This is a provocative and very important book. Its genesis was the author noticed his inability to focus and not be distracted as he used the Internet more and more. As befits the author of Does It Matter? and The Big Switch , he looked at the impact on many technologies on thinking/the brain along with the commentators of the time. This included the advent of clocks, writing (clay to parchment) , printing press , telephone, phonograph and now the World Wide Web. Along the way he talks about the evolution of the brain, using eBooks, how interruptions affect learning, how he unplugged to write this book, is Google good or evil, and general comments about writers on these and many subjects,. By the end the writing of the book seems to have allowed him to rationalize where the Web can and will fit and where we need to be careful. He even notes that our attention deficits may be rooted in pre web learned behaviors and we will learn new ways of sorting information. I read this almost in one sitting - it is very well done, thoroughly researched and annotated, with lots of further reading noted. Great four hour coast read.
When I first came across this book I noticed that a lot of my friends on social media were expressing disgust or boredom with the thesis of "Is the Internet frying our brain?" After all, who but a curmudgeon would claim that the most vital and transformative technology of our time might have a dark side? Especially at a time when leading edge educators are working furiously to bring their field up to date by incorporating the best of the latest technology in a way that improves education. Against … more
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Carr—author of The Big Switch (2007) and the much-discussed Atlantic Monthly story “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”—is an astute critic of the information technology revolution. Here he looks to neurological science to gauge the organic impact of computers, citing fascinating experiments that contrast the neural pathways built by reading books versus those forged by surfing the hypnotic Internet, where portals lead us on from one text, image, or video to another while we’re being bombarded by messages, alerts, and feeds. This glimmering realm of interruption and distraction impedes the sort of comprehension and retention “deep reading” engenders, Carr explains. And not only are we reconfiguring our brains, we are also forging a “new intellectual ethic,” an arresting observation Carr expands on while discussing Google’s gargantuan book digitization project. What are the consequences of new habits of mind that abandon sustained immersion and concentration for darting about, snagging bits of information? What is gained and what is lost? Carr’s fresh, lucid, and engaging assessment of our infatuation with the Web is provocative and revelatory. --Donna Seaman