What is contemplative computing?

  • Contemplative computing may sound like an oxymoron, but it's really quite simple. It's about how to use information technologies and social media so they're not endlessly distracting and demanding, but instead help us be more mindful, focused and creative.

    My book on contemplative computing, The Distraction Addiction, was published by Little, Brown and Co. in 2013, and is available in bookstores and online. This 2011 talk is a good introduction to the project and its big ideas.

About Alex Soojung-Kim Pang

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Edward Vielmetti

Alex -

Three things come to mind when computers try to forget.

There's the notion of "garbage collection", when unwanted memory is reclaimed. That process relies on a way of marking unwanted (computer) memory as forgettable.

Computers also have the notion and defect of a "memory leak", where unwanted memory accumulates in a state where it's taking up space but not really doing anything.

When memory does go bad in a computer world, it's "bitrot" - think about old tapes that have glitch errors, or more importantly old computer programs that have a hard time digesting new formats of data.

The worrisome aspect of computer memory is its binary nature, where a single transient glitch can render mass storage unreadable, and so rather than the healthy forgetting of the human brain you get sudden unrecoverable failure.

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