Human Behavior Tidbits

Really stuff for the news entry previously, (only more dated that is.)

One of Four American Adults Read No Books Last Year

Not really surprising as far as I’m concerned. I think advances in technology has something to do with the dent on the amount of time people get to spend with books significantly. A lot has been said about the impact of such technological development on human behavior from shorter attention spans brought about by the ease of access to necessary information to more distractions brought about by the increased multitasking capabilities inherent in today’s computing technologies.

Even the definition of books themselves have become vague as a lot of publications have gone digital much like the trend seen for music records last year as I have written in this blog entry.

Anyway here’s the said Associated Press report:

One in four adults read no books at all in the past year, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll released Tuesday. Of those who did read, women and older people were most avid, and religious works and popular fiction were the top choices.

The survey reveals a nation whose book readers, on the whole, can hardly be called ravenous. The typical person claimed to have read four books in the last year — half read more and half read fewer. Excluding those who hadn’t read any, the usual number read was seven.

Web Usage Eats Up TV Time

Knew this one was coming when earlier this year related studies came out reporting on more people spending time on YouTube than in front of the TV. The sky’s still very much the limit for the growth of the internet as a related Reuters report on the findings of an IBM survey on consumer behavior goes:

In the latest sign of television’s decline as the primary media device, 19% of respondents said they spend six hours or more each day on personal Internet usage. That compares with 8% who said so about the TV. One to four hours of TV usage was reported by 66%, compared with 60% for the Web.

The number of TV viewers using digital video recorders continues to expand, with 24% of U.S. respondents saying they have a DVR and watch 50% or more of TV programming in replay mode, IBM found. Of those viewers, 33% said they are watching more TV since owning a DVR, in line with other recent studies.

New Diseases Due to Sex, Farming and Population Growth.

Yup, that’s pretty much a no brainer there. Consider the following Associated Press report quoting WHO authorities. WHO epidemics expert Dr. Mike Ryan in particular says:

“We’ve seen a shift in trend that reflects a transition of human civilization,” Ryan said. “The relationship to the animal kingdom, our travel, our social, sexual and other behaviors have changed the nature of our relationship with the microbial world and the result of that is the emergence of new pathogens and the spread of those pathogens around the world.”

And the facts laid down:

  • The increase of the rate at which food and people around the world carries risks which must be managed effectively. The increase in poultry to meet the demands of the growing world population for example might have resulted in the spread of bird flu according to WHO-Director General Dr. Margaret Chan.
  • Majority of the 39 new diseases recently including AIDS, Ebol, SARS and bird flu came from animals.

Architects and Urbanization

The global warming issue has been touching on the topic of urban living for a good reason: this year’s summer marks the first time that more people living in urban areas compared to those in rural areas. Effective policies and measures in place in cities therefore should translate to a considerable if not significant plus towards the effort.

Anyway a livemint article features the architect’s take on the subject:

As the demands on the world’s planners grow, academics from around the world gathered at a recent conference and expressed great unease about their ability to prepare the next generation of architects to build for this urban future.

“Every year the urban population increases by 80 million, equivalent to the population of Germany,” said Lars Reutersward, an architect and director of the global division at UN Habitat, the UN department that looks at urban development.

“Within that, there will be an increase in slum dwellers the size of Holland and Belgium put together—35 million—every year. This is a complete disaster, and it doesn’t have to happen,” he added. “People are dying in slums every day. It is horrible. We are lacking a sense of urgency; we are not coping with the speed of it.”

For a good reason. UN estimates place properly planned building work in expanding cities around the world at a dismal 5%. In Asia for instance, it is estimated that 70% of urban residents live in the said unplanned areas.

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