Posted & filed under In The News

from Press and Reviews

New York Times
“As Ms. Davidson puts it: ‘Pundits may be asking if the Internet is bad for our children’s mental development, but the better question is whether the form of learning and knowledge-making we are instilling in our children is useful to their future.’ In her galvanic new book, “Now You See It,” Ms. Davidson asks, and ingeniously answers, that question. One of the nation’s great digital minds, she has written an immensely enjoyable omni-manifesto that’s officially about the brain science of attention. But the book also challenges nearly every assumption about American education.  Rooted in field experience, as well as rigorous history, philosophy and science — this book about education happens to double as an optimistic, even thrilling, summer read. It supplies reasons for hope about the future. Take it to the beach. That much hope, plus that much scholarship, amounts to a distinctly unguilty pleasure.” –Virginia Hefferman,


“A remarkable new book, Now You See It . . . offers a fresh and reassuring perspective on how to manage anxieties about the bewildering pace of technological change. . . . Her work is the most powerful yet to insist that we can and should manage the impact of these changes in our lives.” –Anya Kamenetz, “Duke’s Cathy Davidson Has a Bold Plan For Change,” Fast Company, July 2011


“In a chatty, enthusiastic style, the author takes us on a journey through contemporary classrooms and offices to describe how they are changing—or, according to her, should change. Among much else, we need to build schools and workplaces that match the demands of our multitasking brains. That means emphasizing “nonlinear thinking,” “social networks” and “crowdsourcing.” ..Now You See It is filled with instructive anecdotes and genuine insights.” –Mark Changizi, “Masters of Distraction,” Wall Street Journal, August 20, 2011

“Her book ‘Now You See It’ celebrates the brain as a lean, mean, adaptive multitasking machine that — with proper care and feeding — can do much more than our hidebound institutions demand of it. The first step is transforming schools, which are out of touch with the radical new realities of the Internet era.. . . Davidson is such a good storyteller, and her characters are well drawn.” –Christopher Chabris, New York Times


Publishers Weekly
“Davidson has produced an exceptional and critically important book, one that is all-but-impossible to put down and likely to shape discussions for years to come.”   [Top 10 Science Book,Fall 2011]
Publisher’s Weekly Review, 5/30/2011

The Times Higher Education
Now You See It is humorous, poignant, entertaining, endearing, touching and challenging. It is a book I would happily recommend to anyone engaged in teaching at any level, because it aims both to comfort and to disrupt; it is devised to convince readers that the human mind is ready for the next quantum advance into our collective future, whatever that may be. It is certainly all-embracing in its scope, demonstrating how a sound knowledge of the many ways we can learn in new, media-rich environments might provide a better understanding of how individuals can attain their optimum potential.” –Steve Wheeler, Book of the Week, Times Higher Education

Inside Higher Ed
“Practice Collaboration by Difference: This idea is stolen directly from Cathy N. Davidson’s marvelous book, Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn. (Note:  If you are looking for someone to visit your campus to both spark ideas and bring people together you would have a hard time doing better than Cathy).  Davidson’s work suggests that homogenous teams will have a difficult time completing innovative work.   If innovation is our goal then we must pay careful attention to the diversity of the people around our project tables.” –Joshua Kim, Inside Higher Ed

“A preview of the future from an educational innovator… it is becoming clear that our minds are capable of multitasking to a degree far beyond what the 20th-century assembly-line worker or middle manager was trained to do….[Davidson’s] points are worth pondering.”

Chronicle of Higher Education
“There is an emerging consensus that higher education has to change significantly, and Davidson makes a compelling case for the ways in which digital technology, allied with neuroscience, will play a leading role in that change.”  William Pannapacker, Chronicle of Higher Education

Science News

[Davidson] makes a provocative case for radical educational and business reforms. She presents vivid examples of schools and workplaces unleashing learning and achievement. . . ., Davidson’s call to experiment with digital schemes that turn students and workers into motivated problem solvers rings as clear as a bell atop a little red schoolhouse. -Bruce Bower, Science News

Scientific American

“The book’s purpose and strength are in detailing the important lessons we can glean from the online world.  If Davidson is right, 21st-century society will move away from categorizing people based on standardized tests, which are crude measures of intelligence at best. Instead we will define new metrics, ones that are better aligned with the skills needed to succeed in the shifting global marketplace. And those who cannot embrace this multidisciplinary world will simply be left behind.”
–Brian Mossop, Scientific American

L.A. Weekly
“Davidson takes the technological bull by the horns and argues that concentration hasn’t gone downhill with the internet: we’re just operating with an outdated notion of attention, in the workplace and at home. … Davidson’s claim that mono-tasking (the idea that a person can focus on one single task at hand) is an unrealistic model of how the brain works, seems strikingly persuasive. Davidson also calls for a reform in education, suggesting ways in which technology can be incorporated into the classroom and help kids become multitasking, problem-solving thinkers. “–Sophie Duvernoy, LA Weekly



Blurbs from Public Intellectuals and Scholars

“The technological changes around us are of unprecedented proportions. What effects this has on us and what it tells us about human nature more generally is a central question for society and for all of us personally. In this book Cathy Davidson integrates findings from psychology, attention, neuroscience, and learning theory to help us get a glimpse of the future and more importantly a better understanding of our own individual potential.”   Dan Ariely, James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics, Duke University and author of Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape Our Decisions

Now You See It is simply fantastic. Only Cathy Davidson could pull off such a sweeping book.  It is about so much more than just education or even learning.  It is about a way of being. Her book and stories are incredibly important for the true arc of life learning and for constantly becoming!”     John Seely Brown, formerly Chief Scientist of Xerox Corporation and Director of Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), and co-author of  The Social Life of Information and A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change
“Cathy Davidson has one of the most interesting and wide ranging minds in contemporary scholarship, a mind that ranges comfortably over literary arts, literacy, psychology, and brain science. I’ve been stimulated by her writings. Her ambitious and timely  book is certain to attract a lot of attention and to catalyze many discussions.”
Howard Gardner, Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education, Harvard University

“The self-reprogramming capacity of the human mind, together with the way our communication technologies influence our thinking, are combining to reprogram our attention. One cutting edge of educational practice is participatory learning — giving students a more active, exploratory role based on critical inquiry — and one frontier of brain research is what is happening to our attention in the always-on era. Cathy Davidson is a natural to bring together these neuroscientific and educational themes.”
Howard Rheingold, lecturer at Berkeley and Stanford, author of Smart Mobs and Net Smart

“Now You See It starts where Malcolm Gladwell leaves off, showing how digital information will change our brains.  Think Alvin Toffler meets Ray Kurzweil on Francis Crick’s front porch. We need this book.”
Daniel Levitin, James McGill Professor of Neuroscience, McGill University and author of the New York Times bestsellers This Is Your Brain on Music and The World in Six Songs

Blogs, New Media, Smaller Presses

Duke Magazine
Now You See It [is a]  timely and passionate manifesto by Cathy N. Davidson on how to cope in the Internet age.. . .   Davidson is such a dazzling guide, so in command of her subject, that it’s hard not to fall in with her optimism.”  –Fred Andrews, Duke Magazine
Maria Popova,
“Refreshingly constructive and glimmering with much-needed optimism about the future of education in the digital age, Now You See It makes a fine new addition to these 7 essential books on education and offers a well-argued antidote to the media’s incessant clamor about the deadly erosion of our attention.”
–Maria Popova, How the Science of Attention is Changing Work and Education, review on, August 19, 2011

Terri Schlichenmeyer, Bookworm Sez
Now You See It” is meant as “a field guide and a survival manual for the digital age,” and author Cathy Davidson hits that target square . . . There’s no doubt that this audiobook is intriguing. Davidson uses anecdotes and statistics to back up her ideas, offering lots of usable information that makes sense. She engages readers with wit and appropriate factlets, and it’s hard not to be completely mesmerized by what she presents.  . . .   Can you afford to ignore such important information? If you’re in business, I think not. For you, for sure, “Now You See It” is research to notice.” –Terri Schlichenmeyer , Bookworm Sez,


Casey Schwartz, The Daily Beast

Davidson invites us to regard the sensation of being distracted—the thing so many of us are compulsively medicating ourselves to ward off—as a good thing, an opportunity to fix the mismatch between how we’ve automatically approached the task at hand and what the task at hand actually demands of us.

Davidson’s is a good perspective. It is nonjudgmental, and acknowledges that we are in the throes of a transition. For any one of us who has been panicking about how to adapt to constant, ubiquitous demands on our attention—how to achieve relevant, quality work, even as the workplace is shifting beneath our feet—it’s comforting to know that most people have yet to figure this out, and that it’s not a reflection on our natural capacities or intelligence.

Davidson speaks to us from the center of the Zeitgeist.  In clear terms, she presents the problems that are emanating from the chasm that’s opened up between our technological new lives and the old standards and routines we still feel obliged to pay attention to. –Casey Schwartz, “The Science of Attention Spans,” August 17, 2011.

Mary Davies,
“I read in the New York Times, a reference to a book on the science of attention. Once I got hold of Cathy Davidson’s Now You See It, my attention was all hers. And I’m way less blue now about the future.”  –Mary Davies, Seattle PI

In Davidson’s book, we go on a journey through life, starting from birth and continuing through school and the workforce… Davidson examines how new technology is forcing a change in workplace practices while some still cling to the old ways of the industrial era. She champions innovative ideas and methods that appeal to the individual and persuades companies to come up to speed.” –Oliver Chan, Cosmos magazine,

“Now You See It is a compelling read if you’re interested in the failings of standardized testing, and exploring more creative, internet-era-appropriate methods of education. The challenge it raises to educators is a signal one: how are we checking our own institutional biases in favor of really exploring what students will need in the workforce, and how can we make school more like the new workplace?” –John Eckman, Open Parenthesis
“By looking at the historical and philosophical underpinnings of the modern school and workplace, however, Davidson, a professor of English and interdisciplinary studies, makes a persuasive case for the transformation cited in her subtitle, one that builds on current research on attentiveness and takes better advantage of the tools that modern technology has made available. “If institutions of school and work fight changes that people have happily adopted in their lives,” she writes, “then perhaps the source of distraction in the workplace isn’t technology—perhaps it is the outmoded practices required by our schools and workplaces.”” –Marc Maximov,, August 24, 2011

College Ready Writing
“I finally finished Cathy Davidson’s new book Now You See It… I am so glad that I decided to adopt this book for my Freshman Writing class on “The Future.” I am excited and invigorated by the hopeful and optimistic tone that the book takes. This is a book that everyone should read.
But, here’s a list of the most important people who should read the book, and why.  1) Educators. 2) Parents.”
Read the review in its entirety at College Ready Writing.

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Cathy N. Davidson

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