Next Phase of Commercials RY

Kevin Kelly:

All this suggests that the "natural habitat" of a commercial is on the internet. That's where it is born, develops, matures and dies. Its brief, mayfly-length appearance on the Superbowl is primarily an ad to get you to watch it grow on the internet.

The internet will be where most social meaning occurs. A party may be attended by one hundred people for three hours. That makes three hundred person-hours of attention during which the "meaning" of the party was developed.

But then people upload photos and discuss the party online. The number of people involved in the social meaning of the party is multiplied, and the number of hours put in by the people participating online is unlimited. Many thousands of hours can be channeled into the meaning of the party--much more than the attendees of the party could do during the party.

The phenomenon we are witnessing is that most social meaning will be created on the internet. Everything of consequence to the human experience is being channeled onto the internet where it can live a longer, healthier life. And, of course, people will (and already do) exploit this for profit.

Atheism in America RY

I was shocked the first time my wife openly told her catholic friend that she was an atheist. It was in Argentina, and you simply don't hear that in the U.S. This article sums up atheism in America.

My opinion: Not only is theism wrong, it is unimaginative.

The Brainstorming Process Is B.S. But Can We Rework It? RY

Cliff Kuang, writing for Fast Company Design:

The business practice of brainstorming has been around with us so long that it seems like unadorned common sense: If you want a rash of new ideas, you get a group of people in a room, have them shout things out, and make sure not to criticize, because that sort of self-censoring is sure to kill the flow of new thoughts.

In the opening paragraph, Kuang builds a straw-man version of brainstorming as "everyone shouting ideas". Unfortunately, this is what everyone thinks of when they think brainstorming.

Putting people into big groups doesn’t actually increase the flow of ideas. Group dynamics themselves--rather than overt criticism--work to stifle each person’s potential.

The point of brainstorming as a process is not to silence criticism but to impose good group dynamics so everyone's ideas get at least heard.

But Lehrer goes on to point out that other studies have shown that the presence of criticism actually increases the flow of ideas.

Yes. The brainstorming process is about giving ideas and their criticism a voice. It was primarily developed to help dysfunctional companies work well. What would happen in these companies is someone would say an idea, someone else would criticize it, and then the group would break into two camps: those saying "stop being so critical!" and those who just wanted the meeting to be over. The meeting would turn into a fight and nothing would get done.

Brainstorming was developed to structure the meeting so that this fighting wouldn't happen. You divide the time into idea generation and idea development. In idea generation, there is no criticism. This lets everyone in the "stop being critical" camp feel listened to. Then you start talking about the ideas, which lets the actual work get done. And it turns out that sometimes what turned out to be the best ideas would have started a fight in the old meetings. With brainstorming, everyone feels productive and happy.

But if your group dynamics are working well, you probably don't need that kind of structure.

It might surprise some businesspeople that brainstorming has books written about it, and that you can read those books, and then learn something. Going deeper is often just as edgy and controversial as criticizing a popular but inaccurate idea. It might also surprise businessfolk that brainstorming is just the beginning. There are many systems for helping meetings work better. I recommend De Bono's Thinking Course and How to Make Meetings Work!.

Pasta, Not Bacon, Makes You Fat. But How? RY

Cliff Kuang:

One of the most utterly surprising scientific findings of recent decades has got to be that fat isn't so bad for you after all. (Apart from, you know, potentially bringing on serious heart conditions.) In fact, if you're looking for a reason for America's ballooning girth, you've got to lay the blame on carbohydrates--in other words, bread and pasta, the very things that the government once advertised as the foundation of a healthy diet in the food pyramids we all grew up with.

It's nice to see mainstream media catching onto the fact that "fat is bad for you" was made up and has no evidence whatever to back it up.

But if you're going to do an "Isn't it surprising? We were wrong all this time!" style article, you should try to at least fact check the first paragraph.

Eating fat does not bring on serious heart conditions. Check out this survey of studies.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture still recommends a diet high in carbohydrates, especially corn, which gets two places in the new "My Plate" scheme. It's both a grain and a vegetable. With the new scheme, it is just impossible to figure out what you should be eating.

Direct link to the infographics

The Next Transitions in the Technium RY

Kevin Kelly:

[W]hat are some future transitions we can expect -- no matter the fashions and fads of the day? What are the emergent thresholds of information and energy organization that our civilization can look forward to?

A solid list.

I would add:

Interstellar travel.