Nomological Net

Stray thoughts from here and there. The occasional concern for construct validity. No more logic. Fish.

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faults in the clouds of delusion

Monday, November 06, 2006

url, interrupted

It's been nearly a week now that I've had access problems with blogger. Most blogs have been taking minutes at a time to load, and a maddeningly high proportion of attempts have ended with error messages. Or the browser has just frozen, while "reading" or "waiting for reply", or "on vacation in Siberian Ice Chamber" or something like that.

Even more infuriating has been the fact that I haven't been able to access my own blog to upload stuff. Not even text. The other evening I had this nice idea with a few slanted photos. Two hours of my life later, all I had was the knowledge that this page was empty. Then there have been a couple of ideas for music posts -- one which I promised last time with the hold your hand in mine, and another one that suggested itself to me at a website today. The first can't exist without the music, and the second would be greatly improved with it. Neither worked, because odeo went walkabye on me. (I'm so mad I won't even link to them right now.) And it's not for want of trying -- what a waste of time.

Anyway, it's kind of tautological when I put it this way, but it's funny how blogging increases one's dependence on the internet. I've been getting my news online for a while now anyway, but this is about more than that. It's about entertainment. These last few days have signaled to me that not being able to post when and what I want to post matters to me. And the fact that I wasn't able to post makes me think about it all the more.

I'll tell you why that too is not that interesting, really, if you look at it in context. The last few days I've been reading up on some background material for a paper I'm working on. One of the topics touched upon is rumination -- conscious thoughts that revolve around a common theme and recur despite the absence of any relevant environmental cues. Most models of rumination agree that these recurrent thoughts happen due to some discrepancy between the way the world is and the way we want it to be. Generally, progress towards a given goal generates positive feelings, while absence of progress, or even slowing down, generates negative feelings. And where there's a discrepancy it's possibly being either reduced or increased. All of which, put together, means that when you're not where you want to be and you're sitting on your behind not being able to do anything about it there's a decent chance you're thinking doleful thoughts about it.

It doesn't have to be all doom and gloom, though. Rumination is "adaptive", which means to say it has some positive consequences. One way of thinking about it is that one must have a way of knowing which of ones goals are currently unsatiated, and our minds keep thoughts associated with these unsatisfied goals activated rather than stashed away off the backest burner. The first evidence of this interesting effect came from the Russian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik in 1927. The story goes that it occurred to her while observing waiters at a restaurant -- they only seemed to remember orders they took while the order was in process, forgetting them as soon as they were delivered. Experimentally, she got people to carry out simple tasks such as counting beads and listing cities, and then interrupted them at various points. She found that when asked to recall these tasks at a later point, people remembered more of the interrupted tasks than the completed ones. Other researchers have over the years zeroed in on this phenomenon over the intervening years -- today, this we know from nothing. The point is that ruminative thoughts keep us alert to our unsatisfied goals, thereby increasing the chances that we attend to them at some point.

Of course, it's not that we need reminding of some of our unsatisfied goals. Many of us could do just fine without the extra stimulus. And that's why we try to distract ourselves, with opiates such as television and alcohol, especially when major goals remain uncompleted and impending failure looms large -- be it in the near future or the past, however distant. I guess that's what is irritating me the most about this stupid blogger block. It started as an idle distraction, soon graduating to the rank of mild opiate. It's fun. I like posting. It helps take my mind off work, so I could even argue there's a medical benefit (it keeps me sane...)

But why in bleeding misery will it not let me upload?

14 Comments:

Blogger MockTurtle said...

Maybe you could write your blog thoughts into Word docs and store them on your desktop until Blogger comes back to life so you can post them en masse. That may help with the feeling of incompleteness.

11/07/2006 2:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Today access is normal again, at home and at work... and life is normal again.

Funny -- a month ago I hadn't set up a feed reader, 2 months ago I didn't have a blog and I still don't use my gmail account for anything useful. Addiction happens fast.

mt - yes I always type my text into a text editor (not word docs, thanks...) before pasting into blogger. I assumed most people do that, except for very short posts...

11/07/2006 2:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

unrepress the rebellion, jump to wordpress.

capitalism within human vein? oh yeah!

11/07/2006 5:43 AM  
Blogger Old Spice said...

When I start blogging again - now that I've done what I needed to do, I can do what I've wanted to - I'm fairly certain I'm heading to wordpress. It seems cleaner. It has a built in blogroll (albeit one that doesn't update). I think I can do what I want to, there. It's not overloaded. Think about it.

From the dude formerly known as The Graduate

11/07/2006 6:56 AM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

mt:
ha! that sounds like my strategy for writing research articles :-)

on a more serious note, that wouldn't work for uploading audio, and probably not for pictures as well, right?

rahul:
hmmm, i'll try again tonight then. let's see.

anonymous:
nice wordplay, but why the shill? unveil thyself; lest credibility take flight.

old spice:
woo hoo, you're back on the rounds again. now you guys have me thinking about migrating -- WAY more thought than blogging ever called for.

11/07/2006 9:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tabula Rasa,

No blog, No shill-ings; Enjoy reading. But, hrd raves on wordpress from people around.

And apologies on the anonymity and maybe a causative wee bit of irritablity. But then,

Irritability predisposed to ones perceived disposition; Alter disposition and irritability takes flight.

:)

btw, a nice study by the russian psychologist! Have experienced it, but never actually came to that realization. So...guess I learned something today. :) Thx!

- IAT

11/07/2006 4:30 PM  
Blogger Brazen Head said...

Hey, I thought I was the only one having problems. Have been so immersed in real life that I had sort of let the blog world lapse for a few days. But you are right when you are right.

11/07/2006 6:11 PM  
Blogger sattva said...

mt, i find it most frustrating when i can't post due to some crap technological reason that i don't even get. even when just writing text, saving it in word doesn't make me feel much better..i have to "post it" :)

and it's funny how a random distraction becomes such a desirable habit!

11/07/2006 7:19 PM  
Blogger the flying monkeys said...

How are you? This kind of thing frustrates me a little bit. If you are wondering where I may have been...check out this new

11/07/2006 7:21 PM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

iat:
apologies for irritability communicated; none intended. glad you liked the zeigarnik story. but now i'm guessing your initials don't stand for what i'd thought they did (a way cool screen name, if that were indeed the case).

brazen head:
i guess that indeed is the case, whether by design or not.

sattva:
three excellent points. i couldn't agree more on all of them.

tfm:
welcome back! but of course, the link you posted leads me to "Not Found. The requested URL was not found on this server." i can't help laughing at the appropriateness of this :-D

11/08/2006 12:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

u guessed it right.

I took the test. And as catchy as it sounds, it isn't all that cool once done! Maybe, I missed something.

or maybe, u've more info on it?

- IAT

11/08/2006 5:52 AM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

iat:
it's probably not very cool as an online test, but it's a very useful technique in experimental psychology, and it certainly is a wonderful screen name. in my eyes, anyway. implicitly.

11/08/2006 8:50 PM  
Blogger kundalini said...

"rumination" has been widely explored in spirituality specially by western psychologists who have sought and found answers there. check up on howard cutler, if you like.

11/09/2006 7:10 PM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

ya, i've heard of howard cutler. he isn't really a psychologist.

11/10/2006 1:06 AM  

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