Sounds Iranian

October 19, 2007

Paris from Pop!Tech:The Pursuit of Happiness

Filed under: Pop!Tech — soundsiranian @ 7:58 pm

This morning at Pop!Tech, presentations were given by a number of inspiring speakers including Dan Gilbert, Carl Honore, and Jonathan Harris.

Dan Gilbert, a professor of psychology at Harvard University, spoke about risk, specifically our ability to deal with the risk of global warming given the nature of our brains. Our brains have evolved for millennia to respond to immediate things. However, often times global warming does not appear to us as a threat for these reasons:

1. Global warming does not have a face. Our brains are accustomed to responding to people and recognizing that they are threatening. If global warming had a gun and was walking toward us, we would recognize and respond immediately.

2. Global warming does not arise emotions of revolt, disgust, and dishonor, as a threat to one of our moral beliefs might create. Since global warming does not arise visceral emotions, as food and sex—we are less likely to be enraged.

3. We see global warming threat to our future, but not to our present.

4. Our brains are sensitive to relative, rather than absolute changes. If a change is slow enough, we cannot recognize it. For example, if someone turns on a candle in a bright room, we will most likely not notice a shift in the brightness.

Carl Honore, author of the book “In Praise of Slow”, translated in numerous languages, spoke about the International Slow Movement, and its contrast to a culture that is obsessed with speed. He states that Slow has a great role to play in the 21st century–and as we learn to take our time, shift gears, and work “smarter”, we find that we produce work of higher quality, are more creative, and intelligent. His message is clear: less is often more—and slower is often better.

In Italy, the slow food movement began to raise awareness so that people can take pleasure in food, and recognize how the quality of cultivation and preparation has an impact on our body (digestion, taste, pleasure, etc.) Honore describes how working less can actually mean working better. Some of the most successful schools, countries, and companies promote vacation, free time, and relaxation. By working more slowly, we can take time to process what we learn, and in result be more creative. Additionally, he explains how the constant barrage of electronic equipment actually decreases IQ.

Finally, Jonathan Harris spoke about some of his projects, including We Feel Fine, which in my opinion is one of the most extraordinary and emotional data visualization projects I have ever seen on the web. The content of this site has brought me to tears on numerous occasions. The site aggregates content from all around the web, searching in blogs for variations of the words I feel, I was feeling, etc….Check it out at



  1. […] Check it out! While looking through the blogosphere we stumbled on an interesting post today.Here’s a quick excerptIf global warming had a gun and was walking toward us, we would recognize and respond immediately…. […]

    Pingback by Ghillie Suits » Paris from Pop!Tech:The Pursuit of Happiness — October 19, 2007 @ 8:08 pm

  2. Thanks.

    Comment by KAmangir — October 19, 2007 @ 9:08 pm

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