23 Matching Annotations
  1. Feb 2018
    1. Stone grew even more intensely interested when others reported that they, too, sometimes held their breath while reading or writing email-a phenomenon that she started calling "email apnea." She told me that she came to realize that "breathing is the regulator of attention." Stone reminded me that holding one's breath is directly connected to the "fight or flight" response. When your ancestors and mine heard a noise, they held their breath until deciding whether to flee, fight, or ignore the sound, while their glands pumped energy-mobilizing hormones into their blood-streams, just in case. Holding your breath affects the body's balance of oxygen, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen oxide. It activates the sympathetic nervous system, causing an increase in glucose and cholesterol levels in the bloodstream along with an increased heart rate as well as a sense of hunger. Stone remarked that regular breathing patterns, by contrast, activate the parasympathetic nervous system, causing relaxation, the release of diges-tive enzymes, and a sense of satiety-signs of a "rest and digest" mode. She pointed out that "we're putting our bodies in a state of almost constant low-level fight-or-flight. This is great when we're being chased by tigers. But how many of those 500 emails a day is a TIGER? How many are flies? Is everything an emergency? Our way of using the current set of technolo-gies would have us believe it is."23 Paying attention to your breath-the core technique of mindfulness meditation methods-is where Stone sug-gests starting to moderate our online reactions. I'll get back to that later. For now, I'm convinced that Stone is right to think that attention to breathing could be a tool to help moderate our unthinking, ultimately unhealthy reactions to many online stimuli.

      Stone brings up some interesting points about the deeper, scientific implications of the habits she's formed when reading emails. She says that she has a habit of holding her breath for long periods of time when reading emails. I find it interesting that she mentions that she is conscious about her breathing, as she mentions that she does morning meditations, but immediately fall into her habit of holding her breath as soon as she checks her email. This shows that our familiarity with constantly being connected and immersed in our technology can form subconscious habits. These habits are not necessarily bad, but they do raise questions about their lasting effects.

    2. lthough she isn't a cognitive psychologist or neuroscientist, Linda Stone was an obvious choice when I started inquiring into the connection between attention, always-on media, and health. Stone has in fact been immersed in creating online media for the twenty-five years I've known her. I first met her when she was one of Apple's multimedia researchers in the 1980s. In the 1990s, when she was director of Microsoft's Virtual Worlds Group, Stone and I sat in my garden to discuss virtual communities. Since she retired from Microsoft, Stone has been concerned about the ways social media use might be affecting our minds and bodies. She was kind enough to make another garden visit this past summer to converse about our mutual interest in literacies of attention. As we sat under my plum tree, Stone recalled that she had noticed some-thing crucial about her own online behavior while she sat at her computer one day. "I realized that I hold my breath sometimes when I am doing my email." She has recounted this little epiphany in print:

      It's assumed that people who are outsiders to the realm of technology are the biggest proponents, but I have seen many people in the field who are just as adamant. Rheingold agrees, and he cites Linda Stone, who has worked in online media for a long time.

    3. I don't argue with the Thoreau objection. I embrace it. Years ago, I cut a door in my office wall; it's now three steps to my garden. The fact that I acknowledge my attraction to distraction doesn't mean that I have to suc-cumb to the urge to be constantly connected. I simply ask myself when I reach for my iPhone while waiting in line, Why not stay disconnected for a minute and see what happens? Or I deliberately leave my podcasts at home when I take the dogs out for a walk in the neighborhood. Throw some sand into the machinery that automatizes your attention.

      I agree with Rheingold here. Rheingold acknowledges the benefits of disconnecting every once in a while and interacting with the outside world. While I admit, most times that I disconnect, it's because I have already exhausted all the social media I partake in. However, I think it's always good to let one's mind wander free every so often. This reminds me of the habit of reading shampoo bottles while in the bathroom, before cellphones. It was still absorbing information, but it was physical and of the outside world, so that counts, right?

    4. When I interviewed Nass, he proposed that a better way for getting things done than multitasking all day is to deliberately work on a single task for fifteen to thirty minutes before going with the multitasking flow for five to ten minutes. This insight is the basis for a simple attention-training methodology known as the "Pomodoro Technique."103 The method is easy enough. Write down your major tasks to accomplish each day on a piece of paper. Set the timer (which resembles a tomato; hence pomodoro) for twenty-five minutes and work on one task in whatever medium the task requires until you hear the alarm sound. Then take five minutes to do what you want. Repeat. Every four pomodoros, take a longer break. Train your-self to be present and aware of whether what you are doing online is going to help you achieve your own goal. Eventually you don't need the alarm clock

      I'm glad we were assigned this reading, because I have been searching for the Pomodoro Technique for months. I remember reading about it on a late night, and I forgot to save the article, so it's awesome that it happens to be in assigned reading for class. Some people are more attuned to jumping into assignments or tasks for the day at leisure, and can manage that way with ease. On the other hand, there are others, like myself, who have a hard time with managing time and keeping deadlines. This technique seems good for me because it has strict deadlines that are manageable. I have noticed that I am most productive at work in the last few hours, and I think it's because I subconsciously know I can leave the task to go home and do things that I enjoy, like homework. I think this technique could be a good way to train my mind to always think like it's the last hour before works end, and make my work streamline more efficient.

    5. I bring my attention back to my breath. I don't try to "think about nothing." I don't strive to do better than I did yesterday or last year. I simply observe the way thoughts emerge and pass away with or without my conscious intent. Attention! 71 If you haven't done it, watching your breath with your eyes closed and labeling your thoughts as they pass through your mind sounds like a colos-sal waste of time. I admit that I get antsy, and look forward to getting back to work, play, or whatever I had been doing. I don't assign the "fun" tag to meditation.

      Meditation is a practice that appears more and more challenging as the allure of your smartphone is just a few feet away. Artist Father John Misty has a lyric that relates to this on a song called, "The Memo."

      "And as the world is getting smaller, small things take up all your time Narcissus would have had a field day if he could have got online"

      While I have not tried yoga explicitly, I have noticed that reading books is kind of a mental break in the same way that yoga is to some. Sometimes, I can pick up a book and read for a few hours with ease. However, most of the time, it's hard to concentrate on the words on the page and often times I will reach for my phone for no inherent reason. The instant gratification of social media is tempting, but it is always important to take some time away and focus on yourself.

    6. Today's technology may be new, but using media to change (some would say expand) human consciousness at least goes back to forty-thousand-year-old cave paintings.

      Modern society's use of technology seems to get nothing but criticism. A few years ago, there seemed to be a final frontier on how technological advancements could improve our lives more and more.

      However, technology doesn't necessarily have to be something with a circuit board and a touch screen. Any big advancement, like building a fire or the first polio vaccine, can be considered technology. With every major advancement, society has always adapted, and that will likely hold true as we move deeper into the smartphone age.

    7. In one arena of daily life, distraction has proven to be life threaten-ing. Who hasn't witnessed the chilling sight of another driver in the next highway lane who appears to be texting while driving? A Harvard study in 2003 estimates that 2,600 traffic deaths and 330,000 accidents annually are caused by cell phone distractions. 24 A study in 2009 of professional long-haul truck drivers who equipped their cabs with video cameras for eighteen months claims that the collision risk became twenty-three times greater when the drivers texted.25 University of Utah researchers found that drivers who talked on a cell phone-just talked, not texted-were as impaired in driving simulation tests as subjects with blood-alcohol levels close to the legal limit.26 Although there are more subtle dangers to consider in this chapter, texting while driving kills; that's all that needs to be said about it. I'll only add that the fact that anyone would risk life and limb for an LOL is a clue that something about texting hooks into the human propensity to repeat pleasurable behaviors to the point of compulsion.

      The term "addiction" is not one that should be thrown around lightly. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) claim that 21.5 million American adults (aged 12 and older) battled a substance abuse disorder in 2014. As prevalent as texting while driving is, many opinions I have heard think this practice is one of those unavoidable things or a dirty little secret. In my opinion, I think this is a tell-tale sign that someone is addicted to their phone. I don't think any message is worth a life lost, especially if you are driving with other people in the car.

    8. This phenomenon, known as "selective inattention," is dramatically illustrated by the online video of the "awareness test" conducted by Dan-iel Simons of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Christo-pher Chabris of Harvard University.18 Subjects were asked to watch a short video of two groups (distinguished by black or white T-shirts) passing basketballs and count passes by one team, or keep track of bounce versus aerial passes. While the basketballs were passed, an actor walked through the scene wearing a gorilla suit, paused, turned to look at the camera, and walked on. When asked whether anything out of the ordinary occurred, around 50 percent of the subjects did not report seeing the gorilla. The assigned task created a frame for the subjects' attention, filtering out dis-tractions that didn't fit, to the point where a gorilla on a basketball court escaped notice.

      My first job ever was a neighborhood lifeguard. One of the most important abilities our company wanted us to work at was cognitive awareness. The instructor teaching the certification class showed us this same video and nearly the entire group missed out on the dancing panda.


      In this video, the same Daniel Simons cited in the text shows the audience different examples of street art that blend the external and internal information that makes these images appear multi-dimensional and life-like.

    9. While I was writing this book, my friend Duke University professor Cathy Davidson was also working on her own book about attention. 13 In her blog, Davidson recounts an incident that happened when she was tracking down footnote references requested by the editor. She was working at her desk, got up to put a teakettle on the stove, and went back to her writing. Hearing a garbage truck outside, she assumed it was the source of the burning rub-ber she was beginning to smell. When she started to see smoke, Davidson realized that the water had boiled out of the teakettle and the plastic handle had been melting. She had forgotten to pay attention to the stove while concentrating on her book.

      This piece of anecdotal evidence that ends being up being relevant reminds me of the supplementary reading article, "Mystery of Russian Fake on Facebook Solved, by a Brazilian". Rheingold discusses reading a blog by his friend, professor Cathy Davidson. She details a day where several incidents happened in a short span of time. She consciously told herself to be more mindful, instead of letting her mind drift. A few minutes later, she narrowly avoided hitting two dogs that ran in front of her car. In regards to "Mystery of Russian Fake on Facebook Solved, by a Brazilian", there was a tweet that faced scrutiny, claiming that one of the Parkland shooting survivors was actually a trauma actor. It seems that the person who tweeted this comment and image is in Moscow, Russia. Even then, who knows if this image was doctored or altered in any way?

      While Rheingold intended to use Davidson's conscious mental notes as a narrative for this chapter of his book, it reminded me of all the media bias in politics. There has been political bias since the house party system first became commonplace, but technology has blurred the lines between fact and fiction and that has impacted how people analyze media. One should always make an effort to do their own research on topics that they consider important, rather than just take their Facebook feed at face-value.

    10. Each week, I introduce a new attention probe to the classroom. I told a cohort of fifty students, for instance, that five of them could have their laptops open at any one time. "In order for somebody else to open their computer," I stipulated, "one of the current five will have to close theirs." This was not only an attention probe but also a collective action problem. It forced the current five to be aware of their own attention in the context of other students who were waiting to Google my lecture (or slay monsters in a role-playing game). Each class session, I reminded students that the objec-tive was "to get you to start paying attention to the way you pay attention. 1

      Just this exercise alone demonstrates how moving away from technology in the classroom changes the way the class works. It is apparent when open discussion is encouraged in a classroom, many tend to shrink into their laptop and avoid engagement. There are classes I have taken where open discussion is prevalent, but often times it takes the entire semester to get to that point, and I think phones and laptops can attribute to that.

    11. 1 Attention! Why and How to Control Your Mind's Most Powerful Instrument

      "How to Thrive Online" is a text written by Howard Rheingold about technology in modern society and its tremendous impact. Rheingold talks about topics such as focus, attention span, and learning in a classroom setting among many others. While Rheingold inherently believes technology has a positive impact on knowledge in our society, he argues that the overload of information can have negative effects.

      An interesting subject that Rheingold brings up is the core, scientific reasons why staying connected all the time is addictive. Rheingold uses the term "dopamine squirt" to refer to the hormonal stimulation the brain receives when engaging in frequent social media. Social media, at it's core, is about connecting people. Social media websites are meticulously crafted and engineered to remove the awkward long pauses and small talk normal conversation might have, and makes engaging with other people more fun. Streamlining this engagement makes the brain pump out frequent bursts of dopamine, enough to the point that not being on social media and not making those engagements feels boring.

      Rheingold presents a broad range of information about how the mind is altered when we become too comfortable with the easily-accessible technology that surrounds us. He cites the research of many noted psychoanalysts and researcher and this shows the reader that extensive research went into the development of this text.

      Source Rheingold, Howard. Net Smart: How to Thrive Online. MIT Press, 2012.

  2. spring2018.robinwharton.net spring2018.robinwharton.net
    1. PROWNIAN ANALYSIS Description-> Deduction-> Speculation-> Research-> Interpretive Analysis

      In the length of a semester, it may seem that each little assignment is trivial and often times it is challenging to view the bigger picture. What I can see from this course is that each assignment is a culmination of a major assignment and the Prownian Analysis boils that down in a more digestible manner.

    2. One way we respond to what we see in or experience of an object .imounts to intellectual detective work.~ We see articulation and deduce patterns of use; we see interaction and deduce relationship; we see expres-sion and deduce reception. Another way that we respond is through our senses: tactility suggests texture of engagement; temperature degree of inti-macy; and so on.

      This paragraph describes the HIV/AIDS perfectly. I think the main point of each part of the quilt is to engage the viewer as a sort of detective. Every small detail holds a certain weight and one can see themes pop up after more investigation.

    3. Prown goes on to suggest that "[t]he most persistent object metaphors expressive of belief" seem embedded in polarities, including but not limited to the following:

      The article "3-D print your way to freedom and prosperity" isn't necessarily about polarity, but I think it uses compare and contrast in a bad way. The article jumps from the pros and cons of 3-D printing jarringly, without really establishing a strong opinion on either one.

    4. In searching our an object to interpret, these are factors co be kept in mind. Moreover, such polarities and oppositions offer effective analytic "hooks" of use in organizing insights.

      This serves to be an effective tool for analytical interpretation. Often times, one attempts to perceive the nuances and deeper meaning behind an object right from the beginning. I know this is something that I tend to do. If something can be boiled down to something as basic as the polarities mentioned above, a birds-eye-view can be allocated to an object and zooming into smaller details will be easier.

    5. Composing and revising an objective-as-possible description frees one to move from a narrow focus on the object itself to a focus on the rela-tionship between the object and oneself as its perceiver. 8

      This is an interesting comment and it helps understand how easy it can be to add subjective bias to a topic. Any kind of personal additions can largely narrow the scope of writing and it can make establishing new topics about a certain object even more challenging.

    6. The fruits of one's research are not co he presented as some-how self-explanatory, but rather as evidence introduced in support of claims.

      This is something I have struggled with in the past. Once my questions about certain topics are answered during research, it is difficult to keep my original thoughts in order, since I now know what is fact.

    7. Michael Baxandall has noted: "We do not explain pictures: we explain remarks about pictures-or rather, we explain pictures only in so far as we have considered them under some verbal description or specifi-cation ... Every evolved explanation of a picture includes or implies an elaborate description of that picture. "4

      Baxandall makes a good point about pictures and how we use language to truly understand what one is looking at. In the context of objects in general, I think the supplementary text "3-D print your way to freedom and prosperity" sheds some light on how that could change if 3-D printing becomes more commonplace. I think being able to print whatever simple product one needs can change perceptions in a material culture and make certain things lose the value they may have once had.

    8. Having addressed an object intellectually, and experienced it actually or empathetically with our senses, one turns, generally not without a cer-tain pleasure and relief, to matters more subjective. How does the object make one feel? Specifically, what in or about the object brings those feel-ings out?

      This statement reminded me of the HIV/AIDS quilt. One can see the quilt objectively. I think the size of the quilt alone gives a good idea of how many people are/were affected. The quilt's subjective and personal appeals are what makes it so effective. Each part of the quilt has a story, family, and a fragment of time that makes it so memorable.

    9. This is why the words we choose in saying what we see have such far reaching importance. It is out of our paraphrase of what we see that all interpretation grows. Speaking of pictures, for which we might substitute ob1ec:ts, Michael Baxandall has noted: "We do not explain pictures: we explain remarks about pictures-or rather, we explain pictures only in so far as we have considered them under some verbal description or specifi-cation ... Every evolved explanation of a picture includes or implies an elaborate description of that picture. "4 Descriptton provides the bridge between the realm of the material and that of concepts and ideas.

      In this context, this statement is very illuminating. In a material culture, such as the one that is being described, the primary focus is on the objects. However, what makes certain objects more important than others in this viewpoint is how words are used to describe. I think a great example of this can be applied to the art world. There are countless talented artists in the world today that have incredible abilities.

      This image looks like a picture taken by a camera, but it is actually hand-drawn. In an internet age, this illustration will get likes and favorites on social media, but there probably are not many long, meaningful comments about it.

      Meanwhile, if you're shown an image like this one, it's instantly recognizable, and I believe that is largely to do with the amount of language used to describe this painting.

  3. Jan 2018
  4. spring2018.robinwharton.net spring2018.robinwharton.net
    1. American Artifacts

      "3-D print your way to freedom and prosperity" by Jathan Sadowski

      "The maker movement embraces a kind of naively apolitical, techno-economic, capitalist utopia that thrives on individualistic value" (Sadowski). This quote has it's own section in this article and provides a strong mantra for the phenomenon that is 3-D printing. Jathan Sadowski, a Ph.D. student at Arizona State University, talks about the concept of 3-D printing and how versatile it can be. The article begins with comments made by Barack Obama a State of the Union address from 2013. "'Three-D printing [has] the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything,' he said." Sadowski agrees with this and brings up a lot of points about the benefits of 3-D printing, such as the ability to be creative, ease of accessibility, and individualism and power given to the entrepreneurial mind. However, Sawoski argues that these very benefits fit well into "the Californian Ideology". This theory suggests that high-tech entrepreneurs can bypass the regulations and systems that have been established. However, these systems would not be broken or disrupted, but would actually stay the same. Sadowski makes another strong point about what dangers could be presented in easily-accessible 3-D printing. Since manufacturing regulations can be so easily disregarded when 3-D printing, dangerous products can be made. Sadowski writes about Cody Wilson, "a founder of Defense Distributed, [who] designed, prototyped, and posted plans for a working 3-D-printed plastic handgun he called the Liberator."

      This article was written in 2014, when 3-D printing was still a very new concept and the potential for what could be created and which huge conglomerates could be toppled where boundless. However, the years have past and 3-D printing has slowly crept away from the mainstream media and dinner table conversations. The equipment needed to 3-D print a few years ago was still not consumer-friendly, but now you can buy 3-D printers for a few hundred dollars. Many schools around the United States have 3-D printers that are accessible to schools. I believe that the 3-D printing concept was always destined for small-scale usage. The flexibility to create whatever someone needs works best in a small-scale, because these products being printed do not have to go through the quality control that bigger manufacturers. I think the Californian Ideology did eventually come true, but under a different pretense. I think that the "system" was not impacted by 3-D printing because the bigger financial piece of the pie is the manufacturing of the 3-D printers, not so much the products being printed.

      Source: Sadowski, Jathan. "3-D print your way to freedom and prosperity." Al Jazeera, 17 May 2014, http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2014/5/3d-printing-politics.html.

    2. The key to good description is a rich, nuanced vocabulary. Technically accurate language (nominative, for the most part) plays an important role in this, but ultimately not the most important role which is reserved, per-haps somewhat counter-inruitively, to descriptive modifiers (adjectives) and, most crucially, to terms expressive of the dynamics of mterrelation (verbs, adverbs, prepositions).

      I thought this sentence accurately described what one might feel they lack when reading essays such as this one. The dense language and seemingly abstract concept of objects that Prown and Haltman write about... Prown and Haltman write about the concept of objects in a seemingly philosophical sense. Their use of dense and "nuanced" vocabulary allows for a very meticulous description, but it alienates me as a reader. In comparison, "3-D print your way to freedom and prosperity" takes a similar approach but makes understanding easier. The words chosen to describe concepts like "The Californian Ideology" are rich and nuanced, but using them to talk about a concept/product that is more commonly known in modern-day makes the idea easier to grasp.

    3. The more self-conscious one becomes, the more complex one's rela-tionship co an object becomes, physically and ocularly as well as psycho-logically and experientially. For the purpose of analysis, there is value in isolating different realms of deductive response so that these can be han-Jled more circumspectly.

      This further cements the idea that rich vocabulary is essential for elaborating the emotions, sensations, and descriptions one can create when analyzing an object. The term "self-conscious" has taken a negative connotation in the way we speak today. Many use this term to describe aspects of themselves that they are insecure about, like appearances, emotions, or mental well-being. However, when analyzing an object, having a self-conscious viewpoint can be a benefit.