This morning’s NYT Sunday Book Review looks at one of the newest meditations on the tech age, Hamlet’s BlackBerry: A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age by William Powers.
Powers is a former writer for The Washington Post, and their Sunday review compares his new book with that of Nicholas Carr, The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains. The Post’s review suggests that the two books take on the same question “Are our iPhones and BlackBerrys and Droids — and their larger brethren, iPads and netbooks and notebooks — really our friends?” and arrive at slightly different conclusions.
While constant connectivity brings with it societal issues, Powers’ book also points out that Socrates, the master oral historian, had a suspicion of scrolls that modern skeptics charge of Google (i.e., won’t the human brain and memory become lazy if there’s always fingertip access to a source?).
Critic Laurie Winer’s NYT review cites Powers’ love for moleskine notebooks as both anachronistic and reassuring. She concludes:
“Most writers still love paper. Some things are irreplaceable, and Powers explains why. His notebook allows him to ‘pull ideas not only out of my mind but out of the ethereal digital dimension and give them material presence and stability. Yes, you exist,’ the notebook reminds us, ‘you are worthy of this world.’”
Is there an app for that?