Been doing a fair amount of offline reading so haven’t had as much to write about. Read Everything Bad Is Good for You and was pretty impressed. The book starts as almost a defense of video games as a complex medium, despite it’s being maligned at best as overly simplistic and at worst as degrading society. Steven Johnson’s assertions in the first half of the book as he traces the intricacy in popular culture through television, film and gaming are a great summation but no surprise to anyone familiar with Marshal Macluhan.
Where the meat of the book lies is in the second half when he supports his argument that not only is popular culture more complex than it was 30 years ago but it actually is making society smarter. He uses sociological studies to prove his points and in doing so goes one further in opening up the debate about the effects media has on our minds — even to the point of increasing IQs.
While in California (my two week trip was also a reason for my lack of posts) I had a few conversations about Blogging, both writing and reading. Most I’ve spoken with seem to express having too little time to spend pouring over blogs and even less to write their own content. It’s interesting because those same contacts would likely agree with Johnson’s argument about the complexity of television with multithreading.
In the same span of time friends, would tell me they didn’t have the time to read blogs or write about their own interests they would extol the virtues of decoding an episode of Lost. I have many friends- smart friends mind you- here in NYC that spend hours on World of Warcraft. I don’t doubt that my acquaintances would feel vindicated by reading Johnson’s tome. In fact, reading it myself I’ve been somewhat inspired to pay more attention to T.V. and look into video gaming as a practice of sharpening my mind.
Johnson himself doesn’t touch much on Blogging and the internet. Sure he mentions how it opens new avenues for viewers and players to critique and dissect T.V. and video games. He also mentions the benefit of all that reading that’s going on since he is quick to note the virtues of rich narrative over the cognitive gains of video games and visual media.
What I wonder, however, is a deeper elaboration on how Blogging and the internet affect society and the central nervous system the same way Macluhan remarks about T.V. and its effects.
This isn’t so much of a criticism of the book, in fact, I was very taken by its arguments and the questions it raised. I’m a huge defender of popular culture as a valid and important discourse. I guess I’m just looking for Blogging to be considered in the same light.