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Social Gaming Picks Up Momentum.

Article: Lee, E.  (2008).  “Social Gaming Picks Up Momentum.”  SF Gate. Retrieved on 31 March, 2008. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/03/31/BU5GVSA3F.DTL&tsp=1 1. Casual games built on top of social networks, known as social gaming, is becoming a new way for friends to reconnect and share past time each other. It has attracted users who were previously turned off by online gaming because players are playing against their friends instead of strangers. Because people are playing against their friends, there is less of a chance that the losing side will simply leave the game, which also makes the game more enjoyable.  Playing games is also a way to show how a friendship is important, and doesn’t require having a topic or a conversation. 2. Some games are modeled after existing board games such as Risk and Scrabble, or even role playing games on consoles. However, the social network has allowed new game play to be developed, taking advantage of the network’s inherent social value.  Friends for Sale, for instance, allows players to use their friends as stock and trade them. 3. Another innovation is people don’t need to be online at the same time to play a game together.  One could race a friend at…

A Disease That Allowed Torrents of Creativity.

Article: Blakeslee, S. (2008). “A Disease That Allowed Torrents of Creativity.” NY Times. Visited on 8 April 2008 http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/08/health/08brai.html This article gives an account of Anne Adams experience with the degenerative brain disease, frontotemporal dementia (FTP). The disease, whose cause is as of yet unknown, leads to the degeneration of the frontal temporal lobe. Three variants of the disease have been identified based on the types of behavioral changes exhibited in the patient.  The first is characterized by personality changes such as increased apathy, loss of motivation for personal care, and weight gain. The two other variants deal with language control. In one case the patient experiences a loss of language while in the other the spoken language network disintegrates such that the patient is no longer able to speak. Anna Adams had the third variant known as primary progressive aphasia (PPA). In Anna’s case, as one part of her brain deteriorated another portion strengthened in order to compensate/ or as a result of the nutrient availability/ or ???. From Anna’s and other patient’s cases, doctors have learned that “that when dominant circuits are injured or disintegrate, they may release or disinhibit activity in other areas. In other words, if one part…

Teaching Boys and Girls Separately

Article: Weil, E. (2008). “Teaching Boys and Girls Separately.” NY Times. Visited on 2 March 2008 http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/02/magazine/02sex3-t.html The article explores the potential impact that differences in emotional and/or cognitive development in boys and girls have on a child’s ability to learn.  In order to address these inherent difference and subsequently the ‘chronic achievement gap between richer and poorer students and between white and minority students’, one school of thought promotes gender segregation in schools. The most outspoken proponent of this solution and the main focus of this article is Leonard Sax, a former family physician with a Ph.D. in psychology. According to Sax, the basis for the need to separate boys and girls is biological as opposed to social. He sites psychological as well as neurobiological studies which utilize brain scan technology. The need to segregate boys and girls in the classroom is rooted, according to Sax, in biological differences such as: •     boys do not hear nor smell as well as girls •     boys and girls respond differently to different shades of light •     boys are more apt than girls to see action •     boys are not as capable as girls of recognizing subtleties in…

Miles of Aisles for a Gallon of Milk?

Article: Carless, W. (2008) “Miles of Aisles for a Gallon of Milk?” The New York Times. Visited on 10 September 2008 http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/10/business/10grocery.html Conceptual Design: In a world of giant grocery stores where consumers have to make mentally-taxing decisions on every product they consider purchasing, create a grocery store that caters to grab-and-go shopping patterns for prepared meals and a few items rather than the big shopping trip for the week. Tailor the experience to “time-starved” shoppers. The average person spends 22 minutes shopping which is not enough time to see all 60,000 products in the store. Interaction Design: User surveys have shown that consumers would rather have high-quality products they can trust than 50 feet of ketchups they aren’t sure about. The store should offer fewer choices to speed decision making on the consumer’s part. Personal extrapolations to Interaction Design: Optimize for quick sales and discourage long shopping trips which would in turn result in a consumer having a lot at the register to purchase which slows everyone else down. Interface Design: Lay out the store with fewer aisles, stocked with only one or a few kinds of each item (one spaghetti sauce that is really good as opposed to 50…

Exercise Your Brain, or Else You’ll … Uh

Article: Hafner, K. (2008). “Exercise Your Brain, or Else You’ll…Uh..” The New York Times. Retrieved 3 May, 2008. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/03/technology/03brain.html This article refers to our brain plasticity and interferences that can occur in our long term and working memories. Plasticity, or neuroplasticity, is the lifelong ability of the brain to reorganize neural pathways based on new experiences, in other words, the ability of the brain to change with learning (Hoiland, 2008). According to the article, our brains contain more plasticity than originally thought. The argument is that if we do not exercise our brains, the lack of their use can lead to interferences in long term or working memories. For example: forgetting a good friends name or even our address. – According to Werby the working memory can be defined as, the thinking space [of the brain]- writing requires the author to keep in mind and monitor words spelling, rules of composition etc. The long term memory is defined as, the vast storage of information that we accumulate throughout our lives, and it includes data, procedures, algorithms, and anything else we can think of. This is the type of memory we usually speak of when we refer to our memory (Werby,…

Mobile phones expose human habits.

Article: Fildes, J. (2008). “Mobile phones expose human habits.” BBC News. Retrieved 4 June, 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/science/nature/7433128.stm Summary: As the title suggests this article concerns the discovery of human mobility habits via the use of mobile phones. In other words over 100, 000 mobile phones were tracked in an attempt to build a comprehensive picture of human movements. The study showed, that humans are creatures of habit, mostly visiting the same few spots time and time again, and that most people move less than 10km on regular basis. The study is seen as important as it can help when assessing the situation during a viral outbreak such as the Avian Flu and in the forecasting of traffic. Previously similar studies had been performed with GPS which proved to expensive, surveys which proved unreliable and dollar bills. Dollar bills were tracked in order to reconstruct human movements however this seemed only to prove random patterns and did not give a complete picture of people s movements. The phone tracking worked differently. Each time a participant made or received a call or text message, the location of the mobile base station relaying the data was recorded. The results showed that people moved around…

What Do Gen Xers Want? Here’s how some of FORTUNE’s 100 Best Companies to Work For keep young up-and-comers happy.

Article: Fisher, A. (2006). “What Do Gen Xers Want? Here’s how some of FORTUNE’s 100 Best Companies to Work For keep young up-and-comers happy.” Fortune Magazine. Retrieved on 19 January, 2006. http://money.cnn.com/2006/01/17/news/companies/bestcos_genx/index.htm?cnn=yes This article hits the nail on the head in analyzing the factors that motivate the GenX people when looking for jobs and staying on in them.Certainly showing loyalty towards an employer for loyalty’s sake is not on top of any GenX’ers list. They understand too well that “right time at the right place” saying is too important in this fast paced world and are all too ready to change jobs if the current environment does not suit their needs. And the companies themselves show the same “lack of loyalty”, if you will, towards the employers, and waste no time in handing out pink slips, whenever their need arises. This is as true of Silicon Valley companies as it is of any other capitalistic, profit-driven company in the world. The article does not mention Silicon Valley’s most succesful companies, Google. The culture there, including use of Segways, dry cleaning facilities, food within 100 feet of anywhere(is this true), are unique. The success of the company combined with these other…