Is the web really no fun anymore
? My hunch is yes and no. Yes, in that it's not as novel to us; it's part of our media landscape. No, in that there is so much exciting stuff out here in the cyber-world that I can't imagine ever really thinking it's not fun. Perhaps we're just defining fun too narrowly-- is it thrilling the way it was in 1996, for example? No, of course not. But it is awe-inspiring-- more today than ever, owing to the fact that people finally realise two things: 1. it's easy to create a web presence, and 2. everyone who wants to be heard in the world needs a web presence. And we'd never be at this point if the web didn't seem more like a tool than a toy... a little less ludic-looking but much more fulfilling to spend time with, I'd suggest.
This has all sorts of mind/body implications, perhaps contributing to the notion of the brain as computational tool-- it appears that we've got a context-independent scheme that tells us about how objects will behave as they follow the law of gravitational pull
. What is also interesting is that this appears to be fluid and adaptable, so that it's as if we've got this portable gravity model that operates independent of context until new information comes along suggesting that the old model is bad.
What does this imply for contextual psychology? Certainly it seems that we're sensitive to new contexts and do adapt, but there's also clearly a ghost effect that carries along a silhouette of prior context into new situations, causing us to mis-anticipate.
Is this just a reified example of what occurs during culture shock?
Evolution is probably the 20th Century's big issue. As a capstone, Gould has just finished a massive new book
on the history and implications of modern evolutionary theory. He's not universally loved, but it's hard to argue that the man is brilliant and has a compelling way of writing about science. We could do with a few more of him in an age when theoretical science is becoming more esoterica than fodder for public debate.
Off in the world of data collection now for another 2 weeks, so I'll be posting sporadically.This little news tidbit
merits a link, though. How would the world be different today if Asimov had been open about his HIV status? Would there be less shame around the disease? Probably not much less, but my hunch is that it might have made people think a bit more before painting people with AIDS with a broad brush.
I can just see it happening-- my research takes a natural right-turn into the world of online computer gaming communities
. Suddenly, find myself sitting at home, playing 'Virtua Tennis 2' or 'Simpsons Road Rage' for hours on end, telling myself that I'm actually doing research so that I can make a meaningful contribution to the literature... or even better that I'm preparing for a presentation
It's really not such a stretch, actually...
Even though this piece is pretty accurate and entertaining
, I'll stick up for my host country and point out that they don't always call them 'American muffins'. It's contextual-- if you're in Caffe Nero or Starbucks and you ask for a muffin, you'll get what an American would expect. If you want what an American would call an 'English muffin', you'll have to grab a crumpet
, and even then you only get the bottom half. But if you go into a supermarket and ask for a muffin, you're likely to be asked, "What kind?"
What's really troubling is the confusion over 'jelly', which to an American is pretty much the same thing as jam. Hence the infamous Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich (deserving of all caps, thank you). To a Brit, that sounds disgusting, because 'jelly' means gelatin, as in Jell-O. Imagine a Peanut Butter and Jell-O sandwich and you'll get a sense of what they think. Ick.
I'd like to try that tripartite hot dog system the Germans have going though... I do wonder how they manage to balance all the components with only 2 hands and one mouth.