Internet

 

As usual when there is a new form of information technology, some see it as unfortunate, as something that will damage the young people.

It’s very predictable, and it has happened throughout history….. when we went from a oral tradition to writing, when radio and cinema arrived, when we got TV, when we went from black-and-white TV to color (here in Norway, there was even a heated discussion in parlament concerning how color TV would damage people), and now it’s the same with the internet.

It’s good to take a sober look at this.

First, we see that some – perhaps those with a fear of the new – will have these opinions. It’s very predictable. It has happened thorughout history.

We also know that, in most cases, it won’t be as bad as some say, and it won’t be as good as some others say.

Also, it’s a tool. It all depends on how it’s used. A hammer can be very useful, and it can also be harmful. It just depends on how we use it.

We are adaptable. Our use of it changes, and the technology itself evolves. We see what works and doesn’t work, and we make adjustments.

And there is always a heightened facination with the new technology at first. I see that for myself. The use of and fascination with it reaches a saturation point, and the use becomes more moderate and appropriate to long term use.

Note: Yes, I know about “digital dementia” and that discussion. And I still find it helpful to see the bigger picture, and keep a sober view. There is an advantage and a drawback to any information technology. For instance, books allows us to be absorbed into a different world, and use our imagination to (re)create this world in our minds. At the same time, they are ridiculously linear, and makes us a slave of what the author wants us to imagine and feel. Books, movies and radio are forms of information technology where the recipient is expected to be quite passive in this sense. They are quite linear and authoritarian forms of information technology, and the information typically only goes one way – from the author to the recipient.

Even if it has its own drawbacks, the internet allows the user to be more active and intentional, and often create, share and participate more actively. That is a dramatic advantage of the internet over previous technologies. It levels the playing field for those with access to the internet, and dramatically lowers the threshold for contributing. Few could and can publish books, and even fewer can have their own traditional radio program. But anyone with access to the internet can have their own website, or blog, or podcast, or YouTube channel. Of course, many in the world do not have this access.

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Article: Your Brain on Computers

 

“Throughout evolutionary history, a big surprise would get everyone’s brain thinking,” said Clifford Nass, a communications professor at Stanford. “But we’ve got a large and growing group of people who think the slightest hint that something interesting might be going on is like catnip. They can’t ignore it.”
– from NY Times, Your Brain on Computers: Attached to Technology and Paying a Price

I notice this for myself. In periods when I am more on the internet, I find that my attention becomes restless.

Fortunately, as with most other human skills, attention can be trained.

We already train attention, as we notice when we use digital information devices. Here, we train our attention to function over shorter time spans and be more easily distracted.

And we can also train attention to be more stable, and a tool we can use with more awareness and skill.

The simplest form of training attention this way is probably breath practice. Bring attention to your breath, either through the movements of the belly, or the sensations in the nose or at the nostrils. If the attention need extra support, count the breath in cycles of ten. This makes it easier to notice when attention is drawn into stories. If attention is already quite stable, then just bring it to the sensations without counting. And whenever you notice attention goes into stories, gently bring it back to the breath. Even short periods of this practice, for instance just five minutes once or a few times during the day, can have a big effect.

So this may be an additional advantage of our digital information age. We notice its impact on our attention habits, and seek out ways to train attention.

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Firefox 3 released

 

Firefox 3 is released! I have used it for a few weeks already, and am very happy with it. (Update: a day-and-a-half later, it has been downloaded over ten million times!)

Among these recommended extensions, I find a few especially useful: Ablock Plus, All-in-One Sidebar, Customize Google. DownloadHelper, Foreastfox, IE Tab, PDF Download, PicLens, Menu Editor, QuickNote.

Another benefit of Firefox is that this site actually looks good on it! (I noticed recently that the single page view is a little off with Internet Explorer – all lower case letters, the comment field is not in the right position, etc. I’ll look into it at some point.)

Radio Adyashanti!

 

Adyashanti

Here is an opportunity to hear Adyashanti live (there is also audio/video from his talks on his website and YouTube).

Dear Friends of Adyashanti,

We are happy to announce the premiere of Radio Adyashanti on the internet. This will be a live broadcast beginning with a talk by Adyashanti followed by call-in questions from people around the world. Please join our beta test of this exciting new offering.

Radio Adyashanti
6-8pm Pacific Time
Thursday, April 26, 2007

If you live in the US, call 1-800-997-7182.

If you live outside the US, please call 408-938-0476.

If you would like to email a question for Adyashanti, please send it to radio@adyashanti.org. Please limit your question to 2 or 3 sentences.

Radio Adyashanti is just one part of a whole media site called Café Dharma—dedicated to offering immediate access to Adyashanti’s teachings.

During the beta test of this radio program, you’ll have access to the radio show and also to the audio download area of Café Dharma. You will notice that we also have video and podcast areas—these will be activated in the future.

Blogisattva awards

 

The Blogisattva awards for 2006 have been announced. The winner of the blog of the year award is Integral Options Café, which is well deserved for its quality, consistency and comprehensiveness (it is one of the few blogs I regularly read.) The rest of the list is also worth taking a look at.

The premier award, Blog of the Year, Svaha!, goes to Bill Harryman’s Integral Options Café [link] the fulsome and intellectually hefty — yet fun, smooth, easy and delightful — carnival of information and insight. Bill has a broad and sophisticated palate of what is worthwhile and interesting and has an ability to sweep his readers in to his world of treasures and responsible living. We learn to stay fit; eat right; take care of body and mind, but we are not being lectured to by a finger-wagging nag. Bill gives us things to do, fun to find and insights that come from his challenging, interesting life and then adds thoughtful essays that are finely crafted, masterfully done, about Buddhism informed by Integral theory.

LibraryThing etc.

 

I recently came across LibraryThing, an online service that allows you to enter books from your library, tag them, find similar lists from others, put a list up on your blog, and so on.

I found that it was very easy and surprisingly quick to enter books, and it is quite interesting to look at similar and overlapping book lists out there. It can also be helpful if I sometime in the future would want to replace lost books.

There are of course lots of similar and other interesting internet services out there, including three that allows for money-free exchange of books: BookMooch, What’s On My Bookshelf and SwapSimple.

Internet Practicalities

 

sI switched to blogger beta a couple of days ago, which propelled me to explore some of the technical aspects of blogging, including lots of troubleshooting!

As a reminder for myself (and maybe others), here are some good places for free, and sometimes Open Source, information and utilities…

Blogger support

Blogger Talk to US – to contact blogger support

Blogger Help Group – google group for blogger questions/answers

The Real Blogger Status – up-to-date, practical blogger hints and tips

Utilities

FeedBurner – easy and flexible feed management

Google Analytics – keep track of visitors

Technorati – one way to keep track of who links to your blog

HTTrack Website Copier – backup your whole blog, or any other website

Hint: Under “options”, go to “limits”. Set maximum mirroring depth to 2 to capture front page and any internal links from front page. If there is an archive on the front page linking to all pages in the blog, then these will be captured. Set maximum external depth to 0 to not capture any external sites.

Mozilla

And while we are on the topic…

Firefox – excellent open source browser

Thunderbird – excellent open source email application

MozBackup – backup Firefox and Thunderbird settings and files

Firefox extensions I find useful: