Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Brain Region Linked to Metaphor Comprehension

From Scientific American:

Metaphors make for colorful sayings, but can be confusing when taken literally. A study of people who are unable to make sense of figures of speech has helped scientists identify a brain region they believe plays a key role in grasping metaphors.

Vilayanur S. Ramachandran of the University of California at San Diego and his colleagues tested four patients who had experienced damage to the left angular gyrus region of their brains. All of the volunteers were fluent in English and otherwise intelligent, mentally lucid and able to engage in normal conversations. But when the researchers presented them with common proverbs and metaphors such as "the grass is always greener on the other side" and "reaching for the stars," the subjects interpreted the sayings literally almost all of the time. After being pressed by the interviewers to provide deeper meaning, "the patients often came up with elaborate, even ingenious interpretations, that were completely off the mark," Ramachandran remarks.

More here.

That's interesting. I would never have imagined that metaphors could be so localized. I had imagined that our whole brain worked on some sort of system of metaphors. I wonder what this means in the context of Lakoff and Johnson's Metaphors We Live By where they argue that metaphor is a fundamental mechanism in the way we think about things...

After months of work by the teams at Digital Garage and Technorati, we are happy to launch the Technorati Japan beta site. I noticed that some of the Japanese bloggers had already discovered our alpha site and some of the the feedback from the blogs have been incorporated into the new version that we launched today. Check out the Japanese news talk, book talk, Japanese top 100 and other features and let us know what you think.

We are still working on finding all of the bugs and figuring out exactly what the Japanese blogging community would find the most useful so your feedback and comments would be greatly appreciated. We will be working actively on improving the site and rolling out a few more features soon. Please feel free to comment here, blog on your blog send trackbacks to our blog or send us email.

Thanks again for waiting. We look forward to working with you to make Technorati a useful piece of the Japanese Internet.

I just arrived in Seoul for the World Editors Forum. I'm on a panel tomorrow to talk about blogging.

This is my first time in Seoul. It's amazing to me that I've never been here before. Korea is very close to Japan. I have had a great deal of interaction with Koreans and feel a fairly strong bond with Korea. The Akasaka district where my office is is primarily Korean getting much more excited about Korean Soccer victories than Japanese. My aunt is Korean and I believe that we have Korean ancestors on my mother's side of the family. For some reason, I grew up generally believing that Japan and Korea were quite friendly. I do know that there is some bad history and the extremists on both sides are unreasonable.

As recently as March, Korean protesters chopped off their fingers in a rally protesting Japanese claims over some disputed islands. Clearly this represents some strong anti-Japanese feelings. I have recently been interacting with my Chinese friends about their anti-Japan protests and am in the process of trying to develop some projects together with them to try to address some of the issues. I am eager to talk to my Korean friends to find out how strong the anti-Japanese sentiments are and what might be done to address them as well.

I've heard a lot about the highly connected, high tech Korea and have participated in a number of Japanese corporate meetings where executives were being briefed on how Korea is leading in so many ways these days. I have also heard that blogging is quite active, but in a very different style than the US and Japan. Heewon is organizing a bloggers dinner and I look forward to finding out more about the scene here.

Unfortunately, my GSM phones don't work here so I don't think I'll be able to moblog.

In the May 30, 2005 issue of New York Magazine there is a story that included details about Lawrence Lessig being repeatedly molested by the choir director when he was a choirboy. The article covers the history and the current lawsuit where another former choirboy, John Hardwicke is suing the school with Lessig's help. As a friend of Larry's, it was painful to read the article and it was even more painful trying to figure out what to say to him.

Larry blogged about it initially a few days ago and there were a stream of supportive comments. Today, he posted about what we should do to prevent this kind of thing in the future, and I believe this is a critical message to get out. He writes about the law in New Jersey that immunizes charitable institutions from "negligence" in the hiring of a teacher. This is what the defense is using against the claims of responsibility for the abuse. There is a bill that has been introduced to remove that immunity, but leaders from the Catholic Church have opposed the change. I often get criticized for meddling in American politics, but I think this is an important issue. There are links on Larry's post to pages about what you can do. I think the Church should be ashamed.

Creative Commons: weblog
CC in Yahoo! Advanced Search

Yahoo! Search for Creative Commons is now part of the Yahoo! advanced search

Way to go Yahoo!

(Now close to 16 million pages linking to a CC license.)

Now it's official. Thank you Yahoo!!