25 November 2007

the need for speed

i'm really starting to like James Gleick.  i'm well into his book Faster and for a work that's almost 10 years old, he seems to have legitimately penetrated into the dna of western culture and identified our insatiable appetite for speed.  last night during a saturday evening tub-soak, i was absorbing his thoughts on how we have even come to measure intelligence according to the speed dial.  quick-wit and quick-thinking must be evidence of higher intellect, right?  those people who deal in the realm of psychometrics (studying the speed of thought) sometimes have their discipline labeled in these kind of simplistic terms.  and yet many psychologists would agree with their Yale colleague Robert J. Steinberg, who says "If anything, the essence of intelligence would seem to be in knowing when to think and act quickly, and knowing when to think and act slowly."

what do you think, my a-type friends?

or how does this hit you (from the chapter, "Decomposition Takes Time":

"Biology fights back (or is it technology?).  Pauses manage to reinsert themselves into the flow of our faster, multitasking mental lives.  Your Web browser is connecting to a distant site, while a voice in the telephone handset at your ear has just said, 'An operator will be with you shortly,' and you realize three minutes later that you have entered a sort of trance; the operator is not with you, and your Web browser has found nothing.  Shortly the computer will announce, 'The operation has timed out.'  Yes.  Catatonia.  It's the Sabbath."

i love this guy.


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