Open Tech Today - Top Stories

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Social Networks Make You Fat and Happy

Social networks can make you fat and happy.

That's not an opinion, that's a fact revealed by medical data collected over the past 50 years.

Simply put, our friends heavily influence our habits and happiness, from our weight to smoking (and quitting) and our overall joy.

All these things have a viral quality to them. You eat more, they eat more. You stop smoking, they are more likely to quit. Happiness is similarly contagious.

This image shows the Framingham social network, mapping the people of Framingham, Mass. in 2000.

Blue = sad
Yellow = happy
Green = shades in between

A quick look makes clear that sadness (blue nodes) and happiness (yellow) tend to cluster and spread together.

And the technology that powers online social networks does not change the basic dynamics common to all social networks.

It turns out that Facebook operates like most other social networks. It transmits the happiness virus just as well.

Just knowing that makes me happy.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Mapping Global Warming

A very cool interactive tool here

... allows you to map the possible flooding that global warming may bring to your home if sea levels rise.

You can see any place in the world.

Here is a view of New York City if sea levels rise 2 meters from current levels.

This is Your Brain on Twitter (vs. Facebook)

The science of social media is starting to attract attention.

At least one scientist is investigating the effects on working memory of using Facebook vs. Twitter.

His conclusion (oversimplified) is: Facebook makes you smarter. Twitter makes you dumber.

More specifically, Twitter requires less mental processing and fewer synapses firing. And reduces attention span ... as if people these days didn't already suffer enough from this problem.