(Mental) Health, Poetry, and Media

Here’s what was important this week…

The Super Bowl was this past weekend, as you probably know. With the Olympics starting it’s old news, but one of the big topics in journalism in the lead-up to the event was how football (both the sport and the NFL) handles concussions. Football isn’t the only sport with a concussion problem– hockey and soccer are two other notables, and many more can be assumed (rugby, anyone?). But what makes football different is both its presence in the American consciousness–it’s a truly American sport–and the prominent deaths and deteriorations of former stars. In the LA Review of Books, a devoted football fan reflects on the sport and injury risk, while an essay in The New Inquiry sheds light on the reactions of the NFL. At one point, the essay sardonically quotes a co-chair of the NFL Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee (MTBI):

““Anecdotes do not make scientifically valid evidence,” he stated, thus reducing evidence of CTE in former football players to the status of that story you tell about your cat. “

Both essays draw heavily from the “League of Denial” documentary and book, but they take slightly different perspectives and analyses, and are both worth the read.

Continue reading

Design, Destruction, and Reading

Here’s what was important this week…

As the web and technology become ever more ingrained in our day to day lives, the role of designers becomes more apparent. Designers have been around since things began to be created, and according to one man, they’ve destroyed the world.

It’s a bold statement. But designers (architects, if you’re a designer of buildings and structures) have designed prisons, and even the solitary housing units (SHUs) that unconstitutionally detain inmates.

Mike Monteiro wants to change that. In his 45 minute long talk (it’s worth it, though I admit my attention was wavering at the 40 minute mark), he passionately declares that it is the responsibility of all designers to be gatekeepers for bad, and outright harmful, design. And he has a point. If something isn’t designed, it can’t be built (or at least, not very well). He calls on designers to recognize the power that they have, even if they don’t realize it.

Continue reading

What would I say?

made an effort to the most obnoxious article

What would I say? Something you think when posting on social media sites, when offering up your opinion about something in the news, and now, the name of an app that emerged from HackPrinceton just a few days ago.

So popular the server intermittently goes down, forcing you to access a cached copy of the site or not be able to post automatically to facebook (instead screenshotting the page to share), it was created by Pawel, Vicky, Ugne, Daniel, Harvey, Edward, Alex, and Baxter. However, they didn’t win anything there (per HackPrinceton’s Facebook event).  But now their creation has gone viral. Their creation has been profiled on the Huffington Post, with an article titled, “Your Facebook Statuses are Gibberish. Here’s Proof.“, as well as Slate and BusinessInsider. Even the New Yorker has profiled the app (revealing that Baxter, is in fact, a dog).

But what is so appealing about this app? Friends and I have already used the app, and we’ve all been delighted to discover something that nonsensically “understands” us, by spitting our own words back at us. Others have had the same reaction, posting about it with #wwis or #whatwouldisay, noting how the robot just “gets” them.

Continue reading