If you read The Shallows I need your help! If you didn’t read The Shallows, ignore this post.

Hi People!

I’m presenting a paper at the UACC conference. (Academic blah blah blah). I need your help! Part of my paper is about our classes’ experience reading The Shallows and trying to forge habits of sustained concentration in a distracted world.

I know everyone is busy, but it would be great if you could answer the three questions posted below. I’m not using names or any identifying information. Post your responses in the comments or email me at annacox at uoguelph.ca

1. During our class, most of you modified your internet behavior and saw positive results such as:
• increased concentration
• a creative boost due to new habits (i.e. making work on a schedule, not waiting for when you “felt like it”
• improved reading comprehension

Did you maintain the new habits that promote concentration/deep thinking or did you go back to your old habits? If you did return to your pre-The Shallows habits (no judgement—I struggle every day.) can you tell me why?

2. Are you currently making work? If no, skip this question. If yes, are you trying to limit distractions—for example turning off your phone while you are in the studio? If not, why?

3. What elements/concepts/behaviour modifications of The Shallows did you maintain i.e.–reading paper (versus always reading on-screen), limiting multitasking, not interacting with Facebook/twitter/etc first thing in the morning, paying attention to your internet “loops”, understanding that habits become  behaviour? Anything else?


This semester I’m mostly posting on the Sofamphoto blog.

To hard to keep; too meaningful to destory? Hey Mary–this is for you.


What happens when a photograph is too difficult to look at, yet you can’t throw it away? (Your prom photo? The last image from a painful breakup, the perm you thought was a good idea. BUT. IT. WAS. NOT. )

That’s the question Chicago-based artist, Jason Lazarus, explores in the exhibit, Too Hard To Keep (T.H.T.K). at Gallery TPW. All the images in the exhibit were donated by people who couldn’t look at them anymore.

More info about the show

“Too Hard to Keep” is part of “Coming to Encounter,” a series that experiments with strategies for looking at difficult images. The series is organized by Galley TPW, curator in residence Gabrielle Moser.

A bummer? Interesting? What do you think?

This is a re-post from the Photo-Blog (Sofamphoto). Mary–I think you need to contact the artist and offer to bring the Ministry of Memory Destruction to the gallery. Right? Right? Shouldn’t Mary do that? You could also post a link to MMD on the blog that accompanies the exhibit.


ERIC KANDEL is a psychiatrist, neuroscientist and professor of biochemistry and biophysics at Columbia University. Recipient of the 2000 Nobel Prize for his research of the physiological basis of memory. In The Shallows he’s named in page 27, about the study of a slug’s gill.

This postcard talks about memory storage. Eric Kandel. Postcard about memory storage.

It occurs on certain areas of the brain, but it also happens that our experience and learning affect its physical configuration and the connections of the neurons (synapses). This way, when you learn to do something that eventually will be executed unconsciously, the brain changes to do it that way. The movements will be automatic, and the brain develops that area. Of course, if you feel pleasure, if you enjoy that effort of learning, the change will be bigger. Also, different forms of learning give rise to different forms of memory.

Tuesday | Martes

A few good things for Tuesday:

1. Find someone you like.
2. Hold their hand.
3. Your brain on love. Read this short essay from the Sunday New York Times. It supports what we learned about the brain’s ability to continuously rewire itself. The end of the article is stunning: a transition from no speech to writing a book. Woah.

4. I’m fascinated by Rube Goldberg machines. After you watch this, you might be too.

5. I’m going to be late tomorrow. I’ll be in class by noon.

Hasta Mañana,



Radiolab Rocks

Yes, I’m still using the term “rocks” as an uber affirmative. This short article, about the right to forget as integral to free speech, dovetails with many of the issues from The Shallows.


This is a link to a fantastic Radiolab podcast about Words. I’m strongly suggesting this to everyone, but especially Beatrice. Bea, I was thinking about your new world, your new creatures, and I was thinking that they need names, hybrid names. Because we don’t really understand a concept until we can language it.


About the previous post containing the article about corporate marketing/data mining. I think that is pertinent to everyone but especially for Sandy and Nicolas and Emily. Sandy and Nicolas you might want to consider Freecycle and Kijiji in opposition to standard practices of corporate marketing and consumerism.

That’s it.