Tony Gurr

“READING” craze…(a follow-up)!

In Book Reviews, Technology on 11/04/2011 at 8:37 am

The “letter to the editor” that I posted yesterday was, in fact, from Steven Johnson’s book Everything BAD is GOOD for You – a radical take on what gaming, TV and technology are actually doing to our kids.

They are, claims Johnson, making our kids smarter!


His “letter” comes from an “alternative universe” – a universe in which technologically-enabled gaming was “born” before the written word, before the invention of “books” and before the insipid growth of those damn crack-house-like libraries!

Of course, he does not agree with the sentiments expressed in his letter (I think…) and he certainly does not support the biblioclasm or libricide I suggested in the images I used – my bad!

He writes the letter to illustrate the “amplified selectivity” used by many “short-sighted digital immigrants” to discredit technology and the benefits of the newer “culture” that many of our children (the digital natives of today’s world) are gowing up with and growing into.

These views simply ignore the cognitive benefits that the digital world is gifting our children and students – they prefer to draw attention to the levels of violence that form part of many top-selling gaming systems, the overuse of sexual innuendo in our newer TV shows, and the mind-numbing social isolation that allegedly results from overuse of our “digital toys”.

His book is a really good bedtime read – and a read we educators need to consider when creating a better “balance” in the learning opportunities we develop for our students.


Johnson makes a very convincing case for us to perhaps look at technology with a different pair of spectacles.

He points out that the digital world is far from just about escapism and lets us in on the “dirty little secret” of gaming – the huge amount of time you actually spend not having fun whilst playing games.

Rather than blindly following the crowd with the (largely unsubstantiated) claims that today’s TV programming is based on inane gangster stories, petty game shows and nudity, he asks us to think about TV events that are far more sophisticated and demand greater levels of cognitive engagement than “I Love Lucy” and even “Star Trek” ever managed!

Technology, he argues, is redefining the concept of “connectedness” – and helping us all learn new ways to connect. New media is helping us appreciate new forms of narrative and visual complexity. Just look at the difference between the original Star Wars trilogy (you all know – one of my favourites) and the more recent Lord of the Rings trilogy. These newer complexities both engage us more and push our brains to work “harder”…

Try telling me that “Lost” did NOT hurt your brain – at least two or three times (per episode)!


In a nutshell, Johnson provides us with a new lens with which to look at the way technology has become both the “engine” and the “fuel” of our lives today.

We cannot ignore itand our kids are not waiting for us to catch up with them!

This is where I started my session at Anadolu University this weekend – The Storm Cometh! Over the next few days, a new “blogging trilogy” will look at some of the issues we are facing as teachers (and parents)…

But, hey……..I’d love to see some comments on the “thoughts” his letter led to.

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