The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains

4.0 105
by Nicholas Carr, William Hughes
     
 

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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 the Internet is changing

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.

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
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.”
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
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

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781441749970
Publisher:
Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Publication date:
06/07/2010
Edition description:
Unabridged
Pages:
7
Product dimensions:
6.80(w) x 6.20(h) x 1.20(d)

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.

Meet the Author

NICHOLAS CARR is the author of The Big Switch, and Does IT Matter? He has written for the New York Times, Atlantic, Guardian, Wired, and other periodicals. He lives in Colorado with his wife.

PAUL MICHAEL GARCIA, an AudioFile Earphones Award winner and former company member of the famous Oregon Shakespeare Festival, received his classical training in theater from Southern Oregon University, where he worked as an actor, director, and designer.

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Shallows 4 out of 5 based on 2 ratings. 107 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.
WeymanQuenton 11 months ago
I don't agree that brains are changing due to Intrnet. While Mr. 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 rise of the written text led to the decline of oral poetry; the invention of movable type wiped out the market for illuminated manuscripts; the television show obliterated the radio play (if hardly radio itself). Similarly, numerous surveys suggest that the Internet has diminished our interest in reading books. But, the ebooks sales have down 15% since last year (2015) and print version is up 2%. Or maybe even these worries are mistaken; it can be hard to predict the future of systems and Internet. Infact, the systems taking people's job is most imminent threa.
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. 
EEbert 24 days ago
I greatly enjoyed this intriguing book by Nicholas Carr and agreed with many of his key points. He makes the reader look at technology in a way that may make them think twice before surfing the Net for hours and hours each day. And to be honest, we all need a reason to take a vacation from the Internet. As I read, he made me ponder a few questions such as: “How much control does the Internet really have over our minds? Is this vast, all-purpose medium making us chronic scatterbrains?” Like many other “chronic users” of the Internet including myself, Carr finds himself wanting to be connected; wanting to feed his mind by checking emails, clicking links, and exploring with Google. We’ve all been there. But what is the cost of feeding our brains when they are hungry for more Internet access? Carr does an exceptional job of providing the reader with a large amount of historical studies of the brain. In turn, this allows the reader to fully understand how the brain functions. I found this part of Carr’s book absolutely fascinating but slightly overwhelming because of the vast amount of information he provided. It was quite amazing to learn how much was once misunderstood about the brain and how we have come to understand how it truly functions. After giving the reader a history of the study of the brain and justifying his understanding that the brain can in fact be altered in its functions, he goes on to explain the downfalls of being so connected to the internet and allowing it to severely alter our brains. This is where I really began to question my large amount of Internet use and how much I, as a teacher, should allow my students to be connected. Carr mentions multiple times how many people, after becoming so connected to the Internet, can begin to lose their ability to pay attention and stay focused. He hit the nail on the head for me on this point. As a teacher, I do not want my students to begin losing their ability to focus because of their Internet use. In my experience, many students already have an extremely hard time concentrating in school. With technology becoming such a major part of the workforce students will enter, should I focus on scaling it down in the classroom? Carr has made me question my use of instructional technology in class and may do the same for other teachers. I’m not sure how much I agree with this, but it is worth considering based on Carr’s evidence. In The Shallows, Carr spends his time presenting his argument that the Internet is having an enormous effect on how our brains function and that the heavy use of the Internet and online tools have neurological consequences. He is warning us and trying to pull us out of the trance that engages almost all of our senses. I agree with Carr that we need to divert our eyes away from our screens now and then. Maybe instead, we should pick up a good book!
Anonymous 24 days ago
The Shallows by Nicholas Carr offers a different perspective about technology. Members of society rely on technology to enhance our productivity. Carr points out several interesting studies that were performed in the past that actually prove an interesting hook. While we rely on technology to get our work done faster and more efficiently, we have the potential to weakening our brains. He refers to the constant “buzzing” of the internet and how it interferes with abstract thinking and replaces it with symbols. He brings up a good point that the Flynn Effect was important because it demonstrated the rise of IQ and SAT scores after WW11. Then lead into the results of IQs and SAT scores at the rise of technology. He referred to the problem as, “living in a world of substance vs symbol.” He also referred to a term called, “ power browsing.” He talked about how this was causing our brains to be less engaged and more shallowly when switching from skimming information instead of concentrated reading. I was intrigued by his comparison to how the writing process evolved to the evolution of time, specifically the clock and how they transformed our thinking and writing process through the middle Ages into Renaissance Era and then the Enlightenment Era. It was very interesting how he described the way our brains have adapted and were affected through these processes in various stages through the eras. The studies that he used to support his information was very convincing that technology has definitely altered our minds. We definitely need to be aware of the risks of relying on the technology used today. He reminds us to keep technology use in moderation and definitely not rely on it to do all of our “work.” I am a person who likes to see a visual to help me understand what is being taught however can be very overwhelmed with the amount that is offered through technology. I found it to be very useful when he revealed various studies proving that the brain can be overloading and therefore there are risks of overuse due to overloading the memory. If there is anything that I took from this book, it is the fact that we, as users of technology, can not forget to exercise our minds outside technology. We have to allow our minds “quiet time” to expand our imaginations and reflect. We have to remember that individuals learn in small increments with simple learning systems. Technology is a powerful thing and there is an abundance of effects that we need to be wary of. Emily Cameron
Kyla_Trahan 24 days ago
Wow, as an educator, Nicholas Carr hit the nail on the head right away. My students have such a hard time just reading passages so reading a book is miserable for them. “Calm, focused, undistracted, the linear mind is being pushed aside by a new kind of mind that wants and needs to take in and dole out information in short, disjointed, often overlapping bursts — the faster, the better.” He points out how he has trouble concentrating on a book and our brain has changed with the times and adapted. The brain is plastic and if parts are not used they are lost. Books help the reader think conceptually and about the world. The computer influences the degree of our attention and the book states how hyperlinks are designed to grab our attention. The internet grabs our attention and then it makes sure to scatter it. The current explosion of digital technology not only is changing the way we live and communicate but is rapidly and profoundly altering our brains. – Gary Small. This statement is definitely being seen in the classroom. The thought that electronic books will change writing is interesting. Students are not going to feel like the have to perfect their writing, such as writing a text instead of a letter. Internet is also giving way to people not having to use their memory because they can access information at anytime. Why would they need to memorize the information? This all goes back to attention and forgetting things quickly. He states we are losing our humanity and I can see this within my classroom. Our children are losing the reasoning, perceptional, memory and emotional part of their mind. “Computers…follow rules; they don’t make judgments.” Such a great statement in the book because humans have to remember we make judgments and set the rules. The book is well written and makes you question technology as we move forward. It also makes you think how can we help /stop this from getting out of control.
Missy_MoreheadSU 24 days ago
The Shallows: What The Internet Is Doing To Our Brains by Nicholas Carr is a well written and enlightening read on the technology debate. Carr’s book explores how technology has influenced many behaviors involving information consumption. As we consider that we live in an age with continually improving access to information technologies, how often do we really contemplate the effect these tools have on how we find and use information? Carr’s book encourages the reader to do just that. Although Carr’s approach does primarily seem to focus on many of the negative aspects, his idea that less and less people are engaging in contemplative reading activities because of the many distractions created by digital technologies, it does encourage the reader to evaluate both aspects. Carr makes many interesting statements in the book and questions many beliefs related to digital technology and memory, even making several statements that made me rethink some of my own views and left me pondering if the benefits of technology is worth the intellectual consequences. Carr writes that “the Web is a technology of forgetfulness” and questions ideas that suggest that the internet actually helps us by allowing us to remember less of the information that is easily accessible via the internet. Carr is adamant in his argument that dependence on digital technologies is causing lapses in intellect. “Those who celebrate the ‘outsourcing’ of memory to the Web have been misled by a metaphor.” Carr also states that “with the exception of alphabets and number systems, the Net may well be the single most powerful mind-altering technology that has ever come into general use.” Carr makes many statements throughout the book that makes the reader rethink dependence on technology and uses persuasive (and at times alarming) supporting statements; “The Web provides a convenient and compelling supplement to personal memory, but when we start using the Web as a substitute for personal memory, bypassing inner processes of consolidation, we risk emptying our minds of their riches.” Carr believes that the internet is changing our brain. Maybe everything changes our brain…regardless if you agree or disagree, find some time to read this book.
Anonymous 28 days ago
In The Shallows: What the Internet is doing to Our Brains, Nicholas Carr takes a physiological, historical, cultural, and personal look at what advances in technology are doing to our brains. He breaks down the processes of the brain, their relationship to its plasticity in learning new modes of technology, and how this relationship changes our ways of thinking. He also discusses the important role advances in technology have played in our history and culture. Regardless of one’s personal opinion concerning technology and its effect on our minds, Carr forces readers to contemplate the notion that technology does change us. According to Carr, new technology shapes us. In fact, Carr states early in the book that, “[t]echnological advances often mark turning points in history.” (Carr, 2011). Carr provides a historical perspective on how technology has contributed to an ever-changing world. He explores the invention of the clock and map; the evolution of writing; the use of papyrus, scrolls and wax tablets; the introduction of radios, cinemas, and televisions; the invention of the incandescent lightbulb; the impact of Alen Turning’s computing device; the utilization of the internet; and the popularity of personal computers, smartphones, and tablets. Each of these marks of history have led to a change in the way we behave. They have changed the way we structure our day; the way we travel; the way we react to our natural surroundings; and the way we process, communicate, store, and access information. Carr suggests that new technology changes the people as well as the culture. Regarding why change in response to new technology is so inevitable, Carr addresses this question with his look at the physiological aspects of what is happening to our brains during learning. He spends multiple pages discussing the ins and outs of our brain circuits, hardwiring, and programming in order to describe how the brain processes and stores information. He describes how our brains are able to change, and contrasts this with the previously accepted idea that our brains are fixed. “As particular circuits in our brain strengthen through the repetition of a physical or mental activity, they begin to transform that activity into a habit.” (Carr, 2011). Therefore, readers get a glimpse of how becoming more accustomed to the new technology aids in the formation of habits and makes it a part of who we are. Carr implies that the internet over-stimulates our senses with its use of hyperlinks, social media, e-books, videos, sound bites, and search engines. Obsession with immediacy decreases comprehension of online information compared to printed information. Technology leads to a struggle between our over-stimulated mind, which controls us, and our still mind, which we control. Readers of The Shallows are encouraged to question who they are and how technology has affected their life.
Anonymous 28 days ago
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Shani_Havens 30 days ago
The Shallows by Nicholas Carr is a book that I would have never picked up to read on my own. I will also say that had I picked this book up to read on my own I probably would have stopped reading after about 20 pages. The beginning of the book was just not interesting to me, but I kept reading and did find value in Carr’s writing. In the beginning, Carr talks of writing and its evolution through time and then moves on to newspapers, audio devices, television and the “Net”. The book has many parts that somehow feel disconnected and tie together at the same time. Carr does make some insightful connections about how we surface read or skim online resources versus the deep reading of how we read printed material. There is much discussion of the human brain and the changes it has made throughout history as we continually change the ways we process information and adapt to how information is presented to us as learners. The plasticity of the human brain is amazing and the study of it throughout the book kept my interest more than much of the other information. The discussion of our attention and how it is affected by our use of the internet is interesting and something to think about in a culture that is seeing massive increase in ADD and ADHD. As a teacher, the implications for the way we structure class and learning opportunities may need adjustment if we fall in line with Carr’s way of thinking. After reading this book and thinking on the correlations between focused attention or deep reading as it is often referred to and the ever growing use of the “Net”, I do see that in my own life I tend to not read for as long a period of time as I once did even when reading books. Is this the effect of shortened attention created by my use of the “Net” or is it that I am now an adult who is a busy mom and teacher? What does this mean for the future of reading for knowledge? Should we just keep allowing our focused attention to wander or take measures to refocus ourselves? Is the solution more time reading books or simply less time spent online? I am left with many questions after reading this book, and after a slow start I am glad to have taken the time to read it. It is thought provoking and I would suggest giving it a chance, but be ready to start slow before getting to the real substance of the book.
EmaleyR 6 months ago
The Shallows by Nicholas Carr is a refutation to those who automatically accept a society in which information is unlimited, content may be fractured but is effortlessly accessed, and where people are constantly browsing social media, email, and other websites. To some, this fast-paced world that we live in is convenient and pleasurable—who wouldn’t want shop from their couch and communicate with virtually anyone through their laptop? However, Carr explains what we are losing in exchange for our vigorous, interconnected, Internet-fueled society. Inferring from the wisdom of philosophers like Plato and McLuhan and based on recent discoveries in neuroscience, Carr argues that the Internet physically rewires our brains to the extent of transforming human behaviors to computer-like behaviors. He claims that we become “gobblers of information”, and humans lose the ability to interact and behave as such. I may not have chosen to read this book if I had been browsing through the library, but I absolutely enjoyed the reading and received great insight from Carr and his research. I agree with the majority of Carr’s assertions and have always been skeptical of how technology is affecting our social and intellectual skills. Reading this novel solidified my beliefs toward this concept and provided research, philosophy, and science to support it. While some are entirely accepting of the influence of technology and see no negative effects on our world, I stand firmly by the notion that technology has changed our perception of communication, behavior, morals, and relationships in a detrimental way. I witness firsthand the changes in adults since the cell phone has become popular, and I honestly dread to see this generation of children that are being raised on smart phones transform into adults. Through The Shallows, Carr intends to snap the human race out of the entrancing pull of our iPhones, tablets, laptops, social media, and instant EVERYTHING. It is vital for our society to come to the realization that most adults no longer have the communication skills to have a simple conversation with a friend, let alone a stranger or employer. One of Carr’s main subjects is our lack of ability to focus for a length of time on any reading or task due to our habits of compulsively checking texts and Facebook messages and emails. We can’t stop scrolling through Instagram looking at the same pictures over and over, but we have no difficulty dazing off in class or skimming through an assigned reading because it’s too boring. "We shouldn't allow the glories of technology to blind our inner watchdog to the possibility that we've numbed an essential part of our self," Carr implores. Technology is useful and can be beneficial if used correctly and in moderation. Students should be aware of the endless resources and information available at their fingertips, but they should also practice acquiring research through a book in the library. We should be grateful to have the ability to communicate with family and friends across the world, but we should also be able to respond to a stranger asking us how our day is going. Carr insists that we value wisdom over knowledge and appreciate everything the world has to offer, which goes way beyond a computer screen.
hannahb 6 months ago
The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains By: Nicholas Carr I normally do not like reading unless I am very interested in the book, so my initial thought was that I wasn’t going to like the book because it was a required reading. However, I was actually very interested and it has opened my eyes to how technology can and has changed our brains and lives. When I was a little kid, I didn’t grow up with IPads, tablets, or IPhones to play on and keep me entertained, I had to go play outside and use my imagination. The only time I can remember playing on the computer was when we had to use dial up Internet, which took too long anyway so I ended up not wanting to play on it. I truly believe kids in this day and time don’t know how to just go play because all they have ever known is somebody handing them a phone or tablet to keep them entertained. I liked the statement that Carr said, “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.” I agree with this statement because technology can have a major influence on us. Everywhere you go you see people on their phones or using a laptop. It can be distracting and a major downfall in some cases. The Internet in some way has consumed us and taken control of us. Carr explains that technology has made us lose our ability to concentrate. I also agree with this because it is even hard for me to get my work finished knowing that I could just be on my phone or doing something else on the computer. Carr wants us to think about the effects that the Internet can have on the human species and how it has shaped our lives. It’s hard to imagine not having any technology, because if we need to look up something we can find it with a click of a button. This just shows how it has changed our lives and how we are so reliant on the Internet.
Viola_Rose 6 months ago
The Shallows: What the Internet is doing to our Brains Book Review by Viola Rose The Shallows: What the Internet is doing to our Brains is a great book to read. To be completely honest, I was really skeptical before I started reading this book. I thought, well, this is just going to be another useless book that I am required to read for a College course. At first I had little interest in reading this book. I thought that it was going to be a book that was either glorifying the internet or the exactly the opposite. After reading the first chapter or two, I became more engaged and interested. It made me think of how much the internet has changed over the years and how much it has affected our lives. Nicholas Carr really makes the reader think about how much the internet is affecting our brains. It affects our way of thinking, intellectually, and the physical anatomy of our brain. He argues that the internet is changing the way our brain is processing information. He talks about a lot of different experiments and research that supports his theory. I like how he uses his own experience with the internet in his book. He admitted that the internet had affected him and how he noticed that he was not thinking the same way he used to do before his computer. He started to realize that his mind would start to wonder off and loose concentration when reading, and how deep reading had become a struggle for him. As I read about his experience, I started to think about how the internet has affected my family and I. Just as Carr admitted, I have started to realize how much I rely on the internet and how it affects my way of thinking. My concentration starts to drift after reading a few pages and I have to try to drag my mind back to the text that I am trying to read. For the majority of us, the amount of time that we spend online has increased overtime. I believe that this book has a really great point and it has made me really think about how often we should use the internet, and not only how much time we spend online, but how we spend that time online. I think I will start to spend my time online more wisely now and try not to rely on it as much as before. But just as Carr said, the seductions of technology are hard to resist.
jordethack 6 months ago
The Shallows by Nicholas Carr was honestly not a book I would have picked up if it was not a mandatory reading for one of my college courses. It was written in a similar format of one of his previous novels “Silent Spring”, which I was not a fan of so I already had a preconceived assumption that I would not like this book. As I continued to read past the history at the beginning I found the novel to be very insightful on a topic that most Americans do not want to visit-what the internet is unknowingly doing to our brains. A few years ago the computer was all the rage, now we have laptops, cell phones, tablets, iPads, and so many more deices that we come in contact with every day. As a fellow daily internet user I had never thought about the way the internet was affecting my way to process information or that it might be making me less intelligent. The author is thoughtful in the way he elegantly depicts how the internet affects our brains and how it has taught us, just like the author, to think differently. Carr discusses that he does not think the way he used to think, and using the internet over the years has caused the way he intakes information to be shallow. Critical thinking in most cases has gone out the window and the shallow form of thinking is the new trend. The internet is molding our minds in different ways every day and I think this is a wonderful book to display the harmful effects that the internet can cause humans. As a future educator this was very eye opening to read and ponder on for my future students. I would never want to teach them something that would diminish their way to think or understand so this book opened my eyes to thoughts that I may need to use technology sparingly in the classroom.
LindsB 6 months ago
As a twenty-something year old in the year 2016, I am not naive to the fact technology is a major factor and influence in my life. It plays its part in almost everything I do. From doing homework, to cooking dinner, to typing this review right now about a book I read online, technology is without a doubt a key part of my everyday life. I know that I rely heavily on my phone and computer to function in day to day life, but could it really be taking over my life? The Shallows by Nicholas Carr suggests, yes! I was a bit taken back when I first began reading this book, because I could tell it came from a stand point that would not approve of the amount of time I spent “online.” I wanted to defend myself at parts and say “well, sure. Maybe I do spend too much time on my phone but…” and every time I came up short. This book is eye opening to the fact that we are numbing our senses but not exercising our brains enough! When all it takes is a quick google search and scrolling to find an answer to your homework problem, how are you using and exercising your critical thinking skills? When you can watch any video or clip at the touch of a mouse and just as quickly flip from facebook, to twitter, to Instagram how are you focusing and exercising your attention span? Carr does an excellent job discussing this ever-looming issue and the effects it can have and has had on the world we live in.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Carly Dyer I read “The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains.” In Carr’s argument he believes that, over time, our thoughts have been shaped by ‘tools of the mind.’ Basically saying that the internet could be causing more harm than good. This was a very interesting read and I feel should be a more explored topic since technology is becoming such a large part of our youth today. However, I do not completely agree with Carr. I do believe that, yes, the internet may sometimes be distracting, but it can be used as a great enhancement for knowledge. Any informational question that anyone may have can be answered by the touch of a finger. So if a child is curious about a topic and researches it, is this not expanding his knowledge? Of course! However, some may argue that having access to such a great amount of knowledge so easy may be spoiling the ones who use it. Which is where Carr explains how printed books also give us this knowledge, but encourage more creative thought. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the internet simply provides information very quickly with little thought involved. I do see the usefulness of book and I have always loved reading, however, having access to technology in school, I feel, has acted more as an aid. Maybe it is true that the internet provided fast, straightforward answers, but is this always a bad thing? Carr also says that this availability is causing us to lose our capacity for concentration. Once again, I would have to disagree. While growing up while using technology, I know that I have not lost my “ability to concentrate” nor do I feel at all that my mind has been altered in any way. If anything, I feel that the internet is one of the most useful sources for our students. If a child is curious enough about a topic to look it up on google, chances are, they will retain the knowledge.
Gina_A 6 months ago
The Shallows: What The Internet Is Doing To Our Brains is an absolute must read! I think that if you are in education it is even more important for you to read this book by Nicholas Carr, which was a New York Times bestseller. Carr gives an excellent look at how addictive the Internet and technology really are and the effects on brains. In one part of the book he says, it is crazy to think the internet could change the way things were happing in our brains, but the brain is “forever a work in progress.” Our brains are elastic and are able to change, but they do not necessarily go back to original state like a rubber band would. The brain will change with the use of technology. Throughout this very informative book, Carr uses many studies to support his claim that the internet, though beneficial to some point, is diminishing our capacity to think thoughtfully. He uses findings in neuroscience from Dr. Michael Merzenich and Dr. Eric Kandel to support his statement that technology that we use can change the neural pathways of the brain. This could be detrimental to people being able to problem solve the more dependent we become on finding information on the internet and not having knowledge. Calculators, which were initially objected by parents, actually stimulate the memory. They work completely opposite of the internet. The internet causes individuals to forget information. Carr says that they main thing to remember in memory consolidation is being attentive to details. This book was truly eye opening on how we use everyday technology. As I move forward I feel like because of this book by Nicholas Carr, I am going to be very selective when I turn first to the internet. I want to practice and teach to experience the world in the here and now, instead of cyber space.