The Shallows: table of contents

My next book, The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, argues that the tools we use to think with – our “intellectual technologies” – not only shape our habits of thought but exert an actual physical influence on the neurons and synapses in our brains. I look at the Internet, an extraordinarily powerful intellectual technology, in this context, examining what the scientific and historical evidence tells about the effects it is having on our thoughts, memories, and even emotions – and how different the effects are from those exerted by earlier intellectual technologies such as the printed book.

Here’s the table of contents for The Shallows:

Prologue: “The Watchdog and the Thief”

Chapter 1: “HAL and Me”

Chapter 2: “The Vital Paths”

Chapter 3: “Tools of the Mind”

Chapter 4: “The Deepening Page”

Chapter 5: “A Medium of the Most General Nature”

Chapter 6: “The Very Image of a Book”

Chapter 7: “The Juggler’s Brain”

Chapter 8: “The Church of Google”

Chapter 9: “Search, Memory”

Chapter 10: “A Thing Like Me”

Epilogue: “Human Elements”

The Shallows will be published in June in North America, by W. W. Norton, and in September in the U.K., by Atlantic Books. Translated editions are also forthcoming.

9 thoughts on “The Shallows: table of contents

  1. BillHiggins

    I haven’t read your book (obviously) and what I’m about to say is quite speculative, but I’m interested in your thoughts.

    The much rumored Apple Tablet (which might cease to be a rumor in ~ 48 hours) has been rumored to be a next-generation media device that will allow true hypermedia (integrated text, audio, video) on what will likely be a gorgeous device.

    Could it be that the shallowness that you observe is simply one mode of working in the Internet-world – e.g. reading Tweets or a blog entry summarizing a book is much easier (though also much shallower) than actually reading a book. Could it be that once the tablet “shows the way” (sorry for how that sounds) that it could unleash a new wave of deep learning because we’ll have a device that’s not just always with us and always connected to the network but has enough textual/audio/visual capabilities and a big enough screen that it will enable us to do a whole new class of “deep learning”?

    One other random thought… I’ve transitioned most of my “reading” to Audiobooks because it allows me to multitask (e.g. listen to the new Richard Dawkins book while cleaning my kitchen). While this certainly isn’t as romantic as reading a big book in your study with a glass of tea next to you, I find myself addicted to this mode of learning. Ditto podcasts, which are interesting in that they go into EXTREME depth on “long tail” topics that would never merit such depth in mainstream media.

    Sorry for the meandering thoughts… just trying to contribute a few thoughts to this interesting topic but need to return to the frenetic pace of work!

  2. Seth Finkelstein

    Sorry, Nick, I see the politics involved, but one doesn’t have to be a woolly-minded techno-utopian to criticize this as pandering to reactionary fogeys. I assume you know what you’re doing in terms of playing angles which appeal to the frightened and fearful (“exert an actual physical influence on the neurons and synapses in our brains”). And I certainly can’t argue against it being a “success”. But it’s the sort of material which makes me wish again that there was more support for what I call tech-positive social criticism.

  3. Danbloom

    Nick, what REALLY interests me, is whether or not one day we will want or need or benefit from a new word for “screen-reading” since screen-reading is so different mentally and emotiinally from reading text on paper surfaces, and future MRI brain scans at UCLA will show that different parts of our brains light up when we are reading on … See Morepaper compared to when we, er, “read”, on these screens. I say it is NOT reading per se. But a new kind of reading that calls out for a new term. I coined “screening” as a starter fire, to get a discussion going, giving screening a new meaning apart from its earlier meanings. But I am sure others will nominate other new or old terms for screen-reading-which-is-so-different-from-paper-reading, and I would llove to hear more people discuss this with an open mind. So far Kevin Kelly and Paul Saffo back me up on this idea. Anybody else agree this might be a good direction to go in? I am all ears. And I am not married to the word “screening” — and i have no agenda — whatever word or term FITS, that’s the one we should adopt. Yes or no?

  4. John

    I think it’s an important point. An obvious point, but an important one nonetheless that people are getting dumber by using Twitter and Facebook. People understand the danger of smoking or drinking alcohol but they don’t comprehend the dangers of other tools they use like Facebook and Twitter. A great discussion which you might like Mr. Carr on the effects of the ubiquitous facebook photos and Twitter on people’s lives:

  5. imkoleva

    Congratulations on the new book, waiting forward to see the details in it. Certainly – it is a different reading, learning, view and communication approaches we are getting used to thanks to the little machines :)

    I notice a tendency to read books online rather than good old paper… because I read faster; but even when I read books, I do the browsing, multi-tabbing; skimming, etc… habits from online reading. Typing is faster than hand-writing, writing without the spell-check is a disaster;

    I am forgetting most of the ‘encyclopedic’ knowledge from high school… I am lazy to make myself search in my memories – I google instead.

    What is more interesting, recently I notice that I have started watching movies in the same way; not exaggerating- it is getting irritating for me to watch movies in the cinema, because I cannot FF. Often even in every day routine, I wish I had a FF, but instead – open a new tab in my mind ;)

    Congratulations to all of you who are reading this part – this text is getting way too long already… Last drop of enthusiasm on the subject, and I will keep it short.

    Business communication changes so much the way we write to our friends; the way we talk to our family; the preferred channels of communication; the tolerance to response timings. Just think of it, and here is my example – I was chatting in skype with a friend, and at the same time, she sent me an e-mail, stating 3 options(routes, hours, agenda) among which by date xx, I was supposed to pick one… and reply by e-mail …for our trip in the holidays! Does it sound familiar?

    How long until emoticons get to be the first thing to show up when we want to express an emotion? Too late?

  6. MelinaDayan

    I’ve just started to read your book, very interesting read.

    Felt a bit uncomfortable seeing you completely omit the Aramaic/Semitic languages in you review in chapter 3.

    But as I said, interesting read nonetheless.

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