Brené Brown: The Power of Vulnerability

 

The need to be both vulnerable and authentic has been on my mind for months. Choosing to experience vulnerability, or having “the courage to be imperfect” as Brené Brown describes, is empowering. It’s a necessity not a flaw.

Resisting vulnerability weakens rather than strengthens. It takes honesty and self-awareness not to recoil in uncomfortable moments.

Brené wisely states that we cannot numb emotion selectively.

It’s not easy but it appears to be essential for personal growth and lasting relationships. We can never truly connect with others without a willingness to be vulnerable. There is more to it than I’ve explained. It takes repeated  experience to ‘get it.’

Brené gets it. Do we get it? More importantly, do I get it? 

 

Why we know less than ever about the world

I watched a brief yet revealing TED talk this morning by Public Radio International CEO, Alisa Miller, titled “Why we know less than ever about the world.” Sadly, American news media spends most of their resources focusing on myopic issues, like personal tragedies in the lives of pop stars, while ignoring the rest of the world. Watch this four minute and twenty nine second clip to see the statistics and hear Alisa Miller in her own words.


Note to news media: Next time you’re tempted to report on something relatively trivial, like an athlete turned actor running from police in his white Ford Bronco, chances are high that something of true importance, like the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda, is happening at the same time. If you don’t tell us, how will we know?

Your Feelings are Being Recorded

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If you’ve typed the words “I feel” or “I am feeling” on a blog in the past three years, chances are your feelings have been tracked. Not by a government but by wefeelfine.org, the work of computer scientist Jonathan Harris and Google engineer Sep Kamvar. Their system captures sentences containing the words “I feel” or “I am feeling” and scans them to see if the sentences fit into one of 5,000 pre-identified categories. Where possible, the age, gender, and location of the blogger are also recorded. If a location is available, the local weather at the time of the post is recorded.  

According to the We Feel Fine mission page, their database of several million feelings increases by 15,000 to 20,000 new feelings each day.  

The data is displayed in six unique formats; madness, murmurs, montage, mobs, metrics, and mounds. Mounds reveal how many people are feeling good, bad, ugly, or any of over 3,400 common feelings. Did you post about feeling “comfortable” in the past few days? So did 16,552 other people. If you wrote that you felt “flaky” you’re one of only twenty. 70% of these flaky feelings were written in sunny weather and 20% under cloudy skies (A location was not available for the remaining 10%).  

The thought of separate but collective feelings inspires me to say, wefeelfine.org is pretty cool.

However you choose to describe your feelings, you’re not alone.  

The Best Stats You’ve Ever Seen — New Eyes for Old Data

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The Universe is filled with infinite data and our access to that data is begining to blossom. In the past decade an incredible amount of information has been placed within public reach. Once the wow factor of endless access has worn off, making the old numbers relevant and bringing the digital archive to life is challenging. Can new tools bring life to old data?

A hand full of designers are successfully pulling back the curtain to reveal hidden beauty in the numbers. Here is a synopsis of what a few of them are doing.

Hans Rosling has created something brilliant with Gapminder World. Visit his site and watch each nation progress as statistical data changes (Additional data can be displayed by clicking on the words “Life Expectancy in Years” on the far right of the Gapminder screen). To hear Dr. Rosling explain Gapminder, watch these entertaining presentations recorded at TED (June 2006, June 2007).

Amnesty International gives us an interactive bird’s eye view of the destruction in Dafur with Eyes on Dafur: Satellite Evidence.

For violence in the United States see what the LA Times has done with public data and Google maps to track every Homicide in Los Angeles County during 2007 (708 victims as of 10/30/07).

For a less detailed look into history view the interactive maps American Leadership and War and History of Religion by Maps of War.

Paper is the enemy of words: Redefining the Dictionary

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Erin McKean is a lexicographer who believes “the book is not the best shape for the dictionary.” In her 2007 TED talk “Redefining the dictionary” she explains that we use the word “dictionary” synecdochically. We use it to represent all of the English language when the dictionary, like a flag, is only a symbol of the language. “The dictionary” doesn’t contain everything and online versions are not much better. They give us very limited context and without context words have no meaning.

Watch her delightful talk “Redefining the dictionary” (16:02 minutes) and you may come to see how at times, as Erin says, “paper is the enemy of words.”  

Erin McKean is currently the editor of VERBATIM: The Language Quarterly and maintains two blogs; Dictionary Evangelist and Dress a Day.