Social · technology

Steven Pinker Op-Ed – Mind Over Mass Media – NYTimes

There is so much buzz right now about whether or not we’re over-saturated with technology and gizmos and electronic thingamabobs and constant electronic feedback that it’s wrecking our brains. Some people have said absolutely, 100% yes.

Steven Pinker, a language, cognitive science, evolutionary psychologist working out of MIT and most famous for popularizing the idea that language is an “instinct” or biological adaptation shaped by natural selection, however points out that in some ways electronic technologies have helped us do better science, be more creative, and build social networks.

When comic books were accused of turning juveniles into delinquents in the 1950s, crime was falling to record lows, just as the denunciations of video games in the 1990s coincided with the great American crime decline. The decades of television, transistor radios and rock videos were also decades in which I.Q. scores rose continuously.

For a reality check today, take the state of science, which demands high levels of brainwork and is measured by clear benchmarks of discovery. These days scientists are never far from their e-mail, rarely touch paper and cannot lecture without PowerPoint. If electronic media were hazardous to intelligence, the quality of science would be plummeting. Yet discoveries are multiplying like fruit flies, and progress is dizzying.

via Op-Ed Contributor – Mind Over Mass Media –

I have mixed opinions about technology and the modern world – I am a blogger, and I write for both hard-copy and online publications. Most of my paychecks have come from online writing. I gain unmeasurable knowledge and enjoyment from the Internet, and yet the most restful vacation I have had in years is three days in Boulder where the only technology I had was my cell phone and a car, both of which turned off the majority of my visit. My husband can hear the buzz of electronics at night and can’t have anything plugged in when he goes to bed.

What do you think? Any other links to people’s opinions on the subject?


The seed is planted

Hello. Let me start this great adventure by saying first thank you for taking the time to stop by. We are all incredibly busy these days. In fact I have been so busy that I have been creating this blog for several months but haven’t actually gotten around to starting it until today. But here it is. Taa-daa!

The goal of this blog will be to explore environmental and behavioral enrichment. Sounds pretty dull, right? But really what it comes down to is this simple question:

What makes us happy?

What do humans need to live better, happier, more fulfilling, more productive lives? (For example, we all feel we need more time!) There are so many people looking at different elements of this the human experience – doctors, artists, coaches, designers – but few people have really sat down in a room together and asked, “hey, what does it take to keep humans happy? What have we found that is in common with each other? Are we telling people conflicting things (sometimes, yes!)?” There are people who study animal enrichment, but usually we don’t look at human enrichment.

My hope for this blog is that it opens up a venue for discussion, for people to look at different parts of being human and finding out simple ways of making our lives better. Something as simple as adding a house plant to your windowsill. Or phoning a friend. Or breathing deeply. Try it. Go ahead, right now, breath in slowly through your nose. … … … You now have more oxygen flowing to your brain and hopefully feel more relaxed and concentrating on the moment. My goal with this blog is to bring you more moments like that. More deep breaths.

More to come.