The Shallows Chapter 4

NOT BASEBALL

I am dangerously close to making Carr’s point for him having read Chapter 4 on my phone and now blogging about it on my phone.

In Chapter 4 Carr traces the development of reading and writing from tablets to papyrus to paper. Technologies that brought writing to
more people include wax tablets, paper and the printing press.

As grammar and punctuation developed language structure changed. Rhythm and metrics became less important in all forms of communication. Silent reading became possible. The brain changed to allow more focus and longer focus.

It became easier to write individually without dictation. You could convey ideas without meeting in a group. Both led to more individuality.

As the number of words grew people could describe in more detail and describe more abstract thoughts. This led to a deeper consciousness.

So, switching from an oral to a written tradition changed the brain’s structure, emphasized individuality, deepened focus and expanded the number of things that could be described and the detail with which they could be described.

At the end of the chapter Carr suggests that the era of the printed page is ending. Hopefully in Chapter 5 he describes the changes he sees in the way people think in a digital age.

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