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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Living In A Fishbowl
OK, I have a computer and check my email, twitter, facebook and another discussion board several times a day. My family has mentioned that I do seem to spend a great deal of time on my computer, My job is dependent upon a computer, I correspond with my family via email and IM, my best friend and I talk via IM daily. Am I caught up in a social media and computer driven...
Published on 10 Jun. 2013 by prisrob

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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice try, but still a work in progress
This book caught my attention because everywhere you see people that are really addicted to their smart phones, texting and surfing the web in general. In the book's introduction Mr. Powers offers an analysis of the addiction to digital screens using as a framework the teachings of the "Seven Philosophers of Screens" as he called them: Plato (Socrates), Seneca, Gutenberg,...
Published on 12 Sept. 2010 by Emc2


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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice try, but still a work in progress, 12 Sept. 2010
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Emc2 (Tropical Ecotopia) - See all my reviews
This book caught my attention because everywhere you see people that are really addicted to their smart phones, texting and surfing the web in general. In the book's introduction Mr. Powers offers an analysis of the addiction to digital screens using as a framework the teachings of the "Seven Philosophers of Screens" as he called them: Plato (Socrates), Seneca, Gutenberg, Shakespeare, Benjamin Franklin, Thoreau, and McLuhan.

In reality, not all of these brilliant personalities or thinkers were philosophers, Gutenberg being the prime example. Instead, in several cases the author is deriving lessons from new technologies (like the invention of the printing press by Gutenberg) and most often in his own extrapolations (speculations?), like in the case of Shakespeare's erasable table. In summary, only the chapters about Plato, Seneca and McLuhan truly deal with philosophical teachings, and most of the substance is presented in Chapter 12, where he presents practical advice to avoid being hooked to screens all the time (in the office and at home), how to make the experience less shallow and enjoy more so many other thing life has to offer.

Interesting subject, some interesting facts and historical anecdotes are presented, but still a work in progress and too American centric, and his writing style is crying out loud for improvement. Mr. Powers' style does not allow for a free-flow reading. In the first chapter several times he goes around the same concept to the point of despair, and often he branches out to other ideas missing the central point of discussion. Also throughout the book he abuses of personal anecdotes, from the call to his mother to drowning his celular phone in the boat (in the early chapters), up to his family voluntary disconnectopia (electronic Sabbath) to his jury call in the last two chapters. It's simply too much personal and even unintentionally, he transmits the impression that he is trying to show off. I really have to make an effort to finish the book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Living In A Fishbowl, 10 Jun. 2013
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prisrob "pris," (New England USA) - See all my reviews
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OK, I have a computer and check my email, twitter, facebook and another discussion board several times a day. My family has mentioned that I do seem to spend a great deal of time on my computer, My job is dependent upon a computer, I correspond with my family via email and IM, my best friend and I talk via IM daily. Am I caught up in a social media and computer driven society?

The author describes in detail how our society has become digital driven in the first five chapters. Good info that we all know about and he gives personal examples. He then goes on to describe seven philosophers and how they escaped their 'driven' environments- taking a walk, actually talking with people! Essentially removing yourself from the day to day existence to provide another more fruitful place. William Powers than goes on to give us examples of how he and his family deal with his and their computer existence. The blackberry, researching with Google, cell phones, computers etc. They have a digital free weekend. Sounds interesting and then you wonder how could this work for me? Are we so necessary that we have to be on call to someone or something 24/7? Not unless you work in the White House. Lots of good lessons here on how to make our lives more satisfying in this digital age. It can work, if you want it to.

Have you ever been in the presence of someone and were having a conversation and they incessantly were texting on their phones, not really paying attention? If so, then give them this book when you finish reading. We all need a break and have a need to feel important. We seem to be losing touch with each other.
Let's talk.

Recommended. prisrob 06-10-13
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Was Shakespeare an Early Adopter?, 30 April 2012
By 
takingadayoff "takingadayoff" (Las Vegas, Nevada) - See all my reviews
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Do you check for email several times an hour? When you go to quickly look up something online, do you find that as long as you're there you may as well check the news, the stock market, and that blog you like? Do you get antsy if your smart phone is out of reach for more than a few minutes?

Join the club, my friend. I'm addicted and so are you. In a nutshell, author William Powers says we must use the internet, social networks, and cellphones to our advantage and resist becoming slaves to them.

Powers examines how we can be connected, without being too connected. Our addiction to being connected is robbing us of productivity and creativity. But we can't quit cold turkey, surely that would be just as bad, if it's even possible.

The book is quite entertaining and thought provoking, especially the end, where Powers outlines his own family's experiment in breaking away from the yoke of the internet. They use their laptops and smartphones during the week, but turn everything off on Friday night and leave it off until Monday morning. It's hard at first, but they are surprised at how quickly they adapt, and at how quickly their friends and colleagues adapt to their not being available every minute. They find that assignments and emails can almost always wait until Monday. They enjoy the time together as a family, and individually they get more done and manage their time better.

Powers uses history and philosophy to make his arguments and put things into perspective. The "Hamlet's Blackberry" of the title is what was called a writing table or table book and consisted of some plaster-covered pages bound in a pocket-sized book. A metal stylus came with it and was used to write down notes or lists. The pages could be sponged off like a slate and used over and over again. This was cutting edge technology in Shakespeare's time, a time before pencils and ballpoint pens were available.

The title originally comes from a long essay Powers wrote several years ago. In it, he looks at the evolution and future of paper. In this book, he's expanded the discussion to connectedness, which is why the book was to be titled Disconnectopia, but I think Hamlet's Blackberry is more inviting and memorable.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Hamlet had a Blackberry!, 30 May 2014
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Well, not quite. But this book takes us on a leisurely journey to meet some of the greats from the past, and to examine how they handled the pressures of the new technologies of their day. Socrates, for example, who loved the connectedness of the city life, and who was not at all keen to be away from it in case he missed something, is a wonderful case study for the modern man or woman who can't bear to be away from e-mail, texts, Twitter and so on ... because who know's what might be happening, and we daren't miss it!

An enjoyable read, with some history lessons thrown into the mix.
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Hamlet's Blackberry: A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age
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