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robertogreco : publicthinking   4

Instagramming Dinosaurs: Clive Thompson on Museums in the Digital Age (4 of 4) | Moosha Moosha Mooshme
"Q: Clive, we’re sitting here talking about all these ways that digital media can augment our abilities to think, to access our minds, to connect with others, think with others and have deeper understanding and reflection after the event. We’re doing this in a museum that was founded in 1869, looking at dinosaurs that are millions of years old, where the tools that we are talking about that can empower that kind of thinking are like “a blip of a blip” in the timeline.

So if this museum was created today, if you were re-designing this hall, and you were thinking about what it would mean for a Natural History Museum to create a space that could support people to use these tools, what would you do?

A: That’s a really good question. I’ll start off by saying I have an enormous respect and fondness for people that create museum exhibits. They’re the first people to have had to think through the implications of multimedia. When they are communicating this to the public, trying to explain dinosaurs, they use text. There’s pictures. They had to decide what physical items should we have. And then there are these sound guys, the first people to start asking, “Why don’t we have the ability to walk through here and have someone talk on computers?” So in this room there’s four forms of media, being used right now, pioneered by museum people. People in the news media didn’t have to think this way. Teachers didn’t have to think this way. But museum exhibit people have been working in multimedia for like a 150 fifty years, frankly, so this room is already a lot richer than most other places you’d see.

If you wanted to add more to it, there are a couple of low hanging fruits. The dinosaurs are wonderful physical artifacts and it’s often startling to realize how big they are, or what their shape is. Look up there at how serrated that tooth is on that T-Rex. How big is that? Well, what would it be like if I held it in my hand? In fact one thing you can start to do is to make these physical objects shout using 3D printing. These days you have a lot of 3D printers that are becoming cheaper. This is essentially the transmission of physical piece of knowledge across the ether. What if I could go to an online site and download and print a copy of any parts of this dinosaur, because I would love one of those teeth, you know? Imagine: having just one of those just sitting on my desk would be a really cool way to reflect on the size and might of this enormous creature. So the physical sharing of these rich artifacts I think is a fantastic new form of media that’s coming along.

The second thing is you can actually do some really cool things with augmented reality. Augmented reality is the concept of being able to hold up the phone and having it overlay over what you’re seeing – information that helps you look at in a different way or learn things about it. And by and large a lot of our augmented reality has not worked very well in the everyday world, but I think it’s because in the everyday world, we often don’t really want a huge information rich experience as we walk down the street. But I could have a little app that I can load and pull it back and forth and be able to see different parts of that dinosaur, with labels, as I move it back and forth, or see the way that the jaw moved. These are ways that would really help me get new dimensions out of what’s physically in front of me. So there is a couple of things that I think we could start to do.

You could probably think a little bit about integrating public thinking into an environment like this. [re: part two of this interview]

Q: How can I, as a visitor to this hall, know what other people are thinking here?

A: Well, yeah, that’s a fun question: so how can we identify the most interesting things anyone has said about this dinosaur? You know, what are the three most up-voted smartest reflections. It could be someone’s having a thought, or a visitor who had some interesting visceral reaction to this, or it could be someone who has found an amazing quote in one of the newspapers in the 19th century when this thing was first uncorked. Those things are hard to engineer because the signal-to-noise ratio can be really high in public thinking. 90% of what people say online it pretty banal. And so we have that challenge, to find the best stuff people have said about this dinosaur, over and over again.

That’s a hard one to surmount, but pretty cool if you could do it.

Wow, I hadn’t seen that tail before. Holy Moses, that’s long!"

[The full set: http://www.mooshme.org/?s=clive+thompson ]
clivethompson  amnh  2014  barryjoseph  socialmedia  instagram  learning  museum  interactive  interactivity  multimedia  augmentedreality  publicthinking  3dprinting  museums  exhibitions  exhibits  exhibitdesign  design  ar 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Instagramming Dinosaurs: Clive Thompson on Mindfulness as a Defense Against Digital Distraction (3 of 4) | Moosha Moosha Mooshme
"Yeah, get into conversation with people about these experiences and then reflect on it. She might find someone who she didn’t really know respond, “I was there last year and here is my thoughts on it.” Scientist call this “multiples,” which is the fact that people are often thinking of the same thing you are thinking about. They discovered earlier on that frequently someone would start working on a scientific problem and they would spend four years on it only to discover that someone around the world was working on the same exact thing. It’s because, you know, great minds think alike. So scientist realized a long time ago they should be thinking public because then they will be able to find each other.

But the point you raise is about relatives that worry about someone being overly mediated, not paying attention, to the world around them. I do think those fears are a little bit over-blown because we have actually done studies of people’s behavior in public places. It turns out that there is only quite a small minority of people resorting to their phones. A recent Canadian scientist gathered dozens and dozens of hours people outside in a park. And only 3% to 10% of the people were actually on the phones. I would go, “Wait a minute? Seems like there is a lot more.” Well, that’s because I’m sort of noticing the kind of annoying people who will stare at their phones and I’m not noticing the people that are just walking around looking with their eyes.

I will say one thing that I think some of your relatives might be on to, which I agree with, are the danger of our connective thinking, with connection to other people, with the fact that we have devises with us all the time. It can be a distraction. When we have all these different ways to reach and contact each other, we are social beings, so we start to build up too much of a habit of yanking our phone out all the time, just to see what people are saying. And distraction is a real issue if you want to absorb something. Now, I think that actually recording it, talking about it via your phone, is actually a way of paying attention to it. But if you are sitting here looking at the dinosaur and suddenly feel a buzz and you pull out your phone and then see someone in Facebook talking about the party that they are going to have on Friday and you start talking about that, well, now you are in what they a call a completely different domain. You are no longer at all thinking about dinosaurs. And that is a distraction. I think that is a genuine bad thing for your cognition.

But how do you cultivate practices to distinguish between using media to augment the way that you are looking at the world and using it in away that distracts you?

Well, this has to do with mindfulness. Our brains are very flighty, self-distracting things. Half the time when we are distracted it’s not because a phone rings but because our brains just go, “Oh, I wonder about that.” And we stop what we are doing. Monks noticed this a thousand years ago and they started developing mindfulness, which is paying attention to your attention, noticing what you are paying attention to, so that when your brain wants to go and check Twitter “just because” you notice your brain doing that. And when you start paying attention to attention, we become much better at resisting non-productive distractions, like when I will be sitting here, looking at the dinosaur, and part of my brain will go, “Huh! I wonder if anything interesting is happening on Instagram.” If I gave into that temptation and pull it out I will be distracting myself. But if I’m paying attention to my attention, I will sort of notice where this is going and I can decide to check it in a hour when I’m having a coffee.

I have talked to a lot teachers who train their kids, saying, “Hey, you have a brain. Don’t be a slave to where your attention goes. Just pay attention to it.” If you just spent 10 minutes a day practicing it, it starts to become a habit and a really good habit. So it’s something that can be taught.

I’m not even vaguely a meditation person. I joke I’m the least centered person I know. But the truth is, even when I started learning about this, I started paying attention. And it really worked. If I’m out at a museum and looking at the exhibit here, looking at this fossilized head of a T-Rex in front of us, and part of my brain goes, “There is an email coming in!” instead of just being a slave to that I’m like, “I’m aware that my brain is trying to do that to me.”

So mindfulness is the key to using media in a way that augments and enriches your thinking in a way that doesn’t distracts your thinking.

The funny thing is, when I started researching my book, the more I looked at it the more I realized there is no magic bullet here. There really is a human problem here we’ve being dealing with for a long time. Every new technology that offers us new media has always sort of freaked us out; we’ve had to make our peace with them. When glass became cheap in the 19th century and windows suddenly emerged, writers like Virginia Woolf sort of panicked because it was actually distracting to have this window next to you while you worked. I mean it sounds funny but it’s true. I like to joke, We have lot of windows on our computers and on our phones, but those are the original windows."

[The full set: http://www.mooshme.org/?s=clive+thompson ]
clivethompson  amnh  2014  barryjoseph  attention  socialmedia  focus  scrivener  timeout  mindfulness  reflection  publicthinking  writing  behavior  distraction  teaching  howwelearn  howweteach  habits  habitforming 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Instagramming Dinosaurs: Clive Thompson on Public Thinking (2 of 4) | Moosha Moosha Mooshme
"I actually did see, as I was walking in here, someone making a Facebook posting. Just as I was approaching the museum. There was a group of college students, and two of them were taking a picture of the other ones in front of the Teddy Roosevelt statue upfront. And one of them was writing a little note about it. I couldn’t read the note (I wasn’t being that naughty) but they were writing some notes about it.

And so this shift is very interesting because, for a long time, the average person didn’t really do much expression at all, and almost no public expression. You basically went through high school, you finished college if you went to college, where you sort of wrote papers where you tried to formalize your knowledge or share that knowledge with someone else, but once you finished college or high school that was basically it. You didn’t really write anything down, you didn’t express your ideas because there was no venue for it. There was no way to publish what you were thinking about. And this is always something very hard for journalists and academics to understanding, because we spend our lives constantly writing and writing and writing and putting things before audiences, but for the average person this was simply not a common experience at all.

So we have in the last 15 years this sudden vertiginous shift to where people routinely are writing down their experiences, their thoughts, and putting them out for other people. If you talk to psychologists about what happens inside your head as you do this, as you are here in the museum and you are looking at the dinosaur and you are taking a picture and you are writing a note about it, a couple of interesting things happen.

One is what’s called the audience effect, which is where, anytime you go before an audience, you suddenly panic a little bit. You don’t want to look stupid, and you work harder to look smart. Over and over we see this. If you take a bunch of students and ask them to write a paper for their teacher, they will try to do their best job but they are aware that this is kind of a fake audience, as the teacher is being paid. It’s not an authentic audience. Whereas if you say to them you are  going to show this online, to other students and other countries, suddenly they write forty percent longer, and they use more complex senses, more complex thoughts, because they are worried about looking stupid. They want to impress. And this is the audience effect. We see this all the time. Athletes feel it. Performers feel it. And on an everyday level, people feel this now."

[The full set: http://www.mooshme.org/?s=clive+thompson ]
clivethompson  2014  amnh  socialmedia  museums  instagram  facebook  writing  reflection  thinking  publicthinking  joekahane  barryjoseph  howwelearn  audienceeffect  howwewrite  weaklinks 
january 2015 by robertogreco
The art of working in public « Snarkmarket ["Work in public. Reveal nothing."]
"…two very different dudes…different positions…different objectives…both written in essentially the same style, with common characteristics both superficial—a smart but very informal voice that reads like a long email from your smartest coolest friend ever—& structural:

…both conjure a sense that the piece is almost being written as you read it…slightly chaotic & totally thrilling…both let you inside their heads…But!—they don’t let you all the way inside. There’s plenty withheld…here’s the genius of the style: they don’t tell you much at all…

I tend to zero in on this kind of writing because I aspire to do more of it myself, & to do it better. Working in public like this can be a lot of fun, for writer & reader alike, but more than that: it can be a powerful public good…When you work in public, you create an emissary (media cyborg style) that then walks the earth, teaching others to do your kind of work as well. And that is transcendently cool."

[See the great comments too.]

[See also Clive Thompson's post, which references this one: http://www.collisiondetection.net/mt/archives/2011/08/the_art_of_publ.php ]
writing  business  public  robinsloan  publicthinking  mattwebb  berg  berglondon  alexismadrigal  classideas  transparency  surprise  revelation  style  newliberalarts  chaos  publicgood  learning  teaching  mediacyborgs  sharing  web  internet  informality  balance  spontaneity  immediacy  thinkinginpublic  thinkingoutloud  2011  comments  questions  possibility  pondering  emptiness  workinginpublic 
july 2011 by robertogreco

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