Monday, December 18, 2006

Small things, little bits of technology, and all the connections...

Headlines: "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff' author dies of heart attack"                      Inside Bay Area - NEW: Don't Sweat the Small Stuff' author dies of heart attack 
Headline: "Machines can't save our world / Kim family's story shows limitations of new technology"                                                                                                                 Link to Machines can't save our world / Kim family's story shows limitations of new technology

Carlson's and Kim's death are linked by an invisible thread

What is interesting about the untimely deaths of these two individuals is that small stuff matters in very similar ways. Because it is all the small stuff that is connected to other small stuff, that when you look at all the small stuff interconnected it becomes really big important stuff. This is the basis of systems theory, it is a basic component of spiral dynamics, it is the basis of biological systems, it is the basis of neuro-cognitive psychology, it is the basis of social networks, and even technological networks. The invisible thread is that element or interface that we as humans provide a consciousness to connect them all. We can operate in a world of small stuff, manage all the small stuff, and be connected to all the small stuff. Its not that hard, it does not require sweat, and it might just save your life.

Ironically, the guy promoting a book about holiday stress dies of cardiac arrest on flight from one book appearance to another. Sadly, the guy who reviews tech gadgets didn't have a satellite phone or portable GPS to find a way out of the wilderness.

The second article states technology can't save our world. Well, no one machine, no one device, not one helicopter infrared camera can do it. But that's not what this article is about. Its about all the devices connected. One cellphone is useless without infrastructure to allow it to connect to emergency services. One anecdote about how to pat yourself on the back will not lower cortisol while you spend the holidays making public appearances on different coasts.  

What is lacking is the connection these two men made. One analyzes new gadgets that makes our life better, and the other analyzes new behaviors to make our life better. Yet neither made the connection in their own life to have the gadget that would have saved one and the behaviors that might have prolonged the other.

One can not say for certain if Mr. Kim had spent $39 rental fee for a satellite phone or purchased one for $700 dollars. Or if he had purchased any number of GPS devices ranging from $500 & up what might have been the outcome?

Nor can one say for certainty if Mr Carlson had in the last 6 months had his homosystiene levels checked, or gotten a C-reactive protein test or any number of indicators for heart disease. Or whether a defibrillator was on board and if somebody even used it.

What we can sketch out is this - these were 20th century men living in a 21th century world. In the 20th century we lived in a cause and effect world. Big forces caused big effects, the two world wars can be seen like chess pieces, with clear black and white sides. But were all connected. We have multiple redundant systems that keep us connected. Cellphones, laptops, email, and on and on... In the 20th century newsreels fed us information, major network anchors fed us headlines, but not now...Not in the 21th century. We are the person of the year...

We are connected, we are networked, but are we aware of all the connections? This is the real issue. Can we be aware of all the small stuff we are connected to? If we can't who can help us? Who will emerge as the one that begins to see all the connections to all the small stuff. Is the next generation ready?

It is not just technology and communications, but we are now looking at our biological selves as connected networks of small stuff. Digestive systems connected to endocrine systems, connected to nervous systems. Then we have the brain itself, a barely mined golden vane of separate neuron based 'small stuff' of visual, emotional, and motor networks.

The days of matching a cough to a pill, and the removal of a dictator to democracy are over. Now we have to begin the long hard haul to put all the small stuff into the big things that happen. Welcome my 20th century friends, this is the 21st century.

In socio-economic and political realms, the gurus are emerging, certainly Al Gore comes to mind in terms of environmental small stuff that is connected. And some might even point to persons like Dr Weil and Chopra as gurus in the world of health and wellness. 

Those are just the first generation of forward thinkers, yet who are going to take the place of Mr Carlson in terms of behaviors and Mr Kim in the world of gadgets? Hopefully persons who see that all the small stuff matters because all the small stuff is connected to you.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

BionicPulse(Technology+myLife): Holiday Meetup

The Holiday Meetup for BionicPulse: The Cognitive Science Enthusiasts Group is coming up so click here to RSVP (Its FREE!).

Sneak Preview:

Welcome psychology, neuroscience, consciousness, health, nutrition-fitness, and technology enthusiasts. This is the first Holiday Meetup for BionicPulse. The place were real cognitive science and technology "meets up" with overall wellness. If you have an interest to meet others in a causal setting, and talk about how technologies and mankind mix to help us live better,  then this is your Meetup!

No PhD's required, all levels of interest are welcome.

This Week of Holiday Shopping:
Discuss and discover "hands on" with some cool ideas that use the latest in neuroscience, health science and technology. This "Hot Chocolate" break is a show and tell to help others get ideas for tech gifts for the holidays. There are lots of interesting technologies that mix brain science, medical science and even the science of consciousness into great gift ideas.

As host I will get the show and tell started with real life examples of biofeedback relaxation video games , the new Nike-Ipod trainer, and latest Microsoft Smartwatch Live tools to see how they work. Check them out then Go Shopping!

Some Other Cool Holiday Ideas If you can't RSVP:


***Remember: Please bring in ideas and or stuff you have or would like to have for the holidays. Anything cool and techy is welcome we all need ideas.

Meet and share with others your interest in new science, in cool technologies for human consciousness and for the joy of the holidays!

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

BionicPulse Meetup: Dancing with a Stranger...

(Holiday Meetup Click here) Not ready read below:

Social anxiety is a real condition. It even has its own society, known  as the Social Anxiety Association, I am not sure how difficult it is to join, but you can insert punchline here on how many show up to meetings.

According to the National Institute of Health: People with social phobia have a persistent, intense, and chronic fear of being watched and judged by others and being embarrassed or humiliated by their own actions.

I have a meetup called BionicPulse that I began. I do not suffer from social anxiety. One would presuppose that people who join would be devoid of social anxiety. Yet, consistently the majority of members of every group I analyzed only 5-8 percent show up on any  given meetup. On average half of those who RSVP do not show up. So what is going on?

To find out if you have social anxiety or maybe place yourself somewhere in the spectrum of social phobia, Columbia University has a free online test. Please take it here.

I scored a 29 which is in the lowest unlikely 0-30 category. I was surprised that I scored as high as I did. If your not sure you want to join BionicPulse meetup I ask that you take the test, and respond to this blog on whether the test changed your mind.

After you score high and you demand a bottle of Effexor a drug for SAD, I would like to introduce you to a novel treatment. A virtual reality world known as Second Life.

Second Life is a free online 3-D world where you can create any kind of character and travel around and talk others. You can walk or fly and even build your own store or house.

I tried an experiment. Unlike other online worlds SecondLife has no violence, it has no criminals per se, and there is no death. No fear. So I sought out to find if it were possible to find true Tenderness.

Let me define my idea of true Tenderness: An act of kindness without regard to ones own fragility. Helping others to succeed, at the expense of ones own goals.

I was unable to find it. I was unable to find any charity. All kinds of virtual businesses have set up shop in SecondLife, bookstores, musicians, virtual 3-D furniture stores for your virtual home, and of course even sex shops.

There is no fee to use SecondLife, but all commerce is transacted through Linden dollars. And Linden Labs the maker of SecondLife makes a fee on all transactions I.e. eBay. If you want a permanent storefront or house, you also must pay Linden Labs for the virtual land. But you can roam around meeting all types of characters for free as long as you want.

I mention charity because while I was in SecondLife, the hurricane Katrina hit just a few weeks before. I thought 200,000 plus CPUs and GPUs buzzing away building virtual 3-D houses and stores and not one cent to a charity for Katrina victims. Ironic.

I had one moment though that was a break through. I was always shy as a child. I am audio dyslexic, so I spoke later than most babies...Yet I overcame my disabilities and speak in public often in my life, and have little problem mingling at parties or clubs.

So late one night I was flying around visiting online 3-D casinos and found a site for ballroom dancing. It was a virtual lillypad of fireflies and buttercups floating over a copper sea. The large lillypad had built in scripts that when you and a partner entered onto a lillypad your characters were able to dance cha-cha, foxtrot, and salsa dance steps with out touching a single key.

I can actually ballroom dance, I have taken over two years of lessons and so I know what it should look like. Yet I rarely if ever dance with anyone other than my wife ever. The moment magic happened is when I asked a perfect stranger to dance. I am not a great ballroom dancer, still a beginner and usually terrified to reveal my weakness in any specific type of dance. But I felt some kind of emotion from being able to dance with a stranger without fear of what she thought of my dancing... It was all software.

When her intended partner finally appeared, I told her she was a very good dancer and disappeared. But I experienced no shame, no embarrassment. I realized that I could travel around and simply move on from one event to another.

I left SecondLife forever after that night.

What I learned was I did have some social anxiety, no not severe, but enough that asking a stranger to dance in real life made fearful enough to realize that when I was not responsible for the dancing I felt no shame. And why should I feel shame even if I wasn't a great dancer. I could just move on and continue to travel from one event in my first life to another.

Though her act of dancing with a stranger was not an intentional act of tenderness, it still was a gentle caring act without judgement. It aided me far more than I believe it could have aided her. Though I doubt she was fearful of any danger or harm to her, I was able to overcome my fear of Dancing with a Stranger.