Good morning melancholia

“Set mood to melancholy.” Scase glanced out at the morning sky, which was the sombre colour of a television tuned to a dead channel he’d read about in a novel. His new hand-held emot machine sat inert on the window ledge. “I said melancholy — or just sad if you can’t manage that.” It blinked. “Give me grief then.”…More

Losing it

Location technologies and smartphones help you find your way. But for some of the time, some of us don’t only want to find our way — but lose it. Loss goes with forgetting, regret, and grief as in the art work Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red by Paul Cummins and Tom Piper — a single red ceramic poppy in the…More

Writer’s block

The monk dipped his quill and positioned it over the parchment again. His fingers were black and smudges formed on the unyielding page. Drops of ink found their way to the frayed cuff of his robe. “How can I be expected to do this!” he said. “What task has the Abbot set you now?” I asked. “I’ve been told to pen…More

Do digital devices influence your mood?

I put this question to a class of students in digital media and culture. As if we were ever in any doubt, most people agree that technologies do influence the way you feel, and networked, social-media-enabled mobile and laptop devices offer more than other tech. At the very least they provide channels for mood altering entertainment.…More

Social media help you to believe what you want to believe

The Scottish referendum on independence has helped expose something we knew all along about what it is to have an opinion. Some of us are good at filtering out the evidence we would rather not see, and accepting only what supports our beliefs. In an article in The Times yesterday, journalist Hugo Rifkind identified the current mood of the so-called…More

Space dehomogenised

Anyone who’s done some computer graphics and 3D modelling knows the convenience of the xyz coordinate system. Any point, line, plane and volume in space can be represented via Descartes’ uniform grid system. To Rene Descartes (1596-1650) we attribute the homogenisation of space that reduces space to “magnitude or extension in length, width and depth,” (122) from which other…More

Where does happiness happen?

Where is the love? asked Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway back in 1972 (and The Black-Eyed Peas in 2009). It’s really a complaint — you offered me love but it never came. Where can you find love, happiness, anger, grief? It’s only a slightly different question: Where do emotions happen anyway? Here are some candidates. 1. It’s in our heads. The…More

Emotional words

Early last year Facebook introduced the option of tagging your status updates with an indication of how you feel. You select from a menu to indicate if you are happy, bored, irritated — that kind of thing — and there’s a smiley that goes with each feeling. It was introduced as a trial, but is…More

Emotional contagion

Now I know what Facebook does, thanks to the controversy generated recently over the academic article by Cornell researchers collaborating with a research team at Facebook Inc. See Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks. Facebook 101 On your personal Facebook home page there’s an invitation to “Update Status,” which means entering text into a field to…More

Mood and movement (and dance)

Search on the web for something about spontaneous dance, and you eventually alight on the saying: “You’ve gotta’ dance like there’s nobody watching,” expanded, varied and attributed to several sources, but mostly the self-help author William W. Purkey. Then type “dance like nobody’s watching” into YouTube, which shows real or faked videos of people caught unawares,…More