AJ Logo Get ArtsJournal in your inbox
for FREE every morning!
Home > IDEAS

Monday, May 30, 2005

11 Ways To A better Brain Okay - we've had doctors for a long time, and to be honest, a lot of the time they've only guessed at what makes us better. But more and more, they're nailing down real answers to what makes our bodies work. So you want to build a better brain? Here are 11 things you can do to improve and retain mental health... New Scientist 05/28/05

  • The Sarcastic Brain Where does sarcasm come from? Turns out it's a very specific part of the brain. "By comparing healthy people and those with damage to different parts of the brain, they found the front of the brain was key to understanding sarcasm..." BBC 05/27/05

Friday, May 27, 2005

America's Cultural Obsession With Religion "In the wake of the creationist “Scopes monkey trial” in 1925, the evangelicals (though technically victorious) realised they had lost the PR battle, and retreated from American public life. Now they are popping up all over the place, from the bestseller lists to pop music. In the wake of Scopes, the Bible Belt (H. L. Mencken's tag) was seen as a home of hicks. Now evangelism is the religion of the upwardly mobile, of McMansions and office parks, with evangelicals almost drawing level with (traditionally upper-crust) Episcopalians in terms of wealth and education." The Economist 05/26/05

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Bring On The War The war in Iraq isn't even over yet, and already, the mass marketing juggernaut is gearing up to sell a sentimental version of it to a public that seems all too ready to embrace the pre-nostalgia. "Taking aim at the 18-to-34 set, publishers will soon roll out first-person tales from the front... Meanwhile, television, which couldn't locate a young audience for its Vietnam-era American Dreams, may end up with two series set in Iraq - a cable drama from Stephen Bochco and a network comedy from Golden Girls writer Mort Nathan." Why the rush? It's a new post-Vietnam generation, says the conventional marketing wisdom, and they're ready to get past old ideas about war as a national humiliation, even if their parents aren't. Philadelphia Inquirer 05/26/05

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Upload Your Brain To A Supercomputer? (Scientist Says It'll Happen) 'If you draw the timelines, realistically by 2050 we would expect to be able to download your mind into a machine, so when you die it's not a major career problem. If you're rich enough then by 2050 it's feasible. If you're poor you'll probably have to wait until 2075 or 2080 when it's routine. We are very serious about it. That's how fast this technology is moving: 45 years is a hell of a long time in IT.'" The Observer (UK) 05/22/05

Monday, May 23, 2005

When Creativity Rules Daniel Pink believes our social order is about to flip - creative people will have a big advantage over traditional logical thinkers. "In the world envisioned in his recent book, 'A Whole New Mind,' the competitive edge will belong not to the linear, logical, analytical 'left-brain' lawyers and accountants and computer programmers who have long held sway but to the creative, empathic, 'right-brain' artists and caregivers who have traditionally enjoyed less social status, or at least smaller paychecks. It may seem hard to believe, since we are all up to our screen-reddened eyeballs in an Information Age that seems to be all about left-brain dominance, but Pink insists that a ''Conceptual Age" is upon us. Boston Globe 05/23/05

Who Makes Public Taste In Art? "Once, a museum, a Hollywood studio, a book publisher or an orchestra shaped public conversation about the arts. Today, they respond. Where once there was tastemaking by decree, now there are trends arrived at by consensus. As '50s bohemia morphed into '60s counterculture and then into the rapid absorption by the mainstream of every hot fringe trend, the public challenged the establishment's role in defining quality. In the age of podcasting, peer-to-peer file-sharing and pocket camcorders, everybody's a curator, a critic and a producer, all at the same time." Newsday 05/23/05

The More You Know, The Less You Remember? Certain kinds of memory decrease the more knowledge you accumulate, reports a new study. "Verbatim memory is often a property of being a novice. As people become smarter, they start to put things into categories, and one of the costs they pay is lower memory accuracy for individual differences. The ability to categorize is often very helpful, but this study shows how it can lead people to ignore individual details." EurekAlert 05/20/05

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Let Art Be Art Have we begun expecting too much of art and music? These days, as an on-demand world drives us to demand ever more instant gratification, fewer and fewer people seem to have time for anything that cannot be appreciated in an instant. Worse, we've trapped ourselves in a mindset that says that the arts exist to bolster our cities and make our children smarter, and nothing that doesn't quickly accomplish those goals is worth having. "It's hard to argue for art on its purest grounds, because describing what makes art so powerful is hard to put into words... Often, the thing that makes a piece of art so important to you means nothing to the next guy." Philadelphia Inquirer 05/22/05

Just Don't Let Seacrest Conduct, Okay? Let's be blunt. Fox's runaway smash hit, American Idol, is a worthless piece of television dreck featuring horrible singing, vacuous songs, and predictable fake snarkiness from three judges so caught up in their own brilliance that they seem to have forgotten that the show is supposed to be about music. But still, Idol has become a huge part of America's pop culture, and Dominic Papatola says that the arts world ought to be taking notice. "I'm willing to bet that the main reason for the runaway success of American Idol" lies in its cunning ability to link the worlds of art and competition." Americans love a winner, and they love watching the loser squirm even more, and the arts could use an injection of that type of (admittedly manufactured) excitement if it ever again wants to compete for large-scale attention. St. Paul Pioneer Press 05/22/05

Reassessing The Creative Class Richard Florida became a superstar in the world of urban planning and the arts a few years back when he wrote The Rise of the Creative Class, which claimed that creative types, artists, and free thinkers, were the essential component of a successful and thriving metropolis. But several urban planning experts have since questioned the validity of Florida's thesis, calling it overly simplistic and a naked appeal to the type of people who could (and did) make Florida and his theory famous. Still, there's no question that creativity and arts do offer at least some benefit to cities, so the question now seems to be, "What are the benefits the creative sector can deliver for cities, and what are the pitfalls of catering to it?" Denver Post 05/21/05

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

How The Internet Is Changing Class Dynamics With students now able to instantaneously check on the internet what teachers teach in their classes, the dynamics of the classroom are changing. "The immediate availability of vast amounts of information, and the ability to make perfect infinite copies, to communicate, and to distribute instantaneously will, by necessity, alter the ways we learn and teach. Transparency holds out the promise of a deeper, richer and more democratic educational experience, but also an implied challenge to the traditional academic order." InsideHigherEd 05/17/05

Monday, May 16, 2005

Insta-Answer Changes The Class Tecahers are finding that devices that instantly register student answers to questions in class, change the dynamics of a class. "The devices, which the students call "clickers," are being used on hundreds of college campuses and are even finding their way into grade schools. They alter classroom dynamics, engaging students in large, impersonal lecture halls with the power of mass feedback. Clickers ease fears of giving a wrong answer in front of peers, or of expressing unpopular opinions." Wired 05/16/05

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Hand Off To Better Story-Telling A new study suggests that we may be able to use language better irf we move our hands. "The very fact of moving your hands around helps you recall parts of the story--the gestures help you access memory and language so that you can tell more of the story." Science Daily 05/11/05

America, Lost In The Wilderness "If there can be said to be a theme running throughout the history of American art, music, and literature, it might well be the allure, the danger, and the quiet beauty of the wilderness. "Scads of crucial American stories and images feast on the idea of wilderness, of a place apart from the so-called civilized world, of a pristine region that can rejuvenate a jaded soul." So it's little wonder that, when wilderness and the environment become political issues, there are considerable artistic and literary overtones to the debate. Chicago Tribune 05/15/05

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Land Of The Free (Except If You Disagree With Us!) "An attachment to a bill that supplements funds for Iraq, passed by Congress and now on the president's desk, would allow the United States once again to keep out and to deport foreign nationals not for their conduct, but for their politics—their ideas, their speech, and the groups with which they associate." Slate 05/12/05

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Genius Of the City "Humankind’s greatest creation has always been its cities. They represent the ultimate handiwork of our imagination as a species, compressing and unleashing the creative urges of humanity. From the earliest beginnings, when only a tiny fraction of humans lived in cities, they have been the places that generated most of mankind’s art, religion, culture, commerce, and technology." Next American City 04/05

Monday, May 9, 2005

Book Smart? Or Video Game Smart? Are we getting smarter? A popular new book tries to make the case, but Malcom Gladwell wonders what kind of "smart" we're talking about. "Being “smart” involves facility in both kinds of thinking—the kind of fluid problem solving that matters in things like video games and I.Q. tests, but also the kind of crystallized knowledge that comes from explicit learning. The real question is what the right balance of these two forms of intelligence might look like." The New Yorker 05/09/05

Sunday, May 8, 2005

The Brain Inside - Are You Sure You Want To Know? So we're learning more and more about how the brain works. And new technology might soon allow us to peer into the workings of the head. But there might be some downsides. "The more that breakthroughs like the recent one in brain-scanning open up the mind to scientific scrutiny, the more we may be pressed to give up comforting metaphysical ideas like interiority, subjectivity and the soul. Let's enjoy them while we can." New York Times Magazine 05/08/05

Friday, May 6, 2005

In Praise Of Elitism "The elitism question is a complicated matter, not least because of the widely-observed paradox that claims of anti-elitism emanate from academics who write a language of deliberately clotted opaque jargon and make a parade of not particularly relevant erudition. It's also complicated because the word elitism is thrown around with wild abandon with no particular definition being stipulated, as if its meaning were entirely transparent and self-evident and generally agreed on. But nothing could be farther from the truth. Elitism means a great many things, some of them perfectly incompatible with one another, with the result that the word does more to obfuscate discussion than to clarify it." Butterflies & Wheels 05/05

Wednesday, May 4, 2005

Is Free Music The Successful Musician's Strategy? "In the USA, free downloads of copyrighted music are driving the recording industry to sue teenagers and holler about the morality of obtaining songs for free. But if China is the future, that's all in vain. The genie is out of the bottle. Eventually, recorded music will no longer make money. That would be nice for consumers and really bad for record companies and retailers. But the biggest concern is that this will be terrible for artists. If artists can't earn money, economic logic says they might stop making music, which would be a major loss for society. But is that equation true?" USAToday 05/04/05

While The World Dumbs Down We Get Smarter IQ's have been going steadily up for years. But why? "What part of our allegedly dumbed-down environment is making us smarter? It's not schools, since the tests that measure education-driven skills haven't shown the same steady gains. It's not nutrition - general improvement in diet leveled off in most industrialized countries shortly after World War II." So could it be... video games? Wired 05/05

Monday, May 2, 2005

Sell, Sell, Sell! As consumers become ever more impervious to traditional advertising, marketers are becoming ever more obsessive in their attempts to track consumer habits and target specific ad messages to individuals who will be most receptive to them. At the annual Ad-Tech conference in San Francisco, cutting-edge techniques to ensnare potential buyers comingle with such low-tech ideas as cutting back on the number of ads shown on television. Most intriguing, something called Project Apollo promises to provide greater consumer trackability than ever before, providing what advertisers hope will be a surefire method of discovering which ad campaigns actually work. Wired 05/02/05

Sunday, May 1, 2005

Based On A True Story When art takes its inspiration from actual events, where should the line between fact and fiction be allowed to melt away? Do artists have a responsibility to the truth, or do the demands of narrative flow trump historical reality? Dominic Papatola isn't conflicted: "Historians and journalists have their biases, but they're at least working with the filters of balance, objectivity and completeness. Artists — at least when they're making art — don't have those filters, nor should they be expected to. We're complacent — no, we're brainless — if we assume otherwise." St. Paul Pioneer Press 05/01/05

Home | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy
Copyright ©
2002 ArtsJournal. All Rights Reserved