Mind Change: How Digital Technologies Are Leaving Their Mark on Our Brains, by Susan Greenfield

23568_book-review-mind-change-by-susan-greenfieldA review by Tara Brabazon:

Susan Greenfield is a neuroscientist with a high media profile, and this, her latest book, is aimed at the “general” (Daily Mail) reader. The accompanying publicity material refers to Greenfield as a “professional neuroscientist”. This adjective must be reassuring. An “amateur neuroscientist” would be a problem. Greenfield built her academic career on the study of dementia rather than digitisation, but this latter focus has now become a “professional” fixation.

The book is organised into 20 short chapters. Social networking, gaming, mobile phones and Google make up the laundry list of threats to society. The problem that undermines Mind Change is a lack of disciplinary expertise in digital cultures.

Read full review.

'The App Generation' – Review by @tarabrabazon

9780300196214The App Generation: How Today’s Youth Navigate Identity, Intimacy, and Imagination in a Digital World, by Howard Gardner and Katie Davis

Any book featuring the phrase “today’s youth” in the subtitle immediately has me on edge. It conjures up a generation gap, “tune in, turn on, drop out” and brown acid. Updating this story, we enter a world of Miley Cyrus’ piercings, twerking and tongue aerobics.

The embrace between “youth” and “technology” is as unstable as a soap opera romance. Understanding the sociology of digitisation – who uses particular software and hardware and why – requires much more research than simply assuming that “the young people” have Bluetooth connectivity between their mobile phone and their mastoid.

Howard Gardner (professor of cognition and education at Harvard University) and Katie Davis (assistant professor in the University of Washington’s Information School) have been seduced by the digital dance between youth and technology. This co-authored book sees them entering the Clay Shirky zone of easy answers to difficult questions.

Read full review… especially worth the last comment comparing the book to ‘digital tweaking’.

BOOK REVIEW: Ambient Commons

9780262018807This, from the reviewer in Times Higher Education made me laugh:

I have a confession. You know those people on footpaths who randomly slow down, stop, veer from side to side and shout into their hand for no particular reason? No, not the Friday-night revellers who have ingested three litres of Grey Goose vodka and lose their motor skills. I refer to the people who read and compose text messages while walking. I do not titter or sigh as I pass them. Instead, I slow down and mimic their John Cleese-inspired silly walk. In reaction, most swing around and shriek “wotthehellyudoin?” I merely reply, “Following your lead. I thought you were starting a trend. No one would look that silly unless it was fashionable.”

Then refers to the book:

The proliferation of platforms, formats and screens means that we now manage an array of augmentations in our lives. McCullough develops a concept to explore these alignments between technology and context, concentration and distraction, information and overload, absence and abundance. He calls it “ambient commons”, a way to align “the quickly rising flood of data” and “attention to surroundings”.

Read full book.

BOOK REVIEW: @SheridanVoysey “Resurrection Year”

Sheridan Voysey - Resurrection Year

Today, this book, from someone I have been incredibly privileged to come to know over the past couple of years, is available for sale:

Having received this book, I settled down to read a chapter before bedtime. A couple of hours later I turned the final page of this beautifully written story that had truly drawn me in with it’s honest insight into a agonizingly difficult journey. The depth of emotion is deeply felt – we share times of both joy and bleakness, with particular authenticity given through original diary extracts which have that unfinished rawness my favourite blogs do. Several sections of the book are eminently tweetable, but this is not a story of simple soundbites: choices are stark and unpleasant, the doubts are heavy, and the questions about suffering and why prayers had gone unanswered are deeply painful.

Read full review on The BIGBible Project.

BOOK REVIEW: Spam: A Shadow History of the Internet

http://www.rgbstock.com/photo/2dzAQhh/Spam

http://www.rgbstock.com/photo/2dzAQhh/Spam

Looks like it could be worth a look:

For most of us, our relationship with spam began almost gently: those short, jokey email messages reaching out to us from distant lands, with an intriguing, almost whimsical character. But they quickly grew into more forceful entreaties to help, support, defend or publicise some victim of an injustice we didn’t understand in a place we’d never heard of, adverts for exotic pharmaceuticals with the alleged power to enhance pretty much any body part you could think of. Then bizarre offers began to arrive that promised huge rewards in exchange for granting the simplest of help to someone caught out on the wrong side of a conflict, coup d’etat, bereavement or legacy – interspersed with excited, conspiratorial messages about stocks in not-quite-familiar companies whose value was on the verge of going through the roof, honest.

Read full review.

Question for @eastcoastuk

I spend a lot of time on the train … so I’ve just downloaded 3 tickets from the Rewards system. It sounds like an easy enough process. I want the following train, and there are 2 first class ticket spaces:

available

When I then go to the order system, where it says there should be a £0 next to available tickets, I get this for £80, and no £0 tickets… I double checked that it was still showing above…

eastc2

Am I missing something?

Spitting Blood: A History of Tuberculosis

http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=26&storycode=422086&c=1

http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=26&storycode=422086&c=1

Looks really interesting:

Tuberculosis has claimed many famous victims over the centuries, in fiction and in real life, from John Keats to George Orwell, from the Bronte sisters to Robert Louis Stevenson, from the heroines of Verdi’s La Traviata and Puccini’s La Bohème to the consumptives who whiled away the hours in conversation on Thomas Mann’s magic mountain. It became quite fashionable in the 19th century, seeming to lend its victims an air of noble suffering and heightened sexual allure. “I look pale,” Lord Byron is said to have remarked, gazing into the mirror during a visit by the diarist Tom Moore: “I should like to die of a consumption.” “Why?” his guest asked. “Because the ladies would all say: ‘Look at that poor Byron, how interesting he looks in dying!'”

In fact, tuberculosis was a disease of the poor, encouraged by inadequate nutrition and spread by cramped and overcrowded living conditions. As industrialisation spread across the world, packing the new working classes into damp mills, unhygienic factories and fetid slums, so TB casualties soared. In Hamburg between 1885 and 1894, death rates from the disease in the richest city precincts averaged 1.3 per 1,000 population, in the new working-class areas 2.6, in the waterfront tenements where the casual dock labourers lived, 3.4. The unlovely realities of the disease’s incidence were conveyed in a terrifying scene in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, when the consumptive, poverty-stricken widow Katerina Ivanova, thrown into destitution by the alcoholism of her irresponsible husband and even more so by his eventual death, becomes delirious and takes her small children out on to the streets to sing and dance for a few kopeks; arrested by a policeman, she runs breathlessly away, stumbles and falls dead in the street, blood gushing out of her throat. “I’ve seen it before,” says the policeman. “That’s consumption.” Her death is undignified and grotesque, the product of extreme poverty that has driven her not into an exalted, otherworldly state of mind but into madness and degradation.

Read full review.