The best-selling author of The Big Switch returns with an explosive look at technology’s effect on the mind.
“Is Google making us stupid?” When Nicholas Carr posed that question in an 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 Internet’s bounties, are we sacrificing our ability to read and think deeply?
Now, Carr expands his argument into the most compelling exploration yet published of the Internet’s intellectual and cultural consequences. Weaving insights from philosophy, neuroscience, and history into a rich narrative, The Shallows explains how the Internet 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 Shallows will forever alter the way we think about media and our minds.
©2010 Nicholas Carr (P)2010 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“Neuroscience and technology buffs, librarians, and Internet users will find this truly compelling.” (Library Journal)
“Cogent, urgent, and well worth reading.” (Kirkus Reviews)
I had to stop listening after listening to the first 5 hours (out of a total of 10).
The beginning of the book is spent decrying the shallowness of the internet age, without really going into great detail or citing any convincing research. Marshall McLuhan is name-checked, along with his idea that the "medium is the message." The differences between oral and literate culture are discussed, along with the many wondrous changes that Gutenberg's printing press brought to the world. There's a tangent on Nietzsche, and the idea that his transition to using an early typewriter changed his writing style. All of this feels like filler material, simply reinforced by the inclusion of luminaries such as McLuhan, Gutenberg, and Nietzsche.
Then the rant really starts...
He complains that reading an ebook in a web browser-based interface is terribly distracting because of incoming emails and other notifications, without mentioning that these notifications can be silenced (so that they needn't even be actively ignored).
The first generation kindle is described. Much significance is placed on the fact that it had a full keyboard, and that the device could be used to browse the web (a potential distraction!). The fact is, just about every dedicated ebook reader since has done away with a full physical keyboard, and anyone that has bothered trying probably knows that web-browsing on an e-ink screen is an extremely unpleasant experience.
Second-hand speculations are recounted, such as the idea that books of the future will have "live" comments sections, or that they'll be crowdsourced mashups of previous works, or that they'll be full of search-engine-optimized phrases in order to appear at the top of search results.
I don't know about you, but none of this speculation or trivia is interesting to me.
In the age of information we live today, this book will show you differences of man and machine. It will also show why we are incapable of multitasking effectively, and why we shouldn't multitask in the first place.
Because I like learning history and trivia
Very long winded. It goes on and on about obvious and trivial details. Might be more interesting in 10 years to a generation who more removed from life before the internet
This book is very informative and about some really relevant and important things we should be paying attention to in our media driven culture. However, some of the chapters main ideas or arguments are somewhat repetitive and the digressions and stories can bore you at times. Overall, really thoughtful and informative book. Good read.
I love learning thru books, about life, people and ways to be better. My best listen so far? The Power of Now, have a good listen!
I imagined a book like this would be based on research. I've only read 50% of the book because it was so Shallow I couldent go on, but so far all of autors arguments wore "Because me and my friends can't read more then one page, then it means the whole world can't read more then one page". Sorry, I read a book per week and although I think internet is making us more shallow and read less, I was hopping to encounter some solid research, instead this books seams a description on how the autor and his friends are behaving, which is not very usefull in my opinion.
Former Marine 4321, former State Department public diplomacy officer. Current USAF Public Affairs Specialist
First, as appropriate self-disclosure, I should note that the title and description of this book turned me off because I'm a technophile. However, I read books that I feel viscerally opposed to precisely because I feel opposed to them. I don't want my brain to get too narrow.
Even though I disagree with the concepts presented in this book, I'm giving it 4 stars because I think it adds a valid argument to the overall discussion on the impact of the Internet and it's impact.
That said, my initial response to a lot of his points was that they were valid. Some of the points in this book are valid. The increasing "drinking from a fire hydrant" feeling of information overload is undeniably real. The problem with this book is that he compares our current life to the "good ol' days" when people read more deeply, wrote more deeply, etc. And even he notes that those were the rich elite. In fact, in the good ol' days, most of the world was illiterate.
My cousin is a construction work and my brother installs security cameras for a living. Both claim they hated high school and neither could tolerate much more formal education. My brother choked down some university courses because he was able earn GI Bill beer money as a result.
Still, decades ago, my conversations with them lacked depth and range. Today, my brother is well versed on a wide variety of science, technology, politics, global events. I'm amazed at the conversations I have with both of them and with other family members who eschewed formal education.
Not only is technology bringing people with little interest in deep reading into the fold, its expanding the reach and range for those of us with an interest in everything. I've always loved to read, but years ago, I had to dedicate a week or two to a good book. Now, with my audible.com empowered iPod, I can consume a book in a day or two. This one included.
Japanese are surprisingly well-read; at least Tokyoites, owing to the hours they spend in commute on the Metro system. I learned to love my iPod when I was commuting by bus and metro in DC. I don't need a seat. I don't need to focus on bouncing words on a page to read. My iPod keeps dumping ideas into my brain as I step up onto the bus, touch my smart card to pay for the bus, walk down the stairs into the metro, pass through the turnstiles. My reading hours have been expanded to any time when I'm driving, walking, even exercising.
Sorry, the end result I see is more people with more data in their brains, processing more information and mulling it over in conversations. The world isn't getting more shallow, but it might getting "flat" er. Today, literacy rates throughout the world are climbing, access to a range of information. Globally, it's a good thing on the whole. I'm sure the intellectual elite are still reading just as deeply as ever before.
Thanks for the idea, though.
I thoroughly enjoyed this. I did not agree with some of his conclusions but enjoyed the discussions and he did try to show both sides of most arguments. He presents discussions of modern tools used to study the brain and our discovery of it remarkable plasticity. I also enjoyed his study on the history of reading and writing. His key premise is that most people are losing the ability and interest in reading long deep novels and they only want the quick reads such as we get off the internet articles and emails. I believe it is healthy to discuss these ideas but I do not think his results are universal. For one, I use the internet to downloads books that I would never have discovered otherwise. So it has enhanced my reading.
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