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October 2009

Priming, framing, and exaptations

By Alicia Juarrero  ·  October 16, 2009  · 

Psychology, mass media research, and even behavioral economics have of late become very interested in the phenomenon called priming or framing: the fact that being exposed first to one stimulus biases one's response to a second stimulus.
Priming and framing prevent us from discovering and consciously exploiting the current utility of byproducts of previous adaptations.
In other words, priming and framing blind us to the potential exaptations all around us.

Continued…

Spandrels and exaptations

By Alicia Juarrero  ·  October 16, 2009  · 

Brunelleschi or other architects of the renaissance did not set out to design spandrels, those curved triangular areas between the arches supporting cupolas. Even if later on spandrels turned out to have their own utility, they appeared initially only as byproducts of adaptations. The same happens in evolution: not everything adaptive today appeared because it was adaptive. Gould and Lewontin called such accidental byproducts of adaptations -- exaptations.

When stuck in a suboptimal peak of an adaptive landscape -- whether in...

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Imprisoning neology

By Alicia Juarrero  ·  October 14, 2009  · 

Today's front page of the Wall St Journal has a hilarious article on the serious debate in France concerning whether or not "informatique en nuage" is an appropriate rendering of "cloud computing."
Both France and Spain have official commissions that rule on the appropriateness of neologisms and terminology (France's General Commission of Terminology & Neology and Spain's Real Academia de la Lengua Espanola). You guys don't get it, do you? Languages are living, dynamic, evolving developing -- that is, complex -- systems, not mummies...

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Boundaries

By Alicia Juarrero  ·  October 14, 2009  · 

Under the classical, mechanstic paradigm, identities were delimited by crisp, sharp edges -- crisply defined conceptual boundaries, if you will. But the contextual embeddedness of complex systems makes them more like bramble bushes than geometrical shapes. Even worse, boundary conditions actually structure and organize complexity -- just like the Aristotelian formal causes of old. The boundaries of a complex system are like a cell's organic membranes, like the eardrum, permeable active site without which complex organization would not...

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Eat my words time!

By Alicia Juarrero  ·  October 10, 2009  · 

I guess Nobels also go for hope. I guess, too, that just as there are sins of omission there are also prizes for omission, for not being...
I'm a big Obama fan, but...
Started Socialnomics but quit after the third page when I read "principals" instead of "principles."
I've always tolerated "fast but sloppy" (evolution selects for that; "slow and meticulous" gets eaten!), but in a book? Where's the editor?

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Chronology