[The study] found that after reading literary fiction, as opposed to popular fiction or serious nonfiction, people performed better on tests measuring empathy, social perception and emotional intelligence — skills that come in especially handy when you are trying to read someone’s body language or gauge what they might be thinking.

For Better Social Skills, Scientists Recommend a Little Chekhov – NYTimes.com

An interesting and seemingly well-developed study.  Unfortunately, implicit in this study is a decided canon of “literary fiction."  This term is so caustic and controversial as to call much of the study into question, even given examples of the author’s used.  The very next line in the article says the researchers believed the results to be based on the "emotional nuance and complexity” found in “literary fiction,” so I suppose this could be taken as the sole criteria involved.  Still, I can’t help but think better operational definitions and a skewing away from the loaded term “literary” would have done this study a good service.

The Great Geek Sexism Debate

The Great Geek Sexism Debate

A New Theme

I’ve been mulling over the idea of making this tumblog less of a personal interest link-dump and, thus, a bit more directed.  To that end, I think that I have a set of three themes to which I’d like to dedicate my postings.

  1. Gender studies – this could, at the outside, mean posts geared at a single gender-identification group.  However, it might simply mean egregious mistakes made the world over by one group against another.  I know I’ve left this vague, but it’s purposeful, as you’ll see with the rest of the themes.
  2. IT Security – Long time followers will already know this is a topic of interest for me.  I frequently post items about online privacy, information security, online identity, etc.  It’s an important issue to me, and one that can certainly intersect with the previous.
  3. Literature – I won’t go into this except to say that it’s what I study, it’s what I love, know, and breathe.  For me, it connects to the previous two in increasingly complex way.

The point of redirecting the tumblog is two-fold:

  1. Thematic tumblog are more interesting for everyone.  They are more interesting for me because they mean fewer, more direct posts with a greater chance of insight.  Rather than posting a headline, I’ve like to contribute to a conversation.  They’re more interesting for readers because link-dumps become old.  Honestly, the only people who love link-dumps are friends of the editor.  I have few close friends on Tumblr, so…
  2. I’ve posted less on Tumblr since I joined Twitter (> 1 year ago).  This would seem to fly in the face of the previous point.  By posting less, it might seem there is less need for me to cut down on posts and thus given greater attention to the posts I make.  Instead, being on Twitter has led to me giving less attention to the posts I make here.  There are a few less per day, but those posted have less chance of commentary.  Again, this leads to the link-dumping I’ve done for ages. (Note: If you dig the link-dumping, no worries.  Follow @simsian)

I would love feedback on what you think.  I’m planning to change the header of this Tumblog on 1 June and start with the new “rules” then.

“So I guess cyberpunk is dead now?” said Shiner afterwards. I didn’t think do. Surely, if we could make plastic people that uptight, we were on the right track. That’s what the punk part was all about.

The Death of Philip K. Dick and the Birth of Cyberpunk  I’m not a huge fan of cyberpunk, but neither am I one of its detractors.  This quote ought to be enough to enamor one to the cyberpunk authors, if not necessarily their fare.