February 2007 | Main | April 2007

March 1, 2007

Thundersnow!

I'm working at home today, watching the blizzard outside -- it's pretty much white-out conditions. But I was quite surprised to hear a big clap of thunder a few minutes ago. Thundersnow, they call it in these parts. I'm not going anywhere for a while. The city plows just smooshed a ton of wet gunk into the entry to my driveway. I'm enjoying my hot chocolate while I write....

Posted by hgroteva at 11:25 AM

March 10, 2007

A Phone That's Just a Phone

I may have lost 5 points off my Geek quotient last week, when I found myself nodding in agreement to parts of an article UNFORTUNATELY and OBNOXIOUSLY titled, "New Tech for the Old." (Star Tribune, 3-7-07)

Although the article was about technology for (aging) baby boomers, I found myself drawn to pieces about how some folks want no-frills cell phones. (BTW, Did you know that somewhere, a baby boomer is turning 60 every eight seconds?) Some people actually want cell phones that make and receive phone calls, but don't necessarily take pictures, download ringtones, show videos, grab e-mail, or otherwise contribute to overstimulation. The interesting thing about all those "features" is that they all cost extra. What you think you are going to pay monthly for your cell phone balloons out of control when you add and use all the "features." The bane of my existence are the deals in which you get 3 or 6 or 12 months free service on this or that and can cancel at any time. Well -- how many people actually cancel? And who do you contact anyway? And is it easy to cancel - NO! And do you even remember? The purveyors hope not.

End of rant - happy spring break!

Posted by hgroteva at 9:37 AM

March 13, 2007

Neuroeconomics

I was introduced to a new interdisciplinary field on the news last night, Neuroeconomics. (I guess it's not all that new - when I googled it, there were 464,000 hits - but it was new to me.) The news program focused on shopping, and on how different centers in the brain become activated when different types of consumer decisions are made. The story was about how neuroscientists can predict what we will buy before we know it ourselves. It looks at how consumers weigh factors such as cost and product desirability. And of course the logical extension is that businesses can then manipulate consumers to buy their own products.

Click here to go to the website for the Center for the Study of Neuroeconomics at George Mason University.
It says: "The Center for the Study of Neuroeconomics(CSN) at George Mason University is a research center and laboratory dedicated to the experimental study of how emergent mental computations in the brain interact with the emergent computations of institutions to produce legal, political, and economic order." This definition sounds much more benign than the manipulative scenario spun out on the news.

According to the Center's website, "Neuroeconomics is the study of how the embodied brain interacts with its external environment to produce economic behavior. Research in this field will allow social scientists to better understand individual decision making and consequently to better predict economic behavior." It contains a link (click here) to a 5 page pdf from the Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science. I look forward to absorbing more about this field and considering its exciting and frightening implications.

Posted by hgroteva at 9:52 AM