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Everything Bad is Good for You: How Popular Culture is Making Us Smarter
 
 

Everything Bad is Good for You: How Popular Culture is Making Us Smarter [Kindle Edition]

Steven Johnson
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £11.99
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Product Description

Review

'We need never feel guilty about that 96-hour Grand Theft Auto session again’ -- Arena

'Wonderfully entertaining’ -- Malcolm Gladwell

Essential and rather brilliant. -- New Statesman

The championing of popular culture is most welcome ... a vital, lucid exploration of the contemporary mediascape. -- Time Out Book of the Week

This book is a satisfying experience. -- New Statesman

‘A guru for Generation Xbox’ -- Financial Times

‘A must-read’ -- Mark Thompson, head of the BBC

‘Thought-provoking … very persuasive’ -- Sunday Times

New Statesman

This book is a satisfying experience.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1498 KB
  • Print Length: 244 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1417797606
  • Publisher: Penguin (6 April 2006)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002RI9XB0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #157,521 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but not authoritative 11 July 2005
By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
As a keen gamer, I plan to show this book to everyone who tells me I'm wasting time! The book explores a premise called the Sleeper Curve, a term invented by Johnson and used liberally throughout the book, explaining that those forms of mass culture that are most slated for being mindless and simplistic are in fact challenging our brains in ever newer and more complex ways. By examining the changes in television, film and games over the last few decades, and citing results of IQ studies and other publications, Johnson certainly makes a persuasive argument for the complexification of American culture.
However, a major flaw with this book as far as I see it is its concentration on America and American media. Whether older British television is indeed as simple compared to today's shows as Johnson claims American TV is, I cannot say; however, I suspect that at least some of our older television still challenges today's audiences. Equally, results of spurious IQ studies (with Johnson himself mentioning that IQ is not necessarily a good measure of intelligence) are entirely divorced from our culture. Having lived in America, I did understand most of the references to television shows, but there were still some which passed me by, unfortunately.
In terms of style the book is fairly heavy-going (at least initially) since it takes a more academic than casual tone. Certainly the term 'Sleeper Curve' is accurate as I fell asleep reading it a few times, and I felt more like I was ploughing through reams of justification than following a series of eloquent arguments.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
i'm a big fan of Stephen Johnson's writing. Interface Culture should be on every digital media-related course's reading list and blew my mind at the time. I also think Emergence is a great book, which expands into more scientific areas. that said, i found this book slightly disappointing. it is well written and interesting in parts but there's nothing especially surprising or thought-provoking in it (especially if you've read his other books) and i left feeling it would've been better as a magazine or newspaper article rather than something you have to pay £8 for. ironically (given the commentary on fit for purpose media). there was a fair bit of repetition (at one point i was thinking "if he mentions how gaming improves your cognitive skills one more time i'm gonna scream") and the referencing of Nietszche e.g. just struck me as gratuitous. if you're a fast reader or haven't read his other books then you may enjoy it but is less challenging and less interesting than his other writing. it's less academic and therefore more accessible than his other stuff so would probably buy this for someone that needed persuading, which perhaps is the audience he's aiming for with this one.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read 7 July 2014
By LeeM
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
For my first non-fiction have enjoyed this much more then I thought, have given it five stars as I went into it thinking I might bore of it fast but it's fresh view has certainly held my attention. First heard of this from a youtube video by "Vsauce" and am very glad I got the ebook, well done Steve Johnson I will be paying more attention to your work from now on
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3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting spin 3 Mar 2013
By giraffe
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Great idea of a book to look at new media from a different perspective, although I found it quite repetitive.
Could have been much more concise, I found myself scanning and skipping.
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8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My best non-fiction read in 2005! 14 Jan 2006
By Siriam TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I read this book at the end of 2005 and found it one of the best eye openers in challenging a lot of my simple misconceptions regarding computer games, TV and the benefits of the internet (as an education/social interaction tool as opposed to a tool I use at work every day).
I no longer look at my children's fascination with playing computer games with such concern; it has not increased my viewing of TV (a medium I actually think too many people view with rose tinted historic spectacles given it formed such a key part of their early lives) but it has helped me appreciate the wider benefits of how TV series now operate and are structured versus the versions I saw as a child; plus the internet and its wider social impact is put into context with the end coverage that IQs are given these changes getting higher in the middle and lower zones of society if not so clearly helping the top intellectual end are well made even if you do not wholly agree everything.
The book is US centric but given the author's life, location and background that seems inevitable and indeed the beauty of the arguments presented for consideration is that you find yourself applying them to local UK TV programmes given the main messages are universal.
While the style is too academic at the start, once the writer warms to his subjects he does present well and in a very creative structure that interlocks across the book. Finally, the end section on summarising areas for further reading on the different topics is one of the best I have seen in such a small book.
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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Elitism Rules! OK? 15 Jun 2008
Format:Paperback
This is a provocative book which warrants serious consideration. The author postulates that through the device of the sleeper curve, the various technological developments which pervade popular culture are not dumbing down America, but rather leading to development of a broader range of skills than credited by academic experts.

He sets out his view in sections devoted to video games, film, and very briefly, the internet, and explores the differing skills which are exercised during their consumption.

As someone who has exhibited a preference for aspects of popular culture as opposed to high culture for most of my life, the argument is very attractive at the outset. As one delves deeper into the subject serious questions arise as to whether there is a general case to answer.

Consider video games, where our author testifies to the skills required to play some of the more complex games such as Grand Theft Auto. There is a strong case to be made here but the issue is rather deflated when one considers that the vast majority of game players consume sports and other games which are considerably less complex and demanding.

Film also has a substantial longevity in the popular pantheon of leisure activities. It manages to portray a story and certain sophisticated complexities but still lacks by far the great leap forward that one achieves through reading a novel.

I would reject a notion that the use of the internet provides much of an intellectual challenge, given the degree to which internet consumers access porn sites and where much of the content is clearly aimed at the lower end of the spectrum

Having said all of this, I believe that there is something in the authors argument, but in a more narrow sense.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Incomplete
Several paragraphs of the preview chapter alone introduce a picture, diagram or other image which is simply absent, apparently not included in the electronic version. Read more
Published on 19 Nov 2010 by Antbox
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant
simply one of the best books i've ever read. it finally gave me valid arguments for things i knew to be true...
Published on 5 July 2010 by ppferraz
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is so good. And it's good for you.
Are you annoyed with classical music and classical literature fans who believe that they are somehow better, nobler, finer than the rest of us, just because everything they like is... Read more
Published on 28 Dec 2009 by Printul Noptilor
4.0 out of 5 stars Everything Bad is Good for You - Steven Johnson
Very interesting and really sums up the current media debate! going to be really useful when starting by media uni course in september!
Published on 26 April 2009 by Ms. Eilidh White
4.0 out of 5 stars Everything Bad is Good for You is Good for You
Johnson is one of my favourite writers; this might not be his best book, ('Emergence' is) but this is like spending a weekend with a fascinating eccentric, one whose arguments are... Read more
Published on 17 Jun 2008 by A. Stark
4.0 out of 5 stars Grand Moff Tarkin...why grand Moff Tarkin??
First let me say that this is a truelly inspiring book, after reading it I not only feel entirely justified in my TV and DVD viewing but a little ashamed of myself for not playing... Read more
Published on 25 May 2007 by Pacman
4.0 out of 5 stars This Book Was Good For Me
I value this book immensely because it highlighted that my generation had not wasted away on computer games, formulaic film and TV content. Read more
Published on 17 Jan 2007 by Simon Drake
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