【7/24(五)8pm:What Dame Ellen MacArthur learned sailing around the world
【8/14(五)8pm:Why it's time to rethink the pecking order at work
【8/21(五)8pm:Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong

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Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong

What do people really need in their lives? Isn't it actually connection with others?

To see this talk on the TED site, click here.

Why it's time to rethink the pecking order at work

This talk is about why we might be better off rethinking how we organize ourselves at our workplaces.

To see this talk on the TED site, click here.

What Dame Ellen MacArthur learned sailing around the world

We're not the only ones talking about this! Another person's view on what's going on with our economy, surprisingly similar to our conclusions a couple weeks ago, when we were discussing the problem with Free Trade Agreements.

To see this talk on the TED site, click here.

Open Source Blueprints for Civilization

To see this on ted.com click here: Open Source Blueprints for Civilization

"So let me tell you a story. So I finished my 20s with a Ph.D. in fusion energy, and I discovered I was useless. I had no practical skills. The world presented me with options, and I took them. I guess you can call it the consumer lifestyle. So I started a farm in Missouri and learned about the economics of farming. I bought a tractor -- then it broke. I paid to get it repaired -- then it broke again. Then pretty soon, I was broke too.

I realized that the truly appropriate, low-cost tools that I needed to start a sustainable farm and settlement just didn't exist yet. I needed tools that were robust, modular, highly efficient and optimized, low-cost, made from local and recycled materials that would last a lifetime, not designed for obsolescence. I found that I would have to build them myself. So I did just that. And I tested them. And I found that industrial productivity can be achieved on a small scale."

Flow, The Secret to Happiness?

"So my research has been focused more on -- after finding out these things that actually corresponded to my own experience, I tried to understand: where -- in everyday life, in our normal experience -- do we feel really happy? And to start those studies about 40 years ago, I began to look at creative people -- first artists and scientists, and so forth -- trying to understand what made them feel that it was worth essentially spending their life doing things for which many of them didn't expect either fame or fortune, but which made their life meaningful and worth doing.
This was one of the leading composers of American music back in the '70s. And the interview was 40 pages long. But this little excerpt is a very good summary of what he was saying during the interview. And it describes how he feels when composing is going well. And he says by describing it as an ecstatic state.
[O]ur nervous system is incapable of processing more than about 110 bits of information per second. And in order to hear me and understand what I'm saying, you need to process about 60 bits per second. That's why you can't hear more than two people. You can't understand more than two people talking to you.
Well, when you are really involved in this completely engaging process of creating something new, as this man is, he doesn't have enough attention left over to monitor how his body feels, or his problems at home. He can't feel even that he's hungry or tired. His body disappears, his identity disappears from his consciousness, because he doesn't have enough attention, like none of us do, to really do well something that requires a lot of concentration, and at the same time to feel that he exists. So existence is temporarily suspended. And he says that his hand seems to be moving by itself. Now, I could look at my hand for two weeks, and I wouldn't feel any awe or wonder, because I can't compose."

How do we design for wisdom?

If the video above doesn't work, please go here: How to run a company with (almost) no rules

The Surprisingly Logical Minds of Babies

Go listen to this TED talk: The Surprisingly Logical Minds of Babies.

The Hardworking Ant?

Last week we talked about ants as an example of hard work, so I thought we might look at this article in the Boston Review on ants again.

Network interactions, and the uses of downtime
Among harvester ants—the ants I know best—the important interactions are brief antennal contacts. An ant uses the rate at which it meets other ants to decide what to do. If you have ever watched ants closely, you have seen them touch antennae. When a harvester ant moves from tasks inside the nest to tasks outside, its odor changes, so an ant’s hydrocarbons identify its current task as well as its colony. To test how brief antennal contact influences ant behavior, my colleague Michael Greene and I presented ants with little glass beads coated with the odor of ants who are performing a particular task. Some of the beads smelled like patrollers, the first ants to go out of the nest each morning and travel around the colony’s foraging area. The safe return of the patrollers, at a rate of about ten ants per second, stimulates the first foragers to go out to search for food. When foragers meet beads bearing the hydrocarbons of patrollers, at the correct rate, they leave the nest. This experiment shows that an ant’s rate of brief antennal contact influences what the ant does next.

And what an ant does next may not be much at all. Contrary to another of our beloved myths about ants, told by Aesop, Homer, and the writer of Proverbs 6:6, many ants don’t work very hard. In a large harvester-ant colony, about a third of the ants at any time are hanging around doing nothing. As Mark Twain put it, this “will be a disappointment for the Sunday schools.” Because colony behavior is regulated by a network of interactions, inactivity might have its uses. Idle ants may act as a buffer to dampen the interaction rate when it gets too high. My colleagues and I have found that ants will move around to adjust their interaction rate—either they seek each other out when there are few ants, or they avoid each other when crowded. Sometimes interactions create positive feedback, as when ants go out to forage in response to interactions with foragers bringing food back to the nest. But eventually this could lead ants to search for food when there is none left. The colony may need some inert ants, unlikely to be stimulated by interactions, to buffer the network.