10 posts tagged social science & behavior

Internet Access: A Basic Human Right

Amazing. I’m not disagreeing, but it’s really amazing, when you think about it, that the Internet has become so central to human culture in such a short period of time that the UN is essentially declaring it a necessary human right. Think about all the other culture-shifting technologies, like air travel, for example, that have been around much longer and don’t have this kind of status.

(via swissmiss)

Asymmetrical mass favors, a tragedy of our commons

I don’t think I’d ever thought of it this way, but this concept touches on a lot of what I don’t like about the internet in a social capacity. No, it’s not ok for you to spam me. No, it’s not ok for you to expect me to fund your vacation through “donations.” I’m poor too—vacation-poor, at least. No, it’s not ok for you to expect me to have read everything you post on all of the services you post to the next time we meet in person. If anything, the internet highlights a very human tenant: “I care about things and you don’t care enough about those things that I care about!” (myself, on the Twitter).

How Facebook is Killing Your Authenticity

Bonus: “Face it, authenticity goes way down when people know their 700 friends, grandma, and 5 ex-girlfriends are tuning in each time they post something on the web.”

Authenticity is a topic we don’t actually talk that much about. In many ways, I think we assume people to be their authentic selves in each social situation. The truth is, we curate that self, naturally, and who I am with one group of people may not be exactly who I am with another. But if both groups are watching my every move online, then, who am I to be?

The triumph of coal marketing

On the heels of the last post, Seth Godin has a slightly different take on the same issue of our perception of a problem not matching reality:

“Vivid is not the same as true. It’s far easier to amplify sudden and horrible outcomes than it is to talk about the slow, grinding reality of day to day strife. That’s just human nature.”

Normally, I would just quote him, but I wanted you to see the chart as well. If you have a moment, read the whole post.

He’s a marketing guy, so his angle is that marketing is to blame. I don’t want to split hairs, but I think it’s much more complex than that, and also more engrained in human nature. We’re storytellers. If you want a large group of people to either love or hate something or someone, build a good story around it. Now, repeat that story far and wide until it’s accepted as a sort of truth. Most of us don’t have time in our day to pause and try to discern between “truths” and “sort-of-truths”.

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Radiation Dose Chart

As human beings, we’re not good at perspective. Add in doses of emotion and fear and our capacity to logically process and compare things largely goes right out the window.

Randall Munroe, of the excellent and brainy xkcd Web Comic put together a chart comparing different sources of radiation exposure and their doses. I cherry-picked a couple (above), but you really need to see the whole thing.

For the same reason that most of us can’t fully grasp the vast difference between a billion and a trillion dollars (hint: it’s bigger than whatever you’re thinking it is right now) we hear words like “nuclear reactor” and “radiation leak” and completely freak out. Our brains just haven’t evolved to deal with this kind of stuff.

(via Daring Fireball)

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On the “Dickbar”

Neven and Marco’s related posts are worth a read too.

(via everyone via Neven Mrgan via Marco Arment)

A Frightening Week

I find the tech industry on the whole to be very idealistic. In so many ways, this is a good thing, but it can warp our perspective of “the way things are” in the world. Having a government shut down the entire Internet in a country is a good reminder to be vigilant and to pop our heads up out of our idealism once-in-a-while and confirm that things really are headed in the right direction. For example, I had no idea that proposed legislation like the Internet Kill Switch existed. It seems so counterintuitive to everything our country stands for, yet there it is. Now, what are we going to do about it, both as an industry and as citizens?


What does procrastination tell us about ourselves?

I’ve never thought about it this way, but I agree. The tension between the part of me that wants to put something off and the part of me that gets things done seems like a split of selves—a battle between two entirely different initiatives.

ps – I procrastinated several months on reading this article.

The Decline Effect and the Scientific Method

Even the most strict application of the scientific method can’t get away from the fact that it’s being applied by imperfect humans that tend toward personal biases and vigorously defend their positions when even their own data contradicts them. This doesn’t prove that science is broken—except for when we forget about the human factor in science and treat it like unquestionable truth.

Social Science Palooza

This article is a short read and totally worth it. The author has distilled several interesting social/behavioral science studies into a paragraph each. It was hard to choose which ones to quote here.

Bonus: “People remember information that is hard to master. In a study for Cognition, Connor Diemand-Yauman, Daniel Oppenheimer and Erikka Vaughan found that information in hard-to-read fonts was better remembered than information transmitted in easier fonts.”

As a designer who likes to optimize for readability, I’m not quite sure what to make of this… hehe.