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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Banjos, Social Networking and Brains

Every human being is an interplay of intelligences. IQ tests measures verbal and math intelligence. There are arguably 5 other types of "intelligence" found in humans and a person can be a genius in one area and significantly impaired in another (we've all known people like that - and I include self-knowledge here).

The Seven Intelligence Domains are (sort of):

1. Verbal / linguistic (writing ability & wordsmithing - authors, journalists, poets, editors)
2. Mathematical / logical (physicists, statisticians, scientists, engineers)
3. Musical (musicians, sound engineers, composers)
4. Visual / Spatial (artistic ability - painter, architects, designers)
5. Physical (bodily or kinesthetic intelligence - athletes, craftsmen, surgeons)
6. Interpersonal (social talent – being good with other people - salesmen, teachers, lawyers, negotiators, diplomats)
7. Intrapersonal (capacity for self-analysis and the ability to examine your own behavior - planners, leaders, CEO's, gurus and religious leaders)

Recently, the Banjo Hangout forum (of which I am a member in regularly threatened standing) ran a thread profiling the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventories of BHO members - many of who were surprisingly anxious to post their test results on the Internet for all to see. The MB divides your personality into 4 opposing personality factors. The test identifies your 4 most dominant traits. The the factors can change from time to time if you're close to even on any of the paired factors. This trip, mine was ENTP. Sometimes it's INTJ.
I would venture to suggest that the interplay of the four factors (introversion vs extroversion, Intuition vs Sensing, Thinking vs Feeling, Judging vs Perceiving) may be an artifact of the dominance of the various aspects of intelligence. On this forum there are those who are truly musical geniuses (intelligence #3) who "get" the music in a way others of us (myself included) never will. My wife is one of those. She has perfect pitch, hears when the music is right and has the ability to obsess over a song until it sounds like it's supposed to. It took me two years of training my ear before I could even "hear" well enough to tune my guitar. The musically intelligent post new arrangements, new songs and instrumentals. They obsess over getting the rhythm, the tone, the timbre of the music just right.

I look at posts on the BHO and also see "technical" players whose ability comes through high levels of physical intelligence (intelligence #5), a keen sense of body movement through space, manual dexterity and stamina. They can become excellent technical artists, but without a corresponding high level of musical intelligence, they never quite get the feel of the music like those with true musical intelligence. The musical geniuses can tell the difference between the musical genius and the mere technician. I can't. I have to take their word for it. Musical geniuses get very frustrated with me. I'm satisfied with a lot less technical prowess - I'm just happy if they'll let me bang along in the background and don't hit me with a whiskey bottle to put me out of their misery. The technical players play too fast for me to keep up.

There are those who are more interested in the instruments themselves and constantly fiddle with them (intelligence #4). They are artists and craftsmen and approach playing like that. Their blogs are more about how a particular banjo configuration sounds, how they set it up or how they inlayed the mother of pearl than they are about the music.
There are the mathematicians (#2) who'd rather argue about musical theory, what's legitimately Clawhammer or Scruggs-Style. They love the theoretical. They quantify everything. It makes them happy.

The members with high levels of interpersonal social intelligence (#6) are the guys that network constantly, their posting numbers on the forums are astronomical and they have 2000 friends. It's not what they say, it's how they say it that's important. The banjo is a tool for hooking up socially. The dark side of this group are those who become forum moderators and spend their time figuring out who's violating the rules and how to keep them in line. The even darker side are those who manipulate relationships for their own purposes and who torment the moderators.

The ones with intrapersonal intelligence folks (#7) are the guys that are busily writing poetry and discussing the details of their personal lives with remarkable energy. They are more concerned about what they think than they are about what anyone else thinks. They understand themselves pretty well. They may not understand anyone else though and they may not eve care to.

The ones with high verbal intelligence (#1) are the shade tree humorists, writers, bloggers and song parody writers. They love words. They love using words to get what they want done. They type fast and write constantly. They too dabble in poetry, but their verse tends to be less about April and dawn and sighing and more often dryly funny or critical or acerbic. Words are their tools, not their children.
What is nifty is how well this intellectual soup works out. Facebook does this less well than the Banjo Hangout, but better than MySpace does. MySpace has so dropped it's controls that the place has become bogged down - like the borders of a swamp. Pages load slowly and garbage fills up everyone's pages.

Our new Virtual-Village project is modeled on the BHO design. We hope to keep it simple and pleasant to use and to make it a tool for folks who have all sorts of styles of thought and communication. It promises to be an interesting project. Hope to see many of you there as members. We're going to do some really fun and interesting things there.

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