the end of the golden age? whatevers.

this is turning out to be a pretty busy day.  if i’m going to take some time to blog, i probably should write about the iPad… but what i find more interesting is all the buzz the iPad is generating.  i can’t get this article out of my mind.  it was written by josh bernoff, who i assume by virtue of his affiliation with forrester research is supposed to know of which he speaks.  as soon as i heard him discuss his article on NPR, i immediately felt that his article must have simply been written to generate buzz for himself or his firm.  his position seems so obviously controversial that i’m sure people are discussing it all over the web at this very moment.

in a nutshell, he feels that the iPad and devices like it portend the end of the golden age of the web.  this position reminds me of david lynch talking about the iphone and film, which i blogged about some time ago.  bernoff talks about the “splinternet,” a term which is sure to see more and more play in the near future.  he basically feels that with every new device, you are being restricted to some subset of the potential entire web experience.  to him this means the end of the golden age of the web.

hmmmm- first of all, the end user experience is always restricted in some way.  it might be your isp throttling you, your out-of-date browser or computer, the country you live in, or any combination of many, many factors.  all devices have never been equal.  access has never been equal for the end user.  this is why all web  “standards” ended up with so many variables.

if anything, we are now entering the golden age of the web.  the web, and the internet for that matter, is about access to a data flow.   the fact that all these new devices can’t access the same flow or volume of data is insignificant when compared to the fact that there is an ever increasing number of devices that are downloading and uploading data to the net.

case in point- we are finally at a point where there are enough devices in vehicles that are location aware and connected to the internet for us to put up really useful realtime traffic information on the web-  i’m talking street level, not just highways.  this information is invaluable in some parts of the world, allowing for untold savings in time and productivity.  the fact that this data might move through an iphone that doesn’t run flash isn’t as significant as the fact that the data is moving.

the web and the internet are about data flow.  flow is not optimal now, and probably never will be.  but if the idea of an end to a golden age has to do with access being splintered, there are plenty of issues that seem more influential than the proliferation of devices with different capabilities and standards.

middle age and the mind, part 2

i think fate is telling me i need to go home asap and crank up the xbox360.  i just was facebooking earlier today about how mass effect 2 looks really tempting…. and lo and behold, i come across this article.  the gentleman being interviewed on the podcast happens to hold a doctorate in educational psychology.  what caught my eye was the part about fluid intelligence- a subject which i mentioned just a couple of posts ago.  in the podcast, dr. perez basically reiterates the old paradigm:

“For the last 50 years, fluid intelligence was felt to be immutable,” Perez said, “meaning it couldn’t be changed, no matter what kinds of experiences you have.”

But he also drops this bomb:

“We have discovered that video game players perform 10 to 20 percent higher in terms of perceptual and cognitive ability than normal people that are non-game players,”

In a nutshell, he says that video gaming increases fluid intelligence.  another quote:

Early indications suggest that cognitive improvements from video games can last up to two and half years, Perez said, but he admitted that so far the results have been relegated to observations and measurements in a controlled laboratory environment.

how long until someone makes a great video game that confers a measurable advantage in real life career prospects? and what implications would that have for our education system?

the wisdom of the crowd

recently there’s been a lot of buzz on the internet on using the google autocomplete feature as a tool to get a sense of the mindset of society as a whole.  i used the web seer site to make this visualization.  i compared “Christianity is” to “Christianity is not.”  the results are pretty interesting.  the “Christianity is”  side of things was more negative than i anticipated.

living standards and an economy based on consumer spending

been wondering lately what direction the living standards in the usa will take over the next couple of decades.  i’ve been told many times that here in the usa we have an economy based on consumer spending.  here’s a little tidbit to consider.  los angeles county has a current population of almost 10 million people.  a digital camera is a pretty typical purchase for a consumer here in this population cluster.  right now the #1 trending topic on dpreview.com is the panasonic gf1.  where can one go in los angeles to examine this camera?  i can think of maybe 4 places, and 3 of them are part of the same chain (samy’s).  4 physical locations for a cluster of 10 million people.  what might this suggest about the efficiency and efficacy of our economy?

middle age and the mind

met up with some old friends this weekend.  opportunities like that come rarely as of late, so i was keen on making the most of our time.  one topic that came up in conversation was the current condition of our memory.  it quickly became apparent that most of us had forgotten quite a bit of high school.  for example, i could not name even one person that sat adjacent to me in my Government/Civics class.  weak.  i’m starting a daily micrologging journal to see if i can improve my social recall.

as we get older, i think most of us already kinda know what we need to do to preserve our dwindling physical abilities. i’m clear on the need for balance in rest and exercise, the need for both resistance and cardiac challenge, and the importance of a healthy diet.

what is less apparent is what needs to be done to guard against the atrophy of the mind.  it seems likely to me that the mind needs to be challenged as the body does in order to maximize potential.  i’ve been heartened as of late to learn that, amazingly, the brain can actually improve in some areas of performance after the age of 40.  perhaps even more amazingly, for some people, it might be possible to literally increase your intelligence through training.  think about that.  think about the implications.  we aren’t talking about brute memorization ability, but about improving fluid intelligence.  for those of you who have kids, a place like this might end up being one of those investments that actually ends up being worth it.  we already know that many people are improving their academic and work records by spending money on performance enhancing drugs.  this is different.  we are talking about the possibility of training our minds to be more fit and to perform better.

the paradigm i was taught when i was growing up was that intelligence is mostly set by genetic factors.  as a result in my mind i always dismissed intelligence as a factor whenever i considered how much i respected an individual.  i know smart yet lazy people, and i know hard working people of below average intelligence.  there seemed to be no apparent relationship between intelligence and quality of character.  with every passing year this mindset seems less reliable.  apparently i underestimated the true depth of every person’s potential.  if a person wth sufficient determination can literally make themselves smarter when given the right tools, then the world is potentially a much different place than i thought it was.  which is great.  gotta keep my mind flexible, you know. 🙂