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Directory of Attention

This week’s WSJ column (subscription only, I’m afraid) is about attention: If you feel the Internet has both blessed you with an abundance of information and cursed you by drowning you in it, I have one word which might help make sense of it all: attention. (And, if you give me enough of your attention, I promise to give you a tip about how to cope.) It’s beginning to dawn on people who ponder these kinds of things that it’s attention, not information, which lies at the heart of the new online world. In a world full of information, the scarcest commodities are your eyeballsContinue readingDirectory of Attention

The Wandering Mind

Piece from AP about how the mind wanders. Towards the end it gets interesting: to what extent is a mind wandering at its best? I’m sure I’m not alone in consciously seeking out places and situations in which my mind can wander unfettered — a hike, a jog, a swim, a lie by the pool, even going to sleep. clipped from www.usatoday.com Schooler is exploring the idea that mind-wandering promotes creativity. “It’s unconstrained, it can go anywhere, which is sort of the perfect situation for creative thought,” he said. Mason points out that just because the human brain wanders doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a goodContinue readingThe Wandering Mind

Movies vs Games. They’re Not the Same

A remark by Will Wright picked up by Jason Kottke captures why movies and computer games are different, and why we should not think one is going to edge out the other. I would add something else: Computer games allow us to experience emotion, while movies allow us to feel those emotions vicariously. We have no control over those emotions on film, since they’re being manipulated by the director of the movie — sometimes crassly, sometimes brilliantly. But we are passengers. With computer games we are in the driving seat. clipped from www.kottke.org Notes from Will Wright’s keynote at SXSW 2007. “Movies have these wonderfulContinue readingMovies vs Games. They’re Not the Same

Recycling Publishers’ Rejection Letters

I’ve been looking at Printing on Demand recently — more of which anon — and was pleased to see there’s now a way to recycle publishers’ rejection letters By Printing Them On Toilet Paper: Now, authors whose work has met similar rejection are getting the chance to put it behind them and simultaneously start to get even — thanks to a website that lets them print their rejection letters onto rolls of customized toilet paper. Lulu (www.lulu.com), a site that enables anyone to publish and sell their own book, eBook, calendar . . . and now toilet roll, without some lofty editor first having toContinue readingRecycling Publishers’ Rejection Letters

Jim’s Answer To The Moleskine

My friend Jim was passing through town the other day, and we compared Moleskines. Or rather, I brought out my immaculate Moleskine and he brought out a black pile of something or other. I asked him to tell me about it in response to a comment from someone about the benefits of the Moleskine pocket on an earlier post. Jim posted his comments here but I reproduce them here in full, along with pictures: To add to the great debate, Moleskin versus Miquelrius. My qualifications, in brief, included 14 years in journalism, consulting, peacekeeping and roaming the world for other NGOs and international organizations. As aContinue readingJim’s Answer To The Moleskine

How To Get a Good Idea, Part I

Reading at the moment Flow, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who mentions the trick German experimental physicist Heinz Maier-Leibnitz used to do in boring conferences to entertain himself and to measure the lengths of his trains of thought — microflows, in Csikszentmihalyi’s words. The passage is conveyed in full here: Professor Heinz Maier-Leibnitz, a German experimental physicist, suffers from an occupational handicap common to academics: having to sit through endless, often boring, conferences. To alleviate this burden, he invented a private activity that provides just enough challenges for him not to be completely bored during a dull lecture, but is so automated that it leaves enough attentionContinue readingHow To Get a Good Idea, Part I

A Short Essay From Jef Raskin

Further to the previous post, honouring the fact that Jef Raskin passed away last month, I thought I would post a little essay he sent me a year ago to illustrate some of his thinking in his last year: Genesis and Goals of The Humane Environment Our increasing knowledge about human behavior and mental processes, as applied to interaction with our artifacts — knowledge based on observation, on testing, and on empirical results in cognitive psychology — leads to the conclusion that the human/machine interfaces of current computers, cell phones, PDAs, automobiles, and much more are often flawed. Their interfaces features often derive from faultyContinue readingA Short Essay From Jef Raskin

News: Six Degrees Reborn

 I think Friendster is probably a more dynamic version of this experiment, but it’s interesting anyway. Duncan J. Watts, author and Associate Professor of Sociology at Columbia, has launched an experiment to update the 1967 findings of social psychologist Stanley Milgram who coined the phrase ‘six degrees of separation’ by testing the hypothesis that members of any large social network would be connected to each other through short chains of intermediate acquaintances.     The test is basically to give folk a package and ask them to pass it onto someone who could deliver it by hand to the addressee. They then hand it ontoContinue readingNews: Six Degrees Reborn

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