by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jun 19th 2013 1:31pm
Wed, Dec 4th 2013 8:50am
Closes: 24 Dec 2013, 11:59PM PT
We've all seen the digital panic that ensues when a massive service like Gmail or Facebook goes down for even a small portion of users. Smaller versions of the same thing take place every day with services that are less widely adopted but just as important to the people who rely on them. It doesn't even take an outage to cause problems — frequent slowdowns and interruptions can quickly cause a massive productivity traffic jam. With the degree to which we live our lives and do our work online, service problems are much more than a minor inconvenience, and at the wrong moment can be a disaster.
So we want to know: how does this impact the way you use the web? Are you prepared for interruptions in the online apps and services you use most? Have you ever abandoned an app for spotty performance, or adopted one specifically for its reliability? We're looking for everything in the way of insights, anecdotes and ideas about performance issues online.
You can share your responses on the Insight Community. Remember, if you have a Techdirt account, then you're already a member and can head on over to the case page to submit your insights.
One best response chosen by New Relic and the Techdirt editorial team will receive a free one-year Watercooler subscription on Techdirt (regular price $50). The subscription includes access to the Crystal Ball and the Insider Chat, plus five monthly First Word/Last Word credits, and can be applied to your own Techdirt account or gifted to someone else.
The case will be open for four weeks, with the best response announced shortly afterwards. We look forward to your insights!
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Aug 15th 2011 10:50am
from the i-thought-google-made-us-dumb dept
There had already been reports showing that the average IQ keeps creeping upwards, but many suggested this was because of efforts to bring the bottom half up. That is, over the past few decades we've generally improved the quality of education and especially focused on helping those who struggle, more than in the past. We've also increased educational opportunities for groups that got much less attention in the past. However, there hadn't been much exploration of the top of the curve. Were the smartest getting smarter too? The latest research suggests the answer is absolutely:
The effect was found in the top 5% at a rate similar to the general distribution, providing evidence for the first time that the entire curve is likely increasing at a constant rate. The effect was also found for females as well as males, appears to still be continuing, is primarily concentrated on the mathematics subtests of the SAT, ACT, and EXPLORE, and operates similarly for both 5th and 6th as well as 7th graders in the right tail.Of course, my own initial reaction to the studies about increasing IQ was to wonder if there might be a different factor: the test itself. It's entirely possible that the standards of the test changed and/or people somehow were "teaching to the test." That could still be true of this newest study, but for whatever it's worth, the new study does not rely just on IQ tests, but a variety of different measures, which at least (hopefully) minimizes the impact of the test itself.
Either way, it certainly calls into question the claims of an Idiocracy world, driven by our interactions with modern technology. In fact one hypothesis put forth by researchers is that "the increasing complexity of entertaining" may actually be helping quite a bit here:
The question, of course, is what this stimulation might consist of? It obviously has to be extremely widespread, since the IQ gains exist at the population level. One frequently cited factor is the increasing complexity of entertainment, which might enhance abstract problem solving skills. (As Flynn himself noted, “The very fact that children are better and better at IQ test problems logically entails that they have learned at least that kind of problem-solving skill better, and it must have been learned somewhere.”) This suggests that, because people are now forced to make sense of Lost or the Harry Potter series or World of Warcraft, they’re also better able to handle hard logic puzzles.Of course at this stage, that's nothing but a hypothesis, so I'm hesitant to give it too much credence yet.
If I had to take a wild, flying guess (and yes, I'm saying this is a total guess), I'd wonder if the increase is because we end up communicating much more with other people these days. Some of it is that we communicate textually, rather than verbally, much more often than in the past. So children spend a lot more time with the written word -- even if lots of it is considered silly or banal. However, I believe that intelligence increases the most through the spread and sharing of ideas and conversation. The more you have ideas challenged the more you have to think through the logic of what you're saying and try to improve your arguments and cognition around those ideas. And, just in general, I believe intelligence is mainly expanded through pattern matching and the intersection of new ideas. The more one communicates with others, the more likely you are to hit those sparks of ideas together, and generate that new knowledge and cognition.
I don't know how one would go about studying that, but I'm sure it would make for some fascinating research.