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Scripting News, the weblog started in 1997 that bootstrapped the blogging revolution.

Tricks your mind plays Permanent link to this item in the archive.

It's confusing when your mind plays tricks because it's playing many roles.

1. It is the subject of the trick (it's doing the tricking).

2. It is the object of the trick (it's being tricked).

3. It is perceived by the mind to be something other than what it is (the trick worked).

4. And the mind perceives itself misperceiving (it's aware the trick worked).

5. You can see this never ends. ;->

In the early days of the blogosphere we called this: watching them watch us watch them watch us watch them watch us. We're still doing it, many years later -- and it was going on long before the blogosphere. Humans are all about watching, mostly watching other humans, and in doing so hoping to learn something about themself. To the extent that we're aware that there are things that are not human, we tend to anthropomorphize them -- treat them as if they were human.

A picture named picasso.gifSometimes the tricks are willful, but usually it all happens below the consciousness. I play willful tricks all the time. To quit smoking there's a lot of trickery involved. My mind has trained itself to believe many things that are untrue about smoking. Some examples: Without smoking I will die. I use smoking to solve problems. I can't quit. Of course you can. If you put your foot down and said "Enough of this foolishness" to yourself, as an adult to a child, there would be no argument. But you never say that, because you don't want to quit and in order not to, you have to believe you can't.

It's so incredibly complicated. Mostly because there are so many observers all in one body. With so many different versions of the truth it's hard to sort it all out.

Now when you add millions of people to the mix, as you do on the Internet, without the normal cues and gestures that give you some idea of where the other people are coming from, the amount of trickery, conscious and unconscious, goes way up.

When someone says something emotional about another person, based only on knowing them through the Internet, they're really describing how they feel when they're reading what that person has written.

When someone says "He's really angry" what they really mean is "I feel angry when I read his writing."

There's no way you can know if someone is angry or not, esp if you're just reading. And if you were right, you're talking about an emotion that occurred in the past, when he or she was writing what you are reading now. To respond to this person as if he is angry now would be a mistake. Think about how quickly emotions pass. I can be angry or scared and in five minutes be relaxed and feel safe. Watch a child, their emotions shift in fractions of a second. All you can be sure of is how you feel. And given all the tricks you're playing on yourself all the time, maybe you're not actually so sure. ;->


Last update: Monday, May 04, 2009 at 8:50 PM Pacific.

A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 54, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

"The protoblogger." - NY Times.

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One of BusinessWeek's 25 Most Influential People on the Web.

"Helped popularize blogging, podcasting and RSS." - Time.

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"RSS was born in 1997 out of the confluence of Dave Winer's 'Really Simple Syndication' technology, used to push out blog updates, and Netscape's 'Rich Site Summary', which allowed users to create custom Netscape home pages with regularly updated data flows." - Tim O'Reilly.

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