Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Time Perspectives

In a previous post, Drawing on Motivation, I noted the unique "animate" cartooning style used by the RSA (the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) in creating videos based on talks that they've sponsored.  Another one of these animates came to my attention courtesy of the media ecology listserv not too long ago, and since the theme of this piece is time, courtesy of Philip Zimbardo, a scholar well known in communication and behavioral science circles, it seems only fitting to include it here:

Perhaps "the secret powers of time" is a bit overly dramatic, but I think the piece is very nicely done.  The basic model of six time zones seems reasonable, consisting of paired dichotomies of past (positive and negative), present (hedonistic and fatalistic), and future (future oriented and transcendental).  And I particularly like the points Zimbardo makes about the role of language in the formation of attitudes, perspectives, and orientations towards time, as well as the influence of religion.  There is also an interesting point made about addiction being a "present hedonism" orientation.  And there is the very media ecological point about how we underestimate the power of technology to rewire our brains.

Under the same name, the RSA has made available a lecture of over forty minutes that was given by Zimbardo, from which the ten minute animate was taken:

It's interesting to see how they cut and edit this longer lecture to create the soundtrack for the animate.

As for the lecture itself, here, we see some interesting experimental work on the difference between present and future orientations, before he proceeds to add in the past, and then identify the dichotomies within each tense.  

Zimbardo is promoting a new book, The Time Paradox, which has its own website:  http://www.thetimeparadox.com.  And in case you're wondering, there actually are three paradoxes that are listed on the website:

Paradox 1
Time is one of the most powerful influences on our thoughts, feelings, and actions, yet we are usually totally unaware of the effect of time in our lives.

Paradox 2
Each specific attitude toward time—or time perspective—is associated with numerous benefits, yet in excess each is associated with even greater costs.

Paradox 3
Individual attitudes toward time are learned through personal experience, yet collectively attitudes toward time influence national destinies.

The topic of paradoxes also comes up in Zimbardo's six minute Ted Talk (boy this guy sure gets around):

This sure is a compressed and hurried version of the talks above.  The title given to this Ted Talk is Philip Zimbardo prescribes a healthy take on time, which brings in the theme of health, which you may recall was the topic of my last post (Promoting Health, Media Ecology Style).  Health in this instance is tantamount to balance among the various time orientations, and balance is very much an ecological value, don't you know?  

And that's all I have to say, until next time!

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