Tumblr: Facebook’s Inner Personality

I met Jim online last summer. I met him when I was about to transition into college and was thrown into a pool of other accepted students under the veil of a Facebook group. I’d never known anyone without having had a physical conversation, so the online chatting and the image I depicted of him was a fresh experience. As time progressed and I got to know him further, he introduced me to an even newer phenomenon: Tumblr. Yet, he wasn’t just another fan of the relatively new blogging site. Tumblr had introduced him to his girlfriend.

Jim’s relationship status was a form of internet Inception. Facebook had notified me of his girlfriend, but his girlfriend was from Tumblr, two different online mediums overlapping to create a real-life romance. How could he have met a girl from an online site that didn’t even coordinate dating? The site only promised me a few laughs and some quotes I found amusing. We are predisposed to wariness about online communication, whether due to stranger danger instilled in childhood or from the inherent oddity surrounding only knowing someone superficially. It warrants the question as to how genuine it can be through the lens of a computer, a place synonymous with cyber-bullying and false personas by use of an online profile. How do people find love on an illuminated screen?


Hans Rosling, Data Superhero

For many, data is a chore–the stuff of spreadsheets and long-forgotten stats lectures. For Hans Rosling, data is the quickest way to change the world. Rosling is a professor of global health at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and his work with data has made him an international superstar.


Pardon My French!

Is there a person in your life who is simply no longer fazed by the insipid American insults you regularly throw at him? Fear not; you can still get the offended reaction out of him that you’re looking for if you globalize your prospective insults…particularly those of the French flavor. In order to help you berate and offend (or at least confuse the point of offense) your person of choice, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite French insults.


The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Amygdala

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have found a way to recreate the memory-eradicating science behind “The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” by manipulating protein synthesis in the amygdala, the part of the brain that associates emotions with past experiences.


You Are What You Read (And Watch And Play And Listen To)

The last book I bought was David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King. I’m only about 80 pages in, but so far it’s a terrific read. For me, it seems to be just a book, but recent research suggests it may be much, much more.

In a recent paper in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, psychologists Geoff Kaufman and Lisa Libby claim that the books we read can transform our personalities and redefine our perspectives. Their research centers on the process of “experience-taking,” or the idea that when people read they “[assume] the identity of a character in a written narrative and [simulate] that character’s subjective experience while immersed in the world of the story.” So what’s the big deal? Immersion in literature is as old as literature itself. How does this change anything?


Change Your Mindset, Achieve the Impossible?

“Becoming is better than being.” Dr. Carol Dweck predicates this poignant statement in her exceptional book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, in reference to her theories of the power that our perception of personal development holds over our performance in any given aspect of life. In Mindset, Dweck coins the terms “growth mindset” and “fixed mindset:” two cognitive models of ability that can describe an individual’s attitude toward the development of their capabilities. These two “mindsets” have been proven to affect the productivity and contentment a person ultimately experiences in life.


Against Cyber-utopians

In my last article, I presented the primary argument for Internet regulation that Cass Sunstein makes in his book Republic.com: In no public domain can absolute freedom of speech be rationally or constitutionally defended, nor, contrary to popular belief, has it ever been. With the ice broken, I want to explore the dangerous potential of the internet and the primary reasons why total Internet freedom is problematic: namely extremism and defamation.

Independent researcher Evgeny Morozov raises many of these questions in his work, noting the benefits and costs of a system of user-generated content. Wikipedia, for example, has generated more reliable information than could ever have been possible without user contributions. But by the same token, extremist bloggers and conspiracy theorists have generated almost as much misinformation. Morozov notes that the current shift to social search, user-generated content from social networks appearing in search results, will only allow further dissemination of misinformation.


Irrefutable Badass: Joe Kittinger, He Fell From The Sky At The Speed of Sound

He’s perched at the brink of infinity. Joe Kitinger is 19 miles above the surface of the planet Earth, suspended in basket by a helium balloon. He has passed the atmosphere as man knows it, and can see for 400 miles in every direction. When he looks up all he sees is darkness and the sharp glare of the sun. When he looks down, he can see the thin blue line that separates Earth from space. He is witness to the curvature of Earth. He peers over the edge of the gondola, says a silent prayer, and jumps.


The Technology Dividing a Profession: How Computer Aided Drafting Has Altered the Artistic Culture of Theatre Design in the USA

Is computer aided drafting destroying the artistic culture of theatre design, or is it being fundamentally altered? Is this for better or for worse? Is this causing a division within the theatre design community? I believe that to accurately consider these demanding questions, one must understand the nuances between lighting and scenic design, the implications the introduction of a new technology brings to a ‘fine art,’ and the social and psychological definitions of artistic beauty. As I elaborate on this point of contention of the theatre world, I’d like to note that the abbreviation ‘CAD’ stands for ‘computer aided drafting’ in this context.

In both lighting and scenic hand drafting, a seemingly multitudinous array of separate supplies is required to make a clean, accurate portrayal of one’s concept. The price adds up quickly and one often needs to replace these items after extensive use. The price for an average set of necessary drafting tools (including but not limited to a drafting table, lamp, paper, pencils, pens, triangles, stencils, a compass, a pantograph, an architect’s ruler, a T-Square, erasers, etc.) can add up to be around $2,036 to sustain. In CAD programs, all of the tools are on the computer. One does not have to ‘keep track’ of separate physical objects in order to successfully draft a plot. Overall, the prices range in the low to mid thousands (depending on the release date and plug-ins included). VectorWorks Designer can be found on the market for around $2,988, while several different AutoCAD programs range from $1,180 to $3,995.


Correcting Cyberspace

Since its 1950s predecessors and the opening of the World Wide Web in 1984, the Internet has come a long way and truly revolutionized our world–likely in more ways than we can know. It has widened perspectives around the globe in ways totally unforeseen and unique from those of any other medium. In the words of Bill Gates, “The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow.” You’ve all heard this story and personally reaped some of the benefits of this amazing network (namely, of course, The Airspace).

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