Archive for October 2011 | Monthly archive page

Oct 15

Blog to Death

A guy named Miles Lennon has done the science (not really) on the typical life cycle of the blog in “Why are 95% of blogs abandoned?” For me, maintaining a vigorous blog is impossible because of a dozen things every day that make my life thrive better than blogging. What many of the blog-inclined learn is that group blogs work best because constant updating is required. My uncle posts on Salon.com – when he wants. My friend, Valerie, is a publishing expert at about.com. Even a guy like Andrew Sullivan, who often ranks as one of the top individual bloggers, doesn’t do it alone. A while back he had to come clean that he and a staff write his blog. But as a former editor of the New Republic he had the access, means, and know-how to eventually adapt editorial techniques to his blog. (The staff is now credited on his main page and he is listed as “Editor” BTW.)

Due to so few of us being able to call upon staff, we individual bloggers fail. We fail a lot. We fail so much that most of us would be mathematically better off opening up new restaurants which only fail at a rate of 59% in the first year. But for those who cannot cook either, here is what Lennon wants you to know about blogging:

Blog Lifecycle

1) Euphoric moment of inspiration 2) Pseudo-maniacal and self-indulgent perusing of domains 3) Careful consideration of theme and design 4) The inaugural post – “Hello world!” 5) The 2-4 post honeymoon phase 6) Waning and changing interests 7) Feelings of desperation and apathy from low engagement 8) Inevitable abandonment 🙁

It turns out that this cycle may not be uncommon. Surveys have shown that 95% of blogs are abandoned within 120 days and 60-80% of them abandoned within the first month.

Writing 5am to 7am is not my habit but the former habit of Brit Raymond Tallis and he’s produced a new book about one of the subjects I love to follow in a pop-culture manner:  neuroscience.    He has a dim view of how publishing and pop culture demands have bent research to what he deems ridiculous conclusions.

Those trends, as Tallis sees them, are like “intellectual illnesses” metastasizing from academic labs into popular culture. He sees the symptoms in neuro-economic thinkers who explain our susceptibility to subprime mortgages by describing how our brains evolved to favor short-term rewards. He sees them in philosophers who claim that our primate minds admire paintings of landscapes that would have supported hunting and gathering. He sees it in neurotheologians who preach that “God is a tingle in the ‘God spot’ in the brain.”

Whatever the case, his book’s title is very pop-culture and most amusing for a guy who disparages pop culture: Aping Mankind: Neuromania, Darwinitis, and the Misrepresentation of Humanity.

Who knew one could have inflammation of the Darwin?

A bit of a neuroscience debate regarding where evil resides in the brain ran across a couple of publications this weekend. A bit in Slate regarding fMRIs ability to find evil acts in the brain pronounced:

The new neuroscience represents the latest chapter in a millennia-old and still divisive cultural conflict over the problem of evil, the latest chapter in the attempt by science to reduce evil to malfunction or dysfunction rather than malevolence. 

Will Wilkinson at the Big Think responded with a big simplistic tch-tch:

About evil specifically, it seems obvious that people with perfectly normal brains do evil all the time.

It seems inevitable that neuroscientists will eventually discover a pattern of neural activity that coincides with what we deem evil acts or evil thoughts.    If science can identify and address the neural activity that coincides with “evil”, it could also identify and intervene with the neural activity of the perception of “evil”.  Theoretically, evil, as we know it today, could go on and science could negate human capacity to perceive it just as easily as it could be used for a  prevention scenario a la “Minority Report”.

The question once again is:  how will science in the hands of humans be used and who will be using it?

Simply because there is math in everything and the more you see it, the more beautiful everything is.