The Shallows: How the Internet is Changing the Way We Think, Read and Remember

Nicholas Carr

The Shallows: How the Internet is Changing the Way We Think, Read and Remember

The Shallows draws on the latest research to show that the Net is literally re-wiring our brains inducing only superficial understanding. Nicholas Carr argues that not since Gutenberg invented printing has humanity been exposed to such a mind-altering technology. As a consequence there are profound changes in the way we live and communicate, remember and socialise - even in our very conception of ourselves. By moving from the depths of thought to the shallows of distraction, the web, it seems, is actually fostering ignorance. The Shallows is not a manifesto for luddites, nor does it seek to turn back the clock. Rather it is a revelatory reminder of how far the Internet has become enmeshed in our daily existence and is affecting the way we think. 2.8 out of 5 based on 9 reviews
The Shallows: How the Internet is Changing the Way We Think, Read and Remember

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Technology, Psychology & Psychiatry
Format Hardback
Pages 384
RRP £17.99
Date of Publication September 2010
ISBN 978-1848872257
Publisher Atlantic
 

The Shallows draws on the latest research to show that the Net is literally re-wiring our brains inducing only superficial understanding. Nicholas Carr argues that not since Gutenberg invented printing has humanity been exposed to such a mind-altering technology. As a consequence there are profound changes in the way we live and communicate, remember and socialise - even in our very conception of ourselves. By moving from the depths of thought to the shallows of distraction, the web, it seems, is actually fostering ignorance. The Shallows is not a manifesto for luddites, nor does it seek to turn back the clock. Rather it is a revelatory reminder of how far the Internet has become enmeshed in our daily existence and is affecting the way we think.

Reviews

The Literary Review

Susan Greenfield

To his great credit, Carr is as even-handed as possible. He consistently emphasises the fact that screen technologies are neither evil nor miraculous in their effects on the human mind: rather, for every talent lost or diminished, another will be gained or enhanced. What is certain, however, is that our minds will change.

01/09/2010

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The Sunday Times

Sam Leith

The thesis of The Shallows is simple and persuasive... Carr’s scope in this unceasingly interesting book is wider than just the synapse and the transistor. As witnesses to the effect of the typewriter on prose composition, he calls Nietzsche and TS Eliot; on the virtues of settled attention he quotes David Foster Wallace and Nathaniel Hawthorne; to make felt the experience of “deep reading” he offers a wonderful poem by Wallace Stevens.

22/08/2010

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The Independent on Sunday

Joy Lo Dico

He recalls Steven Johnson's brilliant line in Everything Bad is Good For You that reading a book "understimulates the senses", and argues that this is a good thing. But what Johnson actually wrote in Everything Bad... pre-empts Carr. Johnson found that the human brain can deal with far more than a mere linear narrative and has a natural hunger for complex thought, from the intricate political and cultural references in The Simpsons to the expansiveness of networked computer games.

19/09/2010

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The Daily Telegraph

Robert Colvile

Carr makes some interesting points… Yet it is hard to avoid the feeling that [he] is over-egging things – or rather, applying his worries too widely. For example, he tells us that the recent sustained global rise in IQ is evidence not of our becoming more intelligent, but of concentrating on different things. Why, then, should we worry about that rise tapering off? Isn’t it just a sign that the web is training our brains for different tasks?

27/08/2010

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The Financial Times

James Harkin

Carr has written a reliable survey of the recent research into brain, memory and attention span, but the problem is that there’s nothing conclusive about any of it. If the internet is rotting our brains, it’s too early to tell.

20/09/2010

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The New York Times

Jonah Lehrer

There is little doubt that the Internet is changing our brain. Everything changes our brain. What Carr neglects to mention, however, is that the preponderance of scientific evidence suggests that the Internet and related technologies are actually good for the mind... “The Shallows” is most successful when Carr sticks to cultural criticism

03/06/2010

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The Guardian

Steven Poole

Carr cites a bit of psychology and neuroscience, but he doesn't seem to notice that the study he unveils most triumphantly actually refutes half of his own argument. An experiment showed web novices' brains changing in response to internet use, but it also showed "no significant difference in brain activity" between the novices and a web-savvy control group when both were engaged in "a simulation of book reading". In other words, people who used the internet regularly had not lost the ability to read books after all.

11/09/2010

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The Independent

Pat Kane

The Shallows is an impressively assembled but ultimately misguided broadside from a former tech-head and business editor. He, I fear, might be mistaking a subjective midlife crisis for an objective paradigm shift.

24/09/2010

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The Washington Post

Jennifer Howard

...Carr manages to be scary and yet not quite persuasive... He writes as if the entire world is living glued to its screens, but the truth is that many of us, even those in affluent Western countries, do not live our lives entirely online.

18/07/2010

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