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Renowned Social Critic to Open William C. Butler Lecture Series


Steven JohnsonA nationally celebrated social critic and technologist will be the inaugural speaker in Pennsylvania College of Technology’s 2005-06 William C. Butler Lecture Series.

Steven Johnson, whose latest book is “Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today’s Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter,” will present a free public lecture at 7 p.m. Nov. 2 in the Klump Academic Center Auditorium. He also will conduct a question-and-answer session for Penn College students from noon to 2 p.m. that day in Penn’s Inn on the second floor of the Bush Campus Center.

Johnson’s newest work argues that the popular culture we love to hate TV, movies, video games are getting better and are making us (and our children) more intelligent. The reason “The Sopranos,” “Finding Nemo” and “Grand Theft Auto III” are good for you, he argues, has nothing to do with their content, but rather with the “cognitive workout” they provide an ever-increasing complexity and nuance that force you to think harder.

The author is a contributing editor for Wired magazine and a monthly columnist for Discover magazine, writing about politics, media, science and technology. He was a co-founder and editor-in-chief of FEED, an influential Web magazine, and was selected by Newsweek as one of the “Fifty People Who Matter Most on the Internet.”

In addition to his magazine columns and appearances in a variety of national periodicals, he has written several other well-received books including “Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities and Software,” which was on four prestigious “Best Book of the Year” lists and was named a Notable Book by The New York Times.

“It is thrilling that Steven Johnson will be the opening speaker for the Bill Butler Lectures,” said Henryk R. Marcinkiewicz, associate vice president for academic affairs. “He is a creative thinker who persuasively makes his case for how technology enables us to structure our thinking. This point is important to us as an institution because technology is our concern.”

The lecture series is a tribute to Butler, who served as Penn College’s dean of hospitality from 1994 until his death in December 2002.

For more information about Penn College, call (800) 367-9222 or visit online.

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