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Hamlet's BlackBerry: Building a Good Life in the Digital Age Paperback – August 9, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“Powers mounts a passionate but reasoned argument for ‘a happy balance’. . . . [He] is a lively, personable writer who seeks applicable lessons from great thinkers of the past. . . . Lucid, engaging prose and [a] thoughtful take on the joys of disconnectivity.” (Heller McAlpin, Christian Science Monitor)
“A brilliant and thoughtful handbook for the Internet agewhy we have this screen addiction, its many perils, and some surprising remedies that can make your life better.” (Bob Woodward)
“In this delightfully accessible book, Powers asks the questions we all need to ask in this digitally driven time. And teaches us to answer them for ourselves.” (Maryanne Wolf, author of Proust and the Squid)
“Benjamin Franklin would love this book. He knew the power of being connected, but also how this must be balanced by moments of reflection. William Powers offers a practical guide to Socrates’ path to the good life in which our outward and inward selves are at one.” (Walter Isaacson, author of Einstein: His Life and Universe and Benjamin Franklin: An American Life)
“Always connected. Anytime. Anyplace. We know it’s a blessing, but we’re starting to notice that it’s also a curse. In Hamlet’s Blackberry, William Powers helps us understand what being ‘connected’ disconnects us from, and offers wise advice about what we can do about it…. A thoughtful, elegant, and moving book.” (Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less)
More About the Author
William Powers was born in Arizona and grew up in Rhode Island. He graduated from Harvard with a degree in history and literature. He began his journalism career at The Washington Post where in the 1990s he covered business, politics, popular culture and other subjects. His widely read Post column, The Magazine Reader, launched his career as a leading thinker and writer on life in the age of information.
His work has appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, New York Magazine, McSweeney's, The Guardian and many other publications. He is a two-time winner of the Arthur Rowse Award for best American media commentary.
In 2008 he began writing a book about how to live wisely and happily in a connected world. The result is Hamlet's BlackBerry: A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age (HarperCollins, 2010), a crisp, passionately argued answer to the question that everyone who's grown dependent on digital devices is asking: Where's the rest of my life?
Powers challenges the widely held assumption that the more we connect through technology, the better. It's time to strike a new balance, he argues, and discover why it's also important to disconnect. Part memoir, part intellectual journey, the book draws on the technological past and such thinkers as Shakespeare, Thoreau and McLuhan.
Hamlet's BlackBerry is Powers' first book. He is married to author Martha Sherrill and they live in Massachusetts with their son.
For more information, visit his website: www.williampowers.com.
Top Customer Reviews
One cannot but admire the sheer amount of research and reflection that has shaped each chapter. The notions of distance (Plato), inner space (Seneca), "inwardness of technologies" (Gutenberg), embodied cognition and evolution of tools (Shakespeare), the power of positive rituals (Franklin), the need for Walden zones, and managing the quality of ones experience (inner thermostat - McLuhan) may seem disparate and disjointed to almost any reader. But Powers manages to convey a very powerful unifying theme, centered on an investigation of trying to characterize the impact of our gadget-centric life ("screens") by understanding how earlier generations have accommodated change. (while the investigation is mostly rooted in a philosophical framing, the underlying question of course is quite existential - how connected should we be?)
Powers' eagerness to impress upon us the craziness of our degree of connectedness to the "screens" and a constant reassurance that he is not against technology forces him to be repetitive at times. Despite the novel interpretations and arguments, Powers comes up short in addressing "what can one do to change behavior?".Read more ›
Join the club, my friend. I'm addicted and so are you. In a nutshell, author William Powers says we must use the internet, social networks, and cellphones to our advantage and resist becoming slaves to them.
Powers examines how we can be connected, without being too connected. Our addiction to being connected is robbing us of productivity and creativity. But we can't quit cold turkey, surely that would be just as bad, if it's even possible.
The book is quite entertaining and thought provoking, especially the end, where Powers outlines his own family's experiment in breaking away from the yoke of the internet. They use their laptops and smartphones during the week, but turn everything off on Friday night and leave it off until Monday morning. It's hard at first, but they are surprised at how quickly they adapt, and at how quickly their friends and colleagues adapt to their not being available every minute. They find that assignments and emails can almost always wait until Monday. They enjoy the time together as a family, and individually they get more done and manage their time better.
Powers uses history and philosophy to make his arguments and put things into perspective. The "Hamlet's Blackberry" of the title is what was called a writing table or table book and consisted of some plaster-covered pages bound in a pocket-sized book. A metal stylus came with it and was used to write down notes or lists.Read more ›
I was intrigued by the title "Hamlet's Blackberry" as I found it clever and hoped the rest of the book would be as clever. In my view, it is not. The author has written a book about how modern technology saps away the essence of life - a topic that appears with every new technology from books to TV to the Internet and now constant connectivity.
Unfortunately, Power's advice after more than 200 pages is simple - define a time to unplug! That's it. If you already know that you need to either set-aside time when you are not connected or you have the power to ignore interruptions until you complete a complex task, then you do not need to read this book. That is the reason behind the 2 stars.
I do not recommend this book as it appears to be written more for the author than for the reader. I know that comment sounds harsh, but here are my reasons.
* The book professes to be a practical philosophy for building a good life in the digital age. It falls short of being a philosophy - more of an observation and directive to unplug periodically. The good life carries a lot of social baggage and I cannot support Power's assertion that just because you are connected, you will therefore live a diminished life.
* The book is repetitive, saying the same thing, sometimes almost letter for letter in various chapters.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
“tap, tap tap…”
This “tapping” is the what most of us experience every day according to William Powers, author of Hamlet’s Blackberry: A Practical Philosophy for... Read more
Clear perspective about self and the many unnecessary digital connections in our life......Published 3 months ago by prajko
Great commentary on technology. Mankind had complained for years about the detrimental effect of life-changing inventions. Read morePublished 3 months ago by karen s
The point the author is making is valid -- today's society is addicted to 'screens' and instant information-gratification. Read morePublished 9 months ago by P. Baird
Great book about the revolution of communication and transfer of knowledge! After reading you will want to try the digital Sabbath!Published 11 months ago by W. Hoyt
By citing the Blackberry phone in the title the book shows its age a bit, since Blackberry is a disappearing brand. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Dennis A. Turner
The rest is kind of like a review of the author's therapy sessions. Helpful but a little repetitive. Still a worthwhile read bPublished 13 months ago by Goldie