Friday 2 July 2010

Don't you mean Macaroni?

The other day I sat down and understood an article, explaining how dangerous hyperlinks can be in joined up text, in the magazine Wired.

Usually I don’t (understand), because it is written by people at least twenty years younger than me who can explain what mechatronics are and write about hydraulic-extraction processes called fracking.

Even the spell-check I am using thinks mechatronics should be macaroni.

Since then (the other day) I have had a chance to sit down and read a bit more and I can report that things are getting more and more interesting!

(I also had time to make some substitutions in my fantasy football team and moved up to 66, 932nd in the league – but unless you ask me something in the comments I won’t talk about that).

This time I decided to tackle the article, “The Great Cognitive Surplus”, only three pages one of which has a BIG colour photo.

The authors, Daniel Pink and Clay Shirky, estimate the cognitive surplus to be about one trillion hours per year and, I think, growing.

It turns out that we could say “free-time” instead of cognitive surplus, but then the article would have had to been submitted to Woman’s Own and never appeared in Wired.

I might still have read it though, as Woman’s Own is one of my favourite Dental waiting Room reads.

That and Paris Match.

By the way, my Dentist here in France has a great name – Monsieur Tormente.

Despite his frightening name he is the best dentists I have ever had, though seriously at times I think he should be a professional clown.

He has no assistant, probably to save money, so sometimes when he tries to manipulate the reclining chair, overhead lamp and scratchy-digging-out-tool at the same time he ends up filling his own cavities.

I think, after my experiences with the Butcher of Kilburn northwest London, that a good dentist is one that is able to avoid spilling blood and Monsieur Tormente is more than capable.

He is also the world’s only (as far as I know) homeopathic dentist. It means that treatment can take a long time but, hey, I own part of a one trillion hour cognitive surplus.

I don’t mean to be frivolous about Mr Pink’s and Mr Shirky’s article because it is in fact excellent.

Incidentally do you remember, and wouldn’t it be perfect, if it were Mr Pinky and Mr Perky? (if there is one link worth clicking on THIS is it!

One of the most interesting things in the article is when they talk about University of Rochester psychologist Edward Deci and his studies into Contingent Rewards.

I didn’t know this - and the more I read Wired the more I realise how little I know - but Contingent Rewards are “if you do this, then you’ll get that” rewards.

And apparently there is overwhelming proof that for creative and conceptual tasks they rarely work and often do harm.

So I now have two more books I am tempted to read – Pinky’s (David Pink) Drive: the Surprising Truth about what Motivates Us and Perky’s (Clay Shirky) Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age.

But I have to finish Wired first.


Vicki said...

Oddly enough, I went to a talk by Pinky when he was in Philly last year. He was very interesting indeed, though maybe not quite as interesting as hearing about your copy of Wired.
Can't wait to see what you'll read next!

popps said...

Vicki there is a scientific analysis of how to catch a bouquet at the wedding, but right now i'm sitting down to watch Argentina play football with Germany.

popps said...

Vicki - i meant to ask, what was Pinky's talk about?