Top critical review
Interesting information, questionable conclusion
26 January 2015
Some interesting studies are mentioned, but there is an overarching feel of bias: sometimes Carr infers too much from isolated studies, or extrapolates unreasonably; for instance he takes evidence that our brains treat a hammer in our hand as an extended hand to be meaningful to his discussion on how we process information. This seems far fetched, and in my opinion unintuitive. In any case it requires more careful argument than he gives.
This sort of criticism could be levelled at the book in general; a lot of interesting studies are presented, but the conclusions drawn from them tend to be tenuous, and Carr doesn't give much time to address a positive view of how the Internet affects our access of information. It is unashamedly biased against the world wide webs format of information, with the guise of being objectively and scientifically based. In fact although there are many interesting scientific studies relating to neurology, and also on electronic media, there are very few indicating what Carr wants to prove; that the Internet is detrimental to concentration and information processing. Most of the 'evidence' directly supporting those claims is his own experience of his train of thought since using the Internet, and various quotes from intellectuals from the past, relating to technology in general. Personally, as an individual who gains most of their knowledge from the Internet, I cannot concur with his experience; I have no problem concentrating on an article or text which interests me, and do not find hyperlinks and advertisements the kind of distractions he supposes they must be. Digressing slightly (I appreciate the irony) this could be due to age difference, as a significant proportion of my time in education involved access to the Internet, wheras Carr had been out of eduction for some time before the web as we know it existed. It would be interesting to see a study of people who have been exposed to the web for different time periods to see how easily they utilise it's informative content.
Nevertheless this is an interesting book, if only for the studies which have been collected and the history which is explained. I would recommend it for anyone interested in the journey of our information mediums, but the conclusions Carr draws certainly need to be considered with a very large pinch of salt.