On ‘Mind Over Mass Media’ by Pinker

Pinker, S. (2010). “Mind Over Mass Media.” The New Your Times Online. Retrieved on 23 June 2010: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/11/opinion/11Pinker.html Summary: Pinker’s article tries to prove the positive affect of new media technologies on mental development. Pinker observes, that the development of information technologies have always caused panic, but such scares usually are for no reasons. As an example, the author connects decreasing crime rate with emerging new technologies. In his understanding “[i]f electronic media were hazardous to intelligence, the quality of science would be plummeting” by scientist are using information technologies. By accepting, that “experience can change the brain” he argues, that new technology is not “a blob of clay pounded into shape by experience” and there are differences between the sorts of experiences. The article points, that the knowledge of accomplished people is one-sided. In Pinker’s opinion people are elementally changing by the usage of a certain technology. The article points that people need to use new technology with self-control. As the author concludes, that “the Internet and information technologies are helping us manage, search and retrieve our collective intellectual output [… and] technologies are the only things that will keep us smart”. Opinion: On one hand I can fully…

Women Easier to ‘Read’ Than Men

BBC Staff.  (2009). “Women’s Traits ‘Written on Face’.”  BBC News. Retrieved on 22 June, 2010. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/glasgow_and_west/7884223.stm Summary: This article is about the findings of a Glasgow University and New Scientist study carried out by Dr. Rob Jenkins of Glasgow University and Professor Richard Wiseman of the University of Hertfordshire.  The study examined the extent to which personality traits could be identified from people’s facial features.  The results suggest that women’s personality traits can be more easily identified via facial features than men’s personality traits.  These results were surprising (Dr. Jenkins is quoted as saying “We did not expect there to be such a big difference between the sexes.”) and may offer some insight for future research on the link between a person’s physical appearance and his/her personality. Over 1,000 New Scientist readers participated in the study which consisted of a photograph (in which, like a passport photo, the participant is looking directly at the camera) submission and an online personality questionnaire listing four personality dimensions: lucky, humorous, religious, and trustworthy.  Participants rated how they believed they fit into the four personality dimensions, and the extremes of these ratings (for example, those who are “very lucky” and “very unlucky”) were identified and grouped…

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes: Interview with David Bowie

Nash, K. (1999). “Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes: Interview with David Bowie.” ComputerWorld. Retrieved August 1, 2001: http://www.computerworld.com/cwi/story/0,1199,NAV47-STO39387,00.html The is a screen shot of David Bowie’s Home Page as it appeared on June 24th, 2010. In this interview, David Bowie, a musician and philosopher, shares his view of the Internet and how it may evolve and influence society but also the music industry over time. His depiction of his website serves as a starting point to his argument. The individualized portal, BowieNet – where he chats with fans on daily basis and keeps a personal journal – is telltale when it comes to his approach to the net. As a matter of fact, Internet is a huge decentralized village in Bowie’s point of view. The portal – by enabling the creation of online personas and by providing links to all the fan blogs on him – offers the opportunity to foster a village-like facet of internet with a free circulation of information and a sense of community built around him and his music. In fact, such interaction enables, according to Bowie, a new way of knowing people. He confesses that he likes to take on other names to simply observe what happens in the…

Can Design Change the World?

Tanneeru, M. (2009). “Can Design Change the World?” CNN online. Retrieved June 23, 2010. http://edition.cnn.com/2009/TECH/11/06/berger.qanda/index.html Summary: CNN talks to Warren Berger, who wrote the book “Glimmer: How Design Can Transform Your Life and Maybe Even the World” about how greater communication through design can change the world. He shies away from speaking of this change in grandiose terms, seeking to differentiate his idea as one that stems from design’s problem-solving capabilities on a case-by-case basis. Berger asserts that design, at its core, is more than making products or spaces look good, but rather, it seeks to identify a problem or an unaddressed need and solve it through a trial-and-error process.  It involves studying people and the way that they live to pinpoint ways in which their lives could be made better.  This is done through much brainstorming, prototyping, and audience testing. The Internet has drastically changed the ways in which designers work, collaborate, and even identify themselves as designers.  Widespread access to information has meant that knowledge can be passed on from one person to another at a quicker rate—meaning that one person’s mistakes can be learned from and not repeated.  Social networking groups allow designers to connect to share…

On Skin Color and Pain Empathy

Mann, D. (2010). “Skin Color Affects Ability to Empathize with Pain.” CNN.com. Retrieved on 23 June 2010: http://edition.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/05/27/race.empathy/index.html?hpt=C2 An article written by Denise Mann, Skin color affects ability to empathize with pain”, raises some controversial questions around race. According to Mann’s article Neuroscience research has demonstrated that humans are hardwired to feel another person’s pain. For example when someone stumps their toe or fall, people reacts in ways as if they felt the other person’s pain. A study conducted in Italy argues that people feel less empathy for some that has different skin tone. Researchers have found that one reaction to another person’s pain can be racially subjective. Can race really play a role in pain empathy? The study monitored people’s nervous  systems activity by tracking heart rates and sweat gland activity when they were watching clips of white and black hands being pricked by needles. The finding was that observers reacted more to the pain of someone with the same skin tone. The experiment was also used on a purple hand in which participants empathize with more than they did with a hand from another race. The author takes these claims and applies it to how medical practitioners may…

Distilling Information

When it comes to my students’ participation in this blog, it’s all about distilling information found in the news to something product designers in our midst would find useful, on a practical level. Consider the illustration below. We see a person’s face (mine in this case). We can describe some of the features. But what do we actually remember? Remembering complex visual information is hard—too many details. Recalling a drawing is easier. That’s because an artist already distilled the complexity into its essential parts—only those details that are required to remind us of a particular individual are included in the rendering. We are all pretty good at judging wether a portrait looks like the person it was intended to represent. We can quickly say if it does or if it doesn’t. But it would be difficult to explain what details in the illustration make the likeness or what’s missing from the drawing that didn’t hit its mark. Distillation of information is hard. Some people are good at it, some are not. It’s an acquired skill. And each category (e.g. sensory like visual, audio, tactile or knowledge-based like physics, economics, biology) requires its own training and its own set of talents.…

Complex Nonlinguistic Auditory Processing

aka Music. Today, I read a short interview on New York Times where Aniruddh D. Patel answers a few questions about his research into the neuroscience of music. The interview was pretty entertaining—we’ve all seen the YouTube video of a dancing cockatoo. But what got me was the last line on the difficulties of getting funding for research. In particular, getting money to study music was just not possible. So to keep his scientific research sounding like serious science, Dr. Robert Zatorre, one of the founding fathers of this field, used to write “complex nonlinguistic auditory processing” every place the word “music” should have been. To avoid structural research failure, Dr. Zatorre resorted to linguistic manipulation. And it worked! “Exploring Music’s Hold on the Mind: a Conversation with Aniruddh D. Patel,” written for New York Times by Claudia Dreifus, and published on May 31, 2010.