Tag Archives: cogsci

Program or be Programmed at Webvisions 2011

Programming, along with critical thinking skills, should be taught in K-12 along side reading, writing and arithmetic. Douglas Rushkoff has been making the case, not for jobs, or for just economic concerns, but for a healthy society.

Webvisions 2011: “Douglas Rushkoff: Program or be Programmed”:

If you have a child in Kindergarten, up to grade 12, who has never experienced programming, download MIT’s Scratch. It is free and it opens the gate.

Jonah Lehrer on IQ and boosting it through exercise

WSJ: Jonah Lehrer:“Boot Camp for Boosting IQ”:

Our IQ scores may be bounded by our genes, but it looks as if it’s possible to significantly increase measured intelligence after only a few hours of training. “Intelligence is a lot like height,” Prof. Jonides says. “We know that how tall you are is largely determined by the height of your parents. But we also know that better nutrition can make everyone a lot taller. Perhaps the n-back task is just an ideal form of mental nutrition.”

More from Jonah Lehrer on his Wired blog, “Frontal Cortex”.

Is this “Brain Workshop” a good open source implementation of n-back?

The News needs an Anti-Virus (and it’s us)

Passing this one along from Dave Winer because the sooner we think of passing along things we dislike on the Web, that only can exist with our attention, as viruses, the sooner we remove their influence.

So you *hate* the Rebecca Black video? Well by linking to it you gave her a record contract.

The link economy is an attention-based economy. Links, whether you signify hate or love for the thing you are linking, give it attention and influence.

Think, before you link.

(and yeah, that’s no fun, and yeah, I’m not gonna follow my own advice, so there!)

Oh, and… YouTube: “Death Metal Friday”:

Recent Space-X on NPR highlights how little we read

A story is posted about a private company working to build the largest capacity lifter in service and what do a significant number of commentors fret about?

That the government is wasting its money on building it!

It is pretty clear that most of those who are commenting that way have not read (or worst – understood) the story, but the ‘private company’ part was highlighted in the summary.

Check it out – NPR.org (on Facebook): Plans For World’s Most Powerful Rocket Unveiled

Sad, huh?

But don’t you think there are multiple failures taking place exemplified here? And where do you feel they stem from?

Ever see the “Mother of all Demos”?

In 1968 Douglas C. Engelbart, along with a team of 17 researchers at Stanford, in a 90 minute taped demonstration, showed us what was then the future – which is now the present (and soon to be the past?) – hypertext, gui based interaction, online collaboration including email, and more.

Stanford has a terrific page on the demo, including video clips of it broken down by time and topic, and a single clip of the whole thing. If you’ve never seen this before, take the time, scroll to the bottom of this, and watch beginning to end. It’s not called “The Mother of all Demos” for nothing.

I’ve watched this a few times over the years and I keep coming back to it and being blown away. How far have we gone? How far have we not? There has been much added to the mix these past ten years, but it was a long way from there to here.

Related:

PhillyCHI

Two talks from TED to watch *today*

TEDXToronto: “Neil Pasricha: The 3 A’s of awesome”:

TEDXHouston: “Brene Brown: The power of vulnerability”:

Related:

“1000 Awesome Things”

Presentation Zen: “We don’t seek your perfection, only your authenticity”

This post brought to you by Dave Rogers whose latest post over the shooting in Tucson is a must read.

Book to read: “Man’s Search for Meaning”

Viktor E. Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning” is now one of those select books that friends and family can expect me to be sending them for gifts over the next few years. For those not familiar it, it comprises of two parts: his harrowing account of survival in concentration camps during WWII, the concepts he gleamed from the experience; and a short description of “Logotherapy”, the form of therapy he pioneered that was influenced by it.

It is a short book, however, it took a long time to read because every page had something to think about and reflect upon. There are lessons for anyone, in any stage of life. Lessons for how we conduct ourselves under the best and worst of conditions, and finding the light in ourselves during the world’s darkest moments.

Quotes:

  • The attempt to develop a sense of humor and to see things in a humorous light is some kind of a trick learned while mastering the art of living.
  • …the “size” of human suffering is absolutely relative.
  • No man should judge unless he asks himself in absolute honesty whether in a similar situation he might not have done the same.
  • One literally became a number: dead or alive – that was unimportant; the life of a “number” was completely irrelevant. What stood behind that number mattered even less: the fate, the history, the name of the man.
  • We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number , but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – tho choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
  • Dostoevsk said once, “There is only one thing that I dread: not to be worthy of my sufferings.” These words frequently came to my mind after I became acquainted with those martyrs whose behavior in camp, whose suffering and death, bore witness to the fact that the last inner freedom cannot be lost. It can be said that they were worthy of their sufferings; the way they bore their suffering was a genuine achievement. It is this spiritual freedom – which cannot be taken away – that makes life meaningful and purposeful.
  • The way in which a man accepts his fate and all the suffering it entails, the way in which he takes up his cross, gives him ample opportunity – even under the most difficult circumstances – add a deeper meaning to his life. It may remain brave, dignified and unselfish. Or in the bitter fight for self-preservation he may forget his human dignity and become no more than an animal. Here lies the chance for a man either to make use of or to forgo the opportunities of attaining the moral values that a difficult situation may afford him. And this decides whether he is worthy of his sufferings or not.
  • This uniqueness and singleness which distinguishes each individual and gives a meaning to his existence has a bearing on creative work as much as it does on human love.
  • A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the “why” for his existence, and he will be able to bear almost any “how”
  • Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.
  • According to logotherapy we can discover this meaning in life in three different ways: (1) by creating a work or doing a deed; (2) by experiencing something or encountering someone; and (3) by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering.
  • By his love he is enabled to see the essential traits and features in the beloved person; and even more, he sees that which is potential in him, which is not yet actualized but yet ought to be acutalized.
  • No one can become fully aware of the essence of another human being unless he loves him.
  • When we are no longer able to change a situation – just think of an incurable disease such as an inoperatable cancer – we are challenged to change ourselves.
  • …man’s main concern is not to gain pleasure or avoid pain but rather to see a meaning in his life. That is why man is ready to suffer, on the condition, to be sure, that his suffering has a meaning.
  • At any moment, man must decide, for better or worst, what will be the monument of his existence.
  • Every age has its own collective neurosis, and every age needs its own psychotherapy to cope with it.
  • Man does not simply exist but always decides what his existence will be, what he will become in the next moment.
  • Man is capable of changing the world for the better if possible, and of changing himself for the better if necessary.
  • A human being is not one thing among others; things determine each other, but man is ultimately self-determining. What he becomes – within the limits of endowment and environment – he has made out of himself. In the concentration camps, for example, in this living laboratory and on this testing ground, we watched and witnessed some of our comrades behave like swine while others behaved like saints. Man has both potentialities within himself which one is actualized depends on decisions but not on conditions.
  • For the world is in a bad state, but everything will become still worst unless each of us does his best. So let us be alert – alert in a twofold sense: Since Auschwitz we know what man is capable of. And since Hiroshima we know what is at stake.

Related:

Wikipedia: “Viktor Frankl”

Wikipedia: “Logotherapy”

Wikiquote: “Man’s Search for Meaning”

Viktor Frankl Institute

Also related:

Frankl was a huge influence on Stepen Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”.

Play to teach self-control

NYTimes: “Can the Right Kinds of Play Teach Self-Control? “

NPR.org: “Creative Play Makes for Kids in Control”

Do you encourage play time with your children along these lines or have them involved in a preschool that operates with a similar program? I admit I have not – Emma’s play is either directed – baking, arts and crafts, or games, or non-structured free time. So can’t attest to how well the work. What these programs are attempting to improve or instill is important.

And BTW, I gotta agree with the author of “What should a 4 year old know” for what is truly important. Compassion towards others, and self control, are both in that mix.

Related:

The New Yorker: Jonah Lehrer: “The secret of self-control.”

YouTube: “Kids & the Marshmallow Test”: