Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. Indeed, for men aged 20-44 and women between 15 and 34, it is the leading cause of death. The rate equates to about 26 deaths per 100,00 people. By contrast, the rate in the US is just 11 per 100,000.
Which is why the Japanese government has invested heavily in programs to understand the causes of suicide and reduce the number of resulting deaths. Its plan is to cut the rate by 20 per cent by 2017.
Psychologists have studied suicide for many years. One focus of research is identifying and studying people who have regular thoughts about suicide, so-called suicide ideation. The evidence gathered to date suggests that people with suicidal thoughts tend to be socially isolated, meaning they have not just fewer friends but are also less likely to be members of friendship triangles in which three people are mutual friends.
However, these types of studies have been difficult to do accurately. For young people, the data comes largely from questionnaires filled out by students at a particular school or university. The problem here is that when students have friends outside this environment, the outsiders’ role in the social network cannot be properly accounted for.
This doesn’t influence the data for the total number of friends for each person but it may well influence the calculation of the number friendship triangles.
Today, Naoki Masuda at the University of Tokyo in Japan and a couple of pals address this problem. Instead of studying suicide ideation at a school or university, these guys looked at in an online social network called Mixi, a major Japanese network with over 25 million members.
Last week, Google claimed Chrome was the most popular web browser in the world. By some measures that’s true, but one leading research site still places it in the No. 3 spot, behind Internet Explorer and Firefox.
That’s about to change.
Net Applications pegs Chrome‘s market share at 19.08%, less than a percentage point behind Mozilla Firefox, which has 20.06%. However, Chrome’s chunk of the market has increased almost 5% over the past year, while Firefox’s has decreased almost 3%. Both, however, are far behind IE, which has a commanding 54.02% of the market.
If trends continue, Google’s browser will soon claim the second spot in the browser wars. So why did Google say it was the world’s top browser?
A new study published by the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of California – Irvine revealed that being cut off from email during the work day reduces stress levels and focus.
This merely adds further proof as to how distracting (and dare we say addicting?) it is to constantly check your in-box and smart phone.
Researchers from the University of California, Irvine and the U.S. Army asked subjects to stop checking messages at work. Keeping in mind it was a rather small study with 13 subjects in total, employees without email access reported they felt better about doing their job and staying on task. Plus, there were less interruptions throughout the day. Here’s the scoop…
Instead, Google let me speak to Starner, a technical lead for the project, who is one of the world’s leading experts on what it’s like to live a cyborg’s life. He has been wearing various kinds of augmented-reality goggles full time since the early 1990s, which once meant he walked around with video displays that obscured much of his face and required seven pounds of batteries. Even in computer science circles, then, Starner has long been an oddity. I went to Google headquarters not only to find out how he gets by in the world but also to challenge him. Project Glass—and the whole idea of machines that directly augment your senses—seemed to me to be a nerd’s fantasy, not a potential mainstream technology.
But as soon as Starner walked into the colorful Google conference room where we met, I began to question my skepticism. I’d come to the meeting laden with gadgets—I’d compiled my questions on an iPad, I was recording audio using a digital smart pen, and in my pocket my phone buzzed with updates. As we chatted, my attention wandered from device to device in the distracted dance of a tech-addled madman.
Starner, meanwhile, was the picture of concentration. His tiny display is connected to a computer he carries in a messenger bag, a machine he controls with a small, one-handed keyboard that he’s always gripping in his left hand. He owns an Android phone, too, but he says he never uses it other than for calls (though it would be possible to route calls through his eyeglass system). The spectacles take the place of his desktop computer, his mobile computer, and his all-knowing digital assistant. For all its utility, though, Starner’s machine is less distracting than any other computer I’ve ever seen. This was a revelation. Here was a guy wearing a computer, but because he could use it without becoming lost in it—as we all do when we consult our many devices—he appeared less in thrall to the digital world than you and I are every day. “One of the key points here,” Starner says, “is that we’re trying to make mobile systems that help the user pay more attention to the real world as opposed to retreating from it.”
By the end of my meeting with Starner, I decided that if Google manages to pull off anything like the machine he uses, wearable computers seem certain to conquer the world. It simply will be better to have a machine that’s hooked onto your body than one that responds to it relatively slowly and clumsily.