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The Shallows: What The Internet Is Doing To Our Brains
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The Shallows: What The Internet Is Doing To Our Brains

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  9,491 ratings  ·  1,496 reviews
“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 i ...more
MP3 Audiobook, 12 pages
Published May 25th 2010 by Blackstone Audio, Inc. (first published 2010)
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For the last few years, I've noticed that I seem to have developed a form of ADD. This was always the most apparent during the first few weeks of summer vacation when I would start and stop projects with lightning speed, when I couldn't sit still to read a book or watch a movie all the way through, when I couldn't clean my house all in one day, when I couldn't keep my mind on just one train of thought. As someone who had always lived for structure, who craved the routine and the predictable, who ...more
Paul Bryant
Dec 17, 2014 Paul Bryant marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I got this email. What the hell, I thought, I could do with a bigger penis. So I replied to the email. Sent them money. What a mistake! The process worked – only too well! Now I couldn’t leave the house any more, no clothes were bulky enough. I did not wish to suffer the indignity of being pursued down the street by insulting children, so I had to resign from my job. I was in a real pickle. Fortunately I saw an ad on the internet saying that I could make 2500 per month tax free from the privacy ...more
Everyone's talking about this book, and I felt I had to check it out. I agree: it's definitely worth reading. In particular, it drove home, more effectively than anything else I've seen, just how addictive the Internet is. As he says, you don't want to admit to yourself how much you crave internet stimulation, and how frequently you check mail, SMSes, Goodreads updates and similar inputs. I immediately turned off all of these to see what would happen; I'm afraid to say that I was very much more ...more
Esteban del Mal
I call bullshit.


"How Esteban Got His Groove Back"

Channel surfing the other day, I came across Highlander. I’d never watched the movie all the way through, even as a fanboy teenager those twenty four years ago (!) when it was released, and, noticing that Christopher Lambert bears a striking resemblance to the guy in HBO’s Hung -- a serialized comedy-drama about a male prostitute with an enormous dick for which my wife has an altogether unsettling appetite, having on more than one occasion bl
Here's an inference exercise: Take the first half of Nicholas Carr's title THE SHALLOWS: WHAT THE INTERNET IS DOING TO OUR BRAINS and guess what his thesis is based on the second half. Got it? Good. Cause you "got it good" when it comes to your addiction to the Internet.

Probably you wake up and wonder what's in your e-mail's inbox. Probably you check it before breakfast. Probably, even though you're not supposed to, you peek at it from work. Probably you're part of some social network site like
Will Byrnes
In this fascinating, informative book, Carr argues that the internet has not only affected how society communicates and works, but that how our actual brains work is being, has been changed by contemporary modes of communication. He delves into the history of research into brain function to make a case that similar biological changes occurred with prior technological breakthroughs, such as the typewriter. He cites a wealth of studies that dispel the notion of the brain as set in stone once adult ...more
Mr Pinker, vacuous decrier of this book. I wonder if you might listen in on the salutary tale of what happened to my brain some years ago and the general relevance of this tale to the Internet society in which we now live....the story, the moral, the solution are here:


For technical reasons:

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Brace yourself, Goodreader, this one’s coming at you.

The premise championed here is that use of the internet (Goodreads for example) causes something to happen to your brain. His words are delicate, but Carr ultimately sees a bit more negative than positive to our online interactions. He protects the flank of his premise by recognizing that humans will always use technology, and derive real benefits from using each new iteration of technology--we should always use emerging technology when it’s
Riku Sayuj

The Economist Reports on The Future of The Book:

Even the most gloomy predictors of the book’s demise have softened their forecasts. Nicholas Carr, whose book “The Shallows” predicted in 2011 that the internet would leave its ever-more-eager users dumb and distracted, admits people have hung onto their books unexpectedly, because they crave immersive experiences.

Books may face more competition for audiences’ time, rather as the radio had to rethink what it could do best when films and television
Mark Desrosiers
Beware: when you hit the last page of this fascinating, bleak, helpless narrative -- one that addresses your own brain as a stunted, wasting bundle of unmotivated neurons -- you'll either want to retreat to a shared scholarly past, pointing at physical pages with a yad, or you'll just embrace the terrifying idiocracy-pastebin Second Dark Age that's sweeping over us. Hell, the author himself interrupts his argument on occasion to underscore his own troubles with concentration, even devoting a cha ...more
Jul 04, 2010 Richard marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Richard by: NY Times article "Texts Without Context"
Shelves: nonfiction
(Even more late breaking updates, below. Still haven't read it yet, though.)

This book is mentioned in the thoughtful-if-long New York Times Magazine article Texts Without Context , which explores how technology is altering the way we absorb ideas, especially the written word, and how that change in subjectivity is setting us up for subtle but radical shifts in everything from political discourse to the rights of authors.

With respect to this book itself, I'm skeptical.

That we will change as the
In many ways I think this doesn’t have much more to say than Technopoly and that Technopoly has the advantage of saying what needs to be said better, quicker and more entertainingly. I was trying to work out what it was about this that annoyed me and the problem is that this is a very self-conscious book, one that feels it needs to justify itself far too much. And after a while that became very tedious.

He makes a nice division between instrumentalists and determinists – basically, instrumentalis
Oct 29, 2010 Carol rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: librarians, teachers, Internet surfers - everybody!
I don't give 5 stars lightly, but this book was absolutely fascinating - to me, at least. Though, as I read passages, I kept thinking of yet another person who ought to read it. Carr (and the book) have been getting a lot of "air play" lately - blogs, NPR, etc., and chapters and snippets of the book have appeared several places (the snippet-ization being another result of the internet that he discusses). Lots of readable, distilled scientific info about current thinking on how the brain works (a ...more
Lewis Manalo
If you couldn't tell from the title, Carr really has issues with the internet, and he has some data to support his criticism. He also misses the brain he had before it became Google-cized.

Ironically, I found his book kind of unreadable - not because my brain has been Google-cized, but because Carr's has. Reading The Shallows is like reading over the shoulder of somebody who's on Wikipedia and who can't stop clicking links to more and more articles tangential to the one you started with.

The Shal
John Martindale
Apr 22, 2011 John Martindale rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to John by: Audible
This book was extremely interesting, lots of history, studies and observations and some personal honesty mixed in. I thought it fascinating. He has brought to my mind some interesting and disturbing reflections.

One primary drive of humans is to make life easier. We can't help but want to produce more with less effort, so this has resulted in inventions such as the tractor which plow in one day what it once took a month to accomplish by hand. We likewise seem to have a drive to create devices to
3.5 stars

A scary and informative book that delves into how the internet affects our brains, our attention spans, and the way we think. Carr argues that technology takes away from our ability to process information deeply and soundly; he states that distractions like the internet promote scattered, shallow thinking. To prove his point he cites research that shows how the brain responds to the internet: indeed, we obtain dopamine from the quick clicks and the many links online, similar to how drug
Aug 08, 2010 Rob rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rob by: Amy
Shelves: own, 2010
Is this a book about the Internet? Or about neuroplasticity? Is this a gadget-lover's dirge for "his old brain"? Or a sensationalist portrait of a technological and cultural paradigm shift that lists strongly toward the catastrophic?

The Shallows is all of these things, and quite a few more--some of which marry well with Carr's thesis, while the kinky red hair of the others show them to be the abandoned-at-the-door-step-children they are. What Carr tells us with the charged and inflammatory rheto
I was introduced to the internets for the first time ever when I was 18 and entered college. Up until that time I had been an avid reader, and I could easily get lost in a book for several hours at a time. It's been over ten years now since that first introduction. My internet usage is heavier now than it was back then, and I find it much harder to concentrate on solid paragraphs of the written word the way I used to, especially when it comes to fiction.

Regardless of any particulars people mig
All the way through this book I was thinking....."yeah, and?" "is this really news to anyone"?

My brain is different, not special, just different and I went through a lot of crap before I came to this realization.

I'm dyslexic, something that was never diagnosed, because they didn't have a word for it back in the day. It's not disabling. I confuse left and right, can't spell worth a poo (thank the gods for spell check) and I read r e a l l y s l o w l y. Plus I'm ambidextrous...which has somethin
The first half of the book discusses earlier revolutions in communication. The changes from stone tablets to scrolls to pages and books were necessary steps in human development. We forget that there were skeptics at the introduction of each. Socrates warned that writing things down would weaken the mind. The changes in the presentation of the written word, drove changes in society. Today, we can see that delivering information through computers is changing our lives, but we cannot know the full ...more
Really enjoyed chapters 1-4. Now that I'm in the midst of chapter 5, I'm getting angry. Carr has founded his argument on solid research and good science. Suddenly he's masking value judgments as scientific fact and assuming his favored kinds of reading are the only kinds of intellectual activity. More accurately, he treats scholars who are looking for new ways of reading as people who have abandoned reading.

This is very disappointing, since the book started so strongly. Carr needs more than nost
Lauren Albert
Infuriating--he buries the small truths of his argument in exaggerations, the blurring of differences and projections of his own experiences onto everyone else.


A perfect example is when he writes of his experience in the college library “Despite being surrounded by tens of thousands of books, I don’t remember feeling the anxiety that’s symptomatic of what we today call ‘information overload.’ There was something calming in the reticence of all those books, their willingness to wait
Chad Post
I would write a longer review of this, but don't have time at the moment . . . Basically, I think the controversy surrounding this book (and setting up the ultimately stupid dichotomy of "the Internet rules!" vs. "the Internet makes you stupid!") overshadows the couple interesting things Carr has to say.

(If I had time, right about here is where I would go on about how this book was crafted by either Carr and/or his editor to fit a certain type of dominant model in current non-fiction writing th
This was kind of an intellectual circle-jerk for me. As someone who attended a school which militantly enforced a program of sustained deep reading of difficult books I don't need much convincing that reading an 800 page novel or an ancient historical chronicle is more meaningful and often more enjoyable than say, watching 8 hours of youtube video remixes in a row. But it's nice to know that Carr has now given people like me some scientific evidence for our own haughty cultural superiority. The ...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
It just feels so wrong to spend time online writing a review about a book that tells us why we should spend less time online. Robert Frost awaits me, and I dasn't dally.
I'll paste in my replies from the comments section and let that suffice.

The two biggest things the internet is doing to our brains:

1)Reducing our ability to concentrate. We read small blocks of text and click on the next hyperlink. No focus.
2) Messing with our memory circuitry so we don't store info in our brains as well as w
Lars Guthrie
In the summer of 2008, the Atlantic published a piece by Nicholas Carr that tore through American literary culture. In an all too ironic twist, ‘Is Google Making Us Stupid?: What the Internet is doing to our brains’ became an internet hit.

The twist was that even though Carr warned that the way we take in printed (or pixilated) words was changing how we processed those words, probably for the worse, scads of folks seemed to be processing his words in the old-fashioned way.

Citing research, he sai
Sydney Young
Very interesting book, which addressed concerns I have had about wading in the shallows (the net and it's small bits). But somehow this book is reassuring to me. Even if you notice that you are addicted to the shallows, it doesn't have to define you or encompass you. Force down time, read a book, get outside, (and I add, listen to music), and your deep thinking will hum with pleasure.

According to Carr and the research he cites, deep thinking makes us smarter, better at what we are doing, and mor
This book was by far the most lucid, careful, and convincing analysis of the effect the internet has on our brains that I have read. Sometimes anecdotal, but more often backed by serious neuroscience research, it is clear that the internet is very bad for humanity. Forays into literature, the history of the written word, neuroscientific research, the the meaning and purpose of what has become for many the most important "thing" in their lives - the internet - make this book thoughtful and worthy ...more
This is an extremely interesting book about the way the Internet--and computers in general--are changing the way we think. Not only that, but computers are even changing the anatomical connections between neurons in our brains. MRI scans can distinguish between people who are familiar with using Internet browsers and those who are not. Within a week of practice, the brains of Internet novices change enough to be indistinguishable from those of experienced users.

I was most interested in the way
Phil Simon
If you think that technology has gone wild, then you're not alone. But what about the research? What does that suggest? If you're curious about this, then look no further than this book. Written over the course of two years, Carr's research is impeccable. Rather than an anti-technology screed or a critique of the "amateur-ization of the web" along the likes of Andrew Keen's "The Cult of the Amateur", Carr in a measured fashion looks at the rise of the Net against its historical underpinnings. Hi ...more
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  • You Are Not a Gadget
  • The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding from You
  • The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom
  • Hamlet's BlackBerry: A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age
  • Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other
  • Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age
  • Is the Internet Changing the Way You Think?: The Net's Impact on Our Minds and Future
  • Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology
  • Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives
  • The Googlization of Everything: (And Why We Should Worry)
  • Digital Vertigo: How Today's Online Social Revolution Is Dividing, Diminishing, and Disorienting Us
  • Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age
  • Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle For Internet Freedom
  • Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn
  • Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren't the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Room
  • What Technology Wants
  • The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, Don't Trust Anyone Under 30)
  • Reinventing Discovery: The New Era of Networked Science
Nicholas Carr is the author of the Pulitzer Prize finalist The Shallows, the best-selling The Big Switch, and Does IT Matter? His acclaimed new book, The Glass Cage: Automation and Us, examines the personal and social consequences of our ever growing dependence on computers and software. Former executive editor of the Harvard Business Review, he has written for The Atlantic, New York Times, Wall S ...more
More about Nicholas Carr...
The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google The Glass Cage: Automation and Us Does IT Matter?: Information Technology and the Corrosion of Competitive Advantage Is Google Making Us Stupid? Managing Difficult People (Harvard Business Review Case Studies)

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“We become, neurologically, what we think."(33)” 24 likes
“The Net’s interactivity gives us powerful new tools for finding information, expressing ourselves, and conversing with others. It also turns us into lab rats constantly pressing levers to get tiny pellets of social or intellectual nourishment.” 19 likes
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