Monday, May 18, 2015

I'm just messing with you


I read an article online this morning by Time (the magazine, not Time, my online persona). It's title was "Are my devices messing with my brain?" The answer is of course they are. Duh. The biggest problem being we have become Pavlov's dog and slobbering uncontrollably when we hear a beep or bell signalling that an e-mail or text has arrived or someone has updated their status on Facebook or Twitter. If you don't get the reference to Pavlov's dog, Google it. I'm tired of explaining cultural and intellectual references that you should know if the education system was doing it's job.

But I digress.

The point that most fascinated me about the article was the concept that focusing on too many apps, sites, or messages affects our ability to focus and finish things. The article quotes Dr. Earl Miller, a professor of neuroscience at MIT:
“Every time you switch your focus from one thing to another, there’s something called a switch-cost,” Dr. Miller. “Your brain stumbles a bit, and it requires time to get back to where it was before it was distracted.”
If you've read more than a fair amount of my posts, then you've seen the effects of "switch-cost" on writing demonstrated. I punctuate my lapses in focus with the phrase, "But I digress."



Friday, May 08, 2015

My name is not Steve


Okay, if you are older than 12 or don't have children older than 12, you probably have never heard of Steve or Minecraft. It is a video game available on PC, X-Box and Android that allows you to enter multiple worlds, and create your own environment while battling Mobs (short for mobiles who are really bizarre monsters like zombie pigs and creepers). You also mine for minerals that you can craft into tools and rocks that you can craft into buildings (thus the name Minecraft).

The main character in Minecraft is named Steve, though you can change his name to anything you want. Steve starts out in whatever environment or "biome" the game randomly generates with nothing but his bare hands. He has ten minutes of daylight before the mobs begin spawning and trying to kill him. In that ten minutes, he needs to try and find the right materials to craft a weapon to defend himself against the mobs or create a shelter to get him through the night that descends quite rapidly. The good news is that the zombies and skeletons with bows and arrows catch on fire in daylight. The bad news is that the Creepers (monsters who rush up to you and explode after an annoying amount of hissing), giant spiders and Endermen don't.

Monday, May 04, 2015

It IS all in my head


Typically when someone tells you something is all in your head they are implying that you are delusional. But if you think about it (in your head), everything you experience is technically all in your head.

This post was inspired in part by an article I just read about Microsoft's new hologram product HoloLens. It is essentially a virtual reality headset that projects 3-D holograms directly in front of the user in a "seamless blend of fantasy and reality." I am going to be so bold as to posture that creating a "seamless blend of fantasy and reality" is redundant. The human brain does this everyday.

Friday, May 01, 2015

May Day, May Day!


I understand that May Day loosely became associated with labor protests in the late 1800s, but I don't understand why it has now become a lightening rod for every fringe cause there is and the centerpiece for their protests are marches aimed at screwing up traffic. Even if I wasn't an experienced marketing person I would put two and two together and realize that making sure people sit around for hours stuck in traffic isn't the best way to win their hearts for your cause.

I also don't understand the costumes people who march in these protests wear. I passed three people sporting butterfly wings who I assume were heading to the park where Seattle's protests were scheduled to begin in. At least I think they were headed for the protest. I do work on the border of Seattle's Pioneer Square and International District neighborhoods and people wearing butterfly wings isn't really an unusual thing to see on any given day. But these three looked like they were headed somewhere with a purpose, so I'm pretty sure they were socialist/communist anti-capitalist anarchists of some kind and not the usual colorful crack heads I see.