A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age
Harper, Hardcover, 9780061687167, 288pp.
Publication Date: July 1, 2010
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 fulfillment we crave.
Hamlet's BlackBerry argues that we need a new way of thinking, an everyday philosophy for life with screens. To find it, Powers reaches into the past, uncovering a rich trove of ideas that have helped people manage and enjoy their connected lives for thousands of years. New technologies have always brought the mix of excitement and stress that we feel today. 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 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.
Award-winning media critic William Powers has written for the Atlantic, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and McSweeney's, among other publications. He lives on Cape Cod with his wife, the author Martha Sherrill, and their son.
“Always connected. Anytime. Anyplace. We know it’s a blessing, but we’re starting to notice that it’s also a curse. In Hamlet’s Blackberry, William Powers helps us understand what being ‘connected’ disconnects us from, and offers wise advice about what we can do about it…. A thoughtful, elegant, and moving book.”
-Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less
“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
“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.”
“In this delightfully accessible book, Powers asks the questions we all need to ask in this digitally driven time. And teaches us to answer them for ourselves.”
-Maryanne Wolf, author of Proust and the Squid
“[An] elegant meditation on our obsessive connectivity and its effect on our brains and our very way of life.”
-Laurie Winer, New York Times Book Review
“Powers mounts a passionate but reasoned argument for ‘a happy balance’. . . . [He] is a lively, personable writer who seeks applicable lessons from great thinkers of the past. . . . Lucid, engaging prose and [a] thoughtful take on the joys of disconnectivity.”
-Heller McAlpin, Christian Science Monitor
Welcome to the 21st century, where we're all connected, all the time. Whether or not this is a good thing is the subject of Hamlet's Blackberry, a new book by William Powers that takes a magnifying glass to the "conundrum of connectedness" -- and looks to the past to find ways to deal with information overload. More at NPR.org
NPR Audio Player Requires Flash Upgrade: Please upgrade your plug-in to view this content.