The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains

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by Nicholas Carr
     
 

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Finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction: “Nicholas Carr has written a Silent Spring for the literary mind.”—Michael Agger, Slate

“Is Google making us stupid?” When Nicholas Carr posed that question, in a celebrated Atlantic Monthly cover story, he tapped into a well of anxiety about how

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Overview

Finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction: “Nicholas Carr has written a Silent Spring for the literary mind.”—Michael Agger, Slate

“Is Google making us stupid?” When Nicholas Carr posed that question, in a celebrated Atlantic Monthly cover story, he tapped into a well of anxiety about how the Internet is changing us. He also crystallized one of the most important debates of our time: As we enjoy the Net’s bounties, are we sacrificing our ability to read and think deeply?

Now, Carr expands his argument into the most compelling exploration of the Internet’s intellectual and cultural consequences yet published. As he describes how human thought has been shaped through the centuries by “tools of the mind”—from the alphabet to maps, to the printing press, the clock, and the computer—Carr interweaves a fascinating account of recent discoveries in neuroscience by such pioneers as Michael Merzenich and Eric Kandel. Our brains, the historical and scientific evidence reveals, change in response to our experiences. The technologies we use to find, store, and share information can literally reroute our neural pathways.

Building on the insights of thinkers from Plato to McLuhan, Carr makes a convincing case that every information technology carries an intellectual ethic—a set of assumptions about the nature of knowledge and intelligence. He explains how the printed book served to focus our attention, promoting deep and creative thought. In stark contrast, the Internet encourages the rapid, distracted sampling of small bits of information from many sources. Its ethic is that of the industrialist, an ethic of speed and efficiency, of optimized production and consumption—and now the Net is remaking us in its own image. We are becoming ever more adept at scanning and skimming, but what we are losing is our capacity for concentration, contemplation, and reflection.

Part intellectual history, part popular science, and part cultural criticism, The Shallows sparkles with memorable vignettes—Friedrich Nietzsche wrestling with a typewriter, Sigmund Freud dissecting the brains of sea creatures, Nathaniel Hawthorne contemplating the thunderous approach of a steam locomotive—even as it plumbs profound questions about the state of our modern psyche. This is a book that will forever alter the way we think about media and our minds.

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Editorial Reviews

Jonah Lehrer
While Carr tries to ground his argument in the details of modern neuroscience, his most powerful points have nothing do with our plastic cortex. Instead, The Shallows is most successful when Carr sticks to cultural criticism, as he documents the losses that accompany the arrival of new technologies.
—The New York Times
Newsweek
“A must-read for any desk jockey concerned about the Web’s deleterious effects on the mind.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“This is a lovely story well told—an ode to a quieter, less frenetic time when reading was more than skimming and thought was more than mere recitation.”
The 2011 Pulitzer Prize Committee
“A thought provoking exploration of the Internet’s physical and cultural consequences, rendering highly technical material intelligible to the general reader.”
Salon
The Shallows certainly isn't the first examination of this subject, but it's more lucid, concise and pertinent than similar works ... An essential, accessible dispatch about how we think now.— Laura Miller
BusinessWeek
Persuasive ... A prolific blogger, tech pundit, and author, [Carr] cites enough academic research in The Shallows to give anyone pause about society's full embrace of the Internet as an unadulterated force for progress . . . Carr lays out, in engaging, accessible prose, the science that may explain these results.— Peter Burrows
Chicago Tribune
Another reason for book lovers not to throw in the towel quite yet is The Shallows...a quietly eloquent retort to those who claim that digital culture is harmless—who claim, in fact, that we're getting smarter by the minute just because we can plug in a computer and allow ourselves to get lost in the funhouse of endless hyperlinks.— Julia Keller
Financial Times
The subtitle of Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains leads one to expect a polemic in the tradition of those published in the 1950s about how rock ’n’ roll was corrupting the nation’s youth ... But this is no such book. It is a patient and rewarding popularization of some of the research being done at the frontiers of brain science ... Mild-mannered, never polemical, with nothing of the Luddite about him, Carr makes his points with a lot of apt citations and wide-ranging erudition.— Christopher Caldwell
Information Week
You really should read Nicholas Carr's The Shallows . . . Far from offering a series of rants on the dangers of new media, Carr spends chapters walking us through a variety of historical experiments and laymen's explanations on the workings of the brain . . . He makes the research stand on end, punctuating it with pithy conclusions and clever phrasing.— Fritz Nelson
Wall Street Journal
Absorbing [and] disturbing. We all joke about how the Internet is turning us, and especially our kids, into fast-twitch airheads incapable of profound cogitation. It's no joke, Mr. Carr insists, and he has me persuaded.— John Horgan
The New York Times Book Review
This is a measured manifesto. Even as Carr bemoans his vanishing attention span, he’s careful to note the usefulness of the Internet, which provides us with access to a near infinitude of information. We might be consigned to the intellectual shallows, but these shallows are as wide as a vast ocean.— Jonah Lehrer
Ellen Wernecke
“The Shallows isn’t McLuhan’s Understanding Media, but the curiosity rather than trepidation with which Carr reports on the effects of online culture pulls him well into line with his predecessor . . . Carr’s ability to crosscut between cognitive studies involving monkeys and eerily prescient prefigurations of the modern computer opens a line of inquiry into the relationship between human and technology.”
Jonathan Safran Foer
“The best book I read last year — and by “best” I really just mean the book that made the strongest impression on me — was The Shallows, by Nicholas Carr. Like most people, I had some strong intuitions about how my life and the world have been changing in response to the Internet. But I could neither put those intuitions into an argument, nor be sure that they had any basis in the first place. Carr persuasively — and with great subtlety and beauty — makes the case that it is not only the content of our thoughts that are radically altered by phones and computers, but the structure of our brains — our ability to have certain kinds of thoughts and experiences. And the kinds of thoughts and experiences at stake are those that have defined our humanity. Carr is not a proselytizer, and he is no techno-troglodyte. He is a profoundly sharp thinker and writer — equal parts journalist, psychologist, popular science writer, and philosopher. I have not only given this book to numerous friends, I actually changed my life in response to it.”
Matthew B. Crawford
“The core of education is this: developing the capacity to concentrate. The fruits of this capacity we call civilization. But all that is finished, perhaps. Welcome to the shallows, where the un-educating of homo sapiens begins. Nicholas Carr does a wonderful job synthesizing the recent cognitive research. In doing so, he gently refutes the ideologists of progress, and shows what is really at stake in the daily habits of our wired lives: the re-constitution of our minds. What emerges for the reader, inexorably, is the suspicion that we have well and truly screwed ourselves.”
Dana Gioia
“Nicholas Carr carefully examines the most important topic in contemporary culture—the mental and social transformation created by our new electronic environment. Without ever losing sight of the larger questions at stake, he calmly demolishes the clichés that have dominated discussions about the Internet. Witty, ambitious, and immensely readable, The Shallows actually manages to describe the weird, new, artificial world in which we now live.”
Tom Vanderbilt
“Neither a tub-thumpingly alarmist jeremiad nor a breathlessly Panglossian ode to the digital self, Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows is a deeply thoughtful, surprising exploration of our “frenzied” psyches in the age of the Internet. Whether you do it in pixels or pages, read this book.”
Maryanne Wolf
“Ultimately, The Shallows is a book about the preservation of the human capacity for contemplation and wisdom, in an epoch where both appear increasingly threatened. Nick Carr provides a thought-provoking and intellectually courageous account of how the medium of the Internet is changing the way we think now and how future generations will or will not think. Few works could be more important.”
Elizabeth Kolbert
“Nicholas Carr has written an important and timely book. See if you can stay off the web long enough to read it!”
Laura Miller - Salon
“The Shallows certainly isn't the first examination of this subject, but it's more lucid, concise and pertinent than similar works ... An essential, accessible dispatch about how we think now.”
Peter Burrows - BusinessWeek
“Persuasive ... A prolific blogger, tech pundit, and author, [Carr] cites enough academic research in The Shallows to give anyone pause about society's full embrace of the Internet as an unadulterated force for progress . . . Carr lays out, in engaging, accessible prose, the science that may explain these results.”
Julia Keller - Chicago Tribune
“Another reason for book lovers not to throw in the towel quite yet is The Shallows...a quietly eloquent retort to those who claim that digital culture is harmless—who claim, in fact, that we're getting smarter by the minute just because we can plug in a computer and allow ourselves to get lost in the funhouse of endless hyperlinks.”
Christopher Caldwell - Financial Times
“The subtitle of Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains leads one to expect a polemic in the tradition of those published in the 1950s about how rock ’n’ roll was corrupting the nation’s youth ... But this is no such book. It is a patient and rewarding popularization of some of the research being done at the frontiers of brain science ... Mild-mannered, never polemical, with nothing of the Luddite about him, Carr makes his points with a lot of apt citations and wide-ranging erudition.”
Fritz Nelson - Information Week
“You really should read Nicholas Carr's The Shallows . . . Far from offering a series of rants on the dangers of new media, Carr spends chapters walking us through a variety of historical experiments and laymen's explanations on the workings of the brain . . . He makes the research stand on end, punctuating it with pithy conclusions and clever phrasing.”
John Horgan - Wall Street Journal
“Absorbing [and] disturbing. We all joke about how the Internet is turning us, and especially our kids, into fast-twitch airheads incapable of profound cogitation. It's no joke, Mr. Carr insists, and he has me persuaded.”
Jonah Lehrer - The New York Times Book Review
“This is a measured manifesto. Even as Carr bemoans his vanishing attention span, he’s careful to note the usefulness of the Internet, which provides us with access to a near infinitude of information. We might be consigned to the intellectual shallows, but these shallows are as wide as a vast ocean.”
Library Journal
Expanding on his provocative Atlantic Monthly article, "Is Google Making Us Stupid?," technology writer Carr (The Big Switch) provides a deep, enlightening examination of how the Internet influences the brain and its neural pathways. Computers have altered the way we work; how we organize information, share news and stories, and communicate; and how we search for, read, and absorb information. Carr's analysis incorporates a wealth of neuroscience and other research, as well as philosophy, science, history, and cultural developments. He investigates how the media and tools we use (including libraries) shape the development of our thinking and considers how we relate to and think about our brains. Carr also examines the impact of online searching on memory and explores the overall impact that the tools and media we use have on memory formation. His fantastic investigation of the effect of the Internet on our neurological selves concludes with a very humanistic petition for balancing our human and computer interactions. VERDICT Neuroscience and technology buffs, librarians, and Internet users will find this truly compelling. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/10; seven-city tour.]—Candice Kail, Columbia Univ. Libs., New York
Kirkus Reviews
"Is Google making us stupid?" So freelance technology writer Carr (The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google, 2008, etc.) asked in a 2008 article in the Atlantic Monthly, an argument extended in this book. The subtitle is literal. In the interaction between humans and machines, the author writes, machines are becoming more humanlike. And, "as we come to rely on computers to mediate our understanding of the world, it is our own intelligence that flattens into artificial intelligence." Carr provides evidence from batteries of neuroscientific research projects, which suggest that the more we use the Internet as an appendage of memory, the less we remember, and the more we use it as an aide to thinking, the less we think. Though the author ably negotiates the shoals of scientific work, his argument also takes on Sven Birkerts-like cultural dimensions. The Internet, he complains, grants us access to huge amounts of data, but this unmediated, undigested stuff works against systematic learning and knowledge. Yale computer-science professor David Gelernter has lately made the same arguments in a more gnomic, but much shorter, essay now making the rounds of the Internet. This privileging of the short and bullet-pointed argument to the considered and leisurely fits into Carr's theme as well. He observes that with RSS, Twitter, Google and all the other cutely named distractions his computer provides, he has become a less patient and less careful reader of key texts that require real work. It's a sentiment that one of his subjects, a philosophy major and Rhodes Scholar, brushes aside, saying, "I don't read books . . . I go to Google, and I can absorb relevant information quickly." Ah, but there's the rub-how can a novice know what's relevant?Similar in spirit to Jaron Lanier's You Are Not a Gadget (2010)-cogent, urgent and well worth reading. Author tour to Denver/Boulder, Seattle, San Francisco, Boston, New York, Washington, D.C., Austin, Texas. Agent: John Brockman

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393079364
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
06/06/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
65,782
File size:
686 KB

What People are saying about this

Jonathan Safran Foer
The best book I read last year — and by “best” I really just mean the book that made the strongest impression on me — was The Shallows, by Nicholas Carr. Like most people, I had some strong intuitions about how my life and the world have been changing in response to the Internet. But I could neither put those intuitions into an argument, nor be sure that they had any basis in the first place. Carr persuasively — and with great subtlety and beauty — makes the case that it is not only the content of our thoughts that are radically altered by phones and computers, but the structure of our brains — our ability to have certain kinds of thoughts and experiences. And the kinds of thoughts and experiences at stake are those that have defined our humanity. Carr is not a proselytizer, and he is no techno-troglodyte. He is a profoundly sharp thinker and writer — equal parts journalist, psychologist, popular science writer, and philosopher. I have not only given this book to numerous friends, I actually changed my life in response to it.

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Meet the Author

Nicholas Carr is the author of The Shallows, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, as well as The Big Switch and Does IT Matter? His articles and essays have appeared in The Atlantic, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Wired, and the New Republic, and he writes the widely read blog Rough Type. He has been writer-in-residence at the University of California, Berkeley, and an executive editor of the Harvard Business Review.

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Shallows 4 out of 5 based on 2 ratings. 90 reviews.
Ken_O More than 1 year ago
I picked this up after reading a review in a local paper - which thought it was too "shallow" for business readers. WRONG! Carr pulls together several strands of research and findings, and brings in the findings from scholarly journals to present several important consequences of the widespread use of the internet. The ideas are not all his, but he puts them together in a very well-written and readily digestible short read. We should all take note of his conclusions. The internet is changing the way we think - and we need to comprehend exactly how.
Booknut62 More than 1 year ago
Before this book was published, I looked forward to getting a copy with anticipation. I have been fascinated with what researchers are saying about the effects of the Web on our brains and and thought processes. Disappointingly, this book offers no groundbreaking insights in this topic, and for that matter any other. Carr opens the first chapters of this book with a long tedious history of the printed word and how that has affected thought and information processing. While this might be vital to his argument about how the Internet is changing the brain, it seems to go on forever. Could this information not been condensed into a chapter or so? Once Carr gets to the research on how the Web is changing our brains, he seems to go into long-drawn out descriptions of chemical processes and descriptions of physiological descriptions of how the Web is basically making us shallow thinkers, unable to think deeply about what we read and see on the Net. I was just a bit disappointed by Carr's treatment of a subject that has a great deal of merit, and a subject that needs to be discussed. In the end, this was one of those books that was difficult to finish. Plowing is the accurate term to describe how I moved through this book. While Carr does an adequate job of describing what the research says about how the Web is changing us, he does so in an uninspiring and didactic manner. This could have been an interesting book, but it reads too much like a diatribe against technology in general.
feelzoo More than 1 year ago
A must-read book that uncovers what we are loosing unconsciously, and the loss is what we must protect. You are becoming one of the shallows little by little with a cascade of benefits from the Net. How come we are becoming less knowledgeable with those benefits? Hyperlinks and multimedia on a Net page contain more information than we need, which makes you think the technology is a blessing. However, this book debunks it by laying out the results of prominent researches and findings. If you are interested in how your brain affected by what you are doing every 3mins with your gadgets, read this book!
VeloChef More than 1 year ago
What initially hooked me was a review about "The Shallows" in Wired Magazine (June 2010). It took awhile to get to the real meat of the subject, but when it did, I couldn't stop underlining, highlighting, note taking, and star making - several chapters are now a complete mess, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I know this book is not for everyone, because some of us are more distractable than others. Unfortunately, I'm ADHD, and quite easily distracted. However, on the positive side, once I'm enthralled there's no end to my energy and ability to research a topic thoroughly. Oh well. I highly recommend this for anyone who spends time on the internet, or knows people who do, because it's an important read. If you don't recognize the characteristics today, chances are you will in the near future, because I believe it resembles behavior that could be referred to as techchnology induced ADHD (or close to it). Finally, here is a blog I've started (early June 2010) that is initially (parts 1 - 4 & notes) based on the Wire Mag review. Beyond that I'm developing more content based on my own revelations, observations, research and especially how I'm fighting the daily battle of distractedness on & off the Net. please visit http://velorep.com/b2b-blog
khy50 More than 1 year ago
This book is being read by many college freshmen. My book club selected it to read because of that fact. Amazing information inside. Many insights. Our book club had one of the best discussions ever! This is a must read for anyone who still likes to pick up a book as well as an e reader or who still writes personal notes on paper but also sends text messages. It will change you!
AvidReaderSD More than 1 year ago
I found this book absolutely an intriguing and thoughtful read!! While i enjoy some technology, I have huge concerns as to how we are using/over using it. This book put a lot into perspective. We have become a nation of voyeurs, reacting to stimuli rather than thinking about stimuli and how we respond. I have recommended this book to many people and/or given it as a gift on a must read. I teach and am using a chapter with my students. They need to reflect on what they are doing. As a society we need to consider what we are about before we get any further carried away by our facination with technology. This book helps the process.
RolfDobelli More than 1 year ago
Business author Nicholas Carr enters Malcolm Gladwell territory with an insightful, far-reaching book of essays on how your brain works, how the Internet alters your perceptions and habits, and what the consequences of those alterations might be. Stretching from Aristotle to Google, Carr seeks to understand the magnitude of the change the Internet presents, and to gauge whether that change is for good or ill. He does not offer answers to his more provocative philosophical questions, preferring that the reader sort those out. But he frames these fascinating queries in detailed disquisitions on futurism, the creation of computing, the history of the written word and the evolution of science's notions of the brain and how it functions. His relaxed writing style provides a companionable read, as if you were having a great conversation with a brilliant stranger. getAbstract recommends this enjoyable, nourishing book to everyone who's ever wondered how working on a computer might be affecting their lives and their brains.
Andrew Holm More than 1 year ago
The strength of this book is the historical context that the Age of Information is understood compared to similar pivitol developments such as the printing press. How our brains changed in relation to these sweeping changes is described. Not surprisingly, we both gained and lost aptitudes. What would have made this book even better would been practical suggestions to navigate this new territory to optimize our gains and minimize our losses.
Maria_Kallas More than 1 year ago
This just in: Carr proves zombies really do exist!  You probably already are aware that zombies are taking over pop culture; however, you may not be aware that zombies are slowly taking over our world.  Slowly but surely, bright intellectuals are transforming into zombies.  Think I’m kidding?  Read Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains or better yet, just go ahead and Google it. For those who may not be up to date with pop culture, zombies are non-communicative, mobile, lifeless humans that are vulnerable to brain destruction, which eventually kills them.  Throughout The Shallows, Carr argues that the Internet is not only changing how we think, but it is slowly destructing the brain.  For example, Carr cites Gary Small’s study of digital media’s effect on the human brain.  According to Small, a professor of Psychiatry at UCLA, “The current explosion of digital technology not only is changing the way we live and communicate but is rapidly and profoundly altering our brains” (116).  These changes to our brains are responsible for slowly transforming us into zombies that can no longer communicate effectively.  The destruction of our brains is real!  In 2008, a study of twenty-four people was conducted.  The study included twelve tech savvy people who surfed the Internet regularly and twelve people who avoided the Internet.  Incredibly, as the tech-savvy people surfed Google, researchers noticed that their prefrontal cortexes showed a considerably high amount of activity, while the twelve who were inexperienced with the Internet had virtually no activity.  Most surprisingly, after surfing the Internet an hour a day for five days, the Internet illiterates had the same amount of prefrontal brain activity as the tech-savvies.  Scary! According to Carr, “What we’re experiencing is, in a metaphorical sense, a reversal of the early trajectory of civilization: we are evolving from being cultivators of personal knowledge to being hunters and gatherers in the electronic data forest” (134).  We are slowly losing our ability to think critically, as we conform to the primitive ways of hunting via the Internet.  Carr argues that we are evolving into brain-damaged zombies reduced to habitual grazing on the World Wide Web.  Now, take a moment to reflect on how much time young children, the future of our country, are spending engaged with technology.  If a baby cries, parents of the twenty-first century coddle the baby with an iPhone.  If a toddler is being obnoxious, parents hand the child an iPad to “play an educational game”.  Even educators are forced to include technology in their lessons in order to satisfy the requirements of the Professional Growth and Effectiveness System (PGES). Personally, I spent an entire semester in a class dedicated to teaching future teachers how to effectively integrate technology into the classroom and now I am questioning everything.  Are educational games really educational?  Should technology be used in the classroom?  Is the Internet building knowledge or destroying it?   Is the Internet transforming us into Jimmy Neutrons or zombies?  Brain blast!  Literally.
adkins_lindsay More than 1 year ago
This book is one I was required to read for a class. I, honestly, would not have read it if it were not, but not because of the topic. The topic – how the internet affects our brains – is fairly interesting, and when I first began reading the book, I was eager to learn the answer to this. However, when I started flipping through the pages of the book, I noticed that the writing style is not one I enjoy. I skimmed through a few chapters and realized that Carr has taken this interesting topic, and made it dull. I do think Carr brings up several valid points  about how the the internet has affected our thought processes. He mentions how the internet has caused our ability to concentrate to  decrease. This is something that I have noticed, as well, and he uses the specific example of being able to focus on reading. I used to  read at least one book a week, but since I've began using the internet more, the amount of reading I do has significantly decreased. Carr  proposes that the reason people have loss focus on reading  is because the internet has actually changed the way our brains operate. I think this is something interesting to ponder, but it's not something that I haven't thought about before. While Carr makes interesting points, he, however, fails to provide any profound insight. Overall, I found this book to be very tedious to get through, as he focused much too  heavily on historical events that didn't seem to be especially relevant to the topic. Nearly every chapter begins with an exceptionally  detailed description of a past event. He does provide adequate research, I believe, but he presents this research in an unappealing,  pedantic way. 
anagalicia 5 months ago
This book was a very interesting read. It was very eye opening. Today, everything comes from the Internet. Every time we have a question about something, we turn to Google or Bing for the answer. We never look for answers in an encyclopedia anymore. We talk to friends and family that we haven’t seen in years through the Internet. We don’t make many phone calls anymore. A Facebook message is good enough. The author Nicholas Carr is concerned for humans these days. He believes the Internet is making us stupid. I believe anyone who is on the Internet daily should read this book. It will open your eyes and make you realize that the Internet is actually taking over our brains. The price that we pay for technology, as Carr says, is one that we should be concerned about. We, as humans, are so dependent of our phones and our computers to answer all our questions. We don’t do things for ourselves anymore. That is Carr’s biggest concern. When I was a kid, we did not use the Internet as much. A computer was so much more expensive then they are today. Today, we have one at our fingertips. We can go to the public library and use one. There are at least three computers in each classroom at schools, plus computer labs. Also, phones. A phone is just like a mini computer that you have on you almost all the time. I think Carr did an amazing job with this book. It definitely opened my eyes to see how the world is these days. It is actually very sad to me how we depend so much on the Internet. But it is our reality.
MeganGross 5 months ago
The Shallows by Nicholas Carr This book really caught my attention and while reading it things really started to make sense. We are living in such a technological age and I come to ask myself often whether or not it’s really a good thing. I found this book difficult to read; but in a sense, the topic of this book kind of puts that in perspective. Just in the first chapter it talks about our inability to read something beyond a few paragraphs. I honestly think that’s what hooked me into reading this book. It was almost as if something clicked in my brain and said, “This really explains a lot!” I’m also impressed with his chapter, “The Juggler’s Brain,” that really hits on our dependence of technology. As sad as it may sound, as a college student I have to almost take my cell phone into another room just to get anything done. This chapter made me realize that the internet and apps like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. are taking over my life and my time. I find myself pointlessly surfing the internet and reading ridiculous articles instead of diving into my studies. This saddens me and makes me want to strive to change things. Has the internet really done this to me and our generation? Carr certainly gives a great insight that it in fact has. On page 177 Carr refers to Socrates saying that as people grew accustomed to writing down their thoughts and reading the thoughts of others they become less dependent on the contents of their own memory. I find myself googling things far too often, even things that I have googled before. I am completely skipping storing the information into my memory. In fact, Carr tells us that the computer and all of the online databases provide and effective and a superior substitute for personal memory. Carr does a great job of questioning how the internet is changing us and possibly our way of thinking, if you are looking for a good read and something to really reflect on here it is.
molly helton 5 months ago
Molly Helton: The book “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains” by Nicholas Carr is a very interesting book to read. I personally have never read a book like this before, I’ve always read fictional books and those books have never opened my mind like this one has. This book makes you see how much technology has taken over of lives, sometimes without us even really realizing it. When I started this book I was not a fan. To be completely honest, there were a lot of words that Carr used that I’ve never even heard before. So from the start I figured there was no way I could read this book and like it. But, I was wrong. Although this book may be challenging to some at first, it DOES get better. In a lot of ways, I liked having a book that’s challenging because it’s always wonderful to learn new vocabulary. It’s kind of hard to say technology is really bad and it’s also hard to say technology is really good. Carr makes you see that although technology is a good thing, it’s also bad. Of course technology is one amazing thing. Most people walk around with a computer in their hand that can do so many tasks. That’s good if you need to look something up or need to calculate something in a second, or take a picture without spending any time looking for one. But it’s also bad because it’s very distracting. Most people can’t go 20 minutes without looking at their phone at social media or text messages. On page 47 Carr said “Though we’re rarely conscious of the fact, many of the routines of our lives follow paths laid down by technologies that came into use ling before we were born.” Reading that paragraph really opened my mind up about how much technology runs this world. This book has many other paragraphs that’ll show you a different perspective on the world with technology. I recommend it to anyone that’s interested in books like this one.
Anonymous 5 months ago
Jenna Graham The Shallows by Nicolas Carr is a wonderful read that makes people think about how the internet has slowly taken over our lives without us realizing it. When a person sits back and thinks about it, we realize that our society is controlled by the internet. We use it as maps, to make reservations, to find out medical information and socialize with friends and family members we cannot physically be with. Carrs chapter called, “The Jugglers Brain” Is an accurate representation about how well we have become with using a computer or a iPhone. It clearly states how repetitive we are with the things we do with our devices. We hardly have to think to pull up our Facebook, Google, or send a text. The author brings this into consideration because a person really does not realize how distracting a phone or computer can be. With the internet, some may believe we no longer need to read books or even remember phone numbers because our phones and computers can do this for us. A person uses their phone every single day so send a text and even look up a question with no time at all. I believe that Carr really makes us think about how stupid that the internet is truly making us. Carr talks early in the book about the creation of the computer and how far it has come. I personally did not realize how far we have advanced in such a short period of time. He talks about the first Macintosh computers and the first DVD burners and zip drives. I felt like this was a very crucial part for this book because without the background information about how the computers evolved into what they are now, we cannot truly appreciate what they have come to today. Over all, this was a good book and I truly enjoyed it. I would recommend others read it to open their eyes about how the internet is really effecting our brain.
Boykin_Hannah 5 months ago
Nicholas Carr really gets readers thinking about their ability to read and the effect of the internet on our brain right from the beginning. The fast paced internet is having an effect on our ability to read long passages. I thought about this and agree. Since I started spending more time on the internet, I cannot sit down and read a book for long periods of time. This is not only in reading but in everyday life as Carr explains, e-mail is an addicting. The e-mail update every five minutes and people constantly stop more than every five minutes. This is true with me. I do check my e-mail a lot throughout the day because my phone is connected and I do not need a computer. This also happens with calendar reminders where your phone reminds you of an event instead of you remembering. Carr foes on to say that we will always wonder how the brain works and that google is not good or evil, it is the human mind that makes it that way. I agree with Carr, machines are neutral. It is the person who inputs the data that is good or bad, Carr explained the more we use computers the more we trust them then our brains. Carr ends the book with a warning. We are rushing to buy all the electronical devices without thinking about the effects it might have. Overall, “What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains the Shallows,” is an accurate representation of the internet usage of today. Carr used sources that supported his opinion and used sources that did not support his opinion. He used these sources to find fault with the other side and make his argument stronger. It is a well-researched book and he put a lot of time into it. It has many valid point that people might want to consider for the future.
Anonymous 5 months ago
“The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brain” by Nicholas Carr is a book that will leave you with some heavy self reflecting after reading. Does the internet really effect how we think? Does it change our experiences to the world? Has it shattered my attention span? These are just a few of the questions I was left with while I was reading and after finishing the book. I came in with the expectation that it would be a book I would have to push myself through to finish, since it was an assignment for a class. But to my surprise, it was a very good read! I really appreciate that Carr made this a well rounded book, he took account of things that have happened in the past and walked us through time to explain to where we are now. Carr stated that, “...eventually, if we use it enough, it changes who we are, as individuals and as a society.” I completely agree with that, from my childhood to my college years, you can see such a dramatic jump in technology use. As a child, it was uncommon to have a desktop computer in our home with dial-up internet but it wasn't used frequently. When it became common to have computers in your home, the big boom of the internet began. It became so readily available for us. You can see how that has changed society today. Now it is very common to have your smart phone with access to the internet in your pocket. In the book Carr also talked about how this constant use of technology is effecting our attention span. The information of the internet is at our finger tips because of our phones, so our brains don't know how to store information or know how to look for information out side of the internet. It's so easy to store information digital that we don't think it's important to remember information for later uses. He encourages that people should use books (not on your phone) and other resources to help you better your attention span. Cori Fitch
Anonymous 5 months ago
Savannah Gullett The Shallows: A bottomless paradox of human thought Before this book I never really understood how different my perception would be if I were born into a different time. I specifically made this realization when reading the passage on page 211 about the invention of the clock, “In deciding when to eat, to work, to sleep, to wake up, we stopped listening to our senses and started obeying the clock.” I suppose one could say this is an inquisitive and informational book, however I believe it is much more than that. It is the exploration of centuries of thought and the exposure of norms. The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains gives you the chance to explore your own mind in a very intimate way. Nicholas Carr shows all perspectives towards technology in a satisfactory manner. He does not just limit his discussion to how today’s technology has changed our neurological network; Carr goes back in time and discusses how inventions such as the alphabet and the typewriter also impacted the direction of the human civilization. He makes it clear that we gain something and lose something with each colossal shift in the course of human history. It is clear that with every shift there was a group of individuals who were concerned about the outcome, however no matter what they said the modification was made. Carr makes it clear that the technology movement is relatively unescapable. More than anything I love the philosophical insights that this book helped investigate. For example, I explored the idea that if we once were so distracted by stimuli doesn’t the internet and technology bring us back to the primitive state of man. Does that make up helpless, or does it make up stronger against outward stimuli like our hunter gather predecessors? I also adored the way the format of the novel was suitable to the theme of the novel. The Shallows is packed with digressions and breaks. The chapters are segmented with pause points, places that are perfect to stop at and do something else. As Nicholas Carr may have predicted, I used these pause points to do chores around the house or check my Facebook. Overall I found reading this book to be a very useful way to spend my time and I will reflect on what it said for quite some time into the future.
Anonymous 5 months ago
Rachel Chaney “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains” by Nicholas Carr was an interesting and eye-opening read. Technology, particularly the internet, has so vastly overtaken our lives, to the point that we do not even realize the impact it has had. Carr notes that, while at first, the internet was used as our tool that we gave commands to in order to receive information, it now serves as our commander—influencing and providing our thoughts. Additionally, the fast-paced construct of the web has fostered our need for quick information. We have almost lost our ability to patiently discover information on our own, based on our own thoughts and assumptions—we would rather have everything readily available at the click of a button. Carr uses neuroscientific explanations to explain how detrimental these effects of technology are in rerouting our brains. On page 120, Carr explains “as the time we spend hopping across links crowds out the time we devote to quiet reflection and contemplation, the circuits that support those old intellectual functions and pursuits weaken an begin to break apart.” It is scary to think that key mental skills could soon become a thing of the past. Carr also compares the affects and functions of the internet with that of books. The introduction of books was beneficial in calming our minds and allowing us the opportunity to focus our attention on one thing, while actively absorbing, analyzing, and interpreting the information being read. The internet operates almost exactly opposite of this. We are now hopping from link to link, gathering small bits of useless information and are unable to remain focused on one thing, while only superficially learning. Carr uses the ideals of notable philosophers, psychoanalysts, writers, and neuroscientific evidence to make a compelling case about the damaging effects of the internet. From our memory and attention to our ability to think for ourselves, the internet is reshaping the way our brain functions. As a future teacher, I found this book to be a very interesting read. The use of technology in the classroom is always being promoted and necessitated due to its convenience, “advantages,” and prominence in our culture. When preparing my instruction, I must be cognizant to use a variety of resources aside from the internet that allow my students to exercise the almost forgotten art of independent thought and discovery.
Pauly37 5 months ago
We are in an age where technology is no longer a want or accessory it is a need. People these days cannot go a day, hour or for some even minute without checking their phone for an update. We really have everything we need in the palm of our hands. We can find anything on a laptop, tablet or phone. We have places that you can go in with your technology just to play on it. The question at hand is do we know the downside to having the world at our every desirer. A wise man once said “nothing is free” and I believe that is the same for technology. Nicholas Carr talks about this a lot in his book Shadows. Carr talks about how there is a price for technology and we should be quite worried about it. Carr talks about how we can it simple terms, lose our individuality and ability to think for ourselves. There are a lot of things we don’t know about the brain and we aren’t going to learn about them by not using what we already can use. It is said that we only use a small portion of our brain. How then can we expect to push ourselves for the other portion if we dumb down the par we have. Carr suggests that we are letting ourselves and mind get lazy in a since. He thinks that the internet does not make us smarter but quite the opposite. There is quite a lot of junk on the internet that can be “downloaded” to our minds when we could be filling it with something else. He is talking about social media and random searches that mean nothing but take up our spare time. He talks about how we risk that we have in losing our own intelligences. He touches on how this is pressed on our younger generations. We see in elementary schools now how there are internet resources that are mandatory at such a young age. Should the internet be pushed upon them at such a young age or should we let them discover things for themselves somehow? The fear is that the internet will become more used by every generation until we do not have the ability to think for ourselves. Carr wants you to sit back and think about what you are doing with your time and with the internet. He wants you to take a step back and see what this could do to our generation, what it could do to future generation. How would it make you feel about your elementary class room being so tech needed. So before we have our own classrooms lets think about what the internet could be doing to us and our students.
ShelbieCrowe 5 months ago
In the book The Shallows, Nicholas Carr explores the idea of how the internet has changed the way our mind works to process information and our reactions to the things we experience. When technology advanced enough to mass print books our brains were taught to focus, reflect, and memorize what was read so that information could be recalled when needed. Then when our brains were exposed to the internet as a resource to gather information we stopped reading deeply to learn because information is at our finger tips we can retrieve it instantly from the internet. This shift is what caused Carr to ask “Is the internet making us dumb?” The question above is certainly one that should be explored. Carr does a wonderful job of creating a time line of historical philosophies about the mind and its function in the body, while also explaining the findings of neuroscience research that explain what the brain truly does. He explores the work of famous philosophers like Plato and the science experiments of researchers such as Freud. Throughout the book Carr examines how our brains create pathways based on experiences and how quickly those pathways can be reconstructed or rerouted when we encounter new experiences. The way our brains react to every new experience is such a natural response that we are often times are unaware it is even occurring, because of this it is easy for people to overlook how the constant use of the internet or technology in general can alter our thinking. He also brings up research supporting how using the internet supports a tendency to not think deeply about what is being read it is a very superficial experience now. I would highly recommend this book because it is good to be aware of the unforeseen consequences of technology and the consistency that we use it. We believe technology is a tool that is helpful, but Carr will have you weighing the affects it has on your brain with the benefits of using the internet.
Eric-R-EDEL302 5 months ago
What the Internet is doing to Our Brains: The Shallows a book that makes the reader consider what is happening inside of the minds of people who embrace the most current trends, specifically the toll that the internet and peripherals play on the ability for our minds to function at their highest capacities. In this book Carr, specifically wants the reader to understand and realize exactly why the internet is causing a major disturbance on the way that the brain processes information. Now more than ever before people are forming massive dependencies upon the internet, especially social media. Throughout the book Carr helps the reader to realize how obsessed people have become. Carr states that people are constantly checking social media websites and email, thus inhibiting us from finishing our work. While people are checking their email or news feeds, they are distracted by clicking a link here or following an ad there. Soon after, the user is completely off track and is distracted. Carr explained how our society works in trends and how the brain programs itself to use these trends in the most efficient means. Originally, mankind only communicated by spoken word, because there was no, or poorly constructed, written word. Man was a speaker and a listener, both of which require a dedicated task. Once a written language was perfected, it was still much too expensive for words to be recorded as books for the masses, so it was still a society of speakers and listeners. Technology eventually caught up and it because feasible and affordable for people to purchase and own books. This changed society; society moved from speakers and listeners to a society of readers. Speaking and Listening was no longer required to learn about something new, one could merely read about it, but reading was still a dedicated task. Over the last three decades, society has left books behind, and started relying more on the internet, but the internet is more than just a link to your favorite author or readings, it is a link to almost everything imaginable, creating a consistent distraction for the user. The internet if filled with anything and everything, anyone can post, but is what they write correct? Is there any validity to what they have written? Originally, books were selected by publishers. Publishers had a specific task to publish books that were not only good, but that would also be considered valid by the readers. Since no publisher is required, to self-publish on the internet, there is no accountability for their writing, allowing these authors to self-publish whatever they please, even if it is incorrect and invalid. Seeing information that is only possibly correct creates a larger distraction, because the user will go from source to source to source seeking information, while the whole time, battling distractions from their email, phones, Facebook, twitter, and so many other things. Nicholas Carr created a book that I enjoyed and that made me think, and realize, how distracting the internet and peripherals are, and how it is decreasing the ability for its users to stay on task. Although the internet has many valid uses, users should use it in accompaniment with other resources, such as books, and if content is obtained, the content should be verified through accredited resources.
seades 5 months ago
Technology seems like an unavoidable necessity these days. I could not tell you the last time I went twenty four hours without my cell phone, or googling something. There is something so seductive about having the world at your fingertips. We rarely stop to think, however, about what the cost of accessibility is. Nothing in the world comes without a price, and technology is not exempt from that. Carr explains this very well, and in a way that I can relate with. The price that we pay for technology, as Carr suggests, is one that we should be concerned about. We run the risk of losing our ability to think for ourselves. Carr and I neither one mean that we lose all ability to think, instead we lose our ability to think deeply. There is an art and beauty in our minds that we can find when we think with our whole brains. With the increased use of technology, our brains can become lazy and don’t work to problem solve. It has been argued that the internet is making us smarter, and in some sense it can. There are incredible amounts of information out on the web for us to utilize, but along with the good comes the junk. It is the social media and aimless internet surfing that consumes the majority of our time and efforts, rather than studious research. Carr does an excellent job at relating the rise in the internet and the decline in intelligences. He writes in his book about the risks we run, and his research is supported by extensive research. Psychologically he explains why our brains are not fully equipped to handle what we have begun to throw at them. He also explains the risk in the younger generations over using the internet and screen technology over older generations, based on the stage of brain development each are in. Carr’s book is one that will leave you thinking and rethinking the choices that you make on a daily basis. It also has caused me to reconsider the way that I will integrate technology into my elementary classroom.
Rebekah McAuliffe 5 months ago
Going into this book—and this course—I was skeptical. I mean, why would we be analyzing why technology is bad in a class where we were learning how to use technology in the classroom? I shrugged, resigning my concerns for another time, and dived into The Shallows. And what I learned—well, let’s just say that I now understand why my professor wanted us to read it in the first place. The Shallows is an analysis of the effects of technology, specifically the Internet, on the way we think and interact with others. These are two things that are of particular importance to the field of education, not just teachers, but students, administrators, creators of educational tools, etc. According to Carr, the Internet is slowly eroding away our ability to think critically and keep our attention on tasks. He offers scientific studies, articles, and personal stories to back up his argument, which is something that I, as a writer and an educator, can appreciate. He includes pages upon pages of references in the back of this specific edition. Do I agree with him? Well, to a point. It would not be accurate to say that all people can no longer focus on one thing at a time; I still see students time and time again wrapped up in a book (and not an eBook) or in writing or in conducting an experiment. The Internet is filled with many great resources that can help students and teachers; I know this from personal experience. However, he is right in saying that these days we live in a culture of “distraction.” One thing I appreciate, though, is that he is not accusing just this specific generation of perpetuating this culture; it has been building up for a long while. Carr writes in such a way that it is easy for someone without a degree in psychology or computer science, or even education, to understand what he is saying. Sometimes, scientific studies and articles on psychology and sociology can be difficult for those who are not familiar with those fields, but Carr translates the findings from his articles into layman’s terms, and that is something that, unfortunately, most nonfiction writers tend to forget to do. I am glad that I read this book; it has taught me to remember that technology should not be the end all, be all in the classroom. I should remember to balance my lessons with other ways to teach ideas, and to never forget that sometimes, it really does help to just get away from it all.
Leah Oldfield 5 months ago
The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicolas Carr (Book Review) In the book The Shallows, Carr wants us to know that we’re losing our connection with the world. People are constantly online and multitasking through the cyber world that information is so easily accessed. In today’s society we are becoming more dependent on the Internet rather than social interactions. Carr argues that we are constantly checking our e-mail and social media; therefore we never seem to get our work finished. For example, while trying to complete a task, people are easily distracted because they are on their phones. We should not allow technology to affect our knowledge we should use technology intelligently. Carr is trying to tell his readers that we should not allow technology to affect everything that we know, but we should use technology to better our intelligence. As we are enjoying the Internet, we are losing our ability to read and think deeply. With the easy access to the Internet we are becoming dependent on informational websites instead of reading articles, books, etc. to give us information. As humans we do not have to think deeply because we can use the Internet to think for us. In conclusion we are losing our capability to concentrate on certain task because we are becoming more adept to scanning. Carr talks about how the Internet is shaping and changing us. He describes how the human mind has been shaped through the computer overtime. Books are meant for promoting deep thought and the Internet encourages small information from many sources. We are losing out ability to concentrate. This book questions the way we think about media and our over use of the Internet.
Anonymous 5 months ago
The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains Written by: Nicholas Car Book Review by: Montana McCoy EDEL 302-002 This book was very interesting to read, simply because I, like Mr. Car have felt the same feelings he has toward the internet and what he believes it’s doing to our generation and generations to come. I felt very connected to the words he wrote when he said that technology is making us lazy and unable to value the words of a good book, or hold our attention toward anything that doesn’t deal with social media in some way. I never knew that I as well was guilty of this until I read “The Shallows.” As interesting as this book was, I even began to notice myself having a difficult time focusing on the words in front of me. This is because I had my laptop, and phone laying right beside me, taunting and teasing me to pick them up and check Facebook, twitter, anything that would be more “fun” than reading a book. My favorite line from the book reads, “The computer, I began to sense, was more than just a simple tool that did what you told it to do. It was a machine that, in subtle but unmistakable ways, exerted an influence over you. (13)” To me, this line sums up my entire thoughts of what I got out of Mr. Car’s novel. It is scary to me that technology was initially invented to help us gain knowledge, explore the unknown, etc. Now? Now we have become enslaved. Enslaved to our smartphones, to our computers, to social media and our minds will not let up. People are spending less time being humans, and more time being robots, staring into a screen. Families do not speak while at dinner, instead they are checking their newsfeed, liking pictures, updating status’, texting, tweeting, and everything else that is controlling their brains, other than what is right in front of them, what should be, and what used to be the most important thing in their life. Now that thing has shifted to a device that has more control over them than they will ever realize, and maybe that’s because they can’t look up from their screens long enough to apprehend it. After reading this book, I vowed to spend less time on the internet, and more time being productive, or having a conversation with an actual person, or maybe reading a book with no distractions from the outside world. I would recommend this book to anyone who feels that technology has a hold over their life. It definitely opened my eyes.