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Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn
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Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  525 ratings  ·  104 reviews
"As scholarly as it] is . . . this book about education happens to double as an optimistic, even thrilling, summer read." --"The New York Times"
A brilliant combination of science and its real-world application, "Now You See It" sheds light on one of the greatest problems of our historical moment: our schools and businesses are designed for the last century, not for a worl...more
ebook, 352 pages
Published August 18th 2011 by Penguin Group (USA)
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Although it probably doesn’t really seem like it at first glance, this book is really about cognitive dissonance. It is about the many ways that we find to ignore the fact that we are mostly blind and mostly only see what we want to see. I absolutely know this is true of me, for instance – and that it is perhaps getting truer as I get older. I can read these books, but I’m not sure they help me see my own blind spots. Although these books do make me feel like an expert in everyone else’s blind s...more
It was very interesting reading this book shortly after reading Quiet by Susan Cain. Davidson thinks about multitasking in a very positive way, even stating that humans are meant to multitask. Cain has a different perspective and is less positive about multitasking. All in all - I think this goes to prove one of Davidson's main points: it takes all kinds of us and all of our own specific skills to address the whole picture. She begins the book by discussing the "modern classic" experiment in whi...more
This is a very interesting book, but I feel the title is a little misleading. It’s not so much that brain science will transform how we do things; it’s more that technology will. In a world where the boundaries between work and personal life have been broken down by constant email, texts, and cell phones; where classrooms have been infiltrated by iPods and homework over the internet; where people all over the world are working to produce the largest, constantly changing, encyclopedia; and where...more
Mark Changizi
...In general, I'm receptive to knock-down-the-pillars theses, but Ms. Davidson's book is ultimately a disappointment, mostly because of the way it treats "the science"—in particular, my own specialty, brain science. Ms. Davidson writes as if the human mind's functions are almost totally elastic. "Learning happens in everything we do," she writes. "Very little comes by 'instinct.' " In fact, instincts are often part of what help us to learn—the classic example being fear of things like snakes an...more
Jon Cassie
What a fascinating piece of work. I've long been a big fan of Cathy Davidson's writing and work. Her memoir of her time in Japan - "36 Views of Mount Fuji," is one of my favorite examples of the genre, period.

In this book, she does an exemplary job of unpacking the anxiety felt by many people about the changes being wrought in society by the Internet revolution. She analyzes 20th century practices, modes of organization, thinking, educating and thinking and demonstrates why these modes do not ho...more
Paul Signorelli
Cathy Davidson is an engaging, thoughtful, and thought-provoking writer; she also is a justifiably admired educator (former vice provost for interdisciplinary studies at Duke University) who clearly puts her attention on the learners she serves. And she has plenty to teach all trainer-teacher-learners about what we're doing right as well as what we're failing miserably to achieve. Her goal, she tells us right up front in "Now You See It," is to provide "a positive, practical, and even hopeful st...more
Have you ever wondered how we are preparing ourselves and our children to survive and thrive in the digital age? Have you wondered why elementary and high schools haven't changed all that much since you attended them? Have you wondered why the only signs of the digital age in your workplace are the computers in each cubicle? If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, Cathy N. Davidson's Now You See It: How The Brain Science of Attention Will Transform The Way We Live, Work, and Learn...more
Paras Allana
2.5 stars

Like the gorilla experiment, it feels that the writer too had a blind spot. She was concentrating so much to write this book and make her point that she skipped over how boring and repetitive she is being. Her writing style is chatty and it makes you go on reading. This would be a book that would appeal to a layman and would also be readable but I am not sure the whole book is worth the time and attention it requires. Lucky for me, I divided my attention and listened it to the audiobook...more
Eustacia Tan
I got this book as part of the The History and Future of (Mostly) Higher Education MOOC at Coursera. But that's not the point I want to make. The point I want to make is that I didn't realise that the author, also the professor in charge of the MOOC, is also the author of 36 Views of Mount Fuji! I remember reading the book and I liked it(:

Now You See It is divided into four parts. The first is about cognitive dissonance. The second is about technology and education/children. The third is about t...more
Janel C.
In this book, Davidson, longtime Duke professor and founder of HASTAC, argues that attention blindness is the key to how we learn, how we identify problems, and how we find solutions to those problems. Using helpful anecdotes from real life (including infant development) as well as business and education, Davidson writes that we must each identify our current patterns of thought and action and then unlearn in order to see what we're missing.

She makes a compelling argument for socially constructe...more
Cathy Davidson combines a lot of contemporary research into education, digital media, and neuroscience into a book that reads easily and cohesively like a Malcolm Gladwell volume. She is more careful about her argument though, and discusses its limitations while remaining substantive and optimistic about what can be accomplished through better understanding of how we learn, and need to learn, in order to succeed in this day in age.
Perhaps the most engaging book on neuroscience I have read, with the most practical recommendations for our educational system, our workplaces, and our lives. Davidson does a fantastic job of highlighting the contrast between our technological abilities and our ways of doing things, thinking about things, and educating our children. Highly, highly, highly recommended.
Davidson lays out how the outdated mentality of the industrial age continues to order the world we live in, even though the 21st century - an era of the internet, open source, and innovation - demands a new literacy stemming from learning, unlearning, and relearning. Choosing engaging examples taken from everywhere under the sun, Davidson makes a compelling argument for reframing how we see, live in, interact, and engage with the information age.

But I'm left with one major question: what about...more
Those born in the digital age often get a bad reputation by their elders. It is true that they are different-- they have instant access to a plethora of information from a variety of sources right at the their fingertips. This has had an effect on attention spans, on perceptions of research, and how they feel time is best spent. These changes are not bad, they are just symptoms of a new digital age. What causes controversy is that this new way of viewing the world often conflicts with how today'...more
I bought the premise of the book from the beginning. I didn't need to be sold on the idea that the tech trappings of the modern world are a revolution we are still adapting to. And yet by mid-way through the book I found myself doubting the premise because of how casually other arguments were cast aside without a fair consideration or any peesentation of evidence to directly refute them.

As an introduction to a wide, but not deep, array of research spanning a wealth of interconnected fields it do...more
Sally Anne
Dec 27, 2011 Sally Anne rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Louise Gikow, Patty B, Lawrence'
Highly recommended. Although I felt it was unfocussed in many ways, what did I expect from a book about multi-tasking, the internet, and neuroscience. Very interesting and rather inspirational, for those who are not too old and cynical to be inspired.
Cathy Griffith
A must read for teachers, bosses, people who whine about "these kids today and their dang smart phones", and anyone ever diagnosed with ADD.
Amy Garnica
Wow! Changed the way I think about schools and work.
Distractions are everywhere especially within the world’s technology. Whenever it comes to the use of one’s cell-phone, laptop, television, etc,, the world around us is constantly full of distraction and one’s mind especially since it is so limited, can only focus on one thing at a time and so the human mind is very limited whenever it comes to learning.
In the book called Now You See It by Cathy Davidson, the human mind is described as consistently learning and unlearning. According to Davidson...more
Michael Burnam-fink
Davidson begins with a fascinating premise. What if we seriously considered the ways in which we think, especially the ways in which we selectively pay attention to and ignore the world around us, and then formed our educational and workplace environments around our brains, rather than trying to hammer our polygonal personalities into round holes?

It's an idea so simple you'll be shocked you didn't have it. Anybody who's in school or the workplace will tell that something is rotten in the state o...more
Elizabeth Housewright
This book makes a strong case for collaboration and diversity if you want to see a big picture. I've seen this to be true in both work and social situations. Some things I’m thinking about as a result of reading it:
• Sometimes “pilot” can be just a label you give a project when you want a soft launch—might be better to leave expectations more open so that you won’t overlook unanticipated findings?
• She has a “strengths based” approach to a happy life, which I agree with. But I wonder if speciali...more
In 2003, Duke University professor Cathy Davidson gave free iPods to the incoming freshman class and touched off a firestorm in the media. Critics derided it as a waste of money. Soon, however, students from nearly every discipline were developing numerous academic uses for the devices. In another experiment, students were shown a video and asked to count volleyballs. After the video, the group was asked how many of them saw the gorilla. Most of them responded with, “What gorilla?” Then the vide...more
Frank Spencer
The author believes that our schools and work places have not changed to take into account the changes brought about by computers and the internet. She thinks that we need to be more collaborative, problem solving oriented, creative, appreciative of learning differences, and relevant in our teaching, learning and work. She has certainly been in the middle of some of the changes which have recently taken place, such as the ipod initiative at Duke University and HASTAC. She has a lot of personal...more
John Mcelravy
Davidson covers a lot of ground in Now You See It from learning disabilities to neurology to improving the classroom and the workplace. Definitely worth reading if any of those subjects fascinate you. Davidson, formerly of Duke University now with HASTAC/MacArthur Foundation, has had the opportunity to work on some intriguing projects including one where Duke students were given iPods and open-endedly told to find an "educational use" for them... which they did in really surprising and cool ways...more
More like a 3.5, but Goodreads is annoying and stubbornly refuses to let me do that.

Basically: a book about how humans pay attention and learn, and how it is changing/should change now that computers and the internet are involved.

I enjoyed the beginning more, because it was talking about the things that influence how we learn. For example, babies *learn* that some things (grandparents) are considered more worthy of attention than other (light hitting the curtains).

Later chapters focus on school...more
Author begins by presenting the experiment where students are asked to tally basketball player acts and are so focused that few see the the gorilla that prances through the gym. The author saw it, because she's wired in that ADD way -- that condition, she argues, is actually much more attuned to our post-internet world. It's the static structure and systems that's remained unchanged and serves the real hinderance. Our schools remain the same as they did at the turn of last century, when moderniz...more
Part of the appeal of Now You See It is that Davidson rightfully criticizes current compartmentalized, standardized systems of education and employment that don't accommodate differences in attention or thought processes. And many of her ideas are daring and pleasantly shocking--for instance, she describes a college course she taught, "Your Brain on the Internet," that didn't have a rigid set of outcomes, a class where students were given tools and opportunity to grow in any direction they wante...more
My roommate saw me reading this book on the couch yesterday and asked the reasonable "What'chya reading?" question, which took me several minutes to answer. Davidson says her book is a "field guide and survival manual for the digital age", but it's also a passionate argument against standardized testing in schools, a promising look at career opportunities for those with Asperger syndrome, and a wake-up call to all of us who passively engage with life-changing technology every day. So, it's kind...more
The book is about attention. As I was reading, I was thinking about how different my work and creative brains worked. In the zone, I can work for hours on software completely focused on what I am doing. (Actually, that is the best way to program.) When I am in my creative world, my brain doesn't focus at all, but seems to be trying many different parallel paths concurrently. This seems to follow from Davidson's work.

Attention and focus are important, but are those still the most important skill...more
Carrie Shaurette
I agree with a lot of what Davidson talks about here, mainly that school and business practices are and should be rapidly changing in the digital age. However, when Davidson tries to transfer some of her experiences as a college educator into K-12 education, there seems to be a disconnect between the adults and children she is speaking about. Some of the conclusions she makes about multitasking research are also somewhat of a stretch.
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Cathy N. Davidson served from 1998 until 2006 as the first Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies at Duke University, where she worked with faculty to help create many programs, including the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience and the program in Information Science + Information Studies (ISIS). She is the co-founder of Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory, HASTAC (ha...more
More about Cathy N. Davidson...
36 Views of Mount Fuji: On Finding Myself in Japan The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age (The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Reports on Digital Media and Learning) Revolution and the Word: The Rise of the Novel in America Now You See It: How Technology and Brain Science Will Transform Schools and Business for the 21st Century Reading in America: Literature and Social History

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