07 March 2008

The internet makes me happy and not happy at the same time

good news first:

Google released a calendar sync for Outlook. This is wicked good news for me since when I got a new phone a few weeks ago, I basically said, 'I text a lot and I want something that can sync with my calendar at work because OMG! TOO MANY APPOINTMENTZ! I LOSEZ TRAX!' (I didn't really fall into lolspeak but the sales guy understood me.) I ended up with a windows smartphone, a dash, which has a qwerty keyboard and is a microsoft platform. I know, I know, Bill Gates is not teh coolest, but I do know the msn OS pretty well and wasn't up for learning another platform. So my phone syncs with my work computer (where most of my appointments are; I kept making doctors appointments that coincided with meetings. Oops. Guess which got cancelled? Hint: not the meetings.) And now I've got a cloud version of this data too, so I can access a larger version from my home computer (because I still don't completely know how to use all the functions on my phone. I know, I know - lame.)

Also, this article by Gord Hotchkiss is kind of interesting, about the way human memory works and how that informs the way we use search engines ...

Satisficing behavior also extends to the actual interaction with the search page in a number of ways. First of all, we have capacity limits to the number of results we can put into our working memory for consideration at any one time. We don’t scan the page, load up all 18 or 20 results in working memory, and then make our optimal choice. Here too, the capacity of our working memory and satisficing play a part. In this case, the heuristic cut off is simply the fact that results show at the top of the upper left. This is where we expect to find the best results, so it makes sense that we take the top 3 or 4 results (this seems to be the typical channel capacity for most people with search results) and load these up for further consideration. A quick 4 or 5 second scan, looking for which of these is the best match to our query, and we either click or select the next group of 4 or 5. But everyone, yes, everyone, scans the same way at the beginning. We all start in the upper left corner and scan the first “chunk” of results. We’ve done hundreds (actually, thousands at this point) of eye tracking sessions, so take my word for it. This is typical behavior.

I know that Enquiro has done a lot of research on how Chinese users scan a page and I know Chinese (Cantonese) is read differently than English, so I'm assuming he's including Chinese users in this. Cooooooool.

Although I'll quibble with Hotchkiss's citation that "It depends on the type of information, but generally speaking, our limits, as discovered by George Miller in the mid 50’s, seems to be 7 “chunks”, plus or minus two." He does say plus or minus two but Chinese speakers typically can juggle 9 - 10 numbers in their active memory at any time. (Thanks, New Yorker, for that similar article.)

I also think this is a little dubious, mostly because any time cavemen get dragged into social sciences my radar starts to twitch:

Consider that our social circle in the past, a concept known as Dunbar's number, generally was about 150 people. These are not mere acquaintances, but people we know something about. To use the definition provided by Dunbar himself, these are people who, if you saw them sitting by themselves in a bar or coffee shop, you would have no hesitation going over and joining them. Just like our working memory, our ability to maintain social relationships has finite limits. And, once again, there are evolutionary reasons for this. The average size of the human tribe 40,000 years ago on the African savannah? You guessed it, about 150 people.

but still, it's a good read.

Also, if you're wondering how I got to that article and topic, that's what I do all day at work, search engine stuff. It pays the bills.

Bad news:

Want to have a baby? Now's the time. The Boston Globe wrote a scaremongering piece of offensive claptrap that completely made me want to barf. My local rag! But how can I not be outraged by statements like this:

No generation of women has had more trouble with fertility than this generation, who received the terrible baby boomer advice, "Wait. You have time. Focus on your career first."

Yeah, because it's fucking terrible advice to want to be financially stable before you have a kid. Is the writer of this article unaware of divorce statistics? And how well single mothers typically fare, financially, after a divorce?

Compare this statement:

If you are past your early twenties, and you're single and want to have children, you need to find a partner now.

to this:

There is plenty of evidence to show that the quality of your eggs takes a nose dive at age 35.

Um ... correct me if I'm wrong, but there are about TEN YEARS in between ages 25 and 35 in which you can simultaneously pursue a career and look around for a mate. (The heteronormal assumptions in this article are also beyond breathtaking. Since when is it neccesary to settle down with a mate before you have kids? yeah, it makes sense for a lot of people, but everyone doesn't have to follow that path to have a kid.)

The good news is that psychology research shows you will gain more happiness anyway by finding a partner than by having a good job.

Leaving aside the weakness of using "the good news is" as a bridge in a formal piece of writing, what "psychology research" is this? Because from what I've seen, being broke and financially dependent on your partner (I presume; or maybe the author is suggesting women who want to have babies become so-called welfare queens?) ... anyway, having no job and no control over how money is allocated in your household isn't really conducive to gaining happiness, in my opinion.

The whole article is bullshitty linkbait, of course, but it made me really mad anyway.

thanks to feministing for the link.


Other stuff:

we moved, it was very painful, and I didn't kill Dave, and since I'm typing, obviously he didn't kill me. I would like to write a blog post enumerating all the things I did wrong and right for next time we move, but this is all I've got time for now. (No time for spellcheck or proffing! sorry.) I'm running late picking him up, actually.

1 comment:

SteamyKitchen said...

Wow, thanks for the google calender info - I have the same trouble as you!