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Stayed engaged throughout, made me reflect on what my own intellectual practices are and how I might improve them.

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Rich with historical anecdotes and replete with scientific surveys and evidence, "The Shallows" is a book that demands your respect whether you are comfortable giving it or not. And many people won't be. After all, Carr is a bit of a skunk at the cyber-garden party. I mean, how dare he suggest that all is not wine and roses with our glorious new world of instantaneous connectivity, abundant information flows, and cheap (often free) media content! Obviously, most of us want to believe that all adds up to a more well-rounded worldview and greater wisdom about the world around us. Carr is skeptical of those claims and "The Shallows" is his latest effort to poke a hole in the cyber-utopian claims that sometimes pervade discussions about Internet. Although, ultimately, he doesn't quite convinced me that "The Web is a technology of forgetfulness," he has made a powerful case that its effects may not be as salubrious as many of us have assumed.
But the ultimate question is: Do the costs really outweigh the benefits? Is it the case that these technologies "turn numb the most intimate, the most human, of our natural capacities -- those for reason, perception, memory, emotion"? I think that goes a bit too far, however. Importantly, Carr doesn't really ever answer the crucial question here: Were we really better off in the decades prior to the rise of the Net? Did we really read more and engage in the more contemplative deep-reading and thinking he Carr fears we are losing because of the Net? Count me among those who think that -- whatever most of us are doing in front our our computers most nights, and no matter how distracting it is -- it has to be better than much of the crap we wasted our spare time on in the past!
It would have also been nice to have seen Carr offer up some personal suggestions for how we each might better manage cognitive overload, which can be a real problem. In a brief "digression" chapter entitled "On the Writing of This Book," Carr does mention some of the steps he took personally to make sure he could complete "The Shallows" without being driven to distraction by the Web and digital technologies. But he doesn't dwell on that much, which is a shame. A bit of a self-help can go a long way toward alleviating the worst forms of cognitive overload, although it will continue to be a struggle for many of us.
Despite the reservations I’ve raised here, Nick Carr’s "The Shallows" is my early favorite for the most important info-tech book of the year andwill be required reading in this field for many years to come. [You can find my complete review of Carr's "The Shallows" over at the Technology Liberation Front blog: http://techliberation.com/2010/06/01/book-review-nicholas-carr%E2%80%99s-the-shallows ]
 

Review: The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains

User Review  - Lisa Shultz - Goodreads

This book is a science book full of research and historical information. I found it extremely enlightening and thought provoking. I am no longer using my computer, phone and web unconsciously. I am ... Read full review

Review: The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains

User Review  - Lenny D - Goodreads

Quick, interesting read. It's shorter than it looks when you pick it up. I bet there are more comprehensive resources out there for the science of changing brains, but this is a great starting point ... Read full review

Review: The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains

User Review  - Mark Freeman - Goodreads

Carr has written a thoughtful and reflective book - ironic considering the premise that such deep thinking is getting harder to do (and he acknowledges his difficulties in writing). Most people my age ... Read full review

Review: The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains

User Review  - Jake - Goodreads

An interesting take on the effects of the internet on the attention span, as well as the effects of internet culture on 21st century life. I found the neuroscience, as well as the historical narratives, to be important and insightful. Read full review

Review: The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains

User Review  - Stephen Yoder - Goodreads

This was a fast, thought-provoking read. It was a bit meta at times to be focusing so closely upon a book where the main argument was that people just aren't reading books or focusing as deeply upon ... Read full review

Review: The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains

User Review  - Karen - Goodreads

Fascinating! I read this for a book group. Discussion is tomorrow evening. Carr suggests that the Internet has changed to way we think and read. We are skimming material and not reading in depth. We ... Read full review

Review: The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains

User Review  - Ngaire - Goodreads

Starts off a little dry, with a few chapters on the history of writing, reading, and books, but quickly becomes a very interesting exploration of the way the internet makes you think and particularly ... Read full review

Review: The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains

User Review  - Spencer Richard - Goodreads

A very important, well-written book. I have changed my internet habits because of it. I remember being able to concentrate as a kid, being able to have this feeling of getting lost in a work and ... Read full review


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