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

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

by William Powers


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“A brilliant and thoughtful handbook for the Internet age.” —Bob Woodward

“Incisive ... Refreshing ... Compelling.” —Publishers Weekly

A crisp, passionately argued answer to the question that everyone who’s grown dependent on digital devices is asking: Where’s the rest of my life? Hamlet’s BlackBerry challenges the widely held assumption that the more we connect through technology, the better. It’s time to strike a new balance, William Powers argues, and discover why it's also important to disconnect. Part memoir, part intellectual journey, the book draws on the technological past and great thinkers such as Shakespeare and Thoreau. “Connectedness” has been considered from an organizational and economic standpoint—from Here Comes Everybody to Wikinomics—but Powers examines it on a deep interpersonal, psychological, and emotional level. Readers of Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point and Outliers will relish Hamlet’s BlackBerry.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061687174
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 08/09/2011
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 801,456
Product dimensions: 7.78(w) x 5.42(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

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

Table of Contents

Prologue: The Room xi

Introduction 1

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

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

2 Hello, Mother: The Magic of Screens 21

3 Gone Overboard: Falling Out with the Connected Life 37

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

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

5 Walking to Heaven: Plato Discovers Distance 83

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

7 Little Mirrors: Gutenberg and the Business of Inwardness 121

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

9 Inventing Your Life: Ben Franklin on Positive Rituals 157

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

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

Part III In Search of Depth: Ideas in Practice

12 Not So Busy: Practical Philosophies for Every Day 209

13 Disconnectopia: The Internet Sabbath 223

Afterword: Back to the Room 235

Acknowledgments 241

Notes 245

Further Reading 263

What People are Saying About This

Laurie Winer

“[An] elegant meditation on our obsessive connectivity and its effect on our brains and our very way of life.”

Bob Woodward

“A brilliant and thoughtful handbook for the Internet age—why we have this screen addiction, its many perils, and some surprising remedies that can make your life better.”

Barry Schwartz

“Always connected. Anytime. Anyplace. We know it’s a blessing, but we’re starting to notice that it’s also a curse. In Hamlet’s Blackberry, William Powers helps us understand what being ‘connected’ disconnects us from, and offers wise advice about what we can do about it…. A thoughtful, elegant, and moving book.”

Walter Isaacson

“Benjamin Franklin would love this book. He knew the power of being connected, but also how this must be balanced by moments of reflection. William Powers offers a practical guide to Socrates’ path to the good life in which our outward and inward selves are at one.”

Maryanne Wolf

“In this delightfully accessible book, Powers asks the questions we all need to ask in this digitally driven time. And teaches us to answer them for ourselves.”

Heller McAlpin

“Powers mounts a passionate but reasoned argument for ‘a happy balance’. . . . [He] is a lively, personable writer who seeks applicable lessons from great thinkers of the past. . . . Lucid, engaging prose and [a] thoughtful take on the joys of disconnectivity.”

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