Smarter Than You Think
It's undeniable—technology is changing the way we think. But is it for the better? Amid a chorus of doomsayers, Clive Thompson delivers a resounding "yes." The Internet age has produced a radical new style of human intelligence, worthy of both celebration and analysis. We learn more and retain it longer, write and think with global audiences, and even gain an ESP-like awareness of the world around us. Modern technology is making us smarter, better connected, and often deeper—both as individuals and as a society. In Smarter Than You Think Thompson shows that every technological innovation—from the written word to the printing press to the telegraph—has provoked the very same anxieties that plague us today. We panic that life will never be the same, that our attentions are eroding, that culture is being trivialized. But as in the past, we adapt—learning to use the new and retaining what’s good of the old. Thompson introduces us to a cast of extraordinary characters who augment their minds in inventive ways. There's the seventy-six-year old millionaire who digitally records his every waking moment—giving him instant recall of the events and ideas of his life, even going back decades. There's a group of courageous Chinese students who mounted an online movement that shut down a $1.6 billion toxic copper plant. There are experts and there are amateurs, including a global set of gamers who took a puzzle that had baffled HIV scientists for a decade—and solved it collaboratively in only one month. Smarter Than You Think isn't just about pioneers. It's about everyday users of technology and how our digital tools—from Google to Twitter to Facebook and smartphones—are giving us new ways to learn, talk, and share our ideas. Thompson harnesses the latest discoveries in social science to explore how digital technology taps into our long-standing habits of mind—pushing them in powerful new directions. Our thinking will continue to evolve as newer tools enter our lives. Smarter Than You Think embraces and extols this transformation, presenting an exciting vision of the present and the future.

Smarter Than You Think Details

TitleSmarter Than You Think
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseSep 12th, 2013
PublisherPenguin Press
ISBN-139781594204456
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Science, Technology, Psychology, Business

Smarter Than You Think Review

  • Walt
    January 1, 1970
    Old man review. Read at your own risk.As you get older, the illusion is that time goes by faster. The theory, I think, is that the segment that is passing --- the hour, day, or week --- is a smaller and smaller fraction of the hours, days, etc. that you have lived. Your time is being used up and you only have a smaller fraction of what you had. At the ripe old age of sixty-five, this dynamic has certainly kicked in for me.Time seems to be passing by way too fast; I have too little of it left to Old man review. Read at your own risk.As you get older, the illusion is that time goes by faster. The theory, I think, is that the segment that is passing --- the hour, day, or week --- is a smaller and smaller fraction of the hours, days, etc. that you have lived. Your time is being used up and you only have a smaller fraction of what you had. At the ripe old age of sixty-five, this dynamic has certainly kicked in for me.Time seems to be passing by way too fast; I have too little of it left to assimilate everything that I need to or want to. I am like a computer you buy, utilize, fill up, and that eventually begins to be too full, inadequate in capacity and speed, freezing up, and crashing. Furthermore, keeping up with the pace of technology seems to have a similar dynamic: I can't keep up and at times I don't want to even try keeping up. Therefore, going into reading this book, SMARTER THAN YOU THINK: HOW TECHNOLOGY IS CHANGING OUR MINDS FOR THE BETTER, I thought that technology wasn't necessarily changing my mind for the better. I didn't have adequate time and, perhaps, the ability for it to do so. For example, I haven't adopted to cell phones and such e-devices as readily or as rapidly as many of my friends, neighbors and relatives, often to my detriment, but more often to my delight and my contemporaries' chagrin.But I think Clive Thompson makes some astute observations and plausible explanations for why he believes technology changes our minds for the better. I, of course, enjoyed reading the various histories in the evolution of innovation that he tells about and about humankind's continuing reluctances through the years and now to accept change. I also enjoyed reading about new innovations, innovators, and conceptions of human intelligence, etc. What a delight! How overwhelming! I did enjoy the read, and as I perused and contemplated what I had read I did realize that I do incorporate innovation, even in old age, into my life to make things easier. For example, I'm utilizing voice dictation software in order to write this because it has become more and more painful and irritating to type things out because of arthritis.I am not, however, convinced that we retain our learning longer than we used to. However, learning is much more accessible in our era than ever before and that is the dynamic that has been changing and seems to be continuing to change. I like it that I can have access to information now that I could never have access to so readily in earlier periods of my lifetime.Some change, however, is quite scary. I think of the contemporary crises involving data collection by the NSA, for example. Doesn't it have a tendency to put into jeopardy all notions of privacy that we might have? Furthermore, without a clean and clear commitment of mind to the whole enterprise of technology, it is all for naught. People become addicted to mindlessness: playing perhaps entertaining games and watching and being stimulated by videos and whatnot in an addictive manner that doesn't necessarily improve the mind or the quality of living but wastes it away. So, the caveat is always it only works to better your mind if you apply yourself in a responsible way.
    more
  • Aseem Kaul
    January 1, 1970
    Whoever came up with the title for Clive Thompson's new book Smarter Than You Think got it wrong. Thompson's book is not so much about how technology is making us smarter, as it is about how technology is enabling those you who use it in new and creative ways to think more efficiently and (sometimes) more effectively. The book would be better titled Smarter IF You Think. As a result of the misnaming Thompson's book is, as it turns out, more interesting than I expected going in. While it's very m Whoever came up with the title for Clive Thompson's new book Smarter Than You Think got it wrong. Thompson's book is not so much about how technology is making us smarter, as it is about how technology is enabling those you who use it in new and creative ways to think more efficiently and (sometimes) more effectively. The book would be better titled Smarter IF You Think. As a result of the misnaming Thompson's book is, as it turns out, more interesting than I expected going in. While it's very much a book written in response to all the usual hand-wringing and doomsaying around technology, the case it makes for the benefits of technology is more cautiously optimistic than celebratory. Which makes it, to my pleasant surprise, an almost reasonable book.Thompson's case for the cognitive benefits of technology outweighing its costs is, as I see it, two-fold. On the one hand, the negative aspects of technology generally involve the transfer of old habits to new media. So, for instance, people have always been easily distracted petty narcissists having trivial discussions and seeking confirmation for their own biases through homophily; Facebook and Twitter do not create these tendencies, at most they simply make them much more visible than they were before. On the other hand, the positive aspect of technology is that when used in creative ways that leverage the comparative advantages of both humans and machines it can enable new ways of learning, organizing and discovery that make us collectively more effective. This is not an unreasonable argument, and the examples that Thompson provides of the ways in which technology helps improve the human experience are by and large convincing, and entirely fascinating, if seemingly cherry-picked. So, for instance, Thompson points to an example of a school program that uses video games to help pique student's curiosity about history and politics. This is a delightful idea, and makes a great deal of sense, but it does not really speak to the general impact of video games on the education of teenagers. My own take, for what it's worth, is that a) while technology can make us 'smarter' if used creatively and intelligently, that is not generally how it is currently being used, nor is it obvious that these creative and intelligent uses will catch on (though one can, and should, hope); b) there is no inherent contradiction between technology making us smarter as a collective but dumber as individuals, and that by lowering the challenges of communication and coordination that is precisely what technology is doing and c) as a consequence of b technology may in fact make us better at some tasks and worse at others, so that the net effect may not be so much to make us better or worse but just different. That said, I enjoyed reading Thompson's book, both because of the examples of creative use of new technologies it provides, and for its accurate criticism of the knee jerk negativity you see in too many media discussions on the effect of technology on society. But mostly, I enjoyed reading it because it made me think about how I use technology in my own life and what I could do to use it better. Whether or not technology is changing our minds for the better, I think Thompson's book certainly did, and that is reason enough to read it.
    more
  • Paul
    January 1, 1970
    Technology splits people into two camps; there are some who feel that the advent of the smartphone and internet means that the we are losing that extra element that makes us human similar to this: And there are others that love it, and feel that the extra benefits that you gain are worth it.In this book Thompson writes about the innovative and creative ways that people and organisations are using technologies for all manner of things. In it he uses lots of positive examples; there are detail of Technology splits people into two camps; there are some who feel that the advent of the smartphone and internet means that the we are losing that extra element that makes us human similar to this: And there are others that love it, and feel that the extra benefits that you gain are worth it.In this book Thompson writes about the innovative and creative ways that people and organisations are using technologies for all manner of things. In it he uses lots of positive examples; there are detail of how video games are being used in education to teach pupils how societies need as many farmers as warriors to function. He covers the battles between the grand masters and the chess computers. There is a chapter on a university professor who recorded every single moment of his child’s formative years by having a series of cameras all around the home. He captured the moment his son took his first steps, and the first words he uttered, and how they have used this data in developing a deeper understanding of speech development. Politics creep in to it too, politicians are great are skewing the electoral boundaries so they are guaranteed a safe seat, but people are fighting back using electoral data and a mapping tool. With this mere amateurs could bring the districts back to a fair balance of voters and give the public back democracy.Search is a big thing too, rather than remember things people just use Google (other search engines are available...), which is great until you have no internet connection. He considers those early adopters who have used wearable tech to record their memories and their daily events, and the methods that they use to find moments of significance. As search technology improves, locating a specific memory or event is becoming easier, but no matter how much you want it to, Google will never find your keys. Games are now much more complex than the early point and shoot ones; some modern games have layers and layers of detail and many online ones are collaborative too; to reach the end of a quest means that you have to share information and skills. Collabaration too can playa part in trawling massive amounts of data; when the parliamentary expenses scandal happened, the Guardian didn’t have enough journalists and researchers to read all 170,000 receipts, so they release them and 20,000 people went through the entire lot in four day, finding gems like the moat and the duck house.There are many other examples too, and it is written in a similar manner to Gladwell’s books, packed full of interesting and inspirational stories of people who are using modern digital tools, and makes for a very enjoyable and readable book.
    more
  • Jen
    January 1, 1970
    I wasn't sure what this book would be like, or how I would feel about it, but I heard several recommendations for it on my book podcasts, so I thought I'd try it. And it turned out to be really intresting and serendipitously totally related to courses I am taking in my first semester of my MLIS grad program. My only qualm/concern about this book is how relatable it will be in a few years, some of the references are very very of the moment, and the technology obviously it. It did teach me about S I wasn't sure what this book would be like, or how I would feel about it, but I heard several recommendations for it on my book podcasts, so I thought I'd try it. And it turned out to be really intresting and serendipitously totally related to courses I am taking in my first semester of my MLIS grad program. My only qualm/concern about this book is how relatable it will be in a few years, some of the references are very very of the moment, and the technology obviously it. It did teach me about Snapchat, though :)The basic concern that Thompson throws out is that everyone says that technology is making us dumber, that we can't focus on anything because all we read is 140 character tweets, and googling everything is making us lose knowledge and we don't use our brains for anything. Turns out the opposite is true. Quick summaries of things I found interesting that were discussed in this book:-people think kids/people in general don't write anymore(prose, not physical writing with pens). Except that copious postings in online forums, fanfiction, etc totally count as writing, and people produce tons of it every year. Writing a blog and knowing you have an audience can make you a better writer.-there was a chapter on finding information, which is the subject of an entire class I am taking right now, and hit on the highlights of some ways of organizing info in libraries and elsewhere that I just learned about, so that was neat, and reinforcing. -people complain about kids playing video games, like World of Warcraft, but all that chatting and strategy actually benefits their math skills. There are kids who make insane spreadsheets about which weapons or spells defeat which enemies. -my favorite chapter was on "ambient awareness", which is what you get from following everyone's tweets and Facebook updates. you eventually gain a broad picture of someone's life once you begin following them. People meet up in person and pick up on conversations about something one posted earlier. Couples who continually text/chat all day have a closer relationship, even if they are long-distance, from the constant awareness of what the other person is doing. You realize something is up with your friend if they normally post 10 times a day on Facebook, and then suddenly stop posting. You have an extended network of information where you might find a job or apartment from a friend of a friend of a friend because something got retweeted a few times. -there was also a chapter on the usefulness of crowd-sourcing help or disseminating info during a disaster. examples from the Haiti earthquake, the Arab Spring uprising, and a few others showed how powerful these tools are and things happened that just weren't possible years ago. Definitely worth a read if you're interesting in social networking, current tech trends, and how it can improve your life, or just what it's doing to society in general.
    more
  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    I really liked this book. I had previously read The Shallows by Nicholas Carr and found it very odd. Carr went through his book describing how every time a new technology appears everyone freaks out about how it is ruining humanity, but in the end it doesn't, and it ends up being an important tool we use, and then Carr concludes but this time it is real. The internet will make us lose our ability to think deeply and this is horrible. Thompson on the other hand draws the more logical conclusion t I really liked this book. I had previously read The Shallows by Nicholas Carr and found it very odd. Carr went through his book describing how every time a new technology appears everyone freaks out about how it is ruining humanity, but in the end it doesn't, and it ends up being an important tool we use, and then Carr concludes but this time it is real. The internet will make us lose our ability to think deeply and this is horrible. Thompson on the other hand draws the more logical conclusion that the internet does cause us to think differently, but it allows us to do some powerful things that are good. He tempers this optimism with acknowledgement that the internet isn't good for everything and sometimes you need to disconnect in order to get something done, but that is how new tools work--you pick and choose how and why you use them. He then goes on to provide interesting anecdotes on what areas the internet and the power of group-think excel and where they struggle. Overall I found that I related very well to what he said about using computers as an extra place to store memories. I often find myself storing information in my head as search terms, versus the specific facts themselves. Another example is that I am good at math, but have a very difficult time doing math in my head. I just can't seem to hold more than a couple numbers in my head at a time. If I hadn't been allowed to use a calculator throughout school I probably would not have ended up as a computer programmer.
    more
  • Pete Welter
    January 1, 1970
    Historically, as Thompson points out in "Smarter Than You Think", new media or thinking tools are met by some people as weakening the power of human thought by being used as intellectual crutches. The written word, the printing press, the coffee houses of Europe, the novel, the telegraph, the telephone, the Internet. Each of them were labeled at the time of their invention as making less human or less capabile in one sense or another.In all those cases, the world changed, but it didn't entirely Historically, as Thompson points out in "Smarter Than You Think", new media or thinking tools are met by some people as weakening the power of human thought by being used as intellectual crutches. The written word, the printing press, the coffee houses of Europe, the novel, the telegraph, the telephone, the Internet. Each of them were labeled at the time of their invention as making less human or less capabile in one sense or another.In all those cases, the world changed, but it didn't entirely change. They became integrated into our intellectual toolboxes, enabling us to offload some of the details from our brain, to make room for all the ideas that became available through new communication media.In this book, looks at the effect digital tools and the Internet have on way we think today, the way we solve problems, and the way we frame the world. * What happens we can offload significant portions of our semantic memory to external sources? (and that means not only the Internet, but also other people - finding/knowing somebody who has the information you want)* What affect does writing and creating for audiences that care have on the quality, the quality and the type of what we personally produce? And what does that audience look like, in size and in composition? (I really liked his term "public thinking" for this process).* What happens when you have ambient awareness - micro-updates of what people are doing - of people in your social circle and outside of it? How does that change how and what we communicate?* How does being highly connected change how we collaborate to solve large problems? Are there problems or ways of framing problems that enable them to be addressed by "the crowd?"* What does knowing and learning mean in an era where factual knowledge is readily available, collaborators are at our fingertips, and experimenting and playing with ideas is simple and fast?"Smarter Than You Think" looks at all of these from multiple angles, from the positive and the negative, from historical context to the "state of the art."This book hit a sweet spot for me. While it was very readable and held my interest through out, it had enough academic references for me to follow up on and explore. In numerous cases I found myself connecting his ideas my personal experiences and observations living through the changes of our digital age. In general, his relative optimism tempered by certain cautions meshed with my own worldview pretty closely. If you are decidedly pessimistic about the role of technology in our thinking process, you might find the book doesn't match your tastes quite as well (but is still very worth reading).The book caused me to re-examine how much and what I should be writing and communicating online, and with whom. I need to go try more stuff, but I certainly have a few more directions to try.In the end, the idea that stuck with me most powerfully was:"How should you respond when you get powerful new tools for finding answers?" Think of harder questions.
    more
  • Peter Mcloughlin
    January 1, 1970
    This book looks at digital technology and its effect on psychology, education, politics, and society and though nuanced in its view concludes that they are a net positive on us. I found some things in this book about how gamers, social media, online education, net activism have had remarkable success in improving our intelligence, helping our politics (although not always), and helping us socially. It has remarkable findings that new media like Khan Academy can improve student learning greatly ( This book looks at digital technology and its effect on psychology, education, politics, and society and though nuanced in its view concludes that they are a net positive on us. I found some things in this book about how gamers, social media, online education, net activism have had remarkable success in improving our intelligence, helping our politics (although not always), and helping us socially. It has remarkable findings that new media like Khan Academy can improve student learning greatly (up to two standard deviations in academic percentile) when supplemented to ordinary teacher student interaction in the classroom and allows for what is called the flipped classroom. This is where the student is assigned lectures on Youtube to watch at their own pace and spends time working on problems in the classroom where the teacher can help students when they have trouble solving a particular problem. This is the opposite of classroom lecture and homework problem solving and may be a more efficient way to learn skills and content. Other areas may be in the social sphere. All those vapid posts and tweets about people's breakfast or check ins at Dunkin Donuts may be providing friend and relatives ambient knowledge about their close contacts and may be a way of understanding people in ones social circle and may ultimately improve relationships. One only has to bring up events in Egypt and Tunisia to see the transformative role of social networks in politics. They are not a panacea for political openness however. Government have the ability to track dissidents' contacts that the Stasi could only have dreamt about. There are complaints about slactivism or the idea that like a cause on facebook is a substitute for real commitment to change. This is not new in the eighties activist would claim that people sympathetic to their causes would merely buy a T-shirt as a political statement and that is as far as supporting a cause went. Getting people to move on a cause has always been a challenge and the net may even be slightly more effective at getting people to move on an issue than older media. Gaming has potential as well in education (and I have seen this myself in the classroom) students learn more about history and social studies by playing a game like civilization III and try to expand a civilation across a virtual globe and in the process gain a deep appreciation for history. Much more than a text book can provide. So this book is a good intro to the way digital media improve our lives and even points the reader to some good apps to check out.
    more
  • Jamie
    January 1, 1970
    I think we've all come across someone clutching their figurative pearls and proclaiming that Twitter is ruining communication, or texting is wrecking youngsters' spelling, or YouTube is stunting people's attention spans. In this book, Clive Thompson provides a nice counterpoint to all this: technology is making us better. Through several chapters Thompson explores topics like how awesome it is to have external memory banks and search tools, or how online collaboration leads us not only to provid I think we've all come across someone clutching their figurative pearls and proclaiming that Twitter is ruining communication, or texting is wrecking youngsters' spelling, or YouTube is stunting people's attention spans. In this book, Clive Thompson provides a nice counterpoint to all this: technology is making us better. Through several chapters Thompson explores topics like how awesome it is to have external memory banks and search tools, or how online collaboration leads us not only to provide better answers, but to tackle tougher questions than we could on our own. Or how while tweeting about what you ate for lunch seems mundane, all those status updates blend together to a kind of ambient awareness that allows us to know people better and communicate with them more frequently and effectively. Or how a camera in every cell phone and easy to use blogging software allows citizens and protesters to keep their governments in check (or vice versa, unfortunately). What I like about the book, besides how timely it is, is how positive Thompason is without downplaying the criticisms and downsides of new technology. Yes, a lot of this seems mundane, but Thompson is skilled at peeling that away and showing you, for example, that while creating LOLCats and mashups is silly, it leads to the same kind of computer literacy and checked assumptions that allowed readers to detect digitally manipulated photos of Irania missle tests. Thompson can pick out the forest for the trees in ways that really makes you appreciate the age we live in. And the one we're heading for.
    more
  • Heather VanWaldick
    January 1, 1970
    I wasn't sold on his premise that technology is making us smarter. We've become better at using technology, and adapting to its presence in our lives, but the only thing the author convinced me of was the fact that we've grown more dependent on tech, not more intelligent as a result of it. Additionally, he mentioned things like "evidence" that e-readers and paper books are equally beneficial for learning and retention, but I've seen the results of numerous studies that conclude that paper is far I wasn't sold on his premise that technology is making us smarter. We've become better at using technology, and adapting to its presence in our lives, but the only thing the author convinced me of was the fact that we've grown more dependent on tech, not more intelligent as a result of it. Additionally, he mentioned things like "evidence" that e-readers and paper books are equally beneficial for learning and retention, but I've seen the results of numerous studies that conclude that paper is far superior. He also made some other statements about how great tech is without backing it up to my satisfaction. He may have made a citation in the appendices, but he didn't back up his argument, which bothered me. I know he wasn't attempting to present a detailed scientific analysis (which would have been as dry as unbuttered toast), but this felt more like a premise that he wanted to believe was true, and less like something that actually IS true. That being said, if you're interested in a quick read about advances in our use of tech, written in a very accessible style, then it's a good place to start.
    more
  • Vedant
    January 1, 1970
    Insightful, sharp, but in the end measured, 'Smarter than you think' is a must read for everyone interested in understanding the new media age.We live in interesting times. Technology, both offline & online, are changing the way we live & think. Information flows freely, some would say too freely. How we process this information, curate it and pass it along has become a great 'literacy challenge' for us.This book, essentially a collection of essays on key technology themes, helps us navi Insightful, sharp, but in the end measured, 'Smarter than you think' is a must read for everyone interested in understanding the new media age.We live in interesting times. Technology, both offline & online, are changing the way we live & think. Information flows freely, some would say too freely. How we process this information, curate it and pass it along has become a great 'literacy challenge' for us.This book, essentially a collection of essays on key technology themes, helps us navigate & understand this better. 'The new literacies,' 'The art of finding' & 'The connected society' are absolute must reads.Not just worth a read, but a re-read.
    more
  • Phil Simon
    January 1, 1970
    Thompson's text will and should be added to the pantheon of great tech books. A fascinating mix of research and interpretation, I believe that we will be talking about Smarter Than You Think in the same vein as Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology and other genre-defining books.I blew through this book in a few days and my only complaint is that it ended. The number of stories and sources that Thompson integrates into a cohesive text is nothing short of mind-blowing. I had high exp Thompson's text will and should be added to the pantheon of great tech books. A fascinating mix of research and interpretation, I believe that we will be talking about Smarter Than You Think in the same vein as Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology and other genre-defining books.I blew through this book in a few days and my only complaint is that it ended. The number of stories and sources that Thompson integrates into a cohesive text is nothing short of mind-blowing. I had high expectations for the book, and Thompson exceeded them. Buy this book now.
    more
  • Bernard O'Leary
    January 1, 1970
    Interesting stuff although it has got a slightly manic undertone of "see! Look! It's not all terrible! It might be fine!"
  • J.F. Penn
    January 1, 1970
    Thought provoking, now full of underlines ! Will make you think differently about tech & the potential abundance of our future lives
  • Nathik
    January 1, 1970
    Sturgeon's law : "90% of everything(especially on the internet) is crap"Anyone familiar with Cal Newport's Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World or Nicholas Carr's The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains or any book by Media theorist Douglas Rushkoff knows too well about the negative effects of Internet on our thinking. Nicolas Carr describes this as Juggler's Brain: a mind that can't learn things because it doesn't stand still long enough" What makes Clive Sturgeon's law : "90% of everything(especially on the internet) is crap"Anyone familiar with Cal Newport's Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World or Nicholas Carr's The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains or any book by Media theorist Douglas Rushkoff knows too well about the negative effects of Internet on our thinking. Nicolas Carr describes this as Juggler's Brain: a mind that can't learn things because it doesn't stand still long enough" What makes Clive Thompson's book interesting is that it gives an Optimistic(Contrary to most books on the effect of Internet on Human Cognition) and insightful on how the internet is shaping our thinking positively.The Printed World extended our cognition. It made our learning and cognition linear and abstract. This helped humans to remember less and works on more novel ideas.However our Brain is a pattern-recognition machine and Internet is dot connecting machine. Our Brain works in non-linear, sporadic manner most of the times. So together and working side by side; these tools can make even amateurs radically smarter(not morally better) even when we are not actively connected to them.Internet enabled us to externalise our memories, help us catalog important life events in an unlimited manner. Most importantly internet enabled Public thinking for average people. Historically reading is given precedence over writing especially if you're an average non-literary person. "Reading maketh a full man; and writing an axact man" - Sir Francis BaconThere is no arguing that writing crystallises you thoughts and gives clarity. And internet has given us ( average non-literary person)all a platform to write for pleasure or intellectual satisfaction (which people rarely do after graduation). Thanks to Audience effect and Generation effect we become more articulate and develop deeper thinking and understanding. Internet also help us learn new things in non-linear, self-driven pace which was not possible earlier. But what about the bullying and abuses online? To be fair internet didn't create these behaviours. It just gave a new platform. The best way to reduce these behaviour is to follow strict social protocol as individuals and society. "One of the greatest Challenge of Today's digital thinking tools is knowing when NOT to use them, when to rely on the powers of older and slower technologies like paper and book"Frankly the Attention economy is eating away our attention span. Social media is a constant distraction. The author argues in order to effectively use these digital tools we should cultivate the practise of mindfulness and follow strict protocols on how we use these tools. The Author argues we need a New Magna Carta for the Digital Age especially after Snowden revelations on NASA PRISM surveillance and take measures to guard our privacy.Overall its an optimistic and interesting read. It has opened a new perspective to me on the effects of digital tools and gave me some ideas to play with.
    more
  • Vicky P
    January 1, 1970
    I read this as a Library Science graduate student as part of a program the student government does every academic year to provide a common intellectual focus for those interested in being involved. Two years ago we read Nicholas Carr's "The Shallows", which I will immediately admit colored my view of this book. Carr's work painted a picture of a dystopian fearscape wrapped in a nostalgic lament for old-fashioned things.Thompson avoided being overly pessimistic about our prospects as a world with I read this as a Library Science graduate student as part of a program the student government does every academic year to provide a common intellectual focus for those interested in being involved. Two years ago we read Nicholas Carr's "The Shallows", which I will immediately admit colored my view of this book. Carr's work painted a picture of a dystopian fearscape wrapped in a nostalgic lament for old-fashioned things.Thompson avoided being overly pessimistic about our prospects as a world with exponentially-growing technological capabilities. His was a warmly realistic take. Extolling the virtues and the possibilities, while noting some setbacks and some bad scenarios both real and imagined. His ultimate message was one that I myself have been really trying to formulate eloquently and push on those I interact with and teach in my own professional capacity. It's one of constant learning and flexibility. The internet and everything it brings with it is just one more in a long series of innovations that have left traditionalists bemoaning the state of the future. Granted, it has the potential for so much more than many previous innovations, but it can be treated as many others before it as well. It's all about how we use things, not the fact that we have them to use. And as he stated many times as well, it's all about developing the right mental processes, or literacies, in this new technology, that will allow us to make the most of it while still living good lives.Thompson treated all of his interviewees with respect in his descriptions of them, and was a sympathetically neutral party in describing topics that leave the United States, among other nations, extremely polarized. As with all works of popular nonfiction, there could potentially be fallacies and half-truths that I am not equipped to sniff out due to the length of the work and my own lack of time to pore over the endnotes, but I sensed that Thompson had good intentions, and the things he claimed made good sense to me. Most importantly, he really seemed to grasp the culture of using the internet that I as a person firmly within the millennial generation bracket get frustrated by when those older than me don't seem to see it. It's a tough thing, accurately capturing the spirit and the potential of this thing that for many of us has become an intimate part of daily life, but I think he did it with grace, respect, and delight. The book is already a handful of years old, but if he were to publish a second edition, even just with an added chapter for the years since edition one, I'd buy it in a heartbeat.I cannot recommend this book enough to anyone interested in following the criticisms and potential of the modern, linked data world.
    more
  • Emily (Falling for YA)
    January 1, 1970
    *I had to review this book for class so in lieu of a classic "Emily" review I am posting my academic book report on this novel.Book Report: Smarter than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better is a non-fiction book by Clive Thompson. Thompson clearly states that this is not a book about neuroscience or how technology is re-writing the brain so if that is what you are looking or you will be disappoi *I had to review this book for class so in lieu of a classic "Emily" review I am posting my academic book report on this novel.Book Report: Smarter than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better is a non-fiction book by Clive Thompson. Thompson clearly states that this is not a book about neuroscience or how technology is re-writing the brain so if that is what you are looking or you will be disappointed (page 13). It is a book about how humans are becoming centaurs (page 18). A centaur is a mythical creature that is part man, part horse. Thompson says that when humans use technology they are becoming hybrids, part human, part technology, and smarter than both. Humans are using technology to become smarter and augmenting themselves so that even when they aren’t actively using technology they are better information receivers and learners (page 18). The book is separated in to ten chapters. Each chapter tackles a different form of technology and discusses how these technological changes are influencing human behavior.Thompson begins the book by declaring that machines are getting smarter, and more powerful, but he strongly argues that this isn’t hindering humans. With each new advent in technology, from the printing press to cell phones, there will be naysayers. These critics claim that all thought is going to be lost and that the human mind is deteriorating. Thompson does not believe this is the case. These smarter, better, faster, computers are actually helping humans, enabling us and expanding our creativity. Thompson states that, “[o]ur tools are everywhere, linked to our minds, working in tandem. Search engines answer our most obscure questions; status updates give us an ESP-like awareness of those around us; online collaborations let far-flung collaborators tackle problems too tangled for any individual…This transformation is rippling through every part of our cognition—how we learn, how we remember, and how we act upon that knowledge emotionally, intelligently, and politically” (page 6). I found the chapter on memory, entitled, We, the memorious, to be the most interesting. My great-grandmother, and grandmother, both suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. I have been forced to watch as they forgot little things like where the left their keys, or what they ate for breakfast, until, eventually, my great-grandmother forgot who I was entirely. This disease terrifies me because, as Thompson states, “[m]emory is the most crucial and mysterious part of our identities; take it away, and identity goes away too” (page 23). We are our memories. This chapter, the second in the book, discussed how memories are formed, how they deteriorate over time, and technological advances that are making it so nothing is forgotten because everything can be recorded. This chapter further discussed a case study. Parents, Deb Roy and Rupal Patel, who are both speech scientists at MIT, were interested in how children learned language. They installed cameras and microphones throughout their house in order to capture each word said to their child and document how the child learned to speak (page 19). What they found was that language was largely tied to locations and that after the initial learning of individual words (word births) which stopped approximately seven months after they began, cognitive effort shifted to two word sentences and creating novel word combinations (page 20). This is interesting because the more we know about how words are stored in the brain the more we learn about how memories are formed and how we can access them. Another interesting chapter was chapter seven, Digital School, this section discusses how technology can improve classroom performance. It gives a case study on Matthew Carpenter, a ten year old boy. Matthew is tackling inverse trigonometry problems and acing them with the assistance of Kahn Academy (page 175). Kahn Academy is a free online site filled with thousands of instructional videos in math, science, and economics. The site allows you to watch videos and then answer practice problems. It rewards work with badges and answering streaks, turning learning in to a game (page 176). A second case study looked at a school in New Zealand that gave every student a netbook. Teachers found that students with netbooks were more engaged and that scores for these students dramatically improved, ten to thirteen times the national average (page 186). Thompson claims that classrooms have largely gone unchanged since the 1350’s. Artist Laurentius de Voltolina painted a lecture scene at the University of Bologna that depicted a professor in the front of the classroom, at a podium, with students sitting in various states of boredom (page 178-9). While I disagree with the implication that school is boring, I do think Thompson is correct and it may be time for a change. If using technology improves scores, can make us better, faster learners, with the same retention of knowledge, we would be remiss if we didn’t use technology to our advantage. Technology should be Integrated it in to our teaching both inside and outside of the classroom. Thompson’s non-fiction novel tackles a lot of material and demonstrates how technology is improving lives, and changing our minds for the better. In the epilogue he leaves us with an interesting query. How should we respond when we get powerful new tools for finding answers? Thompson says, we need to think of harder questions (page 288). I think that is the truth. As a new librarian I see my future not as an answer finder, which has been our historic role, but rather as a question generator. If you can ask a machine for any answer, patrons are going to need help figuring out what questions to ask.
    more
  • JD
    January 1, 1970
    I choose to read this for grad school. We were given a list of books, and this was one that I remembered seeing at the first library I worked at. I liked how the author presents both positive, and negative, aspects of modern technology, while generally remaining upbeat about it. He points out that we've been at a lot of these crossroads before, and we've had naysayers and cheerleaders for similar leaps in technology. My biggest problem is that there's so much presented between the pages that you I choose to read this for grad school. We were given a list of books, and this was one that I remembered seeing at the first library I worked at. I liked how the author presents both positive, and negative, aspects of modern technology, while generally remaining upbeat about it. He points out that we've been at a lot of these crossroads before, and we've had naysayers and cheerleaders for similar leaps in technology. My biggest problem is that there's so much presented between the pages that you have to read it slow. I often had to stop and think about what I had just read (not a bad thing). The author knows his stuff. Which is awesome. But bringing so many ideas together in a few pages really makes it a dense read.
    more
  • Jamie Tuggle
    January 1, 1970
    Through his research and detailed explanations, Clive Thompson presents convincing arguments concerning technology and its impact on society. Thompson's anecdotes skillfully captured my attention and helped to better explain larger concepts about technology that I did not understand on my own. From inquiries about memory to discussion of ambient awareness, Thompson provokes deeper thought into how technology and digital spaces influence our outlook on the world, ourselves, and the ways in which Through his research and detailed explanations, Clive Thompson presents convincing arguments concerning technology and its impact on society. Thompson's anecdotes skillfully captured my attention and helped to better explain larger concepts about technology that I did not understand on my own. From inquiries about memory to discussion of ambient awareness, Thompson provokes deeper thought into how technology and digital spaces influence our outlook on the world, ourselves, and the ways in which we interact with those around us.
    more
  • Taylor Barkley
    January 1, 1970
    A great, positive case for digital technology. I found many of the anecdotes new. It was a bit wordy and I couldn’t help but think how this might be different were it written in 2017. It’s a solid 3.5 stars.
  • Sebastian Waisbrot
    January 1, 1970
    Good book for millennials to feel good about themselves. Nothing too exotic.
  • Alisha Fish
    January 1, 1970
    I appreciate what the author was saying. However, this wasn't one of my favorites.
  • Rossdavidh
    January 1, 1970
    There has been, since the advent of ubiquitous computing and the Internet, a pretty steady drumbeat of predictions of gloom and doom. Either it will make us stupid, or it will encourage us to abandon all control over our own lives, or it will cause us to split into like-minded groupthink bubbles, or it will erode our attention span. On the other hand, there is a (smaller, but not small) counter-current pointing out similarly dire predictions at the advent of television, radio, the newspaper, wid There has been, since the advent of ubiquitous computing and the Internet, a pretty steady drumbeat of predictions of gloom and doom. Either it will make us stupid, or it will encourage us to abandon all control over our own lives, or it will cause us to split into like-minded groupthink bubbles, or it will erode our attention span. On the other hand, there is a (smaller, but not small) counter-current pointing out similarly dire predictions at the advent of television, radio, the newspaper, widespread literacy, or the printing press.Clive Thompson, a columnist for Wired magazine, is obviously unlikely to think that technology is a bad thing. What makes this book more interesting than the "we've heard this before, and it was always wrong" kind of refutation, is that he goes in depth. This is the best kind of popular science book; one which grapples with ideas on a level that is not easily condensed into a single article (or a book review). When he talks about the affect of social media on our social lives, or the affect of search engines on human memory, he does not just give us his opinion. He not only backs his assertions up with studies on our actual behavior, he cites multiple studies, by different groups, coming at the issue from multiple directions.Not that the news is all good, of course. Every technology involves tradeoffs; one might even say that every human activity whatsoever involves tradeoffs. To know more people, or to know a few people better? To have more knowledge available, or to have less available but know it more in depth? To empower anyone to speak up, or to require that you have some idea what you're talking about before you get on the soapbox? Technology gives you more options, but it doesn't make those tradeoffs go away, and Thompson does a good job of helping the reader to think more clearly about just what they consist of, and why it matters.Of course, I read this in a paper-based, long-form medium. I doubt I would have been as interested in reading over 100,000 words in a website column. There are still topics for which a book is the best vehicle, just as there are times when walking is the best way to get there, and there are discussions which should happen in person to get the most out of them. Thompson is not averse to pointing out the problems with technoeuphoria, as well as predictions of techno-doom. But there is a more interesting middle ground between the two, where instead of the straw man positions of "it's bad" or "it's good", you can explore, "it's bad at what?" and "it's good at what?". The key to using new technologies well, is to figure out what they're naturally good at, and what they're not well suited to.There is a saying that every new technology's impact on society tends to be overestimated in the short run, and underestimated in the long run. The mass connectivity and nearly-infinite computing power of modern technology is unlikely to be an exception. Thompson's book is a welcome voice of calm and thoughtful insight, into a topic too often met with shrieks and shouting.
    more
  • Bryan
    January 1, 1970
    Excellent read. A well balanced look at the impact of Technology on us. I get so tired of the mantra that our tech is making us stupid. An early quote sets the tone for the book: "At their best, today’s digital tools help us see more, retain more, communicate more. At their worst, they leave us prey to the manipulation of the toolmakers. But on balance, I’d argue, what is happening is deeply positive." I also liked his take on Social Media "We’re becoming more conversational thinkers—a shift tha Excellent read. A well balanced look at the impact of Technology on us. I get so tired of the mantra that our tech is making us stupid. An early quote sets the tone for the book: "At their best, today’s digital tools help us see more, retain more, communicate more. At their worst, they leave us prey to the manipulation of the toolmakers. But on balance, I’d argue, what is happening is deeply positive." I also liked his take on Social Media "We’re becoming more conversational thinkers—a shift that has been rocky, not least because everyday public thought uncorks the incivility and prejudices that are commonly repressed in face-to-face life. But at its best (which, I’d argue, is surprisingly often), it’s a thrilling development, reigniting ancient traditions of dialogue and debate."I also like the focus on leveraging tools for what they are good for. Too many times we stay limited by our preconceived notions. "the point isn’t to simply replicate more expensively what they’re already doing quite well with paper, pencils, and books. It’s to do new things that they currently can’t do. It’s to teach kids by using the peculiar abilities of networked devices—like public thinking, new literacies, and the powerful insights that come from not just using, but programming, the machine."I also enjoyed the section on Ambient Awareness. "A group that’s connected in an ambient fashion can—counterintuitively—spend less time on communication, particularly the writing and reading of endless e-mail. And e-mail has indeed become one of the banes of corporate existence. Office workers spend an estimated 28 percent of the workweek writing and reading the stuff, a load that’s growing by 7 percent a year."
    more
  • Cora
    January 1, 1970
    An engaging enough read, but I can't help but feel that Clive Thompson is gearing for a slightly different audience. I basically grew up online, since my parents got Compuserve when I was 12; my present day love of history owes a lot to interest sparked by debates on the Westeros message board back in the day, where I likely wrote at least a short novel's worth; and I will roll my eyes at the crabby middle-aged Aaron Sorkins of the world.I suspect this book is geared more toward an Aaron Sorkin An engaging enough read, but I can't help but feel that Clive Thompson is gearing for a slightly different audience. I basically grew up online, since my parents got Compuserve when I was 12; my present day love of history owes a lot to interest sparked by debates on the Westeros message board back in the day, where I likely wrote at least a short novel's worth; and I will roll my eyes at the crabby middle-aged Aaron Sorkins of the world.I suspect this book is geared more toward an Aaron Sorkin type, a literate middle aged person who finds social media a little off-putting and who might be assuaged by Thompson's (convincing) arguments that the fear of social media is the same fear that we associated with every advance in communication technology, from the written word to the printing press. In fact, I most enjoyed Thompson's excursions into retro technology, which was less familiar to me than the contemporary material. (It's interesting to me, as a side note, that new communication technology always gets characterized as feminizing by its skeptics, from the coffeehouses turning young men into gossips to cheap novels giving elevated levels of brain activity to young women.)All in all, I don't know if I whole-heartedly recommend this book to most people here, except maybe as a gift to an older relative.
    more
  • Dany
    January 1, 1970
    Smarter than you think by Clive Thompson  Smartphones, computers, videogames, cameras and microphones are everywhere, and they are not going to disappear anytime soon. By now we've all heard over and over again that technology is seriously affecting "real" social interaction and how it's atrophying our brains, especially when it comes to the newer generations who don't seem to be able to function without internet. We've all heard it, and we've all thought about it at one point or another.   Well Smarter than you think by Clive Thompson  Smartphones, computers, videogames, cameras and microphones are everywhere, and they are not going to disappear anytime soon. By now we've all heard over and over again that technology is seriously affecting "real" social interaction and how it's atrophying our brains, especially when it comes to the newer generations who don't seem to be able to function without internet. We've all heard it, and we've all thought about it at one point or another.   Well, this book tries to discuss the issue from the other side of the argument. Through many situations, examples, and serious data, Sir Clive Thompson shows us that first, these fears have been present for centuries whenever a new technology arrives (believe it or not, this also happened when printing books became possible), and second, that if we use it right, technology can enhance our natural skills, improve our education experience and, in general, be an incredible complement to our being human. Four stars! 
    more
  • Kyle
    January 1, 1970
    One of the things that always drives me batty is when people bemoan that the latest technological innovations are ruining human civilization. "Damn kids these days don't even know how to talk to each other because they are always on their damn iphones".So I really enjoyed Thompson's take down of this mindset, with wonderful examples of how people in the past thought the novel, the telegraph, and the telephone would ruin society. Thompson's book is very much in the same vein as Steven Johnson's E One of the things that always drives me batty is when people bemoan that the latest technological innovations are ruining human civilization. "Damn kids these days don't even know how to talk to each other because they are always on their damn iphones".So I really enjoyed Thompson's take down of this mindset, with wonderful examples of how people in the past thought the novel, the telegraph, and the telephone would ruin society. Thompson's book is very much in the same vein as Steven Johnson's Everything Bad is Good for You as he discusses how recent technological innovations (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) have changed society for the better.I especially enjoyed the opening chapter in which Thompson's tells the story of a 2005 chess tournament in which a team of amateur human players aided by a chess engine on a normal computer defeated the chess super computer Hydra. It really emphasized how technology developers should stop trying to replace humans with machines and instead build technologies that augment human capabilities.
    more
  • Jennifer
    January 1, 1970
    Once, long ago, when I was studying for by PhC exams I learned about how the technology of the printing press changed the way people interacted with knowledge. It was fascinating to consider how we are able to adapt and grow with the advent of technology, especially that which increases the ability for more people to access information. Thompson documents how our new sources of technology have changed the way we learn, write, read, solve problems, protest, remember, and think. It is fascinating Once, long ago, when I was studying for by PhC exams I learned about how the technology of the printing press changed the way people interacted with knowledge. It was fascinating to consider how we are able to adapt and grow with the advent of technology, especially that which increases the ability for more people to access information. Thompson documents how our new sources of technology have changed the way we learn, write, read, solve problems, protest, remember, and think. It is fascinating to see how much more AWARE something like facebook or a video game can make us. As the author points out, when a new technology arrives there is always a concern that it is making us dull-witted and lazy. Thompson convinces me that this new technology can indeed make us smarter. Certainly, there are many things we need to be aware of and careful about but it seems to me the payoffs are great. Besides, in this day and age optimism is key! Oh, and I really need to get involved in games!
    more
  • Matthew
    January 1, 1970
    Is technology making us dumber? Conventional wisdom says yes, Clive Thompson says no, technology is just making us differently smarter. It will be interesting to see how trends move forward in this respect--although he brackets his story with a comparison of the two most famous gameplaying computers--Deep Blue and Watson--this isn't a book about AI. Thompson touches on crowdsourcing, social networking for political discourse and social change, expanded memories, lifelogging and wearable computer Is technology making us dumber? Conventional wisdom says yes, Clive Thompson says no, technology is just making us differently smarter. It will be interesting to see how trends move forward in this respect--although he brackets his story with a comparison of the two most famous gameplaying computers--Deep Blue and Watson--this isn't a book about AI. Thompson touches on crowdsourcing, social networking for political discourse and social change, expanded memories, lifelogging and wearable computers, the prospects for games in education, alternative forms of literacy. All with excellent comparisons to past technological developments from the invention of writing to television. Not groundbreaking, but worth reading.
    more
  • Caro
    January 1, 1970
    This is a very interesting book. It show us how technology does not make us as stupid as we believe it does, but what allow us to do is to interact in a very different way that we did before, it allow us to create things in a different way and to work in a new, and many times more effective manner. The book does not stop with just the good side of technology it also show us some of the problems that we have because of it and some of the limitations (or things that seems like it) that the constan This is a very interesting book. It show us how technology does not make us as stupid as we believe it does, but what allow us to do is to interact in a very different way that we did before, it allow us to create things in a different way and to work in a new, and many times more effective manner. The book does not stop with just the good side of technology it also show us some of the problems that we have because of it and some of the limitations (or things that seems like it) that the constant use of technology produce in the different task that we have in our life. Is a very interesting perspective of technology and the different uses that it has.
    more
  • Emily
    January 1, 1970
    This book is the antithesis to The Shallows by Nicolas Carr. In The Shallows, Carr tells us how the internet is ruining our brains. In Smarter Than You Think, Clive Thompson tells us how it is making us smarter and more powerful. Thompson covers the tools we use to aid and memorialize our memories, how more people are writing and writing for an audience, collaborative problem solving, inspiring creativity, making education accessible, knowing your friends better and social and civic activeness. This book is the antithesis to The Shallows by Nicolas Carr. In The Shallows, Carr tells us how the internet is ruining our brains. In Smarter Than You Think, Clive Thompson tells us how it is making us smarter and more powerful. Thompson covers the tools we use to aid and memorialize our memories, how more people are writing and writing for an audience, collaborative problem solving, inspiring creativity, making education accessible, knowing your friends better and social and civic activeness. This was a fascinating read, but a heavy read. I definitely recommend this to those interested in digital trends and future predictions.
    more
Write a review