In this excursion into techno-optimism, Thompson discusses computerized, interconnected social activity. Relying on journalism’s staple of the human-interest story, he describes individuals’ experiences of exploring the Internet in pursuit of their interests. In Thompson’s examples, those pursuits range from retrieving a personal memory to critiquing TV shows to finding a house for sale to researching proteins to organizing political movements. The commonalities Thompson finds among all those searches are prodigious data storage-and-retrieval capacities and the latent presence in cyberspace of someone interested in what you’re interested in. Connecting interest with information animates Thompson’s many anecdotes, whose motif of the delight felt by strangers or long-lost friends upon discovering a mutual concern propels his belief that Twitter, Facebook, and social-media sites built by amateurs positively motivate people to think and write better. To criticisms that social media degrade or isolate people, Thompson ripostes with studies or classroom examples that show improvements in learning and the creation of collaborative groups. A lively presenter with a sunny outlook, Thompson will engage readers drawn to the sociology of technology. --Gilbert Taylor
The New York Times Book Review:
“[A] judicious and insightful book on human and machine intelligence.”
Maria Popova, Brain Pickings:
“Clive Thompson—one of the finest technology writers I know…makes a powerful and rigorously thought out counterpoint… Thompson is nothing if not a dimensional thinker with extraordinary sensitivity to the complexities of cultural phenomena. Rather than revisiting painfully familiar and trite-by-overuse notions like distraction and information overload, he examines the deeper dynamics of how these new tools are affecting the way we make sense of the world and of ourselves. Smarter Than You Think is excellent and necessary in its entirety.”
New York Magazine:
"It’s straw men everywhere in this debate. Mercifully, Thompson always works from data, not straw."
Los Angeles Times:
“Thompson… a lively thinker… is well-versed in media and technological history, revisiting some of the field's most valuable case studies… His intellectual posture is one of informed optimism.”
“A well-framed celebration of how the digital world will make us bigger, rather than diminish us.”
“[An] optimistic, fast-paced tale about the advent of technology and its influence on humans.”
Joshua Foer, New York Times bestselling author of Moonwalking with Einstein:
"We should be grateful to have such a clear-eyed and lucid interpreter of our changing technological culture as Clive Thompson. Smarter Than You Think is an important, insightful book about who we are, and who we are becoming."
Chris Anderson, New York Times bestselling author of Makers, Free, and The Long Tail:
"Almost without noticing it, the Internet has become our intellectual exoskeleton. Rather than just observing this evolution, Clive Thompson takes us to the people, places and technologies driving it, bringing deep reporting, storytelling and analysis to one of the most profound shifts in human history."
Jane McGonigal, Ph.D., Author of Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World:
"There's good news in this dazzling book: Technology is not the enemy. Smarter Than You Think reports on how the digital world has helped individuals harness a powerful, collaborative intelligence—becoming better problem-solvers and more creative human beings."
Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody and Cognitive Surplus:
"Thompson declares a winner in the cognitive fight between human and computers: both together. Smarter Than You Think is an eye-opening exploration of the ways computers think better with humans attached, and vice-versa."