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Submission + - Crowdfunding Research on How Technology Affects Human Memory

UniAce writes: Via BoingBoing, memory scientists at Washington University in St. Louis are crowdfunding new research on the effects of technology on human memory. They have just under 3 days to reach their funding goal, so let's all pitch in a few dollars for this worthy cause!
Principal Investigators Dr. Finley and Dr. Naaz write:
"We humans have always used our surroundings to extend our memory. But is the technology of today enhancing human memory, or replacing it? Help us do the research! We plan to gather survey data and run Internet-based psychology experiments to find out: How are people currently using technology for memory purposes? How well do people understand the technology and their reliance on it? Are there ways to improve the interplay between technology and human memory?
We need the public to help enable this timely research! Any amount helps (yes even $1!), and backers will have exclusive access to our lab notes and data analyses as the research occurs. Turbo-bonus rewards for larger donations!"

They are participating in the 4th SciFund Challenge, a crowd-funding event for scientific research.

Comment Re:Try to get a learning profile (Score 1) 384

I advise caution investing much time/effort to the individual learning styles approach. There is actually extremely little (if any) scientific evidence that learning is enhanced by matching the method of presentation or study to an individual learner's style or preference. See the following scholarly review on the subject: Pashler, H., McDaniel, M., Rohrer, D., & Bjork, R. (2009). Learning styles: Concepts and evidence. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 3, 105-119. [PDF]

Comment QUIZ YOURSELF (Score 1) 384

I am a cognitive scientist (Ph.D.) who studies the workings of human memory. The number one thing you can do improve your learning is to QUIZ YOURSELF.

Every time you retrieve some information from memory, you STRENGTHEN that information in your memory, making it easier to retrieve again in the future. So when you study new information, DON'T just re-read it multiple times. Read it, then quiz yourself (try to remember the info on your own), wait a while, quiz yourself some more, quiz yourself again later, etc.

Key terms: "testing effect" or "retrieval practice". For example, here's just one peer-reviewed psychology publication that summarizes relevant scientific research, and some implications for education: Roediger, H. L., & Karpicke, J.D. (2006). The power of testing memory: Basic research and implications for educational practice. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 1, 181-210. [PDF]

Comment Recall vs. Recognition (Score 3, Informative) 172

I am a scientist (i.e., experimental psychologist) who studies human memory. What is described here is simply the difference between a recall task and a recognition task. Roughly: in a recall task, you have to produce information from memory given some cue; in a recognition task, you are given the information and you have to judge whether it was previously encountered. It is extremely well-know and well-documented in the scientific literature that recognition performance is almost always better than recall performance. In everyday terms, you may not be able to recall the name of a childhood friend, but you may be able to recognize that name among a list of alternatives. The difference between recall and recognition performance is just one kind of demonstration that the entirety of information stored in human memory is indeed much greater than what can be accessed at any given time.

Comment Might work if not for day/night, sleep (Score 1) 990

This would only work if there was no day/night cycle, or if the day/night cycle was completely meaningless to the entities keeping time. We're on a rotating planet near an active star, so we're stuck with a day/night cycle for now. Plus, we're still biological organisms that must sleep, which, for us, is best done at night (thanks to the way we evolved). Perhaps the elimination of time zones would work and make sense if we became digital entities (i.e., downloaded our minds into non-organic substrates), and/or if we inhabited a chunk of matter (planet or construct) that was tidally locked to a star, completely surrounded by nearby stars, or in deep space.

Comment Re:Stable user interface ? (Score 1) 567

Interesting idea. But keyboard shortcuts are easily discoverable in Mac OS X. Open any menu, in any application, and keyboard shortcuts are listed right there alongside the commands. Seems like a good solution, but users still need to be trained to understand what the cloverleaf symbol means.

Okay, but there is one obscurity: try holding a menu open and pressing the option key. You may have to try a few different menus before you see the secret.


IT Worker's Revenge Lands Her In Jail 347

aesoteric writes "A 30-year-old IT worker at a Florida-based health centre was this week sentenced to 19 months in a US federal prison for hacking, and then locking, her former employer's IT systems. Four days after being fired from the Suncoast Community Health Centers' for insubordination, Patricia Marie Fowler exacter her revenge by hacking the centre's systems, deleting files, changing passwords, removing access to infrastructure systems, and tampering with pay and accrued leave rates of staff."

BitTorrent Client Offers P2P Without Central Tracking 218

Shiwei writes "While BitTorrent is the most popular P2P protocol, it still relies on several centralized points for users to find the files they are looking. There have been several attempts at making BitTorrent more decentralized, and the latest Tribler 5.3 client is the first to offer the BitTorrent experience without requiring central trackers or search engines. Tribler offers some very interesting technologies; the latest version enables users to search and download files from inside the client. Plenty of other clients offer search features, including the ever-popular Torrent, but Tribler's results come from other peers rather than from a dedicated search engine. Users can search and download content without a server ever getting involved; everything is done among peers, without the need of a BitTorrent tracker or search indexer."

Comment NY Times piece on sudden unintended acceleration (Score 1) 776

See this March 10th, 2010 New York Times piece by UCLA Prof. Richard A. Schmidt, who's one of the world's experts on the phenomenon of sudden unintended acceleration: Converging lines of evidence indicated that, for a rash of cases in the 1980s, the cause was most likely driver error: your foot gets accidentally placed on the gas instead of the brakes ("noisy neuromuscular processes"). The good news is that if there are regularities to the human error, then designs can be updated to block or reduce that error (e.g., shift lock).

Facebook Leads To Increase In STDs in Britain 270

ectotherm writes "According to Professor Peter Kelly, a director of Public Health in Great Britain: 'There has been a four-fold increase in the number of syphilis cases detected, with more young women being affected.' Why the increase? People meeting up for casual sex through Facebook. According to the article, 'Social networking sites are making it easier for people to meet up for casual sex. There is a rise in syphilis because people are having more sexual partners than 20 years ago and often do not use condoms.'"

Comment From the front lines of SenseCam/Revue research (Score 1) 119

I'm a cognitive scientist and am a member of one of the teams who have been working with the MS SenseCam device (now to be called Vicon Revue), doing memory research. Most of us are academics and clinicians collaborating with Microsoft Research.

This kind of technology (i.e., wearable automated sensors, cameras, etc. that capture massive troves of data about one's experiences) is becoming cheaper, better, and more ubiquitous. But we're still just beginning to explore the many possibilities for research and for clinical or everyday applications. And of course with these possibilities come a host of technical, ethical, and social issues for us to confront.

We just concluded the SenseCam 2009 symposium in Chicago, which featured a lot of really interesting research and discussion, amongst collaborators from cognitive psychology, neuroscience, computer science, clinical psychology, public health, etc.

Comment I actually have this mouse (Score 2, Interesting) 190

I actually have an Evoluent VerticalMouse3. I got it because I suffer from tendonitis.

I switch back and forth between the VM3 and a Contour Perfit (optical) mouse because I find that both tend to relieve tension in one area (e.g., the radial nerve) but cause tension in another (e.g., the palm, or the back of the hand).

For the Contour Perfit, there are different sizes and different models for right vs. left-handed use (I use a large right-handed one). They're designed so that your whole hand rests on the mouse, in a "neutral" position (halfway between full flexion and full extension).

I think I like the Contour mouse a little better. I find with the VM3, despite the (very slight) lip at the bottom, my hand still tends to drag on the mousepad.

The scroll wheel, on pretty much any mouse I've tried, is a major culprit for repetitive stress injury. But the function is just too useful to give up!

Probably a bigger problem is the one discovered by rehtonAesoohC (parent poster): fine mouse movements are very difficult to achieve when using your whole arm rather than your fingers. Those larger muscles just lack the precision of our fingers, which is why I often find myself using the Contour mouse inappropriately, with my fingertips touching the mouse and rest of the hand arched up above it rather than laying flat. I've developed a few little tricks to get back some precision, like incorporating a kind of wrist wiggle to move the mouse left and right in a fan-like motion and get the mouse pointer to home in on a specific little point. But that can lead to wrist pain if overdone, and I think especially gives me pain along the radial nerve when using VM3

At any rate, I'm glad to see other recommendations from Slashdotters, and may try a few more mice. Don't overlook the possibility of using several mice and switching between them at times.

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One good reason why computers can do more work than people is that they never have to stop and answer the phone.