Title: Smarter than You Think: How Technology Is Changing Our Minds for the Better
Author: Clive Thompson
Release Date: August 26, 2014
Publisher: Penguin Books
Genre: Nonfiction, Social/Psychological Studies
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Is technology changing the way we think? The answer is most certainly yes, but most people would bemoan that technology is, in fact, making us dumber, more reliant on our smartphones than our own brains. But Clive Thompson argues the opposite: that technology actually makes us smarter, more productive, and more creative.
It’s easy to fear that technology is, in fact, making us dumber. I know I’m not the only one who can’t really remember what I did before I could just Google something. Relying on my smartphone means I’ve stored less in my brain, I worry. But is that actually what it means? Clive Thompson (thankfully) says no.
Thompson makes some very good points in Smarter than You Think, but there’s one that has stood out to me, that I always tell people when I recommend the book to them (and I’ve been doing a lot of that lately; this is absolutely a book worth reading) is Thompson’s example of the invention of writing. When writing was first invented, and people stopped having to remember so much, the way they thought changed. Writing became a tool they could use, but it didn’t make them less smart. It just changed the way they think. Just like that, technology doesn’t think for us; it’s a tool we use that has changed the way we think.
The examples and anecdotes provided in Smarter than You Think are fascinating. This is a short read, packed to the brim with interesting information. From epic computer–human chess matches (with surprising results) to people who record every second of their lives, Thompson takes the reader through how technology is making us better, smarter, and more productive. It’s well-written, with an engaging narrative that readers will really become invested in. His results are surprising, often delightful, and the conversational tone keeps the story from ever becoming dry. If you enjoy reading about how we think, a subject I’ve been reading about more and more frequently, (or perhaps just worry that technology has made you dumber) this book is a must-read.