“Googlified” Brains on the Internet

There was a recent article in Median recently entitled “This Is Your Brain on the Internet, by Erman Misirlisoy, PhD. The subtitle: “We know where to find information — we just can’t remember it anymore.” I thought the primary points were self-evidently true.

“Our internet usage has ‘Googlified’ our brain, making us more dependent on knowing where to access facts and less able to remember the facts themselves.” That’s the key sentence for me.

“The internet acts as a great aid, but our faith and reliance on it can make us overconfident in our own abilities.” I think this is why I get cranky when people say, “I’ll just Google it.” People seem to use it, not just as a helper for thinking, but in lieu of thinking.

“The internet has changed the way that our brains work. Humans have always been good at learning and adapting to new environments. So given the internet’s dramatic impact on life in the developed world, it is no surprise that we have adjusted our thinking and behavior…”

How do you know the information is incorrect if you don’t already have general knowledge already? I recently caught an error on a podcast I listen to. The announcer said Rockin’ Robin was a Jackson 5 song when I knew it was a Michael Jackson song. It was also a cover of a 1958 hit by Bobby Day. A small thing, sure, but if one were to Google that uncorrected info, the misinformation spreads.

“Researchers have used this principle to test whether difficult trivia questions automatically activate internet-related concepts in our brain. If we don’t know the answer to something, our first thought is likely to be ‘Google.’ When study participants took part in a behavioral task immediately following difficult trivia questions, their performance in that task worsened when words like ‘Google’ appeared on a screen, distracting them…”

This is why, I suppose, I am old-fashioned enough to be impressed when people I know IRL show that they can extract information sans electronic aids. Like Chuck’s team winning a national trivia competition. Or Darrin placing second in the inaugural Times Union Crossword Championship. Or the general arcane knowledge of Dustbury.

Soccer, a.k.a. football; and lies on the Internet

The first time I ever even had a passing interest in soccer was watching some eight-year olds play in the early 1980s. Now my daughter has participated the last couple years, so I’ve become vaguely informed about the nuances. The Daughter wants one of those new soccer balls, called a brazuca, but I hear it costs $160; not happening.

Not that I would dis anyone who didn’t like the sport because they thought it was boring; I used to think so myself. But I figuratively rolled my eyes at certain Americans with their observations. Continue reading

On the “importance” scale, net neutrality ranks rather high

NetNeutrality_615pxAfter Dan Nester’s book reading at Stuyvesant Plaza near Albany a couple nights ago, I was talking to Michael Huber, the Times Union blogs’ cat herder, complaining about the latest threat to net neutrality. This nice lady, standing in line to get PlotnickNester to sign her copy of his book, had the most puzzled look, and asked, “But aren’t there more important things to worry about?” I sighed and handed her the current Metroland with intellectual property lawyer/drummer Paul Rapp’s article about the issue.

I had been arguing this issue on the grounds of basic fairness of freedom and speech. Continue reading

“Oh, that’s easy”

I was having a conversation – which is to say a face-to-face conversation, in person, not online – with someone recently. Something in the flow of the conversation led to me recalling a time at a job when I needed help finding information. Invariably, she would say, “Oh, that’s easy.” This would usually irritate me, on two levels: 1) it wasn’t necessarily easy for me, and 2) she was giving short shrift to her own skills.

The conversation proceeded and my friend told a story. When it was over, I said, “Now THAT’S a blog post. You need to write it. And if you do, I’ll link it to MY blog.” And so now I have. Continue reading

Autumnal start, drinking, poetry, Internety stuff

Elizabeth asked, in response to Ask Roger Anything (and YOU still can):

Why do they call the Autumnal Equinox the beginning of Fall when it is already Fall? Likewise the Winter Solstice isn’t the beginning of winter but well along into winter?

Why do “they” say anything? Why do they still use foot/pound? From the Wikipedia: “Some cultures regard the autumnal equinox as mid-autumn, others with a longer lag treat it as the start of autumn. Meteorologists (and most of the temperate countries in the southern hemisphere) use a definition based on months, with autumn being September, October and November in the northern hemisphere, and March, April and May in the southern hemisphere.

“In North America, autumn is usually considered to start with the September equinox. In traditional East Asian solar term, autumn starts on or around 8 August and ends on about 7 November.”

The answer, therefore, is Continue reading

Cultural engagement

The cover of the September 20/27, 2013 Entertainment Weekly, its Fall TV Preview, says “get the scoop on 119 shows, PLUS the best new series.” If I need a reminder that the medium has diffused, that’ll do it.

Yet on two successive episodes of the Bat Segundo Show podcast, host Ed Champion declares that there is an “American epidemic of gravitating to mainstream culture in an age of limitless choice.” He and guest Kiese Laymon discuss “why America is terrified of rich and variegated cultural engagement.” Then Champion and Alissa Quart dissect “how outsiders and iconoclasts have been appropriated by institutional forces. Continue reading

Talk Like a Pirate, but don’t walk the plank

It suddenly occurred to me a while back that all these deals whereby you get something, and you are required to pay for it over and over (and over and over) again through mandated leases, such as Software as a Service (SaaS), are forms of corporate piracy. As my buddy Steve Bissette ranted – I think it was regarding a policy by Adobe or Microsoft: “We can afford them once and that’s what we can afford. We want to own almost all things we buy. With few exceptions, we don’t wish to buy or support those things which do not wish to be purchased outright. We do not need more monthly bills. We do not wish to interact with you regularly for permission to be permitted to use what we purchase to use.”

Did you know you can’t buy an electronic copy of the Oxford English Dictionary? It is “only available Continue reading

The FBI is sending me money!

Like too many of us, I get a lot of junk e-mail. Fortunately, most of it goes into my spam folder. A recent one came from the “Anti-Terrorist And Monetary Crimes Division” of the FBI, but signed by Mr. Robert Mueller, the director, informing me that they have “have completed an investigation on an International Payment in which was issued to you by an International Lottery Company. With the help of our newly developed technology (International Monitoring Network System)” – WOW! – “we discovered that your e-mail address was automatically selected by an Online Balloting System, this has legally won you the sum of $2.4million USD from a Lottery Company outside the United States of America.”

Yay, I’m practically rich!
Continue reading

Fixing the Internet, episode 1057

In the course of my job, I’m on the Internet. A LOT. And invariably, I find items that are incorrect. Whether I bother to correct them depends on whether I think it’s substantial enough that someone else might assume it’s correct and restate it as fact.

I’ve only fixed two thing on the Wikipedia, as far as I can recall. One, which I did with Steve Bissette, was a major overhaul of the FantaCo post; still imperfect. The other was back in 2006, when someone indicated that the next Presidential campaign was in 2007, rather than 2008. But I do not find the need to add Continue reading

Example #74 of why the Internet is weird: Samantha Brick

Shortly before I went on vacation, or holiday, if you prefer, last month, there was this great Internet kerfuffle about this 41-year-old writer named Samantha Brick, who graced the Daily Mail [UK] with a long article about, according to this assessment, “the advantages of her great pulchritude (lots of attention from men, who only have to drive past her in their cars to be overcome with the need to purchase a gift for her) and the disadvantages (unerring hatred from all women, who are jealous of the threat Brick’s very existence poses to their own relationships with said men).”

She took a lot of heat for this from literally, all over the world, including some people who suggested she wasn’t “all that” physically, in that nasty way the Internet can be. I probably would ignored it except for this subsequent article from Salon, which noted that “the backlash to the backlash kicked in.” Too much piling on; enough is enough. She was compared with performer Rebecca Black, noted for the oft-watched, oft-loathed song Friday.

I’m less interested in Samantha Brick (or Rebecca Black, for that matter) than with the notion that women, particularly attractive ones in the workplace, may not be taken seriously, with the assumption that they are gliding by on their physical features. I still recall a prominent newspaper editor make a disparaging remark about CBS News correspondent Laura Logan, assuming – ASSUMING – that she was merely hired for her looks, when she in fact had been working in war zones. Brick’s point, if better presented, might have actually been a teachable moment.

Instead, as we’ve seen so often before, we recognize that there seem to be no boundaries as to what people seem to have been given permission online. ,/b>