" /> Coruscation: October 2014 Archives

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October 29, 2014

Hyperfocus, not focus deficit

For children, the object of "hyperfocus" might be playing a video game or watching TV. For adults, it might be shopping or surfing the Internet. But whatever holds the attention, the result is the same: Unless something or someone interrupts, hours drift by as important tasks and relationships fall by the wayside.

"People who think ADD means having a short attention span misunderstand what ADD is," says Kathleen Nadeau, Ph.D., a psychologist in Silver Spring, Maryland, and the author of ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life. "A better way to look at it is that people with ADD have a disregulated attention system."

Instant rewards: Like distractibility, hyperfocus is thought to result from abnormally low levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is particularly active in the brain's frontal lobes. This dopamine deficiency makes it hard to "shift gears" to take up boring-but-necessary tasks.

"Children and adults with ADD have difficulty shifting attention from one thing to another," says Russell Barkley, Ph.D., a research professor of psychiatry at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York. "If they're doing something they enjoy or find psychologically rewarding, they'll tend to persist in this behavior after others would normally move on to other things. The brains of people with ADD are drawn to activities that give instant feedback."

October 28, 2014

Who's who in big data: companies, segments, niches

state of big data in 2014
, in a chart.

Via Matt Turck, 2014/05/11.

October 27, 2014

Up to $354,000 is middle class in San Francisco

Economy: study-finds-greater-income-inequality-in-nations-thriving-cities.

Google fibre and universal service 2

In April, AT&T said it would introduce a gigabit-speed TV and Internet service, U-verse with GigaPower, in 21 metropolitan areas in the United States. Three cities in Texas already have it: Dallas, Fort Worth and Austin.

Google won't say how many people have signed up for Fiber, which costs $70 for Internet or $120 a month for Internet and cable TV. There is also an option that offers much slower broadband for a $300 installation fee. A door-to-door study commissioned by Bernstein Research and performed by Haynes & Company found that about a third of lower-income households in Fiber areas had signed up for some version of the service, along with three-quarters of the households in areas with incomes of $100,000 or more.

Kevin Lo, the general manager of Google Fiber, said the Internet giant had plenty of patience to see what percolated in the cities with its high-speed network. "We need to encourage developers who have great ideas, but we also need to build a critical mass of people who can use those applications. You need both for the breakthroughs to happen," he wrote in an email.

October 25, 2014

Introverts enjoy being extroverts

Introverts, Rauch writes, "are people who find other people tiring." They're not necessarily shy or misanthropic, but rather enjoy solitary time. Extroverts, meanwhile, "are energized by people, and wilt or fade when alone," he writes. "They often seem bored by themselves, in both senses of the expression."

However bored extroverts might be by themselves, they tend to be a cheerier bunch on the whole. Time and again, in study after study, behavioral scientists have found that extroverts report themselves on well-being surveys as happier than introverts do. (In fact, introverts report more happiness when they act like extroverts, though they fail to anticipate this emotional kick-back.) The finding has proven so strong that some researchers believe positivity could rest at the core of what makes an extrovert an extrovert.

Recently, in an attempt to understand this link better, psychologists Wido Oerlemans and Arnold Bakker.

October 24, 2014

$GOOG knows you

In short, the Observer writes, Kurzweil believes that Google will soon "know the answer to your question before you have asked it. It will have read every email you've ever written, every document, every idle thought you've ever tapped into a search-engine box. It will know you better than your intimate partner does. Better, perhaps, than even yourself."

October 22, 2014

Women's computers were heavy

Computer science wasn't always dominated by men. "In the beginning, the word 'computers' meant 'women,' " says Ruth Oldenziel, a professor at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands who studies history, gender and technology. Six women programmed one of the most famous computers in history -- the 30-ton Eniac -- for the United States Army during World War II.

But as with many professions, Dr. Oldenziel said, once programming gained prestige, women were pushed out. Over the decades, the share of women in computing has continued to decline. In 2012, just 18 percent of computer-science college graduates were women, down from 37 percent in 1985, according to the National Center for Women & Information Technology.

This lack of women has become of greater concern in the industry for a number of reasons. For one, the products that the tech industry creates are shaping the future for everyone. "Women are increasingly consumers; they're not going to like products that don't work for them," said Londa Schiebinger, a Stanford professor who runs the Gendered Innovations project, which encourages engineers and scientists to consider gender when developing new products.

"My general issue with the coverage of women in tech is that women in the technology press are talked about in the context of being women, and men are talked about in the context of being in technology," said a technical woman who would speak only on condition of anonymity because she did not want to be part of an article about women in tech.

"I'm also very good at my job, and as a technologist, I want to be recognized for that and not because I have breasts."

Lea Verou, an incoming Ph.D. candidate in electrical engineering and computer science at M.I.T., wrote in a much read essay that women-only conferences and hackathons "cultivate the notion that women are these weak beings who find their male colleagues too intimidating."

"As a woman," she wrote, "I find it insulting and patronizing to be viewed that way."

October 20, 2014

Show recent posts

"The real goal of all of these editors, curators, everybody, is to get you to come back, and the only way to get you to come back is that you are helpful, you are satisfying some need," said Charlene Li, founder of the business research firm Altimeter Group. "It's some form of mind-reading, to anticipate what it is that people want to hear about."

Ms. Li said that equation was complicated by sponsored tweets and posts, because the user must trust that the site is presenting suggested content because it thinks it's relevant, and not just to make money.

Facebook has arguably stumbled by presenting its ranking in a way that suggests that it knows best what you want to read about. And what you often want to know, Ms. Li said, is what your friends are reading about.

"The most interesting feed I find is the one that's dictated by what my friends are looking at," she said.

October 19, 2014

Elizabeth Wurtzel, wife material

It's not like I called boyfriends at 2 a.m. because something was wrong: I did it because I liked to talk in the dark when there was nothing good to watch on TV anymore.

Not that I am all to blame for my messed-up love life. I was in the same relationship with different people for 30 years. I know a bad idea when I see one, and I like what I see. If a man drank Jameson for breakfast and then smashed the bottle into bits on the bathroom tiles possibly by mistake, he was my boyfriend.

Many romances end after three years because that is their logical limit, which does not mean the time was wasted: Most relationships, including marriages, end, but we continue to have them and it is not because we hate ourselves. I believe that we all know what we are getting into with another person early on, and it is worth it, whatever the duration. A lifelong thing is lovely, but a one-night stand is also lovely. It is my good fortune never to have wed the 374 or so men I dated before Jim. I don't know how many times I should have registered at Tiffany and celebrated extravagantly for the mistakes I did not make.

October 18, 2014

Morning Oats, Overnight Oats

Almond Joy Overnight Oats

fridge oats

4 oz coconut, vanilla or plain yogurt*
2 tablespoons almonds, chopped
1/3 cup rolled oats
1 tablespoon cacao nibs
2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Regular offerings in my house consist of protein smoothies with lots of kale and spinach, an apple & nut butter, one minute mug cakes made with ground flax or coconut flour,

October 10, 2014

in U.S. Google searches, the most common word to follow the phrase "Is my husband . . ." is "gay." It is ten times more common than "depressed." It won't be long before Google will be able to provide the answer. Right now, just from your pattern of likes

In U.S. Google searches, the most common word to follow the phrase "Is my husband . . ." is "gay." It is ten times more common than "depressed." It won't be long before Google will be able to provide the answer. Right now, just from your pattern of likes on Facebook (and without relying on status updates or comments), an algorithm can determine with eighty-eight-per-cent accuracy whether you are straight or gay.

Sixty per cent of the time, it can tell whether your parents were divorced before you turned twenty-one. Rudder calls this trove of data "an irresistible sociological opportunity." He writes, "You know the science is headed to undiscovered country when someone can hear your parents fighting in the click-click-click of a mouse."