Spark File

Better Answers & How I Learned to Defrag My Brain first posts this video on Steven Johnson’s book .

Then it moves on to talking about Johnson’s blog post The Spark File. (Doesn’t Getting Things Done have something similar?)

We have outgrown our ability to remember everything that might be useful in the future. Last week I heard Ray Kurzweil on Biotech Nation say around age 22 we reach the upper limits of what we can remember. After this point to remember something we forget something else. His idea is that we will connect our brains to the Internet for additional storage. But not as an external hard drive but for searching for the data or information we need.

The Spark File is more the clunky approximation of the external hard drive. I have also seen it called the External Brain. It is cathartic in that once we commit things to writing, we can stop constantly thinking about it. Really, this is a major reason why I blog. There are usually a dozen drafts sitting around waiting for me to revisit them and flesh out the post. (This one was originally started 30 days ago as just a link.)

My smartphone is my clunky approximation of searching the Internet for whatever I need whenever I need to know it. I’d appreciate Google Glass if it read my brain rather than having to talk to it. I can talk to my phone now to do a search, but I never do. Guess I am too quiet?

P.S. Johnson’s book  changed my life.
😀

2012 Reading List

I had three reading goals:

Complete unfinished novel series.

  1. A Song of Ice and Fire
    1. DONE — A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1) — George R.R. Martin
    2. DONE — A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, #2) — George R.R. Martin
    3. DONE — A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, #3) — George R.R. Martin
    4. DONE — A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire, #4) — George R.R. Martin
    5. DONE — A Dance With Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, #5) — George R.R. Martin
  2. Wicked Years
    1. DONE — Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (Wicked Years, #1) — Gregory Maguire
    2. DONE — Son of a Witch (Wicked Years, #2) — Gregory Maguire
    3. NOT DONE — A Lion Among Men (Wicked Years, #3) — Gregory Maguire
  3. The Malazan Book of the Fallen
    1. DONE — Deadhouse Gates (The Malazan Book of the Fallen, #2) — Steven Erikson
    2. DONE — Memories of Ice (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #3) — Steven Erikson
    3. DONE — House of Chains (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #4) — Steven Erikson
    4. DONE — Midnight Tides (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #5) — Steven Erikson
    5. DONE — The Bonehunters (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #6) — Steven Erikson
    6. NOT DONE — Reaper’s Gale (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #7) — Steven Erikson
    7. NOT DONE — Toll the Hounds (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #8) — Steven Erikson
    8. NOT DONE — Dust of Dreams (The Malazan Book Of The Fallen #9) — Steven Erikson
    9. NOT DONE — The Crippled God (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #10) — Steven Erikson
  4. Barsoom
    1. DONE — A Princess of Mars — Edgar Rice Burroughs
    2. DONE — The Gods of Mars (Barsoom, #2) — Edgar Rice Burroughs
    3. DONE — The Warlord of Mars (Barsoom, #3) — Edgar Rice Burroughs
    4. DONE — Thuvia, Maid of Mars (Barsoom, #4) — Edgar Rice Burroughs
    5. DONE — The Chessmen of Mars (Barsoom, #5) — Edgar Rice Burroughs
    6. DONE — The Master Mind of Mars (Barsoom, #6) — Edgar Rice Burroughs
    7. DONE — A Fighting Man of Mars (Barsoom, #7) — Edgar Rice Burroughs
    8. DONE — Swords of Mars (Barsoom, #8) — Edgar Rice Burroughs
    9. DONE — Synthetic Men of Mars (Barsoom #9) — Edgar Rice Burroughs
  5. Millennium
    1. DONE — The Girl Who Played With Fire (Millennium, #2) — Stieg Larsson
    2. DONE — The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (Millennium, #3) — Stieg Larsson
Total: 28. Done: 23. Failed.

American History and Decision Making

  1. DONE — Discover Your Inner Economist: Use Incentives to Fall in Love, Survive Your Next Meeting, and Motivate Your Dentist — Tyler Cowen
  2. DONE — The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book that Will Change the Way You Do Business — Clayton M. Christensen
  3. DONE — The Innovator’s Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth — Clayton M. Christensen
  4. DONE — Our Endangered Values: America’s Moral Crisis — Jimmy Carter
  5. DONE — The Federalist Papers — Alexander HamiltonJames MadisonJohn Jay
  6. DONE — 1776 — David McCullough
  7. DONE — All the Devils are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis — Bethany McLeanJoe Nocera
  8. DONE — Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet — Jeffrey D. Sachs
  9. DONE — American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House — Jon Meacham
  10. DONE — At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA — George Tenet
Total: 10. Done: 10. Completed.

Science

  1. DONE — The Genius in All of Us: Why Everything You’ve Been Told About Genetics, Talent and IQ is Wrong — David Shenk
  2. DONE — The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2010 — Freeman DysonTim Folger
  3. DONE — The Theory of Everything: The Origin and Fate of the Universe — Stephen Hawking
  4. DONE — The Nature of Technology: What It Is and How It Evolves — W. Brian Arthur
  5. DONE — The Demise of Guys: Why Boys Are Struggling and What We Can Do About It  — Philip ZimbardoNikita Duncan
  6. DONE — Mind Wide Open: Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life — Steven Johnson
  7. DONE — NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children — Po BronsonAshley Merryman
  8. DONE — The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World — Michael Pollan
  9. DONE — The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement — David Brooks
  10. DONE — What We Believe But Cannot Prove: Today’s Leading Thinkers on Science in the Age of Certainty — John Brockman
  11. DONE — The Cosmic Landscape: String Theory and the Illusion of Intelligent Design — Leonard Susskind
  12. DONE — A Different Universe: Reinventing Physics from the Bottom Down — Robert B. Laughlin
  13. DONE — Being Logical: A Guide to Good Thinking — D.Q. McInerny
Total: 13. Done: 13. Completed.

Not Your Oprah’s Book Club (FacebookGoodreads) selections:
(Facebook page for Athens book club)

  1. DONE — The House of Mirth — Edith Wharton
  2. DONE — Love is a Mix Tape — Rob Sheffield

Re-read to watch the movie:

  1. DONE — The Hobbit — 
  2. DONE   — 

Offlist:

  1. DONE — The Picture of Dorian Gray — Oscar Wilde
  2. DONE — Ubik — 
  3. DONE  Free Will — Sam Harris
  4. DONE  Free Will: A Response to Sam Harris  Kurt Keefner
  5. DONE — The Three Musketeers — Alexandre Dumas

TED Talk: Demise of Guys

For a few weeks The Demise of Guys by Philip Zimbardo and Nikita Duncan has occupied a corner of my attention. It started when a friend posted about the Reddit AMA: I am a published psychologist, author of the Stanford Prison Experiment, expert witness during the Abu Ghraib trials. AMA starting June 7th at 12PM (ET). I even bought the Kindle ebook and read it in a couple days.

The idea is according to the site (linked above):

We took an inter­est in this topic because we noticed an alarm­ing trend: in record num­bers, guys seem to be flam­ing out aca­dem­i­cally, wip­ing out socially with girls, and as they mature fail­ing sex­u­ally with women.

This seems to describe me. I was lucky to graduate high school and college mostly by exploiting loopholes. I have never had a girlfriend. I was in my late 20s when I started dating. Even then I am not often very excited about it.

The alleged causes in the video were video games, online activity, and porn. By my calculations I have played around 20,000 hours of video games, twice the level of concern. My time online easily exceeds 40,000 hours. (That is only assuming 50 hours a week * 50 weeks a year since 1996. That 50 hours a week average seems low to me.) The book focused on the video games and porn.

In Mind Wide Open: Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life, Steven Johnson made an interesting point that receptors for dopamine, a reward for almost accomplishing something, and oxytocin, a reward for social connections and establishing trust, occupy close areas. Activities like playing video games can activate dopamine, but doing so while alone ignores the oxytocin and too much of it is bad for the brain. Physical contact, just like the rhesus monkey choosing between the cloth fake mother and wire+milk, is good for us.

Playing video games were just one of many later activities adopted to escape being around others. If anything, then video games were an avenue that made me more social not less. It gave me something to talk to with other guys. That avoiding girls by being with guys is supposedly the problem. I also might go to their house or them come to mine to play. Without it, I probably would have been more alone. Reading, LEGOs, soccer, exploring the woods, and even biking were all activities whereby I achieved getting away from other people. Really, spending significant time away from other people was always a goal of mine.

I would like to see a debate between Susan Cain of Quiet and Philip Zimbardo.

If the below video does not work, then try Philip Zimbardo: The demise of guys?