21 Aug 2008

Seeing things.

There is an interesting talk broacast on ted.com which purports to share a powerful idea about ideas. It is recommendable because the speaker shows us how we understand. The basic idea is that we are blind, we can't actually see, or more specifically we can't see actuality.

Kay summarises this in a catchy phrase: "We see things as we are." Not as they are. In sensory terms this means we filter the reality that our senses offer us and discard what we can't make sense of. Perception wins over 'reality'.

Reason gets us no further since it is always based on a belief; quite the opposite of reason.
Perspective: the world is not as it seems and we use science to rectify our distorted view of it. We use models to approach reality but we can't reach it.

We each view things through a distorted mirror. That's why we are condemned to negociate reality with one another.


12 Aug 2008

The Net result.

When I wrote with a typewriter I was actually just copying from a handwritten script, principally because updating the text meant typing it out again. I longed for a way of typing and updating at the same time. Along came the word processor to answer my dreams. It incorporates a spellchecker and synonym dictionary - all the better. Does this mean I write differently? Not really, the ideas still well up from my experience. The outcome is probably comparatively better though, since it is more checked, more varied and more revised.

Reading a newspaper I tend to look first at the economy section, then the international news, the opinion pages and finally the home pages. I read all these parts linearly starting on the first page of the section and turning over until the last.
Reading online is a completely different experience. I use the index page as my base and click out from there, sometimes following up other links within a story.
I do read web news differently, using more choice and less habit than with the printed press.

Searching for information on the internet is always a googling task for me. I sometimes get sidetracked but often find the answer to my question in a few clicks. I hardly ever consulted an encyclopaedia when a schoolchild so I believe Google has enriched my curiosity and learning. (Something quite different is to believing that everything read on Google entries is true.)

Surfing the web and cooperating on it can lead to disparity and lack of concentration but it is almost always stimulating.

7 Aug 2008

Sense of Direction

People have walked the Original Way or Camino Primitivo to Santiago for over a thousand years. It was opened by the Asturian king Alphonse II who saw great trade benefits in forging a route which linked the centre and western part of his kingdom.

Now there is a new route being opened for the same purpose of trading - a motorway running from Oviedo to La Espina which shadows the Original Way. At times the two routes intersect and it is the old way which loses out each time. From el Fresno, Grado, to well past Cornellana, half a day's walk, the hiker doesn't follow the original way but is rerouted along paths and an asphalt road. To someone interested in following the way's medieval footsteps this is a senseless part of the walk.

This is just the beginning of the clash between the two routes because the motorway is in its infancy. The keen santiago walker feels more routed than rerouted each time modernity's machines obliterate sections of the historical Way.

True progress leads us to a better future by respecting the past.