Sunday, May 18, 2014

Time for an Internet Fast

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains 
Nicholas Carr. Kindle Edition.

The tight bonds we form with our tools go both ways. Even as our technologies become extensions of ourselves, we become extensions of our technologies. When the carpenter takes his hammer into his hand, he can use that hand to do only what a hammer can do. [Highlight Loc. 3414-15]

The price we pay to assume technology’s power is alienation. The toll can be particularly high with our intellectual technologies. The tools of the mind amplify and in turn numb the most intimate, the most human, of our natural capacities—those for reason, perception, memory, emotion. [Highlight Loc. 3448-50]

Please, don't take Nicholas Carr for a troglodyte; he is anything but that. Although of an older generation, though younger than I am, he knows full immersion in the world of informatica or whatever. Despite an ongoing enthusiasm for some of the fruits of the information revolution, he has made what to me seem some almost heroic decisions concerning social networking and more. For a man of his age I would say he has found an optimal formula for using the Net and more.

For my last few trips I have actually taken my Kindle on the plane, something I had not done for an odd and unfounded lack of confidence in the battery supply of my second generation Kindle. Anyway I finished his book and read a lot more, with only one reprimand from a clueless stewardess about "turning the thing off".

Here in Ukraine, because of the nature of the beast, we spend a lot of time with Facebook and Twitter, trying to understand what is happening. In the case of a dear friend, I think it has contributed to severe weight loss (something I could only dream might happen to me). Anyway, what Carr has to recommend about the reasoned use of the various media is an admonition well taken.

I liked his book for the history of communication and reflection provided. Personally, I think that if he had first-hand knowledge of learning a foreign language like Ukrainian, he would probably have another tact on such matters. He speaks almost passionately of "deep reading" as if it were something consummate and of high culture. In reality, I think memory and familiarity play a much more important role than he thinks and that something like speed reading strategies is perfectly all right and no impediment whatsoever to profound reflection or analysis.

I'd recommend the book for one reason alone. You may not have weight loss problems because of your attachment to your Android, your Tablet and your Laptop, but it could be that the time you waste trying not to miss whatever might be bending your mind or as the Italians would say ruining your liver.

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