Tristan Harris – How A Handful of Tech Companies Control Billions of Minds Every Day

Tristan Harris co-founded the movement for Time Well Spent to spark an important conversation to about the kind of future we want from the technology industry. Instead of a “time spent” economy where apps and websites compete for how much time they take from us, it aims to create an ecosystem competing to help us live by our values and spend time well.

Harris was a design ethicist and product philosopher at Google until 2016, where he studied how technology influences a billion users’ attention, well-being and behavior. He led design sprints with product teams, including a meeting between Google’s lead product designers and Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, international spokesperson for Mindfulness.

Previously, Harris was CEO and co-founder of Apture, which Google bought in 2011. Apture enabled millions of users to get instant, on-the-fly explanations without leaving their place, across a publisher network of a billion page views per month.

Harris holds several patents from his previous career at Apple, Wikia, Apture and Google. He graduated from Stanford University with a degree in Computer Science, focused on Human Computer Interaction, while dabbling in behavioral economics, social psychology, behavior change and habit formation in Professor BJ Fogg’s Stanford Persuasive Technology lab.

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NOTE: If this caught your attention, please also read Roger McNamee’s article How to Fix Facebook—Before It Fixes Us. It is a long article, but it is really worth doing it.

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Tommy Preson Phillips – My 4 Rules For Responding To Nasty Emails

Scot McKnight published on his blog on Patheos these useful suggestions, coming from one of his students. Here are the 4 Rules:

  1. Wait 48 hours before responding
  2. Do not defend yourself
  3. No negativity!
  4. Look for substance

Read HERE the arguments.

 

 

 

 

 

Map of Western Media

map of western media

Take your pick.

(Source, HERE.)

Warning: This Post Could Be Hazardous to Your Paralysis | UnTangled

Source: Warning: This Post Could Be Hazardous to Your Paralysis | UnTangled

Kelly Flanagan on digital detox. NOT A SAFE POST! 🙂

Reading Wars – Philip Yancey

Source: Reading Wars – Philip Yancey

Don’t you love the always candid Philip Yancey? I really do.

This is an article everybody should read. Please find below a few excerpts:

‘ I used to read three books a week. One year I devoted an evening each week to read all of Shakespeare’s plays (OK, due to interruptions it actually took me two years). Another year I read the major works of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. But I am reading many fewer books these days, and even fewer of the kinds of books that require hard work.

The internet and social media have trained my brain to read a paragraph or two, and then start looking around.  When I read an online article from The Atlantic or The New Yorker, after a few paragraphs I glance over at the slide bar to judge the article’s length. My mind strays, and I find myself clicking on the sidebars and the underlined links. Soon I’m over at CNN.com reading Donald Trump’s latest Tweets and details of the latest terrorist attack, or perhaps checking tomorrow’s weather.’

‘Neuroscientists have an explanation for this phenomenon. When we learn something quick and new, we get a dopamine rush; functional-MRI brain scans show the brain’s pleasure centers lighting up. In a famous experiment, rats keep pressing a lever to get that dopamine rush, choosing it over food or sex. In humans, emails also satisfy that pleasure center, as do Twitter and Instagram and Snapchat.

Nicholas Carr’s book The Shallows analyzes the phenomenon, and its subtitle says it all: “What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains.” Carr spells out that most Americans, and young people especially, are showing a precipitous decline in the amount of time spent reading. He says, “Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.” A 2016 Nielsen report calculates that the average American devotes more than ten hours per day to consuming media—including radio, TV, and all electronic devices. That constitutes 65 percent of waking hours, leaving little time for the much harder work of focused concentration on reading.’

‘I’ve concluded that a commitment to reading is an ongoing battle, somewhat like the battle against the seduction of internet pornography. We have to build a fortress with walls strong enough to withstand the temptations of that powerful dopamine rush while also providing shelter for an environment that allows deep reading to flourish. Christians especially need that sheltering space, for quiet meditation is one of the most important spiritual disciplines.’

‘Boredom, say the researchers, is when creativity happens. A wandering mind wanders into new, unexpected places. When I retire to the mountains and unplug for a few days, something magical takes place. I’ll go to bed puzzling over a roadblock in my writing, and the next morning wake up with the solution crystal-clear—something that never happens when I spend my spare time cruising social media and the internet.

I find that poetry helps. You can’t zoom through poetry; it forces you to slow down, think, concentrate, relish words and phrases. I now try to begin each day with a selection from George Herbert, Gerard Manley Hopkins, or R. S. Thomas.

For deep reading, I’m searching for an hour a day when mental energy is at a peak, not a scrap of time salvaged from other tasks. I put on headphones and listen to soothing music, shutting out distractions.’

‘We’re engaged in a war, and technology wields the heavy weapons. Rod Dreher published a bestseller called The Benedict Option, in which he urged people of faith to retreat behind monastic walls as the Benedictines did—after all, they preserved literacy and culture during one of the darkest eras of human history. I don’t completely agree with Dreher, though I’m convinced that the preservation of reading will require something akin to the Benedict option.

I’m still working on that fortress of habit, trying to resurrect the rich nourishment that reading has long provided for me.’

Lara Setrakian – 3 Ways to Fix A Broken News Industry

We live in a time when fake news proliferate. It is called the ‘post-truth age’.

In this TED talk, Lara Satrakian, a journalist dedicated to ‘building innovative news platforms that stand ready to engage and explain the complexity of our world’ suggests three way to fix the broken media industry. Here they are:

Idea number one: we need news that’s built on deep-domain knowledge. Given the waves and waves of layoffs at newsrooms across the country, we’ve lost the art of specialization. Beat reporting is an endangered thing. When it comes to foreign news, the way we can fix that is by working with more local journalists, treating them like our partners and collaborators, not just fixers who fetch us phone numbers and sound bites. Continue reading “Lara Setrakian – 3 Ways to Fix A Broken News Industry”

Andrew Postman – My Dad Predicted Trump in 1985 – It’s not Orwell, He Warned, It’s Brave New World

neil-postman-amusing-ourselves-to-death

Neil Postman’s son, Andrew, writes for The Guardian, an article in which he suggests that, given the mess in which our world is, in the age of Trump and post-truth, we could get more insight about it from his father’s book Amusing Ourselves to Death, than from Orwell’s book 1984, as it was intensely (and effectively – as proven by the sudden increase in the sales of this book) suggested lately.

I share here a few excerpts of this brilliant article, in the hope this will motivate you to read it in its entirety.

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The central argument of Amusing Ourselves is simple: there were two landmark dystopian novels written by brilliant British cultural critics – Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell – and we Americans had mistakenly feared and obsessed over the vision portrayed in the latter book (an information-censoring, movement-restricting, individuality-emaciating state) rather than the former (a technology-sedating, consumption-engorging, instant-gratifying bubble).

“We were keeping our eye on 1984,” my father wrote. “When the year came and the prophecy didn’t, thoughtful Americans sang softly in praise of themselves. The roots of liberal democracy had held. Wherever else the terror had happened, we, at least, had not been visited by Orwellian nightmares.”

Unfortunately, there remained a vision we Americans did need to guard against, one that was percolating right then, in the 1980s. The president was a former actor and polished communicator. Our political discourse (if you could call it that) was day by day diminished to soundbites (“Where’s the beef?” and “I’m paying for this microphone” became two “gotcha” moments, apparently testifying to the speaker’s political formidableness). Continue reading “Andrew Postman – My Dad Predicted Trump in 1985 – It’s not Orwell, He Warned, It’s Brave New World”