Book Review, “The Shallows…” by Nicholas Carr

It is an interesting thing to read a book whose thesis involves less-than-benign impacts of technology on our brains while using an iPad to read that book.

I finished Carr’s book last week, and was favorably impressed. I’ve read a couple of reviews that were not enamored by Carr’s presentation, but I was not expecting an academic book. However, I thought it was a well-researched, well-written volume that carried an interesting message. His idea is that today’s modern information-rich environment and the way we process in our work and daily life is changing the structure of our brains. He reflects on his own abilities to concentrate, and relates the motivation that had in his desire to pursue this line of inquiry.

“Traditional wisdom” was that the adult brain was not malleable, but emerging views are that it is much more plastic, and in fact is “massively plastic.” Carr gives many examples of how we have been changed by our technological tools, from maps to typewriters, and extrapolates to the profound changes wrought by the massively parallel multi-tasking world of today’s networked computers and communication devices. Do the changes that allow us to cope with staccato tempo of the workplace and life in general make it harder to think deeply about vexing problems and knotty issues? Carr thinks so. Do the devices we use contribute to that?

Hmmm…maybe it’s a good thing that the iPad doesn’t do multi-tasking though as I’ve typed this post on the iPad I’ve referred to the Kindle version of the book, and looked up the spelling of “staccato.” 😉

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