Sunday, June 13, 2010

This is Your Brain on Technology

I came inside from reading in the sun to have a little nosh. Flipped on the TV and discovered a fascinating panel discussion on C-SPAN's Book TV, broadcasting from The Chicago Tribune's Printers Row Lit Fest. I came in just in time to catch the last half of the technology panel with Tom Bissell, author of Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter; Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains; and Jack Fuller, author of What Is Happening to News: The Information Explosion and the Crisis in Journalism, in conversation with Owen Youngman.

I just started peeking into The Shallows last week, and it's quite intriguing; a book that will likely get added to my heaping "to be read" stack. I'm a big fan of Tom Bissell's writing, especially his narrative nonfiction writing. He recently joined the faculty of the English Department at Portland State University. His new book takes him in a totally new direction, talking about the creative and artistic legitimacy of video games as a popular art form. Bissell was recently awarded a 2010 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in creative arts for general nonfiction, which he plans to use to finish a nonfiction travel book about early Christianity that he has been working on for five years, with the working title The Tombs of the Twelve Apostles. You might also remember him as the host of last fall's Oregon Book Awards ceremony.

I'm not familiar with Mr. Fuller's book, but it sounds intriguing as well. Like Carr, he delves into the latest discoveries in neuroscience, drawing a clear and startling picture of a human brain that is simply lagging behind our information-rich times. He has written several novels and nonfiction books on journalism and won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing in 1986 for his editorials on constitutional issues in the Chicago Tribune.

Great timing for heading inside to eat -- now back outside to the sunshine to continue reading The Lacuna, by Barbara Kingsolver, who last week won The Orange Prize for her novel. And it's terrific!

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