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The End of Solitude - The Chronicle Review

The End of Solitude - The Chronicle Review
What does the contemporary self want? The camera has created a culture of celebrity; the computer is creating a culture of connectivity. As the two technologies converge — broadband tipping the Web from text to image, social-networking sites spreading the mesh of interconnection ever wider — the two cultures betray a common impulse. So we live exclusively in relation to others, and what disappears from our lives is solitude. I once asked my students about the place that solitude has in their lives. To that remarkable question, history offers a number of answers. Like other religious values, solitude was democratized by the Reformation and secularized by Romanticism. But it is with Romanticism that solitude achieved its greatest cultural salience, becoming both literal and literary. Modernism decoupled this dialectic. The Romantic ideal of solitude developed in part as a reaction to the emergence of the modern city. As a result, we are losing both sides of the Romantic dialectic. Related:  21st century solitude

'How Creativity Works': It's All In Your Imagination iStockphoto.com What makes people creative? What gives some of us the ability to create work that captivates the eyes, minds and hearts of others? Jonah Lehrer, a writer specializing in neuroscience, addresses that question in his new book, Imagine: How Creativity Works. Lehrer defines creativity broadly, considering everything from the invention of masking tape to breakthroughs in mathematics; from memorable ad campaigns to Shakespearean tragedies. He finds that the conditions that favor creativity — our brains, our times, our buildings, our cities — are equally broad. Lehrer joins NPR's Robert Siegel to talk about the creative process — where great ideas come from, how to foster them, and what to do when you inevitably get stuck. Interview Highlights On comparing Shakespeare with the inventor of masking tape "I think we absolutely can lump them all together. "... On how Steve Jobs redesigned Pixar studios to maximize collaboration and creativity " ... "It's near midnight.

Social Media And The Loss Of Uncorrelated Wisdom It’s now a well-established fact that a group of people with diverse opinions can often make uncannily accurate decisions--smarter in many cases than any single individual could possibly manage. Open markets are the epitome of this, because they weigh individual opinions with real money, and as a result they sometimes produce decisions that seem truly prescient. Orange-crop futures markets, for instance, do a better job predicting Florida weather than meteorologists. And just a few minutes after the 1986 explosion of the Challenger space shuttle, the stock market correctly zeroed in on Morton-Thiokol, maker of the frozen O-rings, even though it was several weeks before a team of engineers investigating the disaster figured it out. (If you find this phenomenon as fascinating as I do, then in addition to James Surowiecki’s benchmark book The Wisdom of Crowds, you might want to peruse Scott Page’s excellent academic treatment of it in The Difference.) You want to avoid this fate?

Depression Is Linked to Hyperconnectivity of Brain Regions, a New Study Shows Paralympian Oscar Pistorius broke down in court once again during his turn on the witness stand, as he remembered the night that he shot his model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. The public has waited for over five weeks for a glimpse into the mind of South African Paralympian Oscar Pistorius, who is currently in the witness box in Pretoria’s North Gauteng High Court to provide evidence and defend himself in the murder trial of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, whom he shot and killed on Valentine’s Day last year. The six-time gold medalist was scheduled to be sworn in at the beginning of March, but the trial was postponed due to the illness of one of the judge’s assessors. The moment everything changed Sobbing uncontrollably after hours of exhaustive testimony on Tuesday, Pistorius detailed the events proceeding the moment that he put four bullets through his bathroom door, killing his 29-year-old girlfriend. “She rolled over to me and said ‘Can't you sleep, my baba?’” ‘Besotted’ with Reeva

California Takes a Big Step Forward: Free, Digital, Open-Source Textbooks - Megan Garber A Golden State experiment with nationwide impact California governor Jerry Brown meets with university students while signing legislation aimed to offer them financial help. (gov.ca.gov) This week, California took a big step forward in the march toward online education. The new legislation encompasses two bills: One, a proposal for the state to fund 50 open-source digital textbooks, targeted to lower-division courses, which will be produced by California's universities. On the textbook side, California will ask the California Open Education Resources Council, comprised of school faculty, to create and oversee a book approval process -- which will include the development of a list of targeted courses "for which high-quality, affordable, digital open source textbooks and related materials would be developed or acquired" by the University of California, California State University, or California Community College systems.

How To Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon Wednesday, March 30th, 2011 Buy the book: Amazon | B&N | More… Here’s what a few folks have said about it: “Brilliant and real and true.”—Rosanne Cash“Filled with well-formed advice that applies to nearly any kind of work.”—Lifehacker.com“Immersing yourself in Steal Like An Artist is as fine an investment in the life of your mind as you can hope to make.” Read an excerpt below… Tags: steal like an artist Could You Be Addicted To The Internet? [POLL] Unlike drugs and alcohol, excess Internet usage could help your career, make you more informed and keep you up-to-date with the latest hilarious memes. But a recent (small) study by researchers in China showed that too much Internet usage — to the point that it's an addiction — can cause structural damage to your brain. The researchers studied 17 adolescents with Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) and found structural and functional interference in the part of the brain that regulates organization, possibly causing cognitive impairment similar to that caused by gambling and alcoholism. Here's the science behind it: White matter is composed of nerve cells, while the gray matter that we hear so much about is made up of cell bodies. Myelin is a type of fat in the white part (nerve-heavy area) of the brain. This fat insulates the white matter in the brain and makes the transmission speed between nerve signals fast. Are you addicted to the Internet?

New tools make self-publishing e-books easier Scott Nicholson, a prolific author with 70 books to date, has found most of his success online, selling self-published books at Amazon for the Kindle and other e-readers. He handles the entire process himself — from downloading stock photos at $4 to $5 a pop and making covers in Gimp, a free photo software tool, to converting the manuscripts into formats compatible for the e-readers. "If I can do it, anyone can," says Nicholson, 49, who writes four novels a year from his home in Boone, N.C. He won't say how much he makes, but it's a "comfortable living," solely on e-book royalties. MORE: Talking Tech Not everyone is as tech-savvy as Nicholson, and as willing to put in the extra hours. •Red Staple and Folium Book Studio, both released in January, offer self-service online tools to convert your books into the ePub format, which, in turn, can be uploaded for Amazon's Kindle, Barnes & Noble's Nook, Apple's iPad and Sony's E-Reader, at varying prices.

MOOCs, Large Courses Open to All, Topple Campus Walls But this course, Building a Search Engine, is taught by two prominent computer scientists, Sebastian Thrun, a Stanford research professor and Google fellow, and David Evans, a professor on leave from the University of Virginia. The big names have been a big draw. Since Udacity, the for-profit startup running the course, opened registration on Jan. 23, more than 90,000 students have enrolled in the search-engine course and another taught by Mr. Thrun, who led the development of Google’s self-driving car. Welcome to the brave new world of Massive Open Online Courses — known as MOOCs — a tool for democratizing higher education. While the vast potential of free online courses has excited theoretical interest for decades, in the past few months hundreds of thousands of motivated students around the world who lack access to elite universities have been embracing them as a path toward sophisticated skills and high-paying jobs, without paying tuition or collecting a college degree. Mr. Mr.

That's All, Folks: Kevin Smith On Leaving Filmmaking When 21-year-old Kevin Smith decided he wanted to be a filmmaker, his sister gave him some advice: "Don't say you want to be a filmmaker; just be one." So he did. He made his first film, Clerks, on a shoestring, shooting at the convenience store where he worked. Smith has gone on to have a long and quirky career; his films, including Chasing Amy and Dogma, bear his unmistakable imprimatur — the black humor, the verbose slacker genius characters. He explains his decision to leave directing in a new book, Tough Sh*t: Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good. Interview Highlights On leaving filmmaking behind "You know, for me it was never about, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. ... On the possibility of becoming someone who is just famous for being famous hide captionKevin Smith is a director, actor and comic book writer. Courtesy Penguin "I guess there's the kind of Kim Kardashian version of that, where it's just like, ugh, she's kind of known for being herself.

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