Profile: Comics!, Non-fiction?
After Action Report:
Super Graphic is an aggregation of information. A sequence of colorful graphs, diagrams and charts that serve up a dizzying variety of information about comic books, the worlds they contain and the industry that produces them. It isn’t so much a book to be read cover to cover as it is an adventure, every page turn revealing something new and delightful. That is, if you’re a comic book nerd. Which is not to say that Super Graphic can’t be appreciated by a lay person. The data is Marvelously (tee hee) accessible and easy to digest, assisted by the tight focus of every page and the slightly-more-than-occasional joke that helps alleviate the march of trivia.
Profile: Non-Fiction, Technology, International Studies, Cultural Studies
After Action Report:
This is going to be a very atypical review. In reading The Net Delusion and Click Here, I was attempting to develop a cohesive personal position on the problems of internet advocacy. There is a lot of literature and scholarly articles on the benefits of using the internet in the cause of advocacy, either as a method of raising awareness or as a means to a fundraising end, but there is very little in the way of criticism outside of the shallow critique of ‘Slacktivism.’ Morozov’s books offered a more cutting look at my subject area, but failed, by and large, to dig deeper or offer a cohesive alternative. This is broadly true of both books, but is more apparent in Click Here.
Because both books failed to meet my personal metric for usefulness, it is difficult for me to recommend them. Even ignoring that, both books left me with a bad taste in my mouth, not because Morozov’s ideas are wrong or uninteresting, but because he is such a hostile author. That hostility, directed against politicians, pundits, academics, and above all else the Techno-Literati of Silicon Valley, is an enormous barrier-to-entry for readers who haven’t already bought into Morozov’s aggressive architecture. Again, Click Here is the worst offender, with The Net Delusion appearing relatively calm and reasoned. But let’s go ahead and get into the books.
Profile: Non-fiction, Sociology, Neuroscience
Summary: From goodreads.com, “Forget everything you’ve ever read about the age of dumbed-down, instant-gratification culture. In this provocative, unfailingly intelligent, thoroughly researched, and surprisingly convincing book, Steven Johnson draws from fields as diverse as neuroscience, economics, and media theory to argue that the pop culture we soak in every day—from Lord of the Rings to Grand Theft Auto to The Simpsons—has been growing more sophisticated with each passing year, and, far from rotting our brains, is actually posing new cognitive challenges that are actually making our minds measurably sharper. You will never regard the glow of the video game or television screen the same way again.”
Profile: Non-fiction, Epistemology, Sociology
Summary: From goodreads.com, “Originally published in 1985, Neil Postman’s groundbreaking polemic about the corrosive effects of television on our politics and public discourse has been hailed as a twenty-first-century book published in the twentieth century. Now, with television joined by more sophisticated electronic media—from the Internet to cell phones to DVDs—it has taken on even greater significance. Amusing Ourselves to Death is a prophetic look at what happens when politics, journalism, education, and even religion become subject to the demands of entertainment. It is also a blueprint for regaining control of our media, so that they can serve our highest goals.”
Profile: Non-fiction, Popular Psychology
Summary: From the back of the book, “In The Science of Superstition, cognitive psychologist Bruce Hood examines the way in which humans understand the supernatural, revealing what makes us believe in the unbelievable.”
Profile: Non-fiction, Popular Sociology, Games
Summary: From the cover flap, “More than 174 million Americans are gamers, and the average young person in the United States will spend ten thousand hours gaming by the age of twenty-one. According to world-renowned game designer Jane McGonigal, the reason for this mass exodus to virtual worlds is that video games are increasingly fulfilling genuine human needs. In this groundbreaking exploration of the power and future of gaming, McGonigal reveals how we can use the lesions of game design to fix what is wrong with the real world.”
Profile: Non-fiction, Popular Philosophy
Summary: From the back of the book, “To err is human. Yet most of us go through life assuming (and sometimes insisting) that we are right about nearly everything, from the origins of the universe to how to load the dishwasher. In Being Wrong, journalist Kathryn Schulz explores why we find it so gratifying to be right and so maddening to be mistaken. Drawing on thinkers as varied as Augustine, Darwin, Freud, Gertrude Stein, Alan Greenspan, and Groucho Marx, she shows that error is both a given and a gift – one that can transform our worldviews, our relationships, and ourselves.”
Pages: 339 plus 46 pages of notes
Difficulty: 6 out of 10