Dave Studies Media

Thursday, March 6, 2008

As it Turns Out, Everything Awesome is Awesome

Sorry for the lack in posting lately. I'm behind in my commentary on the assigned readings because I haven't worked out my thoughts on them yet, and my head is packed with all the culture I've been consuming lately. For a few days it felt like I was being barraged with things I wanted to read, and felt I should read right away. The same thing goes for writing. So I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed with all the consuming and processing I've been doing.

The absolute highlight of this information feast has been reading a book Ian suggested for my term paper. It's called Everything Bad is Good for You: Why Popular Culture is actually Making Us Smarter. Written by Wired columnist Steven Johnson, this is seriously one of the most enjoyable books I've ever read. I bought it in paperback over Reading Week, went home and read it in one sitting. (Yes, I noticed the irony of being so enthusiastic on the most inaccurately named week of the year. It was just that good.) Johnson's writing is intelligent and thought-provoking, but marvelously easy to read. I especially enjoyed the first part which focussed on video games. If you've been reading this blog for any stretch of time, that statement probably didn't send you reeling in shock. You might've even rolled your eyes just a bit.

But that's just the thing that's so great about Johnson's work: he argues, very convincingly, that video games are no eye-rolling matter. I mean, so far I've talked about the trends we see in games and elsewhere in popular culture having implications for our future, (the whole bit about VirtuSphere and other immersive media.) And, in my previous post I talked about the MSM unfairly targeting the gaming industry and potentially hindering its development as an art form. But let's face it: art is only important to a point. By "no eye-rolling matter", I'm talking about the notion that consuming popular culture like video games and current TV shows is just as healthy, if not more healthy in some ways than say, reading.

Doubt it? I don't want to spoil any part of the book, so I'll just suggest/insist that everyone go check it out. However, if you want to know more about what you're getting into, this video I found features a few guys being interviewed by Charlie Rose. It's 56 minutes long so I don't suggest watching the whole thing. The Steven Johnson segment starts at around 41 minutes in and is pretty interesting. When I watched this the audio track was ahead of the video track by several seconds, so it looks pretty weird, but hopefully it's enjoyable anyway.

More thoughts on class readings coming soon.

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