Friday, October 16, 2009

The hidden pleasure of Zero-Sum Games


As Soccer World Cup finals are rounding up, it's this great time of the year when Uruguayans get together to suffer one more time on the hope of being able to re-enact those glorious years of 1930's and 1950's Soccer World Cup.

Living outside the country gave me the opportunity to look at the spectacle of the last Uruguay-Argentina qualifier round from a different perspective. My sister on skype described for me a country where every person was glued to the TV, nobody in the streets, no exceptions! At that time it hit me! Argentina being very similar to Uruguay, was for sure doing the same exact thing at the same exact time. I could picture the two countries following this one event that would define the country that would have an opportunity at the World Cup. It downed to me how sad it was that no matter what, that night, one of those two nations would be massively happy and the other would be massively sad. There was no way around it. Of course there was not! Soccer is a Zero-Sum Game and as the name proclaims the outcome for the total system will inevitably be Zero.

Oh well, as Argentina has approximately 11 times more population than Uruguay, I guess more people were happy than sad in the end that day ... Thinking deeper, if you tried to take away this game from either Uruguayans or Argentinians might as well kill them ... so I started realizing that even in a game where the score is definitely a Zero-Sum Game, the experience must be positive in some ways that are hard for me to understand, both because I'm ADD and can't follow the ball in a TV screen and because I'm hopelessly geek (if your definition of geek doesn't include nerd, please add nerd here).

Anyway, I really hoped that someone had explained to me this Zero-Sum Game concept when I was 4 (even when I wouldn't understand negative numbers by that time, the concept is graspable I think). It did have a great impact in my life understanding this.

Also, wanted to share some Non-Zero-Sum Games that I enjoyed lately:


[via Diana in FB]


[via Enrique in FB]


[via Andres in real life]

In addition, I found this TED video by Robert Wright (author of Non-Zero, The Logic of Human Destiny). Very interesting acid humored video with a great recount of evolution and makes a point regarding cultural evolution and the arrowed evolution of morality which I totally agree too. Even more, he states that technology has a positive role and effect in the direction of morality's evolution, a question I asked myself before and couldn't quite dig.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Conversations we have


Some time ago, I started paying attention to the conversations that I have with other people. Sort of a pattern started arising at some point. Eventually I realized there are three types of conversations people have:

1. Casual conversations. These are the conversations about the weather, local or global headline news, about things that are happening around us now, about things we've done, are doing in the present or we want to do in the future. It's a very healthy level of conversation to have with people that we don't know: street, elevator, bus, train, market. The main subject of these type of conversations are things.

2. Personal conversations. These are conversations about what is happening on my life and my close ones. It's more appropriate to have these type of conversations with people that know each other. The main subject of these type of conversations are people and things that are happening to people. There are different levels of personal conversations. There's the lower side of it where people are talking mostly about facts of what's going on their lives and going up in the pyramid there's the ones in which people are talking about how they feel about things that are happening to them and their closest ones, to finally the upper level in which people are analyzing the reasons behind things and trying to draw conclusions, mirror the other person's situation or identify patterns and relationships among those personal experiences.

3. Conceptual conversations. Conceptual conversations are about ideas, concepts. They're abstract representations or interpretations of reality or fantasy, inventions or any other type of creations. These type of conversations are more scarce and they are the basis/responsible for human advances in different areas. Some examples of this type of conversation would be when you're talking about religion, politics, science, social issues, projects, inventions, theories, laws, principles, etc.

There's not a right or wrong way to have your conversations, although there's probably a trend. There seem to be a strong correlation between these conversations pyramid and Maslow's pyramid of human needs. I believe as people go up in Maslow's pyramid they also go up on the conversations they have.

It's a great experiment to start observing what type of conversations we have and how we feel about them. I think part of what actually got me thinking on all of this was that I was starting to feel very frustrated when people I know would spend all of our encounter's time on casual conversations or barely brushing on personal ones.

I personally love casual conversations as they allow me to interact with unknown people around the world which is a very basic need for me as well as for the other party. I choose to spend most of my time with people I know talking personal or conceptual conversations. Usually when I meet a friend I like to move fairly quickly from casual to personal, cover all the basis, and if everything is pretty clear on the personal side for both me and my friend I often love to indulge myself as well into conceptual conversations.


It's probably arguable that there is more meaning going up on the pyramid, and it's also probably not really showing proportions very accurately as maybe the pyramid we should be drawing would be more like the creators, synthesizers and consumers pyramid than the one pictured here.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Don't forget health care


It's hard to believe but this was the long due and forgotten third bullet point back in 1992 during Clinton's campaign:

1. Change vs. more of the same. It looks like we got that one!
2. The economy, stupid. You've got to be really stupid not to notice this one by now ...
3. Don’t forget health care. This one doesn't seem so obvious. This is part of the right to live or how is it not part of the right to live?

I'd add a forth one: Don't forget education!! Coming from a country were the educational principles of education being free (all the way including universities), mandatory and religious-free, it looks like there's a lot to accomplish there too. Especially when the world is changing and education is big time stagnated.

It is time for Health care for all. Don't forget health care!

Twitter: "It's the search, stupid"



For all of you that are wondering, why do I need this Twitter thing? and what is the big deal about knowing what other people had for breakfast? or thinking, I'll never come back to this Twitter in a zillion years... think again!

Here's a little different perspective of why Twitter is indeed so relevant and it will just become more and more relevant overtime.

Did you think that Twitter was a life streaming service? Well ... it is! but what it is really becoming is a huge index for web content organized by time, social closeness and geographical data. So, what do you get in the end? A search engine, even when we don't see it like that for now. That's where it's going and that's what it will become for the majority of users that are not necessarily content generators but content consumers.

We have to remember that users will follow the 1:10:100 rule as far as content creation, a trend that might be changing with younger generations but is still very true as of today. This rule would basically tell us that every 100 "content consumer" users that will be out there just reading tweets, following others and searching there will be 10 that are "synthesizers" mostly doing re-tweets and hollow posts (no links to new web content or no relevant content on their own) and only 1 will be actually "creators" generating tweets that index relevant pages created on the web or have original text content of their own. Right now, twitter users are mostly in the synthesizers and creators groups (1:10) and the big consumers group (100) is usually not enticed enough to stay. Those consumers are the people that signed up, checked it out, thought useless/boring/time waste and forgot about it ... But, things will change.

Search will be refined, like it just was by adding location, and it'll become more evident and user friendly. Content will have more metadata attached, which in the end is search engine material, so search results can be more relevant. Content will continue to grow and expand. And, sooner or later, the consumers group, the 100 group, which is the mainstream group as well, will start finding utility in searching, discovering and using twitter information. The index will work for them, and they'll be the new twitter fans.

Here are the reasons why, twitter it's all about search:

1. Tweets are 140-char link indexes.
Tweets do link the web. Most everything that is being produced on the net right now such as blog posts, web site pages, other tweets, facebook updates (soon to come) are linked by tweets. Tweets are pointing to everything that is happening on the web as it happens. That's where the 140 characters limitation worked a miracle by generating new habits of synthesizing an idea and linking to the expanded content which creates the super web index that twitter is becoming.

2. Relevance by freshness, social closeness and geo-location.
The user in the present moment is or could be at the center of the search experience in twitter. I could search by freshness or time relevance and I assume with time they could be allowing me to actually search for tweets in the future or past in addition to the precious now. Also, I could search within the global twitterverse as well as I could be searching within my own network of who I decide to follow. Recently enabled was the search by physical location which brings into the picture incredible extra ways in which searchs can be profiled.

3. Social built-in.
Twitter started as a social network, a flexible one, much more open than others like Facebook, but the social component of being able to say these are the people I care for is there and that might be key in the future of how they cater search. This is a key component of the viral behavior twitter generates. Once data portability is implemented, as it most likely will be, you could post in twitter for only your group of friends or for all your followers and be much on control of how you share/stream your data.

Update: found this great article about this same subject back in Feb 09.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Twitter enables geo-location for tweets


Twitter announced couple days ago one of the smartest moves that they could have possibly done. They will be adding latitude and longitude to their tweets. The first step will be through their API so that all the applications in the twitterverse can post tweets with location. In the future they'll also allow it from their own channels.

Why is this so powerful?
This addition totally deepens the gap between traditional web search and real time geo search. There is an ongoing battle in the search world and Twitter is already beating the traditional search when it comes to real time events. If you wanted to know information about Michael Jackson, a political movement in Iran or an earthquake happening right now somewhere in the world you definitely would benefit much more from searching in twitter than doing so in Google or bing.
The geographical search will bring one more layer to our virtual world. Now, not only can you ask twitter what's happening right now around some tag words, but you could also limit the scope to some particular geographical area.

Our syncing between the real and digital world will have location connection in addition to time connection once this technology is widely adopted as it will.
I believe it actually will bring closer our digital and real worlds ...
It's like if our virtual worlds were hanging out there in a time mesh and in the short future the mesh will be attached by infinity of points to the face of Earth. Maybe I'm being to matrixy here, but that's what I think will happen ;)


As GPS enabled devices are becoming more mainstream this kind of search will become very important. This is the connection in real time and in situ. This is revolutionary! We'll open many other ways of doing things because of this new geo-layer and it makes total sense that Twitter will be at the heart of it all.

Other than navigation tools, GPS has been pretty secluded for niche applications seldom used massively. With twitter geo-location addition plus the ubiquity of mobile devices with integrated GPS we'll see an explosion of new uses for location based applications. I can see it being used for sharing during events such as concerts, congresses, conventions, exploring new friends/hangouts/dates, getting discounts/coupons/sales information as you are at stores or malls, emergency uses of all sorts, etc.

There's obviously a great business model behind this new Twitter feature, as once you have location targeted ads become a must. Foursquare actually already uses them in some capacity.

Note: This was one of the first times that I learned about this by twitter before than blogs ...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Two shooting stars


My last night's insomnia turned for the good when Google reminded me that the Perseids were peeking today around 4:00am. As a side note, I never saw the Google logo sooo nice. Too bad it was already 4:38 when I found out, plus the moon was out, Temecula was pretty bright and the sun raising orange light was starting to show up.

Still, I managed to see two pretty good shooting starts close to Orion constellation. (I didn't expect to see them there, not enough time to research though).

Orion, Hiades and Pleyades (my very favorite constellation) were aligned almost with the Moon, it was a nice night out there. Of course mosquitoes started to bother me too and it was time to say: Mission accomplished!

If you didn't catch this one, you still can give it a shot tonight and a few more nights ...

Note: stargazers, my fav website for star related matters, seems to be down, apparently they couldn't escalate after some online newspapers mentioned them.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Touchable Holography

Very cool, from University of Tokyo, Holographic image that you can feel:

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Beware: Nintendo Dsi creates zombies!



As happy as I was when Santa got us the Nintendo Wii as much as I regret the moment I got the Nintendo DSi for my girls. They're just hooked. They never are ready to turn them off. They have to take them everywhere. You talk to them and they don't respond. It's crazy. They wake up and the first thing they think of is their DSi. They have been turned into zombies! I want my daughters back!!

Don't buy your kids DSis. Don't say you weren't warned ...

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Earth's mood

As most of us are twitting (or equivalent) as one day we will, it'd be really cool to have a web page that shows Earth's mood through analyzing twitter's posts.

I can imagine an application that would be graphically live, constantly moving to reflect the happiness/sadness of twitter posts in general or for a particular tag. Like a screen saver kind of thing where we can see the top and bottom fronts of the screen advancing into the white neutral area as posts are classified as: happy/hopeful, neutral or sad/angry/fearful.

Marvin Minksy's speculates in his "The emotion machine" book that out of every millions of thoughts we make up one emotion that stands out as our conscious feeling of choice for the moment. So, in the same way, the net every millions of posts would come up with a feeling of choice and it would be wonderful to have an image reflect that instantaneously with its subtle variations every second as new posts pop in.

There are many attempts already of figuring out the mood of either one twitter account or one keyword:

. Twitter mood reader graphics the mood of a given twitter account based on words associated with good or bad mood, anything else would be neutral.
. Smiley Twitter tracks the happy and sad sentiments around a given keyword based on emoticons :( :)
. Twitter Sentiment seems to have more an statistical approach kind of trends. Their algorithm seems pretty intelligent and it accepts feedback from users which might indicate it has some capability to learn.
. There's even a "make your own twitter mood tracker with Ruby" guide (emoticon based).

Hypnotized by fire? Just imagine this: add some music and relax in front of a screen to watch Earth's mood ... that would be pretty cool!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Holy Grail of the Net: The OS


Digg and Bit.ly almost got it right. The web is a fast growing mass of information as we all become broadcasters instead of mere receivers. How can we make sense of this humongous mass of data/information? Until we build an intelligence larger than our own, we'll harness our existing intelligence. Like Kevin Kelly said, we are a hive mind. And what's most precious in a hive mind? The swarms. Detecting the swarms is the holy grail.

Google did it for a while, as long as many people are linking to something, that something becomes relevant. That worked for a while, when things were slower on the net and less people were broadcasters. But, this is not enough for today's world. Twitter made that clear. As Michael Welsh magnifiscently expressed in his "Web 2.0 - The machine is us/ing us" video we are teaching the machine. Not only with links but with twitter re-directions, re-twits, social network buzz, and many other new ways to come.

How can we harness our own intelligence to detect the hive's top swarms? Well, so far we tried many ways. Digg.com was very successful for a while using crowdsourcing and having people to digg news they considered relevant. Bit.ly is going one step further by analyzing the statistics on the shared links and trying to make sense of the most "organically" digged news. These partial ways of measuring instant web activity can have limited success.

Who is always there witnessing all of our web activity? 99.9999% of our web activity is witnessed by The Browser.

Google knows this better than anybody else. They know their current system of detecting relevance by the links is not keeping up with the future of the web. The main reason for that being that they need to poll (crawl) the web in order to find new activity, new data. This is a highly inefficient method, no matter how powerful you are, you will always be one step behind. It needs to reverse the direction of where data is coming. It needs data to push into their databases -not to be pulled.

Google had a first attempt at getting to this data when they launched "your slice of the web", web history, back in April 07. But that was not nearly enough and people's adoption of the little toolbar (which was one of the great things to do before having your own browser) just didn't happen. At that time I was wondering why hasn't a browser itself done this: "I used to wonder about why a browser itself wouldn't have done this before. If someone knew all the sites someone was visiting, that was naturally the browser." (a little ego rush for me, gosh, that was almost vision ;).

So, what's next? It's very obvious, the next thing is The Browser. And sure enough, Google did it! In September 2008, Google launched Chrome. If you thought Chrome was about competing with Internet Explorer and competing against Microsoft, you got that one wrong. Chrome is about competing with twitter and all the next things that might capture the swarms which in the end is the holy grail of the web. It's search becoming instanstaneous, something Google can't miss on. TechCrunch has a glimpse of this problem on their post "The Real Time Search Dilemma: Consciousness versus Memory".

But, with the spreading of the Netbook Google had an incredible double opportunity, and of course they took it! Not only would they be able to make their browser user's base expand but also by becoming a platform they would be able to go beyond the web, capture the net itself. So, sure enough again, in July 2009, Google promises to deliver the Google Chrome OS by the second half of 2010. It you thought Chrome OS was about competing against Microsoft, think again. In my opinion, that is only a side effect, a by-product. The holy grail of The Net is the OS as the holy grail of the Web is The Browser.

The mobile market being one of the fastest and ubiquitous markets out there was not left out of the plan, Android will deliver the stats for the mobile world.

This is the future of search. No bing, twitter or no other little application will hardly be able to overcome and/or acquire this advantage. Anybody else is behind, because Google has a brilliant master plan, and it's executing the plan in an accurate way with extreme expedite targeted deliveries without missing one opportunity.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Social Transparency


One of the most striking characteristics of the web, which I think was almost one of the most important ones in it's adoption as well as fast evolution is: transparency that leads to hackability. I actually wrote something about it in the past that had some nice little idea inside regarding sharing chunks of server side code.

I still remember the feeling when after years of programming in the dark, times changed and the web opened the curtains and we could see from the back door. It was great! You could go to a web site, see something you liked, hack it, re-mix it and make it your own so that others could hack it as well. That level of exposition, of transparency was later on less important as people starting to openly share their code and their tricks in the web itself, but it all started with parts of the code being open for everybody to see.

Hackability is becoming an extending concept growing to other areas such as product design with demands of hackability.

Right now, I'm getting kind of the same feeling from the social networking side of the web. It is very special to have access to the social dimension of people that sometimes we knew in another capacity, or were not even that close to start with, or people that we had completely lost touch with.

This open window into other person's lives is impacting us in profound ways. I guess most of us have a normal tendency to show the best of ourselves out to the public. Some people think of this as faking it. The way I see it, people are not faking, they're just exercising being the best they can be. Potentially this habit of "being nice" will involve most of our time as most of our activities will start involving this social networking dimension.

As habit becomes being ... eventually, technology -through transparency- will make us better.

In relation with this subject,
Blown to bits seems to be a promising book on the future of privacy, identity and personal control in this new era where social networking is around (haven't gotten it yet). [via Dusan@scrumdesk]

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Disintermediation


After reading "Is Amazon Taking Over the Book Business?" by Time Magazine I was left thinking a lot about how the economy is changing and where it might be going.

Historically, the book industry would be a long supply chain. In order for a book to be published there used to be a myriad of roles involved: agent, editor, publisher, printer and bookstore.

Now, we're seeing Amazon, the clear market leader in their sector, starting to absorb more and more of those roles. In Time's article words: "Amazon could become the LiveNation of the book world, a literary ecosystem unto itself: agent, editor, publisher, printer and bookstore. It probably will."

My first reaction usually is to try to extrapolate, and so I did. And my next question was: Are we witnessing the disintermediation of the economy as we become digital? Disintermediation defined by wikipedia as "the removal of intermediaries in a supply chain: 'cutting out the middleman'".

I believe this is a trend that will continue. For the music industry this Harvard article around Michael Jackson's story does bring up the point of how the music industry is broken. It actually refers you to a video on the Zombieconomy which is pretty cool and describes how capitalism itself is broken. An the reason it's basically broken is that capitalism is based on intermediaries under-counting (and minimizing) costs and over-counting (maximizing) benefits.

From this perspective, disintermediation seems good. Now, can things begin looking better as the industry is shaping towards giant almost monopolistic software companies aggregating markets? I believe they do. How? The way I see it, there are two advantages to how in the long term disintermediation (even if monopolistic) induces a new economy:

1. It's easier that it becomes more obvious to people the fact that one unique company is holding the holly grail for a hole vertical market.
2. It's easier to reproduce this model by the people itself by launching open source software cooperatively operated counterparts.

The way I see the future going is that disintermediation is the natural evolution of capitalism in the digital era and it paves the road for "massintermediation" (would that be the right name?) which would be the people for the people cutting off the intermediaries up to their last chain's link.

It's specially interesting to see what will happen when you threw in other digital era properties such as the net's transaparency that would allow for cooperation in a clear fair way.

There are already out there organizations such as Free Software Foundation founded by MIT professors working their way into open source software with new ethics.

I'm probably projecting too far away and I'm not saying this will happen tomorrow. Just thoughts in the collective mind ...

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Programming for Kids


This summer we enrolled Nicole in a Programming for Kids 4 day camp for 9 to 13 years old.
It was really cool, I loved the way teachers framed it.
What they did is give them tons of different tools in a way that each kid could find what was more appealing to them.

They started with the old logo turtle, a classic. It's great, it gives the kid the clear concept of commanding the computer to do something and right away seeing the results. UC Berkley Logo. Download at: http://www.eecs.berkeley.edu/~bh/

Next they went through Just Basic, I guess just so kids know how yucky programming can get ;) Download at: http://justbasic.com/

Then, they explored Cow Maze, a german web based game that teaches kids to think like a computer. In Nicole's words "addictive".

The Second day they got to the star of the course: scratch! This MIT created software and web community is the coolest tool for kids to do real programming that feels like a game. The hackability of the community makes it very powerful as they can download projects from other kids, remix them and upload them. Inspiring!!

Later on the class they explored Alice which didn't totally do it for Nicole ... The teachers were so cool as to mention Randy Paulsch's Last Lecture (to parents) as he was a part of the Alice's team.

Last day of class they showed the kids StarLogo TNG and Greenfoot, I guess those were a little on top of my daughter's head at this time. This tool is best suited for kids in the 13 to 16 age range.

Also, they explored linerider.com and fantasticcontraption.com.

All in all, a great experience and a great introduction to programming!!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A twitter's user impression


As I still find myself intrigued by the whole twitter concept I found a twit by Kevin Marks that might be summarizing it a bit:

"Google is a signal of intent answered by a machine; Twitter is a signal of emotion answered by a person."

I've got to admit I still don't get it 100%, after years of attempts to use twitter, but I have a glimpse of what it could be doing for people. The way I see it, it's the closest we are getting to being a hyper connected neural net of human brains broadcasting our every minute of existence for others to tune in.

The other thing that it's clearly confirming is that technology adoption gets hugely accelerated by two means:
1. fan's viral spread - social networks have this property intrinsically built-in
2. accessibility- open platforms/standards allowing the industry to build applications/devices around one technology, which automatically gets you business partners. Can you believe the incredible amount of applications built on top of twitter?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sports and evolution


Evolution made humans' nature to reward movement. Recent studies show that our brains and bodies are built to reward physical activity and motion. It makes sense, as everything else in biologic evolution, that physical activity is rewarded as it was a great means for survival. Our whole body is wired for that kind of survival abilities.

In today's world though, it's a total annoyance for most people and it becomes just something we know we HAVE to artificially DO. You need to exercise, you need all this physical activity, to be both in good body and mind shape. We try to convince ourselves that we need it, and that it's good for us, and even our brain produces pleasure chemicals as you do it, but deep inside your body knows it's a huge waste of energy and you have to drag yourself to your next gym trip. The same way your body knows it's a great waste of energy to eat a salad compared with the calories you get in return, we can try and lie to ourselves but deep inside our bodies know better.


The only solution I see to this increasing dilemma is genetic engineering. The gap between the thousands of years of evolution going in one direction, and the accelerated world-changing pace of our current technology evolution only can be closed by genetic manipulation.

Of course, genetic manipulation is the answer to many other much more important questions -health issues being probably the most outstanding ones- but for right now, I'm just trying to make up an excuse so I don't have to buy into the exercise thing so much ;)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Cellphone charger standard


Like Time magazine would say "shockinly predictable" and we could add "forever expected" there was a major agreement (not including Apple so far) to use the Micro-USB as the cellphone charger standard.

I applaud this measure and also I am a big fan of standards in general. The big winner is the user!!

So many standards to follow ... notebook chargers come to mind ...

My life without caffeine (2nd part)


Back in August I started the little experiment My life without caffeine - 21 day caffeine free.

It kind of is time for an update on that after a few more months ...

I basically never went back to diet coke or coke. I did nevertheless went to Monster, RedBull and Mountain Dew a few times over the last months. Usually I noticed a correlation between that inoffensive occasional drink and being super dragged and tired in the next few days, of course really needing caffeine badly, although I usually wouldn't go back to it right away and the feeling would go away soon.

At my last PGA show in January, things got a little out of control. The preceding days to the show energy drinks followed sleepless nights in preparation for the show. After the show energy drinks followed sleepless nights in celebration of the show. The result? I was trashed for couple weeks after all was done and finished. Blame it just on the sleepless nights themselves or in the energy drinks caffeine withdraw process. Even for myself it sounds like too much talking about caffeine withdraw, but that surely is what it felt like.

In the end I decided no more caffeine in my life period. I've been sticking to that for the last month or so with no regrets and feeling just great! Wake up in the morning, full of energy, no need for caffeine again whatsoever.

I don't need more caffeine so that I can need more caffeine! The self-perpetuated circle was broken and I'm one happy decaf soul :)

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Experimenting with consciousness/awareness


This little experiment was triggered by hearing an audio book by Eckhart Tolle, I guess the name of it is A New Earth. I'm not totally sure on the name as my friend Sandra gave it to me and I just threw it on my car CD reader.

Eckhart was talking about two components to the mind:
1. The awareness or consciousness, also could be called the true being, some would think connected to the whole.
2. The ego, the I, me, myself on each of us separated from everything else out there.

The experiment consists of perceiving the being inside ourselves and attempting to observe the ego from a separate higher level of consciousness. I have to admit that even when the concept of ego was familiar to me, I thought it was overrated and I was very dubious of the usefulness of this definition.

The way the experiment is conducted is by closing your eyes if possible (of course it was possible to me! It's 4:00am and I'm lying in bed when I started!!), and starting to feel the liveness of one of your hands, the other hand, feet, etc. While you attempt to have your mind perform this simple task, you monitor the thoughts that arise in your mind. You're trying to be just a higher level consciousness watching these thoughts as a person would be watching a tv show, without merging with them, without getting totally engaged with them, knowing that they're a separate thing from you, the observer. I guess it's the old buddhist and zen thing of observer and object of observation.

So, I got started and I have to tell you it was interesting -to say the least, for moments it was actually hilarious.

What I discovered with this little experiment is that I could really create a space of awareness monitoring my thoughts. I also got to discover very clearly the ego behind almost all of the thoughts that I could see arise on my mind. Most of the thoughts revolved around going into future or past scenarios with very clear needs of my ego. The question I would ask myself in every case would be: What kind of thought is this? How does this thought serve my ego? The answers I found revolved around these:

1. It will give myself pleasure or avoid suffering.
2. It would give some sort of explanation to something and get the logic part of my mind entertained.
3. It would justify what I've done or what I'll do and make me right in some way and others wrong as well.
4. It would compete with others and make me better in some way.
5. It would save me energy by repeating some old habit.
6. It will avoid something I fear. If I do that or don't do that fear of what would or wouldn't happen.
7. It would make my ego feel bigger. It would increase my rating/connections inside some social network.

Any of these thoughts would clearly take me out of my simple task, something I desperately wanted to do most of the time. Very exhausting little experiment.

The way it would go would be something like this. I'd try to feel the liveness in my hand, seconds if not fractions after I was questioning the experiment. Then, as the awareness was monitoring, I would see the thought of questioning, sensing that it's a thought of fear to the unknown following my habit of labeling everything. Then, I'd go back to the liveness of my hand and the next thought would pop out. Next I would have some totally unrelated thought about something I'd like to do in the future, or something that just happened and I needed to label in some way. It was incredibly difficult to steer my mind to one simple task, all sorts of thoughts kept arising. Eventually my mind arrived to some thoughts that seemed temptingly interesting such as conclusions on the experiment itself or something else. At that point I would have a thought to blog about it, which was hilarious to me as I could clearly discover the reason for blogging was a very egotistic one as well. Then, I was laughing and going back to the hand and so forth.

It was interesting also to see those thoughts pop out like bubbles faster and faster as I would ask myself what is the purpose of this thought? and how does it serve my ego? Those thoughts would quickly dissolve in the light of my consciousness.

How does it continue? I think I'll keep playing with this and see if this new way of thinking might lead me to new experiences or to a more connected and aware being of some sort.

Most people in their daily lives don't care about awareness or ego, so if you make it this far in this post I would tend to believe you're either a thinker or a spiritual person of some sort ;)

PS: I witnessed a little fight between my awareness and my ego regarding writing this post and I ended up deciding write this post in the end to share it and document my learning process (as my memory fades too fast).