One of the major issues dividing the critics was whether Carr's claim that the Internet has shortchanged our brain power is, essentially, correct. Many bought into his argument about the neurological effects of the Internet, but the more expert among them (Jonah Lehrer, for one) cited scientific evidence that such technologies actually benefit the mind. Still, as Lehrer, in the New York Times Book Review
points out, Carr is no Luddite, and he fully recognizes the usefulness of the Internet. Other criticism was more trivial, such as the value of Carr's historical and cultural digressions--from Plato to HAL. In the end, Carr offers a thought-provoking investigation into our relationship with technology--even if he offers no easy answers.
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
Absorbing [and] disturbing. We all joke about how the Internet is turning us, and especially our kids, into fast-twitch airheads incapable of profound cogitation. It's no joke, Mr. Carr insists, and he has me persuaded.
About the Author
NICHOLAS CARR is the author of The Shallows, The Big Switch
, and Does IT Matter?
He has written for the New York Times, Atlantic, Guardian, Wired
, and other periodicals. He lives in Colorado with his wife.
Expanding on his ATLANTIC MONTHLY cover story, Nicholas Carr debates whether our Internet use is sacrificing both our ability to read long, complex material and to think deeply, with reflection. The author takes a historically thoughtful, logical, and neuroscientific perspective. The histories of the invention of radio as well as the arrival of the personal computer age are engagingly presented. Paul Michael Garcia presents the often-fascinating theories in a curiously uniform gray and uninflected way. Fact and opinion are narrated evenly and without any real emotion or humor. At times, the narration approximates the speech of the disembodied computer HAL from 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, which the author mentions. W.A.G. © AudioFile 2010, Portland, Maine