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Culture Politics & Society

No harm in metaphors or similes

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The brain works like a computer. The reference points are there — neurons resemble digital bytes, the brain is plastic and can keep learning like a droid pumped with artificial intelligence, etc.

Even Steve Jobs resorted to representations to make sense of complex, evolving circuits when he said that “computers are like a bicycle for the mind.”

We think in metaphors and similes to help frame the world. Exploiting illustrative examples streamline communication without having to go into excess detail.

The brain to computer comparison is therefore fitting, as is an athlete who’s “on fire.” Metaphors and similes crunch information into something that’s meaningful.

Save the complexity and nuance for the researchers.

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Culture Politics & Society Tech

Thinking hard about culture

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Culture is a broad term used to describe the habits and practices of society. Cultures differ because people differ–in looks, tastes, and religion–and when there’s a hodgepodge of cultures, they mix to create something novel, i.e. America, which then becomes its own cultural pillar.

As broad as culture is, in say music with its infinite number of genres and subgenres, it can also be limiting. For instance, the three most popular operating systems smartphones run on are iOS, Android, and Microsoft. Given the scarcity of choice, people choose sides, resulting in Apple fans, Google geeks, and Microsoft traditionalists.

But even when there’s a variety of choice, a favorite always wins out. Whether it’s a preferred operating system, musician, film, or shoe style, some cultures become mainstream. If you copy such trends, you are the benefactor of the wisdom of crowds. If you’re an early adopter or renegade, you look for things on the edges which are a plausible reaction to the herd mentality.

Given culture’s categorizations, people always conform to a certain type regardless of how big or small a niche. Culture’s resistance to sameness guarantees the durability of uniqueness, and there may be no better modern-day American dissenter than Mark Grief who appears to be against everything.

Read Louis Menand’s Cultural Criticism and the Way We Live Now

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Productivity & Work Psychology Science Tech

Take algorithms with a grain of salt

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In a world of abundance, we need algorithms more than ever. From movies to books, music, and resumes, algorithms intend to save us time by eliminating a lot of the possibilities up front.

The problem with algorithms though is that they remove the outlier. The things that shape you are usually outside your normal scope of interest.

Professor of engineering at Oakland University Barbara Oakley was once a linguist until she realized she could apply the same “chunking” principles to become fluent in math. Mixing subjects broadened her understanding of how discovering new things work.

Algorithms never go deeper than the prescriptive answers. They take what’s most likely of interest and give you more of that, confirming your bias.

Human discovery is less fallible than machines. Aggregated tastes or wisdom of crowds is a viable recommendation engine. But the problem with people is a lack of time–we take too long to gather content and dig through it. The machines can sort through content streams faster, and with accuracy.

We can’t afford to our put our taste in any method. The only way to balance the curators, friend recommendation, with the algorithmic engines is to go manual, staying open to the possibility of discovering something outside our standards interests. Those magazines at the dentist’s office are worth perusing.

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Culture Life & Philosophy Writing

Exploring metaphors

The road is better than the end?

Metaphors redirect exactness. They reduce the friction of being honest and straightforward.

Having “a lot on your plate” is more gentle than saying that you have tons of work to do.

Saying that a person’s “a walking dictionary” is to say that they’re good with words.

“America is a melting pot” means Americans come from diverse backgrounds.

Metaphors help illustrate the truth without having to say it like it is. Metaphors are soft and illustrative.

It’s much faster to impress an idea when we can fabricate an image in mind.

We remember 2/5 of what we hear and 3/5 what we see. Together, metaphors help us communicate 100%.

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Uncategorized

Countries with Better English Have Better Economies
Countries with Better English Have Better Economies

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Uncategorized

Language is Flat

If you can survive and thrive in NYC without speaking English you can certainly build a global business on the Internet.

For example, you can hire an online translator for your emails or just use Google Translate text for free.

The goal for the non-English speaking entrepreneur is to gather enough understanding with partners while he/she focuses on constructing the business.

The Internet sets free the constraints posed by English’s predominance as the world language.  Soon enough, all language will be subjective through the process of automata, i.e. automatic translation. Siri will have a lot to do with this.

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