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.: August 2010 --> Guardian review of The Shallows

Guardian review of The Shallows

» The most interesting part of this review of The Shallows (a book in which the author posits that the Internet is rewiring people's brains to be less contemplative and more superficial) is this quote from Professor Andrew Burn of the University of London's Institute of Education:

Equating the internet with distraction and shallowness, he tells me, is a fundamental mistake, possibly bound up with Carr's age (he is 50). "He's restricting what he says to the type of activities that the middle-aged blogosphere-addict typically engages in," says Professor Burn. "Is there anything in his book about online role-playing games?"
Not much, I tell him, and he's off. "Carr's argument privileges activities of the skimming and browsing kind. But if you look at research on kids doing online gaming, or exploring virtual worlds such as Second Life, the argument there is about immersion and engagement - and it's even about excessive forms of immersion and engagement that get labelled as addiction. The point is, to play successfully in an online role-playing game, you have to pay an incredible amount of attention to what your team-mates are doing, to the mechanics of the game. You can set up a thesis for The Depths, just as much as The Shallows."

As you know, I'm of a mind that the Internet really is re-wiring our brains to make us more distracted - and I still think Carr has it wrong. Professor Burn is absolutely right that the Internet provides a variety of experiences, and that new and repeated experiences of every kind change the brain's configuration.

 [ 08.20.10 ]



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