Here’s an idea for the weekend, head out to a lake and do some fishing, or maybe just spend copious amounts of time relaxing and taking in the view. It’s what I’ll be doing for part of the weekend, although I won’t be in Tasmania, as much as I’d like to be.
The project, which began in 1938, has followed 268 Harvard undergraduate men for 75 years, measuring an astonishing range of psychological, anthropological, and physical traits – from personality type to IQ to drinking habits to family relationships to “hanging length of his scrotum” – in an effort to determine what factors contribute most strongly to human flourishing.
Now that the producers of TV shows have figured out (finally?) how people wish to watch their shows, on demand rather than at a set time, audiences appear to be flocking back to the small screen, to the point they are bingeing on the available offerings.
The bottom line is that binge watching is more than just a business story – more than just a story about new technologies and new modes of distribution. It’s really a story about the science of storytelling itself. Bingeing, it turns out, is how our brains want to watch television. And the best storytellers on TV are beginning to figure this out.
I can’t say I’m sure that people ever stop “bingeing” on TV shows, but I’m hardly expert in the medium.
In my favourite part of the future, the not too distant future, all manner of household appliances and equipment may soon be talking to each other, in the name, I presume, of making our homes even more comfortable.
This is the language of the future: tiny, intelligent things all around us, coordinating their activities. Coffeepots that talk to alarm clocks. Thermostats that talk to motion sensors. Factory machines that talk to the power grid and to boxes of raw material. A decade after Wi-Fi put all our computers on a wireless network – and half a decade after the smartphone revolution put a series of pocket-size devices on that network – we are seeing the dawn of an era when the most mundane items in our lives can talk wirelessly among themselves, performing tasks on command, giving us data we’ve never had before.
We attempted to return to reaction wheel control as the spacecraft rotated into communication, and commanded a stop rotation. Initially, it appeared that all three wheels responded and that rotation had been successfully stopped, but reaction wheel 4 remained at full torque while the spin rate dropped to zero. This is a clear indication that there has been an internal failure within the reaction wheel, likely a structural failure of the wheel bearing. The spacecraft was then transitioned back to Thruster-Controlled Safe Mode.
Any extraterrestrials who may be listening into the broadcast signals emanating from Earth will have been treated, or otherwise, to upwards of eight decades of our television shows, depending on how far away they are.
And now, as the signature of our civilisation radiates ever further into the galactic void, we are able to see, thanks to the people at xkcd.com, where the likes of movies and TV shows such as “Star Wars”, “South Park”, or “Casablanca”, are currently being received.
Recent research suggests that rituals may be more rational than they appear. Why? Because even simple rituals can be extremely effective. Rituals performed after experiencing losses – from loved ones to lotteries – do alleviate grief, and rituals performed before high-pressure tasks – like singing in public – do in fact reduce anxiety and increase people’s confidence. What’s more, rituals appear to benefit even people who claim not to believe that rituals work.