NY TIMES review by Jonah Lehrer of “The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains,” written by technology writer Nicholas Carr.
This is a very thoughtful review in which Lehrer looks at a variety of studies to validate Carr’s central thesis that our use of the new technology is reducing our ability to focus and changing the way our brains work. One quote that is irresistably delicious is one from T.S. Eliot who wonders about the effect of composing poetry on that new technology, the typewriter.
It seems like the web enabled computer is chock full of interruption attractions. Any web page seems to have ads and other links asking to be followed. I have spent time looking for information on the net, only to turn off and follow new topics that seduce me from my initial knowledge hunt. Recently I have been trying to make a deliberate effort to read one book all the way from start to finish. I have thought I was becoming a reading “dipper”, starting one book and putting it down soon after to start another and then another and ending up with five or six on the go and nothing read in large sustained attention. I would like to think I used to read that way. Probably the most carefully focused reading I have ever done was for a summer course session back in the late 1970s when I was forced to read about one and a half long Victorian novels per week just to keep up with the course lectures. At the time it seemed like a dizzying pace. Even today I wonder at how long I spent in univesity reading to keep up or almost keep up with five courses, almost all of them in English Literature.
Me reading a book while sitting on a big rock in Georgian Bay in front of the family cottage around 1972. The cottage is now my full time residence. It is full of books, many of them read, quite a few started but not finished.