Archive for October 1st, 2012

October 1, 2012

Technology Evangelist

A technology evangelist is a person who attempts to build a critical mass of support for a given technology in order to establish it as a technical standard in a market that is subject to network effects (when such effects are present, the value of a product or service is dependent on the number of others using it).

Professional technology evangelists are often employed by firms which seek to establish their proprietary technologies as de facto standards or to participate in setting non-proprietary open standards. Non-professional technology evangelists may act out of altruism or self-interest (e.g., to gain the benefits of early adoption or the network effect).

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October 1, 2012

The Cult of Mac

the cult of mac

The Cult of Mac is a book by technology writer Leander Kahney about fanaticism for the Apple product line. Professor of marketing Russell Belk argues that, like a religion, the Cult of Mac is a belief system that helps its followers understand technology and the world.

The attitude of Apple sympathizers and fans is viewed by many as being ‘cult-like.’ According to neurological research cited by the BBC on their ‘Secrets of the Superbrands’ documentary, the response from the brain of an Apple enthusiast when viewing the brand-related symbols and imagery is similar to the one of a religious devotee when exposed to religious symbols and images. Apple founder Steve Jobs is compared to a god figure and savior, and his life story is said to resemble Joseph Campbell’s heroic adventure myths. Jobs was often viewed as a saintly figure to Mac users.

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October 1, 2012

Is Google Making Us Stupid?

Technology Dependence

Is Google Making Us Stupid? What the Internet is doing to our brains’ is a magazine article by technology writer Nicholas G. Carr highly critical of the Internet’s effect on cognition. It was published in ‘The Atlantic’ magazine as a six-page cover story in 2008.

Carr’s main argument is that the Internet might have detrimental effects on cognition that diminish the capacity for concentration and contemplation. Despite the title, the article is not specifically targeted at Google, but more at the cognitive impact of the Internet and World Wide Web.

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October 1, 2012

Extended Mind

David Chalmers

The Extended Mind‘ is a book in the field of philosophy of mind edited by MIT philosopher Richard Menary. It contains several papers by different philosophers. The ‘extended mind thesis’ (EMT) refers to an emerging concept that addresses the question as to the division point between the mind and the environment by promoting the view of active externalism.

The EMT proposes that some objects in the external environment are utilized by the mind in such a way that the objects can be seen as extensions of the mind itself. Specifically, the mind is seen to encompass every level of the cognitive process, which will often include the use of environmental aids.

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October 1, 2012

Thoughtography

the ring by Yanni DeMelo

Nensha (Chinese: ‘spirit photography’ literally ‘sense inception’), better known to English speakers as ‘thoughtography’ or ‘projected thermography’ or ‘nengraphy,’ is the ability to psychically ‘burn’ images from one’s mind onto surfaces, or even into the minds of others.

It is common in fiction, and made noteworthy by ‘The Ring’ media franchise. While the term ‘thoughtography’ has been in the English lexicon since 1913, the more recent term ‘projected thermography’ is a neologism originating from the 2002 U.S. remake of ‘The Ring.’

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October 1, 2012

Ectoplasm

slimer

Ectoplasm [ek-tuh-plaz-uhm] (Greek: ‘ektos,’ meaning ‘outside,’ and ‘plasma,’ meaning ‘something formed or molded’) is a term coined by French physiologist Charles Richet to denote a substance or spiritual energy ‘exteriorized’ by physical mediums (individuals who claim a spiritual connection to the dead).

Ectoplasm is said to be associated with the formation of spirits; however since World War II reports of ectoplasmic phenomena have declined and many psychical researchers doubt whether genuine cases ever existed. Ectoplasm is said to be formed by physical mediums when in a trance state. This material is excreted as a gauze-like substance from orifices on the medium’s body and spiritual entities are said to drape this substance over their nonphysical body, enabling them to interact in the physical and real universe. According to mediums, the ectoplasm can not occur in light conditions as the ectoplasmic substance would disintegrate.

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October 1, 2012

The Ascent of Money

Niall Ferguson by David Levine

The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World’ is a 2008 book by Harvard historian Niall Ferguson’s, which was adapted into a series of documentary feature for public television in the US and UK. It examines the long history of money, credit, and banking. From Shylock’s pound of flesh to the loan sharks of Glasgow, from the ‘promises to pay’ on Babylonian clay tablets to the Medici banking system.

Professor Ferguson explains the origins of credit and debt and why credit networks are indispensable to any civilization. He also investigates human bondage. Studying the question: How did finance become the realm of the masters of the universe? Through the rise of the bond market in Renaissance Italy. With the advent of bonds, war finance was transformed and spread to north-west Europe and across the Atlantic. It was the bond market that made the Rothschilds the richest and most powerful family of the 19th century. The book also explores why stock markets produce bubbles and busts.

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October 1, 2012

Chimerica

Chimerica by Michael Cho

Chimerica is a neologism and portmanteau coined in 2006 by historian Niall Ferguson and economist Moritz Schularick describing the symbiotic relationship between China and the United States, with incidental reference to the legendary chimera. In 2010, anticipating the risk of tensions between the two nations escalating into a currency war, Ferguson published a paper forecasting that Chimerica would soon unravel.

They argue that saving by the Chinese and overspending by Americans led to an incredible period of wealth creation that contributed to the global financial crisis of 2008–2009. For years, China accumulated large currency reserves and channeled them into U.S. government securities, which kept nominal and real long-term interest rates artificially low in the United States.

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October 1, 2012

Cultural Impact of Star Wars

Jediism

George Lucas’ six-film Star Wars saga has had a significant impact on modern American popular culture. ‘Star Wars’ references are deeply embedded in popular culture; references to the main characters and themes of Star Wars are casually made in many English-speaking countries with the assumption that others will understand the reference. Darth Vader has become an iconic villain. Phrases like ‘evil empire’ and ‘May the Force be with you’ have become part of the popular lexicon. The first ‘Star Wars film’ in 1977 was a cultural unifier, enjoyed by a wide spectrum of people.

Science fiction since the original 1977 ‘Star Wars,’ particularly in film, has often been influenced by and compared to ‘Star Wars.’ Sounds, visuals, and even the music from the films have become part of the tapestry of American society. The film also helped launch the science fiction boom of the late 1970s and early 1980s, and made science fiction films a blockbuster genre. It has also been parodied in films and short videos, such as ‘Spaceballs.’

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October 1, 2012

Dark Side

Darth Vader

The dark side of the Force is a prominent moral, philosophical, metaphorical and psychic concept in the ‘Star Wars’ universe, which George Lucas intends as a metaphor for the universal human temptation towards cruelty and inhumanity as a means of gaining ‘power,’ or advantage, in life.

The dark side is the opposite of the ‘light side’ of ‘the Force,’ a mystical energy which permeates the universe. It is used by the Sith, and forbidden among their rivals, the Jedi. By channeling intense negative emotions – such as anger, jealousy or greed – into the Force, individuals can attain powers of the Force more easily – but at a consequence. They gain lust for power, and become increasingly self-aggrandizing.

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