Ed Taekema - Road Warrior Collaboration 5.8.2004

August 2004
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A blog looking at business communication, knowledge management, scripting tools, OS technology news and other things of interest to mobile tech workers. As I find interesting news this will also contain pointers to thoughts related to configuration managment, change management and general software development.

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Brain Hacks - One for the Reading List

 Matt is writing a book code named Brain Hacks for the O'Reilly Hack series that looks very interesting.  Here is the quick summary:

100 practical and understandable probes into the design quirks of the brain, concentrating on the sensory and motor functions and their coordination.

An unusual presentation about how our brain works.  He goes on to say:

And this is the motivation: To get where it is, the brain has made some fascinating design decisions. The layering of systems has produced a complex environment, with automatic and controlled highly mixed. This development over biological time has introduced constraints. As has the architecture--it takes time for slow signals to make their way from one area to another. And there are computational difficulties too: How much of its capabilities can the brain afford to invoke when a sub-second response is required? The tricks used leave traces. There are holes in our visual field that we continually cover up. There are certain sensory inputs that grab our attention faster and more thoroughly than we'd expect.

You don't need to know all of neuroscience, cognitive psychology and so on to know how your brain works. I'm not a neuroscientist. I write, my undergraduate degree is in physics, I hack in my spare time, and I work in new media. But neuroscience has got to such a level now - with the imaging techniques in the last three or four years - that we can make focused probes into particular functions, and illustrate the traces that these design decisions have left (see where+how they are, and draw that up the stack towards conscious experience) and we can look at them one by one.

And so you can learn how your brain works. I'm not talking about a map or general mechanisms ("there are neurons which are connected blah") and I'm not talking about really high-level stuff ("this bit is active when you're motivated blah"). I'm talking about minute-by-minute stuff: This is why you scratch your face when somebody else does. This is what will grab your attention in the corner of your eye, and this is what won't. Why the status icons in the corner of your desktop should be black and white and not in colour. That's what Brain Hacks is about, letting you see how all that works, from a standing start.

posted at 11:42:56    #
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