni-manifesto. Rooted in . . . rigorous history, philosophy and science, this book . . . doubles as an optimistic, even thrilling, summer read.”
"A remarkable new book Now You See It offers a fresh and reassuring perspective on how to manage anxieties about the bewildering pace of technological change. . . . Her work is the most powerful yet to insist that we can … manage the impact of these changes.”
"The author takes us on a journey through contemporary classrooms and offices to describe how they are changing—or, according to her, should change. . . .Now You See It is filled with instructive anecdotes and genuine insights."
"Her book 'Now You See It' celebrates the brain as a lean, mean, adaptive multitasking machine that — with proper care and feeding — can do much more than our hidebound institutions demand of it. . . Davidson is such a good storyteller, and her characters are well drawn."
“Davidson has produced an exceptional and critically important book, one that is all-but-impossible to put down and likely to shape discussions for years to come.” [Top 10 Science Book, Fall 2011]
“Humorous, poignant, entertaining, endearing, touching and challenging. It is a book I would happily recommend to anyone engaged in teaching at any level … It is devised to convince readers that the human mind is ready for the next quantum advance into our collective future.”
“Practice Collaboration by Difference: This idea is stolen directly from Cathy N. Davidson's marvelous book, Now You See It. . . .If innovation is our goal then we must pay careful attention to the diversity of the people around our project tables.”
“A preview of the future from an educational innovator... it is becoming clear that our minds are capable of multitasking to a degree far beyond what the 20th-century assembly-line worker or middle manager was trained to do...[Davidson's] points are worth pondering.”
“There is an emerging consensus that higher education has to change significantly, and Davidson makes a compelling case for the ways in which digital technology, allied with neuroscience, will play a leading role in that change.”
“[Davidson] makes a provocative case for radical educational and business reforms. . . . Davidson's call to experiment with digital schemes that turn students and workers into motivated problem solvers rings as clear as a bell atop a little red schoolhouse."
“The book's purpose and strength are in detailing the important lessons we can glean from the online world. If Davidson is right, 21st-century society will move away from categorizing people based on standardized tests, which are crude measures of intelligence at best. Instead we will define new metrics, ones that are better aligned with the skills needed to succeed in the shifting global marketplace. And those who cannot embrace this multidisciplinary world will simply be left behind.”
“Davidson's claim that mono-tasking (the idea that a person can focus on one single task at hand) is an unrealistic model of how the brain works, seems strikingly persuasive. Davidson also calls for a reform in education . . . [that] helps kids become multitasking, problem-solving thinkers."
“The technological changes around us are of unprecedented proportions... In this book Cathy Davidson integrates findings from psychology, attention, neuroscience, and learning theory to help us get a glimpse of the future and more importantly a better understanding of our own individual potential."
“Now You See It is simply fantastic. Only Cathy Davidson could pull off such a sweeping book. It is about so much more than just education or even learning. It is about a way of being. Her book and stories are incredibly important for the true arc of life learning and for constantly becoming!"
“Cathy Davidson has one of the most interesting and wide ranging minds in contemporary scholarship, a mind that ranges comfortably over literary arts, literacy, psychology, and brain science... Her ambitious and timely book is certain to attract a lot of attention and to catalyze many discussions.”
"One cutting edge of educational practice is participatory learning…and one frontier of brain research is what is happening to our attention in the always-on era. Cathy Davidson is a natural to bring together these neuroscientific and educational themes."
“Now You See It starts where Malcolm Gladwell leaves off, showing how digital information will change our brains. Think Alvin Toffler meets Ray Kurzweil on Francis Crick's front porch. We need this book.”
"As scholarly as [it] is . . . this book about education happens to double as an optimistic, even thrilling, summer read." —The New York Times
A brilliant combination of science and its real-world application, Now You See It sheds light on one of the greatest problems of our historical moment: our schools and businesses are designed for the last century, not for a world in which technology has reshaped the way we think and learn. In this informed and optimistic work, Cathy N. Davidson takes us on a tour of the future of work and education, introducing us to visionaries whose groundbreaking ideas will soon affect every arena of our lives, from schools with curriculums built around video games to workplaces that use virtual environments to train employees.
About the Author
Cathy N. Davidson served as the first vice provost fro interdisciplinary studies at Duke University from 1998 until 2006, where she helped create the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience. She currently codirects the annual HASTAC/MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning competitions. She has published more than a dozen books, including Closing: The Life and Death of an American Factory and The Future of Thinking. She lives in Durham, North Carolina.