Our Urban Dictionary of the internet defines a woobie as...
Something very precious and snuggly, like a bunny wunny or baby blankie.
-Palmer, April 22, 2004
...oddly, when “woobie” is searched, Google also offers the WikiPedia entry for the military poncho
Either way, we learned from American psychologist William James in the 19th century that objects that affect the senses have a galvanizing effect on
the thoughts and emotions of a person. The James-Lange
theory posits that physical
stimuli taken in through the senses precedes all emotional response. James himself agreed that the theory seemed go against common sense which
dictated that physiological arousal (inreased heart rate, increased breathing and so on) came after
an emotional response.
“Nope”, James said, it's the sense objects; the stuff we smell, hear and of course, see. When we are stimulated by those things physically,
through our senses, we then suffuse our world with emotion and meaning.
Now, another American psychologist, Dr. Michael Gazzaniga
has taught us something else about
the human brain in the form of what he calls the left-brain interpreter
I hope that everyone reads the link and I will provide more at the end, but I will cut to the chase: what Dr. Gazzaniga has found is that there is
part of our brain that is constantly engaged in the act of rationalizing everything around us and providing a constantly updating narrative that tries
to explain why it is all happening.
Oogy!, Willies, right!?
Well, it gets even willier than that because it goes in to things like attachment and all sorts of uncomfy stuff of that type, but what I am trying to
help make you sensitive
to, dear reader, is that that is what we do, all the time, we are wired for it: we respond to the sense world
emotionally, whithin the context of the narrative that we are constantly developing that tells us the world is okay. Or not okay.
You might have guessed what I am going to throw out there as the “woobie”? Yes, we are all sitting in front of one, or holding it in our palm or
in our lap; it's our computers and smart phones, our networked devices
And what networks us
all directly in to these devices is our automatic outpouring of emotion-charged sense making that we all produce when
stimulated by the sense objects that cross the screen or peripherals that are connected to our woobie. We are each truly
wired in to these
things to a greater or lesser degree, we are each nodes on this huge network.
We have to consider for ourselves and our sensitive loved ones some sort of network security for the heart. Often times folks don't even know a
network is insecure until there is a breach of some sort, and that is how the “Experiment on Facebook” should be understood: We got hacked. Thank
Satan's Doom Disco
How would folks know? That's the thing, is that what happened at FB brought awareness of what is possible. People that would otherwise have no
interest now know that social media platforms that they interact with can be set for poopy-face. I'm not talkin' the average savvy ATS member here,
I'm talkin', like, my mom. That's a really good thing.
Knowing how they set it to poopy-face means we have to talk a little bit about “big data”. In a nutshell, a data-processing framework called
Hadoop is what allowed the researchers to “auto-tune” the timelines of nearly 700,000 members, that and a very elegant little linguistics software
package called LIWC (Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count). Those two together allow for the sentiment analysis of live datasets and voila!
have a sort of magic mirror, or crystal ball, hard to tell which.
When this software is leveraged for good you get stories like how hospital cardiac teams can predict heart attacks in pacemaker patients sometimes
three days in advance.
Hadoop excels at stuff like allowing x-ray images of broken bones in the remotest outposts of Africa to be compared, right now
, with a massive
database of images, so that doctors without full acess to things like hospitals staffed with radiologists can make more informed decisions and save
lives. You'll hear of how it can track flu-outbreaks via tweets.
But, when the stuff is used for nefarious purposes, and maybe unleashed on thriving social media networks as modelled for us by our friends at FB, I
am pretty sure it would be like some sort of social-media doom-disco of depression with Satan as the DJ. We all needed to know that, not just the few
that understand and work with the software systems. Thank you Facebook.
Where can we find some sense of security in all of this? It seems to me that at this point we can only rely on the awareness that this is where we are
moving to with the world wide web. Network security has to include this awareness that our emotions are a target and that they, our emotions, can be
targeted for change or disruption by having the context within which we are sensing the world manipulated by, essentially, widely distributed
These are the woobie that we are looking for.
They are, or you wouldn't be sitting in front of one. Neither would I. I'd like to reproduce this quote from a book called The Inner History of
by Sherry Turkle (2008):
Thirty years ago, he was holding a TRS-80 home computer and I saw tears in his eyes.
“This computer means everything to me,” he said. “It’s where I put my hope.”
I began the interview thinking I would learn something about how computer hobbyists were putting their new devices to work. By the end of the
interview, my question had changed: What was there about personal computers that offered such deep connection? What did a computer have that offered
-Sherry Turkle, The Inner History of Devices
That hope was well placed. Anyway, Sherry Turkle
is a Professor of Social Sciences at MIT and
her book is an ethnographic study of people and how they relate to technological devices. It runs deep. I won't get in to it but did you know that
dialysis patients form similar bonds with their dialysis machines? I didn't.
That's what I want to share, really: don't freak out. For some of us, including me this can be scary stuff, but it is where we want to go and it has
been developing in stages for 40 years.
I believe that we invest so much of our hope and dreams and emotions in these machines because we are depending on them to take us somewhere. Is it
possible that we have asked them to take us to a place that we know that we need to go but are afraid of? Have we made them a proxy for our emotions?
edit on 9-7-2014 by Bybyots because: . : .