Thursday, November 1, 2007

S.F. offering healthcare to neediest via Los Angeles Times via story:

First the original story, S.F. offering healthcare to neediest - Los Angeles Times - I found this story interesting from the civic side that a local, though larger than most government, was trying to take on such a difficult undertaking. Also found it interesting from the economic side because the article did not go into details how it is being financed. Small businesses are already gearing up against it. Finally, it was interesting because the emphasis is on prevention or early intervention. How many social issues would be alleviated if they could be addressed early?

This was my first post on a new website I found through, once again, serendipity. The site looks interesting and incorporates some of th e same ideas I have been playing around with, minus in my case the technical prowess. It looks like a good place to learn a thing or two. The site also uses tags which I find quite useful.

Here is a link to the story on kikono :

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Web 2.0 For The Over 50 - A Good Experience

Good Experience - The Web 2.0 question - and As has been mentioned before, Mark Hurst has been one resource in this endeavor to learn more about Web 2.0. As one getting to the hump of the fifth decade, I was interested in his post on what does 2.0 mean to people over 50 years of age. Then he goes with the assumption that everyone over 50 is a grandparent, at least at the start. His real point is the necessity of figuring out what your customers, grandparents in this case, really want. Figuring out what the over 50 crowd wants is something that nobody on the Web seems to be doing all that well now, despite some recent attempts in the news. (I am over 50, I can't remember who they were - actually I am over 50, and I don't care.)

As one member of this demographic, I don't plan to wait for the market to define my web experience. I can't help but notice but that the people in the forefront of making a difference in the brave new world are young. The world of Web 2.0 and new technologies like nano-technology are young. Google, which I use extensively, has only been around since 1998. I am trying to learn because I find so much of this fascinating.

One particular insight made by Hurst's post was listing the various groups that have the ear of the executives who put up the commercial sites that are suppose to be designed to appeal to a market segment.

  • The technology press, whose job it is to report on the newest and flashiest trends, not necessarily what actually works in the long run
  • Bloggers, many of whom are technophiles who enjoy playing with, and writing about, Internet trends and gadgets
  • Investors, who often want quick results, and look to the press and bloggers to point the way

I would place myself into the second category but primarily for my own education. He then goes on to include two more groups, industry colleagues, who can (in some cases) be very helpful, "helpful" in this context would be something like the Councils (I paraphrased here emphasizing the positive) and customers. The later who are not on the list despite the fact that they can point the way forward, both in the short term and the long term. I put myself on both lists. As customers, clients and most especially citizens, we don't have to wait to be allowed to react to somebody else's web based marketing ploy. We can learn from the new technology and then find ways to contribute the one thing, we have hopefully acquired after half a century - wisdom.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Thought for Fri, 26 Oct 2007

Buddhist Thought for Fri, 26 Oct 2007

A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.
- Oliver Wendell Holmes...

It Is Not Knowledge Unless It Reaches Beyond You

The Outsourced Brain - New York Times by By DAVID BROOKS Published: October 26, 2007

Last Friday New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote on the outsourcing or externalizing of human intelligence to the external digital world. One senses his willingness to accept this state of affairs is similar to, "I for one welcome our new alien masters".

"Until that moment, I had thought that the magic of the information age was that it allowed us to know more, but then I realized the magic of the information age is that it allows us to know less. It provides us with external cognitive servants — silicon memory systems, collaborative online filters, consumer preference algorithms and networked knowledge. We can burden these servants and liberate ourselves."

"I’ll be in the way Amazon links purchasing Dostoyevsky to purchasing garden furniture. And when memes are spreading, and humiliation videos are shared on Facebook — I’ll be there, too."

"I am one with the external mind. Om."

What he failed to appreciate is that this has been going on for the last 6,500 years for the ubiquitous externalization of knowledge we call writing. The storytellers of oral societies have prodigious memories, for myths, but actually keeping detailed and accurate track of crops for the previous 7 years took writing. Even language, internalized as thought, is itself indirectly a form of externalization, by internally objectifying spoken language as thought so that it can be considered in past, present and future terms. More importantly, so that it can be communicated to others. It is this ability, perhaps beyond others, that has moved the human species forward. The primary tool of mass production that defines Mr. Brooks' business, the printing press, is also a means of externalizing knowledge beyond the cloistered walls of monks with quills.

A number of articles have recently reflected on the biological and social evolutionary development of human communication. The Los Angeles Times writer Karen Kaplan looks at the genetic origin of language in Did Neanderthals natter? The human forebears had a key language gene, researchers report on October 22, 2007 (requires free registration).

The Science Blog Developing Intelligence on October 16, 2007 by Chris Chathamasks asks "Why There Aren't Right-Handed Apes, Or: Handedness and The Evolution of Language" and gets in deeper to questioning the genetic, psycho-physiological and social development of language.

Corballis argues the final step was a cultural rather than evolutionary invention - early homo sapiens may have learned to uncouple speech from facial gesture so that speech was communicative on its own. Corballis notes that facial gestures still assume dominance over vocalizations among modern humans (see the McGurk effect), again suggesting our cultural heritage from gestural communication.

In summary, Corballis claims that handedness emerged only after speech, which was itself lateralized due to preexisting dominance of the left-hemisphere for communicative behaviors.

First the externalization of speech and then the internal rewiring of the brain to be lateralized to handedness.

The Los Angles Times had an article Researchers discover that irregular verbs change in a predictable manner -- just like genes and living organisms. By Denise Gellene, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer back on October 11, 2007.

Tracing the evolution of English verbs over 1,200 years -- from the Old English of "Beowulf" to the modern English of "The Princess Diaries" -- researchers have found that the majority of irregular verbs are going the way of Grendel, falling to the linguistic equivalent of natural selection.

Cognitive Daily's, Dave Munger, tracking a similar story from the New York Times tells us that the more we use a word, the less likely it is to change. According to the New York Times report frequently-used words evolve more slowly than rarely used ones. Dave Munger thought that this was understandable.

Seems reasonable. In our travels across Europe, we found that "yes" and "no" were very similar in different languages -- until we got to Greece, where their word for yes was pronounced "neh," and the word for no was "ochi." But despite anomalies such as this, overall more frequently used words tend to be more similar across Indo-European languages.

Why might this be? Mr. Munger cites one author of the study who explains,

As to how frequency of word use would affect evolution, Dr. Pagel said a possibility is that if errors are made in speaking common words, they may tend to be corrected, precisely because they are so common and so important for communication.
In other words, the fact that they were made external and subject to scrutiny in the environment decided their communicative importance thereby ensuring their survivability and that of the systems that used them.