I was wacked by a brutal summer cold in early June that lasted over two weeks. One of the only things that I had the energy to do was read books. I read five including Hamlet’s Blackberry: Building a Good Life in the Digital Age by William Powers.
I had started thinking about doing an entry on Hamlet’s Blackberry before the Washington area was hit by a Derecho on Friday June 30. This unforeseen period without power and the internet made this book feel timely. It’s a personal look at how the digital crowd has replaced a space where we can reflect.
(Admit it, we all too busy.)
Powers in a charming and conversational manner journeys through eras that include those of Socrates, Seneca, and Shakespeare and provides examples of how technology impacted the culture.
My favorite quote from the book is the following one by Thoreau.
“It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts. “
What Powers does with Hamlet’s Blackberry is to argue for controlling your technology. He’s not a technophobe. He likes that digital gadgets do cool stuff and help him work. It’s just that we need to be the one in charge and to consciously set limits.
It’s an entertaining and educational read.
I won’t be a spoiler and tell you what Hamlet’s Blackberry is.
You’ll have to get the book.
Sit in a quiet room and read it.