Tim Brayv dreams of digitizing all his books and turning his home into a sort of "monastic cell." Nick Carr responds:
Whatever its charms, the online world is a world of clutter. It's designed to be a world of clutter - of distractions and interruptions, of attention doled out by the thimbleful, of little loosely connected bits whirling in and out of consciousness. The irony in Bray's vision of a bookless monastic cell is that it was the printed book itself that brought the ethic of the monastery - the ethic of deep attentiveness, of contemplativeness, of singlemindedness - to the general public. When the printed book began arriving in people's homes in the late fifteenth century, it brought with it, as Elizabeth Eisenstein describes in her magisterial history The Printing Press as an Agent of Change, "the same silence, solitude, and contemplative attitudes associated formerly with pure spiritual devotion."