Thursday, July 28, 2016

filter bubbles

How might we help folks: (i) lessen the hold of their electronic-communications "filter-bubbles", (ii) care for all layers of organization that look in/out from skin, family & culture in their communities, and (iii) highlight the incompetent parasitism of people and organizations that promote uninformed discrimination, runaway nepotism, and indiscriminant violence?

Sunday, July 17, 2016

managed by votes

An interesting problem with management "by committee", e.g. using Roberts Rules of Order, is that no one voter is responsible for decisions made by (particularly anonymous) voting. As a result, the incentive for voters to "be informed" is rather weak, and consequences for "just going with your gut" are at worst indirect.

I've seen this problem result in very poorly managed resources, at both the academic department and the university level. The problem may be even worse when it comes to voting in elections. This is especially true in this electronic information age, where individuals' "gut reactions" are so easily affected by whatever "media spectacle" a given voter is exposed to.

How might we take advantage of the strengths of "the vote", while lessening the impact of its weaknesses? Is one first step to share awareness of the problem, and encourage voters to take it into account before they go to the polls?

Friday, July 8, 2016

cheap-shot flags

Over the decades we've seen many useful concepts "emerge". Recent examples include the now-established concepts of ecosystem (in mid-20th century schools), black hole (by John Wheeler in 1967), post-traumatic-stress-disorder (in 1980), proper-time (in 21st century intro-physics discussions of relativistic motion), autism-spectrum-disorder (in 2013), etc. The shift of emphasis to alternative concepts, of course, often encounters enthusiastic resistance.

Time may decide what works in the long run. In the short run, however, the resistance sometimes resorts to lower-level attacks e.g. with less emphasis on data and more on cartoonifying the: culture, community, family, friends, and personhood of proponents. Can you think of any examples of this?

Holding accountable those who resort to unbalanced narratives is something we don't seem to be very good at. Is there a way to protect free speech while being more sophisticated in recognizing un-hinged shouts of "fire" in a crowded theatre?

A shout of "fire" for any reason tries to shift the dialog (and our attention-focus) to the ''paleolithic'' level in which "lives are threatened" and we must act to "preserve what's inside our skins". Is it possible that appeals to "character assassination", when someone's policies are at issue, is doing something along the same lines?

When we get the chance, how about flagging such broadcasts objectively in advance e.g. as warnings of a threat to the "numerically-smallest that applies" of this list: (1) self, (2) friends, (3) family, (4) community, (5) belief-system or (6) knowledge? Folks will still have to decide if they want to empathize with the narrative (e.g. to exit the theatre in the case of a level 1 warning), but at least they would be reminded that an appeal to something paleolithic (especially for levels 1 through 4) ''in them'' was afoot.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

narrative truth

Narratives may be designed not to mirror reality but to elicit certain behaviors. In other words, "narrative truths" might serve to correct our innate response to the world around in context of acquired information on the individual level, somewhat like the way that our innate and acquired immune systems function on the cellular level.

Like prairie dog barks, thus for example, the idea that we as individuals are responsible for our actions is not so much a mirror of causal connections (e.g. of a homunculus that controls everything we do according to conscious logic), as it is a narrative designed to redirect our innate reactions (e.g. with paleolithic roots) into acquired reactions which work better in a high-population world. What are some other examples of this use of ideas to redirect perceptions and reactions toward more constructive ends?

Thursday, May 5, 2016

what ball to watch

Focus on the steering direction (while ignoring the pumped oscillation) of a truck that's pulling a trailer along the highway is like focusing on the individuals (while ignoring self-amplification processes associated with electronic-media attention-slicing itself) during a modern-day election and/or terror campaign. The outcome may not be what you expect, or desire.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

the medium's message

Attention begets attention. The more neolithic the content the better. The more electronic the medium, the faster.

A focus on the oscillation, rather than on our gut level response to it, may be the only way to avoid spinning out.

Unfortunately, these may not be things that folks learn to correct for in journalism school.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

banality deconstructed

In academic circles, being average (or below) is often given a bad rap. This tendency to map folks onto a linear (ordered) manifold has well-documented shortcomings, not just in academia.

Perhaps a healthier approach is to expect mediocrity, but to go beyond that to embrace its diversity. After all, average behaviors are inevitable by definition, but it takes a wide range of skills and perceptions to support the communities in which we live.