Monday, February 28, 2011

Rat in a Cage

So yesterday I figured out that if I write a half-page of that ridiculously long paper for physics every day, it will be done before I need to turn it in. I forgot to factor in that today, February 28, is the last day of the month. That February is a trickster, but I'll still finish my paper the day before it is due by doing a half a page every day, so now it's not nearly as daunting, and with Chicago style notations, I'll have footnotes taking up some extra space at the bottom of each page, so it should be a piece of cake.

So after completing my half page and feeling pretty good about myself, and before catching up on TV shows, I stumbled upon (stumble uponned?), used Stumble Upon a couple of times.  I found a pretty fascinating and surprisingly intellectual yet humorous article on  It was about the techniques that video games use to get people addicted.  One of the things that they pointed out is that most video games are like virtual Skinner boxes.  The rewards aren't real but our brains react to them like they are.  Lots of games have people sitting and doing the same thing over and over until they get a reward.  Well, it got me thinking that this technique should be applied to people's jobs to a greater extent than getting a raise or a promotion.  If you work hard enough, your boss will buy you lunch or something. I haven't really figured out the exact details, but it just made me think that if someone will sit for hours clicking something repeatedly or whatever when they don't even have to, in order to get some reward that isn't tangible, it makes sense that when people have to repeat the same tasks over and over again at their job, then applying the same sort of reward system only with a tangible reward will make people want to keep working so they can get the next reward.  I employ the same technique when I'm studying. I'll tell myself that after I do a certain amount of work or work for some amount of time, then I can watch some tv or something.

So it's really not the different from what Nirvana says, "Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage." Despite all our brains, we are still just rats in Skinner boxes.

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