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Future Minds: How the Digital Age is Changing Our Minds, Why This Matters and What We Can Do About It Paperback – October 7, 2010
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A great case for how to think, not what to think in these fast moving and complex times. Watson's message is clear - our innate imagination and human ability to think deeply about life and issues are the best assets we have to deliver us safely to the future. Full of wonderfully inspired quotations, sage predictions and abundance of source material this is a "how to" that is a definitely a "must have."―Shoya Zichy, author of Career Match: Connecting Who You Are with What You'll Love To Do
About the Author
- Item Weight : 9.8 ounces
- Paperback : 224 pages
- ISBN-10 : 185788549X
- ISBN-13 : 978-1857885491
- Publisher : Nicholas Brealey Publishing (October 7, 2010)
- Product Dimensions : 6.07 x 0.66 x 9.28 inches
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #3,111,392 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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I am also skeptical when anyone is making claims about the future. Lots of people, even experts in their field get things wrong when they try and look too far ahead.
Which was why I was relieved when Richard Watson pitched this book in his introduction as a book of concepts and conversation starters, with 10 key trends as a unifying force.
So the book is no so much a fortune told but thoughts and questions to consider. The book is split into three parts: How the Digital era is changing our minds? Why this Matters? and What can we do about it?
How the Digital era is changing our minds?
This part of the book looks at the effects of the digital world on those who are experiencing it as a normal part of everyday life. Watson labels these children or teens as 'Screenagers' and talks about the subtle shift in attitudes and social existence brought about, by instant connectivity, always available distraction and entertainment.
Not to mention schooling and education. Why bother memorizing facts and remembering the events that lead to World War II when its all available at the press of the button. Watson sees the digital age as altering fundamentally how we experience understand and remember the world.
His concern, is gently presented and he cites a number of examples of the digital world encroaching on our young. From Australia's push to get computers into school, to give every child a laptop to the ever present and ever distracting social networks.
But its not just concerns brought about by online interactions as opposed to communicating in the 'real world'. Watson is concerned that exposing children to the logic of computer devices and educational programs has an effect on the formation of the human brain and one that may be detrimental to creative play and the development of certain areas of the brain.
The rest of us don't escape that net either, and Watson cites a study where the constant interruption bought about by digital devices and connectivity can have a similar effect on our thinking as that brought about by the use of marijuana.
Why this Matters?
This section focuses on the loss of the ability to think deeply about important matters, how ideas and innovations arise, are nurtured and go on to create and impact. Watson discusses the need to create natural thinking spaces, to disconnect from the connected digital world even for a short period of time to allow our brains to mull over (mostly subconsciously) new ideas, problems, solutions. In an always on world we are overloading and overworking our brain, keeping it constantly occupied.
What can we do about it?
Its only fair that if you point out a serious problem, you offer some suggestion as to what the solution or remedy might be. Watson does this in the final section of the book. Most of his ideas involve separating yourself from digital connection and distraction for periods of time.
Not going into work early just to check everything alright, not constantly checking the blackberry while your on holiday with your family. It's hardly groundbreaking stuff, but it's advice followed by very few.
Watson rounds off the book with 10 predictions some of which are straightforward and others which I think may be a bit of a long shot.
The book paints some broad strokes, but on the whole is generally convincing. The skeptic in me wants to go back and look through his comprehensive bibliography.
I can see, however, the effects of screen culture on students who I com across as a relief teacher. They display the ability to use several computer programs to construct a research assignment, but little understanding of the cut and pasted material that they place in it.
And likewise I can feel my own attention span dwindling as I flick from work to, twitter, to email, to a web article and back to work again.
So at least, anecdotally I am with Watson on many of his suggestions. That's not to say I will be running out in the street like some neo-Luddite. But as the book suggests I can see myself slowing down ever so slightly and be thinking a little more deeply about where the digital age is taking me and what its doing to me along the way.
If anything I think the trends he has outlined deserve closer examination. Do we really need to be outfitting all our classrooms wit state of the art touch screens. What value does being constantly connected to Facebook and Twitter bring us.
Watson has an easy, conversational tone, the book was quite pleasurable to read.
Disclaimer: This review is based upon an an advanced reading copy ebook provided by Nicholas Brealey Publishing through Netgalley at no cost to myself.
Watson argues, convincingly, that technology is not only the way that we do things, but the way we think. The obvious questions are: what does he mean, is it a good thing, and what can we do about it? You will need to read the book to get the full answer, but the thing that struck me most is the need for us to have a better appreciation of what it is that makes human beings different to (and better than) walking talking super-computers.
Our unconscious minds are running along a lot faster (and a lot smarter) than the rest of us, making decisions that our conscious minds only catch up with moments (sometimes months later). To get the most out of digital technology we shouldn't be trying to do what it does best (process lots of data quickly) -- instead we should be slowly down and thinking deeper and slower. This means creating time and space for reflection, which isn't always easy.
Digital technology is good at creating distractions -- idle things to amuse us or pass away 'free time'. Deep thinking, doing what we do best, involves pushing back on these distractions, doing some 'hard yards' in thinking and in personal relationships. The danger, according to Watson, is not so much us not knowing how to use the internet, but letting the internet use us -- letting it become the dominant channel through which we communicate with others.
An interesting book, and one which says a lot more than this short review allows. But if you are someone who is wondering where all this digital technology is taking us, then I would recommend that you take the time to read Watson's Future Minds - it is well written, humorous and at times a little bit scary.
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I especially like his comment that technology is not destiny.
The bits at the back, notes, bibliography, interesting websites, soundtracks(!) and index - all worth including.
I guess we all recognise the decreased attention span of our kids. Probably also recognised the ineffectiveness of multi-tasking - whether male or female. This book gives some great analysis of what's going on and some useful practical tips. Easy to read and well-divided into sections so there is time to think through the topics and not rush the book.
This should be required reading for all screenagers. The only reason I give it 4 stars not 5 is because it is perhaps a little repetitive and could be a little more concise.
The slow movement's take on thinking.
Diese und andere Fragen beantwortet Watson in diesem Buch unterhaltsam, und belegt seine Beobachtungen und prognostizierten Trends mit vielen Fakten und Zahlen. Dabei schaut er weit über den Tellerrand hinaus und zitiert verschiedene Studien. Ohne dass dieses Buch in der Rubrik 'Selbsthilfe' gelistet ist, regt es unwillkürlich dazu an, eigene Verhaltensweisen zu ändern und spornt zu neuem Denken an. Dabei ist es leicht, interessant und enthält auch amüsante Fakten für den nächsten Party-Talk.