The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr“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.
Nicholas Carr on The Shallows: How the Internet is Changing Us -John Adams Institute
The Internet May Be Changing Your Brain In Ways You've Never Imagined
And that is just one of the grievances leveled against the Internet and at the various devices we use to access it—including cell phones, tablets, game consoles and laptops. Often the complaints target video games that involve fighting or war, arguing that they cause players to become violent. But digital devices also have fervent defenders—in particular the promoters of brain-training games, who claim that their offerings can help improve attention, memory and reflexes. Who, if anyone, is right? The answer is less straightforward than you might think. As evidence, he quoted findings of neuroscientists who showed that the brain is more plastic than previously understood.
Colin Blakemore, neurobiologist
Skip to: Navigation Content Sidebar Footer. Noted science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov predicted that one day, we'd "have computer outlets in every home, each of them hooked up to enormous libraries where anyone can ask any question and be given answers, be given reference materials, be something you're interested in knowing, from an early age, however silly it might seem to someone else," and with this appliance, be able to truly enjoy learning instead of being forced to learn mundane facts and figures. His insight has proven to be amazingly accurate, as we now live in a world with the Internet, where nearly the entire wealth of human knowledge can live at our fingertips or even in our pockets, from being able to summon email from our smart phones to earning entire degrees from accredited online colleges. We can also earn these degrees in a variety of options including associate degrees, bachelor degrees , master's degrees , and even PHDs- all online. Such an amazing feat, of course, doesn't happen without impacting our lives, and scientists have begun to note that the Internet has not only served to fulfill our brains' curiosities, but also rewired them.