For this reading log, I’d like to focus on Chapter 6 of The Shallows. I thought the anecdotes on pages 102-103 about how people felt after first reading on a Kindle were especially intriguing. On 103, Steven Johnson states “I fear that one of the great joys of reading–the total immersion in another world, or in the world of the author’s ideas–will be compromised. We all may read books the way we increasingly read magazines and newspapers: a little bit here, a little bit there.”
Johnson’s words raised a few questions for me: 1) why will digital readers cause the “total immersion in another world” be to be compromised? This argument seems to come up quite often in The Shallows, and I just don’t get it. I think Johnson and Carr are trying to imply that modern technologies will eventually start restraining our imaginations, and I simply don’t agree with this. In fact, I think the Kindle and technology in general make our imaginations much more vivid. A good example of this is with cartoons and animated movies. If you watch a Disney movie like Dumbo (which was made long before computers were around) and compare it with a modern animated movie such as Monsters Inc., you will see just how much technology has broadened our imaginations. Dumbo and Monsters Inc. can’t be compared, and Monsters Inc. is a testament to what technology and the human imagination can accomplish when they work in harmony.
The second question that Johnson raised for me is this: what’s so inherently wrong with reading “a little bit here, a little bit there?” If you sit down and read a chemistry textbook from cover to cover without skipping a word, you will probably become a chemistry expert when you’re done. However, what’s the point of devoting all your time and effort to becoming a chemistry expert if you know absolutely nothing about history or English? When it comes to knowledge and learning, I feel the most prudent thing to do is avoid putting all your eggs in one basket.
Finally, Chapters 8 & 9 of The Shallows have caused me to wonder what our generation’s offspring will be like. When people my age start having children ten or so years down the road, how will technology impact their lives? My little brother is one year old, and he already knows how to tap his fingers on my iPhone to make it call someone. When I was one, iPhones weren’t even around. The future in terms of technology and the Internet seems very bright, but Carr’s book has got me thinking about whether or not technology will eventually become too big a part of our lives.