Ideas

So Big Data Will Make Us Better? There’s A Flaw… Us!

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“Data analytics in support of human decision making, however, has one flaw — the human. This weak link in the data-driven agility chain becomes apparent as we move to Big Data: as the data grow so too do the results of the analyses, and yet people have a limited attention span and with it, the ability to process information. It doesn’t matter how wonderful the reports your newfangled Big Data tool generate if no one has the time or predilection to read them — or even worse, understand them.”

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How Are Our Online Relationships Impacting Our Real World Interactions?

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“For something so prevalent in our society, there is surprisingly little conclusive research on how social media affects our offline relationships. Yes, there have been articles proclaiming the downfall of personal relationships because of social media, but there have also been studies arguing that social networking leads to greater amounts of personal interaction.”

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A Feeling of Control: How America Can Finally Learn to Deal With Its Impulses

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“The ability to delay gratification has been held up as the one character trait to rule them all – the key to academic success, financial security, and social well-being. … Which lends a kind of overpowering weight to the question: If self-control is so important, how are we supposed to achieve it?” Sheer willpower, it’s turning out, isn’t the best approach.

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It’s The Little Annoyances That’ll Really Kill You

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“The godawful commute. The fight you had with your partner this morning. The kitchen sink that won’t stop leaking. Minor annoyances? Maybe. But these little, everyday hassles can add up and may be as likely to do you in as the bigger, more serious stressors in life, like divorce or job loss, according to new research.”

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Getting Humans To Comprehend “Deep Time”

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“For someone whose life expectancy is usually less than 100 years, it’s nearly impossible to imagine something so vast as geological or deep time,” says J.D. Talasek of the National Academy of Sciences. So he – a believer in the power of metaphor – assembled a group of 18 artworks to help get the idea across.

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People Are So Sad About The End Of The iPod Classic That Yes, Here’s Another Paean To That Object

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“Looking at someone’s iPod was like looking into their soul. In their music you could see who they were. You could tell if they were sophisticated or rough. You could see in their playlists the moments they fell in love and the moments they fell back out again. You could see the filthiest, nastiest hip hop in the little white boxes of the primmest people, and know their inner lives a little better than you did before.”

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Yes, Heidegger Believed In The Nazi Cause (For A Time). Now What Do We Do With Him?

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“One reason to take the Notebooks seriously, therefore, is to understand how a figure who inspired such a wide following could have held such views — and what this might mean for his legacy. This is a question of intellectual history and influence. While it is important, there remains an even deeper one: whether there is anything left for us to think about in reading Heidegger.”

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Life Is Random (No Matter How Much We Want It To Be Organized)

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“Futurists and science-fiction authors predict that genetic engineering will someday allow designer children, built to order, with whatever smarts, looks, and personalities their parents prefer. But biology’s new recognition of the role of noise in development gives us one more reason to think that this simply isn’t going to happen.”

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A Post-Adult America

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“It is now possible to conceive of adulthood as the state of being forever young. Childhood, once a condition of limited autonomy and deferred pleasure (“wait until you’re older”), is now a zone of perpetual freedom and delight. Grown people feel no compulsion to put away childish things.”

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A First: Brain-To-Brain Communication

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“We wanted to find out if one could communicate directly between two people by reading out the brain activity from one person and injecting brain activity into the second person, and do so across great physical distances by leveraging existing communication pathways.”

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Bucket Lists: “The YOLO-ization Of Cultural Experience”

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Rebecca Mead: “As popularly conceived, however, the bucket list … partakes of a commodification of cultural experience, in which every expedition made, and every artwork encountered, is reduced to an item on a checklist to be got through, rather than being worthy of repeated or extended engagement.”

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Can A Community Have A ‘Soul’?

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Yes, and that can be created: “A community’s ‘soul’ is not just some ineffable or magical quality. Urban planning and local laws actually affect it.”

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Your Fondest Childhood Memories May Not Be Real

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“You might think you remember your 3rd birthday party when what you really remember are the pictures, or you might believe you have a very vivid memory from elementary school that in reality happened to your brother. Or, you might even be lifting your memories from the books and movies you loved as a child.”

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When Frankfurt School Philosophers Examine Pop Culture

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Theodor Adorno, on an LA Times astrology column that advised, “Accept all invitations.”: “The consummation of this trend is the obligatory participation in official ‘leisure-time activities’ in totalitarian countries.” Alex Ross considers how Adorno and Walter Benjamin “were pioneers in thinking critically about pop culture – in taking that culture seriously as an object of scrutiny.”

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Smartphones And Map Apps Are Messing With Our Spatial Thinking

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“When people plan a route based on their mental representation, they have to form a sequence of these landmarks, and follow this plan by reaching landmark after landmark. When people use navigation systems, they don’t do this planning any longer. … Basically, people don’t really learn their environments.”

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So You’re Having An Artistic Crisis …

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“Now is not the time to compare yourself to others. Personally, I have found that spending too much time reading about the fantastic lives and careers of my friends and colleagues, as presented on Facebook, makes me feel boring and inadequate. If it makes you feel similar, take a break from it.”

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Designing Technology That Lies To Us

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“If you don’t know it already, you should: Many crosswalk and elevator door-close buttons don’t actually work as advertised. … Similarly, the progress bars presented on computer screens during downloads … maintain virtually no connection to the actual amount of time left … But these examples offer only a hint of what we’re liable to see in the near future. … Perhaps now is a good time to ask: How deceitful should our new technologies be?”

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