Amy's Reviews > Everything Bad is Good for You

Everything Bad is Good for You by Steven Johnson
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's review
Feb 11, 2008

really liked it
Read in February, 2008

I initially read this book for pleasure, and it was a pleasure--but it was also a book that used classic argumentation techniques very well, so I adopted it for teaching, too.

Johnson's controlling claim is that most of the criticism of popular culture's valuation has to do with the criteria by which its being evaluation: that is, most criticism of popular culture such as video games, television, and film is based on the grounds of its moral value rather than its cognitive value. Johnson argues quite compellingly that, given the spatial and problem solving skills required by current media's increasingly complex systems, popular "entertainment" contains a great deal of challenging material that encourages its users to think critically and solve problems far more difficult than earlier forms of entertainment. Therefore, contrary to "dumbing down" America, our candy-coated entertainment is making us smarter in ways that I, for one, had not anticipated.

Moreover, in spite of his obvious enthusiasm for his subject, Johnson does not argue for popular culture to the exclusion of everything else--he's very much an "all things in moderation" kind of fellow.

All in all, its a great argument in both form and content.

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