February 25, 2010

We are wired to share the processing load

Various complex personal / admin issues to deal with, so best not to do this until they're resolved, but a nice passage in a recent NY Times article on touch:

A warm touch seems to set off the release of oxytocin, a hormone that helps create a sensation of trust, and to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

In the brain, prefrontal areas, which help regulate emotion, can relax, freeing them for another of their primary purposes: problem solving. In effect, the body interprets a supportive touch as “I’ll share the load.”

We think that humans build relationships precisely for this reason, to distribute problem solving across brains,” said James A. Coan, a a psychologist at the University of Virginia. “We are wired to literally share the processing load, and this is the signal we’re getting when we receive support through touch.”

February 05, 2010

Would you buy a used paradigm from this man?

jaron lanier by allan j. cronin

Good talk by Jaron Lanier at the LSE [link to MP3 on that page] that starts slow and fairly rambling, but touches on a lot of interesting things [Xanadu / the importance of boundaries / the wrong turn at Turing / anti-Singularity / anti-Wikipedia / anti-neo-Maoism / pro-micropayments] as a way to a) sketch out the ideas in his new book, and b) make a case for a new [well…old] technological / economic model for the Internet, essentially based on one copy of each file [Ted Nelson's Xanadu] and micropayments.

Since Larnier was previously on the ‘free’ side of the ‘information wants to be free, but it also wants to be expensive’ debate, it’s an interesting trip he takes the listener on. The bottom line – of this talk, at least – is that micropayments will be embraced when anyone can launch themselves as a creator – already possible – and become part of the system [not yet in place, but presumably something like a bigger version of the iTunes store]. With the right incentives thus in place, people will work harder at being more creative, because they’re being [potentially] rewarded for their efforts and can maybe pay the rent and so on without a day job.

Side note: things are sloooowly getting back on track here, and something like abnormal service will kick back in later this month.