“The effects of technology do not occur at the level of opinions or concepts,” wrote McLuhan. Rather, they alter “patterns of perception steadily and without any resistance” (Carr 3).
When Nicholas Carr quotes Marshall McLuhan in the prologue of his book The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, he introduces the key premise that media not only alters perception, but works on the nervous system itself. From this premise, Carr unfolds his arguments about both the power and subtlety of technology and its prevalent use. Every new medium changes us, even as we engage it. This book will cause educators to pause—even as we become a culture of digital natives—to reassess our strategies, long-term outcomes, principles, and perceptions regarding what it means to be human, and what it means to teach with wisdom.
Carr arranges his text across key themes. He discusses the history of brain research, the history of technology, and the ethics of knowledge, and interfaces these with current culture to probe what this may mean to us as Internet users in the future. The first six chapters of the book are totally devoted to intellectual history. The remaining chapters focus on the object of the Internet to seize our attention only to scatter it.