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REFLECTION PAPER Carr, N. (2010). The shallows: What the internet is doing to our brains.
Carr spends most of the first half of his book talking about how previous communication technologies have wrought change to our culture and to our very mode of thinking, similar to (and sometimes even citing) what Ong and Postman talked about. Carr notes how we are more capable of multi-tasking, but less capable of deep thought; more able to leverage the internet’s capabilities to augment our knowledge, but less able to comprehend and retain that information; more capable of decoding diverse information (and perhaps reading more overall), but less capable of the “deep reading” that is required in order for what we read to have a useful impact. In this paper, I want you to reflect on your own engagement with the internet. Do Carr’s words ring true to you? Do you worry about how the internet wires your brain, or do you think that the benefits outweigh the detriments? To that end, are there aspects of the internet—in terms of either content or type of use—that you feel allow you to either overcome those shortcomings, or allow you to continue to utilize the neural connections that Carr describes as becoming increasingly atrophied at a near societal level? (Note: Chapters 5 and 7 in particular will be helpful in writing this paper, although the whole of the first half of the book can be utilized.)