Also, the internet is made of fireworks.
(via Surprising Science)
I’m talking in your ears again: Alternate Commentaries Episode 11
Want to hear me talk about non-science hilarity with two of my friends? I guested on a non-movie episode of Alternate Commentaries with my amigos Jarrod and Steven and we discussed… stuff.
It’s our first (mostly) non-movie podcast! In this episode, Jarrod, Steven, and special guest Joe “JtotheIzzoe” Hanson discuss Paranormal Activity, voting, crazy internet challenges, and more.
The Emoticon Turns 30 :-)
Check out Megan Garber’s tale of the 1982 Carnegie Mellon bulletin board discussion between physicists that spawned the emoticon. The reason? Someone couldn’t figure out how to make sure their physics joke wasn’t taken too seriously.
So :-) was born.
(via The Atlantic)
Source: The Atlantic
There and Back Again: How Does the Internet Work?
Superb video from the World Science Festival that explains how the internet really works. Hint: It’s cats.
I mean PACKETS. Packets, not cats.
Ride along with a piece of data as it travels from keyboard to server and back!
Ethan Zuckerman offers an innovative idea to quantify attention paid to various things on the internet. The unit of measure? The amount of attention Kim Kardashian gets in one day. As he explains:
The Kardashian mentions how much attention is paid, not how much attention is deserved, so naming the unit after someone who is famous for being famous seems appropriate. Should the unit be adopted, I would hope that future scholars will calculate Kardashians using whatever public figure is appropriate at the time for being inappropriately famous.
So how do things size up in Kardashians? Angelina Jolie gets about 0.35 Kardashians, The Kony 2012 campaign peaked at 7.7 Kardashians, but now sits at a paltry 5 centiKardashians.
As for me? Searches for this blog are registering no higher than the nanoKardashian range. And searches for my name are mostly people misspelling “Scarlett Johansson”. You gotta start somewhere!
The Internet, as imagined in 1969.
They get a lot of the tech right, but 100% of the gender stereotypes wrong. Apparently all women do is buy clothes online, and men frown at bills they have to pay.
They also forgot the cats.
Here’s an excerpt from “Hot for E-Teacher: 4 reasons your brain loves to learn online” via The Next Web, written by Dave Goodsmith
1) Memory: This is your brain on-line. We mean, this, right now, what you’re reading. It’s your brain. On-line.
According to Columbia neuroscientist Betsy Sparrow and her team, “We are becoming symbiotic with our computer tools”. When participants in Dr. Sparrow’s studies thought a fact was saved somewhere accessible, they’d forget it. Furthermore, the more difficult a question was, the more likely participants were to think of the Internet, rather than actually try to work out an answer on their own.
So is offloading our brain making us dumber? Not according to rising edusoftware giant Knewton’s David Kuntz:
“Accessibility [of information] changes the relative importance of certain topics in much the same ways that a calculator changes the relative importance of some things.”
Kuntz, who’s V.P. of research at the fast growing adaptive learning company, explained that fields of knowledge that were off-loaded simply left room for cogitation on other topics.
“Long division, for example, is a process that, in my opinion, is more or less irrelevant, you never have to work through a problem in that way.”
Our dependence on the web for facts might even be making us smarter. UCLA neuroscientist and author Gary Small did an exploratory fmri study and found that the web-surfer’s googling “may actually engage a greater extent of neural circuitry” than paper-based complex reasoning.
So we’re off-loading our memories to the internet, but when we need to learn a challenging technique, like coding, it takes more than data storage to help us – it takes smile.
See the rest of the reasons at The Next Web
Hold on a sec, there!
Internet addiction has same effect as cocaine on brains: study
This is your brain on the Internet: Messed up where there should be connections for making decisions and having normal emotions.
Results of a new study suggest people who cannot control, cut back or stop their use of the Internet have abnormal white matter structure in the brain similar to what is seen in cocaine and crystal-meth addicts.
According to the study’s authors, as the number of people logging onto cyberspace soars, “Internet addiction disorder” — which is poised to enter the official lexicon of psychiatric illnesses — “is becoming a serious mental-health issue around the world.”
The disorder, as described in the study published this week in the journal PLoS One, is defined as “problematic” or pathological computer use that can cause “marked distress” and interfere with school, work, family and social relationships.
For their study, led by Hao Lei of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Wuhan, researchers scanned the brains of 17 teens and young adults, aged 14 to 24, with Internet addiction and 16 healthy “controls” of similar age.
People were classified as suffering from Internet addiction disorder, or IAD, based on a questionnaire that included the following: Do you feel preoccupied with the Internet? Do you stay online longer than originally intended? Do you feel restless, moody, depressed or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop Internet use?
Yeah, yeah … internet addiction. I’ve got a significant problem with this claim, and this whole way of thinking, as do many others.
It all boils down to this: “Internet use” is not just one thing, it is a mosaic of behaviors. How can we claim addiction if people use the internet in so many different ways? Sure, there’s certain specific behaviors and tendencies that are manifested online that share symptoms with traditional “addiction”, whatever that is. But everyone uses the tool in their own way. As neuro writer Vaughan Bell says:
“internet addiction not possible because no single behaviour is associated with the internet. The concept is broken.”
The internet is not heroin. It is not a specific chemical affecting a specific biological response and eliciting a specific molecular feedback loop of reward, tolerance and dependence. American and European psychiatrists do not recognize “internet addiction” as a real condition in their diagnostic manuals.
Rather, I think we should wonder what is behind these curious claims, and treat that behavior. The internet is just an expression of a deeper neurological condition.
(h/t to Vaughan Bell on those links)
Remember back when people were trying to figure out how much the internet weighs? All the masses of electrons and bits and storage and energy waves … all that? Some people said it was about the mass of a strawberry.
Robert Krulwich reminds us over at his blog on NPR that it doesn’t really matter what it weighs, since the weight of ideas is limitless, and infinitely powerful:
You can weigh the Internet till you are blue in the face, but the grams won’t tell you anything important.
The Internet connects people. What it is doesn’t matter. What it carries, that matters. Ideas aren’t like chairs or tables. They have their own physics. They make their own weight.
So the Internet weighs about as much as a strawberry? It can still stop tanks.
Ask yourself: How much does “of the people, by the people, for the people” weigh?
Emphasis mine. Think it over.