Just finished Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows… The first 50 pages almost made me quit reading it. And I highly suspect he wrote them that way on purpose (in the style of Eco’s The Name Of The Rose) to underline his point about our diminished reading skills. Digressing (as the book allows itself to do as well) – Kafkas novels almost left me just as frustrated as his main characters. I’ve always found it deeply clever, but none the lees deeply annoying. This left me feeling the same!
Carr takes us through the earlier dramatic changes in technology, and hence: changes in our thinking – the clock, the map, the book. All of which changed us – but for the better. Now the internet – well that might not be for the better. Our brains have changed again, cause our brains are not like computers. They are organic, they change with what we do, and as we remember things. We’re not reading the way we used to. We’ve dropped reading at different speeds for different purposes in favor of skimming the internet. Oh yeah, and every piece of research shows that we suck at multitasking, no matter what we think.
So is doom, gloom and possibly brimstone to be expected? Well Carr actually takes position more as an observer, than an advocate. Except of course in his choice of topic, and the scientific research he’s meticulously building it all on. And just like his tour through the changes brought on by electricity in The Bigs Switch – it’s all very meticulous, and well documented by science. No matter how gloomy Carr paints our current situation, the book is both enlightening and important. Darn!
– Lucky I just read The Information Diet, which has actual practical advise for dealing with the internet and it’s flood of information.