Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Shallows

I finally finished The Shallows--a book by Nicholas Carr--about how the Internet is changing our thinking, and how the social network distractions are making us stupid. The book argues that with advances in technology, we have lost our ability to immerse deeply in reading, and consequently the ability for deep thinking. The book traces how knowledge transfer has evolved through the ages: from the early days of oration, where people had to focus hard to comprehend the message that is being conveyed, to writing on the scrolls without the use of punctuation, to the modern printed form, and finally to the digital display of information using devices with continuous scroll.

Even though the book is an interesting read, it took me a long time to finish, probably for the same reasons listed in the book. I read the shallows on and off using my Kindle App on my laptop, and during these short spouts of reading, I was distracted by e-mail, social media, and researching topics on the web. What would have taken me a weekend to finish, took more than a couple of months. Ironically I think I benefited more from reading the book this way, as it drove the point home better than a focused reading of the material. I am now more aware of the distractions, and am taking measures to decrease them to reclaim my deep focus time.

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