Technology evolves with each passing generation. For instance the internet is something that some people consider as a lifeline, an extra limb, while others think that it is the devil in disguise ready to take your life and other lives around you. The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our brains by Nicholas Carr a New York Times bestseller published by W.W. Norton and company , is a novel that explores how new technology affects humans in different ways, regarding distractions, to how the internet makes us lose a little part of ourselves every day. In the book Carr develops his argument just a baker would a beautiful wedding cake. He lays down the foundation in a very tedious and stirring way. He begins an argument that defines the book as a whole, which is his argument on the dangers our society may encounter through the use of the internet. Carr proves this throughout the book with the use of these four main arguments: personal anecdotes, scientific facts, historical facts, and reason based arguments. The first example that proves Carr’s main argument is in his introduction with his use of personal anecdotes on the way the internet has changed him.
One of the first things Carr brings up in his book the shallows is how he feels trapped in an upgrading cycle and how the world is changing with it. He states “The more I used it the more it alter the way I worked.” (13) The world is so fast paced now no one has the time or the attention span to read a book or an article and retain its knowledge Carr explains in the first chapter Hal and Me of his book. Instead we just scan and skim on the web. “Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of worlds now I zip along the surface line a guy on a jet ski.” ( 7) These statements that Carr brings up in the first chapter makes the readers question whether their own action have changed the same way. A different statement that Carr says that makes the reader stop and thin is “I missed my old brain” (16) this makes the reader think that there is something wrong with his brain or what happed to his brain and allows the readers to reflect on how the internet may have a negative or pessimistic view. So not only did Nicholas Carr in the very begging state his argument but he also built upon the readers ability to believe what he is saying to true because he brought a personal relationship into the book and makes the reader believe he is just like any other human. Secondly Carr turns from a style that is informal to a style that is very informative, and switches gears in the next couple of chapters of the book to lay down his foundation of his argument. He uses scientific facts to prove the effects technology has had our society.
He begins by first showing that mankind first thought our brain where not moldable after a curtain age. “Even as our knowledge of physical workings of the brain during the last century, one old assumption remained firmly in place: most biologist and neurologist continued to believe, as they have for hundreds of years, that the structure of the adult brain never changed” (20) This account Carr disproves with Michael Merzenich discovery of the brain and other advancements in brain science. For instance, “the brain‘s plasticity is not limited to the soamatosenory cortex…it’s universal.”(26) Which suggest that our brain can adapt and change because it can be universal, malleable, meaning that technology can change our thoughts we aren’t just hard wired one way or other as Carr has proven here with the facts that it doesn’t matter if you are fifty five or five our brain can change the way we do something because of its plasticity. “The brain is not the machine we once thought it to be.” (29) Thirdly Carr lays down his argument with his reference to history and how the importance of the old technology humans used has changed our way of thinking and seeing as well. For Instance, “Maps are a tool we built and they transmit information but also embody a particular mode of seeing and thinking.” (41) If we never made maps then we would never have adapted an abstract way of thinking. Carr here lays down the road for the reader to start thinking here that if maps can change the way we think and see things the maybe the internet can to. An additional piece of history the readers could draw a conclusion that our lives and way we think is changing was the history of the clock. “Life was in a words of the French medievalist Jacques le Goff dominated by agrarian rhythms, free of haste, carless of exactitude, unconcerned by productivity.” (41) This was before the clock was created. Now Carr says if not for the clock we would still be in a time of carelessness, free from haste. “The mechanical clock changed the way we saw ourselves.” (43) With the clocks being made the readers can conclude that if not for the clocks the world would not be at such a fast pass way thinking we would get mad the internet takes twenty seconds to load a page.
We would still be at a time of dial up or even worse a typewriter. With every change throughout history our minds adapt and change to. Fourthly Carr makes his argument clear in the last couple of chapters of the book using reason based arguments. All these technological changes, Carr argues, have side-effects that mostly affect our deep-brain thinking for example “ the net is making us smarter in other words, only if we define intelligence by the Net’s standards. (141) Basically while the Internet gives us access to all important information, it reduces our brains deep thoughts because its training our brain to no longer need to store as much information in our brains. Another reason based argument Carr brings to light is the our IQ scores. The average critical reading score fell 3.3 percent, from 48.3 to 46.7 and the average writing score dropped 6.9 percent from 49.2 to 45.8 in the years from 1999 to 2008. They haven’t increased at all in these years, we are not smarter then our parents or our parents- parents we are just smart in different ways because of the internet we can solve puzzles and put things into catergories. It doesn’t mean we are dumb but it just means that our brains are different. ( 145-148)Thus proving Carrs argument that there is a danger to using the internet.
All in all, It’s not like we can change the course of technology and reverse these negative effects. People are on the interne all the time now and need to check their email, go on facebook, look on ebay..etc. People thought this would lead to an increase in productivity, but in many ways productivity has decreased because people are now no longer as focused on what they are working on. They are focused on everything else, the more we use the web the more we train our brain to be distracted. This is what Carr came to a conclusion on which helps to explain his main reason on that technology is changing our minds because our brains become skilled at foretting and clumsy when it comes to remembering.
However “Quite a few people still listen to vinyl records, use film cameras to take photographs, and look up phone numbers in the printed Yellow Pages. But the old technologies lose their economic and cultural force. They become progress’s dead ends. It’s the new technologies that govern production and consumption, that guide people’s behavior and shape their perceptions. That’s why the future of knowledge and culture no longer lies in books or newspapers or TV shows or radio programs or records or CDs. It lies in digital files shot through our universal medium at the speed of light.” ( ) This is what Carr came to a conclusion of and this is what the internet is doing to our brain.