Steven Johnson

I'm about to start reading Steven Johnson's book Everything Bad is Good For You, it's a sort of defence of popular culture as being good for you along his idea of a sleeper curve. I'm not sure how relevant it's going to be and after reading a couple of reviews, I'm a little dubious about exactly how valid it is. It seems he doesn't back it up with many facts. I also disagree with a couple of the points he raises in this talk. For instance, I agree that entertainment has become more complex to engage with our more sophisticated way of thinking about entertainment. And in some ways, the links he describes between Lost and video games seem interesting in view of transmedia entertainment that is now taking off. However, I'd be interested to see what fan work there was around shows like Gilligan's Island. I imagine the fandom was just as severe and people would have composed their own universe to support it, whether it was as complicate as ones that surround shows such as Lost, we'll never know as the communicative infrastructure wasn't around at the time to record it.
He does talk later in this lecture about how interfaces are changing the way we learn and adapt to information (a la Marshal McLuhan).

And we really should not, again, underestimate the value of that kind of analysis. Your ability to look and a complex dashboard of information, adapt to it on-the-fly and figure out what's relevant to you, what's not relevant to you and then switch to a new interface and figure out what's relevant and figure out how you can use it and how you can twist it, and how you can push it in new directions.

When you think about the workplace of the future... is the ability to adapt to new kinds of information and new interface and manipulate toward your needs and figure out what's relevant and what's not relevant, what's more important? To do that or the ability to do algebra?