After what seems like months hacking around inside the matrix (building PCB’s and writing code) The Zone is ready for public consumption… and by that we mean… its ready to consume YOU!

**Disclaimer: While this installation utilises Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) technology, we are not able to read, control, or influence your mind/brain in any way. What we mean by ‘consume you’ is ‘take up a lot of your time’… its pretty addictive.

The Zone is a brain-training light installation based on Electroencephalography (EEG) biofeedback. EEG measures the electrical activity of your brain and classifies the patterns of activity into different bandwidths (like radio wave frequencies for different stations). Research has established a link between patterns in these different frequencies and ‘states of mind’, for example – higher beta wave activity (and some others, determined by an algorithm) has been linked to more focus or attention, while higher alpha wave (and some others, determined by an algorithm) has been linked to relaxation and mediation. This is an insanely simplified overview, for some more information on the specific tech we’re using… check this out

Biofeedback is the use of electronic monitoring of automatic bodily functions to train someone to acquire voluntary control of that function. Because we can’t see our brain, or feel the work it is doing – like we can with muscles – it is often hard for us to know when we are in a really good state of mind, other than through our emotion, which can be pretty unpredictable and sometimes unrelated to our ACTUAL state of mind.

The Zone allows you to see exactly how your brain is behaving on average at any point in time (albeit at a pretty low resolution) and learn how different kinds of actions / thoughts or ‘things you do’ impact on your state of mind. Think of it like listening to a DJ playing at a club, from outside and across the street. You can hear the basic rhythm of the thudding bass and make a pretty good guess what is being played, but you can’t really hear the detail or the lyrics. The Zone is quite similar, in that we’re listening for different rhythms (frequencies) in your brain’s activity and inferring how attentive or relaxed you are based on this.

The Zone is an experiment in giving you control of your state-of-mind.

Like any new skill, we’re not expecting everyone to get fantastic results on the first go. In fact, we’re expecting some pretty poor / borderline frustrating attempts.

But – that’s why we installed this in the middle of The Edge; so that every time you come in, whether its for a meeting or to smash out some homework, you’re gently reminded to give your brain a bit of a workout.

So… without further ado, here’s your first Brain Training Regime!!!

ARRIVE at The Edge
Head over to The Zone and get comfortable
Set the mode to FOCUS
– Try to light up all the Green lights, from the outside-in and hold them in the centre
– This task feeds back your brain’s average attention level.
You might like to try things like:
Counting backwards from 100
Counting to 200 in 4′s
Focus on one idea or thought and block out all other distractions / senses
Imagine yourself explaining how a car works to an alien, detail all the parts, what you need to run it, how you drive, etc
If you speak another language… try translating live (on the spot) while someone else speaks to you
Try to hold a ‘HIGH’ (within 3 bars of the end) attention level for at least one minute without it dropping
Rest / Repeat as often as you’d like (you don’t have to take the headset off to rest)
Done for the day? Feeling a little frazzled? GOOD!
Set the mode to RELAX
– Try to fade the lights from White to DEEP BLUE
– This task feeds back your brain’s average relaxation level, the state of mind similar to just before you fall asleep, but before you get really sleepy… relaxed basically.
You might like to try:
Deep breathing
Closing your eyes
Trying to block out any ideas or thoughts from entering your mind
Focusing on your senses only, thinking about breathing, thinking about what you can smell (don’t fart! – thats gross and its a small room)
Try to hold the lights down as close to BLUE as you can get them for as long as possible until you notice yourself feeling more relaxed.
You can use it to make the most of your time at The Edge and get ‘in the zone’ (train your attention and focus) before you go about working on your world changing ideas. Then – before you leave – you might like to pop in again, and go back to a state of ‘zen-like-bliss’ (train your relaxation, or meditation) before heading home for the night. After all, no-one likes to take their problems home with them.

I’m really looking forward to seeing how you go with this over the coming months, we’ll be checking in from time to time to make some adjustments and improvements based on your feedback. So…. GET IN THE ZONE!

I’m interested in serendipity ~ the experience of stumbling upon something of immense value, in an unexpected or seemingly irrelevant place. I also quite like the word too – despite the ice-cream magnetized movie by the same name.

This moment of inspired discovery has long been revered in the uncontrollable realm of fate  and luck, even it’s word suggests something of a magical quality. But increasingly, serendipity is creeping into our day to day lives in a number of different ways. Apple, Netflix and Amazon are a couple of widely cited examples; offering their users recommendations based on previous purchasing decisions and user records. The value of this is fairly self-explanatory – but analytical recommendations are still confined to logical reasoning; if you liked that, then you’ll like this. 

In a slightly less enchanting way – insurance companies are hard at work trying to analyse the likelihood of your serendipitous encounters with their bottom lines

The problem is… Human’s aren’t calculators 

I’m interested in curating serendipity. I want to know what the conditions that turn a seemingly random encounter into something ultimately valuable are. I’m curious to see whether it is possible to put in place guides or structure that promote these serendipitous encounters.

At the heart of this idea is value.  How it’s created, and what people get from it. But I believe that real serendipity is something a little more than just value. It relies on an understanding of what direction you’re travelling in at the time of the encounter, a sticky problem at work, perhaps even a idea that you’ve had bubbling away for a new flavour of ice cream.

Real serendipity is a deep seated idea, hunch or feeling responding to external stimulus that may have existed in your network for years, but you seemed to just bump into it by chance. We always know serendipity once we’ve encountered it, but predicting it is something of a grey area.

However it does push the case that if we know it when we see it, serendipity is essentially visual. We experience serendipity, because suddenly connected the dots between our sticky problem, and our random chance encounter.

But – if our brains are essentially just awesome pattern detectors – the idea of serendipity becomes even less enchanting (maybe we are calculators after all)

So – can you curate it?

Discovr use a recommendation style with a twist – the added feature being a visual network that links up your recommendations in a glance-able and scalable way; stronger connections, tight knit clusters.

At a more structural level – behind the scenesPageRank and it’s cousin EdgeRank are constantly plotting out the relevance of our enquiries and relationships, a good visual example (though not as practical) is LinkedIn’s In Maps.  Beyond that – PeerIndex, Klout and others are working away at understanding the way we share as nodes in our networks. Soon we’ll be meeting Likeness a subjective search engine.

But does understanding what we share, with whom and how frequently get us any closer to showing us exactly what we didn’t know we were looking for?

I believe that curating serendipity is about enabling people to see the connections between their interests, ideas, exisiting work, relationships and resources – and connect the dots for themselves, a few steps ahead. Serendipity factors might one day become part of scenario planning?  

I’m curious about the impact curating serendipitous encounters will have on inspiration and productivity. If we can curate it, will we all be better off? Or ultimately distracted in a permanent spin-cycle of discovery?

Welcome. This is not my first blog – however – it’s not a very new blog either. This is a result of a few interests of mine; futures, creative intelligence and social business.  I’ve only recently found the motivation to start curating this blog in the way I originally intended. I’ve been toying around with it for so long that I almost forgot to start doing it.

So here we go – let’s begin shall we.

What is a Hook?

– A Hook has got the capacity to catch you (or your imagination)
– A Hook is usually a good indication that there is a change in direction coming
– Good Hooks are usually out of place (in the water – not the tackle box)

So what?
I’m very interested in these hooks, I believe they offer some insight into the way things are shaping up in our immediate sphere of possibilities. This site will be a record of the ones I find interesting enough to share. If they’ve caught my attention – chances are they might have caught yours too.