robertogreco + cognition   153

Together: The Rituals Pleasures and Politics of Cooperation with Richard Sennett - YouTube
"New York University sociologist and historian Richard Sennett addresses the phenomenon of why people tend to avoid engaging with others who are different, leading to a modern politics of the tribe rather than the city. In this thought-provoking talk, Sennett offers ideas on what might be done to encourage people to live with others who are racially, ethnically, religiously or economically unlike themselves. [3/2012] [Public Affairs] [Show ID: 23304]"
tichardsennett  togetherness  community  2012  empathy  sympathy  design  ethnography  sociology  diversity  difference  curiosity  segregation  self-segregation  openness  openminded  jeromebruner  cognition  xenophobia  xenophilia  tribes  politics 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Mary Midgley - The Gifford Lectures
"An interviewer from the Guardian newspaper once wrote that Mary Midgley ‘may be the most frightening philosopher in the country: the one before whom it is least pleasant to appear a fool’. In a series of books, particularly Beast and Man (1978), Evolution as a Religion (1985),Science as Salvation (1992; her 1990 Edinburgh Gifford Lectures) and Science and Poetry(2001), Midgley offers a trenchant critique of science’s pretence to be much more than it actually is, of the ways in which science often becomes a religion.

Perhaps appropriately, Midgley the scourge of ‘science as religion’ was born to an army and Cambridge college chaplain, Canon Tom Scrutton, and educated in a boarding school in Charles Darwin’s old home, Downe House. Perhaps Midgley’s fascination with science came from her mother’s side; Lesley Hay’s father was an engineer who built the Mersey tunnel. It was in the Downe House library that Midgley first picked up Plato, and, in her own words, ‘thought it was tremendous stuff’ (although in later life perhaps Aristotelian questions have proved more fascinating). By this time, Midgley also realised that she was not a Christian, a position her clergyman father accepted rather matter-of-factly. Nevertheless, Midgley remains convinced that ‘the religious attitude’ is essential to human thriving, and in her work has repeatedly defended the place of religious belief (rather than particular religious beliefs) against its arrogant critics from the sciences.

A number of Midgley’s contemporaries at Somerville College, Oxford, went on to achieve philosophical distinction in later life, including Iris Murdoch, another Edinburgh Gifford Lecturer, with whom Midgley became a close friend. Midgley relished doing philosophy in wartime Oxford, partly because there wasn’t ‘an endless gaggle of young men’ to offer distraction. But she considered it ‘providential’ that she did not get the post she applied for at St. Hugh’s College, and left Oxford, since she thought that the then-prevailing climate of Oxford philosophy would have destroyed her as a philosopher.

She met Geoffrey Midgley while at Oxford. They married in 1950 at Newcastle, where Geoffrey had a job. She then raised a family and did not take up a post in the Department of Philosophy in Newcastle until 1962, where she remained until she retired as Senior Lecturer when the department closed.

Midgley’s animated critique of scientism—science become religion—has been taken by some, especially scientists, as an attack on science itself. This may partly be because Midgley seems much more adept at demolishing others’ positions than in stating her own clearly. In fact, Midgley’s critique of science should be seen against her own metaphor of the philosopher as plumber: the philosopher, like the plumber, engages in an activity that civilisation depends on, but it is an activity which people only notice and require when certain rather essential workings have gone wrong. At her best, Midgley is a ‘science critic’ (using the word ‘critic’ in the way it is used in ‘literary critic’), seeking dialogue with the important activity called science to enable it to do more good and less harm in the modern world. Midgley’s contribution to this project is perhaps largely that of negative criticism. However, her friendship with and support for James Lovelock, the scientist who developed the Gaia hypothesis (that the planet earth as a whole is a living system), tells us a lot about her positive beliefs. Presumably, in Lovelock, she finds a scientific approach that is more congenial and conducive to human flourishing."
marymidgley  scientism  2018  philosophy  behavior  humans  richarddawkins  eowilson  evolution  thinking  science  religion  theselfishgene  selfishness  society  feminism  cognition  humannature  animals  sociobiology  reductionism  christianity 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Mary Midgley, 99, Moral Philosopher for the General Reader, Is Dead - The New York Times
"The biologist Stephen Rose, writing in The Times Literary Supplement in 1992, called Dr. Midgley “a philosopher with what many have come to admire, and some to fear, as one of the sharpest critical pens in the West.”

Andrew Brown, writing in The Guardian in 1981, called her “the foremost scourge of scientific pretension in this country.”

Dr. Midgley unhesitatingly challenged scientists like the entomologist Edward O. Wilson and the biologist, and noted atheist, Richard Dawkins. By her lights they practiced a rigid “academic imperialism” when they tried to extend scientific findings to the social sciences and the humanities.

In place of what she saw as their constricted, “reductionistic” worldview, she proposed a holistic approach in which “many maps” — that is, varied ways of looking at life — are used to get to the nub of what is real.

One challenge came in 1978 in her first book, “Beast and Man: The Roots of Human Nature,” based on a conference she had organized on that slippery, perennial subject as a visiting scholar at Cornell University.

She was later asked to revise her original manuscript to reflect her critical reaction to Professor Wilson’s best-selling 1975 book, “Sociobiology: The New Synthesis” (“a volume the size of a paving stone,” she wrote later in a well-received 2005 autobiography, “The Owl of Minerva”). She described the field of sociobiology as a kind of reactionary “biological Thatcherism.”

Sociobiology — the application of gene-centered theories of natural selection to the social life of organisms — was not itself overly controversial, especially, as Professor Wilson originally used it, in the study of ants and insects. Dr. Midgley, given her own interest in emphasizing humans’ animal nature — that “we are not, and do not need to be, disembodied intellects” — praised parts of Professor Wilson’s book.

What provoked her and others was his hypothesis that the tenets of sociobiology could be applied to humans. That idea, according to scholars, threatened to radically revise generally accepted notions of human nature.

“The term ‘human nature’ is suspect because it does suggest cure-all explanations, sweeping theories that man is basically sexual, basically selfish or acquisitive, basically evil or basically good,” Dr. Midgley wrote in “Beast and Man.”

In “The Owl of Minerva,” she wrote that the need to address Professor Wilson’s concepts had distracted readers from her crucial topic: “the meaning of rationality itself — the fact that reason can’t mean just deductive logic but must cover what makes sense for beings who have a certain sort of emotional nature.”

She added that “Beast and Man” remained “the trunk out of which all my various later ideas have branched.”

Dr. Midgley took pains to distinguish between the important contributions of science and the philosophy of “scientism,” in which “prophets,” she wrote, decree that science is “not just omnicompetent but unchallenged, the sole form of rational thinking.”

“We do not need to esteem science less,” she continued. “We need to stop isolating it artificially from the rest of our mental life.”

Dr. Midgley did not align herself with any specific school of thought: She wrote that moral philosophy and plain “common sense” often covered the same ground. She targeted what she saw as some of the basic errors of modern scientific orthodoxy, including misplaced objectivity, the exclusion of purpose and motive, and the propensity to depersonalize nature.

The very titles of her books — among them “Science as Salvation: A Modern Myth and Its Meaning” (1992) and “Evolution as a Religion” (1985) — and even irreverent chapter headings, like “Knowledge Considered as a Weed Killer,” conveyed her stance against what she called the “parsimonious” worldview of science.

In 1979, in the journal Philosophy, she issued a scathing critique of Professor Dawkins’s widely popular book “The Selfish Gene,” taking issue with what she called his “crude, cheap, blurred genetics.”

In that book, Professor Dawkins suggested that evolution is a product of an innate drive in genes to perpetuate themselves, “selfishly,” through the vehicle of a given species, and that the behavior of living things is in service to their genes.

Dr. Midgley explained her disagreement years later in The Guardian, writing: “Selfish is an odd word because its meaning is almost entirely negative. It does not mean ‘prudent, promoting one’s own interest.’ It means ‘not promoting other people’s’ or, as the dictionary puts it, ‘devoted to or concerned with one’s own advantage to the exclusion of regard for others.’”

She refuted the notion that selfishness underpinned all life.

“Just as there would be no word for white if everything was white, there could surely be no word for selfish if everyone was always selfish,” she wrote, adding, “Selfishness cannot, then, be a universal condition.”

In a long career as a published philosopher, Dr. Midgley addressed a great number of subjects. Evolution, the importance of animals, the role of science in society, cognitive science, feminism and human nature all came under her scrutiny.

She ranged more widely in “Science and Poetry” (2001), in which she considered the place of the imagination in human life. She found excesses of materialism and fatalism in human life, discussed the unusual compatibility of physics and religion, and approved of philosophical and metaphorical aspects of the Gaia hypothesis, which looks at the earth as a living system.

“With this book,” Brian Appleyard wrote in The Sunday Times of London, “Professor Midgley establishes herself as the most cool, coherent and sane critic of contemporary superstition that we have.”"
marymidgley  scientism  2018  philosophy  behavior  humans  richarddawkins  eowilson  evolution  thinking  science  religion  theselfishgene  selfishness  society  feminism  cognition  humannature  animals  sociobiology  reductionism  christianity 
october 2018 by robertogreco
26 | Black Mountain College — Do Not Touch
"We're going back to school and learning about an arts college in the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina. For 24 years the college attracted famous teachers and produced students who would go on to achieve their own fame. I have two guests speaking to me about Black Mountain - Kate Averett from the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center and Professor Eva Diaz from Pratt Institute."
bmc  2018  blackmountaincollege  bauhaus  annialbers  johndewey  art  arts  education  highered  highereducation  alternative  experimental  unschooling  deschooling  democracy  horizontality  evadiaz  kateaverett  history  arthistory  pedagogy  lcproject  openstudioproject  form  exploration  liberalarts  roberrauschenberg  willemdekooning  abstractexpressionism  howwework  discipline  self  identity  johncage  mercecunningham  self-directedlearning  self-directed  learning  howwelearn  howweteach  teaching  vision  cognition  expressionism  expression  music  dance  buckminsterfuller  technique  chance  happenings  anarchism  ego  spontaneity  unknown  improvisation  radicalism  transilience  northcarolina  transience  hippies  communes  integration  jacoblawrence  almastonewilliams  outsiders  refugees  inclusion  inclusivity  openness  gender  rayjohnson  elainedekooining  karenkarnes  dorothearockburn  hazellarsenarcher  blackmountaincollegemuseum  susanweil  maryparkswashington  josefalbers  charlesolson  poetry  johnandrewrice 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Dr. Kate Antonova on Twitter: "If anyone ever asked me, as a college prof, what qualities I'd like to see in my incoming students (no one ever has, tho a number of non-profs have told me what I'm supposed to want), it's this: curiosity and a reading habit
"If anyone ever asked me, as a college prof, what qualities I'd like to see in my incoming students (no one ever has, tho a number of non-profs have told me what I'm supposed to want), it's this: curiosity and a reading habit.

[Links to: "How Our Obsession With College Prep Hurts Kids" ]

The other really important thing for success in college, IMO, is self-regulation, but that's a super-hard thing for everybody & esp kids who are still developing cognitively. I see no value, & a lot of harm, in forcing regulation before it's developmentally appropriate.

Plus, IME, if you have enough curiosity, you end up regulating yourself in ways that are nearly impossible for a task you're not into. So it all comes back to curiosity.

The other thing that'd be nice - but is not essential - to see in incoming freshmen is an accurate sense of what college is for. Most people are pretty madly and deeply misinformed on that, and that's harming kids.

Too many kids come to college bc they're told it's necessary, or bc it's the only way to a decent job. Both are lies. They should come, when they're ready, because it's the best way to achieve next-level critical thought specific to one or more disciplines.

So we're back to curiosity again. But the reading part is at least as important, & is interrelated. I'm not an expert on instilling curiosity or encouraging reading in k-12. But I'm damn sure standardized testing isn't the answer & neither is traditional, required homework.

I'm pretty certain, too, that seven hours of mostly sitting still and listening isn't terribly useful (and at the elementary level it's downright cruel).

I don't think anything I've said here is earth-shattering. Yet the conventional wisdom about what makes public k-12 education "good" is soooooo far off the mark.

If I cld fantasize ab what I'd like my future students to have done before college, it'd be this: read & write every day, a variety of texts; interact in a sustained way w lots of different ppl; & practice creative problem-solving in small groups, guided by knowledgeable adults.

That's something public schools *could* do, they just don't, because it's not what the public wants. Even the private schools that do some of that are usually pretty notoriously bad at exposing students to people different from themselves.

I've taught everyone from super-elite Ivy students from private high schools to the kids struggling to stay in CUNY after k-12 in troubled NYC publics. They were ALL missing out in different ways. The best students are always, always the readers.

The best of the best I've ever taught have been readers from backgrounds that happened, for whatever reasons, to expose them to a wide variety of circumstances.

School is almost never what brought those students either of those advantages.

But it could be."
kateantonova  highered  highereducation  colleges  universities  education  curiosity  learning  purpose  2018  cognition  problemsolving  creativity  lcproject  openstudioproject  sfsh  tcsnmy  cv  k12  statistics  calculus  reading  howwelearn  howweteach  highschool  publicschools  schools  schooling  children  adolescence  diversity  exposure 
may 2018 by robertogreco
On how to grow an idea – The Creative Independent
"In the 1970s, a Japanese farmer discovered a better way to do something—by not doing it. In the introduction to Masasobu Fukuoka’s One-Straw Revolution, Frances Moore Lappé describes the farmer’s moment of inspiration:
The basic idea came to him one day as he happened to pass an old field which had been left unused and unplowed for many years. There he saw a tangle of grasses and weeds. From that time on, he stopped flooding his field in order to grow rice. He stopped sowing rice seed in the spring and, instead, put the seed out in the autumn, sowing it directly onto the surface of the field when it would naturally have fallen to the ground… Once he has seen to it that conditions have been tilted in favor of his crops, Mr. Fukuoka interferes as little as possible with the plant and animal communities in his fields.

Fukuoka’s practice, which he perfected over many years, eventually became known as “do nothing farming.” Not that it was easy: the do-nothing farmer needed to be more attentive and sensitive to the land and seasons than a regular farmer. After all, Fukuoka’s ingenious method was hard-won after decades of his own close observations of weather patterns, insects, birds, trees, soil, and the interrelationships among all of these.

In One Straw Revolution, Fukuoka is rightly proud of what he has perfected. Do-nothing farming not only required less labor, no machines, and no fertilizer—it also enriched the soil year by year, while most farms depleted their soil. Despite the skepticism of others, Fukuoka’s farm yielded a harvest equal to or greater than that of other farms. “It seems unlikely that there could be a simpler way of raising grain,” he wrote. “The proof is ripening right before your eyes.”

One of Fukuoka’s insights was that there is a natural intelligence at work in existing ecosystems, and therefore the most intelligent way to farm was to interfere as little as possible. This obviously requires a reworking not only of what we consider farming, but maybe even what we consider progress.

“The path I have followed, this natural way of farming, which strikes most people as strange, was first interpreted as a reaction against the advance and reckless development of science. But all I have been doing, farming out here in the country, is trying to show that humanity knows nothing. Because the world is moving with such furious energy in the opposite direction, it may appear that I have fallen behind the times, but I firmly believe that the path I have been following is the most sensible one.”

The One Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka


In my view, Fukuoka was an inventor. Typically we associate invention and progress with the addition or development of new technology. So what happens when moving forward actually means taking something away, or moving in a direction that appears (to us) to be backward? Fukuoka wrote: “This method completely contradicts modern agricultural techniques. It throws scientific knowledge and traditional farming know-how right out the window.”

This practice of fitting oneself into the greater ecological scheme of things is almost comically opposite to the stories in John McPhee’s Control of Nature. There, we find near-Shakespearean tales of folly in which man tries and fails to master the sublime powers of his environment (e.g. the decades-long attempt to keep the Mississippi river from changing course).

Any artist or writer might find this contrast familiar. Why is it that when we sit down and try to force an idea, nothing comes—or, if we succeed in forcing it, it feels stale and contrived? Why do the best ideas appear uninvited and at the strangest times, darting out at us like an impish squirrel from a shrub?

The key, in my opinion, has to do with what you think it is that’s doing the producing, and where. It’s easy for me to say that “I” produce ideas. But when I’ve finished something, it’s often hard for me to say how it happened—where it started, what route it took, and why it ended where it did. Something similar is happening on a do-nothing farm, where transitive verbs seem inadequate. It doesn’t sound quite right to say that Fukuoka “farmed the land”—it’s more like he collaborated with the land, and through his collaboration, created the conditions for certain types of growth.

“A great number, if not the majority, of these things have been described, inventoried, photographed, talked about, or registered. My intention in the pages that follow was to describe the rest instead: that which is generally not taken note of, that which is not noticed, that which has no importance: what happens when nothing happens other than the weather, people, cars, and clouds.”

Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris by George Perec


I’ve known for my entire adult that going for a walk is how I can think most easily. Walking is not simply moving your thinking mind (some imagined insular thing) outside. The process of walking is thinking. In fact, in his book Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-than-Human World, David Abram proposes that it is not we who are thinking, but rather the environment that is thinking through us. Intelligence and thought are things to be found both in and around the self. “Each place is a unique state of mind,” Abram writes. “And the many owners that constitute and dwell within that locale—the spiders and the tree frogs no less than the human—all participate in, and partake of, the particular mind of the place.”

This is not as hand-wavy as it sounds. Studies in cognitive science have suggested that we do not encounter the environment as a static thing, nor are we static ourselves. As Francisco Varela, Evan Thompson, and Eleanor Rosch put it in The Embodied Mind (a study of cognitive science alongside Buddhist principles): “Cognition is not the representation of a pre-given world by a pre-given mind but is rather the enactment of a world and a mind… “ (emphasis mine). Throughout the book, the authors build a model of cognition in which mind and environment are not separate, but rather co-produced from the very point at which they meet.


“The Telegarden is an art installation that allows web users to view and interact with a remote garden filled with living plants. Members can plant, water, and monitor the progress of seedlings via the tender movements of an industrial robot arm.”


Ideas are not products, as much as corporations would like them to be. Ideas are intersections between ourselves and something else, whether that’s a book, a conversation with a friend, or the subtle suggestion of a tree. Ideas can literally arise out of clouds (if we are looking at them). That is to say: ideas, like consciousness itself, are emergent properties, and thinking might be more participation than it is production. If we can accept this view of the mind with humility and awe, we might be amazed at what will grow there.

breathing [animation]


To accompany this essay, I’ve created a channel on called “How to grow an idea.” There you’ll find some seeds for thought, scattered amongst other growths: slime molds, twining vines, internet gardens, and starling murmurations. The interview with John Cage, where he sits by an open window and rejoices in unwritten music, might remind you a bit of Fukuoka, as might Scott Polach’s piece in which an audience applauds the sunset. The channel starts with a reminder to breathe, and ends with an invitation to take a nap. Hopefully, somewhere in between, you might encounter something new."
intelligence  methodology  ideas  jennyodell  2018  masasobufukuoka  francesmoorelappé  farming  slow  nothing  idleness  nature  time  patience  productivity  interdependence  multispecies  morethanhuman  do-nothingfarming  labor  work  sustainability  ecosystems  progress  invention  technology  knowledge  johnmcphee  collaboration  land  growth  georgesperec  walking  thinking  slowthinking  perception  language  davidabram  cognitivescience  franciscovarela  evanthompson  eleanorrosch  buddhism  cognition  johncage  agriculture 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Jonathan Mooney: "The Gift: LD/ADHD Reframed" - YouTube
"The University of Oregon Accessible Education Center and AccessABILITY Student Union present renowned speaker, neuro-diversity activist and author Jonathan Mooney.

Mooney vividly, humorously and passionately brings to life the world of neuro-diversity: the research behind it, the people who live in it and the lessons it has for all of us who care about the future of education. Jonathan explains the latest theories and provides concrete examples of how to prepare students and implement frameworks that best support their academic and professional pursuits. He blends research and human interest stories with concrete tips that parents, students, teachers and administrators can follow to transform learning environments and create a world that truly celebrates cognitive diversity."
neurodiversity  2012  jonathanmooney  adhd  cognition  cognitivediversity  sfsh  accessibility  learning  education  differences  howwelearn  disability  difference  specialeducation  highered  highereducation  dyslexia  droputs  literacy  intelligence  motivation  behavior  compliance  stillness  norms  shame  brain  success  reading  multiliteracies  genius  smartness  eq  emotions  relationships  tracking  maryannewolf  intrinsicmotivation  extrinsicmotivation  punishment  rewards  psychology  work  labor  kids  children  schools  agency  brokenness  fixingpeople  unschooling  deschooling  strengths  strengths-basedoutlook  assets  deficits  identity  learningdisabilities  schooling  generalists  specialists  howardgardner  howweteach  teams  technology  support  networks  inclusivity  diversity  accommodations  normal  average  standardization  standards  dsm  disabilities  bodies  body 
november 2017 by robertogreco
How children’s self-control has changed in the past 50 years - The Washington Post
"“Kids these days are better at delaying gratification on the marshmallow test,” Protzko writes. “Each year, all else equal, corresponds to an increase in the ability to delay gratification by another six seconds.”

This was something of a surprise. Before running the analysis, Protzko had surveyed 260 experts in the field of cognitive development to see what they predicted would happen.

Over half said they believed that kids' ability to delay gratification had gotten worse over time. Another 32 percent said there's be no change, while only 16 percent said kids' self-control had improved in the past 50 years.

The experts, it seems, were just as pessimistic about the abilities of today's kids as everyone else.

It's not clear what, exactly, could be causing kids' performance to improve — it's not like they teach the marshmallow test in schools. Kids are improving in other areas too: Protzko notes that IQ scores have increased at a similar rate to the marshmallow test scores, suggesting a possible link between the two.

On a whole host of other measures — substance use, sexual behavior, seat belt use, to name just a few — teenagers today are performing much better than their peers from several decades ago. Many of these measures reflect precisely the sort of gratification-delaying ability that the marshmallow test has been shown to predict.

Given all the good news about kids, Protzko wanted to know why so many experts had such a dour outlook.

Marshmallow test aside, Protzko's just as interested in why so many experts predicted it incorrectly. “How could so many experts in cognitive development believe that ability to delay gratification would decrease?” the paper asks. He calls it the “kids these days” effect: “the specifically incorrect belief that children in the present are substantively different and necessarily worse than children a generation or two ago.”

He notes that elders have been complaining about children's shortcomings since at least 419 B.C., when Greek playwright Aristophanes wrote “The Clouds.”

“It cannot be that society has been in decline due to failing children for over two millennia,” Protzko concludes. “Contrary to historical and present complaints, kids these days appear to be better than we were. A supposed modern culture of instant gratification has not stemmed the march of improvement.”"
sfsh  children  2017  johnprotzkop  kidsthesedays  education  psychology  cognition  gratification  self-control  marshmallowtest 
september 2017 by robertogreco
FYS 2017: Living and Thinking in a Digital Age – Snakes and Ladders
"Instructor: Alan Jacobs

Office: Morrison 203.7

Email: alan [underscore] jacobs [at] baylor [dot] edu

This class is all about questions: How is the rise of digital technologies changing some of the fundamental practices of the intellectual life: reading, writing, and researching? How does writing on a computer differ from writing on a typewriter, or (still more) writing by hand? Has Google made information just too easy to find? Is the experience of reading on a Kindle or iPad significantly different from that of reading a paper codex? Moreover, how are these changes affecting the intellectual culture and communal practices of the Christian faith? We will explore these questions through a range of readings and conversational topics, and through trying out some interesting digital and analog tools.

But this is also a class in which we will reflect more generally on why you are here, in the Honors College of Baylor, and what you need to do (and be) to flourish. So we will also spend some time thinking about the character and purposes of liberal education, and I will explain to you why you need to buy earplugs and wash your hands regularly.

I have ordered two books for you to buy: Kevin Kelly, The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces that Will Shape the Future and David Sax, The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter. All other readings will be PDFs available in this Dropbox folder. [ ]


1. There will be frequent (pop!) quizzes on your readings; these will count a total of 25% of your grade.

2. You will choose a digital or analog tool with which to organize your academic life this semester, learn to use it well, and give an oral report on it to the class, along with a handout. 15%

3. You will write a 3500-word research essay on a topic of your choosing, subject to approval by me. I will work with you to choose a good topic and focus it properly, and will read and evaluate a draft of the essay before you hand in a final version. 40%

4. In lieu of a final exam, you will write a personal narrative identifying the most important things you leaned in this class; as part of that you’ll offer a final evaluation of your chosen organizational tool. 20%

5. Borderline grades will be decided by class participation.

Here’s a handy list of organizational tools you might try, starting with digital ones:

• emacs org-mode
• Evernote
• Google Keep
• OneNote
• Pinboard
• Trello
• Workflowy
• Zotero

And now analog (paper-based) ones:

• Bullet Journal
• Hipster PDA
• Noguchi filing system
• Personal Kanban
• Zettelkasten

Here’s a guide [ ] to helping you think through the options — keyed to the Getting Things Done system, which is fine, though it’s not the only useful system out there. The key to this assignment is that you choose a tool and seriously commit to it, for this semester, anyway. You are of course welcome to ditch it as soon as the term is over. But what I am asking for is a semester-long experiment, so that you will have detailed information to share with the rest of us. N.B.: All the options I am suggesting here are free — if you want to pay for an app or service, you are certainly welcome to, but I wouldn’t ask that of you.


My policies on attendance, grading, and pretty much everything else may be found here [ ]. You’ll find a good deal of other useful information on that site also.


This is a course on how the digital worlds we live in now — our technologies of knowledge and communication — will inevitably shape our experience as learners. So let’s begin by trying to get a grip on the digital tech that shapes our everyday lives:

8.22 Introduction to course (with handouts)
8.24 boyd, It’s Complicated, Introduction and Chapter 7
8.29 Wilmer, Sherman, and Chein, “Smartphones and Cognition”
8.31 Rosen, “My Little Sister Taught Me How to Snapchat”

But you’re not just smartphone users, you’re college students. So let’s try to get a better understanding of why we’re here — or why we might be:

9.5 Meilaender, “Who Needs a Liberal Education?“
9.7 Carr, “The Crisis in Higher Education”; Robbins, “Home College”

With some of the initial coordinates in place, let’s get some historical context:

9.12 Jacobs, “Christianity and the Book”
9.14 Blair, “Information Overload”

And now let’s take a deeper dive into the conditions of our moment, and of the near future:

9.19 Kelly, The Inevitable, Introduction and Chapters 1-4
9.21 Kelly, Chapters 5-8
9.26 Kelly, Chapters 9-12
9.28 Sax, The Revenge of Analog, Introduction and Part I
10.3 Sax, Part II
10.5 Concluding discussion of Kelly and Sax

We’ll spend a couple of days finding out how your experiments in organization have been going:

10.10 reports from half of you
10.12 reports from the rest of you

Now that we’re pretty well equipped to think more seriously about the technological and educational challenges facing us, we’ll spend the rest of the term learning some practical strategies for information management, and revisiting some of the key issues we’ve raised in light of our recently acquired knowledge. First, you’re going to get a break from reading:

10.17 Dr. J’s Handy Guide to Owning Your Online Turf, Part 1
10.19 Dr. J’s Handy Guide to Owning Your Online Turf, Part 2

So, back to reading:

10.24 Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers, Parts I-III
10.26 Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers, Parts IV-VI
10.31 further discussion of Web Literacy
11.2 Piper, “Out of Touch” and Clive Thompson, “Reading War and Peace on my Phone”
11.7 Mueller and Oppenheimer, “The Pen is Mightier than the Keyboard”; Hensher, “Why Handwriting Matters”; Trubek, “Handwriting Just Doesn’t Matter”
11.9 Zomorodi, “Bored and Brilliant”; draft of research essay due

And finally, we’ll put what we’ve learned to use in thinking about what kind of education we’re pursuing here in the Honors College at Baylor:

11.14 Jacobs, “Renewing the University”
11.16 writing day; research essay due 11.17
11.21 “Engaging the Future of Higher Education”
11.28 continued discussion of “Engaging the Future”
11.30 Wrapping up
12.5 Personal narrative due"
alanjacobs  syllabus  online  internet  tools  onlinetoolkit  reading  education  highered  highereducation  classideas  gtd  productivity  kevinkelly  davidsax  readinglists  technology  cognition  socialmedia  christianity  humanities  infooverload  webliteracy  wen  handwriting  notetaking  thewhy  digital  analog  digitalage  syllabi 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Doug Engelbart, transcontextualist | Gardner Writes
"I’ve been mulling over this next post for far too long, and the results will be brief and rushed (such bad food, and such small portions!). You have been warned.

The three strands, or claims I’m engaging with (EDIT: I’ve tried to make things clearer and more parallel in the list below):

1. The computer is “just a tool.” This part’s in partial response to the comments on my previous post. [ ]

2. Doug Engelbart’s “Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework” [ ] is “difficult to understand” or “poorly written.” This one’s a perpetual reply. 🙂 It was most recently triggered by an especially perplexing Twitter exchange shared with me by Jon Becker.

3. Engelbart’s ideas regarding the augmentation of human intellect aim for an inhuman and inhumane parsing of thought and imagination, an “efficiency expert” reduction of the richness of human cognition. This one tries to think about some points raised in the VCU New Media Seminar this fall.

These are the strands. The weave will be loose. (Food, textiles, textures, text.)

1. There is no such thing as “just a tool.” McLuhan wisely notes that tools are not inert things to be used by human beings, but extensions of human capabilities that redefine both the tool and the user. A “tooler” results, or perhaps a “tuser” (pronounced “TOO-zer”). I believe those two words are neologisms but I’ll leave the googling as an exercise for the tuser. The way I used to explain this is my new media classes was to ask students to imagine a hammer lying on the ground and a person standing above the hammer. The person picks up the hammer. What results? The usual answers are something like “a person with a hammer in his or her hand.” I don’t hold much with the elicit-a-wrong-answer-then-spring-the-right-one-on-them school of “Socratic” instruction, but in this case it was irresistible and I tried to make a game of it so folks would feel excited, not tricked. “No!” I would cry. “The result is a HammerHand!” This answer was particularly easy to imagine inside Second Life, where metaphors become real within the irreality of a virtual landscape. In fact, I first came up with the game while leading a class in Second Life–but that’s for another time.

So no “just a tool,” since a HammerHand is something quite different from a hammer or a hand, or a hammer in a hand. It’s one of those small but powerful points that can make one see the designed built world, a world full of builders and designers (i.e., human beings), as something much less inert and “external” than it might otherwise appear. It can also make one feel slightly deranged, perhaps usefully so, when one proceeds through the quotidian details (so-called) of a life full of tasks and taskings.

To complicate matters further, the computer is an unusual tool, a meta-tool, a machine that simulates any other machine, a universal machine with properties unlike any other machine. Earlier in the seminar this semester a sentence popped out of my mouth as we talked about one of the essays–“As We May Think”? I can’t remember now: “This is your brain on brain.” What Papert and Turkle refer to as computers’ “holding power” is not just the addictive cat videos (not that there’s anything wrong with that, I imagine), but something weirdly mindlike and reflective about the computer-human symbiosis. One of my goals continues to be to raise that uncanny holding power into a fuller (and freer) (and more metaphorical) (and more practical in the sense of able-to-be-practiced) mode of awareness so that we can be more mindful of the environment’s potential for good and, yes, for ill. (Some days, it seems to me that the “for ill” part is almost as poorly understood as the “for good” part, pace Morozov.)

George Dyson writes, “The stored-program computer, as conceived by Alan Turing and delivered by John von Neumann, broke the distinction between numbers that mean things and numbers that do things. Our universe would never be the same” (Turing’s Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe). This is a very bold statement. I’ve connected it with everything from the myth of Orpheus to synaesthetic environments like the one @rovinglibrarian shared with me in which one can listen to, and visualize, Wikipedia being edited. Thought vectors in concept space, indeed. The closest analogies I can find are with language itself, particularly the phonetic alphabet.

The larger point is now at the ready: in fullest practice and perhaps even for best results, particularly when it comes to deeper learning, it may well be that nothing is just anything. Bateson describes the moment in which “just a” thing becomes far more than “just a” thing as a “double take.” For Bateson, the double take bears a thrilling and uneasy relationship to the double bind, as well as to some kinds of derangement that are not at all beneficial. (This is the double-edged sword of human intellect, a sword that sometimes has ten edges or more–but I digress.) This double take (the kids call it, or used to call it, “wait what?”) indicates a moment of what Bateson calls “transcontextualism,” a paradoxical level-crossing moment (micro to macro, instance to meta, territory to map, or vice-versa) that initiates or indicates (hard to tell) deeper learning.
It seems that both those whose life is enriched by transcontextual gifts and those who are impoverished by transcontextual confusions are alike in one respect: for them there is always or often a “double take.” A falling leaf, the greeting of a friend, or a “primrose by the river’s brim” is not “just that and nothing more.” Exogenous experience may be framed in the contexts of dream, and internal thought may be projected into the contexts of the external world. And so on. For all this, we seek a partial explanation in learning and experience. (“Double Bind, 1969,” in Steps to an Ecology of Mind, U Chicago Press, 2000, p. 272). (EDIT: I had originally typed “eternal world,” but Bateson writes “external.” It’s an interesting typo, though, so I remember it here.)

It does seem to me, very often, that we do our best to purge our learning environments of opportunities for transcontextual gifts to emerge. This is understandable, given how bad and indeed “unproductive” (by certain lights) the transcontextual confusions can be. No one enjoys the feeling of falling, unless there are environments and guides that can make the falling feel like flying–more matter for another conversation, and a difficult art indeed, and one that like all art has no guarantees (pace Madame Tussaud).

2. So now the second strand, regarding Engelbart’s “Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework.” Much of this essay, it seems to me, is about identifying and fostering transcontextualism (transcontextualization?) as a networked activity in which both the individual and the networked community recognize the potential for “bootstrapping” themselves into greater learning through the kind of level-crossing Bateson imagines (Douglas Hofstadter explores these ideas too, particularly in I Am A Strange Loop and, it appears, in a book Tom Woodward is exploring and brought to my attention yesterday, Surfaces and Essences: Analogy as the Fuel and Fire of Thinking. That title alone makes the recursive point very neatly). So when Engelbart switches modes from engineering-style-specification to the story of bricks-on-pens to the dialogue with “Joe,” he seems to me not to be willful or even prohibitively difficult (though some of the ideas are undeniably complex). He seems to me to be experimenting with transcontextualism as an expressive device, an analytical strategy, and a kind of self-directed learning, a true essay: an attempt:

And by “complex situations” we include the professional problems of diplomats, executives, social scientists, life scientists, physical scientists, attorneys, designers–whether the problem situation exists for twenty minutes or twenty years.

A list worthy of Walt Whitman, and one that explicitly (and for me, thrillingly) crosses levels and enacts transcontextualism.

Here’s another list, one in which Engelbart tallies the range of “thought kernels” he wants to track in his formulative thinking (one might also say, his “research”):

The “unit records” here, unlike those in the Memex example, are generally scraps of typed or handwritten text on IBM-card-sized edge-notchable cards. These represent little “kernels” of data, thought, fact, consideration, concepts, ideas, worries, etc. That are relevant to a given problem area in my professional life.

Again, the listing enacts a principle: we map a problem space, a sphere of inquiry, along many dimensions–or we should. Those dimensions cross contexts–or they should. To think about this in terms of language for a moment, Engelbart’s idea seems to be that we should track our “kernels” across the indicative, the imperative, the subjunctive, the interrogative. To put it another way, we should be mindful of, and somehow make available for mindful building, many varieties of cognitive activity, including affect (which can be distinguished but not divided from cognition).

3. I don’t think this activity increases efficiency, if efficiency means “getting more done in less time.” (A “cognitive Taylorism,” as one seminarian put it.) More what is always the question. For me, Engelbart’s transcontextual gifts (and I’ll concede that there are likely transcontextual confusions in there too–it’s the price of trancontextualism, clearly) are such that the emphasis lands squarely on effectiveness, which in his essay means more work with positive potential (understanding there’s some disagreement but not total disagreement about… [more]
dougengelbart  transcontextualism  gardnercampbell  2013  gregorybateson  marshallmcluhan  socraticmethod  education  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  learning  hammerhand  technology  computers  computing  georgedyson  food  textiles  texture  text  understanding  tools  secondlife  seymourpapert  sherryturkle  alanturing  johnvonneumann  doublebind  waltwhitman  memex  taylorism  efficiency  cognition 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Will Self: Are humans evolving beyond the need to tell stories? | Books | The Guardian
"Neuroscientists who insist technology is changing our brains may have it wrong. What if we are switching from books to digital entertainment because of a change in our need to communicate?"

"A few years ago I gave a lecture in Oxford that was reprinted in the Guardian under the heading: “The novel is dead (this time it’s for real)”. In it I argued that the novel was losing its cultural centrality due to the digitisation of print: we are entering a new era, one with a radically different form of knowledge technology, and while those of us who have what Marshal McLuhan termed “Gutenberg minds” may find it hard to comprehend – such was our sense of the solidity of the literary world – without the necessity for the physical book itself, there’s no clear requirement for the art forms it gave rise to. I never actually argued that the novel was dead, nor that narrative itself was imperilled, yet whenever I discuss these matters with bookish folk they all exclaim: “But we need stories – people will always need stories.” As if that were an end to the matter.

Non-coincidentally, in line with this shift from print to digital there’s been an increase in the number of scientific studies of narrative forms and our cognitive responses to them. There’s a nice symmetry here: just as the technology arrives to convert the actual into the virtual, so other technologies arise, making it possible for us to look inside the brain and see its actual response to the virtual worlds we fabulate and confabulate. In truth, I find much of this research – which marries arty anxiety with techno-assuredness – to be self-serving, reflecting an ability to win the grants available for modish interdisciplinary studies, rather than some new physical paradigm with which to explain highly complex mental phenomena. Really, neuroscience has taken on the sexy mantle once draped round the shoulders of genetics. A few years ago, each day seemed to bring forth a new gene for this or that. Such “discoveries” rested on a very simplistic view of how the DNA of the human genotype is expressed in us poor, individual phenotypes – and I suspect many of the current discoveries, which link alterations in our highly plastic brains to cognitive functions we can observe using sophisticated equipment, will prove to be equally ill-founded.

The neuroscientist Susan Greenfield has been prominent in arguing that our new digital lives are profoundly altering the structure of our brains. This is undoubtedly the case – but then all human activities impact upon the individual brain as they’re happening; this by no means implies a permanent alteration, let alone a heritable one. After all, so far as we can tell the gross neural anatomy of the human has remained unchanged for hundreds of millennia, while the age of bi-directional digital media only properly dates – in my view – from the inception of wireless broadband in the early 2000s, hardly enough time for natural selection to get to work on the adaptive advantages of … tweeting. Nevertheless, pioneering studies have long since shown that licensed London cab drivers, who’ve completed the exhaustive “Knowledge” (which consists of memorising every street and notable building within a six mile radius of Charing Cross), have considerably enlarged posterior hippocampi.

This is the part of brain concerned with way-finding, but it’s also strongly implicated in memory formation; neuroscientists are now discovering that at the cognitive level all three abilities – memory, location, and narration – are intimately bound up. This, too, is hardly surprising: key for humans, throughout their long pre-history as hunter-gatherers, has been the ability to find food, remember where food is and tell the others about it. It’s strange, of course, to think of Pride and Prejudice or Ulysses as simply elaborations upon our biologically determined inclination to give people directions – but then it’s perhaps stranger still to realise that sustained use of satellite navigation, combined with absorbing all our narrative requirements in pictorial rather written form, may transform us into miserable and disoriented amnesiacs.

When he lectured on literature in the 1950s, Vladimir Nabokov would draw a map on the blackboard at the beginning of each session, depicting, for example, the floor plan of Austen’s Mansfield Park, or the “two ways” of Proust’s Combray. What Nabokov seems to have understood intuitively is what neuroscience is now proving: reading fiction enables a deeply memorable engagement with our sense of space and place. What the master was perhaps less aware of – because, as yet, this phenomenon was inchoate – was that throughout the 20th century the editing techniques employed in Hollywood films were being increasingly refined. This is the so-called “tyranny of film”: editing methods that compel our attention, rather than leaving us free to absorb the narrative in our own way. Anyone now in middle age will have an intuitive understanding of this: shots are shorter nowadays, and almost all transitions are effected by crosscutting, whereby two ongoing scenes are intercut in order to force upon the viewer the idea of their synchrony. It’s in large part this tyranny that makes contemporary films something of a headache for older viewers, to whom they can seem like a hypnotic swirl of action.

It will come as no surprise to Gutenberg minds to learn that reading is a better means of forming memory than watching films, as is listening to afternoon drama on Radio 4. This is the so-called “visualisation hypothesis” that proposes that people – and children in particular – find it harder not only to remember film as against spoken or written narratives, but also to come up with novel responses to them, because the amount of information they’re given, together with its determinate nature, forecloses imaginative response.

Almost all contemporary parents – and especially those of us who class themselves as “readers” – have engaged in the Great Battle of Screen: attempting to limit our children’s consumption of films, videos, computer games and phone-based social media. We feel intuitively that it can’t be doing our kids any good – they seem mentally distracted as well as physically fidgety: unable to concentrate as they often look from one handheld screen to a second freestanding one, alternating between tweezering some images on a touchscreen and manipulating others using a remote control. Far from admonishing my younger children to “read the classics” – an utterly forlorn hope – I often find myself simply wishing they’d put their phones down long enough to have their attention compelled by the film we’re watching.

If we take seriously the conclusions of these recent neuroscientific studies, one fact is indisputable: whatever the figures for books sales (either in print or digital form), reading for pleasure has been in serious decline for over a decade. That this form of narrative absorption (if you’ll forgive the coinage) is closely correlated with high attainment and wellbeing may tell us nothing about the underlying causation, but the studies do demonstrate that the suite of cognitive aptitudes needed to decipher text and turn it into living, breathing, visible and tangible worlds seem to wither away once we stop turning the pages and start goggling at virtual tales.

Of course, the sidelining of reading narrative (and along with it the semi-retirement of all those narrative forms we love) is small potatoes compared with the loss of our capacity for episodic memory: would we be quite so quick to post those fantastic holiday photographs on Facebook if we knew that in so doing we’d imperil our ability to recall unaided our walk along the perfect crescent of sand, and our first ecstatic kiss? You might’ve thought that as a novelist who depends on fully attuned Gutenberg minds to read his increasingly complex and confusing texts I’d be dismayed by this craven new couch-based world; and, as a novelist, I am.

I began writing my books on a manual typewriter at around the same time wireless broadband became ubiquitous, sensing it was inimical not only to the act of writing, but that of reading as well: a novel should be a self-contained and self-explanatory world (at least, that’s how the form has evolved), and it needs to be created in the same cognitive mode as it’s consumed: the writer hunkering down into his own episodic memories, and using his own canonical knowledge, while imagining all the things he’s describing, rather than Googling them to see what someone else thinks they look like. I also sense the decline in committed reading among the young that these studies claim: true, the number of those who’ve ever been inclined “to get up in the morning in the fullness of youth”, as Nietzsche so eloquently put it, “and open a book” has always been small; but then it’s worth recalling the sting in the tail of his remark: “now that’s what I call vicious”.

And there is something vicious about all that book learning, especially when it had to be done by rote. There’s something vicious as well about the baby boomer generation, which, not content to dominate the cultural landscape, also demands that everyone younger than us survey it in the same way. For the past five years I’ve been working on a trilogy of novels that aim to map the connections between technological change, warfare and human psychopathology, so obviously I’m attempting to respond to the zeitgeist using this increasingly obsolete art form. My view is that we’re deluded if we think new technologies come into existence because of clearly defined human objectives – let alone benevolent ones – and it’s this that should shape our response to them. No, the history of the 20th century – and now the 21st – is replete with examples of technologies that were developed purely in order to facilitate the killing of people at … [more]
willself  communication  digital  writing  howwewrite  entertainment  books  socialmedia  neuroscience  2016  marshallmcluhan  gutenbergminds  print  change  singularity  videogames  gaming  games  poetry  novels  susangreenfield  rote  rotelearning  twitter  knowledge  education  brain  wayfinding  memory  location  narration  navigation  vladimirnabokov  proust  janeausten  film  video  attention  editing  reading  howweread  visualizationhypothesis  visualization  text  imagery  images  cognition  literacy  multiliteracies  memories  nietzsche  booklearning  technology  mobile  phones  mentalillness  ptsd  humans  humanity  digitalmedia  richardbrautigan  narrative  storytelling 
november 2016 by robertogreco
All That Multitasking is Harming, Not Helping Your Productivity. Here’s Why. | KQED Future of You | KQED Science
"How the Digital Age Zaps Productivity

I visited Gazzaley in his UCSF laboratory, Neuroscape, to learn more about the science of distraction. Gazzaley pulled up, on a TV screen, a 3-D image of a brain, created from an MRI Scan. He pointed to different sections to explain what’s going on when our attention flits between tasks.

“The prefrontal cortex is the area most challenged,” Gazzely says. “And then visual areas, auditory areas, and the hippocampus — these networks are really what’s challenged when we are constantly switching between multiple tasks that our technological world might throw at us.”

When you engage in one task at a time, the prefrontal cortex works in harmony with other parts of the brain, but when you toss in another task it forces the left and right sides of the brain to work independently. The process of splitting our attention usually leads to mistakes.

In other words, each time our eyes glance away from our computer monitor to sneak a peak at a text message, the brain takes in new information, which reduces our primary focus. We think the mind can juggle two or three activities successfully at once, but Gazzaley says we woefully overestimate our ability to multitask.

“An example is when you attempt to check your email while on a conference call,” says Gazzaley. “The act of doing that makes it so incredibly obvious how you can’t really parallel process two attention-demanding tasks. You either have to catch up and ask what happened in the conversation, or you have to read over the email before you send it — if you’re wise!”

Answering an Email Takes A Lot Longer Than You Think

Gazzaley stresses that our tendency to respond immediately to emails and texts hinders high-level thinking. If you’re working on a project and you stop to answer an email, the research shows, it will take you nearly a half-hour to get back on task.

“When a focused stream of thought is interrupted it needs to be reset,” explains Gazzaley. “You can’t just press a button and switch back to it. You have to re-engage those thought processes, and recreate all the elements of what you were engaged in. That takes time, and frequently one interruption leads to another.”

In other words, repetitively switching tasks lowers performance and productivity because your brain can only fully and efficiently focus on one thing at a time.

Plus, mounting evidence shows that multitasking could impair the brain’s cognitive abilities. Stanford researchers studied the minds of people who regularly engage in several digital communication streams at once. They found that high-tech jugglers struggle to pay attention, recall information, or complete one task at a time.

“When they’re in situations where there are multiple sources of information coming from the external world or emerging out of memory, they’re not able to filter out what’s not relevant to their current goal,” says Stanford neuroscientist Anthony Wagner. “That failure to filter means they’re slowed down by that irrelevant information.”

The researchers are still studying what’s causing multitaskers to perform poorly on cognitive tests. It could be that they are born with an inability to concentrate, or digital distractions are taking a toll. In any case, the researchers believe the minds of multitaskers are not performing optimally.

And the habit of multitasking could lower your score on an IQ test, according to researchers at the University of London.

Creating Digital Boundaries

But don’t worry. Gazzaley says. It’s not about opting out of technology. In fact, there’s a time and place for multitasking. If you’re in the midst of a mundane task that just has to get done, it’s probably not detrimental to have your phone nearby or a bunch of tabs open. The distractions may reduce boredom and help you stay engaged. But if you’re finishing a business plan, or a high-level writing project, then it’s a good idea to set yourself up to stay focused."
multitasking  cognition  collaboration  email  organization  productivity  2016  adamgazzaley  larryrosen 
october 2016 by robertogreco
Understanding Trump « George Lakoff
"Unconscious thought works by certain basic mechanisms. Trump uses them instinctively to turn people’s brains toward what he wants: Absolute authority, money, power, celebrity.

The mechanisms are:

1. Repetition. Words are neurally linked to the circuits the determine their meaning. The more a word is heard, the more the circuit is activated and the stronger it gets, and so the easier it is to fire again. Trump repeats. Win. Win, Win. We’re gonna win so much you’ll get tired of winning.

2. Framing: Crooked Hillary. Framing Hillary as purposely and knowingly committing crimes for her own benefit, which is what a crook does. Repeating makes many people unconsciously think of her that way, even though she has been found to have been honest and legal by thorough studies by the right-wing Bengazi committee (which found nothing) and the FBI (which found nothing to charge her with, except missing the mark ‘(C)’ in the body of 3 out of 110,000 emails). Yet the framing is working.

There is a common metaphor that Immorality Is Illegality, and that acting against Strict Father Morality (the only kind off morality recognized) is being immoral. Since virtually everything Hillary Clinton has ever done has violated Strict Father Morality, that makes her immoral. The metaphor thus makes her actions immoral, and hence she is a crook. The chant “Lock her up!” activates this whole line of reasoning.

3. Well-known examples: When a well-publicized disaster happens, the coverage activates the framing of it over and over, strengthening it, and increasing the probability that the framing will occur easily with high probability. Repeating examples of shootings by Muslims, African-Americans, and Latinos raises fears that it could happen to you and your community — despite the miniscule actual probability. Trump uses this to create fear. Fear tends to activate desire for a strong strict father — namely, Trump.

4. Grammar: Radical Islamic terrorists: “Radical” puts Muslims on a linear scale and “terrorists” imposes a frame on the scale, suggesting that terrorism is built into the religion itself. The grammar suggests that there is something about Islam that has terrorism inherent in it. Imagine calling the Charleston gunman a “radical Republican terrorist.”

Trump is aware of this to at least some extent. As he said to Tony Schwartz, the ghost-writer who wrote The Art of the Deal for him, “I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration — and it’s a very effective form of promotion.”

5. Conventional metaphorical thought is inherent in our largely unconscious thought. Such normal modes of metaphorical thinking that are not noticed as such.

Consider Brexit, which used the metaphor of “entering” and “leaving” the EU. There is a universal metaphor that states are locations in space: you can enter a state, be deep in some state, and come out that state. If you enter a café and then leave the café , you will be in the same location as before you entered. But that need not be true of states of being. But that was the metaphor used with Brexit; Britons believed that after leaving the EU, things would be as before when the entered the EU. They were wrong. Things changed radically while they were in the EU. That same metaphor is being used by Trump: Make America Great Again. Make America Safe Again. And so on. As if there was some past ideal state that we can go back to just by electing Trump.

6. There is also a metaphor that A Country Is a Person and a metonymy of the President Standing For the Country. Thus, Obama, via both metaphor and metonymy, can stand conceptually for America. Therefore, by saying that Obama is weak and not respected, it is communicated that America, with Obama as president, is weak and disrespected. The inference is that it is because of Obama.

7. The country as person metaphor and the metaphor that war or conflict between countries is a fistfight between people, leads to the inference that just having a strong president will guarantee that America will win conflicts and wars. Trump will just throw knockout punches. In his acceptance speech at the convention, Trump repeatedly said that he would accomplish things that can only be done by the people acting with their government. After one such statement, there was a chant from the floor, “He will do it.”

8. The metaphor that The nation Is a Family was used throughout the GOP convention. We heard that strong military sons are produced by strong military fathers and that “defense of country is a family affair.” From Trump’s love of family and commitment to their success, we are to conclude that, as president he will love America’s citizens and be committed to the success of all.

9. There is a common metaphor that Identifying with your family’s national heritage makes you a member of that nationality. Suppose your grandparents came from Italy and you identify with your Italian ancestors, you may proudly state that you are Italian. The metaphor is natural. Literally, you have been American for two generations. Trump made use of this commonplace metaphor in attacking US District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is American, born and raised in the United States. Trump said he was a Mexican, and therefore would hate him and tend to rule against him in a case brought against Trump University for fraud.

10. Then there is the metaphor system used in the phrase “to call someone out.” First the word “out.” There is a general metaphor that Knowing Is Seeing as in “I see what you mean.” Things that are hidden inside something cannot be seen and hence not known, while things are not hidden but out in public can be seen and hence known. To “out” someone is to made their private knowledge public. To “call someone out” is to publicly name someone’s hidden misdeeds, thus allowing for public knowledge and appropriate consequences."

"How Can Democrats Do Better?

First, don’t think of an elephant. Remember not to repeat false conservative claims and then rebut them with the facts. Instead, go positive. Give a positive truthful framing to undermine claims to the contrary. Use the facts to support positively-framed truth. Use repetition.

Second, start with values, not policies and facts and numbers. Say what you believe, but haven’t been saying. For example, progressive thought is built on empathy, on citizens caring about other citizens and working through our government to provide public resources for all, both businesses and individuals. Use history. That’s how America started. The public resources used by businesses were not only roads and bridges, but public education, a national bank, a patent office, courts for business cases, interstate commerce support, and of course the criminal justice system. From the beginning, the Private Depended on Public Resources, both private lives and private enterprise.

Over time those resources have included sewers, water and electricity, research universities and research support: computer science (via the NSF), the internet (ARPA), pharmaceuticals and modern medicine (the NIH), satellite communication (NASA and NOA), and GPS systems and cell phones (the Defense Department). Private enterprise and private life utterly depend on public resources. Have you ever said this? Elizabeth Warren has. Almost no other public figures. And stop defending “the government.” Talk about the public, the people, Americans, the American people, public servants, and good government. And take back freedom. Public resources provide for freedom in private enterprise and private life.

The conservatives are committed to privatizing just about everything and to eliminating funding for most public resources. The contribution of public resources to our freedoms cannot be overstated. Start saying it.

And don’t forget the police. Effective respectful policing is a public resource. Chief David O. Brown of the Dallas Police got it right. Training, community policing, knowing the people you protect. And don’t ask too much of the police: citizens have a responsibility to provide funding so that police don’t have to do jobs that should be done by others.

Unions need to go on the offensive. Unions are instruments of freedom — freedom from corporate servitude. Employers call themselves job creators. Working people are profit creators for the employers, and as such they deserve a fair share of the profits and respect and acknowledgement. Say it. Can the public create jobs. Of course. Fixing infrastructure will create jobs by providing more public resources that private lives and businesses depend on. Public resources to create more public resources. Freedom creates opportunity that creates more freedom.

Third, keep out of nasty exchanges and attacks. Keep out of shouting matches. One can speak powerfully without shouting. Obama sets the pace: Civility, values, positivity, good humor, and real empathy are powerful. Calmness and empathy in the face of fury are powerful. Bill Clinton won because he oozed empathy, with his voice, his eye contact, and his body. It wasn’t his superb ability as a policy wonk, but the empathy he projected and inspired.

Values come first, facts and policies follow in the service of values. They matter, but they always support values.

Give up identity politics. No more women’s issues, black issues, Latino issues. Their issues are all real, and need public discussion. But they all fall under freedom issues, human issues. And address poor whites! Appalachian and rust belt whites deserve your attention as much as anyone else. Don’t surrender their fate to Trump, who will just increase their suffering.

And remember JFK’s immortal, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Empathy, devotion, love, pride in our country’s values, public resources to create freedoms. And adulthood.

Be prepared. You have to understand Trump … [more]
georgelakoff  donaldtrump  2016  conservatives  markets  systems  systemsthinking  hierarchy  morality  puritanism  election  hillaryclinton  cognition  psychology  evangelicals  freemarkets  capitalism  pragmatism  patriarchy  progressivism  directcausation  systemiccausation  thinking  politicalcorrectness  identitypolitics  politics  policy  us  biconceptuals  brain  howwethink  marketing  metaphor  elections  dallas  dallaspolice  policing  lawenforcement  unions  organizing  organization  billclinton  empathy  campaigning  repetition  democrats 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Read This Story Without Distraction (Can You?) - The New York Times
"Maybe this doesn’t feel like a big deal. Doing one thing at a time isn’t a new idea.

Indeed, multitasking, that bulwark of anemic résumés everywhere, has come under fire in recent years. A 2014 study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that interruptions as brief as two to three seconds — which is to say, less than the amount of time it would take you to toggle from this article to your email and back again — were enough to double the number of errors participants made in an assigned task.

Earlier research out of Stanford revealed that self-identified “high media multitaskers” are actually more easily distracted than those who limit their time toggling.

So, in layman’s terms, by doing more you’re getting less done.

But monotasking, also referred to as single-tasking or unitasking, isn’t just about getting things done.

Not the same as mindfulness, which focuses on emotional awareness, monotasking is a 21st-century term for what your high school English teacher probably just called “paying attention.”"

"This is great news for the self-identified monotaskers out there.

Jon Pack, a 42-year-old photographer in Brooklyn, was happy to hear that his single-minded manner might be undergoing a rebrand. “When I was looking for jobs and interviewing, they’d always want me to say, ‘I’m a great multitasker,’ ” he said. “And I wouldn’t. My inability to multitask was seen as a negative. Now I can just say, ‘I am a monotasker. I am someone who works best when I focus on one thing at a time.’ ”

And the way we work can have effects that kick in long after we clock out.

As much as people would like to believe otherwise, humans have finite neural resources that are depleted every time we switch between tasks, which, especially for those who work online, Ms. Zomorodi said, can happen upward of 400 times a day, according to a 2016 University of California, Irvine study. “That’s why you feel tired at the end of the day,” she said. “You’ve used them all up.”

The term “brain dead” suddenly takes on a whole new meaning.

A good sign you’ve task-switched yourself into a stupor: mindlessly scrolling Facebook at the end of the night or, as in Ms. Zomorodi’s case, looking at couches on Pinterest. “I just stuff my brain full of them because I can’t manage to do anything else,” she said. “The sad thing is that I don’t get any closer to deciding which one I like.”

But monotasking can also make work itself more enjoyable.

“I can multitask — and do, of course; it’s kind of essential — but I prefer to do one thing at a time,” Hayley Phelan, a 28-year-old writer, wrote in an email. “If I keep looking at my phone or my inbox or various websites, working feels a lot more tortuous. When I’m focused and making progress, work is actually pleasurable.”

Ms. Phelan isn’t imagining things. “Almost any experience is improved by paying full attention to it,” Ms. McGonigal said. “Attention is one way your brain decides, ‘Is this interesting? Is this worthwhile? Is this fun?’ ”

It’s the reason television shows we tweet through feel tiresome and books we pick up and put down and pick up again never seem to end. The more we allow ourselves to be distracted from a particular activity, the more we feel the need to be distracted. Paying attention pays dividends.

This is why, according to Ms. McGonigal, the ability to monotask might be most valuable in social situations. “Research shows that just having a phone on the table is sufficiently distracting to reduce empathy and rapport between two people who are in conversation,” she said.

Twenty-five thousand people participated in Ms. Zomorodi’s Infomagical project, which started the week with a single-tasking challenge. Upon completion, respondents agreed overwhelmingly that single-tasking was the No. 1 thing they wanted to carry into their post-Infomagical lives. “But they also said it was really, really hard,” Ms. Zomorodi said.

Parents of young children found it difficult for obvious reasons, as did people with jobs that permit them less control over their time. In those cases, try monotasking in areas where you can: conversations with your children, reading a book in bed before they go to sleep, dinner or drinks with friends. After all, monotasking is a good skill to incorporate into all aspects of your life, not just work.

Even those with more flexibility can find themselves going to great lengths for a little bit of focus. Nick Pandolfi, who works in partnerships at Google, once traveled to northern Sweden in what he described as an “extreme” effort to monotask.

“I had to write my business school application essays, and I was having no luck spending an hour here and there after work and on the weekends,” Mr. Pandolfi said. “I just wasn’t inspired. After spending a few days hiking in the Arctic by myself, I was able to get all of them done in just a few days.”"

"Monotasking can also be as simple as having a conversation.

“Practice how you listen to people,” Ms. McGonigal said. “Put down anything that’s in your hands and turn all of your attentional channels to the person who is talking. You should be looking at them, listening to them, and your body should be turned to them. If you want to see a benefit from monotasking, if you want to have any kind of social rapport or influence on someone, that’s the place to start. That’s where you’ll see the biggest payoff.”"
multitasking  attention  monotasking  singletasking  2016  psychology  cognition  cognitiveload  conversation  janemcgonigal  listening  presence  cv 
may 2016 by robertogreco
What People Can Learn From How Animals Think - The Atlantic
"As de waal recognizes, a better way to think about other creatures would be to ask ourselves how different species have developed different kinds of minds to solve different adaptive problems. Surely the important question is not whether an octopus or a crow can do the same things a human can, but how those animals solve the cognitive problems they face, like how to imitate the sea floor or make a tool with their beak. Children and chimps and crows and octopuses are ultimately so interesting not because they are mini-mes, but because they are aliens—not because they are smart like us, but because they are smart in ways we haven’t even considered. All children, for example, pretend with a zeal that seems positively crazy; if we saw a grown-up act like every 3-year-old does, we would get him to check his meds.

Sometimes studying those alien ways of knowing can illuminate adult-human cognition. Children’s pretend play may help us understand our adult taste for fiction. De Waal’s research provides another compelling example. We human beings tend to think that our social relationships are rooted in our perceptions, beliefs, and desires, and our understanding of the perceptions, beliefs, and desires of others—what psychologists call our “theory of mind.” In the ’80s and ’90s, developmental psychologists, including me, showed that preschoolers and even infants understand minds apart from their own. But it was hard to show that other animals did the same. “Theory of mind” became a candidate for the special, uniquely human trick.

Yet de Waal’s studies show that chimps possess a remarkably developed political intelligence—they are profoundly interested in figuring out social relationships such as status and alliances. (A primatologist friend told me that even before they could stand, the baby chimps he studied would use dominance displays to try to intimidate one another.) It turns out, as de Waal describes, that chimps do infer something about what other chimps see. But experimental studies also suggest that this happens only in a competitive political context. The evolutionary anthropologist Brian Hare and his colleagues gave a subordinate chimp a choice between pieces of food that a dominant chimp had seen hidden and other pieces it had not seen hidden. The subordinate chimp, who watched all the hiding, stayed away from the food the dominant chimp had seen, but took the food it hadn’t seen.

Anyone who has gone to an academic conference will recognize that we, too, are profoundly political creatures. We may say that we sign up because we’re eager to find out what our fellow Homo sapiens think, but we’re just as interested in who’s on top and where the alliances lie. Many of the political judgments we make there don’t have much to do with our theory of mind. We may defer to a celebrity-academic silverback even if we have no respect for his ideas. In Jane Austen, Elizabeth Bennet cares how people think, while Lady Catherine cares only about how powerful they are, but both characters are equally smart and equally human."

"Even if the differences between us and our nearest animal relatives are quantitative rather than qualitative—a matter of dialing up some cognitive capacities and downplaying others—they can have a dramatic impact overall. A small variation in how much you rely on theory of mind to understand others as opposed to relying on a theory of status and alliances can exert a large influence in the long run of biological and cultural evolution.

Finally, de Waal’s book prompts some interesting questions about how emotion and reason mix in the scientific enterprise. The quest to understand the minds of animals and children has been a remarkable scientific success story. It inevitably has a moral, and even political, dimension as well. The challenge of studying creatures that are so different from us is to get into their heads, to imagine what it is like to be a bat or a bonobo or a baby. A tremendous amount of sheer scientific ingenuity is required to figure out how to ask animals or children what they think in their language instead of in ours.

At the same time, it also helps to have a sympathy for the creatures you study, a feeling that is not far removed from love. And this sympathy is bound to lead to indignation when those creatures are dismissed or diminished. That response certainly seems justified when you consider the havoc that the ladder-of-nature picture has wrought on the “lower” creatures."
fransdewaal  animals  biology  books  2016  intelligence  multispecies  psychology  cognition  humans  politics  chimpanzees 
may 2016 by robertogreco
Test Scores Drop as the School Day Drags on - Pacific Standard
"You've probably noticed that it's harder to think clearly after a long day of reading, writing, and arithmetic—in short, after a long day of thinking. For the most part, that's not a particularly big deal, but a study out today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests it might matter to schools and their students. As it turns out, each hour that passes before starting a test drags scores down by a little bit, meaning students who take a test late in the day will perform noticeably worse.

A core assumption underlying academic achievement testing is that the tests measure, at least roughly, how much students have learned. Of course, that assumption isn't really true; for one thing, there are persistent racial biases in academic testing. But, economists Hans Henrik Sievertsen, Francesca Gino, and Marco Piovesan wondered, could there be even more fundamental cognitive biases? Like, say, how tired students are when they take a test?

Educators should consider cognitive fatigue when planning the overall length of school days.

To answer that question, the trio analyzed scores from every student who took the Danish National Tests between the 2009–10 and the 2012–13 school years. That includes 10 tests in all—reading in grades two, four, six, and eight; math in grades three and six; and geography, physics, chemistry, and biology tests in grades seven and eight. In total, there were 2,034,564 test scores representing 570,376 students in 2,105 schools. Tests were given in three parts, presented to each student in random order, and lasted throughout the day, with breaks around 10 a.m. and noon.

Percentile rankings, which show where students rank on a 100-point scale, declined by about two-tenths of a point per hour on average, though how much scores dropped—and whether they dropped at all—changed throughout the day. Students who took a test at 9 a.m., for example, ranked 1.35 points lower than those who were tested on the same material at 8 a.m. Ranks increased 0.37 points after a 10 a.m. break, but dropped again by 0.58 points for tests taken at 11 a.m.

To put those results into context, the team also estimated the effects of parental income and other demographic measures. On average, taking a test one hour later in the day was about the same as parents making $1,000 (in American dollars) less, parents being educated one month less, or kids having about 10 fewer days of schooling—not large effects by any means, but important ones nonetheless.

Those results don't mean schools should necessarily test students earlier in the day, Sievertsen, Gino, and Piovesan write. Instead, educators should consider cognitive fatigue when planning breaks and the overall length of school days, including test days, and whether it's feasible for schools to adjust scores to account for the time of day the tests were taken."
education  fatigue  cognition  2016  performance  schoolday  scheduling  economics  hanshenriksievertsen  francescagino  marcopiovesan 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Mapping Metaphor
"The Metaphor Map of English shows the metaphorical links which have been identified between different areas of meaning. These links can be from the Anglo-Saxon period right up to the present day so the map covers 1300 years of the English language. This allows us the opportunity to track metaphorical ways of thinking and expressing ourselves over more than a millennium; see the Metaphor in English section for more information.

The Metaphor Map was built as part of the Mapping Metaphor with the Historical Thesaurus project. This was completed by a team in English Language at the University of Glasgow and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council from 2012 to early 2015. The Metaphor Map is based on the Historical Thesaurus of English, which was published in 2009 by Oxford University Press as the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary.

To find out more see our Twitter feed @MappingMetaphor and our project blog, which has news, short articles and information on the project."

"• This circle represents all of knowledge in English: every word in every sense in the English language for over a millennium.

• The connections show metaphorical links in language and thought between different areas of meaning.

• Click on category names to highlight the connections from that category then click on individual yellow lines to get more detail about each connection.

• To open up the categories further, use the controls in the green box (particularly ‘show x categories’ on the home screen and the ‘centre on’ controls at more detailed levels).

• The Metaphor Map is a work in progress. All categories have links but not all categories have example words/dates yet. To view a list of categories which have had full date and word information added, please see this page"
metaphor  mapping  english  language  cognition  metaphors  meaning 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Poverty is a tax on cognition - Boing Boing
[video: ]

"In an outstanding lecture at the London School of Economics, Macarthur "genius award" recipient Sendhil Mullainathan explains his research on the psychology of scarcity, a subject that he's also written an excellent book about.

Mullainathan begins by establishing the idea that your cognition is limited -- you can only think about a limited number of things at one time, and when the number of things you have to pay attention to goes beyond a certain threshold, you start making errors. Then he explains how poor people have a lot more things they have to pay attention to. In the UK, we make fun of politicians for being so out of touch that they don't know the price of a pint of milk -- but poor people have to keep track of the price of everything they require. There's no room for error. Spend too much on the milk and you can't afford the bread.

That's just one of the many taxes on the cognitive load of poor people. David Graeber's Utopia of Rules details another: figuring out what rich people are thinking. Poor people who piss off rich people face reprisals far beyond those that rich people can expect from each other or from poor people.

This isn't unique to cash-poverty. Mullainathan asks his audience to recall what life is like when they're "time poor" -- on a deadline or otherwise overburdened. This scarcity can focus your attention, yes: we've all had miraculous work-sprints to meet a deadline. But it does so at the expense of thoughtful attention to longer-term (but equally important) priorities: that's why we stress-eat, skip the gym when our workload is spiking, and miss our kids' sports' games when the pressure is on at work.

The experimental literature shows startling parallels between the two conditions: time scarcity and cash scarcity. This leads to a series of policy proscriptions that are brilliant (for example, when we create means-tested benefits that require poor people to go through difficult bureaucratic processes, we're taxing their scarcest and most precious resource). He also recounts how this parallel is useful in creating an empathic link between rich and powerful people like hedge fund managers and the poorest people alive.

Why does poverty persist? Why do successful people get things done at the last minute? A single psychology--the psychology of scarcity--connects these seemingly unconnected questions. The research in our book shows how scarcity creates its own mindset. Understanding this mindset sheds light on our personal problems as well as the broader social problem of poverty and what we can do about it."
corydoctorow  equality  poverty  sendhilmullainathan  cognition  attention  davidgraeber  economics  decisionmaking  time  money  debttraps  scarcity  allnighters  timescarcity  moneyscarcity  tunneling 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Darkball on the App Store on iTunes
"Cristiano Ronaldo can famously volley a corner kick in total darkness. The magic behind this remarkable feat is hidden in Cristiano’s brain which enables him to use advance cues to plan upcoming actions. Darkball challenges your brain to do the same, distilling that scenario into its simplest form - intercept a ball in the dark. All you see is all you need.

One of the brain’s fundamental functions is to use information from the past and present to predict the future. This function is key to how animals, from dragonflies to humans, navigate a dynamic and uncertain world. To make predictions, the brain must have an “internal model” of the system it interacts with. A basic form of this function is at play when we move our body. For example, to reach for a cup, the brain must have a model to predict how the hand would respond to various motor commands. Internal models are also thought to play a crucial role when we mentally predict future states of the environment, for example when we track a ball as it moves behind another object. Here, we have designed a simple task to understand how the nervous system makes such predictions. In this task, subjects have to intercept a ball when it reaches its final position. By changing the speed of the ball, the intervals when it is invisible, and the target position, we will test various hypotheses about the algorithms that are used to integrate information about past and present to make predictions about future."


"A new super minimal game to test and train your time perception. Data collected from the app is analyzed by scientists in the Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT to find out more about how timing works in human brains. Play for research! "]
time  perception  applications  ios  ios7  cw&t  brain  cognition  2015 
may 2015 by robertogreco
How do Smartphones Affect Human Thought? » Cyborgology
"Actually, they tested more than intuitiveness, but also ability, yet I digress. This hypothesis implies (though does not state) a research question: How does smartphone usage affect cognitive processes? This is an important question, but one the research was never prepared to answer thoughtfully. Rather, the authors recast this question as a prediction, embedded in a host of assumptions which privilege unmediated thought.

This approach is inherently flawed. It defines cognitive functioning (incorrectly) as a raw internal process, untouched by technology in its purest state. This approach pits the brain against the device, as though tools are foreign intruders upon the natural body. This is simply not the case. Humans defining characteristic is our need for tools. Our brains literally developed with and through technology. This continues to be true. Brains are highly plastic, and new technologies change how cognition works. Our thought processes are, and always have been, mediated.

With a changing technological landscape, this means that cognitive tests quickly become outdated and fail to make sense as ‘objective’ measures of skill and ability. In other words, definitions of high functioning cognition are always in flux. Therefore, in reading cognitive research that makes evaluative claims, we should critically examine which forms of cognition the study privileges. In turn, authors should make their assumptions clear. In this case, we can discern that the authors define high cognitive functioning as digitally unmediated.

Certainly, it is useful to understand how cognition is changing, and traditional measures are good baselines to track that change. But change does not indicate laziness, stupidity, or, as the authors claim, no thinking at all. It indicates, instead, the need for new measures.

A more interesting question, for me, is how are intelligence and thoughtfulness changing? Rather than understand the brain and the device as separate sources of thought, could we instead render them connected nodes within a thought ecology? Such a rendering first, recognizes the increasing presence of digital devices in everyday life, and second, explicitly accounts for the relationship between structural inequalities and definitions of intelligence.

Definitions of intelligence have a long history of privileging the skills and logics of dominant groups. If cognitive function is tied to digital devices, then digital inequality—rather than human deficiency—becomes a key variable in understanding variations. At some level, I think people already understand this. After all, is it not the underlying driver of digital literacy movements?

This was not the study I wanted it to be. It does, however, tell us something interesting. People are changing. Our thought processes are changing. This is a moment of cognitive flux, and mobile digital technologies are key players in the future of thinking."
technology  2015  humans  research  cognition  cognitivescience  tools  jannydavis  change  flux  cognitiveflux  mobile  phones  smartphones  intuitiveness  thinking  howwethink  brain  skill  ability  laziness  stupidity  measurement  behavior  humancognition 
march 2015 by robertogreco
The Humane Representation of Thought on Vimeo
"Closing keynote at the UIST and SPLASH conferences, October 2014.

References to baby-steps towards some of the concepts mentioned:

Dynamic reality (physical responsiveness):
- The primary work here is Hiroshi Ishii's "Radical Atoms":
- but also relevant are the "Soft Robotics" projects at Harvard:
- and at Otherlab:
- and some of the more avant-garde corners of material science and 3D printing

Dynamic conversations and presentations:
- Ken Perlin's "Chalktalk" changes daily; here's a recent demo:

Context-sensitive reading material:

"Explore-the-model" reading material:

Evidence-backed models:

Direct-manipulation dynamic authoring:

Modes of understanding:
- Jerome Bruner:
- Howard Gardner:
- Kieran Egan:

Embodied thinking:
- Edwin Hutchins:
- Andy Clark:
- George Lakoff:
- JJ Gibson:
- among others:

I don't know what this is all about:



New representations of thought — written language, mathematical notation, information graphics, etc — have been responsible for some of the most significant leaps in the progress of civilization, by expanding humanity’s collectively-thinkable territory.

But at debilitating cost. These representations, having been invented for static media such as paper, tap into a small subset of human capabilities and neglect the rest. Knowledge work means sitting at a desk, interpreting and manipulating symbols. The human body is reduced to an eye staring at tiny rectangles and fingers on a pen or keyboard.

Like any severely unbalanced way of living, this is crippling to mind and body. But it is also enormously wasteful of the vast human potential. Human beings naturally have many powerful modes of thinking and understanding.

Most are incompatible with static media. In a culture that has contorted itself around the limitations of marks on paper, these modes are undeveloped, unrecognized, or scorned.

We are now seeing the start of a dynamic medium. To a large extent, people today are using this medium merely to emulate and extend static representations from the era of paper, and to further constrain the ways in which the human body can interact with external representations of thought.

But the dynamic medium offers the opportunity to deliberately invent a humane and empowering form of knowledge work. We can design dynamic representations which draw on the entire range of human capabilities — all senses, all forms of movement, all forms of understanding — instead of straining a few and atrophying the rest.

This talk suggests how each of the human activities in which thought is externalized (conversing, presenting, reading, writing, etc) can be redesigned around such representations.


Art by David Hellman.
Bret Victor -- "

[Some notes from Boris Anthony:

"Those of you who know my "book hack", Bret talks about exactly what motivates my explorations starting at 20:45 in "

"From a different angle, btwn 20:00-29:00 Bret explains how "IoT" is totally changing everything
@timoreilly @moia" ]
bretvictor  towatch  interactiondesign  davidhellman  hiroshiishii  softrobotics  robots  robotics  kenperlin  jeromebruner  howardgardner  kieranegan  edwinhutchins  andyclark  jjgibson  embodiedcognition  cognition  writing  math  mathematics  infographic  visualization  communication  graphics  graphicdesign  design  representation  humans  understanding  howwelearn  howwethink  media  digital  dynamism  movement  conversation  presentation  reading  howweread  howwewrite  chalktalk  otherlab  3dprinting  3d  materials  physical  tangibility  depth  learning  canon  ui  informationdesign  infographics  maps  mapping  data  thinking  thoughts  numbers  algebra  arithmetic  notation  williamplayfair  cartography  gestures  placevalue  periodictable  michaelfaraday  jamesclerkmaxell  ideas  print  printing  leibniz  humanism  humanerepresentation  icons  visual  aural  kinesthetic  spatial  tactile  symbols  iot  internetofthings  programming  computers  screens  computation  computing  coding  modeling  exploration  via:robertogreco  reasoning  rhetoric  gerrysussman  environments  scale  virtualization 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Matt Jones: Jumping to the End -- Practical Design Fiction on Vimeo
[Matt says ( ):

"This talk summarizes a lot of the approaches that we used in the studio at BERG, and some of those that have carried on in my work with the gang at Google Creative Lab in NYC.

Unfortunately, I can’t show a lot of that work in public, so many of the examples are from BERG days…

Many thanks to Catherine Nygaard and Ben Fullerton for inviting me (and especially to Catherine for putting up with me clowning around behind here while she was introducing me…)"]

[At ~35:00:
“[(Copy)Writers] are the fastest designers in the world. They are amazing… They are just amazing at that kind of boiling down of incredibly abstract concepts into tiny packages of cognition, language. Working with writers has been my favorite thing of the last two years.”
mattjones  berg  berglondon  google  googlecreativelab  interactiondesign  scifi  sciencefiction  designfiction  futurism  speculativefiction  julianbleecker  howwework  1970s  comics  marvel  marvelcomics  2001aspaceodyssey  fiction  speculation  technology  history  umbertoeco  design  wernerherzog  dansaffer  storytelling  stories  microinteractions  signaturemoments  worldbuilding  stanleykubrick  details  grain  grammars  computervision  ai  artificialintelligence  ui  personofinterest  culture  popculture  surveillance  networks  productdesign  canon  communication  johnthackara  macroscopes  howethink  thinking  context  patternsensing  systemsthinking  systems  mattrolandson  objects  buckminsterfuller  normanfoster  brianarthur  advertising  experiencedesign  ux  copywriting  writing  film  filmmaking  prototyping  posters  video  howwewrite  cognition  language  ara  openstudioproject  transdisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  interdisciplinary  sketching  time  change  seams  seamlessness 
march 2015 by robertogreco
perception is controlled hallucination‏ | synthetic_zero
[embedded video:

link to .pdf:
"How do questions concerning consciousness and phenomenal experience relate to, or interface with, questions concerning plans, knowledge and intentions? Visual perceptual experience, we shall argue, is fixed by an agent's direct unmediated knowledge concerning her poise (or apparent poise) over a currently enabled action space: a matrix of possibilities for pursuing and accomplishing one's intentional actions, goals and projects. If this is correct, the links between planning, intention and perceptual experience are tight, while (contrary to some recent accounts invoking the notion of ‘sensorimotor expectations’) the links between embodied activity and perceptual experience, though real, are indirect."

another embedded video: ]
perception  hallucination  2015  consciousness  cognition  imagination  understanding  simulation  andyclark  learning  howwelearn  context  prediction  approximation  inference 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Selin Jessa on Twitter: "Phrases, lately: (0. "bits of poetry stick to her like burrs" Jenny Offill's Dept. Speculation)"
"Phrases, lately: (0. "bits of poetry stick to her like burrs" Jenny Offill's Dept. Speculation)"

"i. "between kind wildness & wild kindness" @mojgani, …"

"ii. "a practice of worlding" …"

"iii. "craftmanship of knowing" Latour in Visualization and Cognition"

"iv. "to bring the body back in" Towards Enabling Geographies, Chouinard (ed)"

"v. "your bones as piccolos" …"

"vi. "the bone of the planet" a misreading of @alexismadrigal's 11/05 5IT"

"vii. "each cell shimmying on its little mitochondrial hilt" Carson, Red doc >"

"viii. "the tree unleafing" …"

"ix. "visitations of light" Ledgard, Submergence"

"x. "May your listening be good!" …"
selinjessa  language  phrases  jennyoffill  anismojgani  brunolatour  judithbeveridge  poetry  poems  alexismadrigal  redcarson  janehirshfield  jmledgard  submergence  yvesbonnefoy  verachouinard  thomvandooren  worlding  craftmanship  knowing  visualization  cognition  body  bodies  bones  biology  unleafing  plants  science  nature  light 
december 2014 by robertogreco
High modernist subjectivity gives an extraordinary... • see things differently
""High modernist subjectivity gives an extraordinary privilege … to judgement and especially to cognition…. The modern predominance of reading….

High [modernism] … furthermore … privileges the cognitive and moral over the aesthetic and the libidinal, the ego over the id, the visual over touch, and discursive over figural communication.

…the individual [is] somehow ‘closed’ instead of open; to be somehow obsessed with self-mastery and self-domination."

Lash, S. & Friedman, J. (Eds.). (1993). Modernity & Identity. Massachusetts: Blackwell, pg. 5"

[See also:

"High modernist subjectivity gives an extraordinary privilege, for example, to judgement and especially to cognition. It correspondingly devalues the faculty of perception, so that vision itself is so to speak colonized by cognition. The modern predominance of reading fosters epistemologies of representation, of a visual paradigm in the sphere of art [...]. High modernist subjectivity seems furthermore to privilege the cognitive and moral over the aesthetic and the libidinal, the ego over the id, the visual over touch, and discursive over figural communication. It gives primacy to culture over nature, to the individual over the community, As an ethics of responsibility, high modernist personality and Lebensfürung [life-course] it allows the individual to be somehow ‘closed’ instead of open; to be somehow obsessed with self-mastery and self-domination."

Lash, S. & Friedman, J. (Eds.). (1993). Modernity & Identity. Massachusetts: Blackwell, pg. 5]
modernism  highmodernism  bias  cognition  morality  aesthetics  libidinal  ego  id  visual  senses  touch  discursion  figurative  communication  reading  literacy  gutenbergparenthesis  self-mastery  self-domination  modernity  identity  1993 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Where do children’s earliest memories go? – Kristin Ohlson – Aeon
"The great forgetting: Our first three years are usually a blur and we don’t remember much before age seven. What are we hiding from ourselves?"

"In addition, young children have a tenuous grip on chronology. They are years from mastering clocks and calendars, and thus have a hard time nailing an event to a specific time and place. They also don’t have the vocabulary to describe an event, and without that vocabulary, they can’t create the kind of causal narrative that Peterson found at the root of a solid memory. And they don’t have a greatly elaborated sense of self, which would encourage them to hoard and reconsider chunks of experience as part of a growing life-narrative.

Frail as they are, children’s memories are then susceptible to a process called shredding. In our early years, we create a storm of new neurons in a part of the hippocampus called the dentate gyrus and continue to form them throughout the rest of our lives, although not at nearly the same rate. A recent study by the neuroscientists Paul Frankland and Sheena Josselyn of the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto suggests that this process, called neurogenesis, can actually create forgetting by disrupting the circuits for existing memories.

Our memories can become distorted by other people’s memories of the same event or by new information, especially when that new information is so similar to information already in storage. For instance, you meet someone and remember their name, but later meet a second person with a similar name, and become confused about the name of the first person. We can also lose our memories when the synapses that connect neurons decay from disuse. ‘If you never use that memory, those synapses can be recruited for something different,’ Bauer told me.

Memories are less vulnerable to shredding and disruptions as the child grows up. Most of the solid memories that we carry into the rest of our lives are formed during what’s called ‘the reminiscence bump’, from ages 15 to 30, when we invest a lot of energy in examining everything to try to figure out who we are. The events, culture and people of that time remain with us and can even overshadow the features of our ageing present, according to Bauer. The movies were the best back then, and so was the music, and the fashion, and the political leaders, and the friendships, and the romances. And so on."

"And we are not the sum of our memories, or at least, not entirely. We are also the story we construct about ourselves, our personal narrative that interprets and assigns meaning to the things we do remember and the things other people tell us about ourselves. Research by the Northwestern University psychologist Dan McAdams, author of The Redemptive Self (2005), suggests that these narratives guide our behaviour and help chart our path into the future. Especially lucky are those of us with redemptive stories, in which we find good fortune even in past adversity.

So our stories are not bald facts etched on stone tablets. They are narratives that move and morph, and that’s the underpinning to much of talk therapy. And here is one uplifting aspect of ageing: our stories of self get better. ‘For whatever reason, we tend to accentuate the positive things more as we age,’ McAdams told me. ‘We have a greater willingness or motivation to see the world in brighter terms. We develop a positivity bias regarding our memories.’"
memory  children  memories  cognition  time  kristinohlson  neurogenesis  shredding  chronology  experience  paulfrankland  sheenajosselyn  2014  identity  storytelling  danmcadams  psychology 
july 2014 by robertogreco
The Joy of Typing — The Message — Medium
"The truth, of course, is that the cognitive styles of handwriting and keyboard are both invaluable. In an ideal world, we should be fluent in both modes, so we can flit between the two — which, frankly, is how most white-collar people work and think all day long. (Me, I’ve been working on my handwriting. Three years ago I became so appalled at its quality that I bought a book to help me fix it.)

It’s also true, as Steve Graham points out to me, that the educational culture-wars over handwriting-versus-typing are somewhat overwrought. So long as kids — and adults — can move fast enough to fluidly get their ideas out, they’ll perform reasonably well, he notes. As you can probably tell by now, I’m a rabid advocate for superfast typing. (This entire essay is totally self-flattering, because I’ve been touch typing since middle school.) If I had my way — and infinite educational budgets — kids wouldn’t be allowed to graduate high school until they could type 70 WPM. But the science doesn’t completely support my lunatic enthusiasm, nor does everyday experience. I know plenty of novelists, academics, business folks and journalists who produce thoughtful, incisive work while moseying along with a hunt-and-peck style of perhaps 15 words a minute.

These days, I’m wondering how our cognition will be affected by the next great shifts in compositional technologies: The rise of voice dictation and heavily-AI-assisted full-sentence autocompletion technology.

Now that’ll be fun to argue about."
2014  clivethompson  education  productivity  typing  writing  handwriting  thinking  howwethink  concentration  creativity  learning  howwelearn  notetaking  cognition 
june 2014 by robertogreco
BBC News - Why children can't see what's right in front of them
"On one screen a black square flashed up and participants were asked whether they noticed it or not.

While 90% of the adults were able to spot the black square most of the time, children performed far worse, with fewer than 10% of seven to 10-year-olds spotting the square.

Eleven to 14-year-olds also showed lower awareness and that awareness decreased as the difficulty of the task increased.

She says: "In children, the primary visual cortex wasn't responding to the object on the screen and this appears to develop with age, until 14 and beyond. But I didn't expect the older children would also suffer from inattentional blindness. It would be interesting to see at what point they fully develop."

Previous research in adult brains suggests that the primary visual cortex is the part of the brain responsible for perceiving things, because if this area is damaged then people tend to experience less peripheral awareness.

There are obvious safety implications to this delayed development. Something as simple as texting while crossing the road becomes much more dangerous if awareness is impaired, for example.

But there are upsides to inattentional blindness too.

Who wants to be distracted by anything and everything around us? Surely a lack of peripheral awareness means we can retain our focus and concentrate.
attention  cognition  brain  adolescence  children  2014  concentration  nillilavie  richardwiseman 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Open Ed 12 - Gardner Campbell Keynote - Ecologies of Yearning - YouTube
[See also: ]

[See also: and

[References these videos by a student: ]


"In his keynote at the 2012 OpenEd conference, Gardner Campbell, an Associate Professor of English at Virginia Tech, talked about the “Ecologies of Yearning.” (Seriously: watch the video.) Campbell offered a powerful and poetic vision about the future of open learning, but noted too that there are competing visions for that future, particularly from the business and technology sectors. There are competing definitions of “open” as well, and pointing to the way in which “open” is used (and arguably misused) by education technology companies, Campbell’s keynote had a refrain, borrowed from “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”: “That is not it at all. That is not what I meant, at all.”"]

"30:29 Bateson's Hierarchy of learning

30:52 Zero Learning:"receipt of signal". No error possible

31:37 Learning I: "change in specificity of response by correction of errors of choice within a set of alternatives". Palov, etc. Habituation, adaptation.

32:16 Learning II: Learning-to-learn, context recognition, "corrective change in the set of alternatives from which choice is made, or.. in how the sequence of experience is punctuated". Premises are self-validating.

34:23 Learning III: Meta-contextual perspective, imagining and shifting contexts of understanding. "a corrective change in the system of sets of alternatives from which choice is made" Puts self at risk. Questions become explosive.

36:22 Learning IV: change to level III, "probably does not occur in any adult living organisms on this earth"

38:59 "Double bind"

44:49 Habits of being that might be counter-intuitive

51:49 Participant observers constructed Wordles of students' blogs"

[Comment from Céline Keller:

"This is my favorite talk online: Open Ed 12 - Gardner Campbell Keynote - Ecologies of Yearning +Gardner Campbell

This is what I wrote about it 7 month ago:

"Academia is to knowledge what prostitution is to love; close enough on the surface but, to the nonsucker, not exactly the same thing." Nassim Nicholas Taleb

If you care about education and learning don't miss listening to Gardner Campbell!

As described on the #edcmooc resource page:

"(This lecture)...serves as a warning that what we really want - our utopia - is not necessarily to be found in the structures we are putting in place (or finding ourselves within)."
Love it."

I still mean it. This is great, listen."]

[More here: ]
2012  gardnercampbell  nassimtaleb  academia  web  participatory  learning  howwelearn  hierarchyoflearning  love  habituation  adaption  open  openeducation  coursera  gregorybateson  udacity  sebastianthrun  mooc  moocs  georgesiemens  stephendownes  davecormier  carolyeager  aleccouros  jimgroom  audreywatters  edupunk  jalfredprufrock  missingthepoint  highered  edx  highereducation  tseliot  rubrics  control  assessment  quantification  canon  administration  hierarchy  hierarchies  pedagogy  philosophy  doublebind  paranoia  hepephrenia  catatonia  mentalhealth  schizophrenia  life  grades  grading  seymourpapert  ecologiesofyearning  systems  systemsthinking  suppression  context  education  conditioning  pavlov  gamification  freedom  liberation  alankay  human  humans  humanism  agency  moreofthesame  metacontexts  unfinished  ongoing  lifelonglearning  cognition  communication  networkedtranscontextualism  transcontextualism  transcontextualsyndromes  apgartest  virginiaapgar  howweteach  scottmccloud  michaelchorost  georgedyson  opening  openness  orpheus  experience  consciousness  pur 
may 2014 by robertogreco
anoesis - Wiktionary
"The reception of impressions or sensations (by the brain) without any intellectual understanding."

[Or ]

"a state of mind consisting of pure sensation or emotion without cognitive content."

[See also: ]
words  definitions  impressions  feelings  sensations  understanding  sensing  anoesis  via:felipemartinez  cognition  inputs  intuition 
march 2014 by robertogreco
The misguided effort to teach ‘character’
"There is some confusion as to what to call qualities like perseverance or self-control. Some refer to them as personality traits, which in psychology refers to a set of relatively stable characteristics. Yet a quality like perseverance might change with setting, age, and task. I am dogged in writing an essay like this but become pretty squirrelly with tax forms or figuring out electronic devices.

A further, and I think major, problem with terminology and definition has to do with the widespread tendency to refer to these qualities as “noncognitive” traits or skills. To understand the problem here, consider the definition of cognition and the way it’s been distorted in our recent educational history.

Cognition traditionally refers to a wide and rich range of mental processes, from memory and attention, to comprehending and using language, to solving a difficult problem in physics or choreography or sharing an office with someone. But over the last few decades cognition has been reduced to a shadow of its former self. Under No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, cognition in education policy has increasingly come to be defined by the skills measured by standardized tests of reading and mathematics. And as economists have gotten more involved in education, they’ve needed quantitative measures of cognitive ability and academic achievement for their analytical models, so they’ve used I.Q. or other standardized test scores (like the Armed Forces Qualification Test or AFQT) as a proxy for intelligence or achievement. From the Latin cognoscere, to come to know, or cogito ergo sum, I think therefore I am, we’ve devolved to a few digits on the AFQT.

Many of those who advocate character education believe that our nation’s educational focus on cognition has been misguided. Rather than focusing our energies on the academic curriculum—or on academic intervention programs for the poor—we need to turn our attention to the development of qualities of character, for as much or more than cognition, it is these qualities that account for success in school and life.

It is healthy to be reminded about the fuller scope of education in our test- and grade-obsessed culture, but what concerns me is that the advocates for character accept without question the reductive notion of cognition that runs through our education policies, and by accepting it, further affirm it. The problem is exacerbated by the aforementioned way economists carve up and define mental activity. If cognition is represented by scores on ability or achievement tests, then anything not captured in those scores—like the desired qualities of character—is, de facto, noncognitive. We’re now left with a skimpy notion of cognition and a reductive dichotomy to boot. This downplaying of the cognitive and the construction of the cognitive/noncognitive binary will have some troubling implications for education, especially for the education of the children of the poor."

"We have a long-standing shameful tendency in America to attribute all sorts of pathologies to the poor. Writing in the mid-nineteenth century, the authors of a report from the Boston School Committee bemoaned the “undisciplined, uninstructed…inveterate forwardness and obstinacy” of their working-class and immigrant students. There was much talk in the Boston Report and elsewhere about teaching the poor “self-control,” “discipline,” “earnestness” and “planning for the future.” This language is way too familiar.

Some poor families are devastated by violence, uprooting, and substance abuse, and children are terribly affected. But some families hold together with iron-willed determination and instill values and habits of mind that middle-class families strive for. There’s as much variability among the poor as in any group, and we have to keep that fact squarely in our sights, for we easily slip into one-dimensional generalities about them.

Given a political climate that is antagonistic toward the welfare state and has further shredded our already compromised safety net, psychosocial intervention may be the only viable political response to poverty available. But can you imagine the outcry if, let’s say, an old toxic dump were discovered near Scarsdale or Beverly Hills and the National Institutes of Health undertook a program to teach kids strategies to lessen the effects of the toxins but didn’t do anything to address the dump itself?

We seem willing to accept remedies for the poor that we are not willing to accept for anyone else. We should use our science to figure out why that is so—and then develop the character and courage to fully address poverty when it is an unpopular cause."
education  cognition  character  charactereducation  pverty  mikerose  2014  grit  discipline  rttt  nclb  policy  economics  testing  standardizedtesting  inequality  afqt  psychology  personality  measurement  edreform  politics  pathlogizingthepoor  self-control 
february 2014 by robertogreco
Kitsune : Man’s first attempts at making his own decisions...
"Man’s first attempts at making his own decisions are called divination. Examples are the studying of omens, watching the stars, throwing and studying sticks and bones (sortilege), ‘reading’ animals’ intestines, etcetera. These are all methods that project the will of the gods, who were still thought to exist, into the external world. So decision making was in this phase a process that took place in the world, not in the mind."

Artikelen van Erik Weijers - Summary [ ]

"I love this. Decision making in the world, not in the mind. And although as it is described here, this transitional phase in man’s cognition is behind us, in many other ways it of course isn’t.

The description of the origin of consciousness described here also jibes in many ways with what I’ve been reading in Metaphors We Live By."
karsalfrink  erikweijers  divination  decisionmaking  history  consciousness  animism  cognition  metaphors  everyday  omens  starts  astrology  sortilege  religion  belief 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Links 2013 ["Bret Victor: It’s the end of 2013, and here’s what Bret fell in love with this year"]
"What is the difference between scientific and non-scientific thinking? Thinking within a consistent theory versus thinking haphazardly?

I'm crucially interested in the problem of representing theory such that intuitions are fruitful and theoretically sound, and representations suggest analogies that stay true to the theory. That's not diSessa's problem, but I feel that his viewpoint has some powerful clues."

"Hofstadter says that all thinking runs on analogy-making. Sounds good to me! If he's even partially correct, then it seems to me that a medium for powerful thinking needs to be a medium for seeing powerful analogies. And a medium for powerful communication needs to be designed around inducing the dance he's talking about up there."

Kieran Egan: "Thinking about education during this century has almost entirely involved just three ideas—socialization, Plato's academic idea, and Rousseau's developmental idea. We may see why education is so difficult and contentious if we examine these three ideas and the ways they interact in educational thinking today. The combination of these ideas governs what we do in schools, and what we do to children in the name of education.

Our problems, I will further argue, are due to these three ideas each being fatally flawed and being also incompatible with one other."

Bret Victor: "If you're going to design a system for education, it might help to understand the purpose of education in the first place. Egan points out how modern education is implicitly driven by a cargo-culty mish-mash of three lofty but mutually-incompatible goals. Good luck with that!"

"The cultural importance of the printing press doesn't have much to do with the technology -- the ink and metal type -- but rather how print acted as a medium to amplify human thought in particular ways.

Print was directly responsible for the emergence of a literate and educated society, which (for example) made possible the idea of societal self-governance. The US Constitution could only exist in a literate print culture, where (for example) the Federalist papers and Anti-Federalist papers could be debated in the newspapers.

As you read and watch Alan Kay, try not to think about computational technology, but about a society that is fluent in thinking and debating in the dimensions opened up by the computational medium.
Don't think about “coding” (that's ink and metal type, already obsolete), and don't think about “software developers” (medieval scribes only make sense in an illiterate society).

Think about modeling phenomena, modeling situations, simulating models, gaining a common-sense intuition for nonlinear dynamic processes. Then think about a society in which every educated person does these things, in the computational medium, as easily and naturally as we today read and write complex logical arguments in the written medium.

Reading used to be reserved for the clergy, to hand down unquestionable Revealed Truths to the masses. Today, it's just what everyone does. Think about a society in which science is not reserved for the clergy, to hand down unquestionable Revealed Truths to the masses, but is just what everyone does."

[Reading tips from Bret Victor:]

"Reading Tip #1

It’s tempting to judge what you read: "I agree with these statements, and I disagree with those."

However, a great thinker who has spent decades on an unusual line of thought cannot induce their context into your head in a few pages. It’s almost certainly the case that you don’t fully understand their statements.

Instead, you can say: "I have now learned that there exists a worldview in which all of these statements are consistent."

And if it feels worthwhile, you can make a genuine effort to understand that entire worldview. You don't have to adopt it. Just make it available to yourself, so you can make connections to it when it's needed.

Reading Tip #2

Carver Mead describes a physical theory in which atoms exchange energy by resonating with each other. Before the energy transaction can happen, the two atoms must be phase-matched, oscillating in almost perfect synchrony with each other.

I sometimes think about resonant transactions as a metaphor for getting something out of a piece of writing. Before the material can resonate, before energy can be exchanged between the author and reader, the reader must already have available a mode of vibration at the author's frequency. (This doesn't mean that the reader is already thinking the author's thought; it means the reader is capable of thinking it.)

People often describe written communication in terms of transmission (the author explained the concept well, or poorly) and/or absorption (the reader does or doesn't have the background or skill to understand the concept). But I think of it more like a transaction -- the author and the reader must be matched with each other. The author and reader must share a close-enough worldview, viewpoint, vocabulary, set of mental models, sense of aesthetics, and set of goals. For any particular concept in the material, if not enough of these are sufficiently matched, no resonance will occur and no energy will be exchanged.

Perhaps, as a reader, one way to get more out of more material is to collect and cultivate a diverse set of resonators, to increase the probability of a phase-match.

Reading Tip #3

Misunderstandings can arise when an author is thinking in a broader context than the reader. A reader might be thinking tactically: :How can I do a better job today?" while the author is thinking strategically: "How can we make a better tomorrow?"

The misunderstanding becomes especially acute when real progress requires abandoning today's world and starting over.

We are ants crawling on a tree branch. Most ants are happy to be on the branch, and happy to be moving forward.


But there are a few special ants that, somehow, are able to see a bigger picture. And they can see that this branch is a dead end.


They can see that if we really want to move forward, we'll have to backtrack a long ways down.

They usually have a hard time explaining this to the ants that can only see the branch they're on. For them, the path ahead appears to go on forever.

bretvictor  brunolatour  andreadisessa  douglashofstadter  place  cognition  science  sherryturkle  kieranegan  terrycavanagh  stewartbrand  longnow  julianjaynes  davidhestenes  carvermead  paulsaffo  tednelson  dougengelbert  alankay  reading  toread  2013  gutenberg  printing  print  modeling  simulation  dynamicprocesses  society  progress  thinking  intuition  analogies  education  systemsthinking  howweread  learning  ideas  concepts  context  readiness  simulations 
january 2014 by robertogreco
AAAARG!!!! I love the sentiment and the poetry of... • Harkaway
[Embedded image that reads: "You're a ghost driving a meat coated skeleton made from stardust, what do you have to be scared of?"]


I love the sentiment and the poetry of this. I do. I get that it’s important.

But (with apologies to Theremina, who is awesome) it drives me CRAZY. Why?

Because NO, NO, NO, you are not a ghost driving a machine. You are not a tiny green homunculus sitting at the controls of a steampunk automaton. You are not Spock trapped in a body that wants to be Kirk. You are not dual, you are not refined intellect riding gross matter like an unruly mustang. You are not Ariel carried by Caliban.

You are you. Your body is you. Your cognition exists in the flesh. [ ] It is not separate, not spun glass in the hands of a chimp. Your body creates your mind. Your gut, the ropy intestinal tract that digests your food, has 100,000,000 neurons in it. There are quite a lot of animals with fewer than that. Your whole physical shape, your food and drink, exercise, amount of sunshine, of sex, of affection, sitting position and amount of sleep, affects not only your mood but your supposedly pure cognitive choices. Look down and to the left and name a string of random number between zero and ten million. Now do the same looking up and to the right. The second batch will be higher. And your body’s genes play a role in your thinking, too - identical twins separated at birth and raised separately are often seen to develop, if not similar politics, similar moods of political opinion.

The need to separate the body from the mind comes from an old slander that physical matter is dross, simply too crude to support the fineness that is thought. Physical matter, forever dancing around energy, shifting from one configuration to another, even now withholding secrets from our most sophisticated inquisitors, is not crude. It is brilliant, and yes, you are made of stardust and stars are made of you, so why - oh, why - would you try to distance yourself from the beauty of it and reach for comfort in the form of some old Cartesian slur derived from a tacit heteropatriarchal fear of physical desire?

Consider what you are: the most recent iteration of your genetic code, itself the product of strange chemistry in bubbling primordial pools, in turn resting upon vast releases of energy into stunning cold according to a template almost bizarrely suited to the emergence of conscious life - which may, in turn, be a vital component of its function. Caught midway between the appalling vastness of the Newton-Einstein universe and the implausible mechanics of the tiny, you exist in both; composed largely of water, whose relationship with the quantum world is only just beginning to reveal itself, you are gorgeously liminal, fragile, biological and complex.

And, that, that is why you’re incredible."

[via: ]
nickharkaway  2013  cognition  humans  embodiment  physicality  context  genetics  complexity  biology  fragility  liminality  liminalspaces 
november 2013 by robertogreco
elearnspace › What’s next for educational software?
"I’ll take it a few steps further: in the near future, all learning will be boundary-less. All learning content will be computational, not contrived or prestructured. All learning will be granular, with coherence formed by individual learners. Contrived systems, such as teaching, curriculum, content, accreditation, will be replaced, or at minimum, by models based on complexity and emergence (with a bit of chaos thrown in for good measure). Perhaps it will be something like, and excuse the cheesy name, learnometer. Technical systems will become another node in our overall cognitive systems. Call it embodied cognition. Or distributed cognition. Or appeal to Latour’s emphasis that technical nodes in knowledge system can be non-human and actually be seen as equal to human nodes. I’ve used the term connectivism to describe this. Others have emphasized networked knowledge and combinatorial creativity.

The terminology doesn’t really matter.

The big idea is that learning and knowledge are networked, not sequential and hierarchical. Systems that foster learning, especially in periods of complexity and continual changes to the human knowledge base, must be aligned with this networked model. In the short term, hierarchical and structured models may still succeed. In the long term, and I’m thinking in terms of a decade or so, learning systems must be modelled on the attributes of networked information, reflect end user control, take advantage of connective/collective social activity, treat technical systems as co-sensemaking agents to human cognition, make use of data in automated and guided decision making, and serve the creative and innovation needs of a society (actually, human race) facing big problems."
georgesiemens  2013  connectivism  learning  networkedlearning  education  unschooling  deschooling  decentralization  hierarchy  brunolatour  combinatorialcreativity  meaningmaking  knowledge  cognition 
august 2013 by robertogreco
cityofsound: Journal: Notes on "Ambient Commons", by Malcolm McCullough
"As explained in Lisa Reichelt’s Twitter-friendly coinage of “ambient intimacy,” social media use countless trivial messages to build a detailed portrait, even an imagined presence, of a friend. At least to some degree, this restores a lost kind of awareness found in traditional life. The upstairs shutters are opened, the bicycle is gone from its usual spot at the usual time, deliveries are being made, and the neighbors are gossiping. To their enthusiasts, social media re-create some of this environmental sense, albeit across the necessary distances and at the accelerated paces of the metropolis."

"The world has been filling with many new kinds of ambient interfaces. Nothing may be designed on the assumption that it will be noticed. Many more things must be designed and used with the ambient in mind. Under these circumstances, you might want to rethink attention."

"Embodiment makes the difference. Walking provides more embodiment, more opportunity for effortless fascination, and better engagement than looking or sitting. Depending on the balance of fascinating and annoying stimuli, a walk around town may well do some good. That balance is now in play, under the rise of the ambient."

""Does having more ambient information make you notice the world more, or less? Can mediation help you tune in to where you are? Or does it just lower the resolution of life?"

"(T)he Internet shakes the university to its core; presumably, the two are now breeding a new heir."

(((The first statement is true. The second? Not without a little help, at least not with purpose and foresight. And no, it's not massive open online courses (MOOCs). MOOCs are the mp3 of education - they radically disrupt the distribution of information, but that's only one slice of the wider pie. mp3s have not radically changed music; largely only distribution. Likewise, MOOCs are the low-hanging fruit of learning: the easiest bit to translate and transmit, and the lowest value component. It is learning at its simplest, its most mundane. This is still useful as it frees up education - say, the university - to spend its time and resources doing something higher value instead - focusing on moments of intense, engaged collaboration, together in physical space. The rest can be displaced: with a hand; it is no great loss. No more than compact discs, and their absurdly-named "jewel boxes". Anyway.)))"

"The role of architecture seems central to future inquiries into attention. The cognitive role of architecture is to serve as banks for the rivers of data and communications, to create sites, objects, and physical resource interfaces for those electronic flows to be about. At the same time, architecture provides habitual and specialized contexts by which to make sense of activities. And, where possible, architecture furnishes rich, persistent, attention-restoring detail in which to take occasional refuge from the rivers of data."
(((Very good. Again, you won't see architects getting this pointed out at architecture school much currently - with a few honourable exceptions - but there's a good role for architecture in future (alongside many other things of course.))))
danhill  ambient  ambientintimacy  architecture  design  information  technology  2013  cityofsound  lisareichelt  malcolmmccullough  experience  embodiment  urban  urbanism  softcity  visibility  communication  sensing  attention  cognition  softcities  ubicomp  internetofthings  iot 
july 2013 by robertogreco
How to Dispel Your Illusions by Freeman Dyson | The New York Review of Books
"The violent and passionate manifestations of human nature, concerned with matters of life and death and love and hate and pain and sex, cannot be experimentally controlled and are beyond Kahneman’s reach. Violence and passion are the territory of Freud. Freud can penetrate deeper than Kahneman because literature digs deeper than science into human nature and human destiny."
psychology  books  freemandyson  danielkahneman  williamjames  literature  science  cognition  decisionmaking  humans  emotions  measurement  experiments  illusions  illusionofvalidity  cognitiveillusions 
december 2011 by robertogreco
Don’t show, don’t tell? - MIT News Office
"Cognitive scientists find that when teaching young children, there is a trade-off between direct instruction and independent exploration."
education  learning  teaching  psychology  pedagogy  instruction  inquiry  inquiry-basedlearning  play  cognition  cognitivesciences  children  humility  patience  howwelearn  howweteach  tcsnmy  toshare  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  schools  schooliness  2011  mit  from delicious
july 2011 by robertogreco
Situated learning - Wikipedia
"Situated learning was first proposed by Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger as a model of learning in a Community of practice. At its simplest, situated learning is learning that takes place in the same context in which it is applied. Lave and Wenger (1991)[1] argue that learning should not be viewed as simply the transmission of abstract and decontextualised knowledge from one individual to another, but a social process whereby knowledge is co-constructed; they suggest that such learning is situated in a specific context and embedded within a particular social and physical environment."

[Also includes a section on "Situated Learning and Social Media"]
education  learning  teaching  unschooling  deschooling  lcproject  tcsnmy  situationist  situatedlearning  jeanlave  étiennewenger  pedagogy  socialmedia  lifelonglearning  cooperative  apprenticeships  fieldtrips  cooking  gardening  interaction  experientiallearning  cognition  edtech 
june 2011 by robertogreco
News is cognitively toxic and systematically misleading: Towards a Healthy News Diet [.pdf]
"We are not rational enough to be exposed to the news-mongering press. It is a very dangerous thing, because the probabilistic mapping we get from consuming news is entirely different from the actual risks that we face. Watching an airplane crash on television is going to change your attitude toward that risk regardless of its real probability, no matter your intellectual sophistication. If you think you can compensate for this bias with the strength of your own inner contemplation, you are wrong. Bankers and economists – who have powerful incentives to compensate for news- borne hazards – have shown that they cannot. The only solution: cut yourself off from news consumption entirely."
food  news  health  media  medicine  via:mathowie  psychology  cognition  cognitivebias  bias  information  risk  probability  riskassessment  filetype:pdf  media:document  from delicious
april 2011 by robertogreco
The Virtues Of Play | Wired Science |
"Nietzsche said it best: “The struggle of maturity is to recover the seriousness of the child at play.” While parents might be tempted to enroll their kids in preschools that seem the most “academic,” that’s probably a mistake. There is nothing frivolous about play."
education  play  children  psychology  games  reggioemilia  montessori  kindergarten  preschool  unschooling  deschooling  jonahlehrer  nietzsche  learning  academics  reading  math  tcsnmy  schools  damagedbyschools  cognition  parenting  from delicious
march 2011 by robertogreco
Jastrow Duck Rabbit
"Leafing through some past issues of TICS (an activity that is always pleasurable and informative), I noticed a depiction of the famous "duck-rabbit" figure, described as an "illusion" and attributed to Wittgenstein (Malach, Levy, & Hasson, 2002).  <br />
Technically, the duck-rabbit figure is an ambiguous (or reversible, or bistable) figure, not an illusion (Peterson, Kihlstrom, Rose, & Glisky, 1992). The two classes of perceptual phenomena have quite different theoretical implications. From a constructivist point of view, many illusions illustrate the role of unconscious inferences in perception, while the ambiguous figures illustrate the role of expectations, world-knowledge, and the direction of attention (Long & Toppino, 2004). For example, children tested on Easter Sunday are more likely to see the figure as a rabbit; if tested on a Sunday in October, they tend to see it as a duck or similar bird (Brugger & Brugger, 1993)…"
philosophy  psychology  illustration  perception  wittgenstein  josephjastrow  duck-rabbit  johnkihlstrom  cognition  illusions  from delicious
march 2011 by robertogreco
Bilingualism | Hilery Williams
"It seems that in timed problem solving tests, the thought processes of bilingual people move rapidly from one language to another in order to retrieve information. Thus, knowing 2 words for the same concept creates flexibility and, it is claimed, freer thinking. Naturally this requires practice but this research is evidence of the extreme adaptability and plasticity of the brain."

"Other studies have shown that the cognitive benefits of bilingualism are apparent from 2 years of age. It’s not just that the 2 year olds solve problems better, but that they are less distractible than mono-linguists: they are accustomed to listening and adapting to two modes of speech."
language  bilingualism  cognition  cognitive  cognitivedisability  adaptability  plasticity  memory  flexibility  retrieval  problemsolving  information  freethinking  listening  adaptation  distraction  from delicious
february 2011 by robertogreco
What the science of human nature can teach us : The New Yorker
"cognitive revolution…provides different perspective on our lives…emphasizes relative importance of emotion over pure reason, social connections over individual choice, moral intuition over abstract logic, perceptiveness over I.Q…

We’ve spent generation trying to reorganize schools to make them better, but truth is people learn from people they love…

…she communicated distinction btwn mental strength & mental character…stressed importance of collecting conflicting information before making up mind…calibrating certainty level to strength of evidence…enduring uncertainty for long stretches as answer became clear…correcting for biases…

…gifts he was most grateful for had been passed along by teachers & parents inadvertently…official education was mostly forgotten or useless…

There weren’t even words for traits that matter most—having sense of contours of reality, being aware of how things flow, having ability to read situations the way a master seaman reads rhythm of ocean."
psychology  neuroscience  science  brain  culture  toshare  tcsnmy  learning  whatmatters  emotions  emotionalintelligence  eq  davidbrooks  uncertainty  relationships  teaching  education  careers  consciousness  cognitiverevolution  cognition  morality  preceptiveness  cv  observation  connections  connectivism  love  bias  character  certainty  reality  schools  unschooling  deschooling  people  society  flow  experience  racetonowhere  fulfillment  happiness  subconscious  shrequest1  from delicious
january 2011 by robertogreco
The Gutenberg parenthesis – print, book and cognition
[Linkrot, so try: ]

"Emerging at the intersection of the research interests of several scholars of this Institute working in literary and cultural studies from international perspectives, the Forum is constructed around the growing awareness that the dominance in cultural production of the printed text, not least in the form of the book, is merely a historical phase, and one which is now coming to an end under the impact of digital technology and the internet. It can be appropriately designated the “Gutenberg Parenthesis”, an image which usefully identifies a common framework for research on a variety of topics: contrastive analyis of the parenthetical phase in relation to what came before and/or after, with regard say to cognition, or under the auspices of a “contextual formalism”; the intriguing compatibilities, despite the technological differences, between oral, “pre-parenthetical” culture and digital, “post-parenthetical”…"

[Update 11 Nov 2013: This bookmark is the victim of linkrot, but I'm adding some references here via Britta Gustafson's comment on a Snarkmarket post ( ): ]

[more: ]
gutenberg  history  attention  publishing  literacy  reading  writing  text  print  digital  gutenbergparenthesis  cognition  books  unschooling  deschooling  lcproject  thomaspettitt  from delicious
december 2010 by robertogreco
Children of the Code Video
"Our premise is this: regardless of particular methods of instruction, the better educators and parents understand the challenges involved in learning to read the better they can help children through those challenges. Thus, the mission of the Children of the Code Project is to help educators, parents, and all who care for children develop a deeper first-person understanding of the challenges involved in learning to read."
dyslexia  learning  schools  education  reading  learningdisabilities  emotionaldanger  english  language  history  literacy  behavior  disability  brain  cognition  differentiation  neuroscience  specialed  teaching  disabilities  children  from delicious
november 2010 by robertogreco
TPM: The Philosophers’ Magazine | Hacker’s challenge ["Peter Hacker tells James Garvey that neuroscientists are talking nonsense"]
“Philosophy does not contribute to our knowledge of the world we live in after the manner of any of the natural sciences. You can ask any scientist to show you the achievements of science over the past millennium, and they have much to show: libraries full of well-established facts and well-confirmed theories. If you ask a philosopher to produce a handbook of well-established and unchallengeable philosophical truths, there’s nothing to show. I think that is because philosophy is not a quest for knowledge about the world, but rather a quest for understanding the conceptual scheme in terms of which we conceive of the knowledge we achieve about the world. One of the rewards of doing philosophy is a clearer understanding of the way we think about ourselves and about the world we live in, not fresh facts about reality." [via:]
psychology  philosophy  consciousness  cognition  brain  neuroscience  mind  nature  peterhacker  wittgenstein  science  from delicious
november 2010 by robertogreco
Language Log » Are “heavy media multitaskers” really heavy media multitaskers?
"But in my opinion, it doesn't support it nearly strongly enough. What's at stake here is a set of major choices about social policy and personal lifestyle. If it's really true that modern digital multitasking causes significant cognitive disability and even brain damage, as Matt Richtel claims, then many very serious social and individual changes are urgently needed. Before starting down this path, we need better evidence that there's a real connection between cognitive disability and media multitasking (as opposed to self-reports of media multitasking). We need some evidence that the connection exists in representative samples of the population, not just a couple of dozen Stanford undergraduates enrolled in introductory psychology. And we need some evidence that this connection, if it exists, has a causal component in the multitasking-to-disability direction."
multitasking  psychology  linguistics  internet  language  brain  2010  science  disability  cognition  cognitive  cognitivedisability  media  society  mattrichtel  socialpolicy  via:preoccupations  disabilities  from delicious
october 2010 by robertogreco
7 Essential Skills You Didn't Learn in College | Magazine
"1. Statistical Literacy: Making sense of today’s data-driven world.
2. Post-State Diplomacy: Power and politics, sans government.
3. Remix Culture: Samples, mashups, and mixes.
4. Applied Cognition: The neuroscience you need.
5. Writing for New Forms: Self-expression in 140 characters.
6. Waste Studies: Understanding end-to-end economics.
7. Domestic Tech: How to use the world as your lab."
arts  culture  education  wired  learning  lifehacks  skills  unschooling  deschooling  statistics  literacy  post-statediplomacy  diplomacy  remix  remixculture  appliedcognition  cognition  neuroscience  writing  twitter  microblogging  waste  saulgriffith  fabbing  science  diy  make  making  rogerebert  nassimtaleb  davidkilcullen  robertrauschenberg  jillboltetaylor  brain  barryschwartz  jonahlehrer  robinsloan  alexismadrigal  newliberalarts  remixing  from delicious
october 2010 by robertogreco
Cognitive Load | Quiet Babylon
"This is the opposite of a cyborg implementation. These are tools that hurt cognition, break concentration, and interrupt flow. Far from leaving us free to explore, to create, to think, and to feel, they keep us trapped to manage, to maintain, to adjust, and to fiddle. It’s my belief that as long as augmented reality continues to demand our conscious attention to gee-gaws and whatsits, it’ll remain forever trapped in the world of novelty and toys.

I look forward to the backlash generation of AR. We don’t need augmented reality, we need diminished reality. I want overlays that keep the irrelevant at bay. I want augments that take care of the robot-problems unconsciously and automatically, alerting me only in the rare case that something truly novel or problematic needs my attention."
timmaly  cyborgs  augmentedreality  flow  concentration  interruptions  distraction  attention  technology  cognition  cognitiveload  ar  from delicious
september 2010 by robertogreco
How To Raise A Superstar [If true, this is huge endorsement of small, progressive schools where the emphasis is not on competition, but on exposure, experience, and unstructured time, where all students are given the chance to participate.]
"smaller cities offer more opportunities for unstructured play…to hone general coordination, power, & athletic skills. These longer hours of play also allow kids to experience successes (& failures) in different settings…likely toughens their attitudes in general…important advantage of small towns…actually less competitive…allowing kids to sample & explore many different sports. (I grew up in big city,…sports career basically ended at 13. I could no longer compete w/ other kids my age.) While conventional wisdom assumes it’s best to focus on single sport ASAP, & compete in most rigorous arena…probably a mistake, both for psychological & physical reasons…While deliberate practice remains absolutely crucial, it’s important to remember that most important skills we develop at early age are not domain specific…real importance of early childhood has to do w/ development of general cognitive & non-cognitive traits, such as self-control, patience, grit, & willingness to practice"
jonahlehrer  children  childhood  biology  learning  cognition  education  sports  psychology  practice  tigerwoods  performance  competition  urban  rural  tcsnmy  confidence  persistence  self-control  patience  grit  self-confidence  athletics  athletes  variety  toshare  topost  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  sampling  malcolmgladwell  burnout  specialization  generalists  coordination  success  failure  play  unstructuredtime  specialists  from delicious
august 2010 by robertogreco
What Is It About 20-Somethings? - [This piece has popped up everywhere.]
"KENISTON CALLED IT youth, Arnett calls it emerging adulthood; whatever it’s called, the delayed transition has been observed for years. …“It’s somewhat terrifying,” writes a 25-year-old…“to think about all the things I’m supposed to be doing in order to ‘get somewhere’ successful: ‘Follow your passions, live your dreams, take risks, network w/ the right people, find mentors, be financially responsible, volunteer, work, think about or go to grad school, fall in love & maintain personal well-being, mental health & nutrition.’ When is there time to just be & enjoy?” Adds a 24-year-old: “…It’s almost as if having a range of limited options would be easier.”

While the complaints of these young people are heartfelt, they are also the complaints of the privileged.

The fact that emerging adulthood is not universal is one of the strongest arguments against Arnett’s claim that it is a new developmental stage. If emerging adulthood is so important, why is it even possible to skip it?"
babyboomers  change  culture  education  future  millennials  greatrecession  generationy  adulthood  2010  life  maturation  society  parenting  parenthood  growingup  adolescence  prolongedadolescence  childlaborlaws  sociology  psychology  us  generation  youth  generations  marriage  careers  highereducation  gradschool  intimacy  isolation  possibility  jobs  work  neuroscience  brain  cognition  puberty  helicopterparents  developmentalpsychology  emergingadulthood  self  autonomy  independence  schooling  schooliness  decisionmaking  uncertainty  helicopterparenting  boomers  from delicious
august 2010 by robertogreco
The city is a hypertext
"cognitive scientists have actually begun empirically verifying Simmel's armchair psychology. & whenever I read anything about web rewiring our brains, foretelling immanent disaster, I've always thought, geez, people—we live in cities! Our species has evolved to survive in every climate & environment on dry land. Our brains can handle it!

But I thought of this again when a 2008 Wilson Quarterly article about planner/engineer Hans Monderman, titled "The Traffic Guru," popped up in Twitter. (I can't even remember where it came from. Who knows why older writing just begins to recirculate again? Without warning, it speaks to us more, or differently.)…

In other words, information overload, & the substitution of knowledge for wisdom. Sound familiar?

I'll just say I remain unconvinced. We've largely gotten rid of pop-up ads, flashing banners, & <blink> tag on web. I'm sure can trim back some extra text & lights in our towns & cities. We're versatile creatures. Just give us time."
architecture  cities  timcarmody  kottke  media  perception  transportation  ubicomp  urbanism  psychology  infrastructure  technology  culture  design  environment  history  information  infooverload  adaptability  adaptation  urban  stevejobs  cars  cognition  hansmonderman  resilience  traffic  georgsimmel  1903  2008  2010  shifts  change  luddism  fear  humans  versatitlity  web  internet  online  modernism  modernity  hypertext  attention  brain  research  theory  from delicious
august 2010 by robertogreco
Under Pressure: The Search for a Stress Vaccine | Magazine
"The emergence of stress as a major risk factor is largely a testament to scientific progress: The deadliest diseases of the 21st century are those in which damage accumulates steadily over time. (Sapolsky refers to this as the “luxury of slowly falling apart.”) Unfortunately, this is precisely the sort of damage that’s exacerbated by emotional stress. While modern medicine has made astonishing progress in treating the fleshy machine of the body, it is only beginning to grapple with those misfortunes of the mind that undo our treatments."

[later on some conspiracy about the stress vaccine article: ]

[previously: ]
anxiety  fear  loneliness  stress  jonahlehrer  cognition  drinking  science  sleep  psychology  meditation  happiness  health  inequality  brain  2010  vaccines  from delicious
august 2010 by robertogreco
Conceptual Framework for Online Identity Roles « emergent by design
"I just wrapped up a final project for an aesthetics course this semester, the assignment being to create a “Database of the Self.” I chose to make the database as a representation of the roles we play in terms of how we interact with information online. The roles are overlaid on a panarchy, which shows a visualization of adaptive lifecycles. Though the evolution of every idea or meme won’t necessarily follow this specific path, (it may in fact be rhizomatic, with multiple feedback loops), this begins to flesh out what we become as nodes within an enmeshed series of networks."

[interactive version: ]

[via: ]
socialdesign  socialmedia  infographic  information  roles  social  identity  design  research  online  cognition  networks  self  generalists  specialists  activators  pathfinders  facilitators  enhancers  connectprs  propogators  amplifiers  assimilators  stabilizers  disruptors  observers  scribes  specialization  from delicious
august 2010 by robertogreco
The one thing you need to know (from the archives) « Re-educate
"“cognitive psychologists explain [..]. that when an event occurs, you store in your memory not only the specifics of the event, but also how this event made you feel. Over time, as more events occur, you build up a network of event memories all connected by the fact that they created in you a similar emotion. So when a new event occurs that makes you feel incompetent, the entire network of events-where-you-feel-incompetent lights up, making it almost impossible for you not to think about them. Negative thoughts will activate thoughts of past failings, whereas positive moods will activate thoughts of past successes.”
education  stevemiranda  learning  progressive  schools  schooling  deschooling  quitting  interests  psychology  cognition  pscs  memory  feelings  emotions  networks  brain  success  failure  mood  dropouts  tcsnmy  lcproject  pugetsoundcommunityschool 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Everything is fizzling and bobbling about « Snarkmarket
"Thatcher’s study sug­gests a coun­ter­in­tu­itive notion: the more dis­or­ga­nized your brain is, the smarter you are...It’s coun­ter­in­tu­itive in part because we tend to attribute grow­ing intel­li­gence of tech­nol­ogy world w/ increas­ingly pre­cise electro­mechan­i­cal chore­og­ra­phy...

Instead of thoughts of con­crete things patiently fol­low­ing one another, we have the most abrupt cross-cuts and tran­si­tions from one idea to another, the most rarei­fied abstrac­tions and dis­crim­i­na­tions, the most unheard-of com­bi­na­tions of ele­ments… a seething caul­dron of ideas, where every­thing is fiz­zling and bob­bling about in a state of bewil­der­ing activ­ity, where part­ner­ships can be joined or loos­ened in an instant, tread­mill rou­tine is unknown, and the unex­pected seems the only law.

He’s describ­ing “the high­est order of minds”—but he could just as eas­ily be describ­ing a startup, or a city. Which is exactly, I think, the point."
cognition  ideas  robinsloan  mind  brain  stevenjohnson  books  cities  startups  cv  howwethink  disorder  noise  disorganization  messiness  intelligence  crosspollination 
july 2010 by robertogreco
SpeEdChange: Of Cognition and Memory, Technology and Cities, Learning and Schools. Part I
"what would it look like if we're enabling next instead of present?…What happens to cognition & collective memory, when every student at every age has phone in hand linking them universally & able to connect intimately & via projection?…augmented reality. To ask any question of anyone? These are present, not yet ubiquitous, technologies. As they appear & cognition changes…what do we educators do? What happens to teaching? spaces? curriculum?…Forget "no teaching wall," is there even "teaching floor"—& what does that mean?…age-based grades vanish…subjects…very notions of "student" & "teacher" altered. As info becomes more free, expertise becomes more distributed & controls of grade-level-expectations, standardized tests & textbooks become irrelevant. Does fixed time schedule survive? Is it possible to imagine school which prepares students for their future? Which operates w/, & builds skills for flexibility which humans require if they are to succeed when world changes?"
irasocol  ubicomp  education  future  futures  learning  explodingschool  adamgreenfield  cityofsound  urbancomputing  urban  urbanism  connectivity  handhelds  connectivism  cognition  collectivememory  cities  memory  technology  comments  tcsnmy  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  distributed  everyware 
july 2010 by robertogreco
How facts backfire - The Boston Globe
"In the end, truth will out. Won’t it?

Maybe not. Recently, a few political scientists have begun to discover a human tendency deeply discouraging to anyone with faith in the power of information. It’s this: Facts don’t necessarily have the power to change our minds. In fact, quite the opposite. In a series of studies in 2005 and 2006, researchers at the University of Michigan found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger."
truth  facts  psychology  politics  democracy  culture  philosophy  politicalscience  neuroscience  biology  brain  cognition  bias  belief  behavior  faith  information  media  mind  science  research 
july 2010 by robertogreco
You have no talent: An introduction – Research, reflection, and rethinking
[See also: AND ]

"Talent is a label given by people who do not know the amount of practice that has been performed in order to develop observed skills. It is a microinequity. It is an insult. It says, “You have skills that in my judgment, you did not earn.” Isn’t it a much greater ‘gift’ to have worked hard at developing a demonstrable skill? The owners of these skills are, as are most, unreliable in reporting their own levels of interest and effort. When asked if they practice, they under-report. When inquired about their interest, they are blasé. Isaac Stern, when interviewed by Ellen Langer about his practice habits says that he practices sometimes while ‘watching television programs’ and laughs. Musicians are notorious for under- and over-reporting their practice (depending on who they are trying to impress)."
talent  ability  cognition  work  effort  dedication  practice  skill 
july 2010 by robertogreco
shirky's surplus - library ad infinitum
"Cognitive Surplus is about a specific kind of free time: not the Hundred-Acre-Wood or the endless summer, but the stock of leisure hours produced by modernity, and the rise of technologies that make it possible to spend that time in engaging ways. And yet the notion of free time itself should be suspicious to us, shouldn't it? "Free time" is something born of an industrial economics of time, a commoditized temporality. Leisure is a boon granted by the system—a perk, a benny. Compensation. And as long as it helps us recharge our batteries and never keeps us from being productive, high-performance workers, free time isn't free... I'm still excited by Shirky's idea. But I want to bring Carr's highbrow concern for the vital uses of cognition, contemplation, and communication to bear upon it. The technologies Shirky celebrates present us with a choice: do we use them as the means of liberation, or as Skinner boxes to while away the off-hours?"

[Also available here: ]
cognitivesurplus  clayshirky  via:preoccupations  matthewbattles  nicholascarr  herbertmarcuse  leisure  modernity  technology  recharging  productivity  freedom  cognition  contemplation  communication  2010 
july 2010 by robertogreco
The Surprising Toll of Sleep Deprivation - Newsweek
"Unfortunately, we are not very good at perceiving the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania restricted volunteers to less than six hours in bed per night for two weeks. The volunteers perceived only a small increase in sleepiness and thought they were functioning relatively normally. However, formal testing showed that their cognitive abilities and reaction times progressively declined during the two weeks. By the end of the two-week test, they were as impaired as subjects who had been awake continuously for 48 hours."
health  medicine  sleep  cv  storyofmylife  cognition  brain  sleepdeprivation  mood 
june 2010 by robertogreco
Slashdot Story | Why Being Wrong Makes Humans So Smart [quote from:]
"our capacity to make mistakes is utterly inextricable from what makes the human brain so swift, adaptable, & intelligent. Rather than treating errors like the bedbugs of the intellect we need to recognize that human fallibility is part & parcel of human brilliance. Neuroscientists increasingly think that inductive reasoning [IR] undergirds virtually all of human cognition. Humans use IR to learn language, organize the world into meaningful categories, & grasp relationship between cause & effect. Thanks to inductive reasoning, we are able to form nearly instantaneous beliefs & take action accordingly. However, Schulz writes, 'The distinctive thing about IR is that it generates conclusions that aren't necessarily true...probabilistically true—which means they are possibly false.' Schulz recommends that we respond to mistakes of those around us w/ empathy & generosity & demand that business & political leaders acknowledge & redress errors rather than ignoring or denying them."
brain  cognition  neurology  science  understanding  news  inductivereasoning  empathy  mistakes  politics  policy  leadership  human  neuroscience  causeandeffect  belief  tcsnmy 
june 2010 by robertogreco
Author Nicholas Carr: The Web Shatters Focus, Rewires Brains | Magazine
"There’s nothing wrong w/ absorbing info quickly & in bits & pieces. We’ve always skimmed newspapers more than read them, & we routinely run our eyes over books & magazines to get the gist of a piece of writing & decide whether it warrants more thorough reading. The ability to scan & browse is as important as the ability to read deeply & think attentively. The problem is that skimming is becoming our dominant mode of thought. Once a means to an end, a way to identify info for further study, it’s becoming an end in itself—our preferred method of both learning & analysis. Dazzled by Net’s treasures, we are blind to damage we may be doing to our intellectual lives & even our culture. What we’re experiencing is, in a metaphorical sense, a reversal of the early trajectory of civilization: We are evolving from cultivators of personal knowledge into hunters 7 gatherers in the electronic data forest. In the process, we seem fated to sacrifice much of what makes our minds so interesting."
neuroscience  productivity  reading  psychology  distraction  attention  hypertext  brain  health  change  cognition  learning  education  neurology  technology  future  focus  science  nicholascarr  clayshirky  tcsnmy  elearning  media  internet 
may 2010 by robertogreco
Classroom Creativity : The Frontal Cortex
"Eric Barker recently referred me to this interesting study, which looked at how elementary school teachers perceived creativity in their students. While the teachers said they wanted creative kids in their classroom, they actually didn't. In fact, when they were asked to rate their students on a variety of personality measures - the list included everything from "individualistic" to "risk-seeking" to "accepting of authority" - the traits mostly closely aligned with creative thinking were also closely associated with their "least favorite" students. As the researchers note, "Judgments for the favorite student were negatively correlated with creativity; judgments for the least favorite student were positively correlated with creativity."
tcsnmy  learning  children  creativity  education  generations  psychology  cognition  classroom  personality  imagination  unschooling  deschooling  schooliness  teaching  jonahlehrer  classrooms 
april 2010 by robertogreco
The Amazonian tribe that can only count up to five | Science | The Guardian
"Does a group of indigenous South Americans hold the key to our relationship with maths? Here, an extract from an enlightening new book explains why it just might"
amazon  mathematics  psychology  intelligence  language  math  teaching  science  anthropology  brain  cognition  counting  culture  education  ethnography  numbers  neuroscience  mind 
april 2010 by robertogreco
Moravec's paradox - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"We should expect the difficulty of reverse engineering any human skill to be roughly proportional to amount of time that skill has been evolving in animals. The oldest human skills are largely unconscious and so appear to us to be effortless. Therefore, we should expect skills that appear effortless to be difficult to reverse engineer, but skills that require effort may not necessarily be difficult to engineer at all.
science  media  perception  transhumanism  computers  human  intelligence  futurism  robotics  cognitive  mind  cognition  philosophy  difficulty  moravecsparadox 
february 2010 by robertogreco
Easy = True - The Boston Globe
"One of the hottest topics in psychology today is something called “cognitive fluency.” Cognitive fluency is simply a measure of how easy it is to think about something, and it turns out that people prefer things that are easy to think about to those that are hard. On the face of it, it’s a rather intuitive idea. But psychologists are only beginning to uncover the surprising extent to which fluency guides our thinking, and in situations where we have no idea it is at work."
politics  psychology  cognitivefluency  communication  brain  blogging  business  marketing  behavior  persuasion  cognition 
february 2010 by robertogreco
Brains of vegetative patients show life -
"Five of 54 unresponsive subjects in a new study demonstrate brain activity indicating awareness, with one able to respond to simple questions."
consciousness  cognition  medicine  brain  health  science  neuroscience 
february 2010 by robertogreco
Scholars Turn Their Attention to Attention - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education
"In a recent unpublished study, he and his colleagues found that chronic media multitaskers—people who spent several hours a day juggling multiple screen tasks—performed worse than otherwise similar peers on analytic questions drawn from the LSAT. He isn't sure which way the causation runs here: It might be that media multitaskers are hyperdistractible people who always would have done poorly on LSAT questions, even in the pre-Internet era. But he worries that media multitasking might actually be destroying students' capacity for reasoning.
multitasking  learning  education  academia  cognition  sociology  culture  science  reading  teaching  brain  attention  memory 
february 2010 by robertogreco
Half an Hour: Questioning Pedagogy
"my view on centered around richness & diversity of the learning experience. I am interested in the sorts of experiences that will manifest themselves in useful dispositions (or habits of mind) across a wide spectrum of disciplines, where these dispositions are not taught as content, but rather, acquired as habits, through repeated exercise in increasingly challenging environments. Thus learning (& pedagogy) as I see it is more about the development or creations of capacities (such as the capacity to learn, capacity to reason, capacity to communicate, etc) where these capacities are (again) not 'subjects' but rather complex developments of neural structures - more like 'mental muscles' than anything can focus on a certain muscle, or you can focus on a certain sport, but only at the expense of your wider fitness - & a cross-training approach would be more appropriate.

The role of technology is to place learners into these environments."
learning  pedagogy  information  stephendownes  personallearning  unschooling  deschooling  experience  tcsnmy  technology  dispositions  habitsofmind  teaching  workshop  cognition  bootcamp 
january 2010 by robertogreco
Adult Learning - Neuroscience - How to Train the Aging Brain -
"Teaching new facts should not be the focus of adult education, she says. Instead, continued brain development and a richer form of learning may require that you “bump up against people and ideas” that are different. In a history class, that might mean reading multiple viewpoints, and then prying open brain networks by reflecting on how what was learned has changed your view of the world...“There’s a place for information,” Dr. Taylor says. “We need to know stuff. But we need to move beyond that and challenge our perception of the world. If you always hang around with those you agree with and read things that agree with what you already know, you’re not going to wrestle with your established brain connections.”"

[via: ]
education  learning  brain  memory  adults  neuroscience  teaching  science  history  books  psychology  health  cognition  aging 
january 2010 by robertogreco
Portrait of a Multitasking Mind: Scientific American
"People often think of the ability to multitask as a positive attribute, to the degree that they will proudly tout their ability to multitask. Likewise it’s not uncommon to see job advertisements that place “ability to multitask” at the top of their list of required abilities. Technologies such as smartphones cater to this idea that we can (and should) maximize our efficiency by getting things done in parallel with each other. Why aren’t you paying your bills and checking traffic while you’re driving and talking on the phone with your mother? However, new research by EyalOphir, Clifford Nass, and Anthony D. Wagner at Stanford University suggests that people who multitask suffer from a problem: weaker self-control ability."
multitasking  concentration  accountability  science  psychology  learning  education  productivity  brain  attention  evolution  brainscience  neuroscience  creativity  research  business  cognition  information 
december 2009 by robertogreco
Humanising data: introducing “Chernoff Schools” for Ashdown – Blog – BERG
"In one of our brainstorms, where we were discussing ways to visualise a school’s performance – Webb blurted “Chernoff Schools!!!” – and we all looked at each other with a grin. Chernoff Schools!!! Awesome. Matt Brown immediately started producing some really lovely sketches based on the rough concept… And imagining how an array of schools with different performance attributes might look like… Whether they could appear in isometric 3D on maps or other contexts… And how they might be practically used in some kind of comparison table… Since then Tom and Matt Brown have been playing with the data set and some elementary processing code – to give the us the first interactive, data-driven sketches of Chernoff Schools."
education  cognition  faces  datavisualization  infographics  identity  mattjones  chernofffaces  psychology  data  schools  berg  berglondon  accessibility  design 
november 2009 by robertogreco
The science of fun
"But the best argument for fun and play happens when you take it away. Deny play to young mammals and the consequences are colossal. This has been demonstrated powerfully in rats, with some of the most significant new science coming out of Canada. "What's been shown repeatedly, if you prevent juvenile rats from engaging in rough and tumble play, you get animals who have cognitive problems, emotional problems and they're socially incompetent. "In short, stop rats from horsing around and you get socially-awkward, troubled, dumbo rats. Worse still, male rats who never play become bad lovers....Fun is the brain's workshop. "If you look at countries with the lowest amount of recess time, and scholastic achievement, there's almost an exact correlation," says Pellis. "The U.S., which has the lowest recess rates, often does the worst" in scholastic achievement. It might even be the brains of children grow more at recess than in the classroom."

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science  play  fun  intelligence  recess  schools  schooling  us  achievement  unschooling  deschooling  tcsnmy  lcproject  learning  mammals  research  cognition  neuroscience 
november 2009 by robertogreco
Linguistic relativity - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"The linguistic relativity principle (also known as the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis) is the idea that the varying cultural concepts and categories inherent in different languages affect the cognitive classification of the experienced world in such a way that speakers of different languages think and behave differently because of it.
sapir-whorf  culture  science  psychology  language  information  behavior  anthropology  linguistics  relativity  mind  cognition  cognitive  languages  bias  sapir-whorfhypothesis  whorfianism 
november 2009 by robertogreco
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