Monthly Archives: January 2014

Thoughts on the Future of Blogging and this Website

I’m torn and must decide: to blog or micro-blog. Regular or traditional blogging is writing posts on individual websites such as this WordPress site or a Blogger or Typepad site. Micro-blogging is posting on sites like Twitter or G+ where you don’t have your own website per se but, rather, are part of a larger social network where sharing is more ubiquitous and the nature of the content includes more link-sharing and conversation. I admit though that the boundaries between blogging and micro-blogging are fuzzy, which is part of what this post is about.

Why micro-blog? Obviously there are things you can write on WordPress that are much different from the things you can write on Twitter. They are not really comparable in this sense because of the extreme length restrictions of Twitter. However, with G+ the relative advantage of WordPress over social media is lessened since G+ lets you write relatively long posts with some amount of basic formating (bold, italics, etc.). So in deciding whether to blog or micro-blog I see the choice narrowed between WordPress and G+.

On G+ I share and reshare articles from around the web that I wouldn’t find appropriate to share on this website, which is more about philosophy and psychology rather than science and news at large. But rather than writing exclusively on a small set of subjects on a real blog, I am contemplating merging everything into a unified “jack-of-all-trades” G+ account that shares sciency-links (and who knows what else) but also occasionally writes “real” philosophy or describes more serious psycho-philosophical research. I haven’t tried to used G+ in this way (yet), but I’m thinking about it. The main advantage I see is convenience and potential for a larger, share-friendly audience. It’s nice being able to log into a central site that allows you to do all your online communication without having to switch between different websites, formats, etc. Also, it seems easier to “spread the word” on G+ than WordPress because G+ was built from the ground up to share information ubiquitously.   Also, when it comes to the Facebook vs Twitter vs G+ battles I see the writing on the wall, and Google has the pen in their hand (give it a few more years though).

The main reasons I can think of for why I am hesitant to merge everything into G+ rather than posting on both G+ and WordPress is (1) Continuity with the blogging content I’ve been posting for the last six years (Has it really been that long?!) and (2) Having my “own” website feels more legitimate academically speaking than doing everything on G+. It has a greater feel of authenticity, but perhaps this is an accidental or sentimental feature I am projecting onto WordPress. Of course, perhaps my bigger problem is that I think blogging has any academic legitimacy in the first place.

What say you, readers?

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Filed under Random

Latest Draft of Mental Time Travel Paper

CLICK HERE to read the latest draft of “Measuring Mental Time Travel in Animals”.

I’ve been working on this paper over the semester, responding to comments and generally cleaning it up. I’ve also added a new sub-section that explores an analogy with–believe it or not–whether Pluto is a planet. I also cut down on some repetitiveness towards the end. I will be turning it in as a Qualifying Paper very soon, so any last minute comments/suggestions/corrections would be greatly appreciated.

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Filed under Philosophy, Philosophy of science, Psychology

Beginning to Work on Something Long

Now that I am almost done with coursework — nearly three years later — I am finally beginning to think about something long – a dissertation. To write a dissertation I need a topic, and I think might I have one: measuring consciousness in persistent vegetative state or minimally conscious patients. I got interested in this topic last Fall when I read Nachev and Hacker’s paper “Covert cognition in the persistent vegetative state” for Carl Craver’s class Current Controversies in Cognitive Science. The paper is excellent and raises many fascinating questions. Some questions that I would like to answer in the dissertation include:

  • What does it mean to be a PVS or minimally conscious patient? What’s their respective neurology?
  • What exactly are we trying to detect in these patients? How is “consciousness” defined?
  • What measurement methods are we using and why? How is “consciousness” operationalized? Can it even be measured?
  • How can we arbitrate between rival operational measures of consciousness? How can we verify we are detecting what we think we are detecting?
  • Is the thing we are trying to detect worth detecting? What should we be looking for?
  • How do we determine an acceptable false positive/false negative rate?

This topic is at the intersection of many of my interests: consciousness, philosophy of science, operationalism, behaviorism, and ethics. This semester I am doing directed research with Carl Craver to dive head-first into the topic. I have a long reading list that I will be working my way through and hopefully I’ll be able to share some of my findings as the semester progresses. Stay tuned!

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Filed under Academia, Philosophy