Facebook and Personality

Image from Slate Magazine

Interesting study looks at words used in Facebook statuses to analyse personality, gender, age differences etc. Rather creative methodology that uses the natural and voluminous expression of people rather than make them sit through standardized surveys or interviews.


Apple: Screens Over Socializing

Media doesn’t just reflect reality, they also reproduce it. Just saw this advertisement from Apple that unintentionally paints the gloomy picture of people being distracted by their screens instead of living the moment.

Mark Wilson from Fast Company observes how Apple has misunderstood what great design really is judging from the images in this ad:

So the experience of a product will never be what matters to a great designer. It’s always been about the experience of a person using that product.

Should We Ban Cigarettes?

United States President Barack Obama’s doctor confirmed last month that the President no longer smokes. At the urging of his wife, Mrs Michelle Obama, the President first resolved to stop smoking in 2006 and has used nicotine replacement therapy to help him.

If it took Mr Obama, a man strong-willed enough to aspire to and achieve the US presidency, five years to kick the habit, it is not surprising that hundreds of millions of smokers find themselves unable to quit.

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Inequality: What’s the gripe?

Joseph E Stilglitz comments on the ‘Globalization of Protest‘,

The protest movement that began in Tunisia in January, subsequently spreading to Egypt, and then to Spain, has now become global, with the protests engulfing Wall Street and cities across America. Globalization and modern technology now enables social movements to transcend borders as rapidly as ideas can. And social protest has found fertile ground everywhere: a sense that the “system” has failed, and the conviction that even in a democracy, the electoral process will not set things right – at least not without strong pressure from the street.

Nouriel Roubini discusses the ‘Instability of Inequality‘,

While these protests have no unified theme, they express in different ways the serious concerns of the world’s working and middle classes about their prospects in the face of the growing concentration of power among economic, financial, and political elites. The causes of their concern are clear enough: high unemployment and underemployment in advanced and emerging economies; inadequate skills and education for young people and workers to compete in a globalized world; resentment against corruption, including legalized forms like lobbying; and a sharp rise in income and wealth inequality in advanced and fast-growing emerging-market economies.

Jonah Lehrer from Wired.com also talks about how ‘Inequality Makes Us Unhappy‘, citing various studies and experiments to show how humans have an ingrained nature to favor a society where wealth at least seems to be distributed more fairly.

This labor unrest among monkeys illuminates our innate sense of fairness. It’s not that the primates demanded equality — some capuchins collected many more pebbles than others, and that never created a problem — it’s that they couldn’t stand when the inequality was a result of injustice. Humans act the same way. When the rich do something to deserve their riches, nobody complains; that’s just the meritocracy at work. But when those at the bottom don’t understand the unequal distribution of wealth — when it seems as if the winners are getting rewarded for no reason — they get furious. They doubt the integrity of the system and become more sensitive to perceived inequities. They start camping out in parks. They reject the very premise of the game.

Basically, it really isn’t inequality itself that’s the problem, but the perceived unfairness of a system that seems to favor the rich, and does little to help the poor.

Why Are We Less Violent Today?

FIRST the good news—people are much nicer than they used to be and they are becoming steadily less violent. This is the thesis of Steven Pinker’s absorbing and detailed survey of human behaviour that goes right back to early Christendom. His work is based on two arguments. The first is that the past was far more unpleasant than it was thought to be, whereas the present is altogether more peaceable, contrary to what many believe.

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