The Human Hardware Series on Search Engine Land

I must say I’m having fun writing the Human Hardware series on Search Engine Land. What I wanted to do is take some of the inherent behaviors and cognitive limits of humans and explore how this impacts our online interactions. And yes, to me, that’s fun!

If, like me, you’re interested in the “why” of things, I think you might enjoy this series. I’ve written 3 installments so far:

Human Hardware: Working Memory

How we use our working memory to make decisions, the capacity limits of working memory, and how working memory and long term memory work together. I take a look at Herbert Simon’s work on bounded rationality and satisficing as a shortcut to making decisions.  I also explore Daniel Wegner’s theory of transactive memory in this column. Finally, I look at how working memory dictates how we digest search results.

Human Hardware: Men and Women

Humans come in two models: men and women. Despite rampant political correctness, there are distinct differences between us (in case you hadn’t noticed). This column looks at some of the cognitive and neurological differences (I tried to keep my comparisons from the neck up) and how it impacts things like shopping, navigating and asking directions, understanding conversations and spending time online. I spend some time outlining gender research differences we’ve seen in past usability studies.

Human Hardware: Dunbar’s Number

In part One of this two part installment, I pose this question: Do we have limits on how many friends we can make? Robin Dunbar, a British anthropologist, believes the answer is yes, and that number is 150, give or take a few. I look at Dunbar’s research and reasoning, and how this limit has impacted human evolution and our creation of social networks. I touch on the evolution of language, the Great Leap in human evolution (why we went from throwing rocks to creating art in what was relatively the blink of an eye) and the importance of grooming as a social glue.

I’m pretty pumped about this series, as it ties directly into my book research, so this has been a way to work out a few of the ideas. To be honest, I have no idea how many installments there will be in the series. Along a similar vein, and in case you missed it, you might enjoy the Google Habit series that ran on MediaPost and earlier in this blog. Just check the archives.

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