Along with The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding from You, I've been talking about this book incessantly since reading it. I appreciate the b...moreAlong with The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding from You, I've been talking about this book incessantly since reading it. I appreciate the broad strokes Carr takes in his argument, leading us along the historical paths not only of reading/writing/methods of recall, but also the technologies that brought about shifts in human perception of the world around us, such as maps and timepieces. Media are not agnostic--they are not transparent vessels through which neutral information is imparted to us. Each medium we interact with has an effect on us. So, basically, THE INTERNET IS CHANGING OUR BRAINS. What a concept. (I recommend a related book: a 1975 book, Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television, which I also can't stop talking about.)
I appreciate Carr's encompassing argument structure and the way he pulls in theoretical frameworks from other areas. He's just a good writer, that's all there is to it. And he puts stuff that could be a bit dry into accessible and compelling terms.
One of the main points I took away from this is that we're unable to process long-form arguments such as those in books, since we're now only skimming from one article or webpage to the next. The irony of Carr putting this into book form does not escape me.
I'm not feeling particularly lucid today, so I'll let Carr's words speak for themselves:
"As mapmaking progressed, the spread of maps also disseminated the mapmaker's distinctive way of perceiving and making sense of the world. The more frequently and intently people used maps, the more their minds came to understand reality in the maps' terms." (41)
"The mechanical clock changed the way we saw ourselves. And like the map, it changed the way we thought. Once the clock had redefined time as a series of unites of equal duration, our minds began to stress the methodical mental work if division and measurement. We began to see, in all things and phenomena, the pieces that composed the whole, and then we began to see the pieces of which the pieces were made." (43)
"Every technology is an expression of human will. Through our tools, we seek to expand our power and control over our circumstances--over nature, over time and distance, over one another." (44)
"The written word liberated knowledge from the bounds of individual memory and freed language from the rhythmical and formulaic structures required to support memorization and recitation. It opened to the mind broad new frontiers of thought and expression." (57)
"Our fast-paced, reflexive shifts in focus were once crucial to our survival. They reduced the odds that a predator would take us by surprise ... To read a book was to practice an unnatural process of thought, one that demanded a sustained, unbroken attention to a single, static object." (64)
"The advances in book technology changed the personal experience of reading and writing ... The nature of education and scholarship changed, as universities began to stress private reading ... Libraries began to plan much more central roles in university life and, more generally, in the life of the city. Library architecture evolved too. Private cloisters and carrels, tailored to accommodate vocal reading, were torn out and replaced by large public rooms where students, professors, and other patrons sat together at long tables reading silently to themselves. Reference books such as dictionaries, glossaries, and concordances became important as aids to reading. Copies of the precious texts were often chained to the library reading tables." (66)
"A particularly striking example of how the Net is reshaping our expectations about media can be seen in any library. Although we don't tend to think of libraries as media technologies, they are. The public library is, in fact, one of the most important and influential information media ever created--and one that proliferated only after the arrival of silent reading and movable-type printing. A community's attitudes and preferences toward information take concrete shape in its library's design and services. Until recently, the public library was an oasis of bookish tranquility where people searched through shelves of neatly arranged volumes or sat in carrels and read quietly. Today's library is very different ... The predominant sound in the modern library is the tapping of keys, not the turning of pages." (97)
"In arguing that books are archaic and dispensable, Federman and Shirky provide the intellectual cover that allows thoughtful people to slip comfortably into the permanent state of distractedness that defines the online life." (112)
"With the exception of alphabets and number systems, the Net may well be the single most powerful mind-altering technology that has ever come into general use." (116)
"During the course of a day ... we tend to repeat the same or similar actions over and over again, usually at a high rate of speed and often in response to cues delivered through a screen or speaker ... 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." (116-177)
"The Net is, by design, an interruption system, a machine geared for dividing attention." (131)
"Skimming is becoming our dominant mode of reading ... What we're experiencing is, in a metaphorical sense, a reversal of the early trajectory of civilization: we are evolving from being cultivators of personal knowledge to being hunters and gatherers in the electronic data forest." (138)
"To make a book discoverable and searchable online is also to dismember it. The cohesion of its text, the linearity of its argument or narrative as it flows through scores of pages, is sacrificed ... for Google, the real value of a book is not as a self-contained literary work but as another pile of data to be mined. The great library that Google is rushing to create shouldn't be confused with the libraries we've known up until now. It's not a library of books. It's a library of snippets." (166)
"I know what you're thinking. The very existence of this book would seem to contradict its thesis. If I'm finding it so hard to concentrate, to stay focused on a line of thought, how in the world did I manage to write a few hundred pages of at least semicoherent prose?" (198)(less)
Meh. This was recommended to me when I expressed interest in reading about user-centered design and user experience topics. Although it's short, I alm...moreMeh. This was recommended to me when I expressed interest in reading about user-centered design and user experience topics. Although it's short, I almost didn't finish it because it's, well...boring. Repetitive, not very well constructed or edited. There wasn't a clear progression or building from one concept to another, just a collection of extremely vague case studies about Adaptive Path's work with their unnamed clients (for example, "a financial services firm") with a chapter about agile development tossed in for good measure. Their main points seemed to boil down to: always think about the user/customer, do a lot of research to find out about your users, communicate a lot within your company, and come up with something new and different instead of trying to beat your competitors at their own game. A couple of ideas I found applicable to my own job: Fail early and often, and don't add useless functionality just because it's possible. There, now you don't need to read it.
A little taste: "Most organizations don't actively participate in design. It's outsourced, delegated, pushed away. Somehow, design isn't seen as a suitable way to confront and solve problems. Instead, we ineffectually flail at these problems with bulleted slide decks, passionless meetings, and soulless reports."(107)
"Ideas are cheap, cheap, cheap; we can think of so very many. All too often, though, our organizations treat them as tender, scarce, and special. We detail them meticulously in requirements documents, making sure we completely and fully understand them before we test them."(125)
"In an environment where exploration leading to a dead end is viewed as an expense to be reduced, true innovation is difficult."(156)(less)
Ahhh, the sky is falling! This book is a bit alarmist for my tastes, but I appreciate the historical perspective on proprietary models compared with s...moreAhhh, the sky is falling! This book is a bit alarmist for my tastes, but I appreciate the historical perspective on proprietary models compared with shared models, and I do agree with a lot of Zittrain's alarm. I think that the cover image of the edition I read, of a train track going off the edge of a cliff, combined with the title, do a disservice to Zittrain's message. Although he does come across as almost conspiracist-y, he provides suggestions for improvement, and hope for the future. He doesn't just present a reactionary argument that we should return to the models of the past, but acknowledges that the evolution of the internet is inevitable and will continue, with or without our involvement, so we better put in our two cents before the corporations control EVERYTHING.(less)
It's so rare and hence quite delightful to find a techonology-related author who can write clearly and engagingly. Steve Krug, you're my hero. Thanks...moreIt's so rare and hence quite delightful to find a techonology-related author who can write clearly and engagingly. Steve Krug, you're my hero. Thanks making usability testing seem like a backyard barbeque.(less)
Weinberger discusses the "three orders of order" at length in this book that brings together practice and theory of knowledge management, library scie...moreWeinberger discusses the "three orders of order" at length in this book that brings together practice and theory of knowledge management, library science, computer science, and other organizational related disciplines. These "three orders" are basically the first order of a file cabinet or archive or pile of papers, the second order of a file cabinet with an index to the files inside (or a card catalog for a library), and the third order of digital miscellany, which incorporates tagging, metadata, and other tools to allow the user to order the content in their own manner.
The varied topics brought together in this book make for interesting reading, but I had a hard time finishing it. It's definitely good food for thought about the future of information organization, library catalogs, etc. Toward the end, I was a bit tired of reading (yet again) the praises of Wikipedia, Amazon and Flickr. (For example, when comparing article size issues in Britannica and Wikipedia, Weinberger writes "At Wikipedia, topics assume their natural size.")(less)
Any focus on generational differences will by necessity create some division, but must every mention of the "new" generation of librarians be so fraug...moreAny focus on generational differences will by necessity create some division, but must every mention of the "new" generation of librarians be so fraught with stereotypes and self-righteous aggrandizement? Admittedly, Gordon attempts to represent "both" sides of the picture (under-40 and over-40), but even this dichotomy is laughable. As a young and new librarian, I didn't find much helpful in this book, but there was plenty beating of the horses of librarian image, generational differences, and the technological divide. Let's get over ourselves, and stop thinking we're God's gift to librarianship.
This book made me think, "Hey, if she could get this published, just think what I could do!" It's good as an ego-boost for a hopeful writer, at least.(less)
Practical advice to a noob library writer. Reading this made me feel like I could take on the world, one library publication at a time. Actually, it m...morePractical advice to a noob library writer. Reading this made me feel like I could take on the world, one library publication at a time. Actually, it made me realize that my dreams of fame and fortune through library publications are grossly out of proportion with reality. Very clearly written with an engaging, simple style. Nothing groundbreaking or earth-shattering, but just some advice along the lines of, "Here's what I've done..."(less)