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How blogging rewired my brain
On a recent vacation, I experienced a fit of “small thoughts.”
For a few hours, every few minutes my brain was coming up with somewhat interesting tidbits that were fun to mull around. These ideas were not earth shatteringly brilliant by any measure, but represented a small change in my understanding of some concept not key to my day-to-day life. If your having a hard time visualizing what this type of idea might look like, here’s a good example.\n
I normally would have shared these ideas digitally as I had them, but I had no access to electronics on this trip. I also knew I wouldn’t be returning to the ability to blog or tweet for a long period of time (~two weeks).\n
With these limitations, I became very aware of the effort required to document each of these ideas — because I couldn’t immediately use these thoughts, I found my natural inclination was to decrease their value in my head and use that as an excuse to not write them down.\n
Personal-publishing tools like Twitter and Blogs are powerful motivators — they increase the value of thought capture by making each thoughts value as a final product clear. This effect incentivizes bloggers to capture more of their thoughts and evaluate/prepare them for public scrutiny which improves their thinking, and that’s why I tend to value the thinking of people who actively publish, even if it’s for an audience of one.\n
* I wrote a post on Why I Blog, which could be updated with the thesis from this post.\n
* I think Twitter is interesting because it makes it easy to capture interesting and seemingly inconsequential ideas. Having that information captured is good for increasing global knowledge, but the main benefit is in the process of refinement for the original thinker. Publishing makes one think better.\n
* If we follow the path of innovation in personal publishing, it seems to be about allowing people the opportunity to capture smaller and smaller thoughts. Extrapolating this out, I’d be interested in consumer web technology that makes it easier to capture original thoughts that appear, at first glance, to be entirely mundane and uninteresting. Perhaps a tweet represents the smallest unique item of thought, but I doubt it. I have a feeling there is still a lot of opportunity in working directly with people’s thoughts, with voice, or with their habit of keeping diaries. I think the format that becomes the smallest unique captured thought should be called “Thoughtlets“\n
* The global database of ideas represented in the public nodes of personal publishing efforts (posts/tweets/delicious saves/etc.) is helping people learn today. I can pay attention to more of a persons thinking than I ever could in the past, because more of their thinking is being captured and they are making more of it public. However, I still have a limited number of people I can pay attention to. The real game changer will come with the rise of machine learning. When tomorrow’s supercomputers can pay attention to everyone’s thoughts — we will have really interesting opportunities, and robot apocalypse.\n
* One such opportunity: Intellectual reputation can be ranked fairly, based on the clarity, power and originality of your thinking. With a benchmark (how well did it improve the machines capability for thought), there will be less subjectivity in this ranking.\n
* Chris Saad is an expert on Attention. I’d love to attend an event or a group of people thinking about the effect and future of attention. That would be fascinating.\n
* OhLife is a really interesting startup. I don’t think they have yet applied a “search for the thoughtlet” to their user experience, but i really like the idea of email based journaling.\n
What is human dignity? Here's a primer, told through 200 years of great essays, lectures, and novels.
- Human dignity means that each of our lives have an unimpeachable value simply because we are human, and therefore we are deserving of a baseline level of respect.
- That baseline requires more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose.
- We look at incredible writings from the last 200 years that illustrate the push for human dignity in regards to slavery, equality, communism, free speech and education.
The inherent worth of all human beings<p>Human dignity is the inherent worth of each individual human being. Recognizing human dignity means respecting human beings' special value—value that sets us apart from other animals; value that is intrinsic and cannot be lost.</p> <p>Liberalism—the broad political philosophy that organizes society around liberty, justice, and equality—is rooted in the idea of human dignity. Liberalism assumes each of our lives, plans, and preferences have some unimpeachable value, not because of any objective evaluation or contribution to a greater good, but simply because they belong to a human being. We are human, and therefore deserving of a baseline level of respect. </p> <p>Because so many of us take human dignity for granted—just a fact of our humanness—it's usually only when someone's dignity is ignored or violated that we feel compelled to talk about it. </p> <p>But human dignity means more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose—a freedom that can be hampered by restrictive social institutions or the tyranny of the majority. The liberal ideal of the good society is not just peaceful but also pluralistic: It is a society in which we respect others' right to think and live differently than we do.</p>
From the 19th century to today<p>With <a href="https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?year_start=1800&year_end=2019&content=human+dignity&corpus=26&smoothing=3&direct_url=t1%3B%2Chuman%20dignity%3B%2Cc0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Google Books Ngram Viewer</a>, we can chart mentions of human dignity from 1800-2019.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0ODU0My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTUwMzE4MX0.bu0D_0uQuyNLyJjfRESNhu7twkJ5nxu8pQtfa1w3hZs/img.png?width=980" id="7ef38" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9974c7bef3812fcb36858f325889e3c6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist James Baldwin at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, southern France, on November 6, 1979.
Credit: Ralph Gatti/AFP via Getty Images
The future of dignity<p>Around the world, people are still working toward the full and equal recognition of human dignity. Every year, new speeches and writings help us understand what dignity is—not only what it looks like when dignity is violated but also what it looks like when dignity is honored. In his posthumous essay, Congressman Lewis wrote, "When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war."</p> <p>The more we talk about human dignity, the better we understand it. And the sooner we can make progress toward a shared vision of peace, freedom, and mutual respect for all. </p>
Scientists find that bursts of gamma rays may exceed the speed of light and cause time-reversibility.
- Astrophysicists propose that gamma-ray bursts may exceed the speed of light.
- The superluminal jets may also be responsible for time-reversibility.
- The finding doesn't go against Einstein's theory because this effect happens in the jet medium not a vacuum.
Jet bursting out of a blazar. Black-hole-powered galaxies called blazars are the most common sources detected by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.
Cosmic death beams: Understanding gamma ray bursts<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="cu2knVEk" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="c6cfd20fdf31c82cb206ade8ce21ba3f"> <div id="botr_cu2knVEk_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cu2knVEk-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/cu2knVEk-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cu2knVEk-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div>
Philosophers have been asking the question for hundreds of years. Now neuroscientists are joining the quest to find out.
- The debate over whether or not humans have free will is centuries old and ongoing. While studies have confirmed that our brains perform many tasks without conscious effort, there remains the question of how much we control and when it matters.
- According to Dr. Uri Maoz, it comes down to what your definition of free will is and to learning more about how we make decisions versus when it is ok for our brain to subconsciously control our actions and movements.
- "If we understand the interplay between conscious and unconscious," says Maoz, "it might help us realize what we can control and what we can't."
We’ve mapped a million previously undiscovered galaxies beyond the Milky Way. Take the virtual tour here.
See the most detailed survey of the southern sky ever carried out using radio waves.
Astronomers have mapped about a million previously undiscovered galaxies beyond the Milky Way, in the most detailed survey of the southern sky ever carried out using radio waves.
A new study shows our planet is much closer to the supermassive black hole at the galaxy's center than previously estimated.