Monday, 15 October 2012

Psychology and NDEs - Light at the end of the tunnel?

I've had three encounters with near death experiences (NDEs) in the last week.

The first was reading an article in the Telegraph by Colin Blakemore who was very dismissive of the paranormal claims of NDErs. Then last Thursday I attended a talk as part of Sheffield's Off The Shelf literary festival. Author Linda Hoy was promoting her new book The Effect in which she argued that science and spirituality are converging. She spent a lot of time talking about NDEs. Finally today I read a very well-argued, enjoyable, but skeptical blog post by psychologist Christian Jarrett. His line of reasoning was that NDEs, are simply brain activity along the lines of certain types of drug use. He remains firm in the belief that the mind exists within the brain.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Monty: Anti-Quantic

The information age.

A new industrial revolution powered by silicon electronic technology, binary arithmetic and computer science.

I'm one of the worker bees of this epoch. You'll find me buried deep within the hierarchy of corporations composing symphonia of code on the plastic piano, or perhaps helping those already dependent on technology to cope when a malfunction occurs.

In my spare time I spend countless hours browsing the worldwide web via various devices: desktop - laptop - tablet - smartphone. Or I can sometimes be found dancing to music created on computers much like the ones that I work with. I play games on my X-Box, and when I shop, each purchase is recorded in large remote databases. Through these I become a segment score; my behaviour correlated with marketing campaigns, demographic pigeon holing and environmental conditions until I become a predictable unit of potential sales.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Greek crisis: Human freedom as the grit in the management machine?

I'm writing this in May 2012, which in the UK currently is much colder than one would expect of late spring. At the moment I am engaged on a data analysis contract, helping a national media corporation to roll out new product offerings to its customers. In the somewhat warmer corresponding period a year ago I was in wind-down mode after terminating my contract at a large banking organisation. The immediate future looked wonderful. I had a long vacation in the South of France planned for July and August during which time I would be writing a book about IT service. In preparation for that I was geared up to spend June ensconsed in Western Bank library (Sheffield University), reading and note-taking. It turned out to be quite idyllic. I would cycle the 5 miles down from South-west Sheffield (and it is down, my house is 500ft vertically above Sheffield city centre) to the library where I'd read, write, doze, and take the occasional stroll around the city.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Social Luddism?

By now most British internet users will be familiar with the YouTube video of Emma West expounding her controversial views about the ethnic makeup of the UK on a South London train. The video appears to have been shot on a mobile phone and quickly "went viral". Fascinating how what once would have been a purely local issue, a story to amuse colleagues with at work, became - through the power of these new technologies - a national news story and a case for the judiciary. For good or ill, big brother is certainly watching us, and yet with our personal recording equipment to hand, we ourselves are all the means of that surveillance.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

'Tunnel Vision' or 'ITSM and the Passage of Time'

My career has taken many twists and turns over the years. However, in my work, technology has always been a constant. From analogue to digital electronics; assembly code through ansi C to visual languages; and desktop support into line management and ITSM. I've recently popped out of my umpteenth chrysalis and find myself fluttering my wings in the pretty garden of data and predictive analytics. ITIL seems like a distant dream (or is that nightmare?).

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

A Heresy: Social Media Ain't Perfect

File this one under heresy. Burning at the stake is thankfully consigned to history, but "flaming" is not. The responses to this may therefore be quite interesting. Also this is not actually related to the psychology of IT service management, but rather to the psychology of social media use. It's a departure, I know, but hopefully an entertaining and thought provoking one...

The process of changing one's perceptions can begin in the most inauspicious of moments. I've already alluded to this in previous blog entries by way of the manner in which my older views towards radical feminism and operatic music were changed during chance encounters.

I had another such damoclean conversion recently. At the time I thought very little of the sentence that prompted the change; I considered it another fashionable utterance designed to make an impression. The time and place was the Sheffield DocFest early in 2011 and the catalyst was a talk given by the filmmaker Adam Curtis (All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace). What he said was this: "Twitter is a self-aggrandising, smug pressure group, that's all it is". I enjoyed the quote and watched it reverberate around the blogosphere for a couple of days.