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It is the most boring book that I have ever read in my love. It literally brought me to tears knowing that I had to read it for school and yet it was just soooooo boring. It amazes me how he knows so much about how game makers captivate our minds and how he wonders how we are so much more eager by games than books! His book is a prime reason why I am so much more interested in games than books. Maybe he himself should have taken notes on the game makers ways so that his book wouldn't have been so time wasting.
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As a member of generation X I live for the next new wave of technology that is going to impact my life and make it that much better. That being said, this particular generation is also the one that regularly enjoys watching TV, playing videos games and in a sense the overall joy that comes from being “lazy.” In Steven Johnson’s book Everything Bad is Good for You he argues the opposite of what my generation is stereotyped as.
The first chapter of his book is entitled the Sleeper Curve in which he opens by discussing his childhood. He remembers vividly a game his father had brought home that involved dice and baseball stats. This was his generation’s video game. He discusses the important skills that were retained through the game, and thus sets his argument up for why video games are important and help build vital skills later in life. It is argued time and time again that video games, TV, ipods, and even the beloved internet are destroying the youth. In 1960 the radio and TV were all the rage, but considering there were only select channels very few of them in fact, that kids still went outside and enjoyed good natured psychical activities. This gave children character and hence taught them how to survive in the real world. The argument that this book makes is simple, we are obtaining skills to survive in the real world but we are doing it a little different.
The sleeper curve, as noted above “My argument for the existence of the sleeper curve comes out of an assumption that the landscape of popular culture involves the clash of competing forces: the neurological appetites of the brain, the economics of the culture industry, changing technological platforms.” (p. ##). What this basically is saying is how our culture has evolved, and why this new trend is happening. The first part is the landscape of popular culture, and the clash of the competing forces which in this case would be video games. In today’s society there is somewhat of an argument being made very strongly against the wide spread popularity of video games. They are said to be too violent and are corrupting the youth. Steven Johnson argues the opposite side of this. He states that instead of turning our children into a violent youth culture it is stimulating their minds into more cognitive thinking and helping them to develop better analytical skills.
The next part of his argument for the sleeper curve is the neurological appetite of the brain. Children want to be challenged and are more willing to take risks in video games because they know that they can continue even after taking the risk and failing. Thus these children are obtaining skills to multitask and to better focus on one individual activity but making their brains work harder. According to Steven, despite popular belief that views our culture as being dumb down, we are actually making our brains work harder today than ever before. By having our brains work harder we are in fact improving our cognitive ability.
The last part of the Sleeper curve is the economic industry and technological platforms. This holds equal importance because it is a change in society; we have changed our economic patterns by putting a greater emphasis on technology than we ever have before. Due to this rapid shift in economic trends it has opened a door to the creation of the rise of technological inventions. The market is so rapidly expanding that in order to keep up we must continue to come up with new and better improvements or inventions. In this sense, how else could our children grow up without knowing and utilizing technology?
Basically we have technology; it is present in our lives. My generation and the ones that will follow will be a technologically driven one. It is important not to duel in the past and think about the negatives of how our children will grow up, but focus on the positive aspects and look ahead to how the future will be better because of technology. Overall Steven Johnson did a good job in critiquing how society welcomes or does not the advent of technology. I love pop
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Steven Johnson’s national bestseller Everything Bad Is Good For You: How Today’s Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter provides an excellent contrasting view to the pessimistic views of today’s popular culture. Mainstream opinion believes that the technology we have today is “dumbing down” our society and making it available to individuals to think less and become mentally withdrawn. Johnson cites four distinct areas within media that recently have become ever more complex and provide evidence to Johnson’s “sleeper curve,” these areas include games, television, Internet, and film. I found this book to be an easily understandable, well-argued text that anyone, from a parent concerned about his child to a researching psychologist could find fun but informative. The first half of Johnson’s book is a comparison of the media of yesterday and the media today. It explains on a simple level the intelligence and thoughtfulness that can go into viewing most modern popular culture. In contrast, the second part explains in greater detail the psychological findings and research that help to both prove and disprove his findings. He creates a conversation between research to help prove his “sleeper curve” and generates a very convincing argument that can make anyone a believer.
Johnson begins with video games, as it is probably one of the most criticized aspects of culture today. Many argue that games are too violent and mind numbing for children to play. However, Johnson disagrees on this issue; he states that the most popular games are those with very few violent scenes. Indeed, the ones that are most popular teach children whilst simultaneously keeping them interested. An example of this would be SimCity, which he contends allowed his eight-year-old nephew to learn industrial taxes within an hour. This calls to mind the question, could an eight year old possibly learn this any other way? I believe not and Johnson agrees. This made a true believer out of me that games are one of the more intellectual parts of our society today that aid in our developing, understanding, and dealing with everyday life. Not only are children learning how to problem solve as quickly as possible by probing into situations and finding solutions, they are also learning how to make decisions which will impact them in the future. Games force an individual to make split-second decisions about what needs to be done in order to win, not only having an immediate impact, but also coming into play later on in the game. The child must probe into the ideas at hand and make quick decisions and become more aware of the rules as he plays. In addition, games have helped children build their “attention, memory, following threads, and so on…” at a rate comparative to literature (pg. 35). A gamer must also remember all the steps to accomplish a certain task which Johnson outlines and explains could be a very long list of complicated tasks just for a few minutes of game time. Games today also follow an exceptional amount of threads compared to games of the past. Game makers are able to produce such massive situations for children because of the use of telescoping, which is making one situation going into another. Lastly, he cites a study that looked at white-collar professional hard-core gamers, occasional gamers, and non-gamers,” which helped provide evidence of Johnson’s theories that gamers are still socially active, confident, and far better at solving problems than individuals who do not play games.
Television, Johnson argues, is one of the most influential popular culture mediums used to strengthen our intelligence. Across all genre of television including primetime, soap operas, and even reality shows, Johnson argues that television has gotten much more complex over the years. Shows now incorporate more threads and harder to follow plotlines than ever before, making it harder for the viewer to keep up with the show. This begs of the viewer to pay more in depth attention to the show that they are