Augustin Lignier, a professional photographer in Paris, wondered why so many people take pictures of their lives and share them online. Inspired by the work of B.F. Skinner and his test chamber for rats, Lignier built a photo booth for rats. The tower-like box had a camera and dispensed sugar whenever the rats pressed a button inside. The rats could then see their photos on a screen. Lignier observed that the rats would continue pressing the button even when the rewards became unpredictable. This behavior mirrors how social media companies keep users engaged. Social media has been likened to a Skinner Box, offering periodic, unpredictable rewards that keep people hooked. In a 2014 study, some participants preferred to shock themselves instead of being left alone with their thoughts, highlighting our discomfort with being alone. Thus, pushing levers and scrolling through content serves as a distraction from this discomfort.
Selfie-Savvy Rats: Embracing the Trend
The career of Roger Fidler exemplifies a warning: Sometimes, you can predict the future but still fall victim to it. Three decades ago, Mr. Fidler was a media executive promoting a vision of the future for newspapers. The rise of digital technology would allow for news to be accessed on portable devices all day long, […]Read More
Roger Fidler has had a front-row seat to the digital revolution in the newspaper industry. Thirty years ago, he was advocating for the future of newspapers as portable digital devices that would offer multimedia content to readers. While his vision has largely come to fruition with people constantly online and engaged with news, traditional media […]Read More
President Biden will issue an executive order to restrict the sale of American data to China, Russia, and four other countries in an effort to protect sensitive information from being used for malicious purposes. The order aims to prevent personally identifying data, such as locations, health records, and genetics, from being obtained by these countries […]Read More