Friday Jan 09, 2009

Happiness is a healthy social network

Once again New Scientist justifies my subscription - a fascinating article on how your friends' friends can affect your mood such as happiness. In other words, not just your immediate circle of friends.

The tips provided were:

Five tips for a healthier social network

  1. Choose your friends carefully.
  2. Choose which of your existing friends you spend the most time with. For example, hang out with people who are upbeat, or avoid couch potatoes.
  3. Join a club whose members you would like to emulate (running, healthy cooking), and socialise with them.
  4. If you are with people whose emotional state or behaviours you could do without, try to avoid the natural inclination to mimic their facial expressions and postures.
  5. Be aware at all times of your susceptibility to social influence - and remember that being a social animal is mostly a good thing.

The article questions whether Malcolm Gladwell's Tipping Point argument that social epidemics are dependent on certain key individuals is correct - though my recall of that book is that connectors are one of the key individuals who by definition have wide social networks. The key point of this article is that the effect spans several degrees of separation.

The comments on the article are well worth reading too including the slightly concerning consequence of the above advice which means undesirable people (eg depressives) could end up isolated.

Some of the happiest times I've had are hanging out with dance friends. Find the right music, venue and dance partner and your cares and woes are soon forgotten. However, that joy extends beyond the dance itself - it's infectious.

Wednesday Oct 17, 2007

Random thoughts on Alec Muffett's "IT Futurology and the Terabyte iPod"

Alec MuffettHaving watched Alec Muffett's talk on "IT Futurology and the Terabyte iPod" I had some random thoughts wandering about my mind awaiting some annealing process. Until that occurs, here they are in raw form ...

BBC Radio 4's "The Material World" had a feature which implied massive and permanent data:

I was also struck by the iPod 'cloud' idea and how important it would be to have established standards to access the cloud. Also, would it be just one cloud? Bittorrent? Or GEROS? Or Web 3.0?

Currently much of my non-home directory objects are scattered about the Internet. I have blog entries in blogs.sun.com, photos in Photobox and Flickr, personal data in Facebook, etc etc. These all suffer to a greater or less extent to that 'what if' scenario of wanting your data back. If there were multiple clouds, could I migrate those objects from one cloud to another?

A long wished for dream-organiser for is me is something that allowed arbitrary links. Everything is an object and you can arbitrarily link them. That would be perfect with the cloud backend as my RSS blog object would simply list blog entry objects that themselves include other objects such as photos.

What use a home directory? Mostly preferences these days - could be another set of objects in the cloud of course.

Finally, two of the TED talks are about gapminder.org which writes software to mine the public databases for statistics related to world poverty, health and so on and then provide meaningful data. It set me wondering about the intersection (if any) between the iPod cloud or personal objects and large databases.

Check:

Can I resist mentioning the network is the computer? Apparently not :-)

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