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The End Of Absence: Reclaiming What We’ve Lost in a World of Constant Connection by [Harris, Michael]
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The End Of Absence: Reclaiming What We’ve Lost in a World of Constant Connection Kindle Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Review

"The End of Absence is a genial and philosophical tour through one man’s anxieties surrounding digital life.”
The New York Times

"Harris has caught, with brilliant fidelity and incisiveness, a hinge-point in modern history: Before and After the Digital Rapture. The End of Absence deserves a place alongside Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death and Sherry Turkle’s Life on the Screen. A great, important (and fun) read. I couldn’t in good conscience lend out my copy: every other page is dog-eared."
Bruce Grierson, author of What Makes Olga Run?

“This is a lovely, direct, and beautifully written book that will make you feel good about living in the times we do. Michael Harris is honest in a way I find increasingly rare: clear, truthful, and free of vexation. A true must-read.”
Douglas Coupland, author of Worst. Person. Ever. and Generation X

The End of Absence is a beautifully written and surprisingly rousing book. Michael Harris scans the flotsam of our everyday, tech-addled lives and pulls it all together to create a convincing new way to talk about our relationship with the Internet. He has taken the vague technological anxiety we all live with and shaped it into a bold call for action.”
Steven Galloway, author of The Confabulist and The Cellist of Sarajevo

“Everybody over sixty should read this book. The rest of the population will need no urging, unless they are too far gone to read anything longer than a blurb. The first part reads like a horror story, a shocking mind-thriller. In the second half the author, despite real foreboding, demonstrates in his own person that all is far from lost. Relief, after much learning.”
Margaret Visser, author of Much Depends on Dinner

“In this thoughtful, well-written book, Michael Harris combines personal narrative with the views of experts to show us that the digital revolution that envelops us contains traps that can lead us to understand less even as we seem to know more.”
Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice and Practical Wisdom

Product Description

Only one generation in history (ours) will experience life both with and without the Internet. For everyone who follows us, online life will simply be the air they breathe. Today, we revel in ubiquitous information and constant connection, rarely stopping to consider the implications for our logged-on lives.

Michael Harris chronicles this massive shift, exploring what we’ve gained—and lost—in the bargain. In this eloquent and thought-provoking book, Harris argues that our greatest loss has been that of absence itself—of silence, wonder and solitude. It’s a surprisingly precious commodity, and one we have less of every year. Drawing on a vast trove of research and scores of interviews with global experts, Harris explores this “loss of lack” in chapters devoted to every corner of our lives, from sex and commerce to memory and attention span. The book’s message is urgent: once we’ve lost the gift of absence, we may never remember its value.


Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 895 KB
  • Print Length: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (Aug. 5 2014)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers CA
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00ICNI2HK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #54,932 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
Harris has written a beautiful book, giving us not only a moment of introspection, but a reason to treasure those moments. Wry, intelligent, and well researched, The End of Absence leaves just enough gaps for readers to test their own lives and experiences against the premise that being connected all the time can end with being disconnected from themselves. This book presented me with a personal call to action, to rethink how I live my own internal life, and the life I want to give to my children. Rather than witnessing a rejection of technology, we as readers get to take part in an examination of the complex reality that we now inhabit.
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Format: Hardcover
Harris is a beautiful writer who cleverly weaves his wit and (at times, deliciously viscous) cunning social observations around a timely topic. The End of Absence is an important book giving a thoughtful pause for consideration as well as a call for action for all generations as we grapple with the implications of a new technological world.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Good idea !

Interesting subject on a matter that we might have been subconscious about, but now we can se more clearly what we felt.
At least, those of us who reflect about what had just happened in the last twenty-five years...
Will certainly try to pass it on to my young adult sons, just to see if amongst members of that generation it would still be pertinent food for thought, hopefully.

Thanks.
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Format: Hardcover
3.5 Stars...

Michael Harris identifies as a member of the last generation to have experienced adult life without the Internet (he identifies 1985 as the birth year separating digital natives from “digital immigrants”). Arguably, then, he sits in an authoritative position to discuss advantages and disadvantages of the online paradigm shift, perhaps the greatest of its kind since Gutenberg invented moveable type in the 15th century. "The End of Absence" asserts that moments of solitude, slowness and contemplation have disappeared from our lives at the hands of constant connection: emails, text messages, Instagram photos and YouTube videos.

In order to examine the detrimental effects of online surfing on concentration and memory, Harris takes a month-long sabbatical from the Internet. He provides a range of thought-provoking insights in attempting to reclaim control over his inner life and he refreshingly avoids the panicked, dominating tone that pervades the work of other digital dissenters. But his conclusion breaks no new ground: the Internet has become so essential that simply "opting out" is not an option, at least for the long term.

Harris analyzes how the online world invades and degrades our modern existence with intelligence and lucidity but readers can't help feeling dissatisfied with the author's limited treatment of the concept he refers to as "absence." Many digital immigrants find nothing more depressing than watching a group of people around a restaurant table, all of them feverishly engaged with their smartphones. Does this not constitute absence? Harris indeed acknowledges this paradoxical situation but doesn’t fully pursue its implications. In the end, readers wonder if mobile technology might create not a dearth of absence, but an overabundance of it.
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Format: Hardcover
I read this book during a first trip to Las Vegas (contrasted by a drive to San Diego after the patina of Las Vegas had worn off). Mr. Harris makes a number of erudite comments about the ubiquity of the Internet and how it is causing persons to use the new connective application to embrace supercilious personas (not unlike the way many act while in Las Vegas). Mr. Harris stops short of explicating the larger impact of how persons ability to freely express opinions (often in accurately) is degrading the credibility of online information. As such even though his thesis of "absence" is asserted and he explicates that there is a need for technology to be used in a discriminating manner, he ultimately comes across as an apologist for what has now become the invasive nature of the Internet (we are implicitly extolled to embrace the cloud and give up the last vestiges of privacy).

I recommend this book as good start to a conversation which should grow as the veracity of online information continues to diminish. Mr. Harris would have done well to have expanded upon in this well written book a deeper assessment of how the pressure to connect electronically is decimating legitimate pre-Internet means of communication.
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Format: Hardcover
This book struck a chord with me. Being a member of the last generation to live pre Internet, I think it's important to record and report to those post Internet about a lifestyle which they will likely never truly know. Despite the many negative aspects associated with this new reality I think it is important to note the positive and hopefully direct our relationship with technology in a functional and empowering direction. Good read.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Good premise. Scattered delivery. Quite poorly laid out flow of ideas that were fragmented and became boring to follow.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was undecided on 1 or 2 stars. The author doesn't seem to have many thoughts of his own and instead relies on quotes and excerpts from other people. The stream-of-consciousness writing style is very difficult tto read. He goes back to the invention of moveable type printing, seemingly, as the source of today's all too prevalent level of distractedness from society at large, narcissistic isolationism and comfort in things rather than with people.

The worthwhile topic is not given due treatment because of the poor writing and over-reliance on the words of others. Many themes are repeated and restated. The book would probably have been better as a long-form newspaper or magazine article. Perhaps then the author would have been more focused and able to make his point more effectively.

The author also writes as though he is, and the rest of us are, controlled by the technology rather than being in control of it. That premise is one that I find weak and unsupportable. The technology controls you only if you allow it to. Any assertion to the contrary is simply wrong.
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