Here's how MediaPost summarized the results:
For the study, "The Biggest Lie on the Internet," researchers gave 543 communications undergraduates the opportunity to test "Namedrop," a fictional social networking service.
It's alarming, but spending fifteen minutes trying to decipher the fine print doesn't seem very realistic.
Maybe some entrepreneur could create a site on which there's a list of apps and sites and a summary of the terms and conditions and warnings about any suspicious demands. You'd make a micro-payment of ten cents or pence for that report, then you could agree with peace of mind. Entrepreneur, a little thank you of one penny per sale will be sufficient thank you for this idea.
The Upworthy Generator is a tool that comes up with the kinds of clickbait headlines you see online all the time. It creates a headline and an image that actually has nothing to do with the headline. It's not that funny because the headlines it generates are no stranger than the "real" headlines you see online on Upworthy and other sites every day. (It's a parody site, it's not affiliated with Upworthy.com.)
Here are three from the Upworthy Generator:
"You Won't Believe the Troubling Music Video This Angry Talk Show Host Made"
"Think Things Used to be Better When You Were a Kid? Maybe You Should Listen to This Trailblazing Talk Show Host."
"What This Fearless Physician Did Is Genius"
Just to prove to you that these aren't any worse than what's on the real Upworthy.com site, here are three from there:
"This heroic man 'hugged' a terrorist. And it likely saved hundreds of lives." (Unfortunately, the terrorist was wearing a suicide vest)
"How a Woman Named 'Unbreakable Flower' Discovered Wrestling and Became an Unlikely Hero."
"How 5 Diabolical Parents Called Their Kids' Bluff in Hilarious Ways"
You can use such headlines, or parts of them, to prompt ideas of your own.
The first one, "angry talk show host," might suggest a short film or a short story about the home life of an angry talk show host. It could be funny because he's just as angry at home as he is on the air, or because he's totally the opposite at home.
"Think things were better when you were a kid..." could lead to a story set in the future, when somebody looks back to 2016 and how great it was compared to whatever's happening then. This could work as sci-fi, comedy, even romance (ah, the innocent days of Tinder, before Sexbots came onto the dating scene...).
The "fearless physician" headline might lead to a screenplay about a real or fictional doctor or inventor who was ahead of his or her time.
Of course, you can use the real Upworthy headlines the same way. For instance, "Diabolical Parents" could inspire a comedy horror film in which a chapter of the PTA is gripped by demons. Actually, Diabolical Parents would be a pretty good title for a movie.
It's always easier to come up with ideas when you have a starting point, even a random one. But whatever you do, if you use the real Upworthy site, don't click on the headlines or you may find yourself both frustrated and annoyed. That's why the parody site is much better--there are no stories to go with the headlines...unless you make them up yourself.
Is willpower something you just have or don't have, or it is something that we have in a certain quantity that diminishes over the course of a day, as we use it?
Today I read an account of a study that has been interpreted as suggesting the latter, but reading about how the study was conducted makes me wonder whether there could have been something else at play.
There were two groups of participants. One was given chocolate treats. The other could see the treats but was allowed to eat only radishes.
Afterward, they were both given what was represented as a puzzle that measures intelligence, but the point was actually to measure how long they stuck with it before giving up.
The chocolate group worked on the puzzle for an average of 20 minutes.
The group that had radishes worked on it for an average of 8 minutes.
The conclusion of the study: "Thus, those people who had to resist the confectionary and eat the plain vegetables could not engage in a second demanding task. Their willpower was already drained and they were too tired."
Wait a minute. The article says:
Many of the people who were left to eat radishes “exhibit[ed] clear interest in the chocolates, to the point of looking longingly at the chocolate display and in a few cases even picking up the cookies to sniff at them,” the scientists wrote in their Journal of Personality and Social Psychology paper.
I have an alternate explanation. You make me watch other people eat chocolate treats, you even let me sniff the cookies, but you give me only radishes and then you want me to solve your damn puzzle? Forget it, I'm outta here at the first opportunity.
I'm not fatigued or lacking willpower. In fact, it takes all the willpower I have to stay for even eight minutes.
My scientific conclusion:
If you annoy people, they won't put much effort into doing what you ask them to do.
Technology allows us to bend reality in many ways. One example:
One of Kanga's more promising ideas is a "Disneyland dementia village," with a fake butcher and grocery store, based on a Dutch model where dementia patients live in a Truman Show-esque village that mirrors outside life as closely as possible and savings are made through automation.*
Kanga is an artist turned materials scientist, and I'm not sure whether this idea is a dream or a nightmare. Of course, creating an illusion in which people suffering from dementia are comforted is a worthy goal. But what came to mind when I read this is that it will soon be possible, with the help of artificial intelligence and virtual reality, to create just about any fake version of reality that you wish.
Do you yearn for 50's America--you know, no bothersome civil rights, and the little lady is happy being a homemaker? Come live in Eisenhower Estates! Episodes of "Father Knows Best" and "Leave It to Beaver" loop on your television, there's a virtual 1957 Chevy Bel-Air parked in your driveway, and the sound of a dozen dads mowing their lawns wafts in through the window.
If you prefer the 60's, welcome to your new home at Hippie Heights. The Grateful Dead (holograms) are playing a gig in your back yard! That's a fine collection of tie-dies on your washing line, and the smell of patchouli oil and you-know-what permeates the air.
Still under construction: Mullet Manor for fans of the 70's.
Perhaps today's young people will want to end up in Kardashian Korners, where there's dysfunctional family fun 24/7.
Maybe it's just a progression of bending reality to our preferences, as we can do now by getting all our news only from Fox, or MSNBC, or The Daily Mail...and while we're distracted, the powers that be can carry on as usual.
I've spotted some amazing new tech devices in development that not long ago would have belonged in science fiction.
One is an instant translator in an earbud, called The Pilot. There are no wires or cables and it works even without wifi (probably via a smartphone app). It translates whatever someone says to you.
For now, the languages that will be covered are English, Italian, Spanish and French but other languages will be added.
If you've ever used Google Translate (which is free), you'll know that these will not be grammatically correct translations, but good enough to make sense of what someone is saying to you. Or about you, if they think you don't speak their language (I think of my cartoon as taking place in Paris).
I guess if you're communicating with someone who doesn't speak your language you'd have to carry around an extra earbud for them to use, otherwise it's going to be a one-way conversation. Even so, what a boon for people who travel.
Skype is working on a similar process that will translate what the other person in your Skype conversation is saying; at the moment, it seems to be available in beta form only for Windows users.
The Pilot crowdfunding campaign will start on May 25, 2016, on IndieGoGo, with a probable early bird price of $129, going up to $299 when it's actually available, toward the end of this year.
You can find out more at the Waverly Labs website: http://www.waverlylabs.com/#_overview
It's worth noting that not all products that use crowdfunding actually see the light of day. Some have failed to deliver, and the early buyers lost their money. Others take a lot longer to be available than predicted--one that I funded was a year late.
I've written once before about how gradually the meaning of the term "the elephant in the room" is changing. It means something with a large presence that doesn't get talked about.
However, more and more I see it used this way (from a recent promotion for a webinar):
Jordan shares with us how YouTube is the elephant in the room. What does he mean by that?
That's pretty much the opposite of the meaning, and I realized that it's taking the place of the 800-pound-gorilla, which was the previously popular phrase for something powerful.
Elephant vs. gorilla--advantage, elephant.
First. I'm not making this up.
On the "Friday Fun" section of their web site, The National Rifle Association has featured its own version of two classic fairy tales.
In their take on Little Red Riding Hood, Grandma is packing serious heat. When the wolf shows up, Granny (undoubtedly to be played by Clint Eastwood in a wig in the film) swings into action:
"The wolf leaned in, jaws open wide, then stopped suddenly. Those big ears heard the unmistakable sound of a shotgun's safety being clicked off. Those big eyes looked down and saw that grandma had a scattergun aimed right at him...
" 'I don't think I'll be eaten today,' said Grandma, 'and you won't be eating anyone again.' Grandma kept her gun trained on the wolf, who was too scared to move. Before long, he heard a familiar voice call 'Grandmother, I'm here!' Red peeked her head in the door. The wolf couldn't believe his luck—he had come across two capable ladies in the same day, and they were related! Oh, how he hated when families learned how to protect themselves."
I can imagine another version, in which Grandma is the nervous type and when Red knocks on the door the old lady thinks it's the wolf and lets Red have it with both barrels.
The NRA also came up with a version of Hansel and Gretel in which the siblings rescue two boys being held captive by the witch. Gretel covers the sleeping witch with a hunting rifle ("for she was a better shot than her brother") while Hansel unlocks the cage . The witch doesn't wake up and the local cops arrive to cart her away.
See, no violence in either story! They live happily ever after. Then again, maybe after doing a few years of time, the wolf gets out of jail and picks up an AK47 at a gun fair and stalks the now grown-up Red. Grandma (I see Meryl Streep) has hung up her guns due to deteriorating vision, but has to pick up that shotgun one last time...
This is one of those, "Is it just me?" quandaries, where you wonder whether what you're experiencing is universal, or personal and probably you'll just embarrass yourself by mentioning it. I'm talking about how disappointing my Future Self often turns out to be when he turns into my Present Self.
Here's an example. I belong to a lot of MeetUp groups. If you haven't heard of those, check out MeetUp.com, and you'll find hundreds, probably thousands, of groups of people interested in specific topics and activities, like photography, art, cooking and just about every other subject you can imagine.
I'll see something interesting scheduled for a week from now, like an interesting talk or a visit to a gallery or a mini-workshop.
I imagine my Future Self going to the event, meeting people, enjoying the activity.
My Future Self is a gregarious, fine fellow, a man of the world who pursues many interests. I sign him up for the event and we are both happy.
When it's time to go to the event, my Future Self has turned into my Present Self, and something has definitely gone wrong in the interim.
My future self is unconcerned with trivial details like the weather. My Present Self looks out the window and sees that it's drizzling and thinks, 'Do I really want to go out? '
Whereas my Future Self was certain he would meet interesting new people, my Present Self remembers that time I went to an event and got buttonholed for thirty minutes by The World's Most Boring Man Who Also Had Bad Breath.
My Future Self didn't bother with the details of how he would get to the venue. My Present Self looks at the Underground map and sees he'd have to change twice and walk twenty minutes.
My Present Self decides to stay home and Get Things Done. He can envision the short-term Future Self catching up on paperwork, clearing up the home office, getting a start on organizing those documents for the tax return. Yes, we have made the right decision and the Future Self will get to work right after dinner!
After dinner, the former Future Self notices that one of our favorite movies is starting on BBC2. When the movie ends he decides it's too late to get started on any work, it'll be best to leave it for tomorrow.
My Future Self was going to finish this post with a brilliant solution to this problem, but once again he's let us down.
I'm pretty sure he'll come up with it tomorrow.
On a podcast today, I heard about a clever woman who some years ago created a book called "Everything Men Know About Women."
She self-published and got women's clothing chains to stock it as a gift item. She didn't take returns, and wouldn't take an order for less than 100 at a time.
She said whenever the buyers were women (which was most of the time), they ordered the book.
She ended up selling hundreds of thousands, then a publisher gave her a lucrative deal and she retired.