About The Shallows
It is indeed common to have such arguments thrown at us with the advent of every new technology and Nicholas Carr makes an effort to acknowledge this. His primary argument rests of neuro-plasticity, human brain's tendency to rewire itself when we start using a tool frequently. And, this is not about developing a new habit, but this essentially comes at the expense of an old habit, and in what is the book's most eloquent sections, he makes the point about the history and the cultural effects of the book itself. Indeed, he refers back to Socratic defence of the Oral tradition, where Socrates warns against Writing, saying that this would be a tool 'not of memory, but of reminder'. The same argument holds against the Internet today, with its infinite repository of data along with its capacity of immeasurable distraction.
The book also draws on the theory of Cognitive Load, developed by John Seweller and others, which dwells on the understanding of human memory in two parts, a small working memory and an almost infinite capacity long term memory. The argument here is that using internet puts working memory in stress, because at every step, one needs to make choices and decisions, and therefore create a bottleneck and limit our capacity to reflect and cultivate a thought.
I must admit that I could connect with this book as I reckon I suffer from a bit of a Attention Deficiency Disorder, and sometimes struggle to read a book these days. This is surprising, because I love reading. But it is common these days that as I start reading, all sorts of ideas start buzzing in my head. More interestingly, and this is where I tend to agree to the thesis put forward by the book in question, sometimes my reading gets waylaid by the references made in the text I am reading. So, often, as I see a reference of another work in the body of text, I shall stop and jump to the reference section and see what's being referred to. And, quite commonly, this will lead to another exploration, often on Amazon or on an Electronic Database or Google if I am near a computer or have my phone nearby, and - way leads to another way - will soon stop reading the main text altogether. I have recognized this as one of habits I wish to change, and Nicholas Carr's book almost explains why I may be suffering from such a problem (though I don't want to be deterministic).