Book asks: Is Internet ruining our minds?

Thu Jun 3, 2010 12:52pm EDT
 
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By Mark Egan

NEW YORK (Reuters) - When author Nicholas Carr began researching his book on whether the Internet is ruining our minds, he restricted his online access and e-mail and turned off his Twitter and Facebook accounts.

His new book "The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains" argues the latest technology renders us less capable of deep thinking. Carr found himself so distracted that he couldn't work on the book while staying as connected, as is commonplace.

"I found my inability to concentrate a great disability," Carr told Reuters in an interview.

"So, I abandoned my Facebook and Twitter accounts and throttled back on e-mail so I was only checking a couple of times a day rather than every 45 seconds. I found those types of things really did make a difference," he said.

After initially feeling "befuddled" by his sudden lack of online connection, Carr said, within a couple of weeks he was able to stay focused on one task for a sustained period and, thankfully, able to do his work.

Carr wrote a 2008 Atlantic magazine piece that posed the controversial question "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" and wanted to dig deeper into how the Internet alters our minds.

His book examines the history of reading and the science of how using different media changes our brains. Exploring how society shifted from an oral tradition to the printed word and to the Internet, he details how the brain rewires itself to adjust to new information sources.

Reading on the Internet has fundamentally changed how we use our brains, he writes.   Continued...

 
<p>People use the computer at an Internet cafe in Taiyuan, Shanxi province March 31, 2010. REUTERS/Stringer</p>