In case anyone's worried by "Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today's
Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter", there's nothing in Steve
Johnson's book I find especially disagreeable and certainly nothing about it
being good to get fat in gridlock.
Most the stuff about working at the digital interface I've agreed with since
the 80s and written about. It's possible that some of those most
autodependent are computer illiterates who still have to drive to find
things a long way away because they haven't understood eBay.
Perhaps most of the people shoving their kids in the car to go to a leisure
centre are trying to get them "out in the open" and when they are "out" get
a call on their mobile summoning them to the office or home to get their
e-mail because they haven't cottoned on to WiFi or made the more careful
decisions about travelling that you are forced to make if you walk or cycle.
Are these people still getting their news from hard copy believing all the
toxic rubbish about stranger danger in the streets pedalled by those media
as they hurry home causing far more danger by speeding in their cars. These
are people who haven't, perhaps, engaged in the more sophisticated details
available through scanning global media (helped by things like Google news
alerts), through surfing web logs, podradio and other more independent
sources of quality of life data.
How come I see no tension between IT literacy and loving books, between
keyboarding (how much longer will that continue?) and keeping a written
journal or the joys of walking and cycling as my main means of getting
It's true you need research skills in cyberspace or you get overwhelmed by
the buzzing bloooming complexity of the world - and the one thing Johnson's
doesn't mention is that cycling and walking hones your intelligence of the
external material world making you more confident when navigating
cyberspace. The neuromancer (sorry - called this necromancer in an earlier
posting!) can also be a cyclist, pen wielder, bookworm and gourmet while
enjoying the occasional junk food fest.
Simon (in a rush)