I have written several posts about data overload and how it paralyzes us. There is too much "noise" from too many sources. We have too many choices we can afford, and not enough time or brain power to make sense of them.
A new Internet tool has the potential to help filter the noise. Top 10 Sources uses "open ranking and sorting
services that rely upon robust technical methodologies to determine importance
and relevance of sites."
What does this mean? What is a robust technical methodology? Who determines what is important and relevant to you and me?
"...we publish a daily "Top 10" site of the best newsfeeds on the
Internet. Each day, our team of editors picks a topic." They are hired "for their judgment, sensitivity, wit, and charm."
I have to put this on my list of Top 10 Hype Sites, but this type of thing could be an early precursor to something really useful.
As usual these days, most of the web chatter related to this service is about source attribution and ownership--very important issues. It is not about the value of the service to us. We will eventually get to that. (For example, Techcrunch blog from 1/22/06.)
We all knew this, but refuse to totally accept it: politicians do not make rational decisions. While we often vote based on emotion or bias, e.g., Hamas, the vote count is the vote count (well, at least most of the time).
The numbers do not lie, but what is the basis for our vote?
Says researcher Westen, "Essentially, it appears as if partisans twirl the cognitive
kaleidoscope until they get the conclusions they want, and then they
get massively reinforced for it, with the elimination of negative
emotional states and activation of positive ones."
"Everyone from executives and judges to
scientists and politicians may reason to emotionally biased judgments
when they have a vested interest in how to interpret 'the facts,'"
Findings will be presented tomorrow at the Annual Conference
of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology.
Sources: Research study by Drew Westen, PhD, professor at Emory University. Story in MSNBC Photo: Jim Bourg / Reuters file
Steve Jobs, Apple CEO, said last June at the Stanford commencement, "...believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the
confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the
well-worn path, and that will make all the difference."
Great speech, but familiar sounding. If you parse his words, you see they're a mashup of sayings and lyrics, some attributable, others just very familiar.
...the dots will connect (ancient idiom, probably invented by star-gazers)
down the road (Woody Guthrie)
follow your heart (Confucius)
well-worn path (traditional idiom)
and that will make all the difference. (Robert Frost)
"However, this book is not a prescription; it is a confession, pure and simple. It is the confession of a man who allowed himself to become a pawn, an economic hit man; a man who bought into a corrupt system because it opened so many perks, and because buying in was easy to justify; a man who knew better but who could always find excuses for his own greed, for exploiting desperate people and pillaging the planet; a man who took full advantage of the fact that he was born into one of the wealthiest societies history has ever known, and who also could pity himself because his parents were not at the top of the pyramid; a man who listened to his teachers, read the textbooks on economic development, and then followed the example of other men and women who legitimatize every action that promotes global empire, even if that action result in murder, genocide, and environmental destruction; a man who trained others to follow in his footsteps. It is my confession."
Witnesses to crimes are notoriously unreliable during investigations. Was it
a man or a woman? What time was it? Can you identify the accused man in the police
Large numbers of individuals who witness the same event often tell widely
different stories. We are highly selective in what we experience; selective again in what we remember. Research also shows that we are strongly
influenced by subtle cues and feedback from others. (This is sometimes known as
‘leading the witness.’)
Isn’t it likely that witnesses to the decision making process are just as unreliable?
Did we consider the important factors? Were we biased or prejudiced in any way?
Was the process open and fair?
Recently, an executive described to me a governing council whose seven
members voted six-to-one in a decision process that impacts thousands of workers.
The chairperson announced the minority view as the final decision, leaving the
other six members scratching their heads, wondering what had happened.
I told the executive that either the process was rigged from the start (I
wasn’t so direct), or that the rules were poorly defined (the council talked, but never formally voted).
Last night I thought of a third explanation: the chairperson
had honestly announced what she saw and heard during the council’s deliberations.
"When you pay attention to something (and when you ignore something),
data is created. This "attention data" is a valuable resource that
reflects your interests, your activities and your values, and it serves
as a proxy for your attention."
"One recent study found evidence that the daily practice of meditation
thickened the parts of the brain's cerebral cortex responsible for
decision making, attention and memory. Sara Lazar, a research scientist
at Massachusetts General Hospital, presented preliminary results last
November that showed that the gray matter of 20 men and women who
meditated for just 40 minutes a day was thicker than that of people who
did not. Unlike in previous studies focusing on Buddhist monks, the
subjects were Boston-area workers practicing a Western-style of
meditation called mindfulness or insight meditation. "We showed for the
first time that you don't have to do it all day for similar results,"
says Lazar. What's more, her research suggests that meditation may slow
the natural thinning of that section of the cortex that occurs with age."
"The study of decision making… is a palimpsest of intellectual
disciplines." (Source: Buchanan, L., O'Connell, A., (2006). A brief history
of decision making. Harvard Business Review, 84(1).)
Say what? It turns out that for centuries, wise men and women have been
re-using paper, papyrus, or whatever material they had to write on, replacing old
information with new. Webster’s calls these palimpsests ('pa-l&m(p)-"sest), or "writing
material (as a parchment or tablet) used one or more times after earlier writing
has been erased." The word comes from the Greek, meaning "scraped
Omar Khayyam (who clearly did not use palimpsest) wrote this poem.
The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line, Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.