Your brain on Google

Gary Small, a neuroscientist at UCLA in California, has found through studies that Internet searching and text messaging has made the brains of “digital natives” more adept at filtering information and making decisions. The thinking part of the brain can be trained by surfing,  which is scanning for the next bit of new information and then connecting the dots to get the big picture. That means that in fact surfing is not a waste of time – it makes you smarter.

The downside is that all of this surfing creates stress and can damage neural networks. I’d like to know more about that.

In addition, “digital natives” tend to neglect human contact skills which you need to read emotional expressions and body language. So more going out with friends, doing sports, making music together, having dinner with the family… (did I miss your favorite January activities?)  And at work: Having a well-prepared but informal meeting where everyone is focussed on here and now… and on each other! In fact, the trend is towards the topless meeting – that’s official new-speak for a meeting without a laptop!

(Thanks Christian & Eamonn for your various tips.)

2000 year old computer attributed to Archimedes

The Ancient Greeks were even more technologically advanced than previously thought. The Antikythera mechanism, a geared device found in a shipwreck a century ago, has been recreated. Gears turn hands (or pointers) on dials, and the device is driven by a hand knob. The computer predicts the movement of the planets and is now being attributed to Archimedes.

For more on the story, watch the video (2:43 min.), go to the article in the New Scientist (12 December 2008) or read Jo Marchant’s book.

The Spoken Web

Isn’t he lovely? Photo by Jurec, who found this Buddha “who really listens” in a Tempel in Hangzhou, China

Asia is listening as IBM India Research Laboratory tests the World Wide Telecom Web (WWTW), a network of VoiceSites you access by phone. In this alternative to the WWW, users record a description and phone number of the VoiceSite they want to recommend using a regular phone. Callers listen and press a key or say a word when they find a site they want to be transferred to. I wonder how well voice recognition will work in India with its many dialects and languages, or in multilingual Asia and Africa. 70 per cent of the Indian population live in the country on $4 a day or less, so no computers. But 300 million people there use cellphones, with 8 million new subscribers each month. The market is gigantic. Since an astonishing 38.7 per cent of Indian adults can’t read or write, a phone-based web is perfect. (Wikipedia). (reporting: New Scientist, Computerworld)

I wonder: Is this the beginning of a new digital cultural divide? If the Spoken Web is a success, audio will rule there, while we seem to be going with text and video here. OK, we still call our friends and family, but do you leave as much voicemail as you send email? I wonder how this will develop in the next years.

iPhone blues

The Onion, that great fake newspaper, reports on some of iPhone 3G’s most highly anticipated features:

  • Nanotechnology enables it to reassemble itself when thrown against a wall
  • An exclusive link to Google Street View lets you watch yourself using your iPhone at all times
  • The iPhone takes Polaroids
  • When moved from hand to ear, it makes Lightsaber sound effects

I’d love to have one. Oh, well. Mahalo Daily reports that it has some weaknesses… Continue reading iPhone blues


ginaBMW has come out with a very cool concept car called GINA that looks like it should be sold in a sexshop. Watching the videos loving the skin on this transformer car, I was reminded of Batman, a favorite of the latex scene. As kids, we used to drape blankets over our shoulders and run around yelling “nana-nana-nana-nana-BATMAN!!!” This car is fabulous and visionary, of course… but am I the only one who thinks it’s also just a little kinky?
Continue reading Batmobile