PopMatters Call for Papers: Pixelated Brains and the New Media (30 April 2009)

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PopMatters Call for Papers: Pixelated Brains and the New Media
Pitch Deadline: 30 April 2009.
Contact: Karen Zarker

There's a great deal of concerned talk, talk, talk out there about our shortening attention span, and it seems our demise (because let's be frank – the overall tone is that whatever is happening to us is bad for the species) is all thanks to the advent of New Media. You know, all those pixel bits of blog entries, TV news quips shouting at us between blaring 30-second commercials, three-line gossipy blips under BIG PICTURES in glossy mags, proper grammar and punctuation lost to text messaging, sound bytes bouncing along the airwaves at varying decibels ... Via these methods we nibble from an array of fast foods for thought, taking from what's presented that which we like, eschewing the rest and flitting off, or perhaps Twittering off, to the next pretty shiny thing.

Consider, too, the shortened attention span of not only the reader (recipient/viewer), but the writer (sender/artist), too. Is micro-blogging unleashing the true power of citizen journalism? Or is it yet another symptom of the presumed ever shrinking attention span and the accompanying inability to concentrate on one thing for too long?

We remember reading about this phenomenon somewhere … where was that …?

* Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age by Maggie Jackson (Prometheus, June 2008)
* "Is Google Making us Stoopid? What the Internet is doing to our brains" by Nicholas Carr (Atlantic, July/August 2008)
* "Will Blogs Kill Writing: Why I Blog", by Andrew Sullivan (Atlantic November 2008)
* And PopMatters columnist and blogger Rob Horning is often addressing this subject, as well. And … but we're getting distracted.


If so, is the effect the New Media is having on the homo sapien mind bad for the species? Are we going to be incapable of reading and writing complex texts in the future? Is thorough and deep understanding of complicated ideas doomed? Really? Then tell us how, why, and what negative effect you think New Media is having on how we consume culture and media and also the possible physical and mental effects on the brain (individual and/or collective – however you're inspired).

Or is that just B.S.! This new way of processing information and thinking and all that information we're getting is not only not, bad for us, it's good for us! Oh, really? So what's so good about it, why, and what positive effect do you think it's having on culture, media and the human mind (ibid on the inspiration)?

Or is there a whole 'nother way of thinking about this that we're simply not seeing, here? (You know; there's seeing, and then there's comprehending.)

Wherever you stand on this issue, consider too, the great portion of the population that is unaffected. As some of us change, will the rest be left behind? Or will those 'others' be left in peace while the rest, thus wired, simply … go … mad – or become positively brilliant like a computer?

In typical PopMatters fashion, we're looking for a range of essays dealing with the New Media and its presumed byproduct, the Pixelated Brain. We welcome young, talented writers as well as our usual desired seasoned academics, and all the varying viewpoints such bright minds in the pubic intellectual spectrum will bring to this topic.

Please send your one-paragraph pitch (yes, keep it brief – but write complete sentences, please) clearly stipulating your point of view and the approach you'll take to the subject to Karen Zarker (zarker@popmatters.com) by Thursday, 30 April.

Important: your email subject line must read: PopMatters / Pixelated Brains pitch. I get a bejillion emails a day, a great deal only get a millisecond of my attention, e.g., they're pure distractions and are swiftly and mercilessly deleted! Don't let your brilliant idea be mistaken for spam and thus zapped!

Please also let us know about your background, what else you've written/published, your education, etc.

If your pitch is accepted, will ask for a minimum 1,200 word, polished feature within four weeks' time. ====================== don't click on this