Jon's Reviews > The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains

The Shallows by Nicholas Carr
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's review
Aug 02, 11

Very useful discussion, with lots of fascinating historical detail, about how the brain works and how the Internet may impair its functioning. However, while analyzing different paradigms humans have used throughout history--largely based on then-current technology--Carr himself falls victim to our current paradigm when he declares that books must be digitized. Why? So some family in Zimbabwe that doesn't have electricity and can't read (English, anyway) can check out A. E. Housman? How disappointing to read about historian/Harvard Library director Robert Darnton--who, as the author of THE GREAT CAT MASSACRE, ought to know how unpredictable and quirky history can be--saying "Digitize we must." In other words, Carr has succumbed to our current trend of seeing every social phenomenon in terms of a "slippery slope" or "tipping point" and concluded that since some printed matter has been digitized, all of it must be. Maybe history is more like a boomerang and there will be a rebellion against digital hegemony, who knows? Despite that failing, this book is worth reading for Carr's insights into both technology and neurology.

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