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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - TerriBooks - LibraryThing

I was afraid that Powers was going to go the easy route and condemn our connected gadgets. Instead, he accepts that we are so enamored of them because they have significant advantages. The issue is ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - wkelly42 - LibraryThing

The problem with modern society is that we assume that every technological advance is beneficial. Thankfully, there are several books out that make us think about that idea, and Hamlet's Blackberry is ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - anndar - LibraryThing

This is a great read! Taking examples from philosophers from the past like Plato, Socrates, and Thoreau the author shows how they dealt with the new technologies of their time and the busyness it ... Read full review

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Powers is a gifted storyteller and his walk though the history of philosophy and technology makes this slender volume an enjoyable, quick read. He begins by reminding us that "whenever new devices have emerged, they’ve presented the kinds of challenges we face today — busyness, information overload, that sense of life being out of control. These challenges were as real two millennia ago as they are today, and throughout history, people have been grappling with them and looking for creative ways to manage life in the crowd."
His key insight is that is that humans can adapt new technology, but it takes time, patience, humility, and a little effort. “The key is to strike a balance,” he says, between “the call of the crowd” and the “need for time and space apart” from it. The problem we face today is that all the pressure is on us to be what he calls “Digital Maximalists.” That is, many of us are increasingly out to maximize the time spent in front of various digital “screens” whether we have made the determination that is really in our best interest or not. It has just gradually happened, Powers argues, because “The goal is no longer to be ‘in touch’ but to erase the possibility of ever being out of touch.”
Echoing the concern displayed in Nick Carr’s new book "The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains," as well as John Freeman's "The Tyranny of E-Mail: The Four-Thousand-Year Journey to Your Inbox," Powers fears that time for focus and introspection “is lost when your days are spread so thin, busyness itself is your true occupation. If every moment is a traffic jam, it’s impossible to engage any experience with one’s whole self. More and more, that’s how we live,” he argues.
Even though Powers clearly leans more toward the techno-pessimist camp in this regard, what I like best about his book is that he generally avoids a preachy tone and excessive hand-wringing. He isn’t one of those techno-pessimists who adopts a holy-than-thou, the-rest-of-you-just-don’t-get-it attitude. In fact, there’s a great deal of self-deprecating humor in the book as Powers explains how he is struggling with the same issues the rest of us are and trying to figure out how to strike the right balance in his own life. Importantly, he notes that each of us will strike that balance differently. “[E]veryone has to work that out for himself. We’re all different, and there’s no one-size-fits-all way to balance the outward life and the inward one.” That is a crucial insight. There’s nothing worse than a techno-skeptic who tells us they have discovered the one true path to enlightenment or happiness — especially when it entails giving up new technologies that can have so many beneficial upsides. Indeed, Powers argues that “It’s never a good idea to buy into the dark fears of the techno-Cassandras, who generally turn out to be wrong. Human beings are skillful at figuring out the best uses of new tools. However, it can take awhile.”
Indeed, the struggle with information clutter will continue. Assimilating new communications and entertainment technologies into our lives has always been challenging, but, thanks to excellent advice like that offer by William Powers in "Hamlet’s BlackBerry," I am optimistic that we humans can do so sensibly and be happier -- and wiser -- for it in the long-run.
You can find my complete review of "Hamlet's BlackBerry" here: http://techliberation.com/2010/09/06/coping-with-information-overload-thoughts-on-hamlets-blackberry-by-william-powers
 

Review: Hamlet's BlackBerry: A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age

User Review  - Missy Reid - Goodreads

We should set boundaries for ourselves so digital clutter and connectedness don't take over our lives and render us shallow thinkers with equally shallow relationships. That's the gist of this book ... Read full review

Review: Hamlet's BlackBerry: A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age

User Review  - Nancy - Goodreads

This is one of those sociological books that my cerebral self really enjoyed. First of all, Powers addresses a problems I struggle with every day. How much technology is too much? My answer has mostly ... Read full review

Review: Hamlet's BlackBerry: A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age

User Review  - Charlotte - Goodreads

An easy and enjoyable read about the importance of carving out quiet, disconnected-from-technology time in our hectic lives. Powers points out that the struggle to find balance between the addictive ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - lisahistory - LibraryThing

Wonderful in its use of history to explain how we've been here before. Read full review

Review: Hamlet's BlackBerry: A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age

User Review  - Desiree - Goodreads

Great read! "We've effectively been living by a philosophy, albeit an unconscious one. It holds that (1) connecting via screens is good, and (2) the more you connect, the better. I call it Digital ... Read full review

Review: Hamlet's BlackBerry: A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age

User Review  - Chazzle - Goodreads

Not your run of the mill book, that's for sure. It concerns itself with the curses of the digital age and how to deal with it. The chapters in the middle were particularly interesting to me, which ... Read full review


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