Archive for the ‘Book Review’ Category
The Shallows, What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr is among my favorite books on the topic of the digital age. A Pulitzer Prize finalist, the book offers an intricate weave of the history of the written word, the popularization of books and “deep reading” with a review of neuroscience research that examines reading and the impact the digital age has wrought on our cognitive functioning.
Noticing his own cognitive short circuiting since falling into the digital abyss with the rest of us, Carr took a step back (and a break from the digital playground) to explore related neuroscience research. His hunch: our hyper-focus on the Internet may be having an actual physiological impact on our brain functioning. His conclusion:Â our hyper-focus on the Internet is having an actual physiological impact on our brain functioning.
The book, an extension of his 2008 article published in the Atlantic, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” validates what most of us realize but have trouble acting on: regularly unhook from your computer, get some balance in your life and ignore book reading to your peril. If you’re looking to broaden or deepen your thinking,Â deep reading that comes from sitting with a page without links on it trumps the constant interruptions and the increasingly short packets of online information.
One could argue that Carr’s presupposition biased his work but then, ’tis the author’s right to take a position and back it up with aggressive fact gathering and intelligent analysis – which Carr has done beyond any doubt. The beauty of this book is the author’s ability to edify in compelling prose. While a history of the written word and a review of related neuroscience could sound like a sleeper, this is a fascinating page-turner. Â Carr does a great job of summarizing research in plain-speak and strikes the perfect level of technical detail. This was perhaps the most fluid and engaging non-fiction book I’ve had the pleasure of reading. Kudos to Carr for his skill and diligence in the writing.