My Curiosity – The Base for BoomerangBeat

Curiosity is the engine of intellectual achievement. – Annie Murphy Paul

George Loewenstein, author of The Psychology of Curiosity, wrote that curiosity arises “when attention becomes focused on a gap in one’s knowledge. Such information gaps produce the feeling of deprivation labeled curiosity. The curious individual is motivated to obtain the missing information to reduce or eliminate the feeling of deprivation.”

Curiosity then, is a powerful feeling that pushes us to find the information we need to fill the gap in our knowledge.

Cognitive scientist and author Daniel Willingham suggests that in order to fill those gaps, we start by asking questions. In his book Why Don’t Students Like School?, Willingham notes that oftentimes teachers are “so eager to get to the answer that they do not devote sufficient time to developing the question.”

Knowing the question before you get the answer allows your mind to open as you consider other possibilities. It’s too easy to accept an answer when you have no idea what in fact you’re getting an answer to.  While questions stimulate curiosity, answers stifle it.

Though Willingham’s book is obviously directed at the educational system, I think it relates perfectly to how the media acts today.

Our brains get pleasure from solving problems not just simply knowing the answer. Even if we’re not directly told the answer, too many “hints” will cause us to lose the sense that we have solved it ourselves.

The media gives us answers. I’m sure you’re thinking “that’s their job”, but I disagree; to some extent, anyway. They, in all their glory and corporate money, tell us how to feel about a certain situation or event by giving us one side of the story, theirs.

Very rarely (if it all) do they show us both hands and facilitate our decision making process, our brain’s ultimate desire.

On the other hand, while our brains do get pleasure from solving problems (i.e., making our own decisions), we get little to no pleasure if we find the problem too difficult to solve.

Yes, we all have the resources today to find out what the liberals are saying or see where the republicans stand, to find the details that matter to the story, and to answer any question we have but sometimes, that is the equivalent to finding a needle in a virtual haystack.

For events as in-depth and important as the Iran Nuclear Talks, the NSA controversy, Obamacare, etc. it is simply too hard for people who are trying to learn to sort through the constant barrage of noise in order to connect the dots.

In his book Willingham notes “curiosity prompts us to explore new ideas and problems. But when we do this exploration, we quickly evaluate how much mental work it will take to solve the problem. If it’s too much or too little work, we stop working on the problem if we can.”

If we want a more informed public (or generation re: Millennials) we need to inform them better – not just give them their viewpoint.

Sharing BoomerangBeat with my network for the first time

Every week, I document the journey and thought process that goes into building BoomerangBeat. That might sound boring to you, but it’s in my nature to document everything I do. You never know who may find it useful one day.

Think that’s ridiculous? I’m okay with that, you should see how many pictures I take.

Click on the link to see the complete list of BoomerangBeat articles or to learn more about my project.

I really started writing in April 2013 but until that point I hadn’t really told anyone, except my sister and husband, about my idea for BoomerangBeat.

It was a rough start but the more I wrote, the more I figured out. Posts started to take shape, I discovered a trick that helps me choose topics and post titles, and I began to hit my stride (with the Snowden article no less).

Since then, I’ve only shared my mission with a handful of people and have essentially kept it under the radar with the people that support me most, my personal network.

Why? A false sense of embarrassment.

I’ve gotten a positive response from those I’ve directly shared BoomerangBeat with – both friends and strangers. But there’s still a part of me that thinks it’s silly and that I’m silly for believing in it.

I’m at the point where I’m ready to get over that. I need to get over that. Not only is this my built in support group, but most of these people are my target market. How much safer can it get?

Accountability

Sharing will also keep me accountable. After the government shutdown I had a few friends and random readers ask me if I had either written, or was planning to write, an article about what was going on. It was no surprise that the media sensationalism mixed with inflated and complex details, scared and confused the shit out of a lot of people.

The thing was, when they asked, I was in the middle of a BB redesign which I was focusing 100% of my free time on and had zero bandwidth to write an article that exhaustive.

But eventually I wrote one, because they asked me to. I knew I needed to anyway, but I was going to ignore it in favor of the design. They kept me accountable.

I believe in my project

I believe in my project and I think it has the potential to help a lot of people. However, I’m still learning the ins and outs of international affairs, politics, the government, its history, and everything else in between.

While that may by my virtue in this particular case (i.e., the reason for BoomerangBeat’s being), it’s also my vice. I’m still learning so I can’t help but wonder where and what gaps exist in the information I present. That’s the kind of reporting that gets ripped all the time.

I guess the worse that can happen is either absolute embarrassment because I’m still figuring it out, or I’ll release it to the sound of crickets. The best is acceptance.

I guess there’s only one way to find out.

Has anyone else out there been afraid to share their passion project when they were just starting out?

Holy Snowden

Every week, I document the journey and thought process that goes into building BoomerangBeat. That might sound boring to you, but it’s in my nature to document everything I do. You never know who may find it useful one day.

Think that’s ridiculous? I’m okay with that, you should see how many pictures I take.

Click on the link to see the complete list of BoomerangBeat articles or to learn more about my project.

So I just Googled “what is the edward snowden controversy” and got this:

what is the edward snowden controversy

Result number-fucking-one.

I even signed out of Google so I wouldn’t get personal results. I assume this has to do with Google’s Hummingbird update (Google recognizes question searches instead of just sparsing together random keywords).

Asking questions – it’s how I use Google and the reason why I format BoomerangBeat the way I do (even before Hummingbird, mind you). If Google recognizes this need, others are more than likely searching this way in volumes as well.

This will be a very good thing for BoomerangBeat.