Dealing with distraction

In an age of constant information and infinite distractions what can we do to pay more attention and engage, online and in real life?

TEDx video talk in the library – Thursday 15 November, 2 to 4 pm

Sociologist Zeynep Tufekci says ‘We’re building a building a dystopia just to make people click on ads’. Jaron Lanier has a solution to this in his talk ‘How we need to remake the internet’. ‘What exactly is attention and how do we reclaim it?’ asks neuroscientist Amishi Jha in ‘How to tame your wandering mind’ and maybe there’s a simple antidote to all of this as Kio Stark explores in ‘Why you should talk to strangers’.

Where and when

More information, booking your free ticket

  • Eventbrite site
  • Do it the easy way — just tell Rick you want to be there.

The 15 November TEDx videos

We’re building a building a dystopia just to make people click on ads

We’re building an artificial intelligence-powered dystopia, one click at a time, says techno-sociologist Zeynep Tufekci. In an eye-opening talk, she details how the same algorithms companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon use to get you to click on ads are also used to organize your access to political and social information. And the machines aren’t even the real threat. What we need to understand is how the powerful might use AI to control us — and what we can do in response.


How we need to remake the Internet

In the early days of digital culture, Jaron Lanier helped craft a vision for the internet as public commons where humanity could share its knowledge — but even then, this vision was haunted by the dark side of how it could turn out: with personal devices that control our lives, monitor our data and feed us stimuli. (Sound familiar?) In this visionary talk, Lanier reflects on a “globally tragic, astoundingly ridiculous mistake” companies like Google and Facebook made at the foundation of digital culture — and how we can undo it. “We cannot have a society in which, if two people wish to communicate, the only way that can happen is if it’s financed by a third person who wishes to manipulate them,” he says.


How to tame your wandering mind

Amishi Jha studies how we pay attention: the process by which our brain decides what’s important out of the constant stream of information it receives. Both external distractions (like stress) and internal ones (like mind-wandering) diminish our attention’s power, Jha says — but some simple techniques can boost it. “Pay attention to your attention,” Jha says.


Why you should talk to strangers

“When you talk to strangers, you’re making beautiful interruptions into the expected narrative of your daily life — and theirs,” says Kio Stark. In this delightful talk, Stark explores the overlooked benefits of pushing past our default discomfort when it comes to strangers and embracing those fleeting but profoundly beautiful moments of genuine connection.

What we did – June to October 2018

We have been busy!

We have had 30 to 40 people, sometimes more, every Wednesday morning. So posting on this blog has not been top priority. And we don’t do as much photography as we used to, mainly because of the extra admin load dealing with the consent forms, and general GDPR-related uncertainty.

But we have remembered to acknowledge all the volunteers from Benefacto — the list is on the Benefacto volunteers page.

A silver lining, ageing in the 21st century

Are attitudes to ageing keeping up with growing life expectancy?

TEDx video talk in the library – Thursday 8 November, 6 to 8 pm

We take a proper look at what it means to grow older today and how we can make ageing more fulfilling.

In her talk Ashton Applewhite states ‘Let’s end ageism’, Paul Tasner explains ‘How I became an entrepreneur at 66’, Laura Cartensen argues that ‘Older people are happier’, and Susan Pinker suggests that ‘The secret to living longer may be our social life’.

Local initiative Hello Hackney has been introducing seniors to technology as well as providing a social hub. Rick Crust joins us to explain how it works. Sarah Douglas and Hector Dyer from Liminal Space will introduce their research-based project about ageing ‘Unclaimed’ in collaboration with the Wellcome Trust.

Where and when

More information, booking your free ticket

  • Eventbrite site
  • Or you can do it the easy way — just tell Rick you want to be there.

The 8 November TEDx videos

Let’s end ageism

It’s not the passage of time that makes it so hard to get older. It’s ageism, a prejudice that pits us against our future selves — and each other. Ashton Applewhite urges us to dismantle the dread and mobilize against the last socially acceptable prejudice. “Aging is not a problem to be fixed or a disease to be cured,” she says. “It is a natural, powerful, lifelong process that unites us all.”


How I became an entrepreneur at 66

It’s never too late to reinvent yourself. Take it from Paul Tasner — after working continuously for other people for 40 years, he founded his own start-up at age 66, pairing his idea for a business with his experience and passion. And he’s not alone. As he shares in this short, funny and inspirational talk, seniors are increasingly indulging their entrepreneurial instincts — and seeing great success.


Older people are happier

In the 20th century we added an unprecedented number of years to our lifespans, but is the quality of life as good? Surprisingly, yes! Psychologist Laura Carstensen shows research that demonstrates that as people get older they become happier, more content, and have a more positive outlook on the world.


The secret to living longer may be our social life

The Italian island of Sardinia has more than six times as many centenarians as the mainland and ten times as many as North America. Why? According to psychologist Susan Pinker, it’s not a sunny disposition or a low-fat, gluten-free diet that keeps the islanders healthy — it’s their emphasis on close personal relationships and face-to-face interactions. Learn more about super longevity as Pinker explains what it takes to live to 100 and beyond.

Can the government end loneliness with postmen?

On the day that Tracey Crouch announces the UK government strategy to combat loneliness, Hackney elders discuss their own understanding and experiences of loneliness and isolation.

The voices belong to: Andreas, Marylin, Mimi and Sallie.

Recorded 15 October 2018 in the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden, London E8 3DF.

Join us from where you are, next Saturday

An experiment in online gatherings and workshops

Saturday 20 Oct, 2 to 4 pm

An online drop-in?

This is something we have been thinking about for several years. We don’t like the fact that our inclusive drop-in sessions do not include some of the people who most need it – people who are housebound, always or occasionally, for any reason.

What can we do about that?

Can we create an online drop-in that is tied to the real drop-in, so that everybody feels that they belong, everybody feels more connected, and everybody gets help and support if they want it?

Online gatherings with video and sound are not new. Businesses have been doing it for at least 20 years. The technology already works well. It’s available to anyone who has an Internet connection (at home or anywhere else) and a device with a video camera and a microphone. That’s a lot of people. The challenge is learning how to make it work for everybody who visits the IT drop-in, and everybody who cannot.

Right now, it’s not obvious how we could include housebound IT beginners. That’s a goal we should work towards, from where we are now – a plausible starting point, which we think could be Hangouts Meet.

Piloting Hangouts Meet

Learners on our recent mini-course G Suite apps helped to test Hangouts Meet, which we can offer as a free resource for chat, information and learning. Of course, we couldn’t test it fully because we were all in the same room! But it seems to have everything we need: business-level privacy, designed for regular scheduled sessions at which everyone can get to know everyone else, good sound quality over wifi (reasonable video too), the ability to break out to smaller group chats, participants can create their own sessions if they want to, and even the possibility of running online workshops.

So the next step is to pilot it — schedule a date and time for an open online session in which nearly everybody will be somewhere else, probably at home. We hope you can find time next Saturday to join an experimental session. Details below …

Help us test an online drop-in

  • Sat 20 October, 2 to 4 pm (it’s a drop-in, so start and finish as you please).
  • It should work on most smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers.
  • If you have an account at gmail.com, seniors.org.uk or bold.org.uk – sign in to that first.
  • Then follow this link: meet.google.com/efr-jqdz-coi

More information?

If you would like more information about this idea, please email helpteam@hellohackney.net

If you would like help with your equipment, or maybe even try a dummy run, please come to one of our four drop-in sessions this week.

Silver Sunday, 7 October

A special event for Hackney’s over 50’s

A message from the Speaker of Hackney …

Sunday 7th October, 1pm – 4pm,
Hackney Town Hall – Assembly Rooms


Sunday 7th October is Silver Sunday and events will be taking place across the UK to celebrate older people.

We are inviting Hackney’s over 50’s to join us for a sing-a-long event at Hackney Town Hall. There will be a performance by the Hackney Empire Community Choir and plenty of opportunity for everyone to join in and sing a mix of songs together.

The event is free to Hackney residents aged over 50 (tickets are available for carers of any age) and there will also be refreshments, goodie bags and a raffle.

To book tickets, contact Eda on 020 8356 3591 or email speaker@hackney.gov.uk