Greg's Reviews > The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains

The Shallows by Nicholas Carr
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Aug 26, 12

really liked it
bookshelves: personal-development, professional-development, thought-provoking, health-and-fitness
Read from June 26 to August 17, 2012 — I own a copy , read count: 1

The Shallows was TCU's "common reading for 2012. For the most part I enjoyed reading it, but since others have commented in detail on the content of the book, with one exception I won't add to that in my review. The exception: as I read the book, it became increasingly clear that whether his conclusions and arguments are in any way correct is impossible to know, since (to a large extent) Carr seems to have cherry picked from the scientific literature those studies that best make the points he wants to make salient.

That having been said, then, it seems to me that the best use of this book is as a reflective device, to examine one's own behavior and capabilities (and changes therein) vis a vis the Internet. Some conclusions I drew for myself follow...YMMV.

I spend way too much time "reading the news," and get sidetracked too often into reading unproductive and unnecessary articles. One of my favorite things to do is travel, and not having time or resources to do that as much as I would like, I enjoy reading about others' adventures. A lot of those are in blogs and news articles online. So, even though I often find news articles to use in my classes, I am banning news-surfing for myself during work hours. I think I'm already getting the news DTs!
Banning a time waster isn't enough, I need to fill the time with more productive activities. To that end, Paul Silvia (who authored How To Write A Lot, strongly recommends scheduling research/writing hours each day during which nothing but that will be done. For me, that will be from 8:00-10:00 every day. That will also be 100% non-Internet time...

Anyone who knows me at all knows that not reading enough books has never been a problem for me. However, even with as much as I read (75 books last year), I have noticed that I am struggling more than I used to with deep reading. I blame the Internet, and the kind of superficial scanning that Has become a habit or me (Adm many others). The "F" pattern of scanning reading material that Carr discusses is something that I recognize myself doing online often, and I am starting to see it in offline (paper) articles and journals that I read. So, I plan to cut way back on online reading, and get back to focusing on material that requires more in-depth, thorough reading.

At least for myself, I don't buy Carr's speculation that reading ebooks on an ebook reader has a similar effect to that of the Internet. As I mentioned above, I have seen how reading Internet based material changes the way I read...it is fairly obvious to me. I have not seen that effect when I read ebooks on my iPad. So, I will continue using ebook readers until or unless I see it becoming a problem, which I don't anticipate happening.

I found The Shallows an interesting and thought-provoking book, but less in its treatment of the science than in how it raised my awareness of personal behavioral changes in reading and studying. To that extent, it was very much worth the read.
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