Facebook & Instagram destroy your attention span?

Just yesterday I wrote about Tim Berners-Lee complaining about what the web is like today. Today I found more commentary that supports this view.

Big players like Facebook, Instagram introduced means to kill the ability of users to use URLs to create meaningful relations. On Facebook users are just allowed to express meaning in the form popularizing things through »liking« and »sharing«.

Continue reading Facebook & Instagram destroy your attention span?

Tinderbox goes Universal

One of the tools I am using for years now is Tinderbox from Eastgate. I have used it for quite some time to write this weblog here (but swichted to WordPress + MarsEdit recently). Nevertheless I think Tinderbox is a helper in many ways – although there are always features that can be and will be missed.

With a retail price of $229 USD the tool is not cheap – but depending on the usage and potential productivity gain this can be a bargain.


If you are ready and able to write some export templates one can export almost anything to XML or HTML and turn that into layouted documents, presentations or websites.

The “magic” of Tinderbox is that it allows visual unstructured brainstorming and turn that into structured documents over time. But does not stop there like other mind mapping tools: by adding text notes, metadata, agents and actions that perform queries and manipulate data. So you can make your document smarter and add some automatism to it. There are endless ways to use Tinderbox and to make it fit to your brain.

After watching some screencasts you can read some examples of what people are doing with Tinderbox.

You can’t expect from Tinderbox: online collaboration, custom import of any data, direct export to MS Office documents and the like, table editing within notes, a programmable enviroment (alhtough actions and agents can do a lot already), a Windows version (supposed to be in the making).

Here is a software review by Natan Matias from Sitepoint.

The unawareness of lack of skill

This appears to be a funny note, but actually it is really something ultimately true: Unskilled and Unaware of It.

Justin Kruger and David Dunning made several studies to support following concepts:

1. Incompetent individuals, compared with their more competent peers, will dramatically overestimate their ability and performance relative to objective criteria.
2. Incompetent individuals will suffer from deficient metacognitive skills, in that they will be less able than their more competent peers to recognize competence when they see it—be it their own or anyone else’s.
3. Incompetent individuals will be less able than their more competent peers to gain insight into their true level of performance by means of social comparison information. In particular, because of their difficulty recognizing competence in others, incompetent individuals will be unable to use information about the choices and performances of others to form more accurate impressions of their own ability.
4. The incompetent can gain insight about their shortcomings, but this comes (paradoxically) by making them more competent, thus providing them the metacognitive skills necessary to be able to realize that they have performed poorly.

If self-assessment is a crucial part of learning, then gaining insight about own shortcomings (and a good judgment about if and what to do about it) seems to be key.

The longer more detailed article from several years ago is here.

Theory clusters

At the University Twente there is a overview about communication-related theories. Extremely useful and a must read – if not must know – for every designer:

The theories presented here are related to communication. Students can use these theories as a rich source for a better understanding of the theoretical fieldwork of communication. Choosing a theory for an assignment or report is made easier, since you are able to ‘browse’ through the different theories. All theories which are selected are used in the courses of Communication Studies. Stay critical when you use a theory, because theories are subjectively measured. A lot of theories are mentioned below, make your own judgment about which theories are most helpful and think why they are helpful.

The cognitive style of parallel writing

Stephanie Booth is reflecting on the experiment with writing a summary of a conference session as a group in SubEthaEdit (which allows users connected to one host to write together on a single text file; it looks like this -each user has a seperate color- and when finished the result can be published on a wiki). She writes:

Discipline is needed to separate the actual notes (ie, “what the conferencer said”) from the note-taker comments (ie, extra links, commentary, questions, remarks). This isn’t a big issue when a unique person is taking notes for his or her private use, but it becomes really important when more people are involved. I think that although we did do this to some extent, we were a bit sloppy about it.

What instantly popped into my head when reading this was the list of strategies for knowledge tool users I jotted down one day. SubEthaEdit is a pretty raw editor – so it may be hard to correlate the intentions. It’s like a jazz combo, where you need to listen closely and feel the right moment to give signals to your counterparts.

There is no point in trying to summarize the paper or being just adding more links. But is some value in contextualizing and reflecting a presentation. But the most important thing when taking notes is to try to connect it to own thinking.

Now, is a collaborative reflection by writing in a raw editor with rudimentary formatting really clarifying anything for each author? The results appear pretty unorganized and I feel that there is a lot to learn about this practice. And there will probably someone coming up with a tool that is optimized for this “group thinking by group writing” task. Without going further into details, some would argue that there is no such thing like “group thinking”.

Computer boosts cognitive agility of pre-school children?

CNN reports that computer use of children aged 3 to 5 scored higher on tests that gauge school readiness and cognitive development.

Some earlier studies have found computer use improves children’s fine motor skills and improves recognition of numbers and letters.

Is there a study that shows how extensive computer use in early childhood influences the social skills and empathy?