The Shallows -- Chapter 5

In chapter five Carr summarizes the transition and migration of the written word and other communication media from physical to digital. Obviously, printed books, magazines, and newspapers are still being produced and haven't been completely replaced by digital equivalents. However, Carr strongly states that even if old and new techologies exist side by side, ..."the old technologies lose their economic and cultural force..."And then quoting Marshall McLuhan in his seminal work "Understanding Media" "..nor does it leave the old one in peace. It never ceases to oppress the older media until it finds new shapes and positions for them". Carr also points to studies and stats of dwindling print periodical use and stats.

1. What makes a book a book - is it its package or the contents?

2. Do you agree with Carr that reading an online text is significantly different than reading the paper version?

3. Does it matter on what type of device or site you read the text on, e.g. a plain text site vs a more media and hyperlinked text?, Or a dedicated ebook reader vs. a desktop (with multiple programs open, minimized, etc.)

a. Are online texts inherently connected with the distraction factors of the Net?

B. Can any distraction factors of the Internet be lessened or eliminated by concentrated effort, i.e., is there a digital quivalent of "hunkering down" in the library?


1. contents: whether it's a graphic novel, audiobook, piece, or codex/scroll. imho

2. yes--you don't blink enough, look away as often, or have the carefully formatted text block of a newspaper/magazine/book (line width in proportion to font size). I will shrink my window just to create a shorter column width which helps me read large blocks of text faster.

3. yes. With hyperlinking, I may not stick around. With email or websites to check, I'll switch often. That's why I can't decide which e-reader to buy--reader only or oversized smart phone? Do I want to read e-Ink or do I want to surf more?

a. Websites built in different times have different levels of distraction. Older, more static pages (1.0) are less engaging and sometimes overwhelming in how long they are. 2.0 ask for my engagement, so I make that error in spoken communications (already thinking of my response and ignoring the rest of the speaker's message). If the page has side menus or lots of ads, that can lure my attention away, even from interesting material.

B. readability is an app/extension you can install on your browser/phone to remove most of the side matter that is trying to distract you. I also heard of apps that time you (either to focus for n minutes or to call you back after a few minutes of clicking-through).

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