26 March 2010

Yes. It took me a couple of seconds to find my own country, and no matter how long I look, England still looks downright wrong

While it might be very tempting to think human vision acts like a camera, there are so many things happening unconsciously, that it would be very disrespectful to approach it that way, and also dead wrong. Face recognition, edge detection, our vision works much better than would be expected if we approach it purely as a sensor for light (like a camera). There is so much information that comes to our consciousness through our vision system, but it’s heavily amplified from a relatively small amount of data by stereotyping, guessing and memory. And, in some cases involving mirrors, wishful thinking.

I like this image, because it shows that these subconscious “clarifiers” can be culturally defined. This map is one most of us see a lot of when we are still very young. When I look at the image above, I don’t know my way very well, and need to rationalize the relationship between the various features in Europe. Instead of instinctively feeling my way, I need to reason. And I feel it shouldn’t be that hard to just flip East and West. I’m not a mean person, otherwise I would have flipped North and South too. For most of the people reading this, the shapes are extremely well known, and I think this is exactly

And this process happens all the time. These are the fundamental building blocks our knowledge and reason is build upon, and it’s quite useless to challenge them all the time. Darwin thought us about adaptation as a means for survival, but most humans in their day to day life are scared of change and will avoid it at all costs. Professionally, I’ve heard many people complain that it is very hard to change processes on the work-flow, because people resist it emotionally. Even though they are getting paid for it! Managers everywhere are begging, coaxing, bribing and threatening just to get their workers to change small behavior patterns.

I wonder if we can change this…