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Tricks your mind plays

Monday, May 04, 2009 by Dave Winer.

It's confusing when your mind plays tricks because it's playing many roles. Permalink to this paragraph

1. It is the subject of the trick (it's doing the tricking). Permalink to this paragraph

2. It is the object of the trick (it's being tricked). Permalink to this paragraph

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

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

5. You can see this never ends. ;-> Permalink to this paragraph

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.  Permalink to this paragraph

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. Permalink to this paragraph

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.  Permalink to this paragraph

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.  Permalink to this paragraph

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. Permalink to this paragraph

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

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. ;-> Permalink to this paragraph


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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.

"The father of modern-day content distribution." - PC World.

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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