The Shallows: This Is Your Brain Online
Try reading a book while doing a crossword puzzle, and that, says author Nicholas Carr, is what you're doing every time you use the Internet. Carr is the author of the Atlantic article Is Google Making Us Stupid? which he has expanded into a book, The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains.
Carr believes that the Internet is a medium based on interruption — and it's changing the way people read and process information. We've come to associate the acquisition of wisdom with deep reading and solitary concentration, and he says there's not much of that to be found online.
Carr started research for The Shallows after he noticed a change in his own ability to concentrate. "I'd sit down with a book, or a long article," he tells NPR's Robert Siegel, "and after a couple of pages my brain wanted to do what it does when I'm online: check e-mail, click on links, do some Googling, hop from page to page."
This chronic state of distraction "follows us" Carr argues, long after we shut down our computers. "Neuroscientists and psychologists have discovered that, even as adults, our brains are very plastic," Carr explains. "They're very malleable, they adapt at the cellular level to whatever we happen to be doing. And so the more time we spend surfing, and skimming, and scanning...the more adept we become at that mode of thinking."