Carr Response

In his book, The Shallows, Nicholas Carr attempts to describe the cumulative impact of the changes in technology on the human brain. He gives a brief history of writing, there were carvings in stone, papyrus, and animal skins. Scrolls, and later books, were steps in making books easier and cheaper to travel with and make.  However, the writing was actually difficult to comprehend, being based on an oral tradition. The words were written without spaces and often out of order. Authors often had other people act as their scribes, writing things as they said them. It was easier to decipher these texts when reading them aloud. When the written word was modified, allowing for spaces between words and sentence structure, it became easier both for writers to write and readers to read. The act of writing and reading became more personal. Authors took on the task of writing themselves and felt more comfortable, as a result their works were better developed and more progressive than before. Readers were able to focus less on comprehending the text and more on experiencing it, building their own personal relationship with the text. Studies have shown that the activity in readers’ minds imitates what they read, so they are really experiencing what they read.

Carr has found that, with the introduction of the internet and the ability to just jump around from thing to thing, people have lost the ability to really immerse themselves in the text like they used to. They are no longer able to concentrate as long, they have been trained to skim texts. Even e-books are unable to recreate the experience. There are plans to take the e-book even further, adding links for readers to follow to articles and other things related to the text. Vooks are e-books with videos in them. These books have already begun being published and there are some that describe them as the next step for the novel. The ability to see a character, to access information that you aren’t sure about immediately. Carr thinks that this will only take away the personal aspect to both the writing and the reading process, where the writer in almost entirely influenced by outside interests and readers only read so they can say that they were involved.

I agree with Carr. I think that putting all of the extra things in books is only going to be a distraction for the reader. It will stunt both reader creativity and ability to focus. It may even stunt the writer, who will be forced to adapt to a new media. I honestly think that it would be too much, that no one would ever really finish a story or be able to build their own opinions.

Author: meligibs

I am an English Major because I enjoy reading and writing. I am considering a Minor in Museums Studies or in History because I like art, both looking at it and trying to make it, and learning about the past. Hope to use the skills I acquire here to become a published professional writer, like a novelist or to publicize exhibits

6 thoughts on “Carr Response”

  1. I like this perspective on “vooks”. The idea of inserting links into books to take readers to extra articles, pictures of characters, videos, and comments from other readers seems like a really good idea on the surface. It will allow each reader to for different opinions and broaden the understanding and meaning of the text by reading what others have interpreted form it. However if this were to replace the way books are today, it would be hard to form personal attachments and meanings to a piece of literature because you will be constantly connected to other ideas that will impact your understanding and opinions.


  2. Although I still buy actual books for pleasure reading, most of the books I read are e-books. I have to disagree with Carr, however, that e-books are more distracting for the reader. I actually enjoy having my favorite book right in the palm of my hand. I can pull my phone out anywhere, anytime and start reading. Whereas if I carried around a physical book with me in my purse all the time, I would become irritated and probably sore from the weight it bears. I do agree with you that they should not add those links, videos, or articles to the e-books. They will only take you away from the story you are trying to immerse yourself in. E-books should stay the way they are. As simple, digital books.


  3. Do you agree with Carr when he discusses how Vooks will take away the personal aspect of reading a story? I do. As technology expands, we tend to use it whenever we can. If it necessary to cut imagination out of story tellling just to add technology?
    I do think Carr is correct in saying that our brains have changed so drastically that our attention for detail and longer passages has shrunk, and I doubt that is going to stop soon.


  4. Mackenzie: Do you think that the shrinking attention span is a fair trade for the access to information that people now have? And do you think the shrinking attention span has spread to other things, not just reading but other things like doing math and art things? Your comment made me consider a new angle Carr might take.

    Amanda: I think I agree. The e-book simply as an e-book isn’t so bad, but adding so much extra is a bad idea. Also when I read an e-book on my laptop its a lot easier for me to get distracted looking one thing up, then another, then another.

    Nicole: I also think that so many links stifle author creativity.


  5. Melinda, Have you had a chance to read Allison’s response? (She’s in another group.) She makes an argument ebooks. I’d be interested to hear what you make of it! ~Joe


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