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The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains

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“Is Google making us stupid?” When Nicholas Carr posed that question, in a celebrated 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 Net’s bounties, are we sacrificing our ability to read and think deeply? Now, Carr expands his argument “Is Google making us stupid?” When Nicholas Carr posed that question, in a celebrated 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 Net’s bounties, are we sacrificing our ability to read and think deeply? Now, Carr expands his argument into the most compelling exploration of the Internet’s intellectual and cultural consequences yet published. As he describes how human thought has been shaped through the centuries by “tools of the mind”—from the alphabet to maps, to the printing press, the clock, and the computer—Carr interweaves a fascinating account of recent discoveries in neuroscience by such pioneers as Michael Merzenich and Eric Kandel. Our brains, the historical and scientific evidence reveals, change in response to our experiences. The technologies we use to find, store, and share information can literally reroute our neural pathways. Building on the insights of thinkers from Plato to McLuhan, Carr makes a convincing case that every information technology carries an intellectual ethic—a set of assumptions about the nature of knowledge and intelligence. He explains how the printed book served to focus our attention, promoting deep and creative thought. In stark contrast, the Internet encourages the rapid, distracted sampling of small bits of information from many sources. Its ethic is that of the industrialist, an ethic of speed and efficiency, of optimized production and consumption—and now the Net is remaking us in its own image. We are becoming ever more adept at scanning and skimming, but what we are losing is our capacity for concentration, contemplation, and reflection. Part intellectual history, part popular science, and part cultural criticism, The Shallows sparkles with memorable vignettes—Friedrich Nietzsche wrestling with a typewriter, Sigmund Freud dissecting the brains of sea creatures, Nathaniel Hawthorne contemplating the thunderous approach of a steam locomotive—even as it plumbs profound questions about the state of our modern psyche. This is a book that will forever alter the way we think about media and our minds.


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“Is Google making us stupid?” When Nicholas Carr posed that question, in a celebrated 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 Net’s bounties, are we sacrificing our ability to read and think deeply? Now, Carr expands his argument “Is Google making us stupid?” When Nicholas Carr posed that question, in a celebrated 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 Net’s bounties, are we sacrificing our ability to read and think deeply? Now, Carr expands his argument into the most compelling exploration of the Internet’s intellectual and cultural consequences yet published. As he describes how human thought has been shaped through the centuries by “tools of the mind”—from the alphabet to maps, to the printing press, the clock, and the computer—Carr interweaves a fascinating account of recent discoveries in neuroscience by such pioneers as Michael Merzenich and Eric Kandel. Our brains, the historical and scientific evidence reveals, change in response to our experiences. The technologies we use to find, store, and share information can literally reroute our neural pathways. Building on the insights of thinkers from Plato to McLuhan, Carr makes a convincing case that every information technology carries an intellectual ethic—a set of assumptions about the nature of knowledge and intelligence. He explains how the printed book served to focus our attention, promoting deep and creative thought. In stark contrast, the Internet encourages the rapid, distracted sampling of small bits of information from many sources. Its ethic is that of the industrialist, an ethic of speed and efficiency, of optimized production and consumption—and now the Net is remaking us in its own image. We are becoming ever more adept at scanning and skimming, but what we are losing is our capacity for concentration, contemplation, and reflection. Part intellectual history, part popular science, and part cultural criticism, The Shallows sparkles with memorable vignettes—Friedrich Nietzsche wrestling with a typewriter, Sigmund Freud dissecting the brains of sea creatures, Nathaniel Hawthorne contemplating the thunderous approach of a steam locomotive—even as it plumbs profound questions about the state of our modern psyche. This is a book that will forever alter the way we think about media and our minds.

30 review for The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains

  1. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    For the last few years, I've noticed that I seem to have developed a form of ADD. This was always the most apparent during the first few weeks of summer vacation when I would start and stop projects with lightning speed, when I couldn't sit still to read a book or watch a movie all the way through, when I couldn't clean my house all in one day, when I couldn't keep my mind on just one train of thought. As someone who had always lived for structure, who craved the routine and the predictable, who For the last few years, I've noticed that I seem to have developed a form of ADD. This was always the most apparent during the first few weeks of summer vacation when I would start and stop projects with lightning speed, when I couldn't sit still to read a book or watch a movie all the way through, when I couldn't clean my house all in one day, when I couldn't keep my mind on just one train of thought. As someone who had always lived for structure, who craved the routine and the predictable, who always finished one task completely and thoroughly before moving on to another, this was quite alarming to me. I blamed teaching. My mind had adapted to the need to deliver content, monitor student behavior, answer questions, pass out papers, remind everyone for the umpteenth time that classwork is to be turned in to the orange basket, run the PowerPoint, avoid saying anything that might get me fired (“do not tell little Johnny that there is such a thing as a stupid question and he just asked it”)--and the need to do so all at once. Turns out there may be something to my theory. And it turns out that this manner of thinking, the need to hyper-multitask, may be exacerbated by the rise of technology as a conduit to information. It’s comforting to know that, if I’m becoming stupid, it’s not entirely my fault. In The Shallows, Nicholas Carr questions the impact technology has upon our lives. What’s most important here is that Carr is in no way advocating a return to the pre-technology era. He admits that much good has been done and will be done by technology, and he fesses up to loving and relying on technology himself. However, he examines the idea of neuroplasticity—the idea that the brain rewires itself to adapt to the stimuli it encounters. During the age of the book, the brain had to rewire itself to be able to focus for long periods of time upon text and to think about that text deeply. This didn’t happen all at once, but was accelerated as books became more readily available to a more widely educated public. The mind became accustomed to taking in information intensely, if not rapidly, as the brain had time to ruminate on and process the information it encountered. The result was a deep thinking, literate individual. People became experts in specific areas and the keepers of knowledge associated with their particular field of specialty. They were responsible for filtering, critiquing, and judging the quality of new knowledge which had to be “vetted” before it could be accepted as accurate and true. So what have we sacrificed in this age of point and click? We’re losing the idea of specialization, which is one of the more frightening aspects to me. Any idiot with access to a keyboard and an Internet connection can post anything they want online and it’s accepted as truth. A society that becomes accustomed to finding any and all information online may never learn anything deeply (and what will happen when Skynet becomes self-aware, takes over, and the machines rise against us, eh?) Instead, people will have little pockets of knowledge supplemented by what they can find online. Also, I have to wonder how many innovations and ideas were serendipitously created when answers weren’t easy to find. When an answer can be found through a quick web search, the deep thinking that may lead to phenomenal breakthroughs and intense creativity may be forfeited. In addition, our attention spans are suffering. We bounce from hyperlink to hyperlink, chasing new pieces of information which we scan quickly and, because we read over it so quickly, it’s never stored in our long-term memory. The next time we need that information we’ll have to log back on and find it again instead of relying on our ability to recall it. Carr’s book is not the ramblings of an ill-informed radical. This book is well-researched and Carr traces how the human brain has evolved throughout history, including pre-technology, to show that neuroplasticity has allowed us to adapt to our ever-changing environments. There’s hard science here as well. If you don’t agree with Carr’s thesis by the end, there’s no denying that he's done his homework. I love technology and I think Nicholas Carr does, too. Carr’s book is not an indictment of technology, but rather a call for the public to be cognizant of the ways in which technology is affecting us—both the good and the bad. Our society has so quickly and readily embraced technology that we haven’t thought about the potential long-term tradeoffs. When we think about it and realize, “Hey, wait a minute. This food I’ve planted on Farmville—I can’t eat one damn bit of it”, then we might become more responsible about how and when we use technology (and maybe we’ll go plant a garden in the backyard). I know that I, for one, have started logging off more frequently and making sure that the time I do spend online is enriching my life in some way. Cross posted at This Insignificant Cinder and at Shelf Inflicted

  2. 5 out of 5

    Manny

    Everyone's talking about this book, and I felt I had to check it out. I agree: it's definitely worth reading. In particular, it drove home, more effectively than anything else I've seen, just how addictive the Internet is. As he says, you don't want to admit to yourself how much you crave internet stimulation, and how frequently you check mail, SMSes, Goodreads updates and similar inputs. I immediately turned off all of these to see what would happen; I'm afraid to say that I was very much more Everyone's talking about this book, and I felt I had to check it out. I agree: it's definitely worth reading. In particular, it drove home, more effectively than anything else I've seen, just how addictive the Internet is. As he says, you don't want to admit to yourself how much you crave internet stimulation, and how frequently you check mail, SMSes, Goodreads updates and similar inputs. I immediately turned off all of these to see what would happen; I'm afraid to say that I was very much more productive than usual today. I think I will have to change my work habits in this direction, and make sure that things stay switched off a large part of the time. Reminding me that I'm an addict was far from being the only thing to like here. I didn't buy his whole analysis, but I thought a lot of it was insightful. I had not properly appreciated just how the market pressures worked. Google and other service providers get paid per click, so they are motivated to make you click as much as possible. In other words, they need to be as distracting as possible, and they are methodical about tuning their software to achieve that goal. Nice for them, not so nice for the surfer. A related fact, which I hadn't seen before, is that studies show hyperlinks make text harder to understand, not easier. The cognitive load of deciding whether or not to click is larger than you intuitively think. So people skim hypertext, and retain less of the content. A lot of the book explores the cognitive mechanisms that underly internet addiction. He quotes Marshall McLuhan's well-known phrase, "the medium is the message". In this case, the thing we need to be aware of is that the delivery mechanism, i.e. the internet itself, is in many ways more important than the content it's delivering. We aren't getting hooked on the content; we're getting hooked on the activities of clicking, surfing and receiving social networking messages. He quotes studies on neuroplasticity, showing how the brain rewires itself much more quickly than people used to think when it's confronted with new stimuli. One particularly striking experiment measured brain activation as people surfed the web, contrasting experienced surfers with newbies. Initially, the brain activation patterns were quite different, but after only a few hours the novices had started to look like the long-time users. The changes start early. Another section I liked made comparisons with earlier innovations in the field of information technology. He considers the invention of writing (Sumeria and Ancient Egypt), the alphabet (Ancient Greece) and printing (Gutenberg), arguing that all of these resulted in enormous changes to people's cognitive makeup. There's a nice passage from one of Socrates's dialogues, where they're discussing the downside of writing; they wonder whether it's destroying people's ability to appreciate poetry, and fooling them into believing that they know a work of literature when they've not actually had to memorize it. But, as he says, these criticisms turned out to be incorrect. Writing led to a set of habits centered around the practice of silent reading, which crystallized into the new phenomenon of the literary mind. In some of the most passionately felt pages of the book, he explains his belief that this quiet, contemplative way of being - immersion in the text - is one of the cornerstones of Western civilization, and that the internet is in danger of destroying it. It's both moving and ingenious, but I did feel in a way that he was arguing against himself. As he admits, his criticisms of the internet are very similar to the Ancient Greeks' criticisms of writing, which turned out to be a major leap forward. The internet has only just been born, and it's normal to feel threatened by technology one hasn't yet learned to understand. It seems to me that the analogy with writing is a good one. Once we're more in control of this new medium, it's quite plausible that we may see a similar leap in human thought. Another thing that made me reluctant to accept everything he said at face value was that, when I was able to check him against my own specialist knowledge, it didn't always match up. A flagrant example was his discussion of the way writing conventions changed during the Middle Ages, which he returned to more than once. He says that there used to be no spaces between words and word-order was free, so reading was more like problem-solving and people couldn't do it easily: then written language changed in the direction of spaces and fixed word-order, people could read far more quickly, and that affected their whole mind-set. I am dubious about this. For example, Japanese has never been written with spaces between words and Japanese word-order is free, but Japanese people are exceptionally literate. Also, going back to Medieval Europe, it's true that Latin moved towards adopting a more rigid word-order, but that was much earlier, and I didn't think it was reasonable to connect things here. So my feeling is that he is sometimes twisting the facts to fit his hypothesis, and one should take him with a pinch of salt. But even with these reservations, I thought he was very good. And now that I've posted this review, I'm going to log out of Goodreads and do something else, instead of hanging around as usual waiting for my next social networking hit. Thank you Mr. Carr!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    I got this email. What the hell, I thought, I could do with a bigger penis. So I replied to the email. Sent them money. What a mistake! The process worked – only too well! Now I couldn’t leave the house any more, no clothes were bulky enough. I did not wish to suffer the indignity of being pursued down the street by insulting children, so I had to resign from my job. I was in a real pickle. Fortunately I saw an ad on the internet saying that I could make £2500 per month tax free from the privac I got this email. What the hell, I thought, I could do with a bigger penis. So I replied to the email. Sent them money. What a mistake! The process worked – only too well! Now I couldn’t leave the house any more, no clothes were bulky enough. I did not wish to suffer the indignity of being pursued down the street by insulting children, so I had to resign from my job. I was in a real pickle. Fortunately I saw an ad on the internet saying that I could make £2500 per month tax free from the privacy of my bedroom by doing absolutely nothing. It seemed too good to be true but I thought what the hell. You won’t believe me but that turned out to be true too, so I didn't need a job and I could get all my groceries delivered. But I needed more money than that to pay for the reverse operation (I wanted my old penis back). As luck would have it, I got another email from a bank manager in Benin, which is in West Africa. I won’t bore you with the details, but it was a relatively simple banking transaction, I really don’t know why the Bank of West Africa guys couldn’t do it for themselves, but anyway, what do I care – I’m now rich! After the operation it’s going to be great. I’ll definitely be dating some of these hot women who live one third of a mile away from my very house and are waiting for me to contact them – I see their alluring pictures wherever I go on the internet. I must live in a really great area for hot women.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Will Byrnes

    In this fascinating, informative book, Carr argues that the internet has not only affected how society communicates and works, but that how our actual brains work is being, has been changed by contemporary modes of communication. He delves into the history of research into brain function to make a case that similar biological changes occurred with prior technological breakthroughs, such as the typewriter. He cites a wealth of studies that dispel the notion of the brain as set in stone once adult In this fascinating, informative book, Carr argues that the internet has not only affected how society communicates and works, but that how our actual brains work is being, has been changed by contemporary modes of communication. He delves into the history of research into brain function to make a case that similar biological changes occurred with prior technological breakthroughs, such as the typewriter. He cites a wealth of studies that dispel the notion of the brain as set in stone once adulthood is reached. The brain is plastic. All our neural circuitry can be modified, and it adapts to each new technology, not with slow genetic modification, but using inherent neurological plasticity to function in new ways. Nicholas Carr - image from his site Next he follows the trail of language from cuneiform through wax tablets to papyrus, and actual pages, from Gutenberg to today, from the radio to television, from Turing to the iPhone. It is a fast-paced and information-rich journey. The big guns come out in chapter 7, The Juggler’s Brain, where Carr argues forcefully that the medium of the internet is, by design, an engine of distraction, and it has changed how we read and how we think. The change may have some benefits, but the cost is quite high, particularly in reducing our ability to think reflectively. I found this chapter particularly compelling. A later chapter reports on Google’s megalomaniacal plan to put all books in human history into a single database that Google will control. All that’s lacking is a smug, pinkie-ringed fat guy sitting in his secret lair stroking a fluffy white cat. Chapter nine takes on the mechanistic view of the human brain as a sort of computer. In particular Carr takes issue with the view of long-term memory as being the equivalent of a hard drive, used solely to hold information. It turns out that, unlike the on-off character of digital memory, human memory is not so absolute. Information, observation and experience go through several steps before finding their way to long term memory, and even when a memory or bit of information is recalled, it finds its way back into long-term memory with the added color and texture of the time and circumstances of its recollection. This is fascinating stuff, but I think he goes a bit too far in his dismissal of the computer as a model for human brainworks. Consider that he fully embraces a concept of “working memory” as a temporary workplace in which new memory is mixed with retrieved memory to constitute the bulk of what we consider active consciousness. The similarity to RAM is just too obvious to ignore. Quibble aside, this is a riveting and informative tale, with obvious implications for our culture, that is, if you can pay attention to reading it long enough for the lessons to sink in. Tbe 10th anniversary edition of the book, with new material, is out March 3, 2020 =============================EXTRA STUFF Links to the author’s Personal, Twitter, and Instagram pages and his blog February 28, 2017 - The Guardian - How Technology Gets Us Hooked - by Adam Alter - this focuses on game design, but the concepts apply across the medium July 1, 2020 - Vox - How technology literally changes our brains - Ezra Klein interviews Carr - fascinating stuff ===================================QUOTES P 6 - As McLuhan suggested, media aren’t just channels of information. They supply the stuff of thought, but they shape the process of thought. And what the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my [Carr’s:] capacity for concentration and contemplation. P 115 – As revolutionary as it may be, the Net is best understood as the latest in a long series of tools that have helped mold the human mind. P 140 – Jordan Grafman, head of the cognitive neuroscience unit at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, explains that the constant shifting of our attention when we’re online may make our brains more nimble when it comes to multitasking, but improving our ability to multitask actually hampers our ability to think deeply and creatively. “Does optimizing for multitasking result in better functioning—that is, creativity, inventiveness, productiveness? The answer is, in more cases than not, no,” says Grafman. “The more you multitask, the less deliberative you become; the less able to think and reason out a problem.” You become, he argues, more likely to rely on conventional ideas and solutions rather than challenging them with original lines of thought.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    The Shallows, What the Internet is doing to our brains, 2012, Nicholas Carr The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, published in the United Kingdom as The Shallows: How the Internet Is Changing the Way We Think, Read and Remember, is a 2010 book by the American journalist Nicholas G. Carr. The book expands on the themes first raised in "Is Google Making Us Stupid?", Carr's 2008 essay in The Atlantic, and explores the effects of the Internet on the brain. The book claims research s The Shallows, What the Internet is doing to our brains, 2012, Nicholas Carr The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, published in the United Kingdom as The Shallows: How the Internet Is Changing the Way We Think, Read and Remember, is a 2010 book by the American journalist Nicholas G. Carr. The book expands on the themes first raised in "Is Google Making Us Stupid?", Carr's 2008 essay in The Atlantic, and explores the effects of the Internet on the brain. The book claims research shows "online reading" yields lower comprehension than reading a printed page. The Shallows was a finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: هشتم ماه دسامبر سال 2014میلادی عنوان: کم‌ عمق‌ ها - اینترنت با مغز ما چه می‌کند؟ نویسنده: نیکلای کار؛ مترجم: امیر سپهرام؛ تهران؛ مازیار، 1393؛ در 248ص؛ شابک 9786006043357؛ موضوع: اینترنت از نویسندگان امریکایی - سده 21م فهرست بخشهای کتاب: سگ نگهبان و دزد؛ من و هال؛ مسیرهای مجازی؛ گریزی به آنچه که مغز می‌اندیشد وقتی به خود می‌اندیشد؛ ابزارهای مغز؛ ژرفنای صفحه؛ گریزی به ...؛ رسانه‌ ای با عمومی‌ ترین ماهیت؛ تصویر واقعی یک کتاب؛ مغز یک تردست؛ کلیسای گوگل؛ جستجو، حافظه؛ گریزی به نگارش این کتاب؛ چیزی مثل من؛ نویسنده در کتاب کم‌ عمق‌ ها - اینترنت با مغز ما چه می‌کند؛ تاثیر فناوری اینترنت، نشر اینترنتی و کتاب‌خوانی دیجیتال (به ویژه وب‌خوانی) را از زوایای گوناگون بررسی کرده است؛ در کتاب به اجمال و با زبانی همه‌ فهم، به ساختار و کارکرد مغز پرداخته، و با مرور تاریخچه فناوری‌های فکری، و به ویژه کتاب و کتاب‌خوانی، و همچنین اشاره به کارکرد اینترنت، و موتورهای جستجو، تاثیر جابجایی کتاب از رسانه ی کاغذی، به رسانه ی دیجیتال، و نشر اینترنتی، و وب، و راه و رسم کتاب‌خوانی مردم، مورد بحث قرار گرفته است؛ نویسنده برآیند این همه را، گرایش انسان عصر نوین، به سطحی‌ خوانی، و دوری‌ از ژرف‌ خوانی و غرق شدن در متن نوشتار، می‌داند؛ و عادت همگان، به خوانش تند، و گذرای سرخط‌ها، و نوشته‌ های وبلاگ‌ها را، شاهدی بر این مدعای خویش می‌آورد؛ استنتاج نهایی کتاب این است، که با فراگیر، و جایگیر شدن این شیوه از خوانش، اطلاعات بشر افزایش، ولی هوش او کاهش خواهد یافت؛ و مغز بیشتر به انباره ی فهرستی از دانسته‌ ها، بدل خواهد شد؛ در چنین وضعیتی، مغز نمی‌تواند با ترکیب دانسته‌ ها، ایده‌ های نو بیافریند، و هوش بشر - با تعریفی که امروز از آن داریم - کم خواهد شد تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 10/07/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی

  6. 5 out of 5

    Dr. Appu Sasidharan

    Summary (Throwback Review) Nicholas Carr discusses how much the internet is affecting our daily life in this book. Four concepts I learned from this book 1) How books have changed this world? As people grow accustomed to writing down their thoughts and reading the thoughts that others had written down, they become less dependent on the contents of their own memory. Individual memory became less of a socially determined construct and more the foundation of a distinctive perspective an Summary (Throwback Review) Nicholas Carr discusses how much the internet is affecting our daily life in this book. Four concepts I learned from this book 1) How books have changed this world? As people grow accustomed to writing down their thoughts and reading the thoughts that others had written down, they become less dependent on the contents of their own memory. Individual memory became less of a socially determined construct and more the foundation of a distinctive perspective and personality. Inspired by the books, people began to see themselves as the authors of their own memories. 2) How difficult is it to focus on one single thing in this world of continuous distractions? (based on the author’s experience of writing this book) It wasn’t an easy task for the author to write this book. When he began writing this book, he struggled in vain to keep his mind fixed on the job. The net provided as always a bounty of useful information and research tools. But its constant interruptions scattered his thoughts and words. He tended to write in disconnected spurts. The same way he wrote while blogging. It was clear that significant changes were needed. He moved the next summer with his wife from a highly connected Suburb of Boston to the mountains of Colorado. There was no cell phone connection in their new home, and the internet arrived through a ‘relatively pokey’ DSL connection. He canceled his Twitter account, put his Facebook membership on hiatus, and mothballed his blog. He shut downed his RSS reader and curtailed from Skyping and instant messaging. He throttled back his email application and kept it closed much of the day. The dismantling of his online life was needed for writing this book. Being self-employed, he was able to do that without much difficulty, but most people today who are employed today won’t be able to do that. The web is essential for their work and their social life that even if they want to escape the network, they could not. 3)How our thoughts cause a physical reaction and change in our brain (with the help of Transcranial magnetic stimulation)? An experiment conducted by Pascual Leone provides remarkable evidence about how the patterns of our thoughts affect our brain's anatomy. He recruited people who had no experience playing piano and taught them to play a simple melody. He then split them into two groups. He had the members of one group practice the melody on a keyboard for two hours a day over the next five days. He had the other group members sit in front of the keyboard, imagining playing the song without touching the keys. Using TMS's technique, Pascual Leone mapped the brain activity of everyone before, during, and after playing the songs. He noticed that the people who had only imagined playing the notes exhibited precisely the same changes in their brains as those who had actually pressed the keys. Their brains had changed in response to the actions in the brain purely on imagination. This shows how our thoughts cause a physical reaction in our brains. 4)Why even Nietzsche and T.S. Elliot were not able to escape from the distractions caused by the technology? The type of bond we form with our tools goes in both ways. Even as our technologies become extensions of ourselves, we become an extension of our technologies. When the carpenter takes his hammer into his hands, he can use his hands to do only what a hammer can do. The hand becomes an implement for pounding and pulling nails. When the soldier puts his binoculars to his eyes, he can see only what the lenses allow him to see. His field of view lengthens, but he becomes blind to what is nearby. Nietzsche's experience with his typewriter provides a particularly good illustration of how technologies exert its influence on us. Only did the philosopher come to imagine that his writing was thin; he also sensed that he was becoming a thing like it that is typewriter was shaping his thoughts. T.S. Elliot had a similar experience when he changed writing his poems and essays to type them. My favourite three lines from this book My favorite line in this book is the author's interpretation of 2001: A Space Odyssey, a 1968 science fiction film by Stanley Kubrick. “In the world of 2001 people have become so machine like that the most human character turns out to be a machine. That is the essence of Kubrick’s dark prophecy. As we come to rely on computers to mediate our understanding of our world, it is our own intelligence that flattens into artificial intelligence.” “Research continues to show that people who read linear text comprehend more, remember more, and learn more than those who read text peppered with links.” “What we’re experiencing is, in a metaphorical sense, a reversal of the early trajectory of civilization: we are evolving from being cultivators of personal knowledge to being hunters and gatherers in the electronic data forest.” Verdict 4/5The author depicted the advantages and disadvantages of the internet revolution and how Artificial intelligence can both be a savior and destroyer of our future. This book will be a great pick for those who are interested in Science and Philosophy.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Amir Tesla

    For Practical Summary Refer To: How The Internet Is Tearing Your Focus Apart And 3 Ways to Rebuild It. ----------------------------------- Do you get bored after reading just a couple of paragraphs from a text? Do you step into your room just to forget why you’re there? And do you constantly have this craving to jump off from a mentally-demanding task to open up your Facebook or Instagram? If your answer to one the above is yes, you are probably suffering from a shattered focus. Neuroplasticity and H For Practical Summary Refer To: How The Internet Is Tearing Your Focus Apart And 3 Ways to Rebuild It. ----------------------------------- Do you get bored after reading just a couple of paragraphs from a text? Do you step into your room just to forget why you’re there? And do you constantly have this craving to jump off from a mentally-demanding task to open up your Facebook or Instagram? If your answer to one the above is yes, you are probably suffering from a shattered focus. Neuroplasticity and How it Defines Our Behaviors Think of your brain as a power grid with streets, roads, and highways. Each time you think, feel, or act, a combination of those pathways are lightened up. Some of those pathways are more traveled. Those are our behavioral habits such as smoking or exercising or mental habits such as being constantly anxious about the future or being optimistic and seeing everything through a rosy lens (Yes these are habits too and can be changed). Each time you think a thought, feel an emotion or act on a specific task, you are strengthening their pathways in your brain. Repeated enough, those pathways become so strong that the corresponding thought, emotion, or action becomes automatic. Let’s say you’ve had enough of constantly suffering the terrors of a vague future and the anxiety that comes with it and you want to change that. Given that the antidote to anxiety is keeping your focus on the now, you must strive to master your mind and keep it in the present. When you trying to do so, you are building new neural pathways around that old dreadful pathway of constant anxiety. Initially, creating this new pathway requires substantial effort and attention. The same way that driving on an unpaved road is more laborious than on a highway, practicing this new habit would be more difficult than simply giving in to the old habit. BUT … Each time you practice the new way of thinking, you are making its pathway stronger and smoother. Meanwhile, the underlying pathway of the undesired habit is gradually beginning to decay. This process of rewiring your brain is called neuroplasticity. In other words, our brain is plastic and we can potentially modify its structure. It is crucial to note the word we use is plastic, and not elastic. This means that forming new pathways is arduous. Once they’re formed with depth, they can lock you in specific behaviors or thought patterns and. Once we wire a new neural circuit (pathway) into our brain, we long to keep it active. — Nicholas G. Carr Given the concept of neuroplasticity and its power, let’s see how impulsive usage of the internet is rewiring our brain to forge a fragmented focus. How the Internet is Destroying Your Focus The internet seizes our attention, only to tear it into pieces. Before the proliferation of the media, internet, and now the social networks, the primary medium for absorbing information was reading. Reading books, for instance, requires a practice of thought, one that demands sustained, unbroken attention to a single, static object. It requires you to place yourself at what T. S. Eliot, in Four Quartets, would call “the still point of the turning world.” Now, look at the practice of reading books from the lens neuroplasticity. When trying to retain our focus, we are keeping the neural circuits (pathways) of focus active, hence making them stronger. Unfortunately, this habit of reading took several massive hits with the shifts in the technology of information medium. Initially, the emergence of Radio, TV, and now the internet and social media. Bring to your mind the type of content you consume on the prevalent social media networks i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, etc. How much time do you spend on every single content on those networks before you move on to the next? How much effort and focus do they require? And how often do you get engaged with these networks throughout a day? internet breaks focusShort Duration of Attention Spent on So many Attention Seekers For me this realization was horrifying. We are constantly jumping from one small fragment of content to the other. One-minute video on Instagram, followed by less than 10 seconds view of other posts. Jumping to Facebook to scroll through the feed and consuming nugget-sized content. Take a step back and look at the big picture of the way you use the internet Do you see what’s happening? One minute here, two minutes there, jumping and jumping from task to task, content to content and each jump endures in matters of minutes if not seconds. This multitasking is an inherent product that comes with using the internet and has become a habit that drains and destroys our focus. This is how our attention span is breaking down. We are rewiring our focus circuits and creating attention spans of trivial length and power. This is the part where I’ve seen people and friends smile as they resonate with the examples of a broken focus: You start to read a book or a lengthy article; after reading a paragraph or so, you feel a sense of restlessness, or you feel bored and you crave to jump to another tab on your browser or move on to the next content in your feed or simply jump off to your phone and scour your Instagram. The more you multitask, the less deliberative you become; the less able to think and reason out a problem. You become more likely to rely on conventional ideas and solutions rather than challenging them with original lines of thought. — Don Tapscott, Thanx to neuroplasticity though, rebuilding your focus is feasible. How to Rebuild Your Focus 1. Strengthen Your Focus the Natural Way Perhaps you have been to a gym or at least seen the scene where people pull up weights. When you repeat lifting up a weight, which is heavy for you, you will feel a slight pain in your muscle. The feel the pain or burning of the muscle because your cells are breaking down. After that, when you rest, your body notices the broken down cells. This tells your body that there are higher demands from it. So what happens next is that your body, in addition to rebuilding those cells, builds an extra layer of cells atop them as well, and provides you with more muscle power. This is why bodies grow in size after a period of working out. This process is analogous to rebuilding focus. The practical point is this:Blueprint. Next time that you start to read a book or text and the boredom monster creeps in, do not give in to it. Instead, try to at least keep on reading for a couple of minutes more. These extra couple of minutes are precisely where you are stretching you focus and making it stronger. For the rest of the techniques on increasing focus refer to:How The Internet Is Tearing Your Focus Apart And 3 Ways to Rebuild It. پیشنهاد به: همه به خصوص نسلی که اینترنت بخش بزرگی از زندگیشون هست موضوع: این کتاب بسیار خوب، تاثیر درگیری زیاد با اینترنت و اثرات ساختار اون بر روی مغز و نوع تفکر انسان رو بررسی می کنه بررسی و گزیده ها: نکته جالب در مورد این کتاب فکر می کنم این بود که حدود یک سوم ابتدایی کتاب صرف ساخت و پرداخت مقدمه ای می شه که قرار هست در ادامه کتاب در خصوص اثرات اینترت بر مغز رو بررسی کنه. این مقدمات شامل بررسی سیر تکامل پیدایش خط، صنعت چاپ، کتاب و تاثیراتشون بر تفکر هست تا یکی از مهمترین ویژگی های مغز یعنی اثر پلاستیکی. پلاستیک بودن مغز به این معنی که ساختار مغز که در نهایت تعیین کننده رفتار و تصمیم های ما هست کاملا قابل تغییر هست و پارادوکس جالبی اینه که وقتی این تغییرات شکل بگیره به نوعی ما بنده اون و گرفتار اون ساختار می شیم. Once we wire a new neural circuit into our brain, we long to keep it active. در بررسی تاریخچه پیدایش خط، و در نتیجه اون کتاب خواندن مردم، نویسنده طبق بررسی های جامعی که انجام داده به این نکته مهم اشاره می کنه که کتاب خوندن یک عمل خطی بوده (و هست) که از قدیم افراد کتاب خوان برای فهم مطالب تمرکز زیاد و بدون حواس پرتی رو تجربه می کردند که این موضوع باعث فهم بهتر مطالب و به خاطر سپاری قوی تر اون ها می شد. میوه شیرین فهم و انباشت این اطلاعات در ذهن هم البته نوآوری، خلاقیت بوده است و مهمتر از اون اینکه عادت کتاب خونی باعث می شد افراد به یک ذهن با تمرکز بالا و بینش قوی تر مجهز بشن. To read a book was to practice an unnatural process of thought, one that demanded sustained, unbroken attention to a single, static object. It required readers to place themselves at what T. S. Eliot, in Four Quartets, would call “the still point of the turning world.” نکته مهم در استفاده از هر چیزی اینه که بعد از استفاده مداوم، به چه آدمی تبدیل می شیم. Deep reading is by no means a passive exercise, the reader, becomes the book... اولین موجی که به این عادت خوب ضربه زد، ظهور رسانه های الکتریکی نظیر رادیو و تلوزیون بود. اما این رسانه ها در انتقال متن ضعیف بودن و نقطه قوتشون ارسال صدا و تصویر بود. پس در زمینه نوشتار نتونست به طور کامل جایگزین کتاب بشه. --- مشکل اساسی که اینترنت و نحوه استفاده از اون عامل اصلیش هست، کم کردن زمان تمرکز ما بر روی مطالب هست. اگر دقت کنید اغلب مطالب روزانه به خصوص موجود در شبکه های اجتماعی، کوتاه و گذرا هستن. این کوتاهی، باطبع تمرکز کمتری رو می طلبه و فشار کمتری رو بر روی ذهن می گذاره. نتیجه این فرآیند چیزی نیست جز تنبل شدن ذهن به خصوص در مواجه با مطابی که فهمشون نیازمند تمرکز و صرف وقت و تفکر هست. AS PEOPLE’S MINDS become attuned to the crazy quilt of Web content, media companies have to adapt to the audience’s new expectations. Many producers are chopping up their products to fit the shorter attention spans of online consumers. When access to information is easy, we tend to favor the short, the sweet and the bitty. پیام کلیدی و شاید ترسناک کتاب به نظر من مهم ترین بخش کتاب اینجا بود که در خصوص اینترنت بر اساس تحقیقات، نویسنده اشاره می کنه که اینترنت دقیقا همه محرک های اساسی لازم برای ایجاد تغییرات سریع و ماندگار در مدارهای عصبی مغز از جمله محرک هاش شناختی، تکرار، پر شدت، تعاملی و اعتیادآور بودن را دارد. از طرف دیگر اینترت به دلیل ساختا و محتوا، مشوق تفکر پراکنده، یادگیری سطحی، و خواندن سرسری با عجله هست که در بلند مدت کاربران رو تبدیل می کنه افرادی کم حوصله که مشتاق این دست از مطالب و فراری از مفاهیم طولانی و عمیق تر هستند. Try reading a book while doing a crossword puzzle; that's the intellectual environment of the internet. اشکالهایی که به کتاب وارد هست یکم طولانی بودن مقدمات و همچنین تکرارهای بیش از حد مطالب به زبان های دیگر در بخش های مختلف بود و گاهی هم به نظر انسجام مطالب به خصوص در انتهای کتاب از بین می رفت. در کل کتابی هست که تحقیق بسیاری برای نگارشش شده و فکر می کنم همه از خوندنش بسیار سود خواهند برد. Selected Synopses: 1. Navigating the Web requires a particularly intensive form of mental multitasking. In addition to flooding our working memory with information, the juggling imposes what brain scientists call “switching costs” on our cognition. Every time we shift our attention, our brain has to reorient itself, further taxing our mental resources. 2. The more you multitask, the less deliberative you become; the less able to think and reason out a problem.” You become, he argues, more likely to rely on conventional ideas and solutions rather than challenging them with original lines of thought. 3. What we’re doing when we multitask “is learning to be skillful at a superficial level.” The Roman philosopher Seneca may have put it best two thousand years ago: “To be everywhere is to be nowhere.” 4. Erasmus’s recommendation that every reader keep a notebook of memorable quotations was widely and enthusiastically followed. Such notebooks, which came to be called “commonplace books,” or just “commonplaces,” became fixtures of Renaissance schooling. Every student kept one. By the seventeenth century, their use had spread beyond the schoolhouse. Commonplaces were viewed as necessary tools for the cultivation of an educated mind. In 1623, Francis Bacon observed that “there can hardly be anything more useful” as “a sound help for the memory” than “a good and learned Digest of Common Places.” By aiding the recording of written works in memory, he wrote, a well-maintained commonplace “supplies matter to invention.” Through the eighteenth century, according to American University linguistics professor Naomi Baron, “a gentleman’s commonplace book” served “both as a vehicle for and a chronicle of his intellectual development. 5. Once we bring an explicit long-term memory back into working memory, it becomes a short-term memory again. 6. The Web places more pressure on our working memory, not only diverting resources from our higher reasoning faculties but obstructing the consolidation of long-term memories and the development of schemas. The calculator, a powerful but highly specialized tool, turned out to be an aid to memory. The Web is a technology of forgetfulness. 7. What determines what we remember and what we forget? The key to memory consolidation is attentiveness. Storing explicit memories and, equally important, forming connections between them requires strong mental concentration, amplified by repetition or by intense intellectual or emotional engagement. The sharper the attention, the sharper the memory. “For a memory to persist,” writes Kandel, “the incoming information must be thoroughly and deeply processed. This is accomplished by attending to the information and associating it meaningfully and systematically with knowledge already well established in memory. 8. How is the way we think changing? This is the question we shoud be asking, both of ourselves and of our children.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Esteban del Mal

    I call bullshit. ***** "How Esteban Got His Groove Back" Channel surfing the other day, I came across Highlander. I’d never watched the movie all the way through, even as a fanboy teenager those twenty four years ago (!) when it was released, and, noticing that Christopher Lambert bears a striking resemblance to the guy in HBO’s Hung -- a serialized comedy-drama about a male prostitute with an enormous dick for which my wife has an altogether unsettling appetite, having on more than one occasion bl I call bullshit. ***** "How Esteban Got His Groove Back" Channel surfing the other day, I came across Highlander. I’d never watched the movie all the way through, even as a fanboy teenager those twenty four years ago (!) when it was released, and, noticing that Christopher Lambert bears a striking resemblance to the guy in HBO’s Hung -- a serialized comedy-drama about a male prostitute with an enormous dick for which my wife has an altogether unsettling appetite, having on more than one occasion blurted out "Let’s see it!" as she watches -- found myself hypnotized. Whether or not it was a case of transference I will leave for you to decide, but I was pulling for the bad guy to chop up the good guy. I, however, like to think I found the bad guy much more believable: equal parts cynical, ego-centric and nihilistic, what’s not to like? Take human nature, splash it across the canvas of immortality and tell me who among us wouldn’t be morally bankrupt? But beyond my half-baked, and probably self-serving, philosophizing, I was also annoyed by the good guy’s accent. He’s supposedly from 16th Century Scotland, has lived through the ages up to Ed Koch New York, and he sounds like an ESL dropout. Other immortals abound, from his mentor, Ramirez, to the aforementioned villain, the Kurgan, and while they all hail from assorted times and places, they all speak perfectly modern English. What gives? Back in 1980s, when Highlander was all the rage among the pimpled shut-in set who would grow-up to become today's neuroscientists and Goodreads reviewers, popular scientific opinion maintained that the adult brain was incapable of much change, having been fossilized and/or habituated into near-stasis by the nature and/or the nurture of its formative years. Our most celebrated organ was rendered impotent. This theory satisfactorily explained why a guy who is almost five hundred years old sounds the same as he did when he was about twenty years old. But neuroscience has come a long way in the intervening decades, hanging its hat on neuroplasticity, the proven capacity of the brain and central nervous system to grow and change throughout the whole of one's life. If you'd like to see neuroplasticity at work, just bind your dominant arm to your torso and see how quickly you are able to use your other arm for everything from driving to manipulating a remote control. Or if you're a French-accented Scotsman living in New York, barring a beheading at the hands of your centuries-old nemesis, mingle with your cultural cousins and kiss that antiquated Clan MacLeod gibberish goodbye. Yet Nicolas Carr makes the argument in The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains that neuroplasticity can work against us, too. He feels that our working-memory is being distracted and overtaxed by a superficial internet culture to the point that it is altering our brain chemistry for the worse, affecting our capacity to synthesize information. There are holes in his argument, mostly of the anecdotal, anxiety-of-the-professional-writing-class and exaggerating variety (for instance, hyperlinks come in for much abuse), but taken as a whole, there is some cause for concern that the majority of the species is doomed to a type of quasi-literacy, evocative of a sort of technical writing/Momento dystopia. I believe the humanities-oriented among us recognize this as the age-old debate of will versus consciousness, with will triumphant at last. But all is not lost. Carr concedes that there will always be a reading class of elites dedicated to the preservation of critical thought. I, for one, am overjoyed at the prospect. For too long have I toiled in the shadows of the robber barons of crass materialism, skulkingly camouflaged as a bourgeois suburbanite. Brothers and sisters, rejoice! The time of the Romantic Renaissance is at hand! Fit me for something along the lines of a philosopher-king and seat me on my Kurtz-like throne fashioned from the skulls of MBA graduates. There can be only one.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ken

    Here's an inference exercise: Take the first half of Nicholas Carr's title THE SHALLOWS: WHAT THE INTERNET IS DOING TO OUR BRAINS and guess what his thesis is based on the second half. Got it? Good. Cause you "got it good" when it comes to your addiction to the Internet. Probably you wake up and wonder what's in your e-mail's inbox. Probably you check it before breakfast. Probably, even though you're not supposed to, you peek at it from work. Probably you're part of some social network site like Here's an inference exercise: Take the first half of Nicholas Carr's title THE SHALLOWS: WHAT THE INTERNET IS DOING TO OUR BRAINS and guess what his thesis is based on the second half. Got it? Good. Cause you "got it good" when it comes to your addiction to the Internet. Probably you wake up and wonder what's in your e-mail's inbox. Probably you check it before breakfast. Probably, even though you're not supposed to, you peek at it from work. Probably you're part of some social network site like Facebook or Goodreads and feel you are a "player," a "valued member," a "person to be missed" if you go missing for a week (no worry there!), so you log on and interact. Probably you're pretty witty, too. You can tell because lots of your "friends" (whom you haven't met) ROTFL and LOL at your witticisms. Yes, you take time to eat, but probably you're wondering how your last witticism, or your last thread started, or your last photo uploaded, has gone over. You wonder, for instance, how many "likes" it has garnered or maybe how many "hits" your page has taken or maybe how many "friendquests" you have accumulated (popularity... if it doesn't work in THAT world, certainly seems to in THIS one). This is important stuff. Thus, the time suck and your total acceptance of that inhaling sound. Probably you could be reading but it's more fun to talk about your reading, or your not reading, or your should-be reading, or the concept of reading. Probably you should be with your family, but what the hell, they're IM-ing or texting or chatting on the cellphone or cruising the Net, too. Send them an e-mail in the other room. Boy, this is sad. But not really, because the Internet giveth and the Internet taketh away. You, being no fool, focus on the "giveth." The Internet is a world of wonders, a vault of information and facts easily accessible in lightning-like fashion. And you're pretty good at it by now, too, so all is not lost. So why wade THE SHALLOWS? Why let Carr rain on your parade with his own facts, his own list of studies showing that the Internet is not the be-all after all, but might well be the end-all? Why heed his relentless proofs that the Internet is little more than the Great Interrupter, that the Internet fractures our focus and muddies our mindsets, that hyperlinks distract more than enhance as we research electronically vs. in an old-fashioned book? Why pay attention when you know you're not very good at it any more because the Net has taught your mind to lose focus quickly if it isn't fed quickly? Sound? Bite, please. Sight? Blink, please. Gratification? Instant, please. Worship at the "Church of Google" (as Carr calls it)? Prepare for some blasphemy. Carr will show you who Google's really looking after (hint: it starts with a "G"). There's a little history here, a lot of studies here, more than a few surveys, statistics, and data here, but Carr pretty much keeps it in layman's terms. He doesn't think the backlash against the Net will necessarily come from Middle-Aged Grouches like me, either. In fact, he suspects it will be the hopeful, counter-revolutionary young who will sound the clarion call for moderation and modesty when it comes to our electronic lives (also known as our kidnapped real-world lives... the "late, great" one, you might recall, that had a dream of SOME sort when you were young... a dream now cannibalized by that doppelganger in the mirror -- OK, screen reflection -- "Virtual You"). Well, you could read it, shrug, and ignore it. You could read it, frown, and dismiss it. Or you could give it some thought, roll up your sleeves, and set to work on the recovery of YOU -- a person you might remember. A person who once knew life without a cellphone, without an Internet, without an iAnything, and was perfectly happy and complete despite that impossible to fathom handicap. Surely you remember that rather quaint, idealistic person. Right? Whatever. Before taking the long and winding road back, might as well check e-mail one more time -- just once. Like the White Rabbit, people are waiting and they don't have all day. Not anymore....

  10. 4 out of 5

    notgettingenough

    I wrote this because I was so jolly irritated to read what Pinker had to say about it. About five years ago I began to be concerned that I was suffering early onset dementia. My concentration span was almost zero. Things I couldn’t do included putting on dinner and remembering I’d done that or following a whole page of Calvin and Hobbes panels. I could no longer play bridge properly, I certainly couldn’t read a book. I couldn’t listen properly to anything people said and certainly couldn’t rememb I wrote this because I was so jolly irritated to read what Pinker had to say about it. About five years ago I began to be concerned that I was suffering early onset dementia. My concentration span was almost zero. Things I couldn’t do included putting on dinner and remembering I’d done that or following a whole page of Calvin and Hobbes panels. I could no longer play bridge properly, I certainly couldn’t read a book. I couldn’t listen properly to anything people said and certainly couldn’t remember what I had ‘listened’ to. Coming across an article about ‘interruption science’, I realised that my problems emanated from how I was working and also playing. At the time I was doing a lot of work which involved keying something into a search engine and having to wait about 20 seconds for a result. Long enough not to want to wait, not long enough to do anything else properly. I’d flick to other sites, read a sentence, put a bid on ebay…a comment on a blog…and flick back again. My life consisted of 20 second-1 minute bursts of ‘concentration’ flicking backwards and forwards, to and fro. This had such a profound impact on my brain that it was simply no longer able to function properly. The effect on my bridge was stunning. As a good bridge player I should be able to recall after a session all the bids and plays that took place during it. Now I couldn’t even remember them from one second to the next. It was devastating. rest here: http://alittleteaalittlechat.wordpres...

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lewis Manalo

    If you couldn't tell from the title, Carr really has issues with the internet, and he has some data to support his criticism. He also misses the brain he had before it became Google-cized. Ironically, I found his book kind of unreadable - not because my brain has been Google-cized, but because Carr's has. Reading The Shallows is like reading over the shoulder of somebody who's on Wikipedia and who can't stop clicking links to more and more articles tangential to the one you started with. The Shal If you couldn't tell from the title, Carr really has issues with the internet, and he has some data to support his criticism. He also misses the brain he had before it became Google-cized. Ironically, I found his book kind of unreadable - not because my brain has been Google-cized, but because Carr's has. Reading The Shallows is like reading over the shoulder of somebody who's on Wikipedia and who can't stop clicking links to more and more articles tangential to the one you started with. The Shallows would've made a nice, light essay. Nothing he writes here is new material, much of it is just redundant support to ideas that are common knowledge. (Eg, you can rewrite neural pathways.) Carr's point in a sentence: new technology is seductive, but if we rely on computers too much to understand the world, our intelligence and understanding become shallow. It's not really that deep, but it's important to remember.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Keyo Çalî

    If you are able to read my review, you must read this book, because you are reading it on a screen online. If this review was published in a magazine, it could be much better. But now on GoodReads ( I love GoodReads), when you read my review, let say if you read my review, not just liking it, you see lots of other things too. so you can’t concentrate completely on what you are reading. You may read the first two lines then two lines in the middle and at last two lines at the end of the paragraph If you are able to read my review, you must read this book, because you are reading it on a screen online. If this review was published in a magazine, it could be much better. But now on GoodReads ( I love GoodReads), when you read my review, let say if you read my review, not just liking it, you see lots of other things too. so you can’t concentrate completely on what you are reading. You may read the first two lines then two lines in the middle and at last two lines at the end of the paragraph. This is how we do it on the web. And mostly we read without understanding it. But still, we will read a few lines just because it is there, not because of anything else. We read less, We prefer pictures, audio and video files. Why?! Read this book. The Shallows: he will take you on a journey. he shows you every possible thing, that science can show us about the effects of the internet."I realized that I've dragged you through a lot of space and time over the last few chapters, and I appreciate your fortitude in sticking with me. the journey you've been on is the same one I took in trying to figure out what's been going on inside my head.". our brains aren't the same brains we had had before. "now comes the crucial question: what can science tell us about the actual effects that internet use is having on the way our minds work?" so he shows us dozens of research and studies on the neuroplasticity of our brains. and he wants to prove that our minds can be changed by what we are using and how we are using."Evolution has given us a brain that can literally change its mind-over and over again. Our ways of thinking, perceiving and acting, we now know, are not entirely determined by our genes. nor are they entirely determined by our childhood experiences. we change them through the way we live-and as Nietzsche sensed, through the tools we use.". "every technology is an expression of human will." and he starts telling us a short history of technology. the tools that have played a great role in the process of civilization. he points at some tools, their functionality and how they improved our skills. he answers all question that man needs to ask. from the history of oral speech to reading and writing. and one thing was so interesting to me: "Silent reading was largely unknown in the ancient world. The new codices, like the tablets and scrolls that preceded them, were almost always read aloud, whether the reader was in a group or alone." even Saint Augustine "described the surprise he felt when, around the year AD 380, he saw Ambrose, the bishop of Milan, reading silently to himself". From Gutenberg's press, he drags us to the deep reading and its effects. we all know, books have brought us all the achievements we have today. then he goes to the internet. a network that contains everything even books and humans. so it has to be great. but is it? he tells us all the bad things that are happening to us. that the internet is making us dumber. "whenever we turn on our computer, we are plunged into an 'ecosystem of interruption technologies'". to understand what the internet is doing to our brains first we need to have a better comprehension on our brains. so he explains the latest researches and studies of the best neuroscientists. he describes the structure of the brain and how we store information. "The Net is making us smarter, in other words, only if we define intelligence by the Net's own standards.". What we can see on the internet are only distractions. he goes deeper, he tells us what Google is doing to us too. ‘’Our goal,’ says Irene Au, “is to get users in and out really quickly. All our design decisions are based on that strategy.” Google’s profits are tied directly to the velocity of people’s information intake. The faster we surf across the surface of the Web—the more links we click and pages we view—the more opportunities Google gains to collect information about us and to feed us advertisements. Its advertising system, moreover, is explicitly designed to figure out which messages are most likely to grab our attention and then to place those messages in our field of view. Every click we make on the Web marks a break in our concentration, a bottom-up disruption of our attention—and it’s in Google’s economic interest to make sure we click as often as possible. The last thing the company wants is to encourage leisurely reading or slow, concentrated thought. Google is, quite literally, in the business of distraction.” I think it is too much for a book review. Any chapter you read helps you better to understand what is really going on the internet. You will know what we are going to be if we continue using the internet the way we are using it now. We can prevent it. If you are living in the twenty-first century, you must read this book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    Brace yourself, Goodreader, this one’s coming at you. The premise championed here is that use of the internet (Goodreads for example) causes something to happen to your brain. His words are delicate, but Carr ultimately sees a bit more negative than positive to our online interactions. He protects the flank of his premise by recognizing that humans will always use technology, and derive real benefits from using each new iteration of technology--we should always use emerging technology when it’s Brace yourself, Goodreader, this one’s coming at you. The premise championed here is that use of the internet (Goodreads for example) causes something to happen to your brain. His words are delicate, but Carr ultimately sees a bit more negative than positive to our online interactions. He protects the flank of his premise by recognizing that humans will always use technology, and derive real benefits from using each new iteration of technology--we should always use emerging technology when it’s available and adds real value to society. Consequently, technology itself is not the issue; instead it’s our overwhelming use of it. Carr believes that the internet--and it’s equipage-- is an unprecedented leap of degree in technology with no historical peer. Humans moved relatively smoothly, like an escalator slowly from floor to floor, along the reading/writing continuum, starting way back at petroglyphs, cuneiform on clay tablets in Mesopotamia, through alphabets and papyrus, cenobites taking years to hand scribe single books, to Gutenburg’s press, Morse code, telephone, radio, and TV. But now, the internet. This reading/writing technology, like an elevator, has suddenly jerked us several floors higher with no stops in between. I like this book. To underscore his premise, he stays away from sweeping and sticking statements of social values and mores, and focuses most of the book on the changes in your brain, from an anatomical and, especially, physiological perspective. I thought immediately from the title, What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains: The Shallows, Carr was going to move dangerously into an argument about the merits of the internet on our “mind.” No, it’s a fine distinction, but Carr literally means to argue about our physical “brain,” our cranial aspic, as it states so clearly in the title. See, I was ready to disagree with Carr before even cracking the binding. The single biggest take-away from Carr’s research is the recent, scientific confirmation that human brains display neuroplasticity. This means that brain physiology actually changes in response to its environment. We’re not talking about changes at an evolutionary rate. No. Brain chemistry can--almost overnight--rejigger where and how it processes sets of data. Neuronal connections are broken, elsewhere established, and reinforced by use of different technology. Okay, that’s all good. It’s like skin repairing itself and bones mending. We expect this to happen, even if we can’t explain it in layman’s terms (and I certainly have simplified it here) what neuroplasticity means in regard to our relationship with the environment. No, something is different about the internet. And here, immediately, you decry that for each leap in technology there’s a sentinel that claims the sky is falling. Fair enough. But Carr achieves very convincing levels of example, mostly from scientific research, which explain that the way the internet is displayed to us, and the way we interact with it, is creating a shallower form of intelligence than simply reading books in 1.0. The internet provides too much--too much data, too quickly, too divergently, too distractedly, too unassociatively, and with too much finality. Sure, it’s up to the Goodreader to use a brain and apply brakes to this onslaught. But, in study after study, the Goodreader doesn’t apply the brake. We internalize smaller snippets of information, more rapidly, with less sourcing, and our click-through rate doesn’t allow us to think deeply and genuinely about the information we receive. We scan information, we don’t process it, and we certainly don’t internalize it. We’re repeatedly distracted. Embedded links and mobile connectivity keeps us sputtering over substance like a flat rock spun out over water. Oh, no, not you Goodreader! You still read books and discuss them in long, academic threads and apply academic rigor to the subject. Nicholas Carr has an answer for you. But it’s in his book. Go take a look. I learned a few things here. Even though I felt a little victimized and batted about the face and head, the read was worth it. Again, the author doesn’t attack technology; that’s off the table. He really does a decent job explaining how our brain, the physical matter, adapts to the written world. I agree with his premise, and received more from this book than what I expected. It’s a good library rental. Bottom line: we’re not reading or writing as well as we use to. And that’s an argument I’ve seen over and over on myriad threads. And I agree with it. So there.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Marc Kozak

    Hello, my name is Marc Kozak, and I'm a scientist. Thank you for agreeing to complete this brief questionnaire regarding your internet habits. I can assure you that all data received in this study will be kept completely private. Your results will be combined with the others, and I will use that data to write a very profound article that will win me multiple prizes and perhaps even get a woman to talk to me. Your assistance is invaluable. Thank you for your time, and please enjoy the $5 iTunes g Hello, my name is Marc Kozak, and I'm a scientist. Thank you for agreeing to complete this brief questionnaire regarding your internet habits. I can assure you that all data received in this study will be kept completely private. Your results will be combined with the others, and I will use that data to write a very profound article that will win me multiple prizes and perhaps even get a woman to talk to me. Your assistance is invaluable. Thank you for your time, and please enjoy the $5 iTunes gift card as our thanks for your participation. (Note: the iTunes gift card in no way implies that using the internet to access iTunes is preferable to non-digital music or that the internet is even safe in general.) Question 1: How much time would you say you spend on the internet per day (including on your phone)? A. 0 - 0.5 hours B. 0.5 - 24 hours Hmm, it's just as I suspected. People are using the internet at a very high rate on a daily basis. Fascinating. Question 2: What is your opinion of printed reading materials (ie what are commonly referred to as "books")? A. I think I heard of those once B. Books are for nerds and you better not be calling me a nerd C. I don't feel comfortable smashing large spiders with my eReader So it's true: books, which are the pinnacle of human achievement, are no longer in style compared to more digital mediums. Amazing. Question 3: You see a group of teenagers. A. Get off my lawn B. They're probably high on that marijuana C. What is with the rap music? D. So these gays can get married now, huh? It's as I feared. I am absolutely convinced that for the first time ever, things that young people do are wildly inferior to what us adults grew up with. Question 4: Which of these scenarios is the most likely, should people continue to use the internet at a high rate? A. Everyone will be drooling idiots and society will collapse B. People will have to burn provocative eReaders instead of books, and the resulting toxic fumes will kill us all C. We'll probably just get on with things in a different manner. D. I don't feel comfortable answering this question, because I believe the administer of this survey is a robot who was sent here to learn my human ways. Well this is ridiculous, I'm clearly not a robot. Or have I been programmed to think I'm not a robot? That's exactly what someone who would've programmed a robot to think like a human would've done. And I don't like to be caught in the rain. Oh God... The following exercise will test your ability to concentrate and experience deep learning. Please read the following passage carefully: The Tax Division’s criminal enforcement mission is to protect the integrity of the federal income tax system by prosecuting criminals who defraud the Internal Revenue Service. In pursuit of this mission, Tax Division prosecutors work cooperatively with the Internal Revenue Service, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA),1 and United States Attorneys to investigate alleged tax crimes, to identify appropriate charges, to secure convictions, and to defend them on appeal. Tax Division prosecutors work cooperatively with Assistant United States Attorneys, Internal Revenue Service agents and attorneys, and TIGTA agents to seek the most effective, efficient, and expeditious means to punish criminals who obstruct or defraud the Internal Revenue Service and to deter future violations. The exercise of prosecutorial discretion in criminal tax cases should be guided by the standards applicable to all criminal prosecutions handled by the Department of Justice. See United States Attorneys’ Manual (USAM), § 9-27.000, et seq. The Tax Division therefore should authorize prosecution for the most serious readily provable offense. See USAM, § 9-27.300. The Tax Division should authorize additional charges if they are necessary to ensure that the information or indictment reflects the nature and extent of the defendant’s criminal conduct and to provide the basis for an appropriate sentence or if they will significantly enhance the strength of the government's case against the defendant or a codefendant. See id. § 9-27.320. Charging decisions should reflect strategic prosecutorial judgments about how best to ensure that the defendant will be convicted and held accountable for his entire course of criminal conduct, regardless of whether the appropriate charges are suggested by the investigating agency. The federal criminal tax enforcement program is designed to protect the public interest in preserving the integrity of this Nation's self-assessment tax system through vigorous and uniform enforcement of the internal revenue laws. USAM, § 6-4.010. Criminal tax prosecutions serve to punish the violator and promote respect for the tax laws. Because there are insufficient resources to prosecute all violations, deterring others from violating the tax laws is a primary consideration. The Assistant Attorney General for the Tax Division of the United States Department of Justice supervises the federal criminal tax enforcement program. 28 C.F.R. § 0.70. The Division is responsible for supervising all criminal proceedings arising under and related to the internal revenue laws, with certain limited exceptions. Tax Division jurisdiction under 28 C.F.R. § 0.70(b) depends on the nature of the underlying conduct rather than the particular criminal statute used to prosecute the defendant. In addition to Title 26 tax crimes, the Tax Division has authority over prosecutions for other crimes when they relate to tax offenses. Non-Title 26 statutes used to prosecute tax crimes include 18 U.S.C. § 287 (false claims)), 18 U.S.C. §§ 286, 371 (conspiracy to defraud the United States), 18 U.S.C. § 1001 (fraud and false statements in matters within the jurisdiction of a government agency), 18 U.S.C. §§ 1341-1344 (mail, wire, and bank fraud, when the mailing, wiring, or representation charged is used to promote or facilitate any criminal violation arising under the internal revenue laws, either as substantive offenses or as the predicate acts for RICO or specified unlawful activities for money laundering offenses), 18 U.S.C. §§ 1501-1511 (obstruction of justice and obstruction of a criminal investigation), 18 U.S.C. §§ 1621-22 (perjury and subornation of perjury), and 18 U.S.C. § 1623 (false declarations before a grand jury or court). 28 C.F.R. §§ 0.70, 0.179. Question 5: Did you even read all of that? A. No I've done it!!!! The internet clearly has affected the brain's ability to concentrate! Nobel Prize and maybe holding hands with a woman, here I come!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Murtaza

    As we've come to use the internet more, we've adapted to the idea that the brain is something like a computer processor. You load information to its hard drive, and it performs tasks accordingly. What science shows however is that the brain is more like an evolving organ with a relatively high degree of plasticity. What you do and how you do it literally changes your synaptic wiring: it has physiological effects. Being heavily on the internet, as statistics show most of us now are, is physiologi As we've come to use the internet more, we've adapted to the idea that the brain is something like a computer processor. You load information to its hard drive, and it performs tasks accordingly. What science shows however is that the brain is more like an evolving organ with a relatively high degree of plasticity. What you do and how you do it literally changes your synaptic wiring: it has physiological effects. Being heavily on the internet, as statistics show most of us now are, is physiologically changing us to reflect the type of superficial, inattentive and unreflective sort of intellectual activity that the internet engenders. Human beings think that they are merely using their tools. But inevitably their tools are using them: altering the nature of the body, the mind, or the senses to more closely fit with the character of the device. The plow, the magnifying glass and the F-16 were all tools that extended some aspects of human physical ability. The internet, like the book and the scroll before it, is a tool that aims to extend the powers of the mind. Like those items it also cultivates a certain kind of mind. Over about 500 years we've grown to be book readers and created societies according to the logic of a mind that thinks methodically and linearly. Books literally shaped our brains. Now the internet is reshaping them and with rapid speed. Studies have shown how synaptic wirings change rapidly with internet use, changing the shape of the brain to strengthen it for social media use while weakening it for other tasks. There is reason to believe that the effects of this on balance are not salutary. Human intelligence comes from the ability to transfer short-term memory to long-term memory. Neurological testing has shown that knowledge gleaned online is less likely to make that transference due to the incredibly distracted form of reading that takes place on a screen. We don't really read online, mostly we skim (this is the reason I continue to read mainly books whenever possible for longform reading). And on top of that many people are not even reading at all but simply watching streams of videos. All of this is taking place in an insanely distracting context of receiving or awaiting messages, having multiple windows open and generally being in a state of online alertness. It's something like juggling eight different intellectual tasks at once: you will probably do all of them quite superifically. Even the presence of a screen around one while studying apparently harms the ability to cultivate intelligence by eating up the neurological capacity we need to store long-term memories and create schemas from them. Our minds can digest a cup of water at a time, not the giant firehoses of information that issue from the internet. The written word, the map and the clock all altered mankinds perception of reality. The internet is powerfully and rapidly doing the same. Totally unplugging from it is either a luxury available to the very rich or a punishment inflicted on the very poor. The rest of us will have to contend with it one way or another. The core lesson of this excellent book, in my view, is that we should at least use the internet consciously and with a mind to how it operates on our psychology. It's perhaps not the place for doing deep intellectual work and we should be cognizant of how the "learning" we do there is often deeply superficial. Just think about what your body and mind is often doing while you're using the internet. It's about as intellectually meditative as playing a pinball machine while doing a crossword and engaging in a heated argument with a stranger. Reading books and newspapers (and perhaps offline e-readers) is a way to preserve the type of thought that is necessary for being well-cultivated humans of the type which created society in the first place. Technology alienates by its nature, and some of that alienation might even be positive. But we don't want to alienate ourselves from the intellectual, spiritual and meditative traditions that we continue to recognize as vital components of who we are and who we want to be as humans. A brain that is physiologically shaped in totality by the electronic experience might not even be able to recognize things that were traditionally seen as vital components of human existence: it will only see what it has trained itself to see. This in itself is something to contemplate. We're already living in a world of internet shaped minds and will be for the rest of our lives. As is typical, the creators of the internet weren't even aware of the ethic of the technology while creating it and nor are most of its users. It is best to be aware though and try and make the best of this staggering new medium while guarding against its ill effects, rather than passively letting it reformat us according to its own prejudices.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Riku Sayuj

    The Economist Reports on The Future of The Book: Even the most gloomy predictors of the book’s demise have softened their forecasts. Nicholas Carr, whose book “The Shallows” predicted in 2011 that the internet would leave its ever-more-eager users dumb and distracted, admits people have hung onto their books unexpectedly, because they crave immersive experiences. Books may face more competition for audiences’ time, rather as the radio had to rethink what it could do best when films and television The Economist Reports on The Future of The Book: Even the most gloomy predictors of the book’s demise have softened their forecasts. Nicholas Carr, whose book “The Shallows” predicted in 2011 that the internet would leave its ever-more-eager users dumb and distracted, admits people have hung onto their books unexpectedly, because they crave immersive experiences. Books may face more competition for audiences’ time, rather as the radio had to rethink what it could do best when films and television came along; the habit of reading for pleasure has fallen slightly in the past few years. But it has not dropped off steeply, as many predicted. The length and ambition of a bestseller such as Donna Tartt’s “The Goldfinch”—864 pages in paperback—shows that people still tackle big books. Read More: http://www.economist.com/news/essays/...

  17. 5 out of 5

    Trevor

    In many ways I think this doesn’t have much more to say than Technopoly and that Technopoly has the advantage of saying what needs to be said better, quicker and more entertainingly. I was trying to work out what it was about this that annoyed me and the problem is that this is a very self-conscious book, one that feels it needs to justify itself far too much. And after a while that became very tedious. He makes a nice division between instrumentalists and determinists – basically, instrumentalis In many ways I think this doesn’t have much more to say than Technopoly and that Technopoly has the advantage of saying what needs to be said better, quicker and more entertainingly. I was trying to work out what it was about this that annoyed me and the problem is that this is a very self-conscious book, one that feels it needs to justify itself far too much. And after a while that became very tedious. He makes a nice division between instrumentalists and determinists – basically, instrumentalists are those who say that the tools we use play no more role in our lives than whatever role they play as tools, and determinists who say that once we have shaped our tools they go on to shape us. Obviously, the writer falls into the determinist camp. So much so that he believes that the constant distractions that the internet presents us with is fundamentally changing the way we think and making it harder and harder for us to think deeply about anything. Admittedly, there has been a lot of research done by cognitive load theorists that would tend to support this view – we only have so much mental capacity and constant interruptions would hardly seem the most obvious way to increase that capacity. However, my problem with this idea is that it follows a path that assumes learning is both difficult and slow. It takes a lot of effort to move information from short-term to long-term memory and this effort is undermined by how the internet makes us think or stops us thinking. However, this view is, I think at atleast, convincingly criticized by Frank Smith The Book of Learning and Forgetting although it is something that I will need to think about more in the future. WARNING: one of the questions it is important to ask of people how have ‘proven’ the difficulty of learning under certain circumstances is ‘what was being learnt’ – always be wary of tests of learning that involve nonsense syllables in any form. Admittedly, this book discusses tests that seem to have been much more meaningful, but learning and meaning go together and any ‘learning theory’ that involves no meaning probably isn’t testing learning. Neverthless, the world has always been a distracting place and his ideal learning environment summed up in the book by Stevens’ The House Was Quiet and the World Was Calm (one of my all-time favourite poems) always was an ideal world rather than the standard learning environment prior to the invention of the internet. It is possible that the internet provides too much distraction and that this level of distraction is bad for our learning. All the same, I don’t believe my reading has decreased since I have gone on-line and also don’t think I’ve become more distracted (although, I guess I would have to admit that my family have always told me that I’m the most absent-minded member of the family – so we are starting from a pretty low base). I really do agree with him when he says that we need to look at the negatives as well as the positives with the internet – and also agree that there are negatives – but I have to say that the positive of having the world at my fingertips means that the negatives would need to involve, oh, I don’t know, a sparrow dying with every mouse click or something for me to decide to give up the internet. If I am getting stupider due to my life online then it is happening in a really nice way – so slowly that I’m blissfully ignorant of my decline. The other thing that amused me about this book was that I was surprised at how quickly things become nostalgic nowadays. He spends quite some time talking about computers he has known and owned. He talks about how excited he was when he bought is old Mac computers and how limited they were. How nice it used to be listening to your modem logging onto the internet and how you had to limit the amount of time you could use online in any one day so as not to use up your months allocation too quickly. But this trip down memory lane of the remarkably recent past really added nothing to the book overall. So, although this was okay really this has been done better elsewhere.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    I enjoyed this look at how the internet is affecting our minds. Carr's research covers everything from the history of reading and printing to IQ scores and research in neuroscience. This is a good summation of what Carr learned: Dozens of studies by psychologists, neurobiologists, educators, and Web designers point to the same conclusion: when we go online, we enter an environment that promotes cursory reading, hurried and distracted thinking, and superficial learning. It's possible to think deep I enjoyed this look at how the internet is affecting our minds. Carr's research covers everything from the history of reading and printing to IQ scores and research in neuroscience. This is a good summation of what Carr learned: Dozens of studies by psychologists, neurobiologists, educators, and Web designers point to the same conclusion: when we go online, we enter an environment that promotes cursory reading, hurried and distracted thinking, and superficial learning. It's possible to think deeply while surfing the Net, just as it's possible to think shallowly while reading a book, but that's not the type of thinking the technology encourages and rewards. I was familiar with Carr's earlier article in The Atlantic called "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" but decided to finally read his whole book to better understand how we got these shorter attention spans and shallow thought processes. This book actually inspired me to delete apps from my phone in an effort to use the device less, and to focus more on long-form reading. I don't want to lose the power of deep thought. Resist the shallows! Recommend for those who like pop psychology and nonfiction that includes first-person narration. Favorite Passage "Over the last few years I've had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory. My mind isn't going — so far as I can tell — but it's changing. I'm not thinking the way I used to think. I feel it most strongly when I'm reading. I used to find it easy to immerse myself in a book or a lengthy article. My mind would get caught up in the twists of the narrative or turns of the argument, and I'd spend hours strolling through long stretches of prose. That's rarely the case anymore. Now my concentration starts to drift after a page or two. I get fidgety, lose the thread, and begin looking for something else to do. I feel like I'm always dragging my wayward brain back to the text. The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle."

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mark Desrosiers

    Beware: when you hit the last page of this fascinating, bleak, helpless narrative -- one that addresses your own brain as a stunted, wasting bundle of unmotivated neurons -- you'll either want to retreat to a shared scholarly past, pointing at physical pages with a yad, or you'll just embrace the terrifying idiocracy-pastebin Second Dark Age that's sweeping over us. Hell, the author himself interrupts his argument on occasion to underscore his own troubles with concentration, even devoting a cha Beware: when you hit the last page of this fascinating, bleak, helpless narrative -- one that addresses your own brain as a stunted, wasting bundle of unmotivated neurons -- you'll either want to retreat to a shared scholarly past, pointing at physical pages with a yad, or you'll just embrace the terrifying idiocracy-pastebin Second Dark Age that's sweeping over us. Hell, the author himself interrupts his argument on occasion to underscore his own troubles with concentration, even devoting a chapter to how he managed to finish writing this book. But there are bright spots -- his concise history of reading (of silent reading) will hustle your brainstem and reinstate for you the one most awesome thing we take for granted. Similarly, later in the narrative he kinda bashes Google as one of the most sinister organizations ever with their 300-year plan to become a corporate repository of all information everywhere. But of course, "information" just means "data" to Google, and thus all books will be churned into a blender of searchable text: "The great library that Google is rushing to create shouldn't be confused with the libraries we've known up until now. It's not a library of books. It's a library of snippets." Love the bashing, but as with everything in this book, Google's book-scanning enterprise seems inevitable, unstoppable. Which is why things are so bleak -- nowhere does Carr offer a suggestion that maybe this downward trajectory could reverse itself, that perhaps the "reading class" will become admired and emulated, turning people away from their Blackberries and Kindles, and back into the cracked spine of a physical book. And he really doesn't address the scarier fact: what are the brains of the new generation? He's largely writing to his peer cohorts -- those of us whose lives began analog and turned digital -- telling us sad, sympathetic tales of how we don't remember facts or quotes, how we can no longer devote deep attention to a book, how we're constantly distracted and thereby made dumber. But what about the n00bs who are born in 2011 and may never know the pleasure of sitting silently for hours with a sublime, brain-inflaming book? He doesn't go there, because really, he can't... nobody knows what the new brains will do. Early in his narrative, Carr does bump up against an occasional dialectic -- for example with written literature we lost our magnificent oral culture, but we gained larger stores of memory and logic and a stronger insistence on evidence and facts to guide our daily lives. However, with all we're losing now -- memory, attention, perhaps even the future of literature, poetry, history -- he offers very little in compensation, just some gains in reflexes and hand-eye coordination: lower functions. His own brain is talking back like HAL, and I can hear mine doing it too: Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do. I'm half crazy all for the love of you. It won't be a stylish marriage, I can't afford a carriage. But you'll look sweet upon the seat of a bicycle built for two.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mario the lone bookwolf

    No matter what aspect of the Internet you use to illustrate, the flow and the associated addictive factor are immense. Please note that I put the original German text at the end of this review. Just if you might be interested. The sense of outsourcing your knowledge base to the cloud or directly to Google and Wikipedia is a matter of scale. As long as you have your own, sovereign domains, it's a great addition. As soon as a person lazily stops to refill his cerebral reservoir and lets everything b No matter what aspect of the Internet you use to illustrate, the flow and the associated addictive factor are immense. Please note that I put the original German text at the end of this review. Just if you might be interested. The sense of outsourcing your knowledge base to the cloud or directly to Google and Wikipedia is a matter of scale. As long as you have your own, sovereign domains, it's a great addition. As soon as a person lazily stops to refill his cerebral reservoir and lets everything be done by the machine, it becomes critical. On the one hand, the problem is to stand there like a jerk without a cell phone. Because one no longer learns hard to earn knowledge but relies on the electronic prompter. That may be minor, as long as one does not attach much importance to his reputation and the opinions of others. It becomes critical with the long-term memory and the general performance of the brain. Especially in old age, this reduction in brain training can be felt in the form of an earlier forgetfulness and dementia. Which is a pure hypothesis. But extrapolating the ever shorter attention spans of people with the steadily improving distractions in the form of the media, one could make pessimistic forecasts. If young adults find it hard to focus their minds and spend hours "analogously" reading or writing offline, how will they be able to do it as seniors? Also, the ability to self-research and recognize coherences is lost when the context is already defaulted. While search engines display all articles hierarchically by importance, Wikipedia offers the practical hierarchical trees to deepen or extend the overall context. Manipulation of the operators, to omit specific contexts or topics or to reduce them to a minimum, is thus opened the door. Furthermore, filter bubbles and algorithms on the commercial pages of online retailers and search engines determine which content you like. And online reference books and encyclopedias are often heavily censored in one direction by their funding models and owners. Thus, one acquires, similar as with established media, through the use of these platforms unconsciously their worldview. Because the opposite opinion is underrepresented, intentionally misrepresented or directly not appearing. That the whole is always monitored, by the way, is already part of the intangible cultural asset. What is most convenient for the authorities is the creeping, partly loss of the ability of the population to capture and analyze more complex events. The elite of humanities offers in mass media censored approaches to solutions that are always based on the same conclusions. In support of this, the luminaries are awarded Nobel Prizes in Economics or Peace. No one would dare to question their elaborate underpinnings and affirmations of stupid fundamental theses. These shenanigans are raised to doctrine and pervade all articles, encyclopedias, textbooks in schools, reports, search engine results, etc. Thus, the ignorance flows in the world images of the consumers over the years. So far, this was only possible through the established media and not individualized. Also, newspapers, books, and even television were not so excessively consumed. Now everyone gets the personalized portion of mind fucks, propaganda, and buy recommendations from customers with similar tastes. Modern times. All the positive uses and potential of the Internet will not help if it becomes an extended arm of system propaganda and offers exciting entertainment. The maturity of people to deal critically and productively with the new media is, unfortunately, the domain of a minority. Democratically, the majority determines the development. And they want simple, polemical and emotional bits and pieces of coverage that they mix between narcissistic alter egos, consumption, and loss of reality in the form of various games. A comparison to the development of printing: How many good, progressive newspapers or books have existed compared to censored, conservative and destructive ones? With a ratio of 1 to 100 or 1 to 1000? The relationship between meaningful use of the Internet and mindless misuse of the medium may be the same. The neuroplasticity of the brain may be helpful in the rare case of a cold turkey. If one has to laboriously learn complex thinking again from the beginning. Only if there is no willingness to change due to the lack of knowledge of a problem the unused self-repair and adaption mechanism of the brain also doesn´t help. The financial aspect is driving Internet infrastructure managers to hypnotize people. And, if possible, to shorten the attention spans even further. The faster someone clicks on; the more money can be extracted from the person. On the one hand, because she or he sees more advertising, possibly buys something and maybe clicks on a link. Furthermore, because multi-tasking users surfing around quickly deliver more data and behavioral patterns that are worth money. People who read long articles and think much are a loss business. (Shame yourself!) As a result, programmers are focusing on generating a flow as quickly as possible so that consumers spend as much time as possible with maximum clicks on their pages. (Please be sure to like this review, share it, copy the link, post it on all social media sites, and then discuss it in the comments!) Do not worry; I'll stop breaking the fourth wall now. That's a bit too daring and personal to me. Similar to reading and computer games, the internet also shows a detachment from one's own body. Especially social media and e-commerce work towards the achievement of a trance-like state, so that consumers lose any sense of space, time and even ego. This is the primary trigger of social networks. The alter egos and fantasy avatars, which are tamed by the already fragile human psyches themselves, harbor interesting new mental illnesses for the future. And not just for the mentally unstable contemporaries. Because for the people applies: "The addiction is strong in you." That is why not only brewing art and winemaking, millennia-old domains, and opium have been in demand for a long time. But also every new cultural technique is potentially dangerous. With the Internet sprawling in all areas of life, a new dimension of physically not directly harmful addiction has emerged. The human brain loves the easily achieved flows of relaxed entertainment and initially resists other strenuous activities. These high entry barriers make many people fail, and even after a withdrawal like after a learning marathon or a change of heart, the risk of relapse is significant. Meaningful use means hard work and lonely preoccupation with oneself. Unreflected waste of time with friends, on the other hand, makes even emotional centers of the brain glow with joy. This second temptation to play and interact in the illusion of community potentiates the addictive factor. With the spread of VR, AR, Brain Computer Interface, sensory attenuation tank, etc., a lifetime of immersion in all facets of the digital world will become possible. Another nasogastric tube, an infusion of nutrient solution into the veins, two catheters placed and off you go the fun. When such a life is more fulfilling, happier, and more prosperous than the real world, with its problems, setbacks, pains, and adversities, it begs the question of its raison d'être. If the life in the tank is even longer because, with the advanced medicine, a life extension is entirely possible. And people voluntarily live in a kind of conservation solution. Do people in the real world have the right to criticize this model of life? Or are not they the ones who make all their dreams come true, smarter than those who remain on the primitive earth? Egal, welchen Aspekt des Internets man zur Veranschaulichung heran zieht, der Flow und der damit einhergehende Suchtfaktor sind immens. Der Sinn des Outsourcings der eigenen Wissensdatenbank in die Cloud oder direkt an Google und Wikipedia ist eine Frage des Umfangs. Solange man eigene, souveräne Domänen unterhält, ist es eine tolle Ergänzung. Sobald ein Mensch beginnt, aus Faulheit den eigenen zerebralen Speicher nicht mehr neu zu befüllen und alles die Maschine machen lässt, wird es kritisch. Einerseits ist es das Problem, ohne Handy wie ein Trottel da zu stehen. Weil man sich selbst kein Wissen mehr hart erarbeitet und lernt, sondern sich auf den elektronischen Souffleur verlässt. Das mag nebensächlich sein, sofern man auf seine Reputation und die Meinung der anderen keinen besonderen Wert legt. Kritisch wird es mit dem Langzeitgedächtnis und der generellen Leistungsfähigkeit des Gehirns. Vor allem im Alter kann sich diese Reduzierung des Hirntrainings in Form einer früheren Vergesslichkeit und Demenz bemerkbar machen. Wobei das eine reine Hypothese darstellt. Aber extrapoliert man die immer kürzeren Aufmerksamkeitsspannen der Menschen mit den stetig besser werdenden Ablenkungen in Form der Medien, könnte man pessimistische Prognosen stellen. Wenn schon junge Erwachsene sich schwer tun, ihren Geist zu fokussieren und stundenlang nur "analog" selbst lesend oder offline schreibend Zeit zu verbringen, wie werden sie es als Senioren tun können? Auch geht die Fähigkeit verloren, selbst zu recherchieren und Zusammenhänge zu erkennen, wenn der Kontext vorgegeben wird. Wenn Suchmaschinen alle Artikel hierarchisch nach Wichtigkeit anzeigen und Wikipedia die praktischen Hierarchiebäume zur Vertiefung oder Betrachtung des Gesamtzusammenhangs offeriert. Manipulationen der Betreiber, gewisse Zusammenhänge oder Themen auszusparen oder auf ein Minimum zu reduzieren, ist damit Tür und Tor geöffnet. Weiters bestimmten Filterblasen und Algorithmen auf den kommerziellen Seiten von Onlinehändlern und Suchmaschinen, welcher Inhalt einem gefällt. Und Online Nachschlagewerke und Enzyklopädien sind durch ihre Finanzierungsmodelle und Eigentümer häufig stark in eine Richtung zensiert. Somit eignet man sich, ähnlich wie bei etablierten Medien, über die Nutzung dieser Plattformen unbewusst deren Weltbild an. Weil die gegensätzliche Meinung unterrepräsentiert ist, absichtlich falsch dargestellt wird oder schlichtweg nicht aufscheint. Das das ganze immer nebenbei noch flächendeckend überwacht wird, gehört mittlerweile zum immateriellen Kulturgut. Was der Obrigkeit sehr gelegen kommt, ist der schleichende, teilweise Verlust, komplexere Geschehnisse selbst zu erfassen und zu analysieren. Die Elite der Geisteswissenschaft bietet in Leitmedien zensierte Lösungsansätze, die auf die immer gleichen Schlussfolgerungen hinaus laufen, an. Zur Untermauerung werden die Koryphäen mit Nobelpreisen der Wirtschaftswissenschaft oder des Friedens ausgezeichnet. Keiner würde es wagen, ihre ausgeklügelten Untermauerungen und Bestätigungen dummer Grundthesen anzuzweifeln. Diese zu Schulmeinungen erhobenen Idiotien durchziehen alle Artikel, Enzyklopädien, Lehrbücher an Schulen, Berichterstattungen, Suchmaschinenergebnisse, usw. Dadurch fließt das Unwissen über die Jahre in die Weltbilder der Konsumenten ein. Bisher war das nur über die etablierten Medien und nicht individualisiert möglich. Auch wurden Zeitungen, Bücher und selbst Fernsehen nicht derart exzessiv konsumiert. Jetzt bekommt jeder die auf ihn persönlich zugeschnittene Portion an Mind Fucks, Propaganda und Kaufempfehlungen von Kunden mit ähnlichen Vorlieben. Moderne Zeiten. All die positiven Nutzungsmöglichkeiten und Potentiale des Internets helfen nichts, wenn es nur zu einem verlängerten Arm der Systempropaganda wird und kurzweilige Unterhaltung anbietet. Die Mündigkeit der Menschen, kritisch und produktiv mit den neuen Medien umzugehen, ist leider die Domäne einer Minderheit. Demokratisch bestimmt die Mehrheit die Entwicklung. Und diese wünscht sich einfache, polemische und emotionale Häppchen von Berichterstattung, die sie zwischen narzisstische Alter Egos, Konsum und Realitätsverlust in Form von diversen Spielchen mischt. Ein Vergleich zu der Entwicklung des Buchdrucks: Auf wie viele gute, progressive Zeitungen oder Bücher kamen und kommen zensierte, konservative und destruktive Werke? Mit einem Verhältnis von 1 zu 100 oder 1 zu 1000? Das Verhältnis zwischen sinnvoller Nutzung des Internets zu kopflosem Missbrauch des Mediums dürfte dasselbe sein. Die Neuroplastizität des Hirns kann bei einem kalten Entzug sicher hilfreich sein. Wenn man das komplexe Denken wieder mühsam von vorne lernen muss. Nur wenn aufgrund der mangelnden Erkenntnis eines Problems keine Änderungsbereitschaft vorhanden ist, hilft der ungenutzte Selbstreparatur- und Adaptionsmechanismus des Hirns auch nichts. Der finanzielle Aspekt bringt die Betreiber der Infrastruktur des Internets dazu, die Menschen zu hypnotisieren. Und, nach Möglichkeit, die Aufmerksamkeitsspannen noch weiter zu verkürzen. Denn je schneller jemand weiter klickt, desto mehr Geld lässt sich aus ihm extrahieren. Einerseits, weil er mehr Werbung sieht, eventuell deswegen etwas kauft und vielleicht auf einen Link klickt. Weiters, weil schnell nervös umher surfende, multi taskende Nutzer mehr Daten und Verhaltensmuster liefern, die bares Geld wert sind. Menschen, die lange Beiträge lesen und dabei denken, sind ein Verlustgeschäft. (Schämen Sie sich!) Folglich wird von den Programmierern das Hauptaugenmerk auf die möglichst schnelle Erzeugung eines Flows gelegt, damit die Konsumenten so viel Zeit wie möglich mit maximaler Klickanzahl auf ihren Seiten verbringen. (Bitte unbedingt diese Rezension liken, sharen, den Link kopieren, auf allen social media Seiten verbreiten und dann in den Kommentaren diskutieren!) Keine Angst, ich höre jetzt wieder auf damit, die vierte Wand zu durchbrechen. Das ist mir doch etwas zu gewagt und persönlich. Ähnlich wie beim Lesen und beim Computerspielen ist auch beim Internet eine Loslösung vom eigenen Körper zu beobachten. Gerade social media und e commerce arbeiten auf die Erzielung eines tranceartigen Zustandes zu, damit die Konsumenten jegliches Gefühl für Raum, Zeit und gerne auch Ego verlieren. Das ist der Haupttrigger der sozialen Netzwerke. Die Alter Egos und Fantasieavatare, die sich die ohnehin zerbrechlichen menschlichen Psychen selbst zimmern, bergen interessante neue Geisteskrankheiten für die Zukunft in sich. Und das nicht nur für die psychisch ohnehin labilen Zeitgenossen. Denn für die Menschen gilt: "Die Sucht ist stark in dir". Deswegen sind nicht nur Braukunst und Kelterei angestammte, Jahrtausende alte Domänen und Opium seit langem begehrt. Sondern auch jede neue Kulturtechnik potentiell gefährlich. Mit dem in alle Lebensbereich wuchernden Internet ist eine neue Dimension der physisch nicht unmittelbar schädlichen Sucht entstanden. Das menschliche Gehirn liebt die Flows der leichten Unterhaltung und sträubt sich anfangs gegen anstrengendere Tätigkeiten. Diese hohen Einstiegshürden lassen viele scheitern und selbst nach einem Entzug ist nach einem Lernmarathon oder einem Sinneswandel die Gefahr des Rückfalls groß. Denn sinnvolle Nutzung bedeutet harte Arbeit und einsame Beschäftigung mit sich selbst. Unreflektierte Zeitverschwendung mit Freunden dagegen lässt auch noch emotionale Zentren vor Freude leuchten. Diese doppelte Versuchung, in der Illusion der Gemeinschaft zu spielen und zu interagieren, potenziert den Suchtfaktor. Mit der Ausbreitung von VR, AR, Brain Computer Interface, sensory attenuation tank, usw wird ein lebenslanges Aufgehen in allen Facetten der digitalen Welt möglich werden. Noch eine Magensonde, eine Infusion mit Nährlösung in die Venen, 2 Katheter gelegt und los geht der Spaß. Wenn ein solches Leben erfüllender, glücklicher und reichhaltiger ist als die echte Welt mit ihren Problemen, Rückschlägen, Schmerzen und Widrigkeiten, wirft das die Frage nach deren Existenzberechtigung auf. Wenn das Leben im Tank noch dazu länger ist, weil mit der fortgeschrittenen Medizin eine Lebensverlängerung durchaus möglich ist. Und die Menschen freiwillig in einer Art Konservierungslösung leben. Haben dann die Menschen in der echten Welt das Recht, dieses Lebensmodell zu kritisierten? Oder sind nicht eher diejenigen, die all ihre Träume wahr werden lassen, klüger als diejenigen, die auf der primitiven Erde verbleiben?

  21. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    (Even more late breaking updates, below. Still haven't read it yet, though.) This book is mentioned in the thoughtful-if-long New York Times Magazine article Texts Without Context , which explores how technology is altering the way we absorb ideas, especially the written word, and how that change in subjectivity is setting us up for subtle but radical shifts in everything from political discourse to the rights of authors. With respect to this book itself, I'm skeptical. That we will change as th (Even more late breaking updates, below. Still haven't read it yet, though.) This book is mentioned in the thoughtful-if-long New York Times Magazine article Texts Without Context , which explores how technology is altering the way we absorb ideas, especially the written word, and how that change in subjectivity is setting us up for subtle but radical shifts in everything from political discourse to the rights of authors. With respect to this book itself, I'm skeptical. That we will change as the Web becomes the dominant medium is without doubt. I am moderately confident that these changes will even include physical manifestation within our wetware: connections within our brains will probably have demonstrably different patterns. What makes me skeptical isn't that there will be a change, but that these changes will be bad. The pejorative "Shallows" in the title hints that Mr. Carr is quite pessimistic about this. When the literacy and the mechanical press made the writing and reading of books commonplace, I can imagine that Mr. Carr's forerunner griping along similar lines.After all, if people no longer are forced to memorize entire texts, they won't be able to immediately apply the wisdom within that text to their daily lives. And reading many texts instead of making a lifelong study of the most important few would mean their minds would become confused by the contradictory voices. These contradictions would diminish the objective authority of the best writings, diluting wisdom with the subjective impressions of too many other writers. Furthermore, without exercising the discipline of memorization, people would simply become more stupid! Without hearing the words, they wouldn't learn to listen for the nuances of elocution in the voices of others, and they would lose the guidance of their experienced elders. And all this reading would hurt their eyes! And books are simply unnatural!Of course, we like to think we've done pretty well with the literary tradition. Has Mr. Carr struck a healthy balance, or is he focusing so severely on what he thinks we will lose that he can't see what we might gain? So, if I get around to reading this, I'll be reading with a heavy dose of suspicion.     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     • A few tidbits since I wrote the above: The "forerunner" who did, indeed, gripe about the change from an oral culture to literacy was none other than Socrates. Among other aspects of the dialog Phaedrus, he gripes about how literacy is likely to be a bad thing. An extract from the ever-valuable Wikipedia:Writing, examined separately but ultimately equated with philosophy and rhetoric, is somewhat deprecated; it is stated that writing can do little but remind those who already know, somewhat reminiscent of the archetypal Zen master's admonishment that "those who know, know". Unlike dialectic and rhetoric, writing cannot be tailored to specific situations or students; the writer does not have the luxury of examining his reader's soul in order to determine the proper way to persuade. When attacked it cannot defend itself, and is unable to answer questions or refute criticism. As such, the philosopher uses writing "for the sake of amusing himself" and other similar things rather than for teaching others. A writer, then, is only a philosopher when he can himself argue that his writing is of little worth, among other requirements.Annoyingly, I wasn't the only one to realize this. The New York Times finally got around to reviewing the book itself with Our Cluttered Minds , written by Jonah Lehrer, author of the enthusiastically reviewed PopCog book How We Decide as well as the excellent blog The Frontal Cortex . Lehrer led with the Phaedrus bit, darn it. Overall his review is mildly dismissive and largely consistent with my skepticism. Also, I belatedly realized that Nicholas Carr wrote the inflammatory Is Google Making Us Stupid? for The Atlantic, and this book is an expansion of his ideas there. Finally, the New York Times has repeatedly referred to Carr's book in their multi-piece examination of how the technology of the modern world is impinging on our cognition. The article Your Brain on Computers leads the assault, and provides links to various other articles and multimedia tests. The Test Your Focus "interactive feature" is fun (I come down solidly in the "able to concentrate" camp, thankfully).     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     • The Economist chimes in with their own mildly positive review at Fast forward: Fear of a fried future . ­

  22. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    3.5 stars A scary and informative book that delves into how the internet affects our brains, our attention spans, and the way we think. Carr argues that technology takes away from our ability to process information deeply and soundly; he states that distractions like the internet promote scattered, shallow thinking. To prove his point he cites research that shows how the brain responds to the internet: indeed, we obtain dopamine from the quick clicks and the many links online, similar to how drug 3.5 stars A scary and informative book that delves into how the internet affects our brains, our attention spans, and the way we think. Carr argues that technology takes away from our ability to process information deeply and soundly; he states that distractions like the internet promote scattered, shallow thinking. To prove his point he cites research that shows how the brain responds to the internet: indeed, we obtain dopamine from the quick clicks and the many links online, similar to how drug addicts get their fix. Carr also allocates a decent amount of The Shallows to the idea of neuroplasticity - not only do we shape the technology we use, but the technology we use shapes us, which is clearly the case with the internet. I enjoyed learning about a lot of the smaller details in this book too. Carr elaborates upon past, present, and future uses of technology to solidify his points, and at the end of the book he discusses how the internet hampers with compassion and empathy. He made sure to mention the positive aspects of the internet, bringing his book balance, and he deconstructed the Flynn effect, showing that future generations can still succumb to the damaging repercussions of technology addiction. I wanted more solutions from The Shallows, though. Carr hammers in how the internet detracts from deep thinking, but by the end of the book I felt a distinct lack of answers or remedies. I plan on writing about my own strategies for overcoming my struggle with "internet addiction," but what about all the kids whose parents give them smartphones and iPads in elementary school? How do we reverse a society already so entrenched in the internet and its surface-level bounties? Carr states that he has hope for our world amidst its growing dependence on technology, yet I failed to see what inspired his positivity - The Shallows would have benefited from more future-oriented strategies. Overall, highly recommended for those who want tangible proof that the internet affects our brains, as well as for those who can notice the internet's prominence in their daily lives (I'm looking at you, constant email-and-Facebook checkers). Carr approaches the issue from several angles, and the sheer depth of his research deserves much respect.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Amirography

    The funny thing about this book is that I actually enjoyed reading it, as I guess anyone with an elementary knowledge of logic and philosophical argumentation would. It is a well-written example of "How to use fallacies and envoke fear and intuition to argue for your claim." I mean I actually get how this book got so popular, even though most of its content is overly repeated and contains no new arguments. -The author mentions the opposing arguments and then gives an unrelated answer. He uses ane The funny thing about this book is that I actually enjoyed reading it, as I guess anyone with an elementary knowledge of logic and philosophical argumentation would. It is a well-written example of "How to use fallacies and envoke fear and intuition to argue for your claim." I mean I actually get how this book got so popular, even though most of its content is overly repeated and contains no new arguments. -The author mentions the opposing arguments and then gives an unrelated answer. He uses anecdotes to tell what we already know and then explains it with his own theory. And (conveniently) fails to mention that the other theories also explain the evidence and also explain evidence that is not already mentioned. Which can be counted as a false dichotomy. -‎ He also says the opposing arguments for his yet-not-new and similar arguments and goes on as if the author has already answered the arguments. -‎He relies too much on anecdotes which are though very attractive to readers, it does not even count as data, none the less, an evidence. -‎His observations and theories are not even novel. - He draws conclusions and excerpts from studies which misrepresent the tone of the whole paper.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rob

    Is this a book about the Internet? Or about neuroplasticity? Is this a gadget-lover's dirge for "his old brain"? Or a sensationalist portrait of a technological and cultural paradigm shift that lists strongly toward the catastrophic? The Shallows is all of these things, and quite a few more--some of which marry well with Carr's thesis, while the kinky red hair of the others show them to be the abandoned-at-the-door-step-children they are. What Carr tells us with the charged and inflammatory rheto Is this a book about the Internet? Or about neuroplasticity? Is this a gadget-lover's dirge for "his old brain"? Or a sensationalist portrait of a technological and cultural paradigm shift that lists strongly toward the catastrophic? The Shallows is all of these things, and quite a few more--some of which marry well with Carr's thesis, while the kinky red hair of the others show them to be the abandoned-at-the-door-step-children they are. What Carr tells us with the charged and inflammatory rhetoric of his title is that the Internet "as we use it" and/or "as we experience it" may as well be cocaine--something that gives you massive energy and brilliant ideas and feelings of well-being and connectedness while in reality it turns out to be a false promise that is in fact turning you into a zombie and which will quickly alienate and eventually kill you. Toward the end, Carr comes right out and says it: "The price we pay to assume technology's power is alienation." Throughout the text, there is this repeating suggestion of "swimming in content"--that through the portal of your computer screen, you have immediate and constant access to an information bombardment. The argument starts early and repeats often. Carr focuses on how much information is out there "on the Internet", and how quick and easy it is to gain access to that information. In the earliest portions of the book, he uses this as the set up to introduce all the Internet proponents--the folks that coin phrases like "my outboard brain" or otherwise tell us how we "..."can't yet recognize the superiority of this networked thinking process because we're still measuring it against our old linear thought process." These are folks like Rhodes scholar Joe O'Shea whom Carr quotes as saying: "I don't read books." So if O'Shea isn't reading books, what is he reading? He and, according to Carr, many others are instead searching online for items (i.e., via Google), alleging to more quickly find those items of interest without having to wade through "whole books". Perform a Google search and within a split-second, there is your passage, or your quote, or your facts-and-figures. But therein lies the rub: if you find a passage or a quote in this way, have you really gotten the complete context? If you lack the context, how do you know that it is actually relevant? And even if it appears to be relevant, how do you know that it is accurate? The implicit critique: that we are headed down a path of breadth-only/depth-never search schemas and that this is "reprogramming" us right down to the neural substrate. Time out for a moment. That bit of language right there kept jarring me: that the computer provided Carr's central lexical framework for explaining the brain. To Carr's credit, he is not the only one that does this--many of the neuroscientists, psychologists, and other thinkers that he quotes, cites, and paraphrases also lapse into these convenient modern metaphors. It seems unfair to hold Carr fully accountable for this bit of irony in the text's grammar; academic discourse is overrun with this comparison. Apparently this metaphor largely comes out of psychology's "Cognitive Revolution"--during the 1950s as Skinnerian Behaviorism fell out of favor, a new conceptual framework for the field arose that acknowledged certain unobservable phenomena (e.g., "thought") while still attempting to put "cognition" into a system with rigorous and scientific mechanics. Allegedly, an important milestone in the "Cognitive Revolution" was its earliest discussions at a conference at Dartmouth. This is an interesting coincidence (if it is a coincidence at all) for us as readers of the book because it gives us overlap both chronologically and geographically with a period of meteoric ascendance in the history of computing--a time when folks were marveling over "thinking machines". Now back to Carr's critique--that we are lapsing into breadth-only/depth-never searches, right down to our neural substrate. As part of this discussion, Carr introduces something I noted as "Doidge's paradox of neuroplasticity": that the brain is highly "plastic", that it is quick to make new neural pathways, to adapt to new situations, to "reshape" itself as new skills are learned or else as it compensates for new damage or other environmental changes; but also that once the brain has assumed some "shape", that it will "try" to stay that way. Any introductory physics class gives us an elementary principle (expressed with a single word) that we may apply here to resolve the paradox. Doidge's observed incongruities aside, the fact remains that all brains, even brains presumably damaged beyond repair have shown a remarkable resilience to long-term damage, or even long-term changes. If there is a paradox with the brain at all, it is that despite constant changes, it manages to function in a way that gives us what we experience as memory. Perhaps that there is Carr's dreaded Neural Doomsday. In entertaining these popular notions of "the outboard brain" and in digesting the cultural shifts surrounding that, he has come to believe that these changes in the brain--the changes that accompany heavy or long-term computer ("Internet") use--are permanent and irrevocable. Or even if the changes are reversible (given what we know of neuroplasticity), that our overall cultural habits will shape us to give in to the brain's own inertia--that we won't want to "snap out of it", that we won't even see anything wrong with what has become of us. We will all become mentally lazy at a biological level, and we will also come to believe that there is absolutely nothing wrong with that--and worse, that the cultural gestalt will simply reinforce that mode of thinking. Carr is not totally unjustified in these fears, but he unfortunately seems reticent when it comes to making concrete speculations on the long-term consequences, or means by which we might combat this (to adopt his attitude) terrible trajectory. At one point, he cites Umberto Eco's assessment of what my notes called "Socrates' lament"--that "memory from marks" (i.e., writing) would over-shadow and in time annihilate men's memories and oratory faculties. According to Eco there is an eternal and intrinsic fear of change, especially when that which changes is something that we deeply value. Socrates valued knowledge; the mechanics and media for his knowledge were strictly mental and oral. Writing down your thoughts, your memories, your debate responses--all of that deeply upset Socrates' applecart. But even Socrates was willing to grant an exception: for writing could serve "as memorials to be treasured against the forgetfulness of old age". Some 2400 years later, I challenge you to find someone that would agree with or even entertain that notion for anything but a quaint form of provincial paranoia--the first incidence of futureshock. It's almost 2000 years later that Erasmus eloquently rejects the memorization that Socrates held so dearly, citing that it failed value's litmus test for anything but to provide fertile soil in which to plant the seeds of synthesis. It would not be much of a stretch to believe that Carr is of the same mind as Erasmus here, that memorization has little pure value--that what we (as thinkers, as contributors to the great corpus of knowledge) are really interested in is not regurgitation of knowledge but its digestion and comprehension and ultimately its creation. And this is where I believe Carr plays his text a bit to coyly; in rushing to damn the Internet and Google and perhaps even Tim Berners-Lee, he does not clearly articulate what he believes to be at stake. As the text draws to a close, he draws an analogy that is almost Luddite in its connotations: if a ditchdigger begins to ply his trade with a diesel-powered excavator instead of his shovel, he may find that he can dig deeper and wider and faster but his muscles will ultimately atrophy. Carr lets go of this analogy pretty quickly, moving along and letting it linger only briefly--but the obvious question hangs between you and the page: does the trade-off matter if it is not in conflict with your goals? In other words, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with your "outboard brain"--but if it makes you lazy, if you stop synthesizing the content that you consume, if you stop having new and original thoughts, then the only thing that you have gained is that you can locate and consume content more quickly. If you choose to remember nothing, then whatever new thoughts you might form are instantly orphaned on the doorstep of ephemera. Having so closely aligned himself with Marshall McLuhan, Carr might counter that like David Sarnoff before us, we are just blaming the consumer and failing to recognize the powerful and lasting effects of the medium itself. Once set down this path, our brains change--it becomes difficult and then impossible for us to focus or form these new thoughts. That we trap ourselves in this self-rewarding (if ultimately vapid) cycle of Google Suggest results, status updates, one-click shopping, instant messages, and every other distraction that we alt-tab our way through, all the livelong day (and into the night). But having said that: the counter-argument is a cop-out, and one that is put before us as impermeable, and perhaps even a little self-righteously inviolable. The Internet is here. Using it changes our brains. Quod erat demonstrandum. If you're like me, it sounds more like Calvinist predestination than it does like a scientific theorem. On the one hand the Internet changes our brains; on the other hand the brain has a remarkable plasticity. Any activity imprints itself upon the brain; and given this suggestion of neural inertia, the more prolonged that activity, the longer-lasting and more far-reaching those changes are. (Did "everything in moderation" come to your mind as well?) Where I wind up taking issue with Carr's conclusions is (as mentioned above) his reticence in making more concrete speculations, but also in how he glosses over or omits some important qualifiers. He talks about the desire to consume Internet content "so much" and "so quickly", but there was not much discussion of where that desire comes from. Why do we feel so much pressure to consume it? Why do we feel pressured to consume it so quickly? There is also no differentiation of the content we consume--when making his value judgments, Carr appears to give equal footing to instances of in-depth subject-specific factual research as he does to the fleeting and vapid trivia generica. Nor is there much discussion of authoriality nor any discussion of authenticity. And that last bit is probably the most important to me. Carr touches a few times (albeit obliquely) on the notion of "a new literacy". Over the centuries we have defined and become comfortable in specific scope when we discuss literacy and consider what it means to be literate. But over the past century, we have very quickly created an entirely new climate for content and media. Maybe this is the distortion of my own liberal arts lens, but when we talk about literacy, we too often stop with reading and writing. These are insufficient on their own and this is wholly evident when Carr writes about Joe "I don't read books" O'Shea. Context is king and authenticity, queen; if we accept that our brains are shaped by the Internet-as-medium, then we must also accept that to read is not enough. Carr has a point when he says that we do not "read" on the Internet--that we skim and scan and "F" our way through what amounts to a given page's abstract; and maybe he is even right that this is the inherent mode of consumption for this medium. But perhaps the reason we skim and scan and get distracted is because we are not yet literate in this new medium. We are in the midst of inventing its mechanics, its etiquette, and though we use words and images on the Internet, we are still in the midst of inventing its vocabularies and grammars. Perhaps when we skim and scan, it is because we still have not learned how to make heads-or-tails of what we are seeing, whether it is worthy of being read, whether it passes the right tests for authenticity, and whether it will even be there tomorrow.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Albert

    Infuriating--he buries the small truths of his argument in exaggerations, the blurring of differences and projections of his own experiences onto everyone else. Projections: A perfect example is when he writes of his experience in the college library “Despite being surrounded by tens of thousands of books, I don’t remember feeling the anxiety that’s symptomatic of what we today call ‘information overload.’ There was something calming in the reticence of all those books, their willingness to wait Infuriating--he buries the small truths of his argument in exaggerations, the blurring of differences and projections of his own experiences onto everyone else. Projections: A perfect example is when he writes of his experience in the college library “Despite being surrounded by tens of thousands of books, I don’t remember feeling the anxiety that’s symptomatic of what we today call ‘information overload.’ There was something calming in the reticence of all those books, their willingness to wait years, decades even, for the right reader to come along." Personally, I have always felt overwhelmed in the presence of large libraries. In college, I used to go up and down the aisles pulling books and sometimes reading them standing in the aisle until the motion sensitive lights went out. I must note that I'm not of the Internet generation--the first time I used a computer was to type a paper when I was a junior or senior in college. The Internet has increased, not created, the problem of information overload and anxiety. “Today, people routinely talk about artificial memory as though it’s indistinguishable from biological memory.” I have yet to hear anyone I know blurring artificial and biological memory in this way anymore than people confuse their written to do list with their memory. I think people are generally smart enough to know that computer memory is simply a tool—an aid for memory, not our memory itself. Exaggerations/blurrings: “As soon as you inject a book with links and connect it to the Web—as soon as you ‘extend’ and ‘enhance’ it and make it ‘dynamic’—you change what it is and you change, as well, the experience of reading it. An e-book is no more a book than an online newspaper is a newspaper.” Yes, an e-book IS a book. Carr also blurs here the difference between an e-book and a hypertext e-book—a very important distinction. I read digital books all of the time but I have always disliked hypertext books because I like getting caught up in my books, not distracted by added information. And, yes, I get just as caught up in my digital books as I do my printed books. “It seems likely that removing the sense of closure from book writing will, in time, alter writers’ attitudes toward their work. The pressure to achieve perfection will diminish, along with the artistic rigor that the pressure imposed.” Carr is writing here about a writer’s ability now to edit and alter his or her work perpetually and the effect it will have on the quality of their writing. Clearly he has never studied the endless variations Whitman wrote of his Leaves of Grass. The fact that a writer can now fix and improve their work, in his mind, means that they won’t bother trying to get it right the first time. How many literary writers does he know, anyway? He is also lumping all writers into one big category—isn’t there a difference between how a writer of popular self-help books approaches their writing from how a poet does? The fact that he then uses the analogy of letter writing to demonstrate what will happen to writing in general shows his tendency to blur important differences for the purposes of his argument. Does the Internet change us neurologically, and not always for the better? I do think so. But it varies greatly from person to person. He neglects generational differences, for instance, which are very important—someone growing up online is going to process information differently from someone who came to the Internet, like I did, in adulthood. Our minds are plastic, yes, but never so much as when we are young. Anyone who has tried to learn a new language as an adult can confirm that. There are very real issues at stake here but he does his own arguments a disservice with these exaggerations and failures to make distinctions. He uses Hawthorne’s narrative of being interrupted in his reverie by a train as an analogy for our inability to “contemplate.” He quotes Leo Marx’s Machine in the Garden: “The quiet clearing in the woods provides the solitary thinker with ‘a singular insulation from disturbance,’ a protected space for reflection. The clamorous arrival of the train…brings ‘the psychic dissonance associated with the onset of industrialism.’” So I leave you with one last thought—how many people in Hawthorne’s time had the luxury of time to “reflect”? Did we all live in a wonderland of contemplation before the arrival of the Internet? While we are hacking our way through the arguments for and against the Internet we have to remember that we all do not live the same lives or have the same experiences and our use of the Internet and its effect on us will likewise vary. The medium is not the message; it is only part of it. Our minds, I think, are plastic, not putty. p.s. I may in future edit this review as I have time to reflect more on its arguments....

  26. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    I don't give 5 stars lightly, but this book was absolutely fascinating - to me, at least. Though, as I read passages, I kept thinking of yet another person who ought to read it. Carr (and the book) have been getting a lot of "air play" lately - blogs, NPR, etc., and chapters and snippets of the book have appeared several places (the snippet-ization being another result of the internet that he discusses). Lots of readable, distilled scientific info about current thinking on how the brain works (a I don't give 5 stars lightly, but this book was absolutely fascinating - to me, at least. Though, as I read passages, I kept thinking of yet another person who ought to read it. Carr (and the book) have been getting a lot of "air play" lately - blogs, NPR, etc., and chapters and snippets of the book have appeared several places (the snippet-ization being another result of the internet that he discusses). Lots of readable, distilled scientific info about current thinking on how the brain works (adult brain much more plastic than previously thought) and possible implications for our new information MO - browse and scan - what else are we to do when faced with the massive amounts of info now available to all? The tone is not that of a Cassandra nor Henny Penny, nor is it holier-than-thou; Carr quite self-admittedly is as much of an Internet addict as any of us. He does a really nice job of sketching out the history and the effects of the printing press on our thought processes as well. The change is happening -- Carr simply invites us to be cognizant of that fact and to consider the implications, rather than just letting it happen to us.

  27. 4 out of 5

    John Martindale

    This book was extremely interesting, lots of history, studies and observations and some personal honesty mixed in. I thought it fascinating. He has brought to my mind some interesting and disturbing reflections. One primary drive of humans is to make life easier. We can't help but want to produce more with less effort, so this has resulted in inventions such as the tractor which plow in one day what it once took a month to accomplish by hand. We likewise seem to have a drive to create devices to This book was extremely interesting, lots of history, studies and observations and some personal honesty mixed in. I thought it fascinating. He has brought to my mind some interesting and disturbing reflections. One primary drive of humans is to make life easier. We can't help but want to produce more with less effort, so this has resulted in inventions such as the tractor which plow in one day what it once took a month to accomplish by hand. We likewise seem to have a drive to create devices to make mental life easier. We no longer need to remember phone numbers, times and dates, for they're in our phones. why needlessly fill our brain with mathematics when our calculator can do the work for us? Our computer faithful reminds us how to spell words and we no longer need look at maps and remember how to get around, because we have the GPS. Why memorize anything anymore for we can google it in a moment on our iphone. Its as if mentally we've thought walking to much effort, so we've made machines to walk for us. This seems fine and dandy, until we learn our legs have withered and have lost strength. Have you ever watched the movie Wall-E? Remember the people on the space ship, hovering around on full-time entertainment machines? It almost seems that this is where technology is leading us! Now here is the problem, if kids had the choice, most would choose the cushy life; To be physically attractive and rich, to have parents that let them have their way and who spoil them with every toy, electronic and gadget. Yet this is a recipe for the making of a shallow, miserable and wretched individual with no character or integrity. But most of us would choose this as a kid if we could have. The easy feel good way has a strong pull. Fortunately we don't have that option as children and as we've grown up, we've learned that muscles must be strained to grow. Even though we may hate the fact, difficulty, struggle and hard work develops depth and character. But Technology is offering our adult brains a choice, we can spoil it and let a computer do all the work for us or we can do things the hard way. It is interesting how our tools become part of us, when we take a hammer, it is to our brain as if its an extension of the hand and it will be able to accomplish what our physical hand could not do, yet it has limitation. Just as binoculars help us see far away but limit our peripheral vision and blind to what is right in front of us. Likewise, our computers will help us to do a lot we could not do otherwise, but it will also have a negative limiting effect. We program our computers only to find they're programing us. The internet is not only addicting, but it is distraction machine; with links, new messages and ads everywhere, encouraging us to hop from one thing to another thing. Because we spend so much time on it, its wiring our brain to have a short attention span, it may be a big factor in the rise attention deficit disorders. As it becomes more apart of our lives, it becoming harder to focus, think deeply, read a book and harder to remember things. Yet as the author acknowledges, he is addicted, and I must say I am too, we have grown dependent upon our external brain and could not imagine living without it. It is just to helpful. But as with the writer, all this does cause me to want to limit my time in front of a screen and to force myself to do more actual reading. Disciplining myself to think deeply and make memorization an activity that I partake in again. For I will either use it or loose it.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Allie

    When I was young, I could be immersed in a book for hours without losing focus. Now, I flit distractedly from page to e-mail to wikipedia like a hummingbird on crack. According to Nicholas Carr, this isn't early onset dementia, but a reflection of my constant internet use. Hmmm. Americans spend at least 8.5 hours per day looking at screens. Research has found that any repeated behavior changes the neural pathways in our brains, literally reshaping the structure and the strength of these connectio When I was young, I could be immersed in a book for hours without losing focus. Now, I flit distractedly from page to e-mail to wikipedia like a hummingbird on crack. According to Nicholas Carr, this isn't early onset dementia, but a reflection of my constant internet use. Hmmm. Americans spend at least 8.5 hours per day looking at screens. Research has found that any repeated behavior changes the neural pathways in our brains, literally reshaping the structure and the strength of these connections. Throughout history, the use of tools has changed how people perceive and interact with the world. For example, Carr discusses how developing maps promoted abstract spatial thinking. However, he argues passionately that the creation of a written language and mass distribution of books was a watershed moment in our history. Reading a book requires sustained attention and promotes reflection, critical thinking, imagination, and even empathy. Fast forward a few centuries to today. Carr was an early adopter of computer technology and readily admits the benefits of having quick access to information. He notes studies that suggest internet use has improved our ability to scan large amounts of data and discern patterns. However, his main critique is that the internet is structured to provide information in soundbites (or sound bytes) that promote shallow thinking. Content is broken up with links, videos, and ads which make it more difficult to concentrate on the text, since our attention is divided and overloaded. Research on student learning has found that scanning a page online leads to lower reading comprehension and worse recall than reading a printed page. People are now more likely to "power browse" a page than read all the way through it. Further, Google* is designed to reward us for clicking rapidly through links (clicks = ad revenue) as opposed to remaining focused on one page. Carr ends on a pessimistic note, theorizing that we are becoming a society of more limited thinkers. Overall, I found Carr's ideas interesting, although the book was somewhat repetitive and too long. The main points are nicely summed up in an article he wrote for The Atlantic ("Is Google Making us Stupid?") so readers might want to try that first. *The original name for Google was BackRub. Which kind of makes you wonder what Brin and Page were searching for online...

  29. 4 out of 5

    Vimal Thiagarajan

    Fahrenheit 451 in it's twenty first century incarnation. Over and above the hackneyed din of the "it's not inherently bad, it's 'how' it is used that matters" that has always surrounded technologies and utilities from TV to computers to internet to cellphones to facebook, and drowning out the sneers of the technology enthusiast and the scoffs of the technology skeptic, the message from this book sounds loud and clear - THE MEDIUM IS THE MESSAGE. And the logical and aesthetic elegance with which th Fahrenheit 451 in it's twenty first century incarnation. Over and above the hackneyed din of the "it's not inherently bad, it's 'how' it is used that matters" that has always surrounded technologies and utilities from TV to computers to internet to cellphones to facebook, and drowning out the sneers of the technology enthusiast and the scoffs of the technology skeptic, the message from this book sounds loud and clear - THE MEDIUM IS THE MESSAGE. And the logical and aesthetic elegance with which this message is driven home - there are sections analyzing the impact of maps and clocks on culture, things we lost when we transitioned from an oral tradition to the literary one and what we stand to lose as most of the populace has almost irrevocably transitioned from the literary to the surfing tradition, what neuroscience has to say about the impacts of constantly inhabiting an ecosystem of interruption technologies and the offloading of memory to external data banks, what Socrates,Plato,Nietzsche,Freud and Nathaniel Hawthorne would have had to say on this matter,some splendid analysis on the physical book vs ebook question, the hidden irony in Google's digitization project - make this a compelling read. Personally, since I had been quite engrossed with the question of deciding whether my unitasking-mania and the all too frequent need to disconnect from the digital delirium was down to some kind of mental phobia or sickening ineptitude or complex, this book was hugely liberating. "The effects of technology do not occur at the level of opinions or concepts. Rather they alter patterns of perception steadily and without any resistance" - Just Amazing how someone(McLuhan) could come up with such a word-for-word precise statement in the sixties, decades before personal computers or internet or advanced neuroscience. One of those books that ought to be widely read and debated, both within and without.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Cristina

    Everyone should take some time to read this book. It is more than what the title sugests. And it opens your eyes. A lot! 😁

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