Weekend Reading, 9/9/2011

Social media and online identity, mind control, self-control, and figuring out what an education is for. All of that is on tap this week. Enjoy. Feel free to comment on the links or just to let me know what sort of pieces you’d most like to see in these weekly round-ups. Have a great weekend.

“Rethinking Privacy and Publicity on Social Media,” Part 1 and Part 2, by Nathan Jurgenson at Cyborgology: Engaging posts on the creative dance between what is revealed and simultaneously concealed on social networks. Jurgenson’s dissertation research on self-documentation and social media yields compelling insights and analysis; you can keep up with his work at Cyborgology.

“Brainwave Controllers” from The Economist’s Technology Quarterly: “The idea of moving objects with the power of the mind has fascinated mankind for millennia.” Overview of non-invasive brain-computer interface technology and its various uses, current and potential.

“Focusing on Focus” and “The Will Power Circuit” by Jonah Lehrer at The Frontal Cortex: A mini-theme within this week’s selection: the science of willpower. Standard Lehrer pieces: Describe a series of interesting neurological experiments and what they tell us about focus and self-control.

“The Sugary Secret of Self-Control” by Steven Pinker in the NY Times: Theme continued in a review by Steven Pinker of Roy Baumeister and John Tierney’s Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, a look at the science of self-control and how it can be trained.

“Who Are You and What Are You Doing Here” by Mark Edumdson in the Oxford American: Longish essay aimed at incoming college freshman. Edmundson addresses some of the problems with higher ed, but unlike many who do so, he does not resort to carelessly disparaging either faculty or students. Also, it seemed to me, he manages to encourage without being didactic or preachy. Draws on Freud and Emerson.

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