Food for thought: Mindfire

27 11 2011

I recently bought a Kindle and rapidly realised I needed to have a WiFi modem in order to be able to download books onto it. OOPPPSSS!!!! I don’t have one. I have a plug-in modem so I can keep tight control over who is accessing the internet when and why. Welcome to Stalag 13. (If you don’t understand that reference…..well you missed a great TV program!)

Since the Kindle has a cord that plugs into the computer, I am not sure why this is – possibly user-error. If anyone knows the answer, please leave instructions in the comments section of this blog. Thanks. Meanwhile if you see me sitting on the neighbour’s front porch with my Ipad, I am hijacking their Wifi connection.

Meanwhile, I happen to have Kindle-reader on my Ipad so I have been indulging my love of reading by purchasing some cheap Kindle books. I think it has made me more adventurous in my book-purchasing because if I buy a book that turns out to be a dud – well it was only a few dollars instead of $30, and I can always download another so I am not without reading material. (For those without Ipads, I believe you can get Kindle-reader for computer as well. Not quite the same as curling up in bed with your Ipad…sorry, good book, but an option to consider.)

I happened across one which was recommended by WordPress (the blog host).

Mindfire: Big Ideas for Curious Minds

This book, based on a blog by Scott Berkun, is really interesting. Set out in short chapters, it retains the joy of the blog – a complete thought or idea contained in a short amount of words. A thing of beauty really. (He justifies the brevity of the chapters in Chapter 6: There are two kinds of people: Complexifiers and Simplifiers. The chapter is short because he is a simplifier.)

As well as appealing to my short attention span and brief amount of reading time available, it also contains a lot of really interesting ideas.
– How to be a free thinker.
– How to detect bullshit.
– Dr Suess and Wicked Constraints.
– Why Smart people defend bad ideas.
– The cult of Busy
– Why the world is a mess.
– How to make a difference.
and loads more.

The great thing about this book is it builds on little kernels of ideas that might occurred to you but builds them into proper fully-formed logical thoughts. And it makes you think more. Chewing gum for the mind.

So if you are looking for something that is well written, easy to read, and thought provoking, maybe this is your book. It may make you thik about your assumptions.

And in my dreams, I write a blog like this. Please stay with me while I get there!

If you liked this post you might also like Read-a-holic.

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Hypocrisy

18 09 2011

licensed under creative commons from gothopotam

I have written a bit about my concern about the impact that screens are having on society in general, and children’s brains in particular. And how the all-pervasive training of young brains through screen culture – TV, computers, DS, PSP, Playstation, Wii, X-box, etc – will impact not only the furture of those children through their ability to absorb education, display patience and delay gratification, and their tolerance for novelty and excitement versus their tolerance for boredom and perseverance, but also change the society we live in.

And these concerns, where possible, have been backed up by science.

However, now for a confession.

I suspect I am a screen addict myself.

Now I didn’t grow up with screens to any great extent. I can still remember our first colour TV in Australia – 1976 for the Olympics. I remember getting a Commodore 64, and I remember our school getting a couple of computers which, if you were lucky and in the top maths class, you got to “program” to display a flag made from asterix (I confess I cannot work out the plural of asterix….). I remember in Year 4, being taken to visit a computer at the nearby science and technology park – it took up and entire warehouse full of stacks with tapes whirring on the front, and probably had less capacity than my iphone does.

So my childhood was not saturated with screens. In fact my parents strictly rationed television time to 1/2 an hour a night (but enough on that – I am saving that story for the psychiatrist’s couch).

I do remember working before email. I worked in a pay section briefly and we programmed the computer (which was off-site somewhere) by filling in A4 sheets of paper with Xs in squares. Letters got written in longhand and sent to the typing pool to be typed out. They came back and if there were errors, they had to type the whole thing again. At that rate you were lucky to act on more than a couple of decisions a day. Think of the pace of emails today where I am making 80+ decisions on an average day (albeit some of them trivial).

So my confession is – as the purveyor of the No-Screen Sunday, I am myself a screen addict. Not the DS, Wii or Playstation for me – but I do find TV in the evenings very relaxing and am annoyed if there is nothing on that I want to watch. My computer is usually on if I am home – and my ipad travels with me for those opportune moments to update the blog, check my personal emails etc. Not in work hours of course, but on the weekend and in the evening….. And I am an e-scrabble fiend. Oh yes, and I do love LinkedIn.

So somehow I need to make the effort to set the example for my children about how life off-line is so much more satisfying.

Perhaps after I have finished studying I might have time to do that. There’s always some excuse.

If you like this posting you might also like The effect of Marshmallows on the DS Generation, and Sponge-Bob, Sponge-brain.