Hamlet's Blackberry: A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age

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9780061687167: Hamlet's Blackberry: A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age

A crisp, passionately argued answer to the question that everyone who s grown dependent on digital devices is asking: Where s the rest of my life? At a time when we re all trying to make sense of our relentlessly connected lives, this revelatory book presents a bold new approach to the digital age. Part intellectual journey, part memoir, Hamlet s BlackBerry sets out to solve what William Powers calls the conundrum of connectedness. Our computers and mobile devices do wonderful things for us. But they also impose an enormous burden, making it harder for us to focus, do our best work, build strong relationships, and find the depth and fulfilment we crave. Powers argues that we need a new philosophy for life with screens. To find it, he reaches into the past, uncovering a rich trove of ideas that have helped people manage and enjoy their connected lives for thousands of years. Drawing on some of history s most brilliant thinkers, from Plato to Shakespeare to Thoreau, he shows that digital connectedness serves us best when it s balanced by its opposite, disconnectedness. Using his own life as both laboratory and object lesson, Powers demonstrates why this is the moment to revisit our relationship to screens and mobile technologies, and how profound the rewards of doing so can be. Lively, original, and entertaining, Hamlet s BlackBerry will challenge you to rethink your digital life.

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Product Description:

A brilliant and thoughtful handbook for the Internet age. Bob Woodward

Incisive ... Refreshing ... Compelling. Publishers Weekly

A crisp, passionately argued answer to the question that everyone who s grown dependent on digital devices is asking: Where s the rest of my life? Hamlet s BlackBerry challenges the widely held assumption that the more we connect through technology, the better. It s time to strike a new balance, William Powers argues, and discover why it's also important to disconnect. Part memoir, part intellectual journey, the book draws on the technological past and great thinkers such as Shakespeare and Thoreau. Connectedness has been considered from an organizational and economic standpoint from Here Comes Everybody to Wikinomics but Powers examines it on a deep interpersonal, psychological, and emotional level. Readers of Malcolm Gladwell s The Tipping Point and Outliers will relish Hamlet s BlackBerry.

"

Review:

'When you find yourself checking your email inbox hourly, tweeting with abandon while all the while connected to your MP3 player, you know you are a communications junkie. So what happens to real life? It's the question at the heart of this wise and wry survey of our techno habits.'

(Simon Hughes Australian Financial Review Magazine)

'Reading a good book is excellent therapy for the over-connected, and this work is an intelligent contribution to the library. Best to be read on paper.'

(Richard Thwaites Canberra Times)

'[an] entertaining, thought-provoking book'

( In The Black)

'That sucker is going up on my library shelf, where space is at a premium.'

(John Birmingham National Times)

An 'elegant meditation on our obsessive connectivity and its effect on our brains and our very way of life ... his ruminations are penetrating, his language clear and strong, and his historical references are restorative.'

( New York Times)

'Hamlet's BlackBerry is a crisp, cogently argued answer to the question that everyone who's grown dependent on digital devices is asking: "Where's the rest of my life?"'

( Pharmacy News)

'I enjoyed the book, and I am happy to recommend it. You can buy it in hardback or in paperback or in a Kindle edition. You can read it out loud or to yourself. But do read it. And maybe you could talk to other people about it.'

(Christopher Peterson Psychology Today)

'Our discombobulated Internet Age could learn important new tricks from some very old thinkers, according to this incisive critique of online life and its discontents. Journalist Powers bemoans the reigning dogma of “digital maximalism” that requires us to divide our attention between ever more e-mails, text messages, cellphone calls, video streams, and blinking banners, resulting, he argues, in lowered productivity and a distracted life devoid of meaning and “depth.” In a nifty and refreshing turn, he looks to ideas of the past for remedies to this hyper-modern predicament: to Plato, who analyzed the transition from the ancient technology of talking to the cutting-edge gadgetry of written scrolls; to Shakespeare, who gave Hamlet the latest in Elizabethan information apps, an erasable notebook; to Thoreau, who carved out solitary spaces amid the press of telegraphs and railroads ... Powers deftly blends an appreciation of the advantages of information technology and a shrewd assessment of its pitfalls into a compelling call to disconnect.'

( Publishers Weekly)

'The historical comparisons are fascinating and provide hope to anyone struggling for air today. It's soon evident that we've been here before and survived ... Hamlet's BlackBerry advocates a "new digital philosophy" that balances the benefits of connecting to the digital crowd with our need to spend time alone.'

(Judith Ireland Sydney Morning Herald)

'Even a jaded reader is likely to be won over by Hamlet's BlackBerry. It convincingly argues that we've ceded too much of our existence to what he calls Digital Maximalism. Less scold and more philosopher, Mr. Powers certainly bemoans the spread of technology in our lives, but he also offers a compelling discussion of our dependence on contraptions and of the ways in which we might free ourselves from them. I buy it. I need quiet time.'

(David Harsanyi The Wall Street Journal)

'This is an eminently sane, empowering and thought-provoking book.'

(Matthew Ricketson Weekend Australian)

'Benjamin Franklin would love this book. He knew the power of being connected, but also how this must be balanced by moments of reflection. William Powers offers a practical guide to Socrates' path to the good life in which our outward and inward selves are at one.'

(Walter Isaacson, author of Einstein: His Life and Universe and Benjamin Franklin: An American Life)

Hamlet’s Blackberry is a paean to the pleasures of the unplugged life. But Powers is no woodsy technophobe who would deepfry every silicon chip. He offers an ardent argument for balance between the wired world and the silent spaces of the human heart.’

(Geraldine Brooks)

'A brilliant and thoughtful handbook for the Internet age ? why we have this screen addiction, its many perils, and some surprising remedies that can make your life better.’

(Bob Woodward)

‘William Powers, brave in intent and wise in argument, offers in these pages an oasis of serenity and sanity, a sanctuary from a world fast turning into a limitless digital Sahara.’

(Simon Winchester)

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