My desire as a power user to get what I want from software is always tempered by my days in the early 2000s as an Internet trainer, the mid-2000s doing customer support at Bryght (the Drupal-powered hosted service, not the online furniture retailer), and, maybe to a lesser extent doing client work in the early 2010s at OpenRoad and Chapter Three. Those experiences gave me insight into the possibilities and limitations software companies face in delivering customer and client happiness. Read more about Series Introduction: Customer Care Experiences from the Other Side
Photos of my trip to the Okanagan Valley during the Memorial Day long weekend. Read more about Osoyoos
Combine 4 different services to get links from your Twitter timeline posted to Slack. Read more about Using Siftlinks and IFTTT to Aggregate Links From Your Twitter Timeline Into a Slack Channel
Instructions on how to get specialized sports alerts in Slack using Twitter. Read more about Bare-Bones Sports Alerts in Slack
Do you like Slack? Do you like Twitter? Would you like to use Twitter in your Slack? Read more about Introducing Slack-Twitter
Scientific American reported in December 2011 of research on the doorway effect, which is forgetting what you were going to do as soon as you entered a different room in your abode. Gabriel A. Radvanskya, Sabine A. Krawietza & Andrea K. Tamplina published a paper showing in experiments that people recalled less walking through a doorway than walking the same distance without a doorway.
From the Scientific American report:
Is it walking through the doorway that causes the forgetting, or is it that remembering is easier in the room in which you originally took in the information? Psychologists have known for a while that memory works best when the context during testing matches the context during learning; this is an example of what is called the encoding specificity principle.
Except that walking back to the room in which you thought of what you wanted to do doesn’t improve the chances of remembering what you wanted to do.
The doorway effect suggests that there’s more to the remembering than just what you paid attention to, when it happened, and how hard you tried. Instead, some forms of memory seem to be optimized to keep information ready-to-hand until its shelf life expires, and then purge that information in favor of new stuff.
No real solutions to the problem are offered in the article. Write down a list of what you need to do in the next room? The Scientific American reporters offer a theory that other events trigger purging of short-term memory, and these events probably won’t give you enough time to jot down the thing you needed to do just now.
I only got to 17 books read in 2014, falling short of the 25 I set out to read. Read more about My 2014 in Books
This blog is now powered by Drupal 7. I’m redirecting some content that Drupal 7 wouldn’t handle to my archive site thanks to the Rabbit Hole module. (Assuming DNS has propagated to you, my SkyTrain Explorer journal should be a live and well, along with some link-blog posts and other whatnots.) This is also going to be a test of the Vinculum module's support of Webmention, since my site powered by Known supports it out of the box. Some related links can be found on the post in question. Read more about Just a Gwai Lo Now Powered by Drupal 7
My photos and memories of walking around East Vancouver taking in the yearly arts and crafts festival. Read more about 2014 Eastside Culture Crawl
Tonight, at Hot Art Wet City, a wee little studio on Main & 6th Ave., I heard from several artists talk about their work and how they do it. Read more about Hot Talks at Hot Art Wet City: Eastside Culture Crawl Artists Speak
John Crowley: “To live at once in a time recoverable by a particular sacred calendar and also by a time without qualities, counted as it passes, involves a sort of mental doubling that is perhaps comparable, in the richness it grants to thought and feeling, to growing up bilingual: two systems, each complete, funny when they collide, each supplying something the other lacks, bearing no command to choose between them. Read more about We Can Explore an Endlessly Generated World Freely
As part of Vancouver Design Week 2014, a senior urban designer from the City of Vancouver took us on a 3 hour bike tour of Vancouver's architecture. We started in Olympic Village, made our way north on the seawall to Chinatown, then rode through Gastown to the convention centre, after which we biked to Stanley Park and then to Third Beach, ending at Mole Hill. Read more about Vancouver Design Week Bike Tour
Google Maps turn-by-turn cycling directions, headphones, and city bikeshares are by far the best way I've found to discover a strange city.
While leaving a BBQ celebrating a friend's 50th birthday party, Richard Smith's tweet pointing out the Ingress app had been released for iOS flowed through my stream. For the last two years, owners of Android-based Internet communicators have been playing the GPS-enabled, location-based massively mouthful role-playing game. Read more about Two Weeks of Ingress
Links randomly selected from the stuff I saw the previous week. Social issues and technology; a procedurally generated video game makes a big splash at E3; a surprisingly insightful review of a web series; and an autobiographical critique of Modernism. Some links are from longer than a week ago.
Avec l’habitude et le pas rapide, nous oublions les choses. Et c’est peut-être grâce à l’oubli que l’histoire et le passé se révèlent. La poussière, la patine offrent la possibilité de la mémoire.
The noosphere is the unified human consciousness. That is not what the network is. I’ve been conceptualising the network as a universal human memory—pace some very serious qualifications. I’ve believed for a while that the internet is a system intimately connected to memory—it resembles more the space of memory, with its strange connections and absences, than any physical space. Memory does not occupy the same dimension as time, either, even when it is augmented, machined, apparently and infinitely recallable memory.
I am talking in part about anamnesis, Plato’s conception of Socrates/himself as midwife rather than teacher; of remembering: only remember. The internet is only a machine, the network is machine-augmented memory, with all the strange ripple-effects that this produces. And memory, socially and culturally constructed, is not only what we, as individuals, have experienced; it is what we, all of us, have experienced: collectively, forever.
The act of forgetting crafts and hones data in the brain as if carving a statue from a block of marble. It enables us to make sense of the world by clearing a path to the thoughts that are truly valuable. It also aids emotional recovery.
Gretchen Reynolds reports on studies linking exercise with improved memory:
For some time, scientists have believed that BDNF [brain-derived neurotrophic factor] helps explain why mental functioning appears to improve with exercise. However, they haven’t fully understood which parts of the brain are affected or how those effects influence thinking. The Irish study suggests that the increases in BDNF prompted by exercise may play a particular role in improving memory and recall.
In the concluding chapter of her book Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at Our Peril, Margaret Heffernan recommends aerobic exercise to help combat poor decision-making. She emphasizes aerobic exercise from other types, like yoga, which she argues makes us feel good but does not make our brains better.