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April 17, 2008

Digital Natives Series Continues with May 12 Lecture, "Everything Bad Is Good for You"

For today's "digital natives," information is ubiquitous, instant and permanently available. They are connected, interconnected and multitasking. Is this affecting how they think, how they process knowledge?

A spirited defense of the digital generation will be presented at the Library of Congress by Steven Berlin Johnson, who will discuss "Everything Bad Is Good for You" at 4 p.m. on Monday, May 12, in the Montpelier Room on the sixth floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C.

Sponsored by the Library's John W. Kluge Center, the event is free and open to the public; no tickets or reservations are required. The lecture will be available at a later date as a webcast at www.loc.gov/today/cyberlc/.

This is the second lecture in a series titled "Digital Natives," the generation that has been raised with the computer as a natural part of their lives, with emphasis on the young people currently in schools and colleges today. The series seeks to understand the practices and culture of the digital natives, the cultural implications of the phenomenon and the implications for education -- schools, universities and libraries.

In his talk, based on his 2005 best-selling book, "Everything Bad is Good for You," Johnson will discuss the response to his argument that popular culture is growing more complex and cognitively challenging, and is not racing downward towards a lowest common denominator. He will also talk about the future of books in this digital age.

Johnson is a distinguished writer in residence at New York University and founder, along with Stefanie Syman, of one of the earliest e-zines (electronic magazines), Feed Magazine. His latest book is "The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic -- and How It Changed Science, Cities and the Modern World" (2006). He has worked as a columnist for Discover Magazine, Slate, Wired and other publications.

Future lectures in the series are:

  • Monday, June 23: "The Anthropology of YouTube" by Michael Wesch, assistant professor of cultural anthropology at Kansas State University.
  • Monday, June 30: "Open Source Reality" by Douglas Rushkoff, author of "ScreenAgers: Lessons in Chaos from Digital Kids."

The moderators and coordinators for these events are Deanna Marcum, associate librarian for Library Services at the Library of Congress, and Derrick de Kerckhove, holder of the Harissios Papamarkou Chair in Education at the Kluge Center. Marc Prensky, who is credited with creating the term "digital native," will act as respondent, along with Edith Ackerman, developmental psychologist and visiting scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Papamarkou Chair in Education was established at the Library of Congress by a gift from Alexander Papamarkou (1930-1998), an investment banker who was generous in his support of the arts, education and medicine, in honor of his grandfather, a Greek educator. Holders of the Papamarkou Chair focus their research on the Library's role in education and examine the impact of education on individuals and society.

Through a generous endowment from John W. Kluge, the Library of Congress established the Kluge Center in 2000 to bring together the world's best thinkers to stimulate and energize one another to distill wisdom from the Library's rich resources and to interact with policymakers in Washington. For further information on the Kluge Center, visit www.loc.gov/kluge/.

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PR 08-078
04/17/08
ISSN 0731-3527

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