Monday, April 22, 2013


I saw one of my FB friends post a quote from Confucious:

"Tell me and I'll forget. Show me and I'll remember. Involve me and I'll understand."

It reminded me of when I studied Paolo Freire and participatory communication. Coherent research aside, it just seems to make more sense to invite a student to be part of their own learning. In a world where facts fly fast and proof proliferates profusely, everyone could be right. But could everyone truly understand eachother?

(Thanks AJ via EoQ!)

Friday, April 12, 2013

On individuals and institutions

The following thoughts were inspired by a discussion I had at work today, particularly on how we want to market our brand versus market our customer (who happens to be the "average" citizen).

If we think about "work" or large amounts of physical or mental energy dispensed on a focused task, we can imagine that it might involve the following to reach critical scale:
  1. A workforce;
  2. A communicative function;
  3. Some capital;
  4. The ability to transcend time; among other things.
Both individuals and institutions can have a workforce; the individual has him or her self and institutions have members or employees. Both individuals and institutions can have a communicative function; the individual has voice and and institution has the media. Both institutions and individuals can have capital as well. 

Considering this basic list, it seems the only difference between institutions and individuals is factor # 4 - the ability to transcend time. While individuals are limited by their life spans (and subsequently by the different abilities age provides as it comes), institutions can be passed from one individual to another.

Further questions arise though: What happens when an institution works contrary to the sustainability of workforces, communication and/or capital? (Would it still survive?) How do you measure the lifespan of institutions? Did institutions exist even before modern definitions of employment, communication, capital or even time? And finally, is there a 5th element of self criticism that needs to be considered here as well, or is it a conflict of interest for institutions to think of ending themselves?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Looking forward to it

In the last few years since I completed grad school, I have been thinking about why history seems more difficult to reminisce than the future is to look forward to.

But this Economist blogpost from the other day highlights some new research in this area.
"They used to think that time does not have a direction, at least at the subatomic level, though they now agree that it does. Ordinary people, of course, have always known this. Nearly all cultures have a version of the arrow of time, a process by which they move towards the future and away from the past. According to a paper to be published in Psychological Science this has an interesting psychological effect. A group of researchers, led by Eugene Caruso of the University of Chicago, found that people judge the distance of events differently, depending on whether they are in the past or future." 
It's interesting how the psychology of time has been found to work similarly to the sound of moving objects. Events in times past seem "farther" than events in times to come. This raised a few questions for me:
  1. Does "Earthly time" differ from "mental time"?
  2. If there is a difference, what units are used for mental time?
  3. If mental time is directional, must it have a start and finish?
Coincidentally, I picked up Henry Corbin's Cyclical time and Ismaili Gnosis last night and started reading it. The beginning mentions this difference between time and Time. More on this later.