A reader dissents:
The Internet is not doing anything to our brains. We may be doing bad things to our brains. But the things that we are doing have been possible as long as there have been libraries.
Any library patron has always been free to read a paragraph, re-shelve the book, grab a new one, skim its preface, re-shelve it, wander to the periodicals section, grab the New York Times magazine, flip to the fancy real estate ads in the back, think of West Egg and East Egg and Jay Gatsby, put down the magazine, head to the fiction section, reach out for Fitzgerald's classic, realize that he's never read anything by Fitzgerald's wife, wonder if this makes him a sexist, decide that it just might, scan the fiction Fitzgeralds until he finds Zelda, grab a copy of Zelda's "Save Me the Waltz," start to read the first paragraph, question his own memory, flip to the author bio to confirm that Zelda was truly married to the Gatsby author, see that Zelda was born in Montgomery, think of the Montgomery bus boycott, remember that he's been meaning to buckle down and read Taylor Branch's MLK biographies, head off for the biography section.Etc.Etc.Etc.Most of us don't do that in libraries. But we could.If Carr's piece causes people to rethink the choices they make online, I'm all for that. But I'll be upset if Carr's piece causes people to flee the Internet or to resign themselves to an online reading experience that, to use those words of yours, is "more like watching the landscape from a train." It's not just that we can drive our own train. It's that we're free to jump the track, to go where we want at the speed we want with as many or as few distractions, digressions, and deep-thinking dives as we choose.