Tag Archives: mindfulness

Jeneral finds of the week: 2015-05-31

This week’s finds: the grace of mastering code debugging, mental health, and a commencement speech that is staying with me. 2015-05-31

  • If you’re not a developer and don’t know what debugging other people’s code is like, this particular post “An Arrival” describes the process with particular poetic elegance, using the analogy of going on an archeological dig quite effectively.  The writer is someone who is a newer code developer, and building on her skills and experience.
  • The Globe is doing an excellent in-depth series on mental health, “Open Minds”. I have members of my family with mental illness and so it’s always encouraging to see more public discussion taking place about this. This personal account from one of the Globe’s business reporters really affected me, as he is a similar age as me with a young family:  “Niall McGee didn’t believe in depression—until cancer medication put him in a suicidal spiral
  • It’s graduation time across the land, and celebrity commencement speeches are in the news. This lead me to read for the first time the 2005 commencement speech by David Foster Wallace. A powerful read that is still making me muse. “The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day.” —This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life. 


Jeneral finds of the week: 2015-04-27

Here are this week’s interesting things I’ve stumbled across: 2015-04-28

  • “The Internet’s Original Sin” is not pornography, as you might originally conclude. In this article in The Atlantic, one of the early developers of the web outlines how the good intentions of the heady days early days of the internet evolved into our current state of “advertising-supported, ‘free-as-in-beer’ constellation of social networks, services and content that represents so much of present day web industry… Surveillance as the default, if not sole, internet business model.” This is what happens when you refuse to pay money for things, you pay with a loss of your privacy and control of your data. The linked lecture by Maciej Ceglowski in 2014 is also an enlightening, if longer, read. Both should have you at least pondering whether you want to whole-heartedly and blindly continue to support this business model on the web. And whether we want our children to not know a choice.
  • There is a name for this affliction we have with our smart phones and social media, and it’s been around since 1998- Continuous Partial Attention. This interview with the person who coined the phrase, Linda Stone, had some points that really made me sit up and notice, such as “Kids learn empathy in part through eye contact and gaze. If kids are learning empathy through eye contact, and our eye contact is with devices, they will miss out on empathy.” http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/06/the-art-of-paying-attention/309312/
  • Following that call for mindfulness and attentiveness for the activity at hand is this:How We Spend Our Days Is How We Spend Our Lives: Annie Dillard on Presence Over Productivity
  • Then when I read this article The Full-Stack Employee, the juxtaposition of these ideas on how to be hyper-productive in today’s workforce against the previous ones of presence over productivity was amusing, for sure. But it’s still relevant for me to think about as I’ve returned to the workforce, and trying to figure out how to best stay valuable so I can demand concessions to be made on flexibility in my schedule.
  • Remember back in 2006 when the International Astronomical Union decided that Pluto was no longer classified as a planet? This video gives a good explainer why in less than 5 minutes. 


Jeneral findings of the week: 2014-11-23

Good/interesting/provoking finds I’ve stumbled across this week. 2014-11-23.

  • Barbie F*cks It Up Again – A brilliant deconstruction of why this book about how Barbie wants to become a computer engineer is a big fail and demonstrates yet again the underlying sexist attitudes towards women in IT. Hilarious and provokes outrage at the same time, it’s not something you’d want to expose to your daughters without careful context.
  • Helen Jane’s Mom 2.0 Presentation: Solutions for a painful internet – Originally created as a presentation deck, it nevertheless has impact and suggested prescription for anyone who is feeling overwhelmed by the changes social media has brought to our lives.
  • A teacher and administrator from Calgary writing a story about encounters with parents about THAT kid, and the teacher’s follow up on the reaction. A message underlying the empathy we all need for each others’ children, and each other as parents and teachers. I can only hope that the majority of teachers that my kids will encounter will be like this teacher.


Next week’s findings–>

Your brain on persistent social media

A long read from David Roberts, a star political blogger for Grist.org, but contains so many well-written nuggets on various things I too have been contemplating these last few months.


Some particular quotes highlighting that I’m trying to be mindful of, and also plan to educate our kids about:

All my in-between moments, the interstitial transitions and pauses that fill the cracks of a day, were crowded with pings. My mind was perpetually in the state that researcher and technology writer Linda Stone termed continuous partial attention. I was never completely where I was, never entirely doing what I was doing. I always had one eye on the virtual world.

Because most Web services are “free”—that is, supported by advertising—their very survival depends on distracting and bewitching their users. Silicon Valley software engineers design apps that way on purpose; they’re quite clever at it. Because America’s culture of professional overwork and exhaustion is unrestrained by workplace regulations or conventions governing e-mail, unceasing connectivity has become an unspoken job requirement. Because social groups coalesce and plan online, even brief screenless periods breed FOMO, the fear of missing out.

Nature provides what University of Michigan psychologist Stephen Kaplan has termed soft fascinations. (Dibs on the band name.) We are shaped by evolution to heed the ebb and flow of drifting clouds, rustling grass, and singing birds. Unlike voluntary or directed attention—the kind required by, say, a spreadsheet—“effortless attention” produces no fatigue. It’s the mental equivalent of floating on your back, and a rested mind is a more productive mind.