Archive for October, 2006

Social Intelligence

I started reading Daniel Goleman’s latest titled Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships, which introduces the field of social neuroscience (which I speak of in my Oct. 13th post on two Scientific American articles about mirror neurons). This follows from Goleman’s groundbreaking Emotional Intelligence and extends it to interpersonal relationships. I believe there is real evidence here to support my theory of energonomics, and it supplies the missing link as I suggested in that earlier post. He speaks of how our minds are wired to respond to the emotional states of others, to mirror these states, and it helps to explain how a charismatic leader can have such an influence on a crowd (or mob) of people. Goleman even speaks of “memes” and points out how this emerging field in neuroscience can help explain the phenomenon of memetic transference.

31 October 2006 at 6:39 pm 1 comment

Wandering into Second Life

Back on October 5th, I created a character in Second Life, an online virtual world or “participatory social network” as they are saying these days.  (I am Abaris Brautigan “in world,” by the way).  I was encouraged to do so by John Craig Freeman, a professor of new media studies at Emerson College.  I did a collaboration with Craig four years ago in which he included me in his “Imaging Place” project (scroll down to the bottom and click the movie link to see me in action!), and he’s been adding his work into Second Life.  As a result of this invitation, my interest in my scholarly work has been resurrected, and I’ve been revisiting the work of my dissertation director and mentor Gregory L. Ulmer.  This is the work that I had wandered away from after being cut loose from the academy. 

Now that I have stumbled into Second Life, I feel like the very relevant work that I did in my dissertation (which in the general sense was developing a method of information storage and retrieval in the 3-D writing space of hypertext) can now offer some direction in terms of figuring out how to store information in Second Life.  I am very excited to return to these ideas and hope that I can contribute in some way to the revolution in communications technology that we are experiencing right now.

I will create a new category called “electracy” to indicate posts that involve my work with the theories and ideas of Greg Ulmer, who invented this term to capture the major shift in cultural evolution away from alphabetic and print literacy to this third phase (orality and literacy being the first two). For a general introduction, read my article at Wikipedia on Electracy.

19 October 2006 at 10:03 pm Leave a comment

Mirror Neurons: A Mechanism for Memetic Transference

My concept of energonomics has had a missing link all along. For it’s easy enough to trace the energy from the sun to the human brain, but the problem has been conceiving how the energy transfers from brain to brain. The theory of mirror neurons offers a method for such transmission. Two articles in the recent (November 2006) issues of Scientific American speak of how there are specialized cells in the brain that mimic or mirror the actions or emotions of an other:

…populations of mirror neurons in the insula become active both when the test participants experience emotion and when they see it expressed by others. In other words, the observer and the observed share a neural mechanism that enables a form of direct experiential understanding. (p. 60)

The closest that memetics came to an explanation of how memes actually move from one brain to another came in Robert Aunger’s book The Electric Meme: A New Theory of How We Think. He suggested that memes are transferred via a patterned firing of neurons in an other’s brain, but there wasn’t a direct mechanism of the energy physically being transferred. It seems to me that this theory of neurons offers such a mechanism. More later.

13 October 2006 at 11:23 am 2 comments


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