Monday, October 28, 2013

Michael Wesch: How the Internet has changed us

Michael Wesch: How the Internet has changed us:

"When a new medium becomes foundational in a society, it really does shake things up very profoundly..."

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Matthieu Ricard: The habits of happiness | Video on TED.com

Matthieu Ricard: The habits of happiness | Video on TED.com:

What is happiness, and how can we all get some? Biochemist turned Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard says we can train our minds in habits of well-being, to generate a true sense of serenity and fulfillment.

Sometimes called the "happiest man in the world," Matthieu Ricard is a Buddhist monk, author and photographer.

'via Blog this'

Monday, June 03, 2013

How Literacy Transforms the Human Brain

The Ecology of Joy is in part about how different media and technologies affect the brain - irrespective of the content carried on those media.  This article describes How Literacy Transforms the Human Brain

The transformation of the brain by literacy is so significant that it is hard for us to remember back before we could speak or read.

'via Blog this'

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Stand By Me | Playing For Change | Song Around the World

Stand By Me | Playing For Change | Song Around the World - YouTube: ""

'via Blog this'

This song has been on my Ecojoy music list for a long time, but I couldn't say why.  It occurred to me today: Standing by me is a form of non-verbal communications. a way of saying that people can overcome fear when they support each other.

This version is especially meaningful in the discussion of Ecojoy because of the introduction of the Playing for Change idea: The technology of multi-track recording allows the producer to capture a song by multiple musicians in different locations at different times, and assemble the results into a single presentation.

This has been done for many years in audio recordings, but those are usually edited to sound as if all the music was played or sung at the same time and place.  Playing for Change music includes video, and shows the different locations and times.

Playing for Change couldn't be done economically without computers, digital audio technology, global air travel, and the Internet, including YouTube to coordinate the production and distribute the results.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Friday, April 06, 2012

The Orlons - "Don't Hang Up" (1962)

So how do media and technology influence our thinking?   Not the content but the medium itself?  Here're some hints:

The song Don't Hang Up is about a telephone call a girl is making to her boyfriend.  We know what hang up means, because the telephone has been commonly known (at the time the song came out) for about 80 years.

What would the people of the year 1850 have thought of the term hang up?  People in the current year (2012) have had little to no exposure to telephones that used rotary dials, but we still use the terminology to dial a phone.  Or, if there are no telephones in the year 2025, the term hang up will have only archaic meaning.


Another song example is Jim Croce's song Operator, recalling the time when telephone operators (usually female) assisted with making connections (see video above).
Just like media and technology give us new words and new meaning for words, they also give us new and different metaphors for how we relate to other people, and to other things around us.
And we take in each medium in a different way.
Spoken words are a series of sounds made by the mouth, intended to be heard by the ear. The brain compares the sounds to words we have previously learned, and then uses the words together in context, and interpreted with knowledge of the current situation and the way the words are spoken meaning is derived.
Written words are different. As are written words that are published. And television. And the Internet.
And then there is Sade's Smooth Operator, which is a different use of the word operator:

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Mirror Neurons

Mirror neurons help people to understand how others are feeling...an explanation from Nova on PBS:

Watch Mirror Neurons on PBS. See more from NOVA scienceNOW.

This explains how empathy works.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Center for Investigating Healthy Minds

Center for Investigating Healthy Minds

Started in part because of a challenge by the Dalai Lama to Richard Davidson - (my paraphrasing) we investigate unhealthy minds, why not investigate healthy minds?

NYT: TV Prices Fall, Squeezing Most Makers and Sellers

By ANDREW MARTIN
Published: December 26, 2011

It’s a great time to buy a television, and Ram Lall, a television salesman, isn’t happy about it. In a basement showroom of J&R, the huge electronics store in Lower Manhattan, Mr. Lall says the days of making big money from televisions are in the past. Pointing to a top-of-the line, 55-inch Sony television, Mr. Lall said it would have sold for $6,000 a few years ago. The current price? $2,599...


http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/27/business/tv-prices-fall-squeezing-most-makers-and-sellers.html

This demonstrates the invasion of Moore's Law into the consumer electronics business.

This influence is disruptive to manufacturers, retail sellers and consumers.

The Ecojoy connection is the change in media balance. The reason for the change is the compelling drop in price. And as the balance of media changes, the way we think changes.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

How Language Shapes Thought

By Lera Boroditsky  | January 20, 2011 


I am standing next to a five-year old girl in pormpuraaw, a small Aboriginal community on the western edge of Cape York in northern Australia. When I ask her to point north, she points precisely and without hesitation. My compass says she is right. Later, back in a lecture hall at Stanford University, I make the same request of an audience of distinguished scholars—winners of science medals and genius prizes. Some of them have come to this very room to hear lectures for more than 40 years. I ask them to close their eyes (so they don’t cheat) and point north. Many refuse; they do not know the answer. Those who do point take a while to think about it and then aim in all possible directions. I have repeated this exercise at Harvard and Princeton and in Moscow, London and Beijing, always with the same results.

A five-year-old in one culture can do something with ease that eminent scientists in other cultures struggle with. This is a big difference in cognitive ability. What could explain it? The surprising answer, it turns out, may be language.


In Scientific American Lera Borodidsky: How Language Shapes Thought
On Fora TV Lera Borodidsky: How Language Shapes Thought

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Can blocking a frown keep bad feelings at bay?

Can blocking a frown keep bad feelings at bay? (Jan. 29, 2010) by David Tenenbaum

Your facial expression may tell the world what you are thinking or feeling. But it also affects your ability to understand written language related to emotions, according to research that was presented today (Jan. 29) to the Society for Personal and Social Psychology in Las Vegas and that will be published in the journal Psychological Science.

The new study reported on 40 people who were treated with botulinum toxin, or Botox. Tiny applications of this powerful nerve poison were used to deactivate muscles in the forehead that cause frowning.

The interactions of facial expression, thoughts and emotions has intrigued scientists for more than a century, says the study's first author, University of Wisconsin-Madison psychology Ph.D. candidate David Havas.

Scientists have found that blocking the ability to move the body causes changes in cognition and emotion, but there were always questions. (One of the test treatments caused widespread, if temporary, paralysis.) In contrast, Havas was studying people after a pinpoint treatment to paralyze a single pair of "corrugator" muscles, which cause brow-wrinkling frowns.

To test how blocking a frown might affect comprehension of language related to emotions, Havas asked the patients to read written statements, before and then two weeks after the Botox treatment. The statements were angry ("The pushy telemarketer won't let you return to your dinner"), sad ("You open your e-mail in-box on your birthday to find no new e-mails") or happy ("The water park is refreshing on the hot summer day.").

Havas gauged the ability to understand these sentences according to how quickly the subject pressed a button to indicate they had finished reading it. "We periodically checked that the readers were understanding the sentences, not just pressing the button," says Havas.

The results showed no change in the time needed to understand the happy sentences. But after Botox treatment, the subjects took more time to read the angry and sad sentences. Although the time difference was small, it was significant, he adds. Moreover, the changes in reading time couldn't be attributed to changes in participants' mood.

The use of Botox to test how making facial expressions affect emotional centers in the brain was pioneered by Andreas Hennenlotter of the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany.

"There is a long-standing idea in psychology called the facial feedback hypothesis," says Havas. "Essentially, it says, when you're smiling, the whole world smiles with you. It's an old song, but it's right. Actually, this study suggests the opposite: When you're not frowning, the world seems less angry and less sad."

The Havas study broke new ground by linking the expression of emotion to the ability to understand language, says Havas' adviser, UW-Madison professor emeritus of psychology Arthur Glenberg. "Normally, the brain would be sending signals to the periphery to frown, and the extent of the frown would be sent back to the brain. But here, that loop is disrupted, and the intensity of the emotion and of our ability to understand it when embodied in language is disrupted."

Practically, the study "may have profound implications for the cosmetic-surgery," says Glenberg. "Even though it's a small effect, in conversation, people respond to fast, subtle cues about each other's understanding, intention and empathy. If you are slightly slower reacting as I tell you about something made me really angry, that could signal to me that you did not pick up my message."

Such an effect could snowball, Havas says, but the outcome could also be positive: "Maybe if I am not picking up sad, angry cues in the environment, that will make me happier."

In theoretical terms, the finding supports a psychological hypothesis called "embodied cognition," says Glenberg, now a professor of psychology at Arizona State University. "The idea of embodied cognition is that all our cognitive processes, even those that have been thought of as very abstract, are actually rooted in basic bodily processes of perception, action and emotion."

With some roots in evolutionary theory, the embodied cognition hypothesis suggests that our thought processes, like our emotions, are refined through evolution to support survival and reproduction.

Embodied cognition links two seemingly separate mental functions, Glenberg says. "It's been speculated at least since Darwin that the peripheral expression of emotion is a part of the emotion. An important role of emotion is social: It communicates 'I love you' or 'I hate you,' and it makes sense that there would be this very tight connection between peripheral expression and brain mechanism."

"Language has traditionally been seen as a very high-level, abstract process that is divorced from more primitive processes like action, perception and emotion," Havas says. "This study shows that far from being divorced from emotion, language understanding can be hindered when those peripheral bodily mechanism are interrupted."

Monday, January 18, 2010

Defining Heterarchy

Janet advised me to include more definitions, and I found a good definition of heterarchy at Encyclopedia.com. Here is part:
A general purpose definition contrasts hierarchies, the elements of which are ranked relative to one another, with heterarchies, the elements of which are unranked, or possess the potential for being ranked in a number of different ways, depending on systemic requirements (Crumley, Carole L. 1979. Three Locational Models: An Epistemological Assessment for Anthropology and Archaeology. Advances in Archaeological Method and Theory, vol. 2, 141–173., p. 144).

Sunday, October 18, 2009

"I want my country back" an Expression of Despair in this Period of Great Transition (McLuhan)

Marshall McLuhan talked about the effects of change brought about be media. For example in The Medium is the Massage, McLuhan quotes Alfred North Whitehead
The major advances in civilization are processes that all but wreck the societies in which they occur.
McLuhan states
Innumerable confusions and a profound feeling of despair invariable emerge in periods of great technological and cultural transitions.
In the health care forums held by congresspeople earlier this fall, we heard the cry
I want my country back!
This was that profound feeling of despair McLuhan mentioned.

Friday, October 09, 2009

I am a Joyist

I was zoning out in the kitchen this morning, feeding the cats and thinking about the Ecology of Joy. I was thinking about the three parts of Ecojoy, and specifically about what motivates people. Fear is effective, but joy is much more powerful.

How do we get the message of Ecojoy out? There is so much fear, violence and hate in the world. So what is the trump card of dominator thinkers? Terrorism. We need to fight wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to stop terrorism. So the word to describe the use of terror as a weapon is terrorism, and the person who does that is a terrorist.

So I deem that education about joy being a more powerful motivation than fear is joyism [need to add that to our dictionary], and a person who does such education is a joyist.

[So funny...I added joyism to my dictionary, then typed joyist. I got the little red underline indicating a misspelled word. One of the suggested correct spellings? Joyism!]

I know that joyist isn't a very good sounding word, and it might make people think about terrorism, but that is just perfect, because it communicates so much in a single word. Terrorism is one of the big reasons we need Ecojoy.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Crux of Ecojoy

The crux of Ecojoy, the really important point is that it is not necessary to change peoples' minds, or convince them to be nice. That change will happen effortlessly, automatically, when the relationships between people change from hierarchical to heterarchical. People will hardly be aware it is happening. And the changes in those relationships between people from hierarchical to heterarchical are fostered and encouraged by the Internet.

But remember, the Internet, be it email, blog, instant message, twitter, and so on, is only the connecting pipe. The relationship needs to be between people. That means you and I need to follow through and talk with others. Start by envisioning yourself as the wise, gentle, loving person you are. Then seek out the myths and bust them - but gently. Give people room to grow - don't pin them to the wall.