133 of 137 people found the following review helpful
A work which merits deep reading,
This review is from: The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains (Hardcover)The Internet has made the information- universes of all of us much larger. At the same time it has altered the way we read, and the way we pay attention. The major thesis of this work is that it has made us shallower creatures. In Carr's words," We want to be interrupted, because each interruption brings us a valuable piece of information... And so we ask the Internet to keep interrupting us, in ever more and different ways. We willingly accept the loss of concentration and focus, the division of our attention and the fragmentation of our thoughts, in return for the wealth of compelling or at least diverting information we receive. Tuning out is not an option many of us would consider. (p. 133-4)" This means in effect that our powers of concentration and contemplation, if not diminished all at once, are nonetheless put less to use. It means that we do not really take in much of what we read and see, but rather let it pass by as something new comes to attract and distract us. It too means according to Carr transformations in actual brain- structure. And he uses the results of cognitive brain studies to point out how excessive use of the Internet reshapes our brain- structure.
Carr argues that with the advent of reading humanity developed a different kind of neural structure. Reading which was an extension of story- telling enabled us to begin to speak to ourselves, to contemplate reality in deeper ways. The bookman mind is a deeper mind than the electronic - mind , despite MacLuhan's contrary take.
Still one might argue that we need not be the slaves of the predominant technology. It all depends upon the will, decision, determination of the individual. The horde may decide to operate in a certain way, but one has the power to shut the machine off. Or one has the power to turn away from the Net, and focus only on one text one wants to work with. Many of us are engaged in making these decisions all the time.
Still I would say that my own experience substantiates Carr's main thesis. I have wasted in the past few years far too much time, jumping from one thing to another.
Nonetheless there is no turning back from the Revolution which Carr considers to be certainly the greatest since the introduction of the Printing press, and perhaps greatest since the introduction of the Alphabet and the Number System.
Perhaps what is truly required is a 'proper mix of both ways of 'reading and seeing' of both 'modes of being' i.e. the short- term internet attention mode, and the longer book- concentration mode. And this as I sense that when many begin to feel an exhaustion from the jumping around, come to understand it does not really help them in pursuit of their main goal, there will be some reaction in the other direction.
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Initial post: Aug 30, 2010 11:51:24 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 30, 2010 11:52:24 AM PDT
Katherine Masis says:
Shalom Freedman says: "...when many begin to feel an exhaustion from the jumping around, come to understand it does not really help them in pursuit of their main goal, there will be some reaction in the other direction."
I really hope you're right! It seems as if technology rushes on and we all accept it uncritically. I enjoyed your review.
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