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fred first's List: Digital Culture

    • Internet intelligence goes beyond book smarts
    • Albert Einstein didn’t invent the individual parts to E=mc2. The parts already existed; Einstein just saw them in a particular light, understood the parts and made a connection.


      Using the Internet is like solving a crossword puzzle. It is an analytical activity that requires you to define the parameters of your search, choose which results best answer your query then judge the validity of the information by seeking more sources or more information. This active pursuit of information engages important cognitive circuits in the brain, based on a study by the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. Gary Small, a professor at the Semel Institute and director of UCLA’s Memory and Aging Research Center, concluded, “Internet searching engages complicated brain activity, which may help exercise and improve brain function.”

      • concentration game: find two cards that are alike

      • vs Frontline's piece about what intensive multitasking does to the brain's ability to process facts

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    • Divided Attention


      In an age of classroom multitasking, scholars probe the nature of learning and memory

    • More than 1 billion people use the Internet, according to Internet World Stats. That is one large neighborhood, getting more organized, polluted and interesting all the time. You can troll the Internet and find the trivial, the obscene and the beautiful. Like art, technology seems to imitate life.


      This reminds me of a statement made by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. in a 1954 speech he titled, “Rediscovering Lost Values.” He observed that technology has helped make this world of ours into a neighborhood, but it is up to us to make it a brotherhood. With all the politics of hate we hear about today in the U.S. media, as well as the wars which continue to be fought in different parts of the world, I think this is more true today than ever. The above is my paraphrase of this message in his sermon. The direct quotation is:


      So we find ourselves caught in a messed-up world. The problem is with man himself and man’s soul. We haven’t learned how to be just and honest and kind and true and loving. And that is the basis of our problem. The real problem is that through our scientific genius we’ve made of the world a neighborhood, but through our moral and spiritual genius we’ve failed to make of it a brotherhood.


      Technology is value-neutral. Like other tools, it can be used for good or used for evil. In our drive to help students learn more “digital literacy,” I think we also need to focus on the need for ethical decisionmaking.

    • we are living in a read/write (RW) age and not merely a read-only (RO) age of content is fascinating and fantastic.

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    • Is technology narrowing our experiences?
    • Serendipity: In its essence it’s that “aha” moment of glad and unexpected discovery. It’s an unplanned happenstance that leads to a piece of good luck or news or insight.

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    • Perhaps most of all, readers wanted to share articles that inspired awe, an emotion that the researchers investigated after noticing how many science articles made the list. In general, they found, 20 percent of articles that appeared on the Times home page made the list, but the rate rose to 30 percent for science articles, including ones with headlines like “The Promise and Power of RNA.” (I swear, the science staff did nothing to instigate this study, but we definitely don’t mind publicizing the results.)

      “Science kept doing better than we expected,” said Dr. Berger, a social psychologist and a professor of marketing at Penn’s Wharton School. “We anticipated that people would share articles with practical information about health or gadgets, and they did, but they also sent articles about paleontology and cosmology. You’d see articles shooting up the list that were about the optics of deer vision.”

    • Building on prior research, the Penn researchers defined the quality as an “emotion of self-transcendence, a feeling of admiration and elevation in the face of something greater than the self.”

      They used two criteria for an awe-inspiring story: Its scale is large, and it requires “mental accommodation” by forcing the reader to view the world in a different way.

      “It involves the opening and broadening of the mind,” write Dr. Berger and Dr. Milkman, who is a behavioral economist at Wharton.

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