Book Review: “Everything Bad is Good For You” by Steven Johnson

I’ve started to read “Everything Bad is Good For You” by Steven Johnson over a “Pizza chèvre”.

Johnson wants to argue, a bit in line with Wim Veen’s ideas on digital natives’ use of media, that popular culture does not make us dumber (as is re-iterated by so many scholars, cf. Manfred Spitzer) but that it is actually making us smarter. He argues, that contemporary pop culture poses new and highly complex cognitive challenges that contribute to the sharpening of minds.

I’m quite sympathetic with any position that tries to fight the old adage “früher war alles besser!”

The book is very easy to read, entertaining and it really changed my view on some of the pop culture stuff on TV (some TV series are really quite demanding in terms of filling-in certain pieces of information on behalf of the watcher, more than I would have thought before reading this book…), and computer games (I’ve even bought myself a computer game, and started to play it – Fable: the Lost Chapters – because I wanted to feel what it is like to play such problem-solving immersion-into-another-world games!)

So, I’ve you wanna change your perspective on contemporary pop culture, then buy this book, read it and then watch an old classic movie like “Singing in the Rain”… and you’ll realize that movies today are much more complex than you may have thought… at least compared to movies produced some decades ago…

An important point made by Steven Johnson, I’d like to stress here is that one should always compare apples with apples and not apples with oranges… so if you want to assess contemporary pop culture, than compare it to pop culture of the past epochs and not with high-flyer elite culture of that past epochs…