The Brainiac Paradox

Written by Tom Glennan

Mark Cornille

STC/SM members and friends who attend our program meetings come for a variety of reasons and that was indeed the case for the “The Brainiac Paradox” program on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014. For example, I attended “The Brainiac Paradox” event because I was curious about how Mark Cornillie, the author of the book by the same title and the featured speaker, defined the term “brainiac” and wondered whether I qualified as one. Mark Lockwood, a chapter member and past president, half-jokingly told me that he attended to “find out why he has a job as a technical communicator.” I’m guessing that some guests came just for the food. But regardless of the attendees’ personal reasons for going, the brainiac event was a great opportunity for everyone in the room to hear about Mark Cornillie’s investigation into the world of individuals whose superior mental abilities don’t always make them successful in other areas of their lives.

Mark explained that the brainiac paradox he investigated involves people who demonstrate recognized genius but are often socially “atypical” or disadvantaged. He asked why some people excel in one area of their lives but not in others. He discussed how the individuals he studied strongly display the characteristics of the brain’s left hemisphere (they are often logical, analytical, mathematical, and organized) but seem to be severely lacking in the brain’s right-hemisphere traits (they are typically not intuitive, empathetic, emotive, or holistic). He gave examples of the impact this paradox had on these individuals’ performance in both personal and organizational settings, and how hard it was for them to relate to others in team or collaborative settings. Continue reading “The Brainiac Paradox”

Recap of January 14 Program—Beyond the Heat Map: The Future of Eye-Tracking

Jon West

We were treated to a very interesting presentation on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014. Jon West, Director of Marketing and Opportunities for LC Technologies, Inc., located in Fairfax Virginia, was our speaker and demonstrator. He began the evening by setting up his eye-tracking device and software so that before the talk the attendees could experience first hand how this technology works.

In his presentation, Jon covered the history of eye-tracking as it applies to human-computer interaction. The technology was developed as far back as 1898 and some of Jon’s slides showed mechanisms that appeared almost like medieval torture devices! Jon discussed the evolution of this technology through the years and told us about the implications that it has for today. Among the applications that currently benefit from this technology are: marketing research, usability, and medical. Jon also predicted that this technology would be used in the future with robots, cell phones and other devices.

After the talk, Jon again demonstrated the eye-tracker device to the attendees who were interested in having their eye movements calibrated and then analyzed to show how they were interacting with what they saw on the monitor.

We thank Jon West for a very informative and fun presentation and we also thank Cengage Learning® in Farmington Hills for allowing us to use their facilities and for arranging for the food and drinks.