The Digital Rabbit Hole ISBN: 9780982836345, Futurebooks,info publisher, e-book by Larry Kilham,
The book is subtitled: “How we are becoming captive in the digital universe and how to stimulate creativity, education, and recapture our humanity.” The book contains an Introduction followed by a presentation in three parts with magnificent references contained in a section at the end of the book pertinent to statistics and statements offered in the body of the work. PART 1 – The New World of the ‘Knowosphere’ contains 6 chapters detailing entrée into, good and bad features, effect on children and young adults, addictive features, definition of, its best uses and ‘shadows of artificial intelligence’. Part 2 –What to Learn and How to Think in the Age of Google has 3 chapters detailing decisions to be made and considerations that must be taken into account, evolution of new thought processes where the mind merges with the internet providing collective intelligence, and advancement, education and creativity considerations. PART 3 – Escape From the Rabbit Hole contains 4 chapters examining the “Erosion of Human Values”, “Recapturing Our Minds”, “Preparing the New Generations” and finally “The Road Ahead”.
Discussion: This is perhaps one of the most scholarly, and yet most simply written discussions on the subject of today’s almost universal servitude to the digital universe that this reviewer has read. Pertinent material from recognizably knowledgeably sources not only is presented in abundance but provided in a most enjoyably readable form. The author states: “Mankind’s thinking process is changing because reality will come through computers and digital devices.” He offers a relevant quote from prominent neuroscientist Susan Greenfield: “You’re just a consumer, living at the moment, having an experience, pressing buttons but not having a life narrative anymore. You’re not defined by your family, or by what you know, or by specific events in the real world, because most of your time is spent in cyberspace. So what are you? Could it be that we just become nodes on a much larger collective thought machine?” He states further that the main entry is through the smartphone with, as of 2015, 64% of North American adult ownership and with Facebook installed in 76%. There is a noticeable “erosion of human values at a price we have become willing to pay for the costless convenience of Google, comforts of Facebook, and the reliable company of iPhones”. The decline in youth studying humanities is quite noticeable. Mark Bauerlein, English professor and social analyst asks how can historical tales of leaders/battles/other, and architecture compete with the Digital democracy that even seems to be a contributor to declining interest in classical music. Sirus XM and satellite radio has 9 jazz channels, 20 Latin, 2 traditionally classical and the core classical music public in NYC is no more than 20,000 – ¼ % of city’s 8.4 million people. These are all part of the Internet driven democratization of cultural opinion. The average user checks his/her phone 100 times/day. Children use them constantly, often for advice/guidance but many unfortunately have become self-absorbed to the exclusion of everything else. It already has been proven to lessen attention span which already is at an all-time low of slightly over 8 seconds. It provides instant gratification – a message from a boy/girlfriend, photos from a party, shopping, a game, even a ‘selfie’. Obviously the traditional interests cannot compete with such prominently ‘important’ features. All of the former activities require a desire to learn which in turn requires effort. The latter do not, and they are selected simply because human nature traditionally takes the route requiring the least effort, and especially when gratification is so easily attained by doing so. Further, this concentration on one’s digital life decreases human intercourse and companionship and is leading to an increasing U. S. population of insecure, isolated and lonely individuals and, according to frightening statistics, have been shown to provide abysmal levels in literacy, mathematics and problem solving when compared to the accomplishments of those in other countries. Studies have shown that “as the smartphone ownership increases, literacy decreases.” The author admits that “the Digital age envelops us and forces us to engage whether we like it or not” and that almost every job now requires some level of digital literacy. However, we must approach it intelligently to use it as a base for new enterprises and further education. It should not be wasted simply for social media access, entertainment, purchases, and daily routines. He concludes by providing suggestions for accomplishing this goal. This is a most timely discussion set forth in a scholarly but simply and easily read format. (96 references listed)
5* Highly recommended examination of today’s digital world.