William Powers on the Digital Age

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

William Powers, former staff writer for The Washington Post, presents a new approach to the digital age by drawing on some of history's most brilliant thinkers, from Plato to Shakespeare to Thoreau, showing that digital connectedness is best balanced disconnectedness. Hamlet’s Blackberry: A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age is part intellectual journey and part memoir, and it sets out to solve the conundrum of connectedness.

How do you deal with constant connectedness and information overload? Let us know by leaving a comment!


William Powers
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Comments [9]

Amy from Manhattan

I remember hearing (on public radio!) that the same kind of thing happened when the telegraph was introduced--people had the same kinds of concerns they do today about the Internet.

Jul. 27 2010 01:57 PM
Jeremy from Manhattan

For Orthodox Jews it's easy-- every Sabbath (Saturday) we are offline from Friday night until Saturday evening. It's a wonderful break.

Jul. 27 2010 01:53 PM

Did critics freak out as much about people staying home and never communicating face-to-face when the telephone became popular as they do now about the internet?

Jul. 27 2010 01:49 PM
Tom Artin from Sparkill, NY

Oral transmission is every bit as linear as printed text. Likewise, handwritten manuscripts are as linear as pages produced by moveable type.

Jul. 27 2010 01:48 PM
Mike C. from Tribeca

Or did I hear your guest incorrectly?

Jul. 27 2010 01:42 PM
Mike C. from Tribeca

The reader is "more connected" to the text with a Kindle than when reading an actual book?

That has to be the most inane thing I've heard in a while.

Jul. 27 2010 01:40 PM
sclark from The woods of NJ

I don't own a cell phone nor do I have cable, so no TV. I don't have a facebook page.
My entertainment is minimal compared to my friends'. I read books, listen to the radio and borrow movies from various libraries.
I read my personal email 2-3 times a week. That's it.
I work in the IT industry and coming home is refreshing in so many ways.

Jul. 27 2010 01:40 PM

Check out The Metaphysics of Media (on for another exploration of the development of new media and its impact on culture.

Jul. 27 2010 01:39 PM
Jon from Hohokus

My comment is, that originally entertainment in general was meant to be a relief or release from reality. Now, there's almost no one I know who isn't always hypnotized by the blueish white glow of the laptop and a high speed connection. That is called living in an alternate reality. Kill your ISP.

Jul. 27 2010 01:30 PM

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