What Excites Google?
Josh Cohen is the Senior Business Product Manager at Google News, where he manages global product strategy, marketing, and publisher outreach. He was previously vice president of business development for Reuters Media and director of business development for SmartMoney.com.
Question: How will Google augment its offerings in light of Twitter’s success?
Josh Cohen: Yeah, so I mean Google overall is -- you know, just recently rolled out integration of real-time search and taking Twitter and status updates and putting that in as one of the options within the Web. And obviously, I mean, not just Google News, but a number of different Google properties, are all very curious and beginning to think through, well, what does this mean for us? How do we take advantage of that? The way I think about it from the news side of it is, there are two aspects of it. One is just the content itself. I mean, is there value in those tweets? Or is it just sort of a stream of information that by itself just adds more noise to it? I think there's probably some of both. And that's a key part of what we try and do, is not just index the world's information, but also trying to organize it in some level. So applying that to real-time information is very challenging. So I think that's one thing that we're looking at.
The other part of it is just simply as another signal, of a way of sort of picking up those tweets about a certain topic or linking to a certain story. And is there a signal there that's helpful for us in trying to pick up information quicker, or trying to understand people's preferences for certain sources or for certain stories? And so even if you never even surface that information -- the real-time tweets that are there -- how can you leverage those signals to do a better job of presenting what you have on your own site? So I think both of those are areas that we are actively looking at and trying to figure out what's there. But I'm sure we'll put something out there, and maybe the first iteration will not work, but that's, I think, sort of the fun part about trying to see how you can move forward, and that makes things never dull.
Question: What is Google Wave, and what do you hope to accomplish with it?
Josh Cohen: Yeah, I mean I -- I don't know that in just a few seconds or minutes or probably hours I could explain what Wave is. I think that the idea behind Wave that was really interesting, it was, if e-mail didn't exist, how would you communicate? I think that was sort of the thought that a lot of the engineers started with with Google Wave, and really trying to re-imagine how people can communicate. So it's part e-mail, it's part chat, it's part collaborative documents. So it's kind of all of these rolled together, and it's one of these things you need to play around with it to really even begin to try and articulate what it is.
But that's one of the things, is that we've gotten a lot of interest from journalists saying we think this really fits well with how we do our job, and this is potentially a tool that we would want to take advantage of to tell stories, to create that, to create stories in a different way than how we do it right now, even though it sort of fits with the way we gather facts and information and check sources. Like how do we sort of migrate that to the Web and make it a much more of an open process? I think Wave is still at the early stages to try and figure out how it's going to be used, and journalism is just sort of one of the things that we've seen a few different organizations beginning to play around with. Don't know what's ultimately going to happen with either Wave, the larger discussion, and also specifically around journalism.
Question: What exciting ideas are on the horizon for Google?
Josh Cohen: Well, it certainly -- I mean, the things that I talk about, some of those trends about personalization -- I mean, that's a big one for us. And the social nature of news too. I mean, I think those are things that we've had in bits and pieces, but I don't think we've necessarily gotten it all together. It's tough; I mean, it's really hard when you talk about personalization; even explicit personalization is not easy to do well. And even if you get those signals from users, trying to make sure that you get them right and you interpret them in the right way -- that's not an easy challenge, to say nothing of the whole idea of implicit personalization, of just saying, I come to the Web site; you should know what I'm supposed to -- what I want to read. Needless to say, that's even trickier. So those are some of the things that we're really thinking about, and how do you present them in a meaningful way to our users.
Question: What will your users’ experience look like in 5 years?
Josh Cohen: Yeah, well, there's a balance, because I think you don't want to have the sort of echo chamber, where you're just getting that same news and information from the same sources and people that you've always gotten before. I think you really want to try and have that balance of information that's personalized to you, but sort of at the same time you don't want to lose the serendipity, and also the important news and information that you need to know -- you may not want to read this, but you need to know this. And so those are some of the things that I think are -- you know, can be challenging on the Web, especially the serendipity of it, like I was not searching for this, I didn't know that I wanted to read this, but I'm glad that I found this on my -- you know, on my site.
That's much easier to do right now in a paper. I mean, you sort of pick it up, you see the top stories of the day, but here's an article the editor has decided to place on the front page because they think it's important or they think that it is interesting. How do you introduce that online? So those are some of the things you need to balance with that, you know, really personalized news stream, with other things that just, you know, you may not know that they matter, or rather you may not be thinking them through to sort of say I want to search for it or I want to subscribe to this feed, but how do I get that in front of -- it's important that I get that in front of the user.
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Whether or not women think beards are sexy has to do with "moral disgust"
- A new study found that women perceive men with facial hair to be more attractive as well as physically and socially dominant.
- Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength, social assertiveness, and formidability.
- Women who display higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, are more likely to prefer hairy faces.
Beards and perceptions of masculinity<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg0MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NzkxMjM3N30.cH-GqNwP5GVqvstgJWAhBPn1B_lYpVEAI0I7iax7EQw/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C1900%2C0%2C849&height=700" id="caae6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="cb0a355a4e8e1899789bc45f3f7aef56" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Photo Credit: Wikimedia<p>The study used 919 American (mostly white) women ages 18-70 who rated 30 pictures of men they were shown with various stages of facial hair growth. The photographs depicted men with faces that had been digitally altered to look more feminine or more masculine, with a beard and without a beard. The women rated the men according to perceived attractiveness for long-term and short-term relationships. The study found that the more facial hair the men had, the higher the men were rated on their attractiveness, particularly for their suitability for a long-term relationship.</p><p>Part of this might be attributed to facial masculinity — i.e. protruding brow ridge, wide cheekbones, thick jawline, and deeply set narrow eyes — which conveys information to a woman about a man's underlying health and formidability. Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength and social assertiveness. It can also indicate a man with a superior immune response. The researchers suggested that their findings favoring bearded men could be due to the fact that facial hair enhances the masculine facial features on a man's face, like creating the illusion of a thicker jaw line. This could communicate direct benefits to women like resources and protection that would enhance survival among mothers and their infants. In other words, while a beard doesn't mean superior genetics in and of itself, it might be a primitive, ornamental way of saying, "Hey girl, I'm a testosterone-fueled lean, mean, pathogen fighting machine." <br></p><p>It could also be that a beard becomes its own destiny. The researchers in this study cite prior research that found that by growing a beard, men felt more masculine and had higher levels of serum testosterone, which was linked to a higher level of social dominance. They also tended to subscribe to more old-school beliefs about gender roles in their relationships with women as compared to men with clean-shaven faces.<span></span><br></p>
What does disgust have to do with beard preference?<p>Obviously, not all women dig beards. The researchers were particularly interested in what traits make a women prefer bearded men over clean-shaven faces. They looked into several factors including a woman's disgust levels on various concepts, her desire to become pregnant, and her exposure to facial hair in her personal life. </p><p>According to the study, women who were not into facial hair were turned-off by potential parasites or other critters they imagined could be in the hair or skin. Women ranking high on this "ectoparasite disgust" scale might have viewed beards as a sign of poor grooming habits. However, women who ranked higher in levels of "pathogen" did find the bearded men to be desirable, possibly because they perceived beards as a signal of good health and immune function. An intriguing discovery in the study was links to morality. Women who displayed higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, were more likely to prefer hairy faces. The authors opined that this could reflect a link between beardedness, politically conservative outlooks, and traditional views regarding performances of masculinity in heterosexual relationships.</p>
Additional findings<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg1My9vcmlnaW4uZ2lmIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNDI1NjUyOX0.P9B8WbmJR0q4nfzYZKbuNSA-2SAigVWJgrQE-_Gxlds/img.gif?width=980" id="49143" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2ed3b1d6f20fc170bf2974646e565e8d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />Giphy<p>The correlations that existed between married and single women's rating on the attractiveness of beards were not particularly clear, although the researchers noted that single and married women who wanted children tended to find beards more attractive than the women who didn't want children. They also found that women with bearded husbands found beards to be more attractive, which might indicate that social exposure to beards influences how desirable they are perceived of as being. Or it could be that men with wives who like beards grow beards.</p><p>It's important to note that culture plays a huge role in how attractive women perceive certain male characteristics as being. This study looked at a small, culturally specific group of American women, so no big, universal claims should be made about masculinity, facial hair, and male desirability to women. However, research like this is important in highlighting how human grooming decisions are driven by much more than fashion trends. Sociobiological, economic, and ecological factors all play a part in the way we choose to present ourselves.</p>
Yet 80 percent of respondents want to reduce their risk of dementia.
- A new MDVIP/Ipsos survey found that only 35 percent of Americans know the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.
- Eighty percent of respondents said they want to reduce their risks.
- An estimated 7.1 million Americans over the age of 65 will suffer from Alzheimer's by 2025.
Credit: logika600 / Shutterstock<p>Remaining healthy requires regular screenings. Here again we see a disassociation between risk reduction and proactivity. Seventy-seven percent of respondents don't talk to their doctors about lifestyle habits that support brain health; 51 percent have never been screened for depression; 44 percent have never had a neurological exam; and 32 percent have never been screened for hearing problems. </p><p>Common early warning signs of dementia, <a href="https://news.yahoo.com/americans-worry-alzheimers-disease-survey-140644803.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">according to</a> Dr. Jason Karlawish, co-director of the Penn Memory Center, include repetitive questions and stories, difficulties with complex daily tasks, and trouble with orientation. </p><p>In terms of intervention, <a href="https://bigthink.com/21st-century-spirituality/does-lack-of-exercise-lead-to-dementia" target="_self">exercise</a>, <a href="https://bigthink.com/surprising-science/obesity-dementia" target="_self">diet</a>, building a <a href="https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/brain-reserve" target="_self">brain reserve</a>, and challenging your brain (such as learning a new language or musical instrument) are all proven methods for staving off the ravages of Alzheimer's. Oxytocin has also <a href="https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/alzheimers-oxytocin" target="_self">showed promise</a> in brain-addled mice, while researchers found positive results for a <a href="https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/intermittent-fasting" target="_self">group of intermittent fasters</a> in promoting neurogenesis. </p><p>Epidemiologist Bryan James says that dementia is <a href="https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2013/04/15/176920391/how-exercise-and-other-activities-beat-back-dementia" target="_blank">not an inevitable result</a> of aging. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"It's simply not pre-destined for all human beings. Lots of people live into their 90s and even 100s with no symptoms of dementia." </p><p>Professor of neurology at Boston University School of Medicine, Andrew Budson, <a href="https://news.yahoo.com/americans-worry-alzheimers-disease-survey-140644803.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">recommends</a> aerobic exercise and the Mediterranean diet. As has long been known, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, fish and shellfish, and healthy fasts like nuts and olive oil seem to have brain-boosting properties. </p><p>To learn more, take the <a href="https://www.mdvip.com/brain-health-iq-quiz" target="_blank">Brain Health IQ quiz</a>.</p><p><span></span>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>