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.

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.

St Mary’s Secret Garden

Paula Yassine, manager of St. Mary’s Secret Garden, leads a conversation about gardening and wellbeing.

The voices belong to: Dane, Megan, Paula, Rick, Sallie. Six other people were part of the discussion, but are not heard on this episode.

Recorded 1 June 2018. 38 minutes.

Links

Pets against loneliness

Our episode blurb

Our Hello Hackney guest is Lyn Ambrose, who has just launched a new community project: Pets Against Loneliness (PAL).

Lyn’s vision: “We are a group of volunteers bringing together older members of the community who may feel isolated, with well-behaved dogs and their owners, for the purposes of joy and the alleviation of loneliness for all”.

Lyn is not here just to talk. She is here to listen to your ideas on how to make the project work.

Do you think this is a great idea? Do you know anyone who might like to go to PAL activities? Do you know anything about animals (not just dogs)? Would you like to be a PAL volunteer?

What we did

PAL founder Lyn Ambrose and PAL volunteer Nick gave us a succinct overview of the project, what they have done so far, and what they hope to achieve in future. The conversation was about human society, not just abut dogs and other animals. We think this episode has captured the essence of their vision.

The voices belong to: Andreas, Cornelia, Evelyn C, Irene, Liz W, Lyn (PAL), Mimi, Nick (PAL), Rick and Walter.

Recorded 23 March 2018. 38 minutes.

PAL – contact info

PAL – where and when

  • New Unity Unitarian Church, 39a Newington Green, N16 9PR
  • First Saturday of each month, 10 to 12 noon.

The You and Me Principle

… putting forward a practical vision of a place where “meaningful relationships are the central operating principle” and setting out a route map for reaching it.

This is a transcript of a discussion led 12 March 2018 by social innovator David Robinson. He discusses nearly everything that seems to be going wrong in the world we live in — and then offers a credible way forward — how to make it right again. The relationships are not just between people. They are relationships between people and business, people and government, people and organisations, people and institutions — the weak and failing relationships that result in isolation and loneliness — the phone calls that never get answered.

It’s all on one web page. Click on the button below …

Visit The You and Me Principle

“You have to look after yourself”

Hackney elders continue their conversation about social isolation – drawing particularly on the experiences of older carers.

When speakers refer to ‘here’ or ‘this place’, they mean the Wednesday morning drop-in and the Friday afternoon podcast.

The voices belong to service users and volunteers at the Hackney 50+ Drop-in: Anita, Irene, Mimi, Rick, Sallie, Zena.

Recorded 16 February 2018. 26 minutes

Take part in the BBC Loneliness Experiment

An invitation from BBC All in the Mind presenter, Claudia Hammond …

We all feel lonely at certain points in our lives, but for some people that loneliness becomes chronic.

To help us discover who feels lonely and what can be done to help them feel more connected, we’d like as many people as possible to take part in the BBC Loneliness Experiment.

Whether or not you feel lonely at the moment, we’d love to hear from you.

If you can spare the time, we’d be very grateful, because the more people who take part, the better picture we can get of loneliness in society today and how to tackle it in the future.

Visit the BBC Loneliness Experiment