COMMITTED: anectodal research


To create/prepare for COMMITTED, I asked a several people to describe to me their understanding of/relationship to the words/concepts “commit”/”committed”. I asked a computer engineer, a weight lifter, a mental health facility resident, and a neuroscientist. Here are the first set of responses I received:

I currently work as a PhD Student/Research Assistant in a Computational Neuroscience lab. There are about 12 other people in my lab, and we all spend a good bit of our time writing software to model various aspects of how the brain processes visual information. As you can probably guess, this is big task – the brain is a stupendously complex set of mechanisms which all work together to produce for us a fairly seamless impression of the world around us. Fortunately, many of these mechanisms are simply variations on a common theme, and so the software that one person in the lab writes is often very useful for everyone else. In order to effectively share this software source code, we have a big computer that we call a “repository” that keeps track of all of the latest revisions of everyone’s work. Whenever someone gets something working in their software and want to save it, they perform what is called a “commit,” which sends all of their changes along with a short description of what they’re committing. When the repository computer accepts a commit, it forwards that commit description to everyone in the lab so that we can all keep track of the changes to this huge code base. What this means is that a few times a day, my phone vibrates with a new update from this constantly changing and evolving software brain. These “commits” I get are small glimpses into my labmates hopes, fears, and glories as they struggle and succeed or fail to make a little headway in understanding the brain.

I usually wake up early so I can get a few hours of work done before I go to the gym to train. It could be reading for class, sanskrit translation, or reading not necessarily for class, but rather for the general development of ideas that interest me and which may eventually contribute to a PhD thesis. About three to four hours before my first class (depending on my schedule) I start getting ready for my workout. I do about 20 minutes of foam rolling/soft tissue work to press out all the tension in the muscles accumulated from training and then some mobility exercises to make sure my joints are warmed up and ready to go. Workouts last about two hours, after which I have just enough time to get showered, change clothes, drink a protein shake, and head to class. After classes, its usually time for more reading, translating, paper writing, and if I have time/energy, learning some new songs on bass and practicing old ones. Whatever the activity, I think of commitment as an act of progressively developing something that you think is worthwhile and can only be brought about with this kind of continual effort. I don’t think we always see clearly that goal that we are committed to, but in the process of undertaking committed action, we learn the value of that development and hopefully understand better the things that we believe are valuable enough to validate our efforts.

WELL, once I chose rehab and once they stuck me in there because I was a danger to myself…..I was very committed to never drink again in Florida. I found out the anger and regrets should be dealt with, which mine were not so I got mad at your dad bragging about everything he had that was so unjust….. Wham…As for Shoal creek, I was so suicidal because I felt I was worthless, stupid about divorce…and the big dream since the third grade was to be a good mom since mine was so mean. Truly, there is an 85%failure rate in the field. It is well known fact once you start helping people. This darn computer is overheating gotta cool it off…don’t mind doing this,…it’s good….just keep me on the subject
or we could write an entir
e b— and make $$$$$$$

Commitment is an abstract emotional behavior in which one feels obligated to sustain a specific behavioral contract with another individual, object or ideal. The emotion guilt works as a negative reinforcer to prevent an individual from breaking this contract. Avoidance of guilt reinforces the individual to uphold the contract, providing a sense of obligation, thus sustaining the individual’s commitment.

e.g. I have made a commitment to care for my Bearded Dragon, Kiyo. I choose to avoid experiencing the guilt that my lack of care may directly hurt her, therefore I am obligated to care for her which is responsible for my continued commitment to her.


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