Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Steven Johnson's Everything Bad Is Good for You
Because I'm making my English 115 students read it, I'm re-reading Steven Johnson's Everything Bad is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter. It's such a well-written piece of persuasion. He's making the argument that while the content may not be particularly worthy, the cognitive demands that video games make are partially responsible for the upward trend in I.Q. over the 20th century, a trend that is otherwise without a clear explanation. Never having played a video game, I was fascinated by his descriptions of them -- he's a great process writer, taking you through the necessary probing, decision-making and frustration. He also demonstrates the increasing complexity of television over the past several decades, the demands made on viewers by multi-threaded narrative arcs, but also the development of emotional intelligence effected by reality television. I learned about this book from my blogging buddy, Puttermeister, and now you know about it too.