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"Is the Internet melting our brains?"

No, argues Dennis Baron, professor of English and linguistics at Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Baron seeks to provide the historical context that is often missing from debates about the way technology is transforming our lives in his new book, "A Better Pencil." His thesis is clear: Every communication advancement throughout human history, from the pencil to the typewriter to writing itself, has been met with fear, skepticism and a longing for the medium that's been displaced.

Here, as usual, history provides useful perspective.