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Hamlet's BlackBerry: a practical philosophy for building a good life in the digital age by [Powers, William]
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Hamlet's BlackBerry: a practical philosophy for building a good life in the digital age Kindle Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Length: 292 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Review

"A brilliant and thoughtful handbook for the Internet age--why we have this screen addiction, its many perils, and some surprising remedies that can make your life better."--Bob Woodward

"[An] elegant meditation on our obsessive connectivity and its effect on our brains and our very way of life."--Laurie Winer, New York Times Book Review

"Powers mounts a passionate but reasoned argument for 'a happy balance'. . . . [He] is a lively, personable writer who seeks applicable lessons from great thinkers of the past. . . . Lucid, engaging prose and [a] thoughtful take on the joys of disconnectivity."--Heller McAlpin, Christian Science Monitor

"Always connected. Anytime. Anyplace. We know it's a blessing, but we're starting to notice that it's also a curse. In Hamlet's Blackberry, William Powers helps us understand what being 'connected' disconnects us from, and offers wise advice about what we can do about it.... A thoughtful, elegant, and moving book."--Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less

"Benjamin Franklin would love this book. He knew the power of being connected, but also how this must be balanced by moments of reflection. William Powers offers a practical guide to Socrates' path to the good life in which our outward and inward selves are at one."--Walter Isaacson, author of Einstein: His Life and Universe and Benjamin Franklin: An American Life

"In this delightfully accessible book, Powers asks the questions we all "need" to ask in this digitally driven time. And teaches us to answer them for ourselves."--Maryanne Wolf, author of Proust and the Squid

[An] elegant meditation on our obsessive connectivity and its effect on our brains and our very way of life. --Laurie Winer, New York Times Book Review"

Powers mounts a passionate but reasoned argument for a happy balance . . . . [He] is a lively, personable writer who seeks applicable lessons from great thinkers of the past. . . . Lucid, engaging prose and [a] thoughtful take on the joys of disconnectivity. --Heller McAlpin, Christian Science Monitor"

In this delightfully accessible book, Powers asks the questions we all "need" to ask in this digitally driven time. And teaches us to answer them for ourselves. --Maryanne Wolf, author of Proust and the Squid"

Benjamin Franklin would love this book. He knew the power of being connected, but also how this must be balanced by moments of reflection. William Powers offers a practical guide to Socrates path to the good life in which our outward and inward selves are at one. --Walter Isaacson, author of Einstein: His Life and Universe and Benjamin Franklin: An American Life"

Always connected. Anytime. Anyplace. We know it s a blessing, but we re starting to notice that it s also a curse. In Hamlet s Blackberry, William Powers helps us understand what being connected disconnects us from, and offers wise advice about what we can do about it . A thoughtful, elegant, and moving book. --Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less"

A brilliant and thoughtful handbook for the Internet age why we have this screen addiction, its many perils, and some surprising remedies that can make your life better. --Bob Woodward"

Review

'When you find yourself checking your email inbox hourly, tweeting with abandon while all the while connected to your MP3 player, you know you are a communications junkie. So what happens to real life? It's the question at the heart of this wise and wry survey of our techno habits.'

(Simon Hughes Australian Financial Review Magazine)

'Reading a good book is excellent therapy for the over-connected, and this work is an intelligent contribution to the library. Best to be read on paper.'

(Richard Thwaites Canberra Times)

'[an] entertaining, thought-provoking book'

(In The Black)

'That sucker is going up on my library shelf, where space is at a premium.'

(John Birmingham National Times)

An 'elegant meditation on our obsessive connectivity and its effect on our brains and our very way of life ... his ruminations are penetrating, his language clear and strong, and his historical references are restorative.'

(New York Times)

'Hamlet's BlackBerry is a crisp, cogently argued answer to the question that everyone who's grown dependent on digital devices is asking: "Where's the rest of my life?"'

(Pharmacy News)

'I enjoyed the book, and I am happy to recommend it. You can buy it in hardback or in paperback or in a Kindle edition. You can read it out loud or to yourself. But do read it. And maybe you could talk to other people about it.'

(Christopher Peterson Psychology Today)

'Our discombobulated Internet Age could learn important new tricks from some very old thinkers, according to this incisive critique of online life and its discontents. Journalist Powers bemoans the reigning dogma of “digital maximalism” that requires us to divide our attention between ever more e-mails, text messages, cellphone calls, video streams, and blinking banners, resulting, he argues, in lowered productivity and a distracted life devoid of meaning and “depth.” In a nifty and refreshing turn, he looks to ideas of the past for remedies to this hyper-modern predicament: to Plato, who analyzed the transition from the ancient technology of talking to the cutting-edge gadgetry of written scrolls; to Shakespeare, who gave Hamlet the latest in Elizabethan information apps, an erasable notebook; to Thoreau, who carved out solitary spaces amid the press of telegraphs and railroads ... Powers deftly blends an appreciation of the advantages of information technology and a shrewd assessment of its pitfalls into a compelling call to disconnect.'

(Publishers Weekly)

'The historical comparisons are fascinating and provide hope to anyone struggling for air today. It's soon evident that we've been here before and survived ... Hamlet's BlackBerry advocates a "new digital philosophy" that balances the benefits of connecting to the digital crowd with our need to spend time alone.'

(Judith Ireland Sydney Morning Herald)

'Even a jaded reader is likely to be won over by Hamlet's BlackBerry. It convincingly argues that we've ceded too much of our existence to what he calls Digital Maximalism. Less scold and more philosopher, Mr. Powers certainly bemoans the spread of technology in our lives, but he also offers a compelling discussion of our dependence on contraptions and of the ways in which we might free ourselves from them. I buy it. I need quiet time.'

(David Harsanyi The Wall Street Journal)

'This is an eminently sane, empowering and thought-provoking book.'

(Matthew Ricketson Weekend Australian)

'Benjamin Franklin would love this book. He knew the power of being connected, but also how this must be balanced by moments of reflection. William Powers offers a practical guide to Socrates' path to the good life in which our outward and inward selves are at one.'

(Walter Isaacson, author of Einstein: His Life and Universe and Benjamin Franklin: An American Life)

Hamlet’s Blackberry is a paean to the pleasures of the unplugged life. But Powers is no woodsy technophobe who would deepfry every silicon chip. He offers an ardent argument for balance between the wired world and the silent spaces of the human heart.’

(Geraldine Brooks)

'A brilliant and thoughtful handbook for the Internet age ― why we have this screen addiction, its many perils, and some surprising remedies that can make your life better.’

(Bob Woodward)

‘William Powers, brave in intent and wise in argument, offers in these pages an oasis of serenity and sanity, a sanctuary from a world fast turning into a limitless digital Sahara.’

(Simon Winchester)

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 700 KB
  • Print Length: 292 pages
  • Publisher: Scribe; UK edition edition (27 Sept. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006DOCX1G
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #114,098 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By prisrob TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 10 Jun. 2013
Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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.
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By takingadayoff TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 30 April 2012
Format: Paperback
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.
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