Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Everything bad is good for you

Everything Bad is Good for You
For my first book review of the New Year I have “Everything Bad Is Good For You How Today’s Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter” by Steven Johnson. It was published in 2005 by Riverhead Books. It is 238 pages long including notes, further readings, and acknowledgments. The cover has a man standing with a TV for a head and is a deep red. The intended reader is adult but not because of content or language but because you need to have some basic knowledge about the world in order to understand it. I think that an intelligent teenager could read this and not have any problems. The writing style is a little odd because Johnson does talk to the reader at points in the book but just flow with the narrative and you should be fine. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the duct jacket- Forget everything you’ve ever read about the age of dumbed-down, instant-gratification culture. In this provocative, unfailingly intelligent, thoroughly researched, and surprisingly convincing book, Steven Johnson draws from fields as diverse as neuroscience, economics, and media theory to argue that the pop culture we soak in every day—from Lord of the Rings to Grand Theft Auto to The Simpsons—has been growing more sophisticated with each passing year, and, far from rotting our brains, is actually posing new cognitive challenges that are actually making our minds measurably sharper. You will never regard the glow of the video game or television screen the same way again.

Review- For a short book it packs a lot into its 199 pages; the rest of the pages are the notes and etc. that I posted above. I am a gamer and before I was a gamer I watched a lot of TV, so I have heard and been the victim many of the arguments against video games and TV. So in that way I felt vindicated as I was reading this. Johnson helps non-games/TV people understand some of the benefits of doing those things. He does also say, and I do agree, that like everything in life you should have moderation. Because doing anything at the expense of other important things is not good for you. He talks about how IQ has gone up in the past 46 years, how TV shows have become more complex because we have become smarter, that games are good for more than just eye to hand coordination. That the growing of the Internet has not made us less social but more social than ever before. The writing is strong but I did have some trouble with the second part of the book because Johnson is not talking down to you about the brain science so be prepared for it. This is a very well written book with interesting information and for people like me vindication for all the years of being told that I was wasting my time. I still hold to what I said then; it is my time to waste.

I give Five out of Five stars. I get nothing for my review and I borrowed this from my local library.