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Everything Bad is Good for You: How Today's…

Everything Bad is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually… (2005)

by Steven Johnson

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1,778435,988 (3.61)31



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Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
How today's popular culture is actually making us smarter
  jhawn | Jul 31, 2017 |
I think I'm moderately convinced of the premise, but I think it could have been more thoroughly developed. An argument based primarily on examples (because of a dearth of holistic studies) benefits from as many and as varied examples as possible; this felt more like a conveniently selected few.
Also, probably like any pop culture monograph published in 2005, this feels pretty dated. ( )
  BraveNewBks | Mar 10, 2016 |
The author puts forth a compelling argument that today’s “progressive trends in popular culture” are making us more intelligent rather than less. He cites the more complex storylines of today’s television which kicked off with “Hill Street Blues.” Video games require decision-making, often quickly, and he describes the probing and telescoping techniques that players use to understand and advance in a game. Reality shows and social networking sites help us with our social intelligence. The rapid changes of technology has forced users to play around with software and hypothesize about computre problems.He argues for a change in the way we determine what is junk and what is nourishing. ( )
  Salsabrarian | Feb 2, 2016 |
An interesting take on popular culture. The author's argument is that popular culture, such as t.v. and video games, is becomign more complex which is making us use our brains more. So instead of dumbing down society popular culture is making us smarter. There isn't much evidence to support this but I do think it is an area where we could definitely due more research. The book is a few years old so parts of it are dated but overall an interesting read. ( )
1 vote RachelNF | Jan 15, 2016 |
The author does well to make his theory very clearly explained before he goes on to discuss it at a brisk pace. Had he not taken the pains to do so, the book would not be as enjoyable and readable. He does sell his point very, very well and backs it up with some good information. He takes his time with the conclusion to recap and summarize his point very well as well. He errs only when connecting a dismissal of the effects of violence on TV with a drop in crime. There is only anecdotal information to work with, but he claims it's more sound than the data shows. It is the only major flaw. I'm in agreement with about 94% of his argument. The book stands as an excellent essay and a point to ponder.
  MartinBodek | Jun 11, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
Johnson, a cross-disciplinary thinker who has written about neuroscience, media studies and computer technology, wants to convince us that pop culture is not the intellectual tranquilizer that its sound-alike critics have made it out to be but a potent promoter of cerebral fitness.
added by mikeg2 | editNew York Times, Walter Kirn (May 22, 2005)
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For Lydia, true believer.
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Every childhood has its talismans, the sacred objects that look innocuous enough to the outside world, but that trigger an onslaught of vivid memories when the grown child confronts them.
It's the story of how systems analysis, probability theory, pattern recognition, and—amazingly enough—old-fashioned patience became indispensable tools for anyone trying to make sense of modern pop culture.
To summarize, the cognitive benefits of reading involve these faculties: effort, concentration, attention, the ability to make sense of words, to follow narrative threads, to sculpt imagined worlds out of mere sentences on the page. Those benefits are themselves amplified by the fact that society places a substantial emphasis on precisely this set of skills.
The first and last thing that should be said about the experience of playing today's video games, the thing you almost never hear in the mainstream coverage, is that games are fiendishly, sometimes maddeningly, hard.
THE DIRTY little secret of gaming is how much time you spend not having fun.
It's not what you're thinking about when you're playing a game, it's the way you're thinking that matters.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0141018682, Paperback)

In his fourth book, Everything Bad Is Good for You, iconoclastic science writer Steven Johnson (who used himself as a test subject for the latest neurological technology in his last book, Mind Wide Open) takes on one of the most widely held preconceptions of the postmodern world--the belief that video games, television shows, and other forms of popular entertainment are detrimental to Americans' cognitive and moral development. Everything Good builds a case to the contrary that is engaging, thorough, and ultimately convincing.

The heart of Johnson's argument is something called the Sleeper Curve--a universe of popular entertainment that trends, intellectually speaking, ever upward, so that today's pop-culture consumer has to do more "cognitive work"--making snap decisions and coming up with long-term strategies in role-playing video games, for example, or mastering new virtual environments on the Internet-- than ever before. Johnson makes a compelling case that even today's least nutritional TV junk food–the Joe Millionaires and Survivors so commonly derided as evidence of America's cultural decline--is more complex and stimulating, in terms of plot complexity and the amount of external information viewers need to understand them, than the Love Boats and I Love Lucys that preceded it. When it comes to television, even (perhaps especially) crappy television, Johnson argues, "the content is less interesting than the cognitive work the show elicits from your mind."
Johnson's work has been controversial, as befits a writer willing to challenge wisdom so conventional it has ossified into accepted truth. But even the most skeptical readers should be captivated by the intriguing questions Johnson raises, whether or not they choose to accept his answers. --Erica C. Barnett

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:30 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

The $10 billion video gaming industry is now the second-largest segment of the entertainment industry in the United States, outstripping film and far surpassing books. Reality television shows featuring silicone-stuffed CEO wannabes and bug-eating adrenaline junkies dominate the ratings. But prominent social and cultural critic Steven Johnson argues that our popular culture has never been smarter. Drawing from fields as diverse as neuroscience, economics, and literary theory, the author argues that the junk culture we're so eager to dismiss is in fact making us more intelligent. A video game will never be a book nor should it aspire to be -- and, in fact, video games, from Tetris to the Sims to Grand Theft Auto, have been shown to raise IQ scores and develop cognitive abilities that can't be learned from books. Likewise, successful television, when examined closely and taken seriously, reveals surprising narrative sophistication and intellectual demands. This book is a hopeful and spirited account of contemporary culture. The author demonstrates that our culture is not declining but changing-in exciting and stimulating ways we'd do well to understand. The glow of the video game or television screen will never be regarded the same way again.… (more)

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