Thursday, May 8, 2008

What I'm Reading

A quick post since I've been spending more time reading than writing. The controversy over "the new literacy" (traditional versus digital) has been enjoined. Mark Bauerlein's The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future decries the direction education is taking and backs it up with convincing statistics. Mark used to direct research at the National Endowment for the Arts but his main reputation was made as a professor of English and he is now at Emory University in Atlanta. His book approaches the question from a traditionalist perspective and anxiety about the future. His extrapolations may be valid and his predictions may come true--or not--but his warnings should be taken into account since the transition away from printed matter, fixed texts, and individual voices to e-literature, interactive creativity, and multiple authorship of mutable work is upon us.

On the other side is First Person: New Media as Story, Performance and Game, edited by Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Pat Harrigan, which sees games as manifestations of literary composition beyond the narrow definition of their story. Between the two books lies the question of how knowledge affects the art of the literary. James Paul Gee's What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy is more accessible to the traditional reader (like me) and is especially good on the connections video game players make with language and the idea of language.

And if you get the chance, check out Jane McGonigal's web site Avant Game ( with interesting articles about game theory, recommended by former Hyperion editor-in-chief Will Schwalbe.

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