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Shoestrings In Our Mind
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Shoestrings In Our Mind

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The minds are scattered by thousands of diverse signals daily and stupified. We need to approach our lives and our expurse differently

The minds are scattered by thousands of diverse signals daily and stupified. We need to approach our lives and our expurse differently

Published in: Education, Technology

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  • 1. Strings in our Minds A revolution is an event that happens when the current order is changed almost overnight. In the past the Russian, Industrial, French revolutions changed everything for ages to come. Revolutions have a few aspects in common, it eats it own leaders and the real change and pain follow afterwards in the shadows thereof. Voltaire and Rousseau lost their heads and Stalingrad became Yekaterinburg… Yet…James Watt (83, centering the Industrial Revolution), and Thomas Edison (84, giving us light, recorded music and the movies) were lucky to survive and carried on inventing and patenting till the every end. In contrast to politicians, great engineers seem to never seem to die! We are now living in the shadows of, perhaps the biggest revolution of all times, the information revolution. Let’s wonder a bit on what it means to us. Stumbling upon the IBM 360 some 35 years ago, addicted me forever to bits, bytes and the joy it brings. At the time there were less than ten computers in the entire Western Cape. We manipulated everything with yellow punch cards and often had the database reshuffled if somebody fell down the stairs. Then the painful progress to UNIX workstations, Fortran, Cobol, DOS, Windows and eventually Web 2.0 was like being born in an ox wagon and to later fly to the moon. In my filing cabinet are piles of business cards of 1997. The commonality? Now email addresses nor websites! Since the advent of the new millennium we were surprised when yet again the heads went to the guillotine when the Dotcom crash wiped out pipe dreams as seldom before in history. Yet, we survived and we are today connected, webbed and facebooked with more than 2 web pages created for every living soul on this earth and ten of thousands of blogs created daily that nobody ever reads. What did we win, what did we loose, what does it mean for us? “Please do not disturb me; I cannot talk people as I am busy adding friends to my Facebook”. “I will quickly Google it and answer you in a jiffy”. “I do have time to read anymore, just give me the abstract..”, “ ….no problem I will Wikipedia it quickly for you..” all this happening while our critical sense, hearing, is switched off by the great miracle, the iPod. Even our babies and toddlers are not spared as the toys on offer are all ready made with all the buttons and flickering lights in place leaving little room for imagination. Long since forgotten are the miracles of Meccano and Lego… Our minds work in a way that the neurons need to be stringed together like a washing line. The brain loves these “strings” and to hook things onto it. The mind hates to be scattered. In his new book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell tells us about this as the 10000 hour concept: When the Beatles played gig after gig at the age of 16 in the sleazy joints in Hamburg harbour, when Steve Jobs and Bill Gate focused their minds on only one thing, and Warren Buffet since the age of 12 looked at value from a deeper viewpoint, they did their 10000 hour apprenticeship in building their minds on thing only. It worked for them because the mind loves to build connections and hates to be distracted. They stringed there minds to become the greatest.
  • 2. John Lennon and Paul McCartney sang about the “Long and Winding Road” describing exactly what we should do to our minds. Each of us is bombarded by at least 5000 ads each day and needs to spend at least 2 hours daily to answer cell phones and reply on SMS’s. In the process the neurons in our minds are scattered as we are googled into stupidity. Bit by byte. Data, and even more data are light years from real wisdom. Warren Buffet lives far from the hustle and bustle of New York, barely ever looks at a graph, yet at the age of 80 still wipes the floor with thousands of upstarts. Just more data, more senseless newspapers can actually destroy our minds. The great Thomas Jefferson said: “I do not take a single newspaper, nor read one a month, and I feel myself infinitely the happier for it.” The mind just loves continuity and loves things to be hooked onto a golden thread. Imagine a washing line with pins keeping wet clothes in the air. If only all we do, talk, write could keep that in mind, we will be endlessly more clever than being scattered and distracted by Google, Wikipedia, Skynews and MTN. So..to be clever, wise and just be a better person, technology is a great aid but a threat in a velvet glove. The answer is simple, exploit every bit of it, but be painfully aware that there is a downside. Talk and move amongst real people. Read whole books on our discipline, read great novels and the odd poem, sit in the park alone, pull out the iPod and just be more in life. Build those brainy pathways that will serve us well tomorrow.