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Expanding on his provocative Atlantic Monthly article, "Is Google Making Us Stupid?," technology writer Carr (The Big Switch) provides a deep, enlightening examination of how the Internet influences the brain and its neural pathways. Computers have altered the way we work; how we organize information, share news and stories, and communicate; and how we search for, read, and absorb information. Carr's analysis incorporates a wealth of neuroscience and other research, as well as philosophy, science, history, and cultural developments. He investigates how the media and tools we use (including libraries) shape the development of our thinking and considers how we relate to and think about our brains. Carr also examines the impact of online searching on memory and explores the overall impact that the tools and media we use have on memory formation. His fantastic investigation of the effect of the Internet on our neurological selves concludes with a very humanistic petition for balancing our human and computer interactions. VERDICT Neuroscience and technology buffs, librarians, and Internet users will find this truly compelling. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/10; seven-city tour.]-Candice Kail, Columbia Univ. Libs., New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Carr author of The Big Switch (2007) and the much-discussed Atlantic Monthly story Is Google Making Us Stupid? is an astute critic of the information technology revolution. Here he looks to neurological science to gauge the organic impact of computers, citing fascinating experiments that contrast the neural pathways built by reading books versus those forged by surfing the hypnotic Internet, where portals lead us on from one text, image, or video to another while we're being bombarded by messages, alerts, and feeds. This glimmering realm of interruption and distraction impedes the sort of comprehension and retention deep reading engenders, Carr explains. And not only are we reconfiguring our brains, we are also forging a new intellectual ethic, an arresting observation Carr expands on while discussing Google's gargantuan book digitization project. What are the consequences of new habits of mind that abandon sustained immersion and concentration for darting about, snagging bits of information? What is gained and what is lost? Carr's fresh, lucid, and engaging assessment of our infatuation with the Web is provocative and revelatory.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2010 Booklist
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Expanding on his article "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" (The Atlantic, 2008), Carr details his history with computers from the 1970s to his present-day Internet obsession. Realizing that the Internet might be dramatically affecting his brain, he decides to explore the neuroscience behind brain plasticity, which offers clues about how the brain adapts to favor new skills over underutilized ones. The book offers a fascinating history of intellectual tools and their effects on society and ways the human psyche changed with each new development. Indeed, one of human history's greatest advances came from writing, reading, and the book. Carr argues that the inherent intellectual ethic of books, single-minded concentration allowing for deep reading and comprehension, is lost when text is delivered online. He believes the Internet favors the distraction that comes with wading in and out of "the shallows" of information and convincingly argues that the Internet is changing the way people think--not necessarily for the better. The author meanders at times, sometimes purposely, when exploring history's many technological milestones, but never for too long, and often one senses his enthusiasm for appending an interesting, historical, tangential character or anecdote. An entertaining, insightful, thought-provoking book. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All collections. J. A. Bullian Hillsborough Community College