The humanitarian developers behind World of Warcraft have also discovered a way to bribe gamers into turning off their computers and going outside. If you log off for a few days, your character will be more 'rested' when you resume playing, a mode that temporarily speeds up your leveling.
I don't think the Internet has replaced cities in any significant way, nor really could it. Cities are dynamic - and deeply seductive for the people who flock there - because they broker all sorts of fantastic and useful connections, cultural and economic and social.
The only reason we don't notice how absolutely interwoven our thinking processes have become with older technologies - pencils, paper, electric light, penicillin, fire - is that they're old, so we've ceased to notice their effects.
If you, or any public-spirited programmer, wanted to figure out what the software on your machine is really doing, tough luck. It's illegal to reverse engineer the source code of commercial software to find out how it works.
Politicians or pundits can distort or cherry-pick climate science any way they want to try and gain temporary influence with the public. But any serious industrialist who's facing 'climate exposure' - as it's now called by money managers - cannot afford to engage in that sort of self-delusion.
I lust after iPods or Mini Coopers not because they're unique, but because they've been so artfully made that I couldn't imagine doing it better myself.
We use paper documents to store knowledge so we can consult and reconsult it, giving us a type of recall impossible with our unaided minds; we use pencils to scratch down material so we can manipulate it in a fashion impossible in our unaided minds.
A huge amount of our everyday thinking - powerful, creative, and resonant stuff - is done socially: talking to other people, arguing with them, relying on them to recall information for us.
When you're an expert in a subject, you can retain new factoids on your favorite topic easily. This only works for the subjects you're truly passionate about, though. Baseball fans can reel off stats for their favorite players, then space out on their own birthday.
The one complaint about the Internet that I wholeheartedly endorse is that most of these tools have been designed to peck at us like ducks: 'Hey, there's a new reply to your comment! Come look at it!'
The people who tend to get the most out of being social thinkers are the people who themselves are helpful. They're always talking or answering people's questions or engaging in productive conversations. They're not being trolls. They're tamping down other people that are being trolls.
The computer industry began with home-brew boxes that everyone had to program for themselves, but that was a huge hassle. The computer revolution didn't explode until the first Macintosh arrived, with its point-and-click simplicity.
There's nothing wrong with talking out loud in public, but there is something wrong with the government sucking up all those utter instances in a database just in case they maybe want to bust you in five years.
Ambient awareness is the experience of knowing what's going on in the lives of other people - what they're thinking about, what they're doing, what they're looking at - by paying attention to the small stray status messages that people are putting online.
Transactive memory works best when you have a sense of how your partners' minds work - where they're strong, where they're weak, where their biases lie. I can judge that for people close to me. But it's harder with digital tools, particularly search engines.
Software is now so complex - requiring so many gazillions of tiny files all over your computer - that most consumers don't want to bother to know what's really going on.
Personally, I'd love to see more social media firms develop business models that aren't reliant on advertising. If you're a social media firm selling ads, your goal is to get people to interrupt what they're doing all day long so they come and stare at your service as much as possible.
The things kids can do on screens can be really delightful - if they are age appropriate. But no, they shouldn't spend all their time on a screen; they should split up their time doing multiple, different things.
Novelists in particular love to rhapsodize about the glory of the solitary mind; this is natural, because their job requires them to sit in a room by themselves for years on end. But for most of the rest of us, we think and remember socially.
There is something about the ability to externalize our thoughts and compare them with other people in a public way that is really transformative for the average person.