David Scott Scott itibaren 8451 Nestelberg, Avusturya
The trend of publishing idea books (books that argue in favor of a central, seemingly narrow, thesis) has grown in the past decade, from Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point (and others) to Cheap Heath's Made to Stick to Nassim Taleb's The Black Swan to James Surowiecki's The Wisdom of Crowds. Besides structure, they all have in common the ability to raise discussion about the idea they champion. (This may stem from their rather poor academic standard and their mostly qualitative rather than quantitative arguments.) In Everything Bad is Good for You, Steven Johnson argues that what many Western people perceive as an increasingly dumb popular culture, expressed in new media such as television, Internet, and gaming, is in fact an increasingly complex culture that expresses in complex socio-technical ways incomparable with the expression of the past. Johnson argues that, while the top-of-the-class for these new media would not be much better than the equivalent in "old" media (traditional writing), the average would be much better---he calls this effect the "sleeper curve". He sets out to compare structurally (systemically) rather than semiotically the contents of TV programs and computer games over the past four decades, and argues through anecdotal evidence that an evolution in the complexity of these shows exists. He also argues that decision making and understanding are skills that are more actively required by the new media of the 2000s, as TV shows and computer games become tied to an economic model that requires replay rather than one-time experience. In the remainder of the book, Johnson steps into speculation territory and tries to link the increase in the complexity of pop culture expression to non-so-well-documented increases in the ability of the general population to solve problems (increases in the average IQ over time) and to interact. In other words, he tries to argue that the increased media complexity, and bombarding with it our kids and average Joes, are responsible for making our kids and average Joes more able in solving problems and in interacting with each other. It's possible, but the argument presented in this book does not explore enough alternative hypotheses and it is not sound enough to be acceptable. An informed reader could raise many issues about the arguments formulated in this book. Since many of these arguments are just rehashes of the old (ironically, Internet-based) debates that preceded the book, I will refrain from stating them. In hindsight, computer games have not continued their evolution towards complexity; in fact, the most popular games in 2010 were FarmVille and Mafia Wars, two casual games that tone down and popularize (trivialize?) the complexity of previous games such as SimCity (discussed in Everything Bad is Good for You). Although series such as The Big Bang Theory started with poli-faceted characters and unexpected plot turns, their later seasons have turned to more stereotypical characters and plots. Perhaps we are witnessing a dumbing down of the new media, after all? Herher, at least the IQs of my friends seem to be still growing. Overall, an interesting book but I'm not sure it brings forth something new, either in the topic or in the argument.
This was such a sweet book. It honestly touched my heart. Wills and Cowboy Carol Lawrence (and Mom too), will enter your heart. Wills is a adorable little boy who has been diagnosed with Autism, Mom feels guilty and buys an aquarium. Wills wants a puppy, he even picked out a name for his puppy LONG before he got one. When Wills gets his puppy this dog brings out amazing changes in Wills (and the entire family). I won't go into it more than that because I don't want to spoil it for anyone but I DO recommend this book. It was a quick read, I enjoyed it and just simply could not put it down.