Carr’s argument in The Shallows––that the Internet and computer technology are changing our brains––relies heavily on historical context. In order to show how the technology of the current digital age affects thinking, Carr explores how previous technologies formerly shaped the human mind. Put another way, he argues that the Internet is just the most recent development in humanity’s relationship with skill-enhancing tools.
All technology exists, in Carr’s view, to extend and amplify pre-existing sets…(read full theme analysis)
Carr decided to write The Shallows after becoming concerned about his own capacity to focus. A decade earlier, before he started to use the Internet daily, Carr had no problem staying put with a long novel or concentrating on a singular task. Recently, though, he found himself constantly distracted by a compulsion to check his email or his RSS or his Twitter feed. Carr maintains that his own case is symptomatic of a global, Internet-induced…(read full theme analysis)
One of the book’s primary concerns is whether new technologies are making us more intelligent. While almost every expert and scholar agrees that the Internet has changed the way we interact with the world, there is large disagreement about whether or not this change is actually making us smarter. While the Internet has many mental and social benefits––connectivity, accessibility––Carr warns that we are at risk for a bad trade. Diehard defenders of the Internet, in…(read full theme analysis)
Scientific context is the necessary foundation for the hypothesis embedded in the book’s subtitle, What The Internet Is Doing To Our Brains. Carr cites studies involving everything from monkeys to sea slugs. He quotes scientific experts and breaks down complex neuroscience for the layman. Giving the reader a scientific understanding of brain concepts like neuroplasticity––or the brain’s ability to change––is vital to convincing the reader that repeated use of the Internet can have lasting…(read full theme analysis)