Hamlet's BlackBerry: Building a Good Life in the Digital Age

( 34 )

Overview

Our computers and mobile devices do wonderful things for us. But they also impose a burden, making it harder for us to focus, do our best work, build strong relationships, and find the depth and fulfillment we crave.

How to solve this problem? Hamlet?s BlackBerry argues that we just need a new way of thinking, an everyday philosophy for life with screens. William Powers sets out to solve what he calls the conundrum of connectedness. Reaching into the past?using his own life as ...

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

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Overview

Our computers and mobile devices do wonderful things for us. But they also impose a burden, making it harder for us to focus, do our best work, build strong relationships, and find the depth and fulfillment we crave.

How to solve this problem? Hamlet’s BlackBerry argues that we just need a new way of thinking, an everyday philosophy for life with screens. William Powers sets out to solve what he calls the conundrum of connectedness. Reaching into the past—using his own life as laboratory and object lesson—he draws on some of history’s most brilliant thinkers, from Plato to Shakespeare to Thoreau, to demonstrate that digital connectedness serves us best when it’s balanced by its opposite, disconnectedness. Lively, original, and entertaining, Hamlet’s BlackBerry will challenge you to rethink your digital life.

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Editorial Reviews

Laurie Winer
“[An] elegant meditation on our obsessive connectivity and its effect on our brains and our very way of life.”
Heller McAlpin
“Powers mounts a passionate but reasoned argument for ‘a happy balance’. . . . [He] is a lively, personable writer who seeks applicable lessons from great thinkers of the past. . . . Lucid, engaging prose and [a] thoughtful take on the joys of disconnectivity.”
Bob Woodward
“A brilliant and thoughtful handbook for the Internet age—why we have this screen addiction, its many perils, and some surprising remedies that can make your life better.”
Maryanne Wolf
“In this delightfully accessible book, Powers asks the questions we all need to ask in this digitally driven time. And teaches us to answer them for ourselves.”
Walter Isaacson
“Benjamin Franklin would love this book. He knew the power of being connected, but also how this must be balanced by moments of reflection. William Powers offers a practical guide to Socrates’ path to the good life in which our outward and inward selves are at one.”
Barry Schwartz
“Always connected. Anytime. Anyplace. We know it’s a blessing, but we’re starting to notice that it’s also a curse. In Hamlet’s Blackberry, William Powers helps us understand what being ‘connected’ disconnects us from, and offers wise advice about what we can do about it…. A thoughtful, elegant, and moving book.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061687174
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/9/2011
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 150,586
  • Product dimensions: 7.78 (w) x 5.42 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Award-winning media critic William Powers has written for the Atlantic, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and McSweeney's, among other publications. He lives on Cape Cod with his wife, the author Martha Sherrill, and their son.

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Table of Contents

Prologue: The Room xi

Introduction 1

Part I What Larks?: The Conundrum of the Connected Life

1 Busy, Very Busy: In a Digital World, Where's the Depth? 9

2 Hello, Mother: The Magic of Screens 21

3 Gone Overboard: Falling Out with the Connected Life 37

4 Solutions That Aren't: The Trouble with Not Really Meaning It 67

Part II Beyond the Crowd: Teachings of the Seven Philosophers of Screens

5 Walking to Heaven: Plato Discovers Distance 83

6 The Spa of the Mind: Seneca on Inner Space 101

7 Little Mirrors: Gutenberg and the Business of Inwardness 121

8 Hamlet's BlackBerry: Shakespeare on the Beauty of Old Tools 137

9 Inventing Your Life: Ben Franklin on Positive Rituals 157

10 The Walden Zone: Thoreau on Making the Home a Refuge 175

11 A Cooler Self: McLuhan and the Thermostat of Happiness 193

Part III In Search of Depth: Ideas in Practice

12 Not So Busy: Practical Philosophies for Every Day 209

13 Disconnectopia: The Internet Sabbath 223

Afterword: Back to the Room 235

Acknowledgments 241

Notes 245

Further Reading 263

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 34 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(13)

4 Star

(8)

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(8)

2 Star

(3)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 34 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 25, 2014

    D'ya really need ALL those emails???

    C'mon, do you??? A well written, carefully thought out plan to lessen your daily digital workload. And truly, do you really need all that info? I thought so too. until I read Powers book. An eyeopener!!! A calming piece of gentle guidance in this overburdened digital world we now live in. Get a copy.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 14, 2010

    Live your life: get disconnected from the screens

    This is the book I have been looking for. It gives you permission to live life deeply away from the constant hum of the internet, email, twittering, blogging etc.

    Well written, well-researched look at technology through the ages.

    Who'd have thought that Ben Franklin, Socrates, Shakespeare struggled with over-connectedness with the technologies of their day. Powers tells us how they "pulled the plug" and got in touch with their inner selves to reflect, think deeply and be serene.

    A practical book, Powers gives some concrete examples of how to manage the gadgets of the 21st century so that you run them, they don't run us.

    Bravo, Mr. Powers.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 10, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    An amazing look at the strings that hold us down...

    This book is a powerful look at the lives we lead in an overconnected society. William Powers explains why we all feel like "pinballs bouncing around in a world of blinking lights and buzzers" and why though there is "lots of movement and noise," but "it doesn't add up to much." If you're over-twittered, facebook frenzied, mangled by myspace, locked-up and linkedin, you need this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2014

    Pretty good

    This is a somewhat breezily written book with lots of lessons from the author's life.
    Read Alone Together by Sherry Turkle for a much more profound discussion of this issue

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2011

    Highly Recommended

    I don't normally read nonfiction, but this book really made me think about our culture and my own individual choices. It's refreshing to think that societies in the past have also had to adjust to new technologies and made it through unscathed! I'm passing this book around to everyone I know.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 10, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    An amazing look at the strings that now hold us down...

    This book is a powerful look at the lives we lead in an overconnected society. William Powers explains why we all feel like "pinballs bouncing around in a world of blinking lights and buzzers" and why though there is "lots of movement and noise," "it doesn't add up to much." If you're over-twittered, facebook frenzied, mangled by myspace, locked-up and linkedin, you need this book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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    Posted September 11, 2010

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 34 Customer Reviews

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