Book discussion: The Shallows - Chapter 1

Submitted by Bibliofuture on Mon, 02/07/2011 - 19:53


Tue, 02/08/2011 - 01:08

Here is the Prologue and Chapter 1 Click on the "full screen" icon to enlarge.

For background on this discussion see this previous post.

These comments and discussion questions written by LISNEWS member Bearkat.

Chapter 1
Prefacing with the HAL supercomputer “my mind is going” vignette (2001: A Space Odyssey), Carr refers to his mind changing, especially in regards to reading: “my concentration starts to drift after a page or two. I get fidgety, loose the thread, begin looking for something else to do “ (7). Others such as bloggers Scott Karp, Bruce Friedman, and Philp Davis (7-8) also refer to this tendency.

Some questions to help open up discussion:

· Is the lack-of-concentration tendency solely indicative of our connectivity with the Internet and smart phones? How does this relationship compare with other mediums, e.g., magazines, radio, television, etc?

· If you find that you, your friends, or your students experience lack of concentration while reading dense material, how do you/they address it, e.g., filter out background noise, turn the computer or email/messaging off, etc.?

Scott Karp mentions that instead of a reading a book in its entirety, he now prefers to read snippets of text from Blogs, Google Books, etc. and feels that in some ways he is “smarter” – as a hypertext document he is now more aware of connections and relationships (8).

· Karp and others seem to suggest that in-depth reading (mostly books or scholarly articles) and quick selective reading (mostly Internet and blogs) can’t exist alongside. Do you believe this is true?

· Cognitively what are we gaining from a reliance on quick selective reading? What are we loosing from less in-depth reading?