I predict it will have you clutching your books like long lost children.
—Loreena McKennitt, musician
When Loreena McKennitt comes to town, everyone listens. From her friends
and family in Morden, Manitoba to her devoted fans who have followed
her over the years through her many recordings and live performances.
journey began when she fell in love with Celtic music in the '70s. She
was eventually drawn to the history of the Celts and began exploring
that history through her music.
She eventually relocated to
Stratford, Ontario where she is the head of Quinlan Road, an
internationally successful record label.
McKennitt will soon be in Winnipeg to perform at the Centennial Concert Hall.
SCENE asked McKennitt what she's passionate about reading between shows:
We are living in a time where technological advances have sped up so significantly that they've out-paced our ability as humans to understand, quantify, select, discuss or strategize their use. I am keen to get a better appreciation of what is happening to us as a species and as a civilization, from a personal, professional and civic perspective.
In particular, I'm eager to grasp the impact of the internet and connection technologies. I want to understand how they relate to our physiology and the maturity that's required in order to know what, when and if we should allow them into our personal and professional lives. Ultimately, I'm interested in how this all affects our humanity.
"The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing To Our Brains" by Nicholas Carr (Atlantic)
In Nicholas Carr's book, The Shallows- What the Internet is Doing to our Brains
, he presents a forceful argument about how the plasticity of the brain - the very quality that enabled us to adapt so well over time - is also one of the features that makes us so vulnerable to these invasive and ubiquitous "distraction technologies," as he calls them.
Computers and the internet have existed in almost an omnipresent state in our western societies for well over a decade and there is a growing body of research involved in monitoring and measuring what it is doing to our brains. We are invited to reflect and act upon this foundational information.
In his book, Carr leads the reader through a fascinating historical and physiological argument which suggests that the actual physiology of our brains is reverting to a state more characteristic of the pre-printing press age. He calls this 'The Shallows' and suggests we are now emerging from this rich period of 500 years post-printing press age when knowledge has been more widely shared and experienced through deep thinking.
Carr describes many fascinating aspects of the brain, including the fact that it does not resemble a computer, contrary to common belief. In particular, he points out how the brain's regions interact, and the remarkable and invaluable outcomes of those interactions, as well as noting its incredible capacity for memory.
Aside from the disturbing dependence we've developed on connection technologies, which some would argue have narrowed down and stripped away the very skill sets we've long relied upon to survive, Carr also issues a warning call that relates to our very humanity.
I believe The Shallows
is relevant for everyone, in any application, be it parenting, education, medicine, security, privacy, or business. I predict it will have you clutching your books like long lost children.
At a time when universities and businesses are lamenting the lack of such fundamental skills as math and basic communications in our graduates, we must also add into the equation the long-term consequences of failing to tackle this technological tsunami.
One can't help but feel our humanity and our civilization are at stake.
Loreena McKennitt performs at the Centennial Concert Hall on August 9.