The Shallows Chapter 10 Supplementary Content


The ELIZA program, try out a conversation with it and see how it works!

From The Shallows:

 “[…] what shocked [Weizenbaum] was how quickly and deeply people using the software ‘become emotionally involved with the computer,’ talking to it as if it were an actual person.” (p.204-205)

This is known as the ELIZA Effect:

“[U]sers perceive computer systems as having “intrinsic qualities and abilities which the software controlling the (output) cannot possibly achieve”

From The Shallows:

[…] when people aren’t being bombarded by external stimuli, their brains can, in effect, relax. They no longer have to tax their working memories by processing a stream of bottom-up distractions.

This study, “Individual differences in employee reactions to open-plan offices” partially confirmed that performance is reduced for employees with complex tasks and distractions, in open offices. Do you think this will change how you consider your own workspace after graduating?


The above image demonstrates the game used in Van Nimwegen’s study “The paradox of the guided user: assistance can be counter-effective”. The top game image indicated whether an action was possible by greying out buttons, while the lower game image gave no indication to whether an action was possible or not.

The puzzle involved transferring colored balls between two boxes, and followed the rules of the river crossing problem: “Missionaries and cannibals problem”

What does the Oculus Rift do to your brain? An interesting video to see what kind of effect virtual reality has on your brain!

From The Shallows:

“There is no Sleepy Hollow on the Internet, no peaceful spot where contemplative ness can work it’s restorative magic.” (p.220)

Sleepy Hollow refers to the place in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” where the community is haunted by ghost and the Headless Horseman.

Full text:

Nicholas Carr’s Website:

You can share your thoughts about “The Shallows” and how it has changed your idea or usage on the internet. In the afterwards of the paperback edition the author has already received:

“[…] large number of notes that come from young people – high schoolers, college kids, twentysomethings.” (p.226)

So don’t refrain from writing to him!

Nicholas Carr’s Blog:

Follow Rough Type on Twitter: @roughtype

Additional stuff relating to The Shallows, reading 2


Letterpress printing and the Twitter hashtag.

Another letterpress documentary (short)

Hatch Show Print website
Below are examples of Hatch Show Prints

ryman_uniongospeltabernacle13 20090126_JohnLegend

137157 101529 102633
A short documentary about HATCH SHOW



and other early writing

More info about cuneiform

Cuneiform library at Cornell University. If you click the image icons, the full size images have great detail.

WOAH. The entire waxed tablet collection at the University of Michigan.



A tip from artist Miranda July.


Monkeys in the Margins: The Getty Museum’s Pinterest page all about, (I’m not making this up-the interweb can be an awesome place) mischievous monkeys in Medieval manuscripts. Try saying that five times fast.

Miniature Mondays from the Special Collections and Archives at the University of Iowa. Wee books!

Early Modern books and Manuscript collection at Harvard University. Books bound in human skin.



The Shallows, Reading Two

Most of this post was assembled by three awesome students from last year. Thanks people!


Anybody else wonder what a theodolite is?
Here’s a definition. (Also, there’s an app for that.)


Epic Poetry

Regarding the techniques used in an oral culture to remember information:

“Modern scholars recognize certain features common to oral poetry that often seem strange to readers. The key to all these so-called formulas is repetition, that indispensable prod to memory. In the Homeric epics, for example, long verse paragraphs recounting the details of sacrifice, the proffering of gifts, the naming of participants may be repeated almost word for word. Descriptive epithets repeatedly accompany characters’ names: “the swift-footed brilliant Akhilleus” or “Hektor, breaker of horses” or “the grey-eyed goddess Athena… these repetitions gave the bard a second to remember his place in the narrative… These oral formulaic devices, then, glued a massive narrative together, permitting feats of memory which readers in the computer age are more likely to associate with data banks than with poets.”

Read more about classical poetry here! It’s fun!



Turn the pages of a Gutenberg Bible.

An interactive map showing the spread of printing.

We’re all familiar with Project Gutenberg, but this automated bartending project by the same name is based on booze.


Technological Determinism (aka the most terrifying thing ever)

A more recent expression of McLuhan’s view:

“While it depends on us, we are increasingly dependent on it. Like any child, it has its demands. So far, humanity as a whole is in denial that it even has a child.”


Not unlike the Cylons? Any Battlestar fans in the class?

Ever heard of the Technological Singularity?



Lee de Forest has a website. Here, learn more about the audion.



More on London cabbies and their hippocampuses.

A summary of a study on illiterate ex-paramilitary forces comparing the brain structure of illiterate and literate adults and how it changes as they learn how to read.
Why not just study children learning to read? The article says it’s hard to distinguish the changes that come about from reading from the changes that occur due to normal development.

Does literacy steal brain power from other functions? According to this study, probably. 

More info on magical mirror neurons and reading.

Are texting, emailing and other forms of purely verbal communication decreasing our ability to read non-verbal cues? This article says so.


Additional Reading: Chapters 3, and 4

Let’s think about mapping and Facebook and the lost art of free time.
I’ve posted the following short articles/op-ed pieces which are relevant to the assigned reading. These are required, and are in lieu of longer questions on Chapters 3 and 4.

1. Facebook is Using You.

2. The Death of the Cyberflaneur

3. The Lost Art of Free time

4. Is GPS All in Our Heads?

5. Shop carefully.


The Shallows: Reading One

An assortment of things relating to Reading One.


On The Simpsons

Family Guy 

General cartoon appropriations of the film

The Space Odyssey explained

Roger Ebert’s (film critic) thoughts

Connections to other Sci-fi films 

TIFF recently hosted a retrospective of Kubrick’s films and art inspired by them

How much of Kubrick’s vision was scientifically accurate? (Engineering and Technology Magazine)

Internet Resource Archive on 2001

When computers say stuff with feelings

Articles/essays on Google Scholar


And now, on to SEA SLUGS


Above, Aplysia. This image is from the Thornton Lab at the University of Oregon. (Are you recoiling? Are you not? What does that say about your neuroplasticity?)

• Educational clip about the history of printing and reading
• Gutenberg then vs Gutenberg now: Project Gutenberg

Your Outboard Brain Knows All, Clive Thompson.

And…sigh…yet another indication that the internet/smart phones are rewiring our brains: Phantom Phone Vibrations.

about this machine and how it changed Nietzsche’s writing


Multi-tasking is a lie
. (That’s my summary)
Full academic article.
Summary of new human-information processing skills


How Google is Changing Your Information-Seeking Behavior, Lab Soft News Blog.

Is Google Making Us Stupid? Nope!, Philip Davis

The above (Davis essay) is a response to this article in The Atlantic.

And, another anti-Carr response to the question about Google and our collective stupidity.

And, if you’re going to use Google, learn to really use it.

Nicholas Carr’s book site | blog


VS Ramachandran: Mirror Neurons


• Watch the video of Norman Mailer arguing with Marshal McLuhan

• Marshall McLuhan: talking about the medium is the message.

Just Remember This, by Michael Greenberg