Posts tagged ‘society’

December 29, 2012

Google Zeitgeist Snapshot

This is an especially short post, as it is a high-level summary of an even higher level summary. Of course, we all know how meaningful THAT is :~

Google Zeitgeist 2008


Zeitgeist is a borrowed word, from an English language point of view. It means “signs of the times”. Yes, I realize that zeitgeist is singular, but somehow we seem to have made it plural in the process of adoption from German. Or maybe not, as it is sometimes capitalized, as a proper noun, the Zeitgeist. Perhaps it is one of those mysterious, uncountable words?

Quartz News looked a little more deeply into the annual Google Zeitgeist survey, with thankfully human, not machine, translation and analysis.


Quartz took the top results for the 34 countries for which there was data for the Zeitgeist “How to…?” category. He then rank ordered by frequency, chose the most common result for each country, and asked around, to assure that everything was translated correctly.

Do the results accurately capture each country’s national character?

Chrome screenshot

In most instances, I think the answer is, “Yes”.

The number one “How to….?” query for The Netherlands was “How to survive”.


read more »

May 11, 2011

TechCrunch and Your Right To Free Speech

First Amendment rights apply to the government, not to private companies. Nor to anyone or anything else that is not the U.S. Government.

This was an excellent and educational article from TechCrunch.

TechCrunch Has Breached Your Right To Free Speech

TechCrunch explains Free Speech

“You know something I love?

The US Constitution. Not because it’s one of the most artfully drafted pieces of legislation on the planet, covering the spectrum of rights due to every man, woman and child in the United States and yet still with less legalese than the average EULA.

Not because of the wonderful stories that surround its creation … “

via TechCrunch, Read more….

October 19, 2010

The Erosion of Online Anonymity

The Erosion of Online Anonymity

August 5, 2010

Why the 20th Century Is Different

What is different about the 20th century? Why is there a crisis of identity and moral relativism now, despite our past achievements?

This is the Dream Time by Robin Hanson is written from the point of view of our descendants as they perceive us from the distant future. They try to understand us by identifying the defining behavioral trends of the 20th century.

Demographic transition

We took far less than full advantage of the reproductive opportunities that our wealth offered us.  Instead, we spent our wealth on purchases that we thought would elevate our social status. We were driven by the self-imposed need for acceptance by others, even those who wouldn’t, or couldn’t, as they could never know us e.g. our celebrities.

hierarchy of needs

Maslow’s assessment of our needs, if we behaved rationally

Obsession with super-stimuli

Our evolved survival instincts were overridden so that we chose taste without nutrition. We spent vast sums on things that didn’t actually help on the margin, such as on medicine that didn’t make us healthier, and education that didn’t make us more productive. For many of us, this did not make us happier, but rather less so, despite the comparative comfort and quality of life.

Extreme mating patterns

Capricious and casual attachments are a normal part of adolescent growth into maturity. In the 20th century, these attachments remained lifelong habits. Extreme gender personalities were common.

Many pivotal historical choices were made quickly and emotionally

History hung by a precarious thread on a few crucial choices. Some of these choices were strongly influenced by rather strange delusions. Our delusions may have led us to do something quite wonderful, or quite horrible, that permanently changed the options available to our descendants.


Democracy was our preferred political system. Leadership and policy was driven by the casually considered opinion of the median voter rather than the considered opinions of our best experts. We acted on strange religious, political, and social beliefs. Many of these actions would benefit individuals in the short-term, at best. Plans for the future, and for the good of all, whether globally or even for our small communities were often displaced, or entirely neglected.

Perhaps the most enduring memory will be a legacy of pragmatic behavior that became strange and dreamy: Call it “un-adaptive behavior”.

A less-wrong future?

It remains to be seen whether adaptation will reassert itself.  Perhaps we will be able to place our dream time where it belongs, as a parallel but distinctly separate part of our existence, instead of our only reality. If so, what would happen, in our nearer term future? Adaptation ascendant would solidly connect human behavior to reality.  If so, we should see evidence of such as we traverse the twenty-first century.