Archive for February, 2010

What is a body?

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

I’ve a body that’s apparently really mine, and it’s what makes me me. I number it among my possessions and I claim to exercise full sovereignty over it. So I think I’m unique and independent. But that’s an illusion, because there is no human society in which one thinks that the body is any good on its own. All bodies are engendered, and not only by their fathers and mothers. It’s not made by the one that has it, but by others. It’s not thought of as a thing, not in New Guinea, any more than in Amazonia, East Africa or Europe. On the contrary, it has the particular form of its connection with otherness that constitutes the person. According to the anthropological point of view that is adopted here, this Other is, respectively, the other gender, the animal species, the dead and the divine (secularised, in the modern age, in the teleology of the living person). Yes, my body is the thing that reminds me that I find myself in a world that is peopled, for instance, with ancestors, divinities, enemies and other being of the opposite sex. Is my body really mine? It’s it that determines that I don’t belong to myself, that I don’t exist alone and that my destiny is to live in a social context.

This amazing text points out the utmost importance of the social network in health. And it does so with such accuracy that it deserves to become a pivotal reference for those who dare to innovate in this domain.

Interestingly, I discovered it on the back cover of the catalog from the first ethnographic exhibition set up by the Quai Branly Museum in Paris.

If past can shed some light on present, health 2.0 could become far more than just "chatting about diseases"!


Friday, February 5th, 2010

I must confess that I am not easily impressed by computer science innovations. Trust me there, Pranav Mistry belongs to the "World Changer" club.

His bio at TED says:

Pranav Mistry is a PhD student in the Fluid Interfaces Group at MIT’s Media Lab. Before his studies at MIT, he worked with Microsoft as a UX researcher; he’s a graduate of IIT. Mistry is passionate about integrating the digital informational experience with our real-world interactions.

Some previous projects from Mistry’s work at MIT includes intelligent sticky notes, Quickies, that can be searched and can send reminders; a pen that draws in 3D; and TaPuMa, a tangible public map that can act as Google of physical world. His research interests also include Gestural and Tangible Interaction, Ubiquitous Computing, AI, Machine Vision, Collective Intelligence and Robotics.

What it doens’t say is that he manages to put all this into bright while simple concepts. Enjoy the video!