Fun Friday Links: Ants Predict Facebook’s Future, Neurowear, and the Art of Seeing
Welcome to Conspire’s Super Happy Fun Friday Link Time, a weekly collection of cool discoveries from around the Web. Most times the goal is to get you thinking differently about communication, collaboration, culture, and life in general. Other times, LOLCAT ATTACK! Submissions are welcome, and you can send them to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration.
Since we all tend to think of the Internet as a limitless plane of existence, it’s a little hard to imagine that the digital information highway is nicknamed that for a reason: the more people online, the slower the flow of data, much like when traffic bottlenecks on the road. There’s even technology in place to help prevent online ‘traffic jams’ known as TCP, or Transmission Control Protocol.
And then there’s “the anternet.”
According to this piece from Mashable, biologist Deborah Gordon, Ph.D. learned that harvester ant colonies behave quite a bit like TCP. She observed that when food is scarce, the number of foragers goes down, whereas large supplies of food correlate to colony growth. As a result of her research, author Jeff Stibel observed the very close similarities between biology and technology, saying that really, they’re the same thing, and that means the future of Facebook will mimic the paths of growth and decline found in nature.
“When you look at the most powerful things in biology, in nature and in technology, they’re always networks of things. They’re not individuals,” Stibel said. “Biology [is] not like technology, it is technology.”
Stibel, a neuroscientist and entrepreneur, knows his way around biological processes and the web. Like an ant colony, he believes, Facebook succeeds only through the combined interaction of individuals. As an ant’s survival depends on its colony, a Facebook user’s social experience is dependent on his friend network.”
Biology is Technology, Indeed
Speaking of the extremely close link between natural science and technology, Neurowear, a Tokyo-based communications company, designs wearable products that react to things like human brainwaves, emotions, heartbeats, and stress. And while at some point we can only hope that this will turn into pants that burst into flame when someone lies (too morbid?), for now it’s things like headbands with animal ears that lie flat when you’re relaxed, and faux tails that wag when you’re happy. This is Tokyo, after all.
Other non-wearable projects include a turntable you control with your brain and music suggestions from your subconscious (which is pretty neat, IMHO). Check out these videos to see for yourself.
“A Thing is Never Seen as it Really Is”
As dedicated advocates of visualization, the idea that seeing is an art very much appeals to those of us here at Mindjet HQ. Revered German artist Josef Albers delves deep into this concept in Interaction of Color, seeking to examine color through experience rather than theory. From the book:
“In visual perception a color is almost never seen as it really is — as it physically is. This fact makes color the most relative medium in art.
In order to use color effectively it is necessary to recognize that color deceives continually. To this end, the beginning is not a study of color systems.
First, it should be learned that one and the same color evokes innumerable readings. Instead of mechanically applying or merely implying laws and rules of color harmony, distinct color effects are produced-through recognition of the interaction of color-by making, for instance, two very different colors look alike, or nearly alike.”