In the News 16.08.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


In the News 16.08.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 16.08.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 16.08.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

IBM PC: The Complete History, Part 1

One could claim that the IBM PC was not really IBM’s first PC at all. In September 1975 the company introduced the IBM 5100, its first “portable” computer. (“Portable” meant that it weighed just 55 pounds and you could buy a special travel case to lug it around in.)

The 5100 was not technically a microcomputer; it used a processor IBM had developed in-house called the PALM which was spread over an entire circuit board rather than being housed in a single microchip. From the end user’s standpoint, however, that made little difference; certainly it would seem to qualify as a personal computer if not a microcomputer. It was a self-contained, Turing complete, programmable machine no larger than a suitcase, with a tape drive for loading and saving programs, a keyboard, and a 5-inch screen all built right in along with 16K or more of RAM.

What made the 5100 feel different from the first wave of PCs were its price and its promoted purpose. The former started at around $10,000 and could quickly climb to the $20,000 range. As for the latter: IBM pushed the machine as a serious tool for field engineers and the like in remote locations where they couldn’t access IBM’s big machines, not as anything for fun, education, hacking, or even office work.

Read the rest of this article at: Ars Technica

UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 04:  The IBM Personal Computer System was introduced to the market in early 1981, at a time when IBM was the world's largest mainframe computer manufacturer. Such was IBM?s reputation that 200,000 of the PCs were sold in the first year. As a result it set a standard by which every other computer company was to be measured. The microcomputer market had grown from its beginnings in the kit building hobby market to a potential billion-dollar industry. The IBM PC used the Intel 8088 microprocessor, a factor which was also pivotal to Intel's growing success. The machine used magnetic tape to load data, and featured an optional floppy disk drive. The hard drive did not make an appearance until the release of IBM?s XT machine in 1983.  (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)

I Am Not a Story


‘Each of us constructs and lives a “narrative”,’ wrote the British neurologist Oliver Sacks, ‘this narrative is us’. Likewise the American cognitive psychologist Jerome Bruner: ‘Self is a perpetually rewritten story.’ And: ‘In the end, we become the autobiographical narratives by which we “tell about” our lives.’ Or a fellow American psychologist, Dan P McAdams: ‘We are all storytellers, and we are the stories we tell.’ And here’s the American moral philosopher J David Velleman: ‘We invent ourselves… but we really are the characters we invent.’ And, for good measure, another American philosopher, Daniel Dennett: ‘we are all virtuoso novelists, who find ourselves engaged in all sorts of behaviour… and we always put the best “faces” on it we can. We try to make all of our material cohere into a single good story. And that story is our autobiography. The chief fictional character at the centre of that autobiography is one’s self.’

So say the narrativists. We story ourselves and we are our stories. There’s a remarkably robust consensus about this claim, not only in the humanities but also in psychotherapy. It’s standardly linked with the idea that self-narration is a good thing, necessary for a full human life.

Read the rest of this article at: aeon


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Is Mindfulness Meditation BS?

Speaking of moments: One phrase that hasn’t occurred in this piece so far is “living in the moment.” This may seem strange, since this theme is so commonly associated with mindfulness, and so emphasized by meditation teachers. Indeed, The New York Times recently defined mindfulness as the “desire to take a chunk of each day and simply live in the present.” Stop and smell the roses.

There’s no denying that deep appreciation of the present moment is a nice consequence of mindfulness. But it’s misleading to think of it as central to mindfulness. If you delve into early Buddhist writings, you won’t find a lot of exhortations to stop and smell the roses—and that’s true even if you focus on those writings that contain the word sati, the word that’s translated as “mindfulness.”

The ancient Buddhist text known as The Four Foundations of Mindfulness—the closest thing there is to a Bible of mindfulness—features no injunction to live in the present, and in fact doesn’t have a single word or phrase translated as “now” or “the present.” And it features some passages that would sound strange to the average mindfulness meditator of today. It reminds us that our bodies are “full of various kinds of unclean things” and instructs us to meditate on such bodily ingredients as “feces, bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat, tears, skin-oil, saliva, mucus, fluid in the joints, urine.” It also calls for us to imagine our bodies “one day, two days, three days dead—bloated, livid, and festering.”

Read the rest of this article at: Wired


Instagram’s Kevin Systrom Wants to Clean Up the Internet


Kevin Systrom, the CEO of Instagram, was at Disneyland last June when he decided the internet was a cesspool that he had to clean up. His company was hosting a private event at the park as part of VidCon 2016, an annual gathering that attracts social media virtuosos, and Systrom was meeting with some Instagram stars. They were chatting and joking and posing for one another’s phone cameras. But the influencers were also upset. Insta­gram is supposed to be a place for self-expression and joy. Who wants to express themselves, though, if they’re going to be mocked, harassed, and shamed in the comments below a post? Instagram is a bit like Disneyland—if every now and then the seven dwarfs hollered at Snow White for looking fat.

After the chat, Systrom, who is 33, posted a Boomerang video of himself crouched among the celebrities. It’s an ebullient shot of about 20 young people swaying, waving, bobbing, and smiling. In the lower right corner, a young woman bangs her knees together and waves her hand like she’s beating eggs for a soufflé.

Read the rest of this article at: Wired

Freud The Philosopher

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Most people think of Sigmund Freud as a psychologist or a psychiatrist. But he was neither. He was trained as a neuroscientist and went on to create a new discipline that he called ‘psychoanalysis’. But Freud should also be thought of as a philosopher – and a deeply insightful and prescient one at that. As the philosopher of science Clark Glymour observed in 1991:

Freud’s writings contain a philosophy of mind, and indeed a philosophy of mind that addresses many of the issues about the mental that nowadays concern philosophers and ought to concern psychologists. Freud’s thinking about the issues in the philosophy of mind is better than much of what goes on in contemporary philosophy, and it is sometimes as good as the best …

In fact, it’s impossible to really understand Freudian theory without coming to grips with its philosophical undercurrents. This might sound strange, given the many derogatory remarks about philosophy that are scattered through Freud’s writings and correspondence. But these remarks are easy to misinterpret. Freud’s verbal barbs were not directed at philosophy per se. They were directed at the kind of philosophy that was dominant during his lifetime – philosophy of the speculative, armchair variety that remains aloof from scientific investigations of the material world, often described as ‘metaphysics’, a subject that he characterised as ‘a nuisance, an abuse of thinking’, adding: ‘I know well to what extent this way of thinking estranges me from German cultural life.’

To come to grips with the philosophical thrust of Freud’s thinking, it is crucial to place it in its historical context. Born in 1856 in a village in what is now the Czech Republic, Freud enrolled in the University of Vienna just at the time when the sciences of the mind were gaining momentum. Although he initially planned to study law with the intention of pursuing a career in politics, and also toyed with the idea of doing a joint PhD in zoology and philosophy, he eventually found his way to neurology. In entering this field at just that moment, the young Freud launched himself into an incredibly exhilarating and dynamic intellectual milieu. For neuroscientific researchers, the daunting scientific challenge of figuring out how the brain works (without the benefit of the sophisticated technologies available today) was compounded by the equally formidable philosophical challenge of explaining the relationship between the electrochemical impulses coursing through a massively complex network of neurons and the experiential fabric of our subjective mental lives – our thoughts, values, perceptions, and choices.

Read the rest of this article at: aeon

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M. // Top images: @amylberry; @thedoorsofldn; @windmilldreams