The Shallows – Carr

At times the Carr book seemed arduous because he would delve into the history of learning and as I was reading I could not see the point he was getting to.  However looking back having already read the entire thing I am so glad that he included so many historical accounts about learning and development.  It has given me a wider and more clear understanding of the brain and how we have come to be.

I was relieved many times to see that people with PhDs were skimming readings, I try not to do that because it makes me feel guilty that I am not learning as much as I could.  However it did ease the tension I feel when I graze quickly over a news story.

When Carr described the situation he put himself in while writing this book, leaving all technology behind him and concentrating on the book, to me it sounded painful.  However his description did give me hope that if we want to change how we learn and absorb it is possible.  Detaching and remaining detached (As Carr did not do as soon as the book was finished) is a difficult thing to accomplish.

I have said in class before that I think knowing about the pitfalls will help us to avoid them.  For me knowing that skimming and not absorbing whole topics and generally getting swallowed up in the culture of ‘just google it’ is becoming a problem has helped me to think about how I operate with technology.  Actually shortly after reading this book I ordered two books from a series from Amazon and I am happy to report that I finished them both.

It was obvious that Carr was able to get back into a routine of reading and concentrating deeply for long periods of time he just had to put an effort in to do it.  He essentially had to retrain himself to concentrate on things for long periods of time without having distractions.  It is obviously possible for us to retrain ourselves but the first step is knowing that there is a problem.

That being said, is it really a problem that our brains a changing and adjusting to new technology?  It is hard to tell because we are in such an infancy with technology.  With all the history Carr talked about it gave insight into what people said about new technologies in the past.  There seems to always be some fear in the accounts Carr gave about new things being negative, when after time they turned out to be positive.  It is impossible to tell if the advent of the internet will affect us in a negative way, it may just be a stepping stone on our way to the next thing and it very well could improve society.


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