A while ago I read “Amusing Ourselves To Death”, by Neil Postman, who’s main premise is that television is responsible for the dumbing down of public discourse and for the decline of culture in general.
Then I read “Everything Bad Is Good For You”, by Steven Johnson, who shows that people are objectively smarter today, on average, than they were in previous decades. He makes a convincing argument that the main cause is TV shows, video games and other forms of entertainment becoming more mentally engaging over time. He then explains what economic incentives drive this phenomenon.
Another interesting insight was that the Internet has become the main medium through which people acquire factual information, allowing television to focus on what it does best, i.e. storytelling and conveying people’s characters.
If you’re at all interested in the current media landscape, I highly recommend both books.