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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on March 30, 2012
Format: Paperback
A few month ago we read "Future minds" by the author of one of our favourite books on future trends, which is "Future files". In the book, Richard Watson talks about the dangers of the internet, particularly for kids. He refers to the current youth as "screenagers" and how constant exposure to social media basically creates scatter-brains with no ability for retention and deep thought. We found that a bit disturbing, but then found some other books (such as "Fun Inc." and "The kids are alright") that actually state the computers (and computer games) are actually very good for kids. Better problem solving ability, better attitude to failure, all good stuff.

Then we picked up "The shallows" by Nicholas Carr.

Here are some of the twitters we send out as we read the book and you will get the picture:

* As we come to rely on computers to understand the world, it is our own intelligence that flattens into artificial intelligence

* We are evolving from cultivators of personal knowledge to being hunter-gatherers in the electronic data forest. * 5 hours of Internet is enough to rewire the brain. Imagine what a few years has done to yours

* Heavy use of Google has neurological consequences

* By choosing the computer, we have rejected the single minded concentration of the book and casted our lot with the juggler

* Brain study show that reading is NOT a passive exercise. The reader becomes the book. Do you want to become your browser?

* Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words, now I zip on the surface as a guy on a jet ski.

A few other quotes from the book:

* "We become, neurologically, what we think"

* "The history of language is also a history of the mind"

* "The Net further fragments content and disrupts our concentration"

* " Hyperlinks distract people from reading and thinking deeply"

* " Long term memory is the seat of understanding"

And here is the kicker: "The Net's cacophony of stimuli short circuits both conscious and unconscious thought, preventing our minds from either thinking either deeply or creatively. Our brains turn into simple signal-processing units, quickly shepherding information into consciousness and then back out again". Based on some very convincing research in the area of neuroscience about how it all works; plasticity of the brain, short term memory, long term memory, constant distraction, deep thinking, information, knowledge, wisdom, retention, IQ, attention span (how many times do you check for e-mails per day?), empathy and lots more. That alone makes the book worthwhile.

The conclusion is that we are what we think and that we are becoming like the computer, the scatter brain or what he refers to as the "pancake people", spread wide and thin, with no depth. It is a deeply, deeply disturbing book, particularly if you have kids growing up.

On a positive note; it makes a passionate plea for the book as an instrument of solitary, single-minded concentration and for the need for reflection and deep thought (a book does get through to your long term memory). That is good news for Bookbuzz and one of the reasons we think we are on to a winner. By combining the two oldest media in the world, the spoken word and the book, Bookbuzz is an effective anti dote to the scatter brain and the pancake mind and part of the "slow flow" movement that "Future minds" suggest we should make part of our daily lives.

Ever since we read "33 strategies of War" we have been trying to define our enemy. This book has made us realise that Bookbuzz is the enemy of Google. Now it is time to re-read "Killing giants".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 28, 2015
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I didn't expect so much from this book as I was afraid that the polarization that this issue causes would render the arguments exaggerated.
I was then surprised to find by book's end that I could agree with Carr's thesis. This is because he presents some decent (if now a bit dated) neurological evidence and does confront full on the past claims of anti-technologists. He even deals with the effects of reading (the original reading) on our psyches.
The mistake he makes is when he talks about the effects of scripts on the brain. Here he is out of his depth. For example, he says that when punctuation was introduced our mental abilities changed. Well, he's off when he cites the time of that change, and anyway it seems ridiculously speculative.
I went ahead and bought his latest book, The Glass Cage, because I think this guy has a head on his shoulders and because he writes clearly.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 13, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
The digital era has brought extraordinary boons, like rapid research, a voice for the oppressed - and the instant access to books of the likes of Kindle. But there is serious concern that endless surfing leads to a new sort of mentality that is strong on novelty and low on deep thought. Nicholas Carr is a very good writer, and he admits that even his ability to read and write books has been impaired by the endless distractions of the web. This is not a diatribe, it is a carefully reasoned book full of scientific research. And the big question he asks is: are we dumbing ourselves down?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 29, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
A fascinating look at not just how technology impacts on us today but how small things change life as we know it.
Bit deep in places but well worth hanging in there. I do not whole hearted agree with the thoughts presented but believe the role technology is playing in changing our lives is significant. After all is it not technology that sees me writing this book report without a grade from a teacher. Would never do this otherwise.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I have found the book most insightful and a little disturbing at times. I am only on page 89/276 but I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the human brain and how it interacts with changing technologies.

One question - why no Kindle version? Is it intentional, given the subject of the book?
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on February 11, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Awesome book if you want to read about how you need to step outside of your "normal" perspective. Really good. Maybe a little over the average persons head if you want something for a relaxing weekend read maybe try something a little less heavy but I personal liked it. It was recommended to me by a friend who was reading it for coursework at a local college.
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on May 17, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
This is a look into the way we behave today, as well as how we have changed from the past. Worth reading every page of it.
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on April 13, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I have started reading this book after one of our lectures suggested that , it gave me better insight of how our brain works .
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on June 28, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Excellent explanation of our digital transition - socially and biologically. Re-looking now at my ways of working, learning and teaching.
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on May 8, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Should be read by every grandparent, parent, and all high school and college students. We need to understand the impact of the digital life which is shaping all our worlds!

I have sent this book to my children who are all parents and to several friends.

John Sarbacker
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