I am reading an important and provocative book right now. One could also call it sobering, others might call it alarming, still others might say, “…nothing but the uneducated fear mongering of technology haters…” However you think about it, there is no doubt, that everyone should read it.
And whatever your analysis of this book might be, no one can deny that we are living in a different world than we were in 1963, the year I entered the cosmos. Remember rotary dial phones? TV rabbit-ear antennas and tin foil to get a better picture on your black and white TV? What about those pink pieces of paper at work? Not dismissal notices but ‘phone messages’ that the front desk recorded for you so you could call people back on your rotary phone? I think back to those days in the 80’s with no computers to click away on, and I wonder “What did we do with ourselves for eight hours a day?” My point in recommending this book to you is not to say, “technology” is evil, because by itself technology can be either a friend or an enemy. The point of this book is that we can no longer believe that the “medium” i.e. the technology that transmits our information (iPhone, iPad, Kindle, computer), is not a factor in shaping the way we think, the way our brain works, and the way it affects everything about us. It does. Have you noticed how distracted you can get? Constant need to move, or the inability to simply sit still? How reading is more difficult as you find concentrating on a printed book, page after page, seems harder to do? Do you notice how rapidly the sound bites of information come at us, and how we must constantly be ‘searching’ and hunting restlessly for more information? I think this book is important and there is no doubt it will determine the course of the years to come both intellectually and culturally for the world.
…Carr explains how the printed book served to focus our attention, promoting deep and creative thought. In stark contrast, the Internet encourages the rapid, distracted sampling of small bits of information from many sources. Its ethic is that of the industrialist, an ethic of speed and efficiency, of optimized production and consumption?and now the Net is remaking us in its own image. We are becoming ever more adept at scanning and skimming, but what we are losing is our capacity for concentration, contemplation, and reflection. Part intellectual history, part popular science, and part cultural criticism, The Shallows sparkles with memorable vignettes Friedrich Nietzsche wrestling with a typewriter, Sigmund Freud dissecting the brains of sea creatures, Nathaniel Hawthorne contemplating the thunderous approach of a steam locomotive even as it plumbs profound questions about the state of our modern psyche. This is a book that will forever alter the way we think about media and our minds. –Review from Eighth Day Books
The core of education is this: developing the capacity to concentrate. The fruits of this capacity we call civilization. But all that is finished, perhaps. Welcome to the shallows, where the uneducating of Homo sapiens begins…Carr shows what is really at stake in the daily habits of our wired lives: the reconstitution of our minds. What emerges for the reader, inexorably, is the suspicion that we have truly screwed ourselves.” – Matthew B. Crawford