TED Conversations

Joanna Cruz

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

This conversation is closed. Start a new conversation
or join one »

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?


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Feb 22 2012: I am of the producing variety. Particularly interesting is that you talk of electrical impulses in the body. Once the impulses take form they become ideas etc and then judged as worthy or unworthy to propagate or consume. But what about as they are in electric impulse form? And how we might produce, generate or consume at This level, Pre-form?

    Anyone else interested in this dialogue?
    • thumb
      Feb 22 2012: Edy, yes, this is where my thoughts immediately lead. We ARE information, and we are information filters too. This is how we create experience. Our choices about what we filter out, what we incorporate, and what we send, are absolutely significant to the whole.
      • thumb
        Feb 22 2012: This is quite true - we may think we are more than this, but in fact we are nodes in a network just like the synapses are nodes in a network in our brain. We take in information, process it and output information that become someone else's input. So if we zoom out and look over the millennia and not the minutes, what is really important is what the human network learns, not individual brains.
        • thumb
          Feb 23 2012: Hey Roy,

          I see what you are saying about the 'whole' being just a 'node.' However, it seems like 'importance' is relative to the reference frame through which we are looking. At the individual level, the decisions we make seem important, as these impact all of the people around us.

          With something like evolution, its hard to consider just one persons' contribution. Evolution occurs over hundreds of thousands of years. At this order of magnitude, it just seems more natural to group humans together. Their actions as a whole seem to be what impact the human race and its direction.

          Importance just seems relative to the group we are examining; I don't think it can be defined universally.
        • thumb
          Feb 23 2012: Why not allow both the individual and the collective equal importance? Our reality is probably more like a hologram than a heirarchy.
      • thumb
        Feb 23 2012: So I need to defend my stance that humanity is more important than individuals! :-)

        Roy, I might have corrected your "Mr Bismark" and said "It's actually Dr Bismark". But I consider my own achievements and my own understanding of the world small, random and inconsequential. It is my part in the network as a whole that makes me important.

        I am mortal and I will one day perish. Therefore, I consider myself valuable (to myself at least!) for only the brief period that I can work on this earth - but I consider the evolution and learning of the human race to be eternal and thus more important than myself.

        In the analogy of the human race being a giant brain, or human network, I as an individual, provide only a miniscule proportion of the total computing power and a tiny bit of the total memory. It is more important to the human race that there is diversity than it is to it that one individual, me, is around.

        To the individual, me, being alive is paramount, of course.
      • Feb 24 2012: I see it from a purely vibrational standpoint, before the energy is even interpreted as ideas or information. Then that is what actually gets passed, consumed or originated. The easiest way is to think of the energetic vibration in the body associated w emotional charge. Each emotion is felt at its own unique level.
        • thumb
          Feb 24 2012: Edy, so you are equating information with a particular pattern of frequencies? My vibrational pattern would then be unique and determined (for example) by my emotional state? I might resonate with one person and not with another.... how much resonance there is between two people would be a measure of how much information flow is happening?

          Sorry! Lots of questions, but I am trying to improve the info flow between us (lol). I feel this is very relevant to the original question "How can we best help propagate worthy and novel ideas?"

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.