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Customer Review

TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 16 August 2011
The Shallows is a book that comes with quite a bit of hype and promise. It covers the Internet phenomenon and how its changing our deep thinking skills and ability to read and process information properly. It was also short-listed for the Pulitzer prize this year. Its not a particularly long book - just over 200 pages. However, it will take a little time to read as it can get quite technical with neurological functions being explained. It certainly isn't aimed at those whose attention has been affected by the internet. This being said it does bring quite a bit of evidence to the table and explain the issues well. The chapter on Google is very illuminating. There are digression chapters which tend to be written in the first person and relate to the authors experiences. These digressions are of some interest but sometimes they can just distract - the very thing that the author says the internet does to its users.

The problems that I had with the book, aside from getting through it which I managed to do over a period of five days, are about the missed opportunities and bias. A lot of the evidence here actually relates to people who are 30+. This is important and shows how the adoption of the internet has changed their thinking and reading. However, the internet natives of under 20 who are only used to the internet are not covered in as much depth. There is some evidence but not a lot and their experiences are vital as they are only used to the internet. I was left with the question of what the effect is on that demographic. I have experience with them at work and can probably make some assumptions but not from what is contained in this book. On the very last page some quotes for the positives of the internet of our thinking are given and the quickly dismissed. That's a shame in many ways as if a more balanced view was given before jumping to conclusions then I might embrace those conclusions more readily. Whilst I don't doubt that they are correct (for instance one being that the internet is a distraction engine that does not allow for deep learning or thinking) I do feel that I haven't been fully convinced on the evidence here for those reasons of suspected bias and demographics.

This is an important book. It does focus the mind (ironically) on the internet and its long term effects on the users and their thinking. It does this in an over-long way at times and this kind of defeats its very premise. But it is recommended as if you manage to get through the harder to read sections it contains important and useful information that can be thought provoking and also useful for those who work on the internet for extended periods, work in education and use it as a tool or those interested in Psychology and social sciences. I fit all three of those categories so was well served by this book.
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