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Thoughts on Happiness

Just found a pretty odd event taking place in The Netherlands on the first week of November, the first Thoughts on Happiness Conference. I thought it was interesting that they will be exploring happiness both from scientific research and “daily life” perspectives covering topics like “Happiness in the workplace” or “An evolutionary approach to quality of life”.

The reason I find the event a bit “odd” (due to lack of a better word) is because it’s so non-Dutch to explore these topics. For people outside The Netherlands, it may not be apparent, but for those of us who have spent a considerable length of time here, this event appears to be a significant detour from the usual Calvinist mentality that more or less shapes this country’s sociological landscape. It is by no means a negative trait, just that normally, happiness is not a subject discussed in the open by Dutch people.

I am of course, slightly disappointed that there is no session to explore how the arts and related activities can contribute to social and individual happiness, but this is the first event of its kind in The Netherlands as far as I know, so there is a chance it might be included in future conferences. Alas, the conference fee is way too steep for me to just attend out of curiosity, but I will at least, be keeping an eye on their blog, which covers some interesting matters as well.

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For around a week, I am using Social|Median, a social news network that allows users to share news, set up networks with topics of interest and comment on articles.

Now, around three months ago, when I deleted all but one “social media” account (if you need to know, I kept a Blogger account under an alias), I thought I was absolutely saturated with social networking. I had a burn out. I had just quit my corporate job to start Hyperkinesis and needed a break from “keeping up with the Joneses”. I decided I would maintain a clear mind to see in which direction I wanted to go and exactly what I wanted Hyperkinesis to become.

Fast forward to three months later. I am getting my feet back in the social networking arena and I join Social|Median. My first thought, after a day or two was “How come nobody thought of this before?!”. It’s like Digg meets Google News meets Slashdot (in the sense that Slashdot is made of news entirely submitted by users).

I could think of a couple of things that they would need to add before it becomes the killer app: private discussions (which apparently are already in the making), a spam alert system (ditto), and maybe some tweaking in the mail alert system (currently, news are listed in each network, and that results in the fact that, if you are subscribed to three networks with topics that touch on each other, you get the same news listed three times, one for each network). Other features that could be interesting are a ranking of sorts (top stories “clipped” by the most users) and a search function (news tend to get buried in the pile after a couple of days and sometimes revisiting an article means going through many pages of more recent news).

Still, it’s not even in beta and it has become the go to site where I read news in less than a week! That’s not a minor achievement, considering that there is a pervasive number of social applications competing for a piece of the pie.

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