Jose Carillo's Forum


This section features discussions on education, learning and teaching, and language with particular focus on English. The primary subjects to be taken up here are notable advocacies and contrary viewpoints in these disciplines and their allied fields. Our primary aim is to clarify matters and issues of importance to language and learning, provide intelligent and useful instruction, promote rational and critical thinking, and enhance the individual’s overall capacity for discernment.

Backlash of the Web’s frenzy of attention-pulverizing technology

In his newly released book, The Shallows: What The Internet is Doing to Our Brains (W. W. Norton & Company, 276 pages), Nicolas Carr insists that the so-called information society might be more accurately described as “the interruption society.” The former executive editor of the Harvard Business Review argues that the Net’s electronic torrent “pulverizes attention and stuffs the mind with trivia,” and that our texting, IM-ing, iPhoning, Twittering, and Google searches have changed the very mode of our everyday thought from “calm, focused, undistracted” linearity into “a new kind of mind that wants and needs to take in and dole out information in short, disjointed, often overlapping bursts.”

The Net, Carr warns, is causing people to devolve inexorably into “lab rats constantly pressing levers to get tiny pellets of social or intellectual nourishment.” He says that the Net is delivering “precisely the kind of sensory and cognitive stimuli—repetitive, intensive, interactive, addictive—that have been shown to result in strong and rapid alterations in brain circuits and functions.” He concludes that for this reason, the Net, with the exception of alphabets and number systems, “may well be the single most powerful mind-altering technology that has ever come into general use.”

Reviewing Carr’s book in the June 7, 2010 issue of, Todd Gitlin finds Carr’s arguments against the information society “tendentious” but praises them for their lucidity and lapel-grabbing earnestness. Gitlin, a graduate school professor who has authored several books about media and religion, says that some of Carr’s analyses about the Net “suffer from exaggeration and overkill.” He thinks that Carr “is not shy about plunging headlong into extravagant claims,” but he concedes that those claims “cannot be dismissed as the mutterings of an obsolescent graybeard.” He believes that Carr’s repeated alarms against the adverse effects of the Net might, in fact, be right. “There is good reason, after all,” he says, “why we are living through something of a backlash against the frenzy of attention dispersion, a backlash for which Carr’s book will become canonical.”

Read Todd Gitlin’s “The Uses of Half-True Alarms” in now!

Read "The Shallows: Is the Net Fostering Stupidity?" in BusinessWeek now!

Read the contrarian view of Steven Pinker in "Mind Over Mass Media"!


In an article he wrote for the May 24, 2010 issue of Wired Magazine, Nicolas Carr relates the results of an experiment conducted in 2007 by Gary Small, a psychiatry professor of the University of California in Los Angeles, on six volunteers—three experienced Web surfers and three novices—for a study on brain activity.

Read Nicolas Carr’s “The Web Shatters Focus, Rewires Brains” in Wired Magazine now!


Nicholas Carr writes on the social, economic, and business implications of technology. He is the author of the 2008 Wall Street Journal bestseller The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google, which, according the Christian Science Monitor, is “widely considered to be the most influential book so far on the cloud computing movement.” His earlier book, Does IT Matter?, published in 2004, was described by The New York Times as laying out “the simple truths of the economics of information technology in a lucid way, with cogent examples and clear analysis.” Carr has written for many periodicals, including The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Magazine, Wired, The Financial Times, Die Zeit, The Futurist, and Advertising Age, and has been a columnist for The Guardian and The Industry Standard.

Click to read responses or post a response

View the complete list of postings in this section
(requires registration to view & post)


Copyright © 2010 by Aperture Web Development. All rights reserved.

Page best viewed with:

Mozilla FirefoxGoogle Chrome

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Valid CSS!

Page last modified: 19 June, 2010, 2:25 a.m.