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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: WW Norton; Reprint edition (June 7 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393339750
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393339758
  • Product Dimensions: 1.4 x 0.2 x 2.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 254 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,996 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Nicholas Carr has written an important and timely book. See if you can stay off the web long enough to read it! --Elizabeth Kolbert, author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change"

Customer Reviews

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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Cameron-Smith TOP 50 REVIEWER on Sept. 1 2010
Format: Hardcover
Is our constant exposure to electronic stimuli good for us? Can we transform the data we receive into the knowledge we need? Are we swapping deep understanding for shallow distractions?

In this book, Nicholas Carr argues that our constant exposure to multiple and faster data streams is changing the way our brains are wired. This change, which is due to the inherent plasticity of the brain, tends to reduce our capacity to absorb and retain what we read. Mr Carr cites a number of different studies to support his views, and the book makes for interesting reading.

Mr Carr acknowledges that the digital world brings both advantage and disadvantage: `Every tool imposes limitations even as it opens possibilities.' The Internet is a wonderful tool for finding information, but value usually requires some analysis, and often requires a context which is not always immediately obvious. How do we find a balance between those aspects of life that require self-awareness, time and careful consideration, and those aspects of life where an automatic (or semi automatic) response is more appropriate and perhaps even required? Do we understand what choices we have, or are we responding in line with the immediacy of the medium we are using? Are we consumers of data or evaluators of information? Does it matter? I think it does: `The more distracted we become, the less able we are to experience the subtlest, most distinctly human forms of empathy, compassion, and emotion.'

The most valuable aspect of this book, to me, was thinking about the short and long term consequences of the Internet. Those of us who grew to adulthood before the Internet shaped the way we work and communicate have (to varying degrees) embraced the benefits and new possibilities afforded.

A return to the past is neither possible nor desirable - but conscious choice is both.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Alia on Jan. 13 2011
Format: Hardcover
Why aren't there more reviews of this book? Nicholas Carr's book is less to do with the internet, and more to do with how human thinking has evolved with the development of new communication technologies -- I picked it up because largely because of perverse pleasure in reading articles that bash the dumbing-down qualities of the internet, but it turned out to be a very well-balanced, well-argued, and ultimately frightening book about how even educated adult brains can be moulded to fit the ADD-multitask thought process made possible (and encouraged) by the internet. If you're wondering why you can't seem to type out a paragraph without simultaneously checking the Huffington Post, listening to a song on YouTube, watching a video on Failblog (or Cuteoverload, whichever your drug is), then this book will solve the mystery for you.

And while it solves no problems, it will make you more aware of what you are doing to yourself.
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Format: Kindle Edition
According to the dominant view, our brains have considerable plasticity, the ability to rewire in adaptation to the ways we typically use them. This can be quite a good thing, of course, but Nicholas Carr wants us to understand that a brain that can acquire new habits can just as easily lose old ones.

His bestseller "The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains" traces the development of the major language technologies that have transformed not only our cultures but also, more importantly for his thesis, the very ways our brains work.

He picks out language as the key element: “Because language is, for human beings, the primary vessel of conscious thought, particularly higher forms of thought, the technologies that restructure language tend to exert the strongest influence over our intellectual lives.”

Carr warns: "Although neuroplasticity provides an escape from genetic determinism, a loophole for free thought and free will, it also imposes its own form of determinism on our behavior. As particular circuits in our brain strengthen through the repetition of a physical or mental activity, they begin to transform that activity into a habit."

At each major turn in our language history, the ways we structure and understand the world changed. From alliterative and rhyming oral histories, to early writing, from readable separate word script to the printing press, from quill pens to typewriters, and now to the internet — each technological advance changed our external relationship with words and ideas, and each restructured our brain circuits in response.

There is of course a long tradition of shrill and dire warnings about the evils inherent in the future coming from adherents to the ways of the past.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Trevor Jones on Aug. 11 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book is deeply personal, written directly to each of the hundreds of millions of people who spend many hours a day in front of a monitor. For those like me who are middle age, this provides incredible context for something we were likely glancingly aware of; the Internet, through e-books, computers and smart phones, is changing our brains. Nicholas Carr brings together a rich set of scientific and philosophical sources to demonstrate how technology that extends our intellect (clocks, maps, alphabets, the printing press, the computer, the Internet) has ended up changing everything from our worldview to the physical makeup of our brains. The chapter on Google is an insightful aside, reinforcing the main point that "our ability to engage in 'meditative thinking'...might become a victim of headlong progress." The author builds a case that being "Internet-connected" while trying to engage is meditative thinking is like reading a book while doing a crossword puzzle. It cannot be effectively done. The concern is that we are losing an essential element of our humanity and becoming more like the machines we spend so much time engaging with. Since computers aren't going away, and indeed are increasingly enriching our society in so many ways, this left me wondering how we teach our children to think calculatively and meditatively. Surely someone who is able to effectively combine calculative thinking (ie expertise in data mining) with meditative thinking (using data to drive real insights from complex, personal schema) has limitless opportunities.
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