Here’s an interesting book review from the New Yorker’s Malcolm Gladwell: Brain candy. It talks (mostly) about Steven Johnson’s book Everything bad is good for you: How today’s pop culture is actually making us smart.
Based on Gladwell’s review, it sounds like Johnson has a point. When smart people like my Ishar buddy Lucy come bursting into the virtual watering hole where we collectively hang out to gush about how she just saw what was, “by far, the most awesome hour of tv ever” (referring to the season finale of Veronica Mars she’d just watched), something’s up.
Maybe TV, which I’ve made a point of fingering as the source of some of the dumbing down and passivity that characterizes things like Troy Driscoll’s decision to drift out to sea rather than paddling himself to safety, deserves another look. And on the question of video and computer games, which Johnson’s book also praises for their intelligence-boosting powers, I know that the time I’ve spent in multiplayer Halo (ahem; the way too much time I’ve spent there), while not necessarily something I’d want to put on my life-skills resume, certainly involved more than just training myself to point and click as quickly and accurately as humanly possible.
Anyway, it’s an interesting review.