Books & links

As an avid reader on a wide range of subjects, this page will be updated from time to time with books, reviews and links to other resources that I find interesting.  Subject matter will range from Australian and international politics, through to backyard food growing; onlineresearch resources through to religion or philosophy.

7th January 2011

Two recent books on the same subject, from totally different perspectives but ultimately coming to the same conclusion:

The Winter of Our Disconnect, by Susan Maushart (Bantam Books Australia 2010)

The Shallows by Nicholas Carr (Atlantic Books London 2010)

Maushart is best known as a columnist for The Australian, making witty observations about life in general from the perspective of a single mother of three.  The Winter of Our Disconnect describes what she and her three teenagers came to refer to as ‘the experiment’, when she plunged her family into a screen-free six months (that’s TV, computers, gaming systems, mobile phones … the lot) to see how they’d handle it.  The result was – incredibly, surprising well.  In her inimitable style she describes the changes that occurred in the family dynamics as her kids started to converse with her and each other and found activities that didn’t involve staring at a screen for hours on end.  She also goes into quite a bit of the research about the effect of the internet and instant communications on the human brain.  Her own ‘experiment’ ended well enough for others to want to try it – yep, do try this at home kids.

Carr’s book is not as entertaining and certainly not laugh-out-loud funny (Maushart’s is, by the way) but provides a highly credible, well-researched and strongly argued case to back up Maushart’s personal observation of her own family.  The internet, as well as giving us instant access to almost anything, is also changing the way we think – quite literally, it is changing the human brain and our capacity for thought and with it, all other areas of our lives as well.  For those of us who spend large amounts of time in front of computer as part of our daily life and for whom a world without internet is a terrifying thought, this is a timely wake-up call.

*****

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