Saturday, February 11, 2012

Book Review: Hamlet's Blackberry

Author: William Powers 
Title: Hamlet’s BlackBerry: Building a Good Life in the Digital Age
Description: Our computers and mobile devices do wonderful things for us. But they also impose a burden, making it harder for us to focus, do our best work, build strong relationships, and find the depth and fulfillment we crave.
How to solve this problem? Hamlet’s BlackBerry argues that we just need a new way of thinking, an everyday philosophy for life with screens. William Powers sets out to solve what he calls the conundrum of connectedness. Reaching into the past—using his own life as laboratory and object lesson—he draws on some of history’s most brilliant thinkers, from Plato to Shakespeare to Thoreau, to demonstrate that digital connectedness serves us best when it’s balanced by its opposite, disconnectedness. Lively, original, and entertaining, Hamlet’s BlackBerry will challenge you to rethink your digital life. (Marketing description)

Writing style: The book is very readable, combining anecdotes with ruminations.
Audience: The book was written with a general audience in mind; anyone who uses technology probably struggles with the compulsion to be constantly connected conflicting with the stress of being constantly connected.
Major ideas: Powers calls on philosophers from the past (Plato, Shakespeare, Thoreau) to provide ideas that he can apply to our connected society.
Wrap-up: This book is more realistic than some dealing with the subject; complete unplugging isn’t recognized as a viable solution, so moderation is offered as a way to keep control of our electronics, rather than having them control us. Powers’ facility in dealing with the ideas of past thinkers is also a good model in general for folks who want to apply wisdom from centuries past to our much different lives today. 3/5*

I'm claiming this book for two reading challenges: the new author challenge (12/15) and the unread books challenge.

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