‘Smarter Than You Think,’ by Clive Thompson – NYTimes.com.

There was a wealth of tech philosophy articles in the times including the book review section. “Smarter than you think” made an interesting point about productivity.  Even though we are wasting time with so much trivial banal communication with our devices, more people then ever are writing critically rather then watching television.  Quote:

“This is something that’s particularly hard to grasp for professionals whose jobs require incessant writing, like academics, journalists, lawyers or marketers. For them, the act of writing and hashing out your ideas seems commonplace. But until the late 1990s, this simply wasn’t true of the average nonliterary person.”

More important, the writing produced in the new world of blogs and tweets is being done, at least ostensibly, for public discourse and reaction. It may not be getting us back to the dialectic of Socrates’ agora, but at least it produces a more stimulating and interactive realm than existed before the Internet.

A new book by Alice Marwick Status Update: Celebrity, publicity, and branding in the social media age as reviewed by Walter Kirn makes a point based on Foucault terms “Technologies of subjectivity” Finding “social media functions less as a revolutionary instrument of human liberation than as a peculiarly insidious agent of obedience and conformity” The book sites as an example the motivational speaker Gary Vaynerchuck as an modern snake oil salesman.  By redefining ourselves in an endless “campaign and advertising blitz, forever pursuing followers and blog hits”  Social media pretends to be social but happens within the isolation of lonely solitary effort.

Also of interest is the notion of “open awareness” as referenced in the new book Focus: The Hidden driver of Excellence by Daniel Goleman and reviewed by nicholas Carr.  Open Awareness is a form of attentiveness characterized by “utter receptivity to whatever floats into the mind.” Experiments suggest it’s also the source of our most creative thoughts.  Going beyond “orienting ” in which we deliberately gather information and selective attention.” in which we concentrate on solving a particular problem.  Open awareness free the brain to make the “serendipitous associations” that lead to fresh insights. (Goleman)  He opens with a comparison to Joyces 3rd chapter of Ulysses.  “ineluctable modality of the visible”


link to Ulysses.
link to Ulysses overview of chapter 3.