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Is the Internet destroying thought?

New York Times book critic Michiko Kakutani takes on the downside of the Internet, social media, and online culture in a thoughtful essay, “Texts without Context.” The essay tackles a host of topics, from YouTube videos to Twitter posts to mashups. Like a much-discussed essay in The Atlantic, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?,” this one questions whether the Internet, for all its joys and wonders, is making many of us almost incapable of serious thought.

The essay discusses a number of books, such as Andrew Keen’s  “The Cult of the Amateur,” David Shields’  “Reality Hunger,” and Farhad Manjoo’s  “True Enough.”


These new books share a concern with how digital media are reshaping our political and social landscape, molding art and entertainment, even affecting the methodology of scholarship and research. They examine the consequences of the fragmentation of data that the Web produces, as news articles, novels and record albums are broken down into bits and bytes; the growing emphasis on immediacy and real-time responses; the rising tide of data and information that permeates our lives; and the emphasis that blogging and partisan political Web sites place on subjectivity.

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