[Meh-ta] My brain is not a pipe (but it’s okay if yours is)

Is your brain like this?

In a small triumph for the community, the vague term that is “mental bandwidth” has been appropriated for the cause, at least according to Google.  I suppose that this is nothing new, in that jargon and genres go hand in hand, but this is a success of dubious merit, the term having long been abused in the business and technical fields.

Because, you see, the original spirit of “bandwidth” was an inquiry into what happens when you shake something around, be it electrically, digitally, or mechanically. So in a literal sense, mental bandwidth could imply some insight as to what happens to your head if someone were to grab your shoulders and shake it at some fixed frequency while screaming, “Are you barking mad?”

Just because it’s possible to relate throughput to bandwidth does not mean that bandwidth is throughput, because that implies that any old system or construct has the sole purpose of passing information. Brains, particularly those belonging to panicked undergrad students staring down an exam, have been known to pass information at an obscene rate, but I recognize that they are most valuable when retaining and processing it.

On the real topic of watching a series or episode more than once, might I propose a more applicable term: Learning Curve. If you want to learn more about what you’ve seen, then you will climb it. Otherwise, garbage in, garbage out. Huge amount of bandwidth throughput in that case!

On a side note, buildings have bandwidth too. You can measure it by seeing how they react in an earthquake or strong winds. Try it out on yours today!

One Comment