Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Start of Consciousness Diary

This blog is the result of an online course I'm now taking through the University of Arizona. The course is called "Consciousness: the Webcourse". I like the title.

This blog is based on the first lab activity for the course, which is:
Carry a small notebook with you and a timer of some sort (cell phone alarm, pager, or PDA). Set the alarm to sound at random intervals 4 times a day. When the alarm sounds, write down the date and time, where you are, what activity you’re engaged in, your emotional state, and the simple contents of your awareness. That is, the SIMPLE CONTENTS OF AWARENESS. This is harder than we might think. Record contents of awareness without interpretation in a short phrase, i.e. “my stomach is rumbling,” “those clouds are wispy,” “tired of waiting in line,” “wonder what the new course postings will be.” Try to be specific and succinct. Continue recording for 7 or more days.

At the end of 7 days, see what kinds of patterns you observe in your data. If you are so inclined, categorize and quantify your findings.

Possible questions you might ask yourself are:
  • What kinds of contents did I record? What was most frequent?
  • What kinds of emotions did I record? Which is most frequent?
  • Is there any relation between time of day and content? Between time of day and affect?
  • Is there a relation between activity and content?
  • Where do I seem to spend my mental time?
  • What else did you discover?
We find that people are often quite surprised to learn exactly how they spend their mental time and how their conscious contents relate to time, place, and affect. What is your experience?

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