Friday, November 11, 2011

Book Review: The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brain

Author: Nicholas Carr
Publication Information: New York: W.W. Norton, 2010.

Nicholas Carr, like many others, noted that attention spans are on the decrease. He notes changes in the print media brought about by the age of the Internet. Many newspapers have gone under; others have declared bankruptcy. Formats have changed for both newspapers and magazines to make the experience more Web-like. He acknowledges that sometimes it is even difficult to remain focused on a blog post which is more than a few paragraphs long. He notes the presence of e-readers, but at the time he wrote the book, they had not gained the full audience they have now so he didn't feel that they were influencing reading that differently. There is much to think about in this book because Carr also analyzes the experiences of previous generations and the changes they experienced. One of the most thought-provoking sections is one which shares the results of research on multitasking. I think this title would create great discussion among faculty members. I'm not sure that I agree with all conclusions he makes. I find that I am able to stay concentrated and focused while readings books and e-books on my Kindle reader. I am sometimes overwhelmed by information coming to me by way of the Internet through Facebook or my RSS reader for blogs, newspapers, etc. I find that I'm able to often read a headline and pass up an item. I do have trouble staying focused on longer blog posts because I am usually more pressed for time when I'm reading these online items. I realize the need to be offline, so I've prioritized reading and find other ways to keep myself from staring at a screen (both computer and television). I think that the author alludes to the Internet's ability to be addictive, but he probably doesn't address it forcefully enough. This is an important book that is certain to be discussed for years to come.

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