The Shallows: How the Internet is Changing the Way We Think, Read, and Remember
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In this ground-breaking and compelling book, Nicholas Carr argues that not since Gutenberg invented printing has humanity been exposed to such a mind-altering technology. The Shallows draws on the latest research to show that the Net is literally re-wiring our brains inducing only superficial understanding. 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. This landmark book compels us all to look anew at our dependence on this all-pervasive technology.
diseases of this age is the multitude of books that doth so overcharge the world that it is not able to digest the abundance of idle matter that is every day hatched and brought into the world.”46 Ever since, we have been seeking, with mounting urgency, new ways to bring order to the confusion of information we face every day. For centuries, the methods of personal information management tended to be simple, manual, and idiosyncratic—filing and shelving routines, alphabetization, annotation,
increasingly automated. We began to look to the very machines that exacerbated information overload for ways to alleviate the problem. Vannevar Bush sounded the keynote for our modern approach to managing information in his much-discussed article “As We May Think,” which appeared in the Atlantic Monthly in 1945. Bush, an electrical engineer who had served as Franklin Roosevelt’s science adviser during World War II, worried that progress was being held back by scientists’ inability to keep
workbenches to mass production. The public, primed for the start of a buying spree that would put computers into most every office, home, and school in the land, was in no mood to entertain an apostate’s doubts. WHEN A CARPENTER picks up a hammer, the hammer becomes, so far as his brain is concerned, part of his hand. When a soldier raises a pair of binoculars to his face, his brain sees through a new set of eyes, adapting instantaneously to a very different field of view. The experiments on
University of Illinois Press, 2005), 27–29; and Curtis Cate, Friedrich Nietzsche (Woodstock, NY: Overlook, 2005), 315–18. 3. Joseph LeDoux, Synaptic Self: How Our Brains Become Who We Are (New York: Penguin, 2002), 38–39. 4. In addition to the 100 billion neurons in our brains, there are about a trillion glial cells, or glia. It was once assumed that glia were inert, essentially providing padding to the neurons. (Glia means “glue” in Greek.) Over the last two decades, however, neuroscientists
no. 6 (February 12, 2008): 2209–13. See also Angelo Maravita and Atsushi Iriki, “Tools for the Body (Schema),” Trends in Cognitive Science, 8, no. 2 (February 2004): 79–86. 30. E. A. Maguire, D. G. Gadian, I. S. Johnsrude, et al., “Navigation-Related Structural Change in the Hippocampi of Taxi Drivers,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 97, no. 8 (April 11, 2000): 4398–403. See also E. A. Maguire, H. J. Spiers, C. D. Good, et al., “Navigation Expertise and the Human Hippocampus: A