This review is submitted for W.O.W.’s (Women on Writing) blog tour!
In Kilham’s introduction to The Digital Rabbit Hole, the author offers an alternative 21st century Alice in Wonderland where “almost all of the younger generations are falling down digital rabbit holes.”
He sees us all as Alice and his goal is to discover the possibilities and pitfalls of Cyberland. While exploring both, we gain a full sense of their attributes as well as their red flags. In fact, while journeying with Kilham in his rabbit hole and exploring its advantages and disadvantages, one then wants to escape, but only after having benefitted from being there. Dizzying? Perhaps. But what an eye opener!
Throughout, one can’t help but marvel at how Kilham meanders in and out of historical reference points, citing scientists, psychologists, educators, and a variety of studies. He shares his knowledge and personal experiences after becoming captive in the digital universe and concludes that we need to remove ourselves from it from time to time “if we are to regain the ability to stimulate creativity and education, and to recapture humanity.”
As a psychotherapist/addictions counselor I have been all too aware of the negative side effects of computer and cell phone usage. In addition to those readers who treat such addictions professionally, parents, grandparents, and educators have been aware of Cyberland’s pitfalls for years and have, all too often, been unsuccessful in reversing its downward spiral. Here is where Kilham makes a clear case, explaining why it’s becoming “all-controlling” while at the same time telling us how we can remain optimistic.
He believes that “in order to break loose from a steady diet of packaged information, we must fire up our imagination and embrace new ideas.” He cautions us not to remain satisfied with less and less respect for experience-based knowledge, believing that “whatever the Web says that looks and sounds good, is the truth. One receives instant gratification in bite-sized servings from a trusted server. It is open 24 hours a day, is low cost, and what you do not want is easily disposed of.”
With children and teen-agers it is essential to increase their non-media time to include conversations with parents, teachers, mentors and friends, so that they develop social skills during these early stages of what Kilham terms “this radical social experiment.”
If we understand that “the possibility of infinite information creates a black hole, threatening intellectual development,” then we will not wish to swallow rote data but rather sift through life’s choices and come to decisions on our own.
Quoting from a study at the University of Waterloo in Canada, Kilham states that “the smartphone is part of the extended mind where people typically forego analytic thinking and individuals may even allow their smartphones to do their thinking for them.”
Since he believes that intelligence and knowledge are necessary for wisdom, he stresses that “foresight and a broad understanding of people and events is also required.”
“No one,” he concludes, “can automate creation and invention.” Furthermore, he notes that we need no further proof that we’re sliding down a digital rabbit hole than recognizing how many workers’ jobs are at risk, replacing them with robots and computers. Kilham concludes that at its extreme, a robotic existence takes us into Huxley’s Brave New World.
How does he still remain optimistic? He changes his focus. He reminds us that “to create new discoveries in science, our imagination must seize control of our minds again and recapture them by stimulating our imagination and creativity.” Computers, he reiterates, do not seek meaning in life and “if the present trend continues, what it means to be human will change.”
To avoid that from happening, he cautions us to remember that people do some things better than computers and “these are things that require curiosity, imagination, sensitivity, and emotion.”
Quoting Albert Einstein, Kilham sums it up with profound elegance: “The important thing is not to stop questioning; curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when contemplating the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of the mystery every day. The important thing is not to stop questioning: never lose a holy curiosity.”
About the Author
Larry Kilham received a B.S. in engineering from the University of Colorado and is a Sloan School of Management graduate from MIT. He has received three patents and has founded two high-tech companies. Many of his product designs required innovative use of computers, and as early as the 1960s he was researching artificial intelligence (AI). After selling his last business, he wrote three novels with A.I. themes and two books about creativity, invention, and high tech management. He has traveled extensively overseas for more than twenty years. He worked in several large international companies and started and sold two high-tech ventures. He has traveled extensively overseas for more than twenty years and is currently writing a novel about free will.
Larry and his wife Betsy live in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Larry Kilham can be found online at: