The Shallows: a book review

THE SHALLOWS: WHAT THE INTERNET IS DOING TO OUR BRAIN BY Nicholas Carr

As the title suggests, the internet is not only allowing you to easily communicate, it is changing your brain at the same time. Is this a part of the evolutionary process? Two things are happening: consciousness is rising and new electronic pathways are developing in the brain.

The invention of the Gutenberg press made everyone a readers; with the coming of the internet all became publishers. Now, you cannot only read, you have voice. This is the message of The Shallows.

You can imagine how a person born only twenty years ago reads by examining your own reading habits. Once you start reading email or perusing facebook notice that it becomes one diversion after another as you follow one hypertext after another. The jump to the next “fact” takes on more importance than a continuous sequence of reasoning.

This is what The Shallows is all about. It traces the idea of reading from the invention of books through the purchase of your digital reader.

The digital reader and the pad are the completion of this new way of viewing the world. Who knows what is next. Now when reading one can immediately link to a video on the subject matter, get the definition of a word or even see what text other readers have highlighted.

Teachers are perhaps the ones who have to make the most change in adjusting their role to the new way of learning. Imagine a person in front of a room reading yellowed lecture notes and compare this to a text-book which can include videos of just about anything. Want to know how the brain appreciates beauty? TED has a video which shows that.

One of the laws of evolution is that trends do not go backwards, only forward toward more complexity.. Expect more. The Shallows hints about what to expect.

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