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Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  2,324 ratings  ·  334 reviews
It's undeniable—technology is changing the way we think. But is it for the better? Amid a chorus of doomsayers, Clive Thompson delivers a resounding "yes." The Internet age has produced a radical new style of human intelligence, worthy of both celebration and analysis. We learn more and retain it longer, write and think with global audiences, and even gain an ESP-like awar ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published September 12th 2013 by Penguin Press (first published 2013)
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Aug 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Old man review. Read at your own risk.

As you get older, the illusion is that time goes by faster. The theory, I think, is that the segment that is passing --- the hour, day, or week --- is a smaller and smaller fraction of the hours, days, etc. that you have lived. Your time is being used up and you only have a smaller fraction of what you had. At the ripe old age of sixty-five, this dynamic has certainly kicked in for me.

Time seems to be passing by way too fast; I have too little of it left to
Aseem Kaul
Dec 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Whoever came up with the title for Clive Thompson's new book Smarter Than You Think got it wrong. Thompson's book is not so much about how technology is making us smarter, as it is about how technology is enabling those you who use it in new and creative ways to think more efficiently and (sometimes) more effectively. The book would be better titled Smarter IF You Think.

As a result of the misnaming Thompson's book is, as it turns out, more interesting than I expected going in. While it's very m
Nov 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2015
Technology splits people into two camps; there are some who feel that the advent of the smartphone and internet means that the we are losing that extra element that makes us human similar to this:

And there are others that love it, and feel that the extra benefits that you gain are worth it.

In this book Thompson writes about the innovative and creative ways that people and organisations are using technologies for all manner of things. In it he uses lots of positive examples; there are detail of
Feb 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: white
There has been, since the advent of ubiquitous computing and the Internet, a pretty steady drumbeat of predictions of gloom and doom. Either it will make us stupid, or it will encourage us to abandon all control over our own lives, or it will cause us to split into like-minded groupthink bubbles, or it will erode our attention span. On the other hand, there is a (smaller, but not small) counter-current pointing out similarly dire predictions at the advent of television, radio, the newspaper, wid ...more
Oct 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I wasn't sure what this book would be like, or how I would feel about it, but I heard several recommendations for it on my book podcasts, so I thought I'd try it. And it turned out to be really intresting and serendipitously totally related to courses I am taking in my first semester of my MLIS grad program.

My only qualm/concern about this book is how relatable it will be in a few years, some of the references are very very of the moment, and the technology obviously it. It did teach me about S
Feb 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
I really liked this book. I had previously read The Shallows by Nicholas Carr and found it very odd. Carr went through his book describing how every time a new technology appears everyone freaks out about how it is ruining humanity, but in the end it doesn't, and it ends up being an important tool we use, and then Carr concludes but this time it is real. The internet will make us lose our ability to think deeply and this is horrible.

Thompson on the other hand draws the more logical conclusion t
Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin
This book looks at digital technology and its effect on psychology, education, politics, and society and though nuanced in its view concludes that they are a net positive on us. I found some things in this book about how gamers, social media, online education, net activism have had remarkable success in improving our intelligence, helping our politics (although not always), and helping us socially. It has remarkable findings that new media like Khan Academy can improve student learning greatly ( ...more
Pete Welter
Oct 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Historically, as Thompson points out in "Smarter Than You Think", new media or thinking tools are met by some people as weakening the power of human thought by being used as intellectual crutches. The written word, the printing press, the coffee houses of Europe, the novel, the telegraph, the telephone, the Internet. Each of them were labeled at the time of their invention as making less human or less capabile in one sense or another.

In all those cases, the world changed, but it didn't entirely
Dec 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
I think we've all come across someone clutching their figurative pearls and proclaiming that Twitter is ruining communication, or texting is wrecking youngsters' spelling, or YouTube is stunting people's attention spans. In this book, Clive Thompson provides a nice counterpoint to all this: technology is making us better. Through several chapters Thompson explores topics like how awesome it is to have external memory banks and search tools, or how online collaboration leads us not only to provid ...more
Jun 27, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wasn't sold on his premise that technology is making us smarter. We've become better at using technology, and adapting to its presence in our lives, but the only thing the author convinced me of was the fact that we've grown more dependent on tech, not more intelligent as a result of it. Additionally, he mentioned things like "evidence" that e-readers and paper books are equally beneficial for learning and retention, but I've seen the results of numerous studies that conclude that paper is far ...more
Jan 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: web-culture
Insightful, sharp, but in the end measured, 'Smarter than you think' is a must read for everyone interested in understanding the new media age.

We live in interesting times. Technology, both offline & online, are changing the way we live & think. Information flows freely, some would say too freely. How we process this information, curate it and pass it along has become a great 'literacy challenge' for us.

This book, essentially a collection of essays on key technology themes, helps us navigate & u
Phil Simon
Sep 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: tech
Thompson's text will and should be added to the pantheon of great tech books. A fascinating mix of research and interpretation, I believe that we will be talking about Smarter Than You Think in the same vein as Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology and other genre-defining books.

I blew through this book in a few days and my only complaint is that it ended. The number of stories and sources that Thompson integrates into a cohesive text is nothing short of mind-blowing. I had high exp
Bernard O'Leary
Dec 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting stuff although it has got a slightly manic undertone of "see! Look! It's not all terrible! It might be fine!"
J.F. Penn
Apr 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Thought provoking, now full of underlines ! Will make you think differently about tech & the potential abundance of our future lives ...more
Dec 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Sturgeon's law : "90% of everything(especially on the internet) is crap"

Anyone familiar with Cal Newport's Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World or Nicholas Carr's The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains or any book by Media theorist Douglas Rushkoff knows too well about the negative effects of Internet on our thinking. Nicolas Carr describes this as Juggler's Brain: a mind that can't learn things because it doesn't stand still long enough"

What makes Cl
Vicky P
Sep 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read this as a Library Science graduate student as part of a program the student government does every academic year to provide a common intellectual focus for those interested in being involved. Two years ago we read Nicholas Carr's "The Shallows", which I will immediately admit colored my view of this book. Carr's work painted a picture of a dystopian fearscape wrapped in a nostalgic lament for old-fashioned things.

Thompson avoided being overly pessimistic about our prospects as a world with
Emily (Falling for YA)
Jun 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed, library
*I had to review this book for class so in lieu of a classic "Emily" review I am posting my academic book report on this novel.

Book Report: Smarter than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better

Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better is a non-fiction book by Clive Thompson. Thompson clearly states that this is not a book about neuroscience or how technology is re-writing the brain so if that is what you are looking or you will be disappoi
I choose to read this for grad school. We were given a list of books, and this was one that I remembered seeing at the first library I worked at.
I liked how the author presents both positive, and negative, aspects of modern technology, while generally remaining upbeat about it. He points out that we've been at a lot of these crossroads before, and we've had naysayers and cheerleaders for similar leaps in technology.
My biggest problem is that there's so much presented between the pages that you
Jamie Tuggle
Aug 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Through his research and detailed explanations, Clive Thompson presents convincing arguments concerning technology and its impact on society. Thompson's anecdotes skillfully captured my attention and helped to better explain larger concepts about technology that I did not understand on my own. From inquiries about memory to discussion of ambient awareness, Thompson provokes deeper thought into how technology and digital spaces influence our outlook on the world, ourselves, and the ways in which ...more
Taylor Barkley
May 30, 2019 rated it liked it
A great, positive case for digital technology. I found many of the anecdotes new. It was a bit wordy and I couldn’t help but think how this might be different were it written in 2017. It’s a solid 3.5 stars.
Sebastian Waisbrot
Jun 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Good book for millennials to feel good about themselves. Nothing too exotic.
Alisha Fish
Sep 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
I appreciate what the author was saying. However, this wasn't one of my favorites.
Julian Douglass
Jan 03, 2020 rated it liked it
I'm going to give this 3.5 stars. While this is a bit dated and some of the technologies and apps in this book have come and gone, the ideas that Mr. Thompson explains here still hold true today. Many of the technologies are being made better and are still trying to evolve. The problem doesn't come from the content that he writes but the repetitive themes that he touches on in each chapter. While I understand driving the point home and trying to get us excited for the possibility of what we migh ...more
Nov 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Excellent read. A well balanced look at the impact of Technology on us. I get so tired of the mantra that our tech is making us stupid. An early quote sets the tone for the book: "At their best, today’s digital tools help us see more, retain more, communicate more. At their worst, they leave us prey to the manipulation of the toolmakers. But on balance, I’d argue, what is happening is deeply positive." I also liked his take on Social Media "We’re becoming more conversational thinkers—a shift tha ...more
Jan 11, 2015 rated it liked it
An engaging enough read, but I can't help but feel that Clive Thompson is gearing for a slightly different audience. I basically grew up online, since my parents got Compuserve when I was 12; my present day love of history owes a lot to interest sparked by debates on the Westeros message board back in the day, where I likely wrote at least a short novel's worth; and I will roll my eyes at the crabby middle-aged Aaron Sorkins of the world.

I suspect this book is geared more toward an Aaron Sorkin
Jan 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Smarter than you think by Clive Thompson  
Smartphones, computers, videogames, cameras and microphones are everywhere, and they are not going to disappear anytime soon. By now we've all heard over and over again that technology is seriously affecting "real" social interaction and how it's atrophying our brains, especially when it comes to the newer generations who don't seem to be able to function without internet. We've all heard it, and we've all thought about it at one point or another. 

Aug 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
One of the things that always drives me batty is when people bemoan that the latest technological innovations are ruining human civilization. "Damn kids these days don't even know how to talk to each other because they are always on their damn iphones".

So I really enjoyed Thompson's take down of this mindset, with wonderful examples of how people in the past thought the novel, the telegraph, and the telephone would ruin society. Thompson's book is very much in the same vein as Steven Johnson's E
Oct 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Once, long ago, when I was studying for by PhC exams I learned about how the technology of the printing press changed the way people interacted with knowledge. It was fascinating to consider how we are able to adapt and grow with the advent of technology, especially that which increases the ability for more people to access information. Thompson documents how our new sources of technology have changed the way we learn, write, read, solve problems, protest, remember, and think. It is fascinating ...more
Apr 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Is technology making us dumber? Conventional wisdom says yes, Clive Thompson says no, technology is just making us differently smarter. It will be interesting to see how trends move forward in this respect--although he brackets his story with a comparison of the two most famous gameplaying computers--Deep Blue and Watson--this isn't a book about AI. Thompson touches on crowdsourcing, social networking for political discourse and social change, expanded memories, lifelogging and wearable computer ...more
Sep 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very interesting book. It show us how technology does not make us as stupid as we believe it does, but what allow us to do is to interact in a very different way that we did before, it allow us to create things in a different way and to work in a new, and many times more effective manner. The book does not stop with just the good side of technology it also show us some of the problems that we have because of it and some of the limitations (or things that seems like it) that the constan ...more
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Clive Thompson is a Canadian freelance journalist, blogger and science and technology writer.

Thompson graduated from the University of Toronto with majors in political science and English. He previously worked for Canada's Report on Business magazine and Shift magazine, then became a freelance contributor for The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, Lingua Franca, Wired, Shift, Entertainm

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