On Being Tumblr

On Being Tumblr

On Being with Krista Tippett is a public radio project delving into the human side of news stories + issues. Curated + edited by senior editor Trent Gilliss.

We publish guest contributions. We edit long; we scrapbook. We do big ideas + deep meaning. We answer questions.

We've even won a couple of Webbys + a Peabody Award.

Deb Roy’s TED Talk: The Blossoming of a Speech Form

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

Deb Roy Spaghetti PathsIf you heard our show this week with psycholinguist Jean Berko Gleason, you heard a few excerpts from Deb Roy’s speech at TED about “the birth of a word.” The MIT researcher wired all of the rooms of his house with video cameras and microphones so that he could better understand how his son learned language. During three years, he captured 90,000 hours of video, 140,000 hours of audio totaling about 200 terabytes of data.

Deb Roy Word LandscapesThe social ramifications of this are incredible to think about, and the landscape of where we learn language and the events that create conversation that surfaces in our culture are equally mind-blowing. His research might inform not only how we learn but the values and influence of pivotal players in the development of our local and national conversations.

Here’s the transcript to accompany Deb Roy’s twenty-minute presentation:

Read More


A Twitterscript with Sherry Turkle, Founder of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self

by Susan Leem, associate producer

MIT Professor Sherry TurkleFor 20 years Sherry Turkle has asked unusual questions about the human side of technology. She wants to know how our relationship with devices affects our psychology, and why it is that “we no longer care if we are among life.” She’s referring to our love of gadgets, robots, and the way we obsess over email and smart phones, ultimately giving them highest priority in our social interactions.

Professor Turkle is the Abby Rockefeller Mauze Professor of the Social Studies of Science and the founder and director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self. Her latest book is Alone Together.

We live-tweeted highlights of this 90-minute conversation, which we’re aggregating and posting here for those who weren’t able to follow along. Check out our Twitter stream next time at @BeingTweets.

  1. "There’s a phenomenon where people feel their phone ringings when they’re not. It’s called the phantom ring." - @STurkle 1:09 PM 22 Feb
  2. "Just because we grew up with the internet we think that the internet is all grown up." @STurkle 1:13 PM 22 Feb
  3. "I get very discouraged that we don’t seem to have a taste for stopping and asking how can we make this work for us?"-@STurkle on technology 1:14 PM 22 Feb
  4. "What is intimacy without privacy, what is democracy without privacy?" - @STurkle, author of “Alone Together” - http://bit.ly/cJxjOQ 1:16 PM 22 Feb
  5. "If you don’t teach your children how to be alone, they’ll only always know how to be lonely."-saying in psychology via @STurkle 1:28 PM 22 Feb
  6. "You don’t want to be alone because you can’t think by yourself, you can’t feel by yourself." - @STurkle on growing up with texting, etc. 1:30 PM 22 Feb
  7. "It’s teenagers who say ‘My parents text at the dinner table.’" @STurkle on how children also want sacred spaces. 1:34 PM 22 Feb
  8. @STurkle on rules for adults to create sacred spaces in family- put down the phone at dinner, moment of school pickup and on the playground. 1:40 PM 22 Feb
  9. "The greatest gift you can give your child is to walk out of the house without your phone. Show your child what that looks like!" @STurkle 1:41 PM 22 Feb
  10. "We have to ask ourselves what is served by having an always on, always on you, open to anyone who wants to reach us, way of life."@STurkle 1:43 PM 22 Feb
  11. "I love uses of technology that are positive and hopeful and exciting." - Professor @STurkle author of “Alone Together.” 2:01 PM 22 Feb
  12. "In a human conversation I’m talking to another person who understands the arc of a human life cycle." -@STurkle  2:14 PM 22 Feb
  13. "I don’t need to be right, but I do need to feel as though people understand what I’m trying to communicate." -@STurkle on conversation. 2:16 PM 22 Feb
  14. "Whether or not we want robots caring for our elderly will be one of the most humanistic conversations we’re going to have." -@STurkle 2:17 PM 22 Feb
  15. "This is a corporation, it isn’t your mother, and I think people forget that." -@STurkle on Facebook 2:21 PM 22 Feb
  16. "There’s a whole kind of robotics that’s really going to change the way people see the world." -MIT professor @STurkle  2:23 PM 22 Feb

About the image: Sherry Turkle (photo: Peter Urban)


The Ceaseless Society
Shiraz Janjua, Associate Producer

I’m not going to lie. I’m really enjoying Jon Kabat-Zinn. His Google talk introduced me to some very simple techniques that I’ve been using lately to help me fall asleep faster. Bedtime is when my mind is freed from all restraints, unfortunately. That’s when the hamsters go nuts, and it usually takes me an hour to fall asleep, on average. But just breathing the way Jon Kabat-Zinn shows has helped me bring my ETA to sleep down to about 15 minutes. Joy.

He jokes about how, in the 1960s, while some Westerners were heading off to forest refuges in India to learn to meditate, counterintuitively, he discovered meditation at perhaps the most accomplished technical institute in the world, MIT. Here he is back at MIT in 2006 to talk about the increasingly hectic pace of life in the 21st century. (He gets on stage around the 18:00 minute mark.)

In his conversation with Krista, Jon Kabat-Zinn talks about one aspect of that hectic life: our 24/7 networked reality and the difficulty it poses. In some sense, I think this is going to be a generational thing, a matter of conditioning. But one worthwhile question he asks is, “Who are we going to be without the technology?” I’ve been thinking about this alongside my recent discovery of Ray Kurzweil and his thoughts on the future of human evolution, A.I., and digital networks. I’ll be set to retire around the time the singularity happens in 2045, and by that time, apparently, we might be living in some kind of Matrix society (i.e. lots of trench coats and sunglasses?).

Here I am blogging on the Web about how networked we all are and will continue to be. Well, fine, I can’t escape. The machines have me. OK, time to take a breath. I could choose to be paralyzed by the immensity of the big problems of civilization or the little ones in my life, or I could just…whew…relax a little bit, stop freaking out, and start each day fresh.