A new and growing body of multidisciplinary research shows that strategic renewal — including daytime workouts, short afternoon naps, longer sleep hours, more time away from the office and longer, more frequent vacations — boosts productivity, job performance and, of course, health.
In the 1950s, the researchers William Dement and Nathaniel Kleitman discovered that we sleep in cycles of roughly 90 minutes, moving from light to deep sleep and back out again. They named this pattern the Basic-Rest Activity Cycle or BRAC. A decade later, Professor Kleitman discovered that this cycle recapitulates itself during our waking lives.
The difference is that during the day we move from a state of alertness progressively into physiological fatigue approximately every 90 minutes. Our bodies regularly tell us to take a break, but we often override these signals and instead stoke ourselves up with caffeine, sugar and our own emergency reserves — the stress hormones adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol. Working in 90-minute intervals turns out to be a prescription for maximizing productivity. Professor K. Anders Ericsson and his colleagues at Florida State University have studied elite performers, including musicians, athletes, actors and chess players. In each of these fields, Dr. Ericsson found that the best performers typically practice in uninterrupted sessions that last no more than 90 minutes. They begin in the morning, take a break between sessions, and rarely work for more than four and a half hours in any given day.
Relax! You’ll Be More Productive
Researchers from John Moores University in the UK tested the effects of afternoon napping on sleep-deprived people. The subjects napped for half an hour just after lunch and then researchers measured their alertness. There have been numerous studies into the effects of power napping, but this one measured heart rates and reflexes as opposed to surveying participants. As per their hypothesis, alertness was significantly higher compared to the non-nappers.
Ze Frank on forging a creative career.
…It’s helpful to understand one of the basic mechanicals of reading: saccades. Instead of moving smoothly across the page when we read, our eyes actually make discrete jumps between words, fixating on one word for a short period of time before making a ballistic movement to another one. We call these movements saccades.”
“But despite their “ballistic” nature, these rapid eye movements actually improve our reading capabilities. While we process the words immediately within our focus, we use the additional information just outside of it to further guide our reading. As readers, our time to comprehension is aided by the context of adjacent words-to the extent that we are often able to automatically process (and thus skip over) shorter functional words like and, the, of, and but.
Just as food companies learned that if they want to sell a lot of cheap calories, they should pack them with salt, fat, and sugar — the stuff that people crave — media companies learned that affirmation sells a lot better than information. Who wants to hear the truth when they can hear that they’re right?
The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption
New Scientist’s Arc Magazine and science fiction author Tim Maughan are proud to announce the online debut of the low budget, experimental short film Paintwork. Set in near-future Bristol – the British city known internationally for spawning Banksy – it follows augmented reality graffiti artist 3Cube as she illegally transforms an all-too familiar advertising billboard into a work of high tech street art, and poses questions about the relationships between technology, advertising and the control of public spaces.
Inkscapes is an interactive drawing performance designed for the 120 by 11 feet video wall at the InterActive Corps (IAC) building in New York.
The content of the installation is dynamic and different every time it runs: three artists create it live, by drawing on an iPad that scales their sketches to the unexpected magnitude of the giant screen. The narrative is guided through the dialog between performers and the system itself, which evolves and transforms the drawings over time.
With Ambient the physical environment becomes an interface to digital information rendered as subtle changes in form, movement, sound, color or light. Current information interfaces are either interruptive or too detailed. For the first time in history, ubiquitous wireless networks can affordably deliver digital information anytime, anywhere. The result for most of us is cacophony. Ambient wants to make the world calmer.
I don’t think I create anything. I’m really serious — I discover the ideas.
If you understand how to think… If you have a background of graphic art, and you are a sports fan, and you’re literate, and you’re interested in politics, and you love opera, and ballet’s not bad either, and if you understand people… and you understand language, and you understand that product, and you understand the competitive products… and you put that all together in about ten minutes — the idea’s there.