Posted by: Liz Massey | February 5, 2008

Surf’s up: Feb. 4, 2008

Two very thought-provoking links this week about how the brain works, and a rethinking of my creative “home turf,” journalism.

1. Mind Hacks reports on a brief but interesting piece on NPR about a blind man who has visual hallucinations.

The person in question lost his sight due to hereditary sight-loss, but has Charles Bonnet syndrome, a condition characterized by playful visual hallucinations and (perhaps even more striking) a complete awareness that one is hallucinating.

I had not heard of this syndrome but I plan to do a little digging on it, as I think the situation raises all sorts of interesting questions related to how large a role intention plays in creative imagination (since these visual phenomena are not being produced via intentional extension of the will, yet appear to be a very rich synthesis of previous cognitive input).

2. Cognitive Daily is conducting a little quiz about what colors people associate with short musical clips.

Readers have until Feb. 8 to take the quiz. I was entertained by the notion of trying to “test” this whole notion, but I’m even more tickled by how vehemently the blog’s readers are debating the validity of the test. To me, the subjectivity of color and music seems obvious, but it would be interesting to see how much cultural or ethnic correlation influences the pairings. The blog will report their findings once the test results are tallied.

3. Doc Searls has posted a provocative piece on the Linux Journal site, “Journalism in a world of open code and open self-education.”

The piece asks questions I often wonder about: how can a discipline formed out of beign the expert “info-gatherer” survive in a public square (that would be the Internet) that is most clearly characterized at this point by equal participation, information sharing, and what Searls calls “the gift economy.”

He writes:

“Think about the differences between stories and facts. Between generating interest and pursuing knowledge. Between grabbing attention and building out what we know. Then think about the connections between the freedom to build code and the freedom to inform one’s self and others. Because the former is a model for the latter.”

His post raises far more questions than it answers, but the question of where the participatory ethic of Web 2.0 is taking us is omnipresent, in the arts (think Flickr, YouTube, blogs like this one) as much anywhere else.

It’s interesting to see this question being raised from the programming side of the house. Journalists as a group seem frightened of this change, but I maintain that we stand to gain more than we’ll lose from this transformation of the way we communicate with one another.

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