The End of Absence

Michael Harris's book explores the ways digital advancements impact how we live and how we think.

Michael Harris

Only one generation in history (ours) will experience life both with and without the Internet. For everyone who follows us, online life will simply be the air they breathe. Today, we revel in ubiquitous information and constant connection, rarely stopping to consider the implications for our logged-on lives.

Michael Harris chronicles this massive shift, exploring what we've gained —and lost — in the bargain. In this eloquent and thought-provoking book, Harris argues that our greatest loss has been that of absence itself — of silence, wonder and solitude. It's a surprisingly precious commodity, and one we have less of every year. Drawing on a vast trove of research and scores of interviews with global experts, Harris explores this "loss of lack" in chapters devoted to every corner of our lives, from sex and commerce to memory and attention span. The book's message is urgent: once we've lost the gift of absence, we may never remember its value. (From HarperCollins)

The End of Absence won the Governor General's Literary Award for nonfiction in 2014.

Read an excerpt | Author interviews

From the book

As we embrace a technology's gifts, we usually fail to consider what they ask from us in return — the subtle, hardly noticeable payments we make in exchange for their marvelous service. We don't notice, for example, that the gaps in our schedules have disappeared because we're too busy delighting in the amusements that fill them. We forget the games that childhood boredom forged because boredom itself has been outlawed. Why would we bother to register the end of solitude, of ignorance, of lack? Why would we care that an absence has disappeared?

From The End of Absence by Michael Harris ©2014. Published by HarperCollins Canada.

Author interviews

Author Michael Harris on his book "The End of Absence," which won the 2014 Governor General's Literary Award for non-fiction. 1:08