Last year, adults in North America were apparently spending an average of twelve hours a week online, double the time devoted only four years previously. Perhaps more thought-provoking still is that this activity, which constituted some third of all leisure time, was not being subtracted from, but was additional to, other screen pastimes such as watching television. In sad contrast, another recent survey showed that the average American over fourteen years of age was spending a mere 143 minutes a week reading printed works. For the writer and journalist Nicholas Carr, the increasing predilection for online living is changing the way we think in a truly deep way – or more accurately in a ‘shallow’ way: hence the title of this highly readable and timely book.
Carr sets the scene for his concerns by combining history, personal anecdote and science. As a result, his narrative is flabby in places – for example, with an overly detailed account of the rise of Google. And, as is inevitable in an interdisciplinary work, we can sometimes see