September 10, 2021
Discover your brain, to unleash its full potential in a hyperconnected, multitasking world
Author: Theo Compernolle
Genre: nonfiction; productivity, work/life balance, technostress
In one sentence: world-class collection of research on what technology is doing to our brains, degraded to amateur level by author’s writing style.
Before embarking on the BrainChains journey, read the sign that marks the beginning of its path: “Warning: along this road, you will find an angry man screaming at you more than once. Turn back now if that sounds unappealing.”
BrainChains is packed with an intensity normally found in missionaries and football hooligans. The author’s fuse ignited when researching what always-on smartphones, billions of emails, and noisy open offices are doing to our brains. It was exponentially worse than he expected; he has been on fire ever since.
Author Theo Compernolle has a point. The way we are using modern technology is absurd: it’s bad for our health, productivity, and relationships, sometimes even deadly (think phones in cars). If any of this is news to you, look no further: you can find everything you ever wanted to know about these issues neatly summarized in this one book.
The problem? The author’s communication style would not be out of place on a street corner near you, preaching the word of God or announcing the imminent arrival of aliens. Not only does he seem furious at times, he also jumps from here to there and back over here again, repeating the same topic over and over again.
BrainChains is more a collection of research than an integrated, readable book. The content is valuable and the author’s message important. But it could have been so much better if someone had taken away his megaphone and used a broom on the narrative. It might have turned this book into an eye-opener for the masses, instead of a must-read for a professional niche. A missed opportunity.
“It is the very best of our reflecting brain that is undermined first and foremost, the very work that computers cannot do, work that requires insight and knowledge.”
This passage captures the essence of the problem: our devices try to make us work as if we ourselves are computers (multitasking, being available 24/7, never any downtime). Instead, we need to understand what makes the human brain unique and how to make the best use of it. The research summarized in this book shows how to do just that.
Goes well with: Deep Work. While BrainChains is an extensive collection of research on how technology affects our work (and lives), Deep Work is a more readable book that gives clear guidelines and tips on how you can improve your focus and hence work.
⭐️ Rating: 3/5
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