The Shallows Discussion Questions

  1. The author, Nicholas Carr, believes that his attention span has decreased, and he attributes this to Internet usage.  What do you think of his theory?  How does this compare to your own experience?  What and how do you read?
  2. In chapter 1, Carr writes that “in the long run a medium’s content matters less than the medium itself in influencing how we think and act.” Why do you agree or disagree with this statement?
  3.   “With the exception of alphabets and number systems, the Net may well be the single most powerful mind-altering technology that has ever come into general use,” Carr claims. “At the very least, it’s the most powerful that has come along since the book.” Do you agree with this statement?  Why or why not?
  4.  One aspect frequently mentioned during discussions about the Internet is the death of newspapers and potentially print journalism. How do you think the Internet is changing the face of mass media, especially print journalism?
  5.  Carr acknowledges that every technological revolution entails some gains and losses for societies.  Based up on this assumption, do you believe that today’s society is better off than prior decades as a result of the Internet? Why or why not?
  6.  Carr indicates that not everyone (i.e. the poor, the illiterate, the isolated, the incurious) participated in Gutenberg’s revolution.  What group(s) do you think might be left out as books and other information move to a digital format?
  7. Carr talks about hyperlinks in text.   When reading online, do you think hyperlinks in the text are more helpful or more of a distraction?   Why?
  8.  Carr contends that we have begun to use the Internet as a substitute for personal memory and thus “emptying our minds of their riches.”  Do you agree with this assumption?  Why or why not?
  9.  As a new student, how do you think the Internet will enhance your learning at UNC-Chapel Hill, and how do you think it may distract you from learning?