My Library | The Shallows – Nicholas Carr (Non-Fiction)

The Shallows“The bond between book reader and book writer has always been a tightly symbiotic one, a means of intellectual and artistic cross-fertilization. The words of the writer act as a catalyst in the mind of the reader, inspiriting new insights, associations, and perceptions, sometimes even epiphanies.”

When I first started teaching about computers 3 years ago, it was the time I was fresh out of college and entering graduate school with the idealism one can expect from a fresh grad. I had this firm belief that I was living in an age where the internet has completely started our journey into the future, where geographical barriers keeping the interaction of people around the world, was no longer a hindrance to a true single society brought together through real time exchange of information in the world wide web.

But in assessing my habits after reading this book, I may be looking at a far more grim future than expected. Through this book, I began researching on the psychological aspects of learning, and eventually made it my thesis. Nicholas Carr has made me aware of a dysfunction I have developed through years with the internet, and basically the reason why I stopped reading books at all. During my younger days, I was able to read tons of novels and could finish so much in a few days. I remember 1st year college, when I picked up book 1 of the Left Behind series, which started my regular visits to the library of the university.

But after a year in school, I stopped reading books all together, though I never stopped learning and exploring fictional worlds, but the internet gave me access to tons of materials all at once, in easy bite-sized forms, like bullet-list, videos, summarized wikipedia entries. And up until I graduated, I knew so much about mythology, pop-culture history, world history, and a lot more. I could give a trivia about almost any topic instantly, and I truly believed I learned so much.

Up until I realized I couldn’t tell who Marc Anthony was, only that he had an affair with Cleopatra. Or I could list down all the plot points of Angels & Demons, but didn’t know who Robert Langdon was.

I was just like my bullet-list, shallow in knowledge.

This is basically what I learned from reading the Shallows, a book that brought me back to reading after a 4-year haitus from 400-paged books & novels.

The Shallows is an exploration of the way humans learn and process information, with a great history in information science, and a detailed discussion on the internet and its effects on how we think. Carr describes how great an innovation to civilization the internet has become by creating a global community with the knowledge of the world at the tip of your fingers. However, he also claims a crippling disadvantage to having this convenience on the way we think & learn.

If like me, you happen to be on the internet most of the day, you may need to reevaluate how much this is taking from your life.

With all the meme-sites & rage comics, viral videos & real time gossip articles on the latest pop-culture trends, even the most recent tweet or status update from you social networks, it’s hard not to be on the web all the time. That’s why you have your mobile data plans to surf on the go, where-ever you are you can tweet, post pictures & status instantly.

But suddenly this leads you to have that needs to know something the moment it comes up, or have to let others know of what is happening in your life seconds of it occurring. We develop a need for a fast-paced movement of information, that have to wait minutes becomes a burden.

Nobody would read a news article anymore, just the headlines and jump to the comments trying to get a shorter version of the story. Novels have to come in shorter form, separated by volumes because an average of 20 minutes per 25 page chapter is too boring.

What I’m trying to say is that we live in a fast-paced world and the we have lost the patience to slow down what we learn and process it. The Shallows is great kick to the head in terms of my reading & learning habit as I became more aware of how much the internet has killed my love of books.

If you feel the same, this is the book for you.

read: 2011.03.21


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