Reading Nicholas Carr's "The Shallows" Offline, amidst a White Christmas

So between wrapping zebra puppets and trees with colored lights, I’ve been reading Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows while living offline, which is an interesting contrast. He basically argues that our internet use is changing the way our brains work, and most of his analysis is convincing, if at times repetitive and somewhat simplistic. (His comments about Facebook, for instance, seem naive, basically only seeing it as what its proponents claim it to be, “a great way to keep in touch with family and friends!”, rather than a queasy narcissistic timesuck.) The book’s strength is that it’s not a jeremiad against the internet, although perhaps that’s a weakness as well: at times he softens his criticism so much that the book seems squishy. (If it’s not a problem, so what?) But I certainly agree with some of his observations, which are generally backed up by one (dubious psychological or pseudoscientific) study or another: We’re becoming more data-hungry, more scatter-brained, and are less likely to “lose ourselves” in books more than ever. Some of his recap of the development of the book is illuminating, and when he starts to suggest that “books are dead,” he counters that with reports from the 19th century about the decline of books, which functions as a useful reality check.
And then I go out hiking in the Colorado snowdrifts. This is a picture of the creek in my backyard.

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