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Joanna Cruz

Student , The Cooper Union For The Advancement of Science and Art

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Would you rather be an information producer, propagator, or consumer?

In my Bioelectricity class this week, we talked about the propagation of electrical signals in the body. We learned that sensory cells and neurons act like information "producers." As sensory cells in the eye, ear, nose, tongue and body generate the electric signals that stimulate neurons, "information" is produced by the body! This information is then transmitted in the form of action potentials (or "spikes") along myelinated axons which act as "information propagators" as they efficiently and rapidly distribute these signals. These signals may be received by the dendrites of other neurons which act as receivers, or "consumers" of the action potentials.

Learning this material has inspired me to ask: how can biology inspire us as we disseminate "ideas worth spreading?” or as we consider our roles as information producers, information propagators, or an information consumers? How can we best help propagate worthy and novel ideas?

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  • Feb 22 2012: My first and longest love in art has been the theater, and I've performed a number of functions within that form. What I've found is that collaboration is not exclusive to the production, but is required within the community around that production. Thus the relationship between consumer, producer, and propagator is intimately intertwined.
    I have been all three of these, sometimes without being entirely aware of a difference between them. I love watching theater (or film, or visiting a gallery, or, or...) and I am often inspired to make theater based on what I see. I will happily evangelize a particular company or show based on my enjoyment, seek to work with them, and continue to patronize their shows. I feel that the now-common ability to create, as an example, video, will create a similar atmosphere in the digital world and that this cycling process of consumption, propagation, and production will become far more common.
    What do we take from biology? Though my own understanding is imperfect, one concept that has resonated is homeostasis, which if I've understood it correctly is the idea that there is a balance (though not necessarily a perfectly even one) between the processes of an organism. There must be a balance in both a single person and in a community between production and consumption, or quality will be sacrificed for quantity, and the true thread of deliberate art will be lost.

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