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Is the Internet Changing the Way You Think?: The Net's Impact on Our Minds and Future (Edge Question Series) Paperback – January 18, 2011
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From the Back Cover
How is the internet changing the way you think? That is one of the dominant questions of our time, one which affects almost every aspect of our life and future. And it's exactly what John Brockman, publisher of Edge.org, posed to more than 150 of the world's most influential minds. Brilliant, farsighted, and fascinating, Is the Internet Changing the Way You Think? is an essential guide to the Net-based world.
About the Author
The publisher of the online science salon Edge.org, John Brockman is the editor of the national bestsellers This Idea Must Die, This Explains Everything, This Will Make You Smarter, and other volumes.
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Top Customer Reviews
Most of the respondents are high-level scientists, mathematicians, or business figures--a disproportionate number considered how the Internet affects scientific research. There aren't any religious leaders on the list, save for three of the "four horsemen" of New Atheism: Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and Sam Harris. Overall, the book is mainly a response from secular intellectuals. (How has the Internet changed how school teachers think? How about housewives? Farmers? Community college professors? Priests?)
In terms of content, Brockman's book is way too long. Each respondent gets 2-3 pages, so the book is well above 400 total. After just a handful of responses, the contributions begin getting repetitive. Also, many of the contributions seem--at least to this non-scientist--to be little more than intellectual posturing, with respondents trying to prove genius by referencing dense scientific terms or theories.
I wouldn't recommend buying this book. If you're interested, borrow it or head to the store and browse the first couple of chapters. I think the best answer to the book's question comes not from its own pages but from Nicholas Carr's "The Shallows".
The book as a whole is very stimulating. But benefitting from its more profound insights, while avoiding misleading views, requires readers with literacy in studies of the mind and a lot of Internet sophistication.
In substance, this book is a kind of brainstorming with many high-quality contributions, but without any well-based conclusions. This is also a result of the formulation of the question, which is open to multiple interpretations and different understandings. Clearly Internet impacts on some levels of thinking, such as the dictionaries of the mind, and not on others, such as deeper recursive processes. But little more can reliably be states. In any case, it is much too early for Internet to exert significant influence on deeper mental processes. Therefore, empiric bases for studying the question are inadequate, assuming that relevant aspects of the mind can in principled be studies and are not shaped in part by the study instruments, as in quantum phenomena.
All this caveats do not diminish the value of the many ideas presented in the book from which knowledgeable readers can benefit a lot. To such an audience the book is strongly recommended. But readers without required entry qualifications will be either mislead or mixed up or both - similar to what happens to uncritical and ignorant users of the Internet.
Professor Yehezkel Dror
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Started this one for a book club assignment. Our group has read many professional development, leadership, biographical, and company chronicles but this is the first time we... Read morePublished on January 29, 2014 by Anna in TN
You reader would find that the following is a better use of his contemplative time: reading. Reading a book: still crazy after all these years:
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I have read and loved all of the other books in this series, and I feel that this year's Edge.org compilation by John Brockman is not nearly as good (or interesting) as the others. Read morePublished on August 29, 2011 by lvslezak