Scipsy

"Internet Addiction" may soon spread like wildfire. All the elements favoring fad generation are in place… the profusion of alarming books; the breathless articles in magazines and newspapers; extensive TV exposure; ubiquitous blogs; the springing up of unproven treatment programs; the availability of millions of potential patients; and an exuberant trumpeting by newly minted "thought leading" researchers and clinicians.
[…]
There is no doubt that most of us have become hooked on our electronic devices and that some people are gravely harmed by what develops into an unhealthy and uncontrollable attachment to them. The question is how best to understand, define, and deal with this. What does the term “addiction” mean and when is it a useful way of describing our passions and needs? We don’t consider ourselves addicted to our cars, TV’s, refrigerators, or air conditioners. Is attachment to the Internet fundamentally different?

Internet Addiction—The Next New Fad Diagnosis by Allen Frances.

The whole concept of behavioral addictions is highly controversial and has never heretofore been given any official status. There is a good reason for this. It is extremely difficult to distinguish the relatively few people who are really enslaved by shopping, sex, work, golf (or the Internet) from the huge army of those who are attached to these as pleasurable recreation. It should not be counted as a mental disorder and be called an “addiction” just because you really love an activity, get a lot of pleasure from it, and spend a lot of time doing it. To be considered  “addicted,” you should be compulsively stuck doing something that is no longer fun, feels out of control, serves no useful purpose, and is certainly not worth the pain, costs, and harms. The unfavorable cost/benefit ratio should be pretty lopsided before mental disorder is considered. 

We all do dumb things that offer short-term pleasures but cause bad long term consequences. It is not “addiction” whenever someone gets into trouble because of over-spending, golfing too much, or having repeated sexual indiscretions. That’s our human nature—derived from many millions of years of evolutionary experience where life was short, opportunities for pleasure rare, and the long term didn’t count for nearly as much as it does now. There is a risky slippery slope if we medicalize our pleasure seeking, irresponsible selves.  


In an internet culture, it matters more that I know where the facts can be found, and how to piece them together, curate, and redistribute, than how long I can keep my head submerged in 300 pages of non-fiction. When reading news on the internet, I’m defined by my filters, but when reading a newspaper, I’m defined by my patience for skimming through stories about crises in the Middle East. I’ve found myself buying books on sprees that have more similarity to opening multiple tabs in a browser than the actions of a rational shopper. I page through my magazines like an RSS reader, where “marking read” means reading the headline, not necessarily reading the article. I’ve long since run out of shelf space for new titles, I’m a few pages into a few dozen books, ranging from Plato’s Meno to John Jeremiah Sullivan’s Pulphead […]

Offline: Ignorance by Paul Miller

This is so me.


Physics or Fashion? What Science Lovers Link to Most [Interactive]:

People who are intrigued with physics are somewhat intrigued with computer science, too, but they are crazy about fashion. Who knew? Hilary Mason did. At Scientific American’s request, the chief scientist at bitly (www.bitly.com), which shortens URLs for Web users, examined 600 science Web page addresses sent to the company’s servers on August 23 and 24. Then she tracked 6,000 pages people visited next and mapped the connections. The results revealed which subjects were strongly and weakly associated. Chemistry was linked to almost no other science. Biology was linked to almost all of them. Health was tied more to business than to food. But why did fashion connect strongly to physics? And why was astronomy linked to genetics?  

Physics or Fashion? What Science Lovers Link to Most [Interactive]:

People who are intrigued with physics are somewhat intrigued with computer science, too, but they are crazy about fashion. Who knew? Hilary Mason did. At Scientific American’s request, the chief scientist at bitly (www.bitly.com), which shortens URLs for Web users, examined 600 science Web page addresses sent to the company’s servers on August 23 and 24. Then she tracked 6,000 pages people visited next and mapped the connections. The results revealed which subjects were strongly and weakly associated. Chemistry was linked to almost no other science. Biology was linked to almost all of them. Health was tied more to business than to food. But why did fashion connect strongly to physics? And why was astronomy linked to genetics?  

Computing power has grown exponentially. So has the human network. But the brain of Homo sapiens remains pretty much the same organ that evolved in the heads of African hunter-gatherers 200,000 years ago. And that brain has a tendency to swing in its mood, from greed to fear and from love to hate.

The reality may be that by joining us all together and deluging us with data, the Netlords have ushered in a new Age of Volatility, in which our primeval emotions are combined and amplified as never before.

World on Wi-Fire: Technology Feeds Mind-Boggling Volatility by Nial Ferguson

Sometimes I think the same.


If you don’t link to primary sources, you are dead to me […]

[…] I do not trust you. There is a high risk that you chose not to link it, because you’re hiding something:

  1. that you didn’t read the primary source, and are reporting what it said second hand;
  2. that you’re misrepresenting the primary source, either because you didn’t read it or because you intend to deceive;
  3. in the case of newspaper articles copied and pasted from press releases, you’re hiding the fact that you plagiarised commercial promotional content.

by Ben Goldacre


Something I learned today: maps and chart are absolutely great instruments to share data, with a good map you can show complex data and allow people to understand them. But we need that maps/charts to be based on reliable data, because if a good map could help complex data to be share easily, a map based on partial/incaccurate/misleading data can bring only misinformation.
This is why we need to know the sources to trust something.

WebMD is porn for hypochondriacs.
@Misty Harris