Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Now You Can See It by Cathy N Davidson **

With the rise of the Internet, You can't tell a book by its cover has never been more important. For example, Now You See It by Cathy N Davidson is most like annoying link bait, promising brain science on the cover, but delivering an Internet-style memoir full of hyperbole, anecdotes, and opinion. With equal parts self-aggrandizing remembrances and paeans to Internet browsing and video games, this book demonstrates how the Internet provides a echo chamber where everyone can be a self-appointed pundit and hits are more important than facts or reason.
When you have all the possibilities of your imagination at your disposal for interacting with colleagues around the globe, why would you choose to replicate practices where those matters were fixed by the walls and rules of the industrial-age workplace? [You need a good imagination to even figure out what that could possibly mean.] That is the central question of this entire book. [Well OK then.]
On the Internet, experts proudly say things like:
I warned you that I wasn't going to be objective
...but I'm convinced...
in place of traditional data and analysis.

The irony here is that I am also an Internet and video game fanboy, but I believe the discussion needs to go beyond ADHD browsing to the issues of how the Internet is restructuring society. The impact of the Internet has little to do with chat, which predates the Internet (remember AOL and GEnie?) and hyperlinks (the storied invention of Tim Berners-Lee). Many of the important impacts of the Internet (search, online commerce, and other real-time application) owe their existence more to the twin, unsung technologies of cheap data storage and databases than hyperlinks and cables.

Much of the Internet's impact has been in areas of traditional efficiency, efficiency that has changed the structure of work and play. Banks no longer close in the early afternoon to allow the staff to update the books, and I can play game with my children even if they are miles away.

As I come to the end, I notice that I've said nothing about brain science, the topic on the cover and one in which I'm very interested. That is because the book has little to say on this subject either, much to my disappointment.

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