Historical Letters: Lewis Carroll

Every age has its concern about the effects of new technologies. You may remember the best selling book by Nicholas Carr, "The Shallows: What the Internet is doing to our brains." In Lewis Carroll's time the internet could not have been foreseen but his day had other concerns; for example, electric lighting.

"It may prove to be a real evil to those who use it. The getting into the habit of reading by a light so much stronger than the eyes really need, may easily unfit them for reading by ordinary light and make their homes seem very uncomfortable."

He was right that we would become unfit for reading in ordinary light. He did not foresee however that our idea of ordinary light was so subject to change and that one day every home would have this new marvel of electric light which would redefine normal.

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