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Trent Gill

"Bookmarked: Brain Pickings" | Trent Gill

I wrote about Brain Pickings and why it's one of my favourite blogs, plus what that has to do with the "tyranny of choice," Total Noise, and being a student of the humanities, because of course it does. 

Trent Gill

"Your brain does not process information and it is not a computer" | Aeon Essays

One of the most poorly understood parts of human intelligence is how the brain works. The answers tend to be either elusive or deeply complex, which puts "common sense" into question. At Aeon Magazine, Robert Epstein explains that the "brain as computer" metaphor doesn't hold much water:

The information processing (IP) metaphor of human intelligence now dominates human thinking, both on the street and in the sciences. There is virtually no form of discourse about intelligent human behaviour that proceeds without employing this metaphor, just as no form of discourse about intelligent human behaviour could proceed in certain eras and cultures without reference to a spirit or deity. The validity of the IP metaphor in today’s world is generally assumed without question.

But the IP metaphor is, after all, just another metaphor – a story we tell to make sense of something we don’t actually understand. And like all the metaphors that preceded it, it will certainly be cast aside at some point – either replaced by another metaphor or, in the end, replaced by actual knowledge.

What's interesting to me is the plain fact that language creates misconceptions, and these get passed among us without much thought. Digital technology has replace several of the "core" functions that we often use to identify intelligence, including our ability to remember. For me, this highlights the importance of deeper forms of literacy and engagement: creativity, problem solving, and critical and analytical thinking. 

Trent Gill

"The grittier Hollywood gets, the more we need action films like National Treasure" | The AV Club

Over at The AV Club, Ryan Vlastelica wrote about National Treasure and how the films are ideologically distinct from the commercial action shtick we've grown familiar with. I've defended the National Treasure films since their releases, and he does a good job explaining their appeal as "light-hearted" action that's in opposition to the brooding cynicism and irony that have become the norm in an industry that takes itself too seriously:

But even outside the ideology, the National Treasures are refreshing just as action movies. There's a lightness to them that's sorely missed in an age when unrelenting darkness is the default; if anything, their jokes and banter are so foregrounds that the movies are more easily classified as comedies with action than the other way around. While it would be too much to say that they're parodies of globetrotting yarns, they poke fun at their absurdity--again, something that's more than welcome when so many inane stories insist on their seriousness.

Trent Gill

"Mental Blocks and Resource Constraints" | Robert Scoble

After posting about my ongoing efforts to recreate my own corner of the web and "reclaim my domain," it was interesting to stumble upon this article by Robert Scoble. Within a lengthy discussion of his personal life, he talks about a "mental block" he had when thinking about his blog:

Back to mental blocks. I had a mental block about my blog. After all, in an age of Facebook, Medium, Twitter, and Snapchat, why do I need it? I really don’t. I thought. Plus, here I have to worry about security and servers and, yes, even paying for them. Right now Rackspace is picking up the bill but it won’t forever so I need to figure it out. A few years back I was hacked here, which made me realize just how useful having a service is to run your media. Facebook and Medium, for all their failings, protect their users from the underlying work it takes to keep a platform up and running.

It is a mental comfort, though, to have your own space, with your own name on it, that has no competition from others, in which to just share with the world and see what pops out. On Facebook you might not get distributed. On Twitter you might not get seen. On Snapchat you might not get deep. On LinkedIn you might not get read, and even if you do your words are surrounded by distractions.

Trent Gill

I posted an update to my blog after moving it over to Ghost. It's about "reclaiming my domain" through the Indie Web.

Trent Gill

"The Rangers’ Stadium Was Arlington’s Crown Jewel — Now the Team Wants a New One?" | The Ringer

I have a lot of random curiousities that I normally don't write or talk about very much. I'd like to use this space to share topics I'm fascinated by even if they don't always fit the narrative I've created about myself online.

One of those strange interests is the funding of professional sports arenas. Claire McNear of the Ringer shares a story about the Texas Rangers that will strike a chord with anyone who is baffled by billion-dollar teams asking for taxpayers to pay for their stadiums: 

The Texas Rangers are in the process of trying to convince taxpayers to help finance a new stadium in Arlington. With a price tag of nearly $1 billion, it would replace the team's current home of just 22 years, and offer, among other things, shelter from the hot Texas sun with a retractable roof. Gosh, things must be really bad at Globe Life Park. It must be some dump cobbled together at the last minute, the way so many neoclassical parks constructed in the early 90s are. Maybe they just didn’t build it right!

"To think you could build a new ballpark that has the character that this park does, that reflects the history and tradition not only of the region but of the game, is remarkable." —Bud Selig, 1994

Ah ... hm. Maybe not.

Trent Gill

"Reclaim My Domain" | Kin Lane

From Kin Lane, more useful information for why it's important to own and control the content I create on the web: 

While I have my online brand to protect, and overall I have a heightened awareness around my online persona, this is something everyone should learn about. You may not have a valuable blog, online portfolio or other valuable online assets, but eventually you might. No matter who you are online, you should work to understand where your content, images, video and other assets you generate reside, and retain as much control over them as possible.

The business model of major companies like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr, Instagram and Youtube are all based upon you generating valuable content that people want to view, which then allows these companies to generate revenue by selling advertising or access to your (their) content. It is in their best interest to retain as much control over your content as they can.

Trent Gill

Reclaim Your Domain (With Known) | Audrey Watters

Here's the article that led me to Known. I'm normally very skeptical of new "social blogging platforms" because they feel like a dime a dozen, but the corporatization of the web concerns me deeply. My content should belong to and be controlled by me, regardless of where I'm posting. Known enables that control and ownership, and it aligns with principles of the open and indie web

Trent Gill

Why We Need Social Paper | CUNY Academic Commons

This article has to be one of the most significant things I've read on education since I graduated:

As librarians and scholarly advocates make tremendous headway in building out such stable spaces for professional scholarly work through open access repositories and digital commons, let us also build a stable space for student writing to accrue dignity and circulate over time across disciplines, institutions, communities, and nations. Let students, not the Edtech industry, debate and determine the emerging design of the space which will carry their voice. In this way, let them reimagine for the full possibility of speech. For they are the world’s most important public and only they can write themselves into being. 

Trent Gill

I can now post updates to my Known site that syndicates immediately to Twitter. I own and host this content on my own domain.