Tag Archives: nature

‘Nature and Wellbeing in the Digital Age’ – new book by Sue Thomas

I announced a while ago that I was working on a new book, and now it’s ready. The title has evolved to ‘Nature and Wellbeing in the Digital Age‘. This is the first time I’ve written and created a Kindle book from scratch, and it has been a very enjoyable experience. I plan to do more!

I hope you like this short excerpt from the new book, including a few practical tips you might like to try. You’re also warmly invited to join the conversation in the Digital Wellbeing Facebook Group

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Are you always staring at your phone and never at the sky?

If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is. (Steve Jobs)

Do you worry that you never seem to notice the weather any more Are you concerned that you do not hear the birds in the trees? That you seldom feel the grass under your feet or the wind in your hair? That the most vivid colours in your life come from a screen?

When was the last time you sat on a beach and let the sand run between your toes? Followed footpaths across rich green meadows, inhaled the heavy scent of hawthorn hedges around their perimeter? Got lost in a wood at dusk and felt just a little bit scared?

Do you check the weather in an app, or by the way it feels on your skin?

Are you always staring at your phone and never at the sky?

If so, you’re not alone. Continue reading ‘Nature and Wellbeing in the Digital Age’ – new book by Sue Thomas

Anxiety and fear give way to joy and awe when we tune into scenes of the natural world

Anxiety and fear give way to joy and awe when we tune into scenes of the natural world, finds a study commissioned by BBC, makers of “Planet Earth II.” from Watching nature documentaries boosts happiness, says study | MNN – Mother Nature Network

There’s a lot of research tracking and measuring the benefits of engaging with nature, and much of it is done using video, TV and other kinds of images. This is the first time I’ve seen research of this kind commissioned by a specific TV show  and the results are very interesting. They also back up my own theory of technobiophilia, “the innate attraction to life and lifelike processes as they appear in technology“.

BBC Earth commissioned a multi-country online quantitative study to examine the impact of watching natural history content on viewers’ emotions. This was conducted in partnership with an international panel company, with data collected and weighted to be nationally representative in each country. Respondents viewed one of five clips: two from Planet Earth II, one from a popular drama, one montage of news coverage, and one control video. The hypothesis was that watching content from Planet Earth II could improve the sensation of positive emotions and reduce the sensation of negative emotions. The study found a range of significant results evidencing not only that watching content from Planet Earth II inspired significant increases in feelings of awe, contentedness, joy, amusement and curiosity, but that it also acted to reduce feelings of tiredness, anger and stress. In the majority of cases, changes in emotions were caused by the type of content viewed, and significantly different from the control group. Our findings therefore support the conclusion that viewing Planet Earth II inspires positive changes in emotions that are distinct to the natural history genre.

From: EXPLORING THE EMOTIONAL STATE OF ‘REAL HAPPINESS’. A STUDY INTO THE EFFECTS OF WATCHING NATURAL HISTORY TELEVISION CONTENT. Download
Dacher Keltner, Richard Bowman, and Harriet Richards. University of Berkeley, California; BBC Worldwide Global Insight Team

Just in case you don’t believe it, test yourself with this cute aardvark movie.

 

 

 

10 Words Technology Borrowed from Nature, Orion Magazine

Art by Peter McFarlane
Art by Peter McFarlane

Excerpt from my new piece in Orion Magazine, September/October 2015

10 Words Technology Borrowed from Nature

1. Ecosystem. The internet is often described as an ecosystem (or a sky, or a park, or a jungle), and many of its parts are named after the natural world. “Cyberspace,” says the technology historian Fred Turner, “is a frantic mingling of biological, digital, and frontier metaphors.”

2. Tree. Inside every computer, smartphone, and server is a floating forest of branching directories, all sprouting from a deeply buried “root” folder. Open one and you’ll find it connected to many others, like a leaf atop a twig that’s attached, eventually, to a trunk.

3. Spider. One of the first search engines was named after Lycosa kochii, or the wolf spider. Called Lycos, the system was designed to imitate the spider’s habit of catching its prey by relentless pursuit.

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