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Empire, Militarization, and Popular Revolt in Africa - YouTube
“In what ways does militarization/militarism in the African context enable, extend and depend upon economic, military/’security’ relations with imperialist actors, most importantly the US and Israel?

What are the new/old justifications and mechanisms of imperialist intervention, war, and policing across the continent (e.g. AFRICOM, drone strikes, outsourcing of regional interventions, joint military trainings and ‘cooperation’ etc.)? How do they criminalize dissent and shape the contexts in which popular mobilization take place? What are the socio-economic, (geo)political structures and dynamics, historical legacies and past forms of mobilization that inform current revolts in Algeria and Sudan? What do they share in common and how do they differ from one another and past mobilizations? What kinds of connections can be made with current anti-colonial/anti-capitalist/anti-imperialist struggles currently underway in Puerto Rico and Haiti, as well as with struggles against racial capitalism and the police/carceral state in the US? What is the role of the US and its allies (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE) as counter-revolutionary actors? How can we build on past and existing forms of internationalism and contribute to reviving an anti-imperialist left in order to better support popular struggles across the African continent and beyond?”

[https://peoplesforum.org/event/empire-militarization-and-popular-revolt-in-africa/

“Empire, Militarization, and Popular Revolt in Africa
August 31 @ 2:00 pm - 5:15 pm

This event explores the themes of imperialism, militarization, police/carceral state, and resistance across the African continent with the aim of making broader regional and transnational connections with struggles elsewhere in order to build cross-regional solidarity.

2:00-3:30pm
‘Imperialist Interventions and Militarization across Africa and beyond’
Yasmina Price
Samar Al-Bulushi
Corinna Mullin
Kambale Musavuli
Khury Petersen-Smith

–BREAK—

3:45-5:15pm
“African Revolts”
Nisrin Elamin
Brahim Rouabah
Suzanne Adely”

Each panel will consist of short presentations to ensure time for meaningful discussion and the opportunity to share/ learn from our diverse experiences working on these themes in different contexts. Some of the questions that will be addressed include:

In what ways does militarization/militarism in the African context enable, extend and depend upon economic, military/’security’ relations with imperialist actors, most importantly the US and Israel? What are the new/old justifications and mechanisms of imperialist intervention, war, and policing across the continent (e.g. AFRICOM, drone strikes, outsourcing of regional interventions, joint military trainings and ‘cooperation’ etc.)? How do they criminalize dissent and shape the contexts in which popular mobilization take place? What are the socio-economic, (geo)political structures and dynamics, historical legacies and past forms of mobilization that inform current revolts in Algeria and Sudan? What do they share in common and how do they differ from one another and past mobilizations? What kinds of connections can be made with current anti-colonial/anti-capitalist/anti-imperialist struggles currently underway in Puerto Rico and Haiti, as well as with struggles against racial capitalism and the police/carceral state in the US? What is the role of the US and its allies (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE) as counter-revolutionary actors? How can we build on past and existing forms of internationalism and contribute to reviving an anti-imperialist left in order to better support popular struggles across the African continent and beyond?

Participant BIOS

Suzanne Adely is a long time Arab-American community organizer, with a background in global labor and human rights advocacy. She is a member of the Bureau of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, National Lawyers Guild board member and co-chair of the NLG international committee and MENA subcommittee. She currently works for the Food Chain Workers Alliance, a bi-national alliance of worker based organizations in the food economy. She is a member of Al-Awda-NY, US Palestine Community Network and a newly launched Arab Workers Resource Center.

Samar Al-Bulushi is an assistant professor in the department of anthropology at University of California, Irvine. Her research is broadly concerned with militarism, policing, and the ‘War on Terror’ in East Africa. Previously, she worked with various human rights organizations and co-produced AfrobeatRadio and Global Movements, Urban Struggles on Pacifica’s WBAI in New York City.

Nisrin Elamin is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Columbia University Society of Fellows and a lecturer in the Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies Department. Her work explores the relationship between land, belonging, migration and geopolitics in post-secession Sudan. Her current project examines the ways landless and landholding communities are negotiating and contesting changes in land ownership prompted by a recent wave of Gulf Arab corporate investments in Sudanese land. She is affiliated with Girifna, a movement fighting for democracy and a transition to full civilian rule in Sudan.

Corinna Mullin is an adjunct professor at John Jay College and the New School. Her research examines the historical legacies of colonialism and contemporary imperialist interventions in shaping Global South security states in a way that facilitates labor exploitation, natural resource extraction and other forms of Global South value drain, with a focus on Tunisia.

Kambale Musavuli, a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo and one of the leading political and cultural Congolese voices, is a human rights advocate, Student Coordinator and National Spokesperson for the Friends of the Congo.

Khury Petersen-Smith is an activist and geographer who interrogates US empire. He is the Middle East Research Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and a founding member of Black For Palestine.

Yasmina Price is a Black anti-imperialist Marxist committed to the liberation of colonised peoples and the abolishment of police, prisons and all oppressive structures. She has organized locally and led trainings within a socialist group, also participating in panels organized by Verso Books and the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung focusing on global mechanisms of injustice. She is currently a PhD student in Black Cinema at Yale.

Brahim Rouabah is an Algerian activist and academic. He is the co-founder of the UK based Algerian Solidarity Campaign. He is currently working on his PhD in Political Science at the CUNY Grad Center. His research focuses on issues related to knowledge production, colonialism and the origins of capitalist property relations.

Co-sponsor by The Polis Project and Warscapes.
The Polis Project is a hybrid research and journalism organization producing knowledge about some of the most important issues affecting us, and amplifying diverse perspectives from those indigenous to the conflicts and crises affecting our world today. We aim to democratize scholarship, produce in-depth, critical journalism and knowledge for and by communities in resistance. We look to make sense of the world with its infinite injustices, inequality and violence, with the courage to reveal how existing systems, ideas, ideologies and laws have failed us. We unpack complexity by understanding that knowledge is power, and like all power, it shouldn’t be owned by a few people or corporations. And we pursue this by adapting our storytelling, analysis and research to the newest, most innovative ways of spreading work to engaged audiences everywhere.

Warscapes is an independent online magazine that provides a lens into current conflicts across the world. Established in 2011, Warscapes publishes fiction, non-fiction, poetry, interviews, book and film reviews, photo-essays and retrospectives of war literature from the past fifty years, and hosts public conversations, art shows, and film screenings in the United States, Europe and across Africa. Warscapes is motivated by a need to move past a void within mainstream culture in the depiction of people and places experiencing staggering violence, and the literature they produce. Apart from showcasing great writing from war-torn areas, the magazine is a tool for understanding complex political crises in various regions and serves as an alternative to compromised representations of those issues.]
africa  kenya  uganda  niger  tunisia  somalia  ghana  us  occupation  imperialism  africom  activism  migration  blacklivesmatter  israel  colonization  2019  solidarity  saudiarabia  unitedarabemirates  refugees  dehumanization  race  racism  policy  internationalism  capitalism  donaldtrump  military  militarization  islamophobia  egypt  history  mali  humanitarianism  funding  violence  sudan  algeria  libya  criminalization  specificity  drones  economics  china  burkinafaso  militarism  people’sforum  leftism  socialism  yasminaprice  samaral-bulushi  corinnamullin  kambalemusavuli  khurypetersen-smith  nisrinelamin  brahimrouabah  suzanneadely  class  liberalism  neoliberalism  cynicism  optimism  anticapitalism  antiimperialism  tuareg 
8 days ago by robertogreco
The Brief Idyll of Late-Nineties Wong Kar-Wai
"In the summer of 1997 I was living in London, trying to figure out what to do with my life. I’d left college and had been in the city for a year, trying, like so many other twentysomethings, to write a novel. I’d given myself a year, but as the chapters took shape so did a curious tension about the way my life was playing out. Part of me was exhilarated and determined: I was writing about a country and people—my people—that did not exist in the pages of formal literature; I was exploring sexual and emotional boundaries, forming relationships with people who seemed mostly wrong for me, but whose unsuitability seemed so right; I was starting, I thought, to untangle the various strands of my cultural identity: Chinese, Malaysian, and above all, what it meant to be foreign, an outsider.

But the increasing clarity of all this was troubled by a growing unsettledness: I had imagined that the act of writing my country and people into existence would make me feel closer to them, but instead I felt more distant. The physical separation between me and my family in Malaysia, which had, up to then, been a source of liberation, now created a deep anxiety. All of a sudden I saw the huge gulf between the person I had been and the one I now was. In the space of just five or six years, university education had given me a different view of life, a different appreciation of its choices. My tastes had evolved, the way I used language had changed—not just in terms of syntax and grammar but the very fact that standard English was now my daily language, rather than the rich mixture of Malay, Cantonese, Mandarin, and Malaysian slang that I had used exclusively until the age of eighteen. I was writing about the place I was from, about the people I loved (and hated), but felt a million miles from them.

All around me, the world seemed to be repositioning itself in ways that seemed to mirror this exciting/confusing tension within me. Britain was in the grip of Cool Britannia fever, and London—multicultural, newly confident after the Labour Party’s victory in the elections—seemed to be the most exciting place on the planet, a city where minority groups of all kinds suddenly found their voice and artistic expression flourished alongside capitalism. On the other side of the world, where my family and friends lived, however, the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis had just erupted, bringing the previously buoyant economies of Southeast Asia to their knees. On the phone with my parents, I heard news of one friend after another who’d lost their job or business. A new anxiety lurked in the voices of all those I spoke to in Malaysia and elsewhere in the region: an unspoken fear of civil unrest, of anti-Chinese violence that inhabited the passages of our histories in times of crisis. These fears were not unfounded: less than a year later, in Jakarta, where my father worked at the time, widespread anti-Chinese riots led to the murders of over a thousand people and hundreds of incidents of rape and burning of Chinese-owned property and businesses. Stay where you are, don’t come back, various friends cautioned.

On TV, I watched the handover of Hong Kong to China after one hundred years of British colonial rule, a transition that felt at once thrilling and scary: the passing of a country from one regime to another, with no one able to predict how the future would pan out. My sister, who had recently moved to Hong Kong to find work, decided that it would change nothing for her, and that she would stay.

I sank deeper into the world of my novel. I sought refuge in a place where I was in control—but even there, things weren’t working out. My characters were all divorced from their surroundings, trying to figure out how to live in a world on the cusp of change. They fell in love with all the wrong people. They didn’t belong to the country they lived in. I wanted the novel to be an antidote to the confusion around me but it wanted to be part of that mess. I was exhausted by it and by the end of that year, abandoned the manuscript.

It was exactly at that time that Wong Kar-Wai’s Happy Together found its way into the art house movie theaters of Europe. That summer he had won the Best Director prize at Cannes for the film—the first non-Japanese Asian to do so—and I’d seen the movie posters in magazines: Tony Leung and Leslie Cheung sitting dreamily in the back of a car, their faces bathed in a hypnotic yellow light. I’d grown up with these actors, iconic figures in Asian pop culture. I’d seen all their movies, and like so many of my contemporaries, knew the words to all the Leslie Cheung songs, which still take up several gigabytes of memory on my iPhone. I’d seen and swooned over Wong Kar-Wai’s previous films, Chungking Express and Fallen Angels, as well as a curious early work called Days of Being Wild, set partly in the Philippines and also starring Leslie Cheung. I thought I knew what to expect from Happy Together. It turned out that I had no idea at all.

It’s impossible to describe the intense rush of blood to the head that I felt on seeing these two leading actors—young, handsome, but somehow old beyond their years—in the opening scene. They are in a small bed in a boarding house in Buenos Aires. They are far from home, wondering what to do with their lives, how to make their relationship work again. Within seconds they are making love—a boyish tussle with playful ass-slapping that morphs quickly into the kind of rough, quick sex that usually happens between strangers, not long-term partners.

It was the end of the twentieth century; I had watched countless European movies where explicit sex was so much a part of the moviemaking vocabulary that it had long since lost the ability to shock me. But the people in this film were not random French or German actors, they were familiar figures of my childhood, spitting into their hands to lubricate their fucking.

The two men are partners in a turbulent relationship with extreme highs and lows. They travel to Argentina—as far away from home as possible—to try and salvage what they can of their love. Their dream is to travel to see the Iguaçu Falls, a journey which takes on totemic qualities as the movie progresses and their relationship once again falters. They break up. Tony Leung takes a lousy job as a doorman at a tango bar; Leslie Cheung—promiscuous, volatile—becomes a sort of rent boy, though the precise nature of his relationships with other men is never clearly defined. (Over the years I’ve developed a resistance to remembering the characters’ names, wanting, I guess, to imagine that Tony Leung and Leslie Cheung were actually in a relationship.) Leslie drifts in and out of Tony Leung’s life, sometimes bringing his tricks to the bar where Tony works. From time to time they appear ready to get back together again, but they always miss their chance to connect—often in a literal sense, for example when one goes looking for the other, but goes into one door just as the other emerges from an adjacent one.

Their relationship is a series of missed connections, but it is more tragic than two people simply being in the wrong frame of mind at the wrong time. It is impossible for the men to achieve intimacy because they are unable to carve out their place in the world—neither in Buenos Aires nor in Hong Kong, which is referred to often but never in comforting or nostalgic terms. Their new city is not welcoming, and neither is their home country. The same set of problems they escaped from home to avoid follow them to this strange foreign place. The Buenos Aires they inhabit is at once real and unreal, sometimes gritty, other times so dreamy it seems like an imagined city. The mesmerizing visuals that Christopher Doyle created for that film (and would carry into Wong Kar-Wai’s future works) make us feel as if the characters are floating through the city, incapable of affixing themselves to it.

Late in the film, a major new character is introduced—an innocent, uncomplicated young man from Taiwan played by Chang Chen, who works in the Chinese restaurant where Tony Leung has found employment. They form a close friendship, one that seems nourishing and stable. But Tony Leung is still preoccupied by Leslie Cheung, even though they are no longer together. Does Chang Chen feel more for Tony Leung than mere friendship? Almost certainly, he does. He goes to Ushuaia, the farthest point of the Americas, but Tony Leung chooses to remain in Buenos Aires. Those missed connections again: that impossibility, for Tony Leung at least, to figure out how he truly feels because he is too far from home, cut off from his points of reference. That intense separation should have brought him objectivity; he should have gained clarity of thought and emotion. Instead his feelings remain trapped in a place he wants to leave behind, but is unable to forget.

In the closing scenes, Tony Leung finally manages to leave Buenos Aires and travels not to Hong Kong but Taipei. He goes to the night market where Chang Chen’s family runs a food store. Chang Chen isn’t there, he is still traveling the world. “I finally understood how he could be happy running around so free,” Tony Leung says in his low, sad, matter-of-fact voice-over. “It’s because he has a place he can always return to.”

When I think of that period in 1997, when I couldn’t walk down the street or fall asleep without seeing Tony and Leslie dancing the tango in a squalid kitchen, or hearing Caetano Veloso’s featherlight voice hovering over ravishing images of the Iguaçu Falls—I can’t help but think that we were in a short era of innocence before the complicated decades that lay ahead. The Hong Kong that Wong Kar-Wai refers to in that movie no longer exists. The film’s original title is 春光乍洩, which means the first emergence of spring sunshine—or, more idiomatically, a glimpse of something intimate. But perhaps it refers also to that brief moment of openness and… [more]
wongkar-wai  tashaw  film  memories  memory  place  belonging  home  1990s  1997  2019  youth  identity  storytelling  unsettledness  separation  malaysia  education  highered  highereducation  langauge  english  malay  cantonese  mandarin  chinese  malaysian  change  innocence  london  capitalism  jakarta  southeastasia  hongkong  china  tonyleung  lesliecheung  chunkingexpress  happytogether  fallenangels  daysofbeingwild  buenosaires  relationships  intimacy  families  connection  nostalgia  comfort  cities  taiwan  changchen  taipei  vulnerability  openness  acceptance  victimization  divisiveness 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
notes from the periphery | spicytakes [Futures/futurities for The Redirect at SFMOMA]
"For this talk, I was asked to present a vision of the future, guided by a series of questions sent to me. I am very grateful for these questions, the chance to present a vision. But I was unable to conjure a vision of the future.

Instead, I will try the difficult task of describing the present as I see it, and perhaps somewhere our views might overlap – difficult these days. For me, traveling through the world, through China, through the US can be time travel enough.

I see the hyperspeed of the Bay Area, as a black Tesla scrapes against a parked car in slow motion, outside a historic black church in Oakland, next to a new brunch spot. Churchgoers and Sunday brunchers mix in a line that goes around the corner, spirituality and community threaded. A homeless man sells print media, as brunchers are glued to their phones. Depending on who you ask these days, Oakland is in the middle of a tech induced decline or a creative renaissance, or both. Survival at the edges.

I can describe to you a warp speed visit to Shenzhen, in its tech culture that remixes and hacks parts into new forms of hardware, hardware that hold an exuberant virality. In Shenzhen’s lack of intellectual property rights, I see entirely modular phones that make repair easy, unlike the cypher of an iPhone. There are phones with built in compasses that point to Mecca, earbuds that sell like hotcakes in Nairobi, co-designed by young Kenyan and Chinese entrepreneurs.

The death of intellectual property rights means a death to a human right, the assumed human right towards claiming invention. It spells a death to the elevated, individual genius. In much of Western media this death is noted as deeply problematic: copy cat culture in Shenzhen, the Chinese inability to innovate, only steal.

In Shenzhen I interview a prominent member of the maker movement who calls herself a cyborg. She brings up the deep contradictions of Western views on innovation. Why was it, she tells me, that the girls she grew up with in Shenzhen, who went on to work as factory girls in electronics factories were seen as mindless drones, while a few miles away, she soldered on Youtube and was heralded as a maker movement star? In this challenge to an Enlightenment era construction of humanity, of a purity of invention, I think of Sylvia Wynter’s wise words. “…The struggle of our new millennium will be one between the ongoing imperative of securing the well-being of our present ethnoclass (i.e., Western bourgeois) conception of the human”, she writes. And this line between security and uncertainty I believe, marks so much of our relationship to technology. the moment, as the computer scientist Terry Winogrand writes about, as the moment where we ascribe rationality to machine and the ongoing obsession with who is human.

I travel to another fold in time, rural Shandong China, in a Taobao village. In this village, over 70% of households make products at home for Taobao.com, an e-commerce platform made by the Chinese tech giant Alibaba. In rural Taobao land, the laws of Taobao supersede government laws. Farmers toil in the fields and during holiday seasons, they make costumes in home workshops for customers from Shanghai to Hanoi. One farmer is now a millionaire. I wander through fields, judging and gauging, ready to indict the viscitudes of platform capitalism, worried of a future where an entire village uses Alibaba’s mobile payment system, of tech led credit ratings. Of being beholden to Alibaba forever, amidst a village Taobao kindergarten and a Taobao hotel. The number of Taobao villages have skyrocketed, with more to come under Alibaba’s Rural Development Strategy. Other companies, like Foxconn are beginning to understand this spatial fix, this moving inward into the countryside, leaving expensive cities, like Shenzhen. Last year, Foxconn opened a 300,000 person iphone factory in Henan. All of this, under a loose policy by the government of “rural revitalization” – a nod to the rise of industrialized farming and the tech economy that must replace it.

I ask one farmer, who is also a Taobao producer, about his concerns for the future of his village’s close ties to Taobao.

He tells me that “the future” is a concept created if you believe that everything in the present is imperfect. He says that here, in the fields, in the long dark of winters, is the revelation that the universe is perfect as is. It is up to us to maintain it. There is no future, because every day depends on precariously balancing the present.

So if the future is produced, what does it mean to hold still the present? When we speak of crisis and apocalypse in the future, what needs do those words serve? Who’s needs do they serve? I think of an interview with indigenous sci-fi writer Rebecca Roanhorse. In it, she says “I think Native folks have already experienced an apocalypse, all the sort of dystopian tropes you see in movies, we’ve experienced those — our land lost, our children taken away, sent to schools and things like that. And we’ve survived.”

To hold still the present for a moment, means facing the different threads of time that weave our understanding of technology, of who we construct as the human, of what we construct as technology to begin with. After all, technology itself is a produced concept, as historian Ruth Oldenziel has documented: it was Thorsten Veblen who came up with the idea that technology is something that engineers produce. Before that, the loose umbrella of how-to was an unelevated, technical art that anyone (including) could attend to.

In a constructed futurity: who has the right to the future, who is left to steward the present? I think of software and how its builders dream of changing the world, while underneath, labor and geographic peripheries power copper mines and data centers. I think of how much work we have if we commit to the project of revolution, and who really does the work.

I wonder who are the people who must agree to the fictions someone else wrote, and those who are powerful enough to write fictions for the rest of us? I am not good at inscribing fiction, because I am still unlearning everyday the concrete and psychological fictions someone else has written.

And spending time in the Chinese countryside trying to unravel rural technology use, economic prosperity and nationalism, I begin to realize my questions are all insufficient. The mismatch is my urban understanding of time, the fictions that I have learned. Life in one village still centers around the agricultural calendar. In the agricultural calendar there are nine days in a week. Because of this, I never get the market days right.

When I finally figure out the days, I walk by people stirring sesame oil in a giant wok, all sorts of contraptions to distill, boil, assemble, nourish. If Veblen could divide realms into technology or not, surely these contraptions can be technologies too. And if we already live in a world where time travel is possible simply by traveling through multiple understandings of time and talking to others, what happens when there are multiple understandings of technology? If we embrace multitudes, what happens to the desire for a singular future, for reassurance, or our even our desires for certainty?"
xiaoweiwang  2019  rural  shenzhen  china  manufacturing  alibaba  taobao  capitalism  platformcapitalism  ruraldevelopmentstrategy  foxconn  revitalization  ruralrevitalization  future  bayarea  oakland  peripheries  nairobi  present  futures  countryside 
7 weeks ago by robertogreco
Paper Books Can’t Be Shut Off from Afar – Popula
[See also (referenced within):
"Microsoft is about to shut off its ebook DRM servers: "The books will stop working""
https://boingboing.net/2019/06/28/jun-17-2004.html ]

“Private ownership—in particular the private ownership of books, software, music and other cultural information—is the linchpin of a free society. Having many copies of works of art, music and literature distributed widely (e.g., many copies of the same book among many private owners, or many copies of the same audio files, torrents or blockchain ledger entries on many private computers) protects a culture against corruption and censorship. Decentralization strategies like these help to preserve press freedom, and individual freedom. The widespread private ownership of cultural artifacts guarantees civil liberties, and draws people into their culture immanently, persistently, giving it life and power.

Cory Doctorow’s comment on Friday at BoingBoing regarding private ownership of books is well worth reading; he wrote it because Microsoft is shutting down its e-books service, and all the DRM books people bought from them will thus vanish into thin air. Microsoft will provide refunds to those affected, but that isn’t remotely the point. The point is that all their users’ books are to be shut off with a single poof! on Microsoft’s say-so. That is a button that nobody, no corporation and no government agency, should be ever permitted to have.

“The idea that the books I buy can be relegated to some kind of fucking software license is the most grotesque and awful thing I can imagine,” Doctorow said.

At this very moment, governments are forbidding millions of people, Chinese people, Cubans, Belarusians and Egyptians and Hungarians and many, many others all over this world, from reading whatever they want.

So if there is to be a fear of the increasing adoption of e-books such as those offered by Microsoft, and to a far greater degree, Amazon, that’s by far the scariest thing about it. Because if you were to keep all your books in a remotely controlled place, some villain really could come along one day and pretty much flip the switch and take them all away — and not just yours but everyone’s, all at once. What if we had some species of Trump deciding to take action against the despicable, dangerous pointy-heads he is forever railing against?

Boom! Nothing left to read but The Art of the Deal.

I don’t intend on shutting up about this ever, and I’m sure Doctorow won’t either, bless him.”
mariabustillos  books  print  drm  decentralization  2019  microsoft  kindle  china  cuba  belarus  egypt  hungary  censorship  totalitarianism  georgeorwell  society  freedom  corporations  ip  intellectualproperty  ownership  ebooks  libery  power  culture  corydoctorow 
july 2019 by robertogreco
Uber’s Path of Destruction - American Affairs Journal
"ince it began operations in 2010, Uber has grown to the point where it now collects over $45 billion in gross passenger revenue, and it has seized a major share of the urban car service market. But the widespread belief that it is a highly innovative and successful company has no basis in economic reality.

An examination of Uber’s economics suggests that it has no hope of ever earning sustainable urban car service profits in competitive markets. Its costs are simply much higher than the market is willing to pay, as its nine years of massive losses indicate. Uber not only lacks powerful competitive advantages, but it is actually less efficient than the competitors it has been driving out of business.

Uber’s investors, however, never expected that their returns would come from superior efficiency in competitive markets. Uber pursued a “growth at all costs” strategy financed by a staggering $20 billion in investor funding. This funding subsidized fares and service levels that could not be matched by incumbents who had to cover costs out of actual passenger fares. Uber’s massive subsidies were explicitly anticompetitive—and are ultimately unsustainable—but they made the company enormously popular with passengers who enjoyed not having to pay the full cost of their service.

The resulting rapid growth was also intended to make Uber highly attractive to those segments of the investment world that believed explosive top-line growth was the only important determinant of how start-up companies should be valued. Investors focused narrow­ly on Uber’s revenue growth and only rarely considered whether the company could ever produce the profits that might someday repay the multibillion dollar subsidies.

Most public criticisms of Uber have focused on narrow behavioral and cultural issues, including deceptive advertising and pricing, algorithmic manipulation, driver exploitation, deep-seated misogyny among executives, and disregard of laws and business norms. Such criticisms are valid, but these problems are not fixable aberrations. They were the inevitable result of pursuing “growth at all costs” without having any ability to fund that growth out of positive cash flow. And while Uber has taken steps to reduce negative publicity, it has not done—and cannot do—anything that could suddenly pro­duce a sustainable, profitable business model.

Uber’s longer-term goal was to eliminate all meaningful competition and then profit from this quasi-monopoly power. While it has already begun using some of this artificial power to suppress driver wages, it has not achieved the Facebook- or Amazon-type “plat­form” power it hoped to exploit. Given that both sustainable profits and true industry dominance seemed unachievable, Uber’s investors de­cided to take the company public, based on the hope that enough gullible investors still believe that the compa­ny’s rapid growth and popularity are the result of powerfully effi­cient inno­vations and do not care about its inability to generate profits.

These beliefs about Uber’s corporate value were created entirely out of thin air. This is not a case of a company with a reasonably sound operating business that has managed to inflate stock market expectations a bit. This is a case of a massive valuation that has no relationship to any economic fundamentals. Uber has no competitive efficiency advantages, operates in an industry with few barriers to entry, and has lost more than $14 billion in the previous four years. But its narratives convinced most people in the media, invest­ment, and tech worlds that it is the most valuable transportation company on the planet and the second most valuable start-up IPO in U.S. history (after Facebook).

Uber is the breakthrough case where the public perception of a large new company was entirely created using the types of manufactured narratives typically employed in partisan political campaigns. Narrative construction is perhaps Uber’s greatest competitive strength. The company used these techniques to completely divert attention away from the massive subsidies that were the actual drivers of its popularity and growth. It successfully framed the entire public discussion around an emotive, “us-versus-them” battle between heroic innovators and corrupt regulators who were falsely blamed for all of the industry’s historic service problems. Uber’s desired framing—that it was fighting a moral battle on behalf of technological progress and economic freedom—was uncritically ac­cepted by the mainstream business and tech industry press, who then never bothered to analyze the firm’s actual economics or its anticompetitive behavior.

In reality, Uber’s platform does not include any technological breakthroughs, and Uber has done nothing to “disrupt” the eco­nomics of providing urban car services. What Uber has disrupted is the idea that competitive consumer and capital markets will maximize overall economic welfare by rewarding companies with superior efficiency. Its multibillion dollar subsidies completely distorted marketplace price and service signals, leading to a massive misallocation of resources. Uber’s most important innovation has been to produce staggering levels of private wealth without creating any sustainable benefits for consumers, workers, the cities they serve, or anyone else."
huberthoran  uber  carsharing  taxis  transportation  2019  economics  technology  technosolutionism  huxterism  propaganda  regulation  disruption  innovation  scale  networkeffects  amazon  facebook  venturecapital  siliconvalley  latecapitalism  capitalism  exploitation  labor  growth  lyft  china  startups  cities  urban  urbanism  productivity  traviskalanick 
june 2019 by robertogreco
The Rebel Alliance: Extinction Rebellion and a Green New Deal - YouTube
"Extinction Rebellion and AOC’s Green New Deal have made global headlines. Can their aims be aligned to prevent climate catastrophe?

Guest host Aaron Bastani will be joined by journalist and environmentalist George Monbiot and economist Ann Pettifor."
extinctionrebellion  georgemonbiot  gdp  economics  capitalism  growth  worldbank  2019  greennewdeal  humanwelfare  fossilfuels  aaronbastani  climate  climatechange  globalwarming  mainstreammedia  media  action  bbc  critique  politics  policy  currentaffairs  comedy  environment  environmentalism  journalism  change  systemschange  left  right  thinktanks  power  influence  libertarianism  taxation  taxes  ideology  gretathunberg  protest  davidattenborough  statusquo  consumerism  consumption  wants  needs  autonomy  education  health  donaldtrump  nancypelosi  us  southafrica  sovietunion  democrats  centrism  republicans  money  narrative  corruption  diannefeinstein  opposition  oppositionism  emissions  socialdemocracy  greatrecession  elitism  debt  financialcrisis  collapse  annpettifor  socialism  globalization  agriculture  local  production  nationalism  self-sufficiency  inertia  despair  doom  optimism  inequality  exploitation  imperialism  colonialism  history  costarica  uk  nihilism  china  apathy  inaction 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Minh-Ha T. Pham on Twitter: "Folks teaching courses on and/or writing about race + beauty, assign/read Thuy Linh N. Tu's latest essay, "White Like Koreans: The Skin of New Vietnam," a beautifully written, smart essay that looks at the significance of whit
"Folks teaching courses on and/or writing about race + beauty, assign/read Thuy Linh N. Tu's latest essay, "White Like Koreans: The Skin of New Vietnam," a beautifully written, smart essay that looks at the significance of whiteness in VN and Asia that DOESN'T CENTRALIZE the West.

Folks teaching courses on and/or writing abt ethical fashion/garment industry, check out @deniseacruz's gorgeous essay "Splitting the Seams: Transnat'l Feminism and ... Filipino Couture." What ethical production really looks like FROM THE PERSPECTIVE of global south workers.

Another one for race + beauty research that doesn't assume or use a western framework --> S. Heijin Lee's "Beauty Between Empires." Also includes a great discussion of how social media helps/hurts Korean feminism.

Another one for ethical fashion/fast fashion/garment industry researchers: Christina Moon's "Times, Tempos, and Rhythm of Fast Fashion in LA & Seoul" - an ethnographic work that dispels major misconceptions abt fast fashion much of it is made in USA + involves design work)

All of these essays are in the newly published book *Fashion and Beauty in the Time of Asia* (@NYUpress).

Also: all these women are my friends, my friends are smart, my friends are beautiful writers. Read them, cite them. (I'm not done reading the book . Will have more later.)

PS. I have a chapter in the same book. Drawing on the China Through the Looking Glass exhibition at the Met, I argue that "cultural inspiration" is more than a personal feeling; it's a cultural economic asset that provides protection, recognition, and profit -- for some."

[See also: "Fashion and Beauty in the Time of Asia, by S. Heijin Lee , Christina H. Moon and Thuy Linh Nguyen Tu
NYU Series in Social and Cultural Analysis"
https://nyupress.org/9781479892846/fashion-and-beauty-in-the-time-of-asia/ ]
race  beauty  fashion  asia  korea  vietnam  whiteness  2019  minh-hapham  sheijinlee  feminism  socialmedia  christinamoon  china  books  thuylinhnguyentu 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Because China — Quartz
"Small changes in China have huge effects worldwide; Chinese people are reshaping global tourism, education, technology, and more. But superpowers are rare, and each is different—China won’t be like the United States. We’re traveling around the world to find stories that show a Chinese superpower in action along with all of its opportunities, tensions, innovations, and dangers. Check back for new episodes."
china  video  technology  education  superpower  global  influence  impact 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Yong Zhao "What Works May Hurt: Side Effects in Education" - YouTube
"Proponents of standardized testing and privatization in education have sought to prove their effectiveness in improving education with an abundance of evidence. These efforts, however, can have dangerous side effects, causing long-lasting damage to children, teachers, and schools. Yong Zhao, Foundation Distinguished Professor in the School of Education at the University of Kansas, will argue that education interventions are like medical products: They can have serious, sometimes detrimental, side effects while also providing cures. Using standardized testing and privatization as examples, Zhao, author of the internationally bestselling Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon? Why China Has the Best (and Worst) Education System in the World, will talk about his new book on why and how pursuing a narrow set of short-term outcomes causes irreparable harm in education."
yongzhao  2018  schools  schooling  pisa  education  testing  standardizedtesting  standardization  china  us  history  testscores  children  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  sideeffects  privatization  tims  math  reading  confidence  assessment  economics  depression  diversity  entrepreneurship  japan  creativity  korea  vietnam  homogenization  intolerance  prosperity  tolerance  filtering  sorting  humans  meritocracy  effort  inheritance  numeracy  literacy  achievementgap  kindergarten  nclb  rttt  policy  data  homogeneity  selectivity  charterschools  centralization  decentralization  local  control  inequity  curriculum  autonomy  learning  memorization  directinstruction  instruction  poverty  outcomes  tfa  teachforamerica  finland  singapore  miltonfriedman  vouchers  resilience  growthmindset  motivation  psychology  research  positivepsychology  caroldweck  intrinsicmotivation  choice  neoliberalism  high-stakestesting 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Remapping LA - Guernica
"Before California was West, it was North and it was East: the uppermost periphery of the Mexican Empire, and the arrival point for Chinese immigrants making the perilous journey from Guangdong."



"Open any contemporary map of LA and you can see the exact spot where the Mexican gives way to the American: Hoover Street, just west of downtown, in which angled Mexican streets bend to accommodate the US grid. In a 2010 essay, Waldie described that point as “crossing from one imperial imagination to another.” A shift in power, in place and identity—all marked by a single line.

***

In his map, Ord diligently marked street names, topography, and the families to whom designated agricultural lands belonged. (Many of these names now remain in Los Angeles memory as city streets: Sepulveda, Vignes, and Sanchez.) Ord, however, omitted one crucial feature: the plaza.

The city block that it occupies made it into the map. But the plaza itself went unlabeled. Perhaps it was an oversight, an urban feature that may have seemed inconsequential to a surveyor from the East Coast. The omission, however, marginalized a crucial feature of Los Angeles.

Under Mexican rule, the bare plaza—a photo from 1862 shows a rough square crisscrossed by footpaths—had been of critical importance. It anchored social and civic life in the city: a site of weddings and inaugurations, and, ultimately, the place where United States military commanders parked their troops when they invaded during the Mexican-American War—complete with brass band playing “Yankee Doodle Dandy.”

Even more, the plaza represents an important facet of the mestizo, an urban space that mixes elements of the indigenous and the European. In the early days of colonization, plazas in Spain were small, medieval affairs, tucked into a city’s available spaces. But plazas among Mesoamerican cultures were power centers—larger, more open, more ceremonial, more central, often surrounded by a settlement’s most important buildings. In his engaging 2008 book The Los Angeles Plaza, William David Estrada notes that the vibrant plazas that developed in Latin America, “especially in Mexico, were as much a product of the Indian world—the world of the Maya, Toltec, and Aztec before the conquest—as they were European.”

The Plaza de Los Angeles, therefore, is not simply a random green space. It is the urban embodiment of a non-Anglo, hybrid American space—American, in the sense of belonging to the continent, not simply the US. Of the 44 pobladores who arrived from Sinaloa, Durango, and Jalisco, and who founded the City of Los Angeles in 1781, only two were Spaniards. Most of the people were indigenous, mixed-race, black, or mestizo. The plaza was their shared space—a space that reflected the city’s location, not as a Western outpost, but as a Northern one.

Today, the Plaza de Los Angeles is lined with stately trees and punctuated by a bright bandstand. It is a prominent tourist attraction, part of the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument that includes nearby Olvera Street, a passageway stuffed with vendors dispensing ceramics, ponchos, and hot churros dipped in sugar and cinnamon. The plaza is no longer the center of civic life in Los Angeles, but it remains an important social space. On weekends, musicians entertain Latino families who attend religious services in the area, then descend on the square to eat and dance.

In the popular imagination, LA is often cast as a Westside yoga girl who’s into colonics and kale. But Los Angeles is more likely to be a little Mexican girl, grooving to a cover of “Juana La Cubana” in the plaza—a space her ancestors helped devise.

***

As important as the plaza has been to Mexican life, it has been critical for other groups, too—in ways both poignant and chilling. That takes me back to the simple map that hangs at the Chinese American Museum.

Shown on the map is a short lane that once ran parallel to Los Angeles Street, just off the plaza. Sometime during the era of Mexican independence, it became known as Calle de Los Negros. As the story goes, one of the alcaldes (mayors) of the era baptized the street after the mixed-race families who lived there, and the name stuck. After California was ceded to the US, Calle de Los Negros was Anglicized to “Negro Alley”—never mind that most the people who lived there by the end of the nineteenth century were Chinese.

Calle de Los Negros, in fact, was the site of a notorious riot known as the Chinese Massacre of 1871. The ruckus started when a white man was accidentally killed in crossfire between two Chinese groups. In the wake of his death, a mob of 500 people “of all nationalities”—including police officers, a city council member, and a reporter—began a brutal assault on any and all Chinese people living in Negro Alley. Some were lynched; others were shot. Bodies were mutilated and dragged. An estimated 17 people died; seven men were ultimately convicted for manslaughter.

It was an episode of vicious anti-Asian sentiment that drew international headlines. It also drew attention to a street whose name was born of racism—racism that carried into Los Angeles map-making. Calle de los Negros was frequently referred to in English as “Nigger Alley.” And in some early twentieth century maps, it is that appalling pejorative that appears as official map nomenclature, including on the historic sheet at the Chinese American Museum.

Today, all that remains of Calle de los Negros are the maps. The lane was later renamed Los Angeles Street. In the 1950s, it was razed and replaced with a freeway on-ramp and a parking lot. Sometimes ugly histories are also erased from the faces of cities and their maps.

In the 1930s, much of old Chinatown was bulldozed to make way for Union Station. The community was relocated a few blocks to the north, to a complex of fanciful buildings that bear the flourishes of Chinese temple architecture. The new Chinatown is less residential and more commercial, cluttered with restaurants and tourist markets and a photogenic statue of Bruce Lee (not to mention a singular Asian-Mexican gas station). Subsequent generations of Chinese immigrants have chosen not to live in this area. Instead, they have moved to communities such as Alhambra and Monterey Park, further east.

But one vestige of the old Chinatown still survives: the Garnier Building, a red brick, Romanesque Revival structure completed in 1890. The Garnier, which appears in the map at the museum, once served as an important hub for Chinese life in Los Angeles. It was here that residents could visit the herb shop, get access to financial services, and support organizations that fought for citizenship rights. (The Chinese Exclusion Act prevented Chinese Americans from applying for citizenship until 1943.)

The Garnier is now the home to the Chinese American Museum, which helps preserve the community’s history. A small courtyard marks the entrance to the museum, where paper lanterns bob in the breeze. It is a touch of Asia in a structure that lies between tilted streets with Spanish names, just steps from the Plaza de Los Angeles.

To look at Los Angeles as West is to see a charming, yet incomplete, picture of Los Angeles. It is one narrative that overwrites many. The Los Angeles of the West is a Los Angeles molded to Anglo preconception. It is a Los Angeles of railroads and Hollywood. It is the end of the line.

The Los Angeles of the North and the East has been here for centuries, and it is everywhere. It has given Los Angeles its name and its grid. It has shaped the city’s architecture and supplied its most distinctive flavors. It is Chicano teens drinking Taiwanese bubble tea on an avenue called Cesar Chavez. It is Latino families flocking to a 1960s American diner that’s been converted into a pan-Asian noodle joint. It is Asian low-riders and Salvadoran sushi chefs. It is the point of entry—the beginning."
carolinamiranda  us  california  losangeles  history  maps  mapping  cartography  2019  china  chinese  mexico  architecture  cities  plazas  power  east  west  orientation  chinatown  canon  djwaldie 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Episode 58: The Neoliberal Optimism Industry de Citations Needed Podcast
"We're told the world is getting better all the time. In January, The New York Times' Nick Kristof explained "Why 2017 Was the Best Year in Human History." The same month, Harvard professor and Bill Gates' favorite optimist Steven Pinker lamented (in a special edition of Time magazine guest edited by - who else? - Bill Gates) the “bad habits of media... bring out the worst in human cognition”. By focusing so much on negative things, the theory goes, we are tricked into thinking things are getting worse when, in reality, it's actually the opposite.

For the TEDtalk set, that the world is awesome and still improving is self-evidently true - just look at the data. But how true is this popular axiom? How accurate is the portrayal that the world is improving we so often seen in sexy, hockey stick graphs of upward growth and rapidly declining poverty? And how, exactly, are the powers that be "measuring" improvements in society?

On this episode, we take a look at the ideological project of telling us everything's going swimmingly, how those in power cook the books and spin data to make their case for maintaining the status quo, and how The Neoliberal Optimism Industry is, at its core, an anti-intellectual enterprise designed to lull us into complacency and political impotence.

Our guest is Dr. Jason Hickel."
jasonhickel  2018  stevenpinker  billgates  neoliberalism  capitalism  ideology  politics  economics  globalsouth  development  colonialism  colonization  china  africa  lies  data  poverty  inequality  trends  climatechange  globalwarming  climatereparations  nicholaskristof  thomasfriedman  society  gamingthenumbers  self-justification  us  europe  policy  vox  race  racism  intelligence  worldbank  imf 
february 2019 by robertogreco
The Future Is Made In China | MISC
"How Chinese Design and Values Are Driving Global Innovation

Like many other children who grew up in Canada with parents who did not, we felt the light embrace of a distant – yet distinctly present – country and culture. We learned what it was like to grow up in China through the stories of our parents and grandparents. The China our families remembered was one defined by a simple life but also underscored by a lack of basic infrastructure. There were no roads or bridges, they told us. Educated youths were sent to the countryside to pursue farm labor, where they would have the best chance of a secure livelihood.

Despite an awareness that things have changed since our parents were children, we have both found ourselves stuck in China’s past. Even when visiting several times in the last decade, we were always surprised and amazed by the country’s modernity each time we arrived. The advancements in technology and the country’s overall progress since the Open Door policy was introduced 40 years ago is even more startling from our parents’ perspective. Ever since then-leader Deng Xiaoping opened the country’s doors through the introduction of free market principles in 1978, China’s GDP has grown at a pace so rapid that the World Bank described it as “the fastest sustained expansion by a major economy in history.” Even more significant is that with GDP growth averaging 10% per year – three times the global average – an estimated 800 million people have been raised out of poverty.

Conversations within our social circles, as well as observations of China’s representation in Western popular media, have made it apparent to us that most people in North America share our original assumptions about modern life in the country our parents once called home. What they don’t realize is that China has been working tirelessly to catch up.

Watch, Learn, and Do It Better

The narrative that China is a “copycat” of the US, particularly in terms of its products and services, is a popular one in tech circles. In recent decades, however, this idea gained traction across the international community, and the Chinese government and its people decided they no longer wanted to be seen as imitators. They wanted to rid themselves of the misconception of China as “manufacturer to the world” – only executing others’ ideas, never originating new concepts themselves. This was the catalyst for a 2015 initiative known as Made in China 2025.

This initiative identifies 10 industries within which China aims to be globally competitive by 2025, ranging from robotics, to new materials (such as those used in solar cells), to new-energy vehicles. While these goals may sound familiar, particularly to Westerners, Made in China 2025 stands out because it clearly outlines how the country plans to grow in these industries. The project acts as an extremely public blueprint for shifting the nation from an industrial economy to a service-based economy driven by technology and innovation. As a country, China is unified by a holistic approach and a shared vision rooted in innovation and research, enabling the many public and private actors required for change to work toward a common goal. China’s long tradition of direct government intervention in the economy has enabled it to succeed rapidly and on a massive scale.

China’s tech industry continues to expand rapidly, though the recent trade tariffs introduced by President Trump’s administration highlight the unstable dynamic between China and the US. In addition, it appears that there is still a shroud of mystery surrounding China’s advancements as a leader in the global innovation space. In a recent Wired article, Kai-Fu Lee, former president of Google China and current CEO of venture capital firm Sinovation Ventures, said:

I think from a logical standpoint the time has come to copy from China … but in practice, it’s not. Chinese entrepreneurs know everything about what’s happening in Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley people, a few of them know a lot about China; some of them know a little bit about China; most of them know nothing about China.

Rather than dismissing China or perceiving China’s advancement as a threat, it is time to acknowledge that in some areas, the country’s best-in-class technology has become an example to learn from.

Move Fast and Don’t Break Things

China is a blank canvas, largely due to a lack of legacy technology infrastructure combined with a uniquely enclosed innovation model despite substantial foreign investment. For China, following the common adage that spurs many companies in Silicon Valley – “move fast and break things” – would be a rash move with serious consequences. Freedom is a luxury that must be handled delicately, especially considering the sheer size of China’s population and its relatively nonexistent privacy laws. The following companies have managed to find this balance in their respective industries.

Payments: Alipay and WeChat Pay

At the forefront of the payments space are Alipay, operated by Alibaba’s fintech affiliate Ant Financial, and WeChat Pay, developed by Tencent. With Alibaba and Tencent both making the 2018 Top 10 Risers list in Kantar and WPP’s 2018 “BrandZ™ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands” report, the meteoric rise of mobile payments led by these two companies is proof of China’s remarkable ability to scale. The technology for quick response (QR) codes was originally developed in Japan in 1994 for the automotive industry and was later adapted by Alipay for use with mobile payments. China’s vast market and lack of credit and debit card use has expedited the expansion of mobile payments across the country. This, coupled with the centralized nature of Alibaba’s and Tencent’s ecosystems, quickly proliferated Alipay and WeChat Pay through ecommerce and social media, respectively. This meant that brick-and-mortar stores, from massive chains to the neighborhood food stall, had to follow suit or be left behind. And follow suit they did: Data from iResearch Consulting Group shows that mobile payments in China grew from 1.2 trillion yuan ($187B) in 2013 to 58.8 trillion yuan in 2016. In 2018, QR code settlements are expected to reach 165.9 trillion yuan: more than 90 times the size of the US mobile payments market, as reported by Forrester Research.

According to an article from Knowledge@Wharton, published by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, over the past three years Alipay and WeChat Pay have enabled 98.3% of Chinese consumers – including those in rural areas – to shift directly from cash to smartphone. By contrast, only 5.6% of the surveyed population in the US have used mobile payments. Looking ahead, Alibaba and Tencent are hoping to take their expertise in QR technology and go-to-market strategy to begin scaling in developing countries where consumers have less access to credit cards and other traditional banking services. If innovation is the process of turning ideas into outcomes, China’s nearly cashless transaction model has definitively allowed it to emerge as an innovation economy.

Online-Offline Integration: Hema Fresh

As ecommerce continues to boom and brick-and-mortar retailers find themselves coming up against rising land and labor costs, the question of how to blend digital and physical commerce becomes increasingly important. Many believe that the ideal state for bringing these two worlds together will come in the form of an integrated process that provides consumers with a seamlessly engaging experience while enabling companies to optimize both digital and physical operations. This future seemed elusive until recently.

For most, an important shift occurred when Amazon announced its purchase of Whole Foods in 2017 and opened its first Amazon Go location in January of 2018. Unbeknownst to many, however, Alibaba was three years ahead of its North American competitor, debuting its first attempt at “new retail” in 2015 in the form of Hema Fresh. For a first attempt, Hema Fresh is impressive. By connecting product barcodes with a mobile app, Hema Fresh allows consumers to research products during their in-store shopping experience. Shoppers can trace a product’s origin, delivery, and nutritional information, and the app also recommends recipes and other relevant products. The data taken from these cashless transactions enables further personalization of the user’s recommendations. The physical aspect includes an eat-as-you-shop option, where shoppers can hand-pick fresh seafood and have it cooked on-site. The food is soon ready for shoppers to eat in Hema’s dining area. Facial recognition is also used at checkout. Meanwhile, Hema stores act as fulfillment centers for online shoppers, who can have their orders delivered within 30 minutes of placement.

There are now 25 Hema stores across China, and Alibaba has plans to more than double the store’s presence in 2018. In a press release for Alibaba, Hou Yi, CEO of Hema, said that he hopes that “as [the] model becomes more established, it can be shared with other traditional retailers to help them transform in the digital age.”

Mobility: Didi Chuxing

Migration from rural areas in China has led to the ongoing expansion of urban populations over the past few decades, causing urban development to grow at breakneck speeds. Sprawling expressways and superblocks congested with cars now connect cities across the country. Didi Chuxing (“DiDi”), the world’s largest ride-sharing service, was founded with this simple frustration in mind. DiDi aims to “redefine the future of mobility” by leveraging big data and machine learning to help solve this problem, which is characteristic of many Chinese cities. While Uber and Lyft dominate ride-sharing in the US, the sheer scale and size of DiDi sets it apart. According to recent articles from Reuters and Wired, the service has 550 million users in over 400 cities in China, delivering… [more]
samanthalew  ronniepang  china  legacy  infrastructure  change  leapfrogging  2018  technology  design  didichuxing  mobile  phones  smartphones  alibaba  legacysystems  ecommerce  mobilepayments  wechat 
december 2018 by robertogreco
The Radical Tactics of the Offline Library on Vimeo
[parts of the video (from the introduction): "1. Libraries existed to copy data. Libraries as warehouses was a recent idea and not a very good one 2. The online world used to be considered rhizomatic but recent events have proven that it is actually quite arboretic and precarious. 3. A method of sharing files using hard drives is slow, but it is extremely resilient. This reversalism is a radical tactic agains draconian proprietarianism. 4. There are forces and trends that are working against portable libraries."]

[Book is here:
http://networkcultures.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/NN07_complete.pdf
http://networkcultures.org/blog/publication/no-07-radical-tactics-of-the-offline-library-henry-warwick/ ]

"The Radical Tactics of the Offline Library is based on the book "Radical Tactics: Reversalism and Personal Portable Libraries"
By Henry Warwick

The Personal Portable Library in its most simple form is a hard drive or USB stick containing a large collection of e-books, curated and archived by an individual user. The flourishing of the offline digital library is a response to the fact that truly private sharing of knowledge in the online realm is increasingly made impossible. While P2P sharing sites and online libraries with downloadable e-books are precarious, people are naturally led to an atavistic and reversalist workaround. The radical tactics of the offline: abandoning the online for more secure offline transfer. Taking inspiration from ancient libraries as copying centers and Sneakernet, Henry Warwick describes the future of the library as digital and offline. Radical Tactics: Reversalism and Personal Portable Libraries traces the history of the library and the importance of the Personal Portable Library in sharing knowledge and resisting proprietarian forces.

The library in Alexandria contained about 500,000 scrolls; the Library of Congress, the largest library in the history of civilization, contains about 35 million books. A digital version of it would fit on a 24 TB drive, which can be purchased for about $2000. Obviously, most people don’t need 35 million books. A small local library of 10,000 books could fit on a 64 GB thumb drive the size of a pack of chewing gum and costing perhaps $40. An astounding fact with immense implications. It is trivially simple to start collecting e-books, marshalling them into libraries on hard drives, and then to share the results. And it is much less trivially important. Sharing is caring. Societies where people share, especially ideas, are societies that will naturally flourish."
libraries  henrywarwick  archives  collection  digital  digitalmedia  ebooks  drm  documentary  librarians  alexandriaproject  copying  rhizomes  internet  online  sharing  files  p2p  proprietarianism  sneakernet  history  harddrives  learning  unschooling  property  deschooling  resistance  mesopotamia  egypt  alexandria  copies  decay  resilience  cv  projectideas  libraryofalexandria  books  scrolls  tablets  radicalism  literacy  printing  moveabletype  china  europe  publishing  2014  copyright  capitalism  canon  librarydevelopment  walterbenjamin  portability  andrewtanenbaum  portable  portablelibraries  félixguattari  cloudcomputing  politics  deleuze  deleuze&guattari  web  offline  riaa  greed  openstudioproject  lcproject 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Marxism 101: How Capitalism is Killing Itself with Dr. Richard Wolff - YouTube
"Despite a concerted effort by the U.S. Empire to snuff out the ideology, a 2016 poll found young Americans have a much more favorable view of socialism than capitalism.

Though he died 133 years ago, the analysis put forward by one of the world’s most influential thinkers, Karl Marx, remains extremely relevant today. The Empire’s recent rigged presidential election has been disrupted by the support of an avowed socialist, Bernie Sanders, by millions of voters.

To find out why Marx’s popularity has stood the test of time, Abby Martin interviews renowned Marxist economist Richard Wolff, Professor Emeritus of Economics at UMass - Amherst, and visiting professor at the New School in New York.

Prof. Wolff gives an introduction suited for both beginners and seasoned Marxists, with comprehensive explanations of key tenets of Marxism including dialectical and historical materialism, surplus value, crises of overproduction, capitalism's internal contradictions, and more."
richardwolff  karlmarx  academia  academics  capitalism  accounting  us  inequality  communism  socialism  marxism  berniesanders  labor  idealism  materialism  radicalism  philosophy  dialecticalmaterialism  humans  systems  change  friedrichengels  slavery  automation  credit  finance  studentdebt  poverty  unions  organization  systemschange  china  russia  ussr  growth  2016  power  democracy  collectives  collectivism  meansofproduction  society  climatechange  environment  sustainability  rosaluxemburg  militaryindustrialcomplex  pollution  ethics  morality  immorality  ows  occupywallstreet  politics  corruption 
november 2018 by robertogreco
The Wrongest Profession | Dean Baker
[via: https://economicsociology.org/2018/07/21/bb-populism-rostows-economics-and-vietnam-war-informal-economy-grows-universities-privatization-failures-deficit-hawks-deceive-you-inequality-one-sided-economists/ ]

"How economists have botched the promise of widely distributed prosperity—and why they have no intention of stopping now"



"OVER THE PAST TWO DECADES, the economics profession has compiled an impressive track record of getting almost all the big calls wrong. In the mid-1990s, all the great minds in the field agreed that the unemployment rate could not fall much below 6 percent without triggering spiraling inflation. It turns out that the unemployment rate could fall to 4 percent as a year-round average in 2000, with no visible uptick in the inflation rate.

As the stock bubble that drove the late 1990s boom was already collapsing, leading lights in Washington were debating whether we risked paying off the national debt too quickly. The recession following the collapse of the stock bubble took care of this problem, as the gigantic projected surpluses quickly turned to deficits. The labor market pain from the collapse of this bubble was both unpredicted and largely overlooked, even in retrospect. While the recession officially ended in November 2001, we didn’t start creating jobs again until the fall of 2003. And we didn’t get back the jobs we lost in the downturn until January 2005. At the time, it was the longest period without net job creation since the Great Depression.

When the labor market did finally begin to recover, it was on the back of the housing bubble. Even though the evidence of a bubble in the housing sector was plainly visible, as were the junk loans that fueled it, folks like me who warned of an impending housing collapse were laughed at for not appreciating the wonders of modern finance. After the bubble burst and the financial crisis shook the banking system to its foundations, the great minds of the profession were near unanimous in predicting a robust recovery. Stimulus was at best an accelerant for the impatient, most mainstream economists agreed—not an essential ingredient of a lasting recovery.

While the banks got all manner of subsidies in the form of loans and guarantees at below-market interest rates, all in the name of avoiding a second Great Depression, underwater homeowners were treated no better than the workers waiting for a labor market recovery. The Obama administration felt it was important for homeowners, unlike the bankers, to suffer the consequences of their actions. In fact, white-collar criminals got a holiday in honor of the financial crisis; on the watch of the Obama Justice Department, only a piddling number of bankers would face prosecution for criminal actions connected with the bubble.

There was a similar story outside the United States, as the International Monetary Fund, along with the European Central Bank and the European Union, imposed austerity when stimulus was clearly needed. As a result, southern Europe is still far from recovery. Even after another decade on their current course, many southern European countries will fall short of their 2007 levels of income. The situation looks even worse for the bottom half of the income distribution in Greece, Spain, and Portugal.

Even the great progress for the world’s poor touted in the famous “elephant graph” turns out to be largely illusory. If China is removed from the sample, the performance of the rest of the developing world since 1988 looks rather mediocre. While the pain of working people in wealthy countries is acute, they are not alone. Outside of China, people in the developing world have little to show for the economic growth of the last three and a half decades. As for China itself, the gains of its huge population are real, but the country certainly did not follow Washington’s model of deficit-slashing, bubble-driven policies for developing countries.

In this economic climate, it’s not surprising that a racist, xenophobic, misogynist demagogue like Donald Trump could succeed in politics, as right-wing populists have throughout the wealthy world. While his platform may be incoherent, Trump at least promised the return of good-paying jobs. Insofar as Clinton and other Democrats offered an agenda for economic progress for American workers, hardly anyone heard it. And to those who did, it sounded like more of the same."



"At this point, the deficit hawks typically start raising apocalyptic fears about higher taxes impoverishing our children. I have three responses to this claim.

The first is that we are all paying much higher Social Security and Medicare taxes than our parents and grandparents did. Are we therefore the victims of generational inequity? What’s more, the main reason Social Security costs are rising is that our kids will live longer lives than we will. In other words, the dire specter of a generously subsidized cohort of older Americans is actually a sign of widespread social progress. (High Medicare costs are due to an incredibly inefficient health care system, but that’s another story—one that deficit hawks are also in the midst of monkey-wrenching in order to delegitimize any state-supported solution.)

My second reply is that we should be worried about after-tax income, not the tax rate. Recall that austerity policies favored by deficit hawks may have already cost us the equivalent of an increase in the payroll tax of 14 percentage points. We’re supposed to get hysterical over the prospect that our kids may pay 2 to 3 more percentage points in payroll taxes, but be unconcerned about this huge and needless loss of before-tax income?

More generally, if we manage to reverse the wage stagnation of the past thirty-plus years and see ordinary workers once more take a share of the gains of economic growth, their before-tax pay will be 40 to 50 percent higher in three decades than it is today. If they have to give back some of these gains in higher payroll taxes in order to support a longer retirement, it’s hard to see just what the problem would be. (The bigger question, of course, is whether we can succeed in creating a political economy in which ordinary workers will once again share in generalized economic growth.) And taxes are just one way in which the government imposes costs on citizens. Donald Trump wants to have a massive infrastructure program financed by the creation of toll roads. These tolls will be paid to private companies and will not count as taxes. Feel better?

On a much larger scale, the government grants patent and copyright monopolies as an incentive for research and creative work. In the case of prescription drugs alone, these patent monopolies cost close to $350 billion a year (approximately 1.9 percent of GDP) over what the price of drugs would be in a truly free market. Even as deficit hawks try to convince us that the government can’t afford to borrow another $50 billion a year to finance the research done by the pharmaceutical industry, they tell us not to worry about the extra $350 billion we pay for drugs because of government-granted patent monopolies. This monomaniacal obsession with tax burdens, to the exclusion of any reckoning with the burden of patent monopolies, shows yet again that the deficit hawks’ oft-professed concern for our children’s well-being is purely rhetorical, and in no way serious.

We should remember that we will pass down a whole society to our kids—including the natural environment that underwrites the quality of life of future generations. If the cost of ensuring that large numbers of children do not grow up in poverty and that the planet is not destroyed by global warming is a somewhat higher current or future tax burden, that hardly seems like a bad deal—especially if the burden is apportioned fairly. Now suppose, by contrast, that we hand our kids a country in which large segments of the population are unhealthy and uneducated and the environment has been devastated by global warming, but we have managed to pay off the national debt. That is, after all, the future that many in the mainstream of the economics profession are prescribing for the country. Somehow, I don’t see future generations thanking us."
economics  economists  us  policy  politics  deanbaker  health  healthcare  deficits  government  governance  gdp  priorities  labor  markets  capitalism  socialsecurity  bubbles  greatrecession  2018  china  portugal  spain  españa  greece  eu  paulryan  timothygeitner  donaldtrump  taxes 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Why, in China and Japan, a copy is just as good as an original | Aeon Essays
"In the West, when monuments are restored, old traces are often particularly highlighted. Original elements are treated like relics. The Far East is not familiar with this cult of the original. It has developed a completely different technique of preservation that might be more effective than conservation or restoration. This takes place through continual reproduction. This technique completely abolishes the difference between original and replica. We might also say that originals preserve themselves through copies. Nature provides the model. The organism also renews itself through continual cell-replacement. After a certain period of time, the organism is a replica of itself. The old cells are simply replaced by new cell material. In this case, the question of an original does not arise. The old dies off and is replaced by the new. Identity and renewal are not mutually exclusive. In a culture where continual reproduction represents a technique for conservation and preservation, replicas are anything but mere copies."
china  japan  copying  originality  evolution  copies  culture  2018  byung-chulhan  history  museums  cloning  korea  southkorea  buddhism  christianity  life  death 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Labs, courts and altars are also traveling truth-spots | Aeon Essays
"Throughout history, people found truth at holy places. Now we build courts, labs and altars to be truth spots too"



"But is longevity in a particular location always needed in order for a place to make people believe? Some truth-spots travel: they inhabit a place only temporarily. Sometimes a portable assemblage of material objects might be enough to consecrate an otherwise mundane place as a source for legitimate understandings – but only for the time that the stuff is there, before it moves on. But if a church or lab or courtroom can be folded up like a tent and pitched someplace else, can it really sustain its persuasive powers as a source for truth? Here is how it works."

[Reminds me some of Alexandra Lange on tables:
http://dirty-furniture.com/article/power-positions-2/ ]
ephemerality  ephemeral  truth  altars  persuasion  2018  thomasgieryn  science  justice  courts  mobility  history  china  antarctica  aztec  labs  lcproject  openstudioproject  antarctic 
june 2018 by robertogreco
How storybook lessons impart scholastic success | University of California
"The lessons from childhood storybooks are decidedly different in China and the United States, and align with the lessons the respective countries impart in the classroom, UC Riverside research finds.

There is a widely held perception — and some research to affirm it — that East Asian schools outperform schools in North America. A recent study published by UC Riverside psychologist Cecilia Cheung skirts the link between storybooks and school performance, but asserts that the lessons taught in Chinese schools could start early.

“The values that are commonly conveyed in Chinese (vs. U.S.) storybooks include an orientation toward achievement, respect for others — particularly the elderly — humility, and the importance of enduring hardship,” Cheung said. “In the U.S. storybooks, protagonists are often portrayed as having unique interest and strength in a certain domain, and the themes tend to be uplifting.”

For her study, published in the Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, Cheung compared storybooks in the U.S. and Mexico with those in China.

She chose 380 storybooks recommended by education ministries in the respective countries, for children aged 3 to 11. The study considered three core aspects of learning-related qualities: beliefs (views about the nature of intelligence), motivated cognitions (achievement, determination), and behaviors (effort, overcoming obstacles).

Charming stories with divergent values

A representative Chinese storybook is “A Cat That Eats Letters.” In the book, a cat has an appetite for sloppy letters. Whenever children write a letter that is too large, too small, too slanted, or with missing strokes, the cat eats the letters. The only way to stop this runaway letter-eating is for the children to write carefully, and to practice every day. This leads to a hungry cat, because the children have all become skilled writers. (Not to fear, the compassionate children then intentionally write some sloppy letters to feed the cat).

A more typical U.S.-Mexico storybook formula is represented by “The Jar of Happiness,” in which a little girl attempts to make a potion of happiness in a jar, then loses the jar. The happy ending comes courtesy of the girl’s realization that happiness doesn’t come from a jar, but rather from good friends – including those who will cheer her up when she loses a jar.

To a large extent, Cheung and her team found the Chinese storybooks celebrated the behaviors associated with learning and hard work. Somewhat to their surprise, they found U.S. and Mexican storybooks had a shared emphasis on self-esteem and social competence.

Past studies have affirmed the important role of parents in children’s scholastic achievement, Cheung said. But few have considered the role of “cultural artifacts,” such as storybooks.

Cheung argues that storybooks play a key role in establishing the values that can help determine scholastic success. Referencing past research, Cheung said it is “conceivable that exposure to reading materials that highlight the importance of learning-related qualities, such as effort and perseverance, may lead children to value such qualities to a greater extent.”

Cheung was joined in the research by UC Riverside graduate students Jorge A. Monroy and Danielle E. Delany. Funding was provided from the University of California Institute for Mexico and the United States."
us  mexico  china  stories  children  classideas  education  parenting  society  culture  2018  ceciliacheung  achievement  humility  respect  belief  beliefs  motivation  behavior  literature  childrensbooks  learning  hardwork  competence  self-esteem  books  storybooks  effort  perseverance  schools  schoolperformance  comparison  intelligence  determination  sfsh  happiness  socialcompetence  childrensliterature 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Haw flakes - Wikipedia
"Haw flakes (Chinese: 山楂餅; pinyin: shānzhā bǐng) are Chinese sweets made from the fruit of the Chinese hawthorn. The dark pink candy is usually formed into discs two millimeter thick, and packaged in cylindrical stacks with label art resemblant of Chinese fireworks. Some Chinese people take the flakes with bitter Chinese herbal medicine.[1]"



"Traditionally Haw flakes used to be given to children for the deworming of digestive tract parasites.

Gourmet haw flakes are also available at specialty Chinese markets. Gourmet haw flakes tend to be larger than the Shandong haw flakes (gourmet haw flakes are about 35–40 mm in diameter where as the Shandong haw flakes are about 25 mm in diameter.)"



"Haw flakes have been seized on several occasions by the United States Food and Drug Administration for containing Ponceau 4R (E124, Acid Red 18), an unapproved artificial coloring.[2][3] Ponceau 4R is used in Europe, Asia and Australia but is not approved by the US FDA.

Currently, Haw flakes contain Allura Red AC (FD& C #40) as the red coloring. In Europe, Allura Red AC is not recommended for consumption by children. The food coloring was previously banned in Denmark, Belgium, France and Switzerland."
food  hawflakes  china  chinese  candy 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Vox Borders - YouTube - YouTube
"Reporting from six borders around the world, Emmy-nominated journalist Johnny Harris investigates the human stories behind the lines on a map in a new series for Vox.com

The six-part documentary series airs Tuesdays starting October 17th.

For additional content, travel dispatches, and more visit http://www.vox.com/borders "

[VOX BORDERS S1 • E1
Divided island: How Haiti and the DR became two worlds
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4WvKeYuwifc

VOX BORDERS S1 • E2
It's time to draw borders on the Arctic Ocean
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wx_2SVm9Jgo

VOX BORDERS S1 • E3
Inside North Korea's bubble in Japan
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBfyIQbxXPs

VOX BORDERS S1 • E4
How the US outsourced border security to Mexico
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xbt0ACMbiA

VOX BORDERS S1 • E5
Building a border at 4,600 meters
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECch2g1_6PQ

VOX BORDERS S1 • E6
Europe’s most fortified border is in Africa
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LY_Yiu2U2Ts ]
borders  haiti  dominicanrepublic  arctic  arcticocean  japan  northkorea  korea  mexico  us  centralamerica  border  2017  spain  morocco  china  nepal  españa 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Y-Fi
"Experience Loading Animations / Screens in wifi speeds around the world. This website was inspired by this conversation I had on twitter. I was home (Nigeria) for a bit before I started work and was annoyed at how long I had to look at loading animations. I wondered how long people wanted to wait around the world screaming.

Notes / How this works

• Data about wifi speeds is from: Akamai's State of the Internet / Connectivity Report.

• I chose countries based on what suprised me and to get diversity across speeds.

• To get most data about loading times, I used a combination of Firefox DevTools and the Network Panel on Chrome DevTools. For Gmail I used this article on Gmail's Storage Quota.

• The wifi speeds and sizes of resources are hard-coded in so you can see them and the rest of the code at the repo.

• Any other questions / thoughts? Hit me up on twitter!"

[via: https://twitter.com/YellzHeard/status/890990574827851777 via @senongo]
omayeliarenyeka  internet  webdev  webdesign  wifi  broadband  nigeria  loading  speed  diversity  accessibility  paraguay  egypt  namibia  iran  morocco  argentina  india  southafrica  saudiarabia  mexico  china  chile  greece  ue  france  australia  russia  kenya  israel  thailand  uk  us  taiwan  japan  singapore  hongkong  noray  southkorea  perú 
july 2017 by robertogreco
A Field Guide to 'jobs that don't exist yet' - Long View on Education
"Perhaps most importantly, the Future of Jobs relies on the perspective of CEOs to suggest that Capital has lacked input into the shape and direction of education. Ironically, the first person I found to make the claim about the future of jobs – Devereux C. Josephs – was both Businessman of the Year (1958) and the chair of Eisenhower’s President’s Committee on Education Beyond High School. More tellingly, in his historical context, Josephs was able to imagine a more equitable future where we shared in prosperity rather than competed against the world’s underprivileged on a ‘flat’ field.

The Political Shift that Happened

While the claim is often presented as a new and alarming fact or prediction about the future, Devereux C. Josephs said much the same in 1957 during a Conference on the American High School at the University of Chicago on October 28, less than a month after the Soviets launched Sputnik. If Friedman and his ‘flat’ earth followers were writing then, they would have been up in arms about the technological superiority of the Soviets, just like they now raise the alarm about the rise of India and China. Josephs was a past president of the Carnegie Corporation, and at the time served as Chairman of the Board of the New York Life Insurance Company.

While critics of the American education system erupted after the launch of Sputnik with calls to go back to basics, much as they would again decades later with A Nation at Risk (1983), Josephs was instead a “besieged defender” of education according to Okhee Lee and Michael Salwen. Here’s how Joseph’s talked about the future of work:
“We are too much inclined to think of careers and opportunities as if the oncoming generations were growing up to fill the jobs that are now held by their seniors. This is not true. Our young people will fill many jobs that do not now exist. They will invent products that will need new skills. Old-fashioned mercantilism and the nineteenth-century theory in which one man’s gain was another man’s loss, are being replaced by a dynamism in which the new ideas of a lot of people become the gains for many, many more.”4

Josephs’ claim brims with optimism about a new future, striking a tone which contrasts sharply with the Shift Happens video and its competitive fear of The Other and decline of Empire. We must recognize this shift that happens between then and now as an erasure of politics – a deletion of the opportunity to make a choice about how the abundant wealth created by automation – and perhaps more often by offshoring to cheap labor – would be shared.

The agentless construction in the Shift Happens version – “technologies that haven’t been invented yet” – contrasts with Josephs’ vision where today’s youth invent those technologies. More importantly, Josephs imagines a more equitable socio-technical future, marked not by competition, but where gains are shared. It should go without saying that this has not come to pass. As productivity shot up since the 1950’s, worker compensation has stagnated since around 1973.

In other words, the problem is not that Capital lacks a say in education, but that corporations and the 0.1% are reaping all the rewards and need to explain why. Too often, this explanation comes in the form of the zombie idea of a ‘skills gap’, which persists though it keeps being debunked. What else are CEOs going to say – and the skills gap is almost always based on an opinion survey  – when they are asked to explain stagnating wages?5

Josephs’ essay echoes John Maynard Keynes’ (1930) in his hope that the “average family” by 1977 “may take some of the [economic] gain in the form of leisure”; the dynamism of new ideas should have created gains for ‘many, many more’ people. Instead, the compensation for CEOs soared as the profit was privatized even though most of the risk for innovation was socialized by US government investment through programs such as DARPA.6"



"Audrey Watters has written about how futurists and gurus have figured out that “The best way to invent the future is to issue a press release.” Proponents of the ‘skills agenda’ like the OECD have essentially figured out how to make “the political more pedagogical”, to borrow a phrase from Henry Giroux. In their book, Most Likely to Succeed, Tony Wagner and billionaire Ted Dintersmith warn us that “if you can’t invent (and reinvent) your own job and distinctive competencies, you risk chronic underemployment.” Their movie, of the same title, repeats the hollow claim about ‘jobs that haven’t been invented yet’. Ironically, though Wagner tells us that “knowledge today is a free commodity”, you can only see the film in private screenings.

I don’t want to idealize Josephs, but revisiting his context helps us understand something about the debate about education and the future, not because he was a radical in his times, but because our times are radical.

In an interview at CUNY (2015), Gillian Tett asks Jeffrey Sachs and Paul Krugman what policy initiatives they would propose to deal with globalization, technology, and inequality.9 After Sachs and Krugman propose regulating finance, expanding aid to disadvantaged children, creating a robust social safety net, reforming the tax system to eliminate privilege for the 0.1%, redistributing profits, raising wages, and strengthening the position of labor, Tett recounts a story:
“Back in January I actually moderated quite a similar event in Davos with a group of CEOs and general luminaries very much not just the 1% but probably the 0.1% and I asked them the same question. And what they came back with was education, education, and a bit of digital inclusion.”

Krugman, slightly lost for words, replies: “Arguing that education is the thing is … Gosh… That’s so 1990s… even then it wasn’t really true.”

For CEOs and futurists who say that disruption is the answer to practically everything, arguing that the answer lies in education and skills is actually the least disruptive response to the problems we face. Krugman argues that education emerges as the popular answer because “It’s not intrusive. It doesn’t require that we have higher taxes. It doesn’t require that CEOs have to deal with unions again.” Sachs adds, “Obviously, it’s the easy answer for that group [the 0.1%].”

The kind of complex thinking we deserve about education won’t come in factoids or bullet-point lists of skills of the future. In fact, that kind of complex thinking is already out there, waiting."



"Stay tuned for the tangled history of the claim if you're into that sort of thing..."
benjamindoxtdator  2017  inequality  education  credentialing  productivity  economics  society  statistics  audreywatters  billclinton  democrats  neoliberalism  latecapitalism  capitalism  johndewey  andreasschleicher  kerifacer  lindadarling-hammond  worldeconomicforum  oecd  labor  work  futurism  future  scottmcleod  karlfisch  richardriley  ianjukes  freetrade  competition  andrewold  michaelberman  thomasfriedman  devereuxjosephs  anationatrisk  sputnik  coldwar  okheelee  michaelsalwen  ussr  sovietunion  fear  india  china  russia  johnmaynardkeynes  leisure  robots  robotics  rodneybrooks  doughenwood  jobs  cwrightmills  henrygiroux  paulkrugman  gilliantett  jeffreysachs  policy  politics  globalization  technology  schools  curriculum  teddintersmith  tonywagner  mostlikelytosuccess  success  pedagogy  cathydavidson  jimcarroll  edtech 
july 2017 by robertogreco
How Fortune Cookies Explain the Westernization of Emoji - The Atlantic
"The takeout box and the fortune cookie are perceived as emblems of Chinese culture, when they’re actually central to the American experience of it."



"“I never saw any fortune cookie in my life until I was a teenager,” said Yiying Lu, a San Francisco-based artist who was born in Shanghai. Lu encountered her first fortune cookie when she left China and moved to Sydney, Australia.

Now, the fortune cookie she designed for the Unicode Consortium will be one of dozens of new emoji that are part of a June update. Lu also created the new emoji depicting a takeout box, chopsticks, and a dumpling.

The irony, she says, is that two of the four new Chinese-themed emoji—the fortune cookie and the takeout box—are not Chinese Chinese, but instead reflect Westernized elements of Chinese culture. “It’s kind of like Häagen-Dazs,” Lu told me. “People think its Scandinavian just because of the two dots in the name, but it’s American. It’s the same thing with the takeout box. The Chinese takeout box is completely invented in the West. And the fortune cookie was invented by a Japanese person, but it was popularized in America.”

Emoji, too, were invented by a Japanese person before becoming hugely popular in the United States. For people outside of Japan, emoji were a charming and mysterious window into Japanese culture. The fact that they weren’t globally representative was part of what made emoji fascinating to people in the Western world.

Shigetaka Kurita, who designed the first emoji in 1999, never expected them to spread beyond Japan. But they did. And now they’re everywhere, thanks to the widespread adoption of the smartphone.

“The whole reason emoji are taking off the way they are is largely because of Apple, which is an American company,” said Christina Xu, an ethnographer who focuses on the social implications of technology. And although the Unicode Consortium—which standardizes how computers communicate text and agrees upon new emoji—it an international group, most of its voting members are affiliated with American companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, Oracle, and IBM. “So even when it is about other cultures, it’s still about America,” Xu said.

Xu, who was born in China and grew up in the United States, says she has “mixed feelings” about the fortune cookie and takeout box emoji, and the extent to which they reflect how Westernized emoji seem to have become in the nearly two decades since Kurita’s first designs."



"“I lump the fortune cookie and takeout box into American emoji in the same way that the taco emoji is about the American experience,” she told me. “Because there is this funny sense of feeling like we somehow deserve [certain emoji]. The outrage about the lack of the taco emoji was such a Bay Area thing—like it is inconceivable to us that we could lack representation of things that are central to our specific experience.”

“I identify as Chinese and Chinese American,” she added. “And as a Chinese American, I don’t really feel like we deserve a fortune cookie. It seems so limited. There are 1.5 billion Chinese people all around the world and there are more universal signs of our shared culture than a takeout box or fortune cookies. Those things are so specific to a narrow band of the Chinese experience.”

On the other hand, she says, they’re just emoji. And the fixation with depicting ever more emoji, and ever more realistic emoji, has taken away from some of their inscrutability—which was always a core part of their appeal.

“They accumulate whatever culture gets hanged onto them, and that is the fun part,” Xu said. “So this idea that we’re going to somehow create a truly diverse emoji set, when the concept of diversity itself is so essentially American? It’s almost a disguised form of American cultural dominance. It’s going to a place where it’s overly deterministic.”

Lu, who is also known for her design of the old-school Twitter fail whale, stumbled into emoji art by accident. It all began in a conversation with Jenny 8. Lee, who runs the literary studio Plympton, about how useful a dumpling emoji would be. The pair then launched a Kickstarter campaign advocating for the dumpling with a small group of emoji enthusiasts.

The first dumpling design Lu created had heart eyes. “That one was inspired by the poop emoji because it has a really funny face and it’s just the circle of life,” Lu told me. “You eat a dumpling and it becomes poop.”

The anthropomorphized dumpling didn’t last.

Emoji food typically don’t have faces, the Unicode Consortium told her, and most foods are portrayed at a 45-degree angle.

“So I said, ‘Okay, let me do research,’” Lu said. The research involved looking at (and eating) a lot of dumplings. “But it was hard! I had to figure out how do I represent the little folds in a way that it’s still abstract enough and simple enough but iconic enough.”

Lu says the dumpling project was a way of making her own “little contribution to cross-cultural communication in the age of globalization,” and notes that she relied on others for cultural feedback in her subsequent designs. The first chopsticks she created were portrayed as crossed, which is considered impolite. Someone pointed this out to Lu on Twitter in response to the draft image. “I was born in China!” she said. “I thought I knew my root culture pretty well, but no! I was wrong.”

Lee, who is the author of The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food, says she’s “very proud” to have played a role in bringing the dumpling, takeout box, chopsticks, and fortune cookie to the realm of emoji. (She's also working on making a documentary film about emoji.) And as a non-voting member of the Unicode Consortium’s technical committee, Lee knows first-hand how seriously the group weighs issues related to representation.

“We had this big long debate about whether zombies and vampires can take race,” she told me, referring to the forthcoming zombie and vampire emoji. Ultimately, the consortium decided that people can select different skin tones for zombies and vampires—but not for genies. “They’re just blue,” she said. “The genies are raceless.”

“The people who fight the hardest for certain emoji are usually trying to fight for representation for themselves in some way,” Lee told me. “Most linguists say emoji are not currently a language—they’re paralinguistic, the equivalent of hand gestures or voice tone. But for people who use them, it’s almost like fighting for a word that [shows] you exist. When you come up with a word to describe your population, it’s a very powerful thing.”

Powerful but also impermanent. Language changes constantly. Cultural context shifts. Back in Shanghai, Fortune Cookie stayed open longer than its initial critics predicted, but it still didn’t last. The restaurant closed abruptly last year. Its owners said at the time they’d decided to move back to America."
emoji  internet  language  representation  2017  adriennelafrance  online  christinaxu  shigetakakurita  japan  china  us  westernization  yiyinglu  jenny8lee 
may 2017 by robertogreco
A World Without People - The Atlantic
"For a number of reasons, natural and human, people have evacuated or otherwise abandoned many places around the world—large and small, old and new. Gathering images of deserted areas into a single photo essay, one can get a sense of what the world might look like if humans were to suddenly vanish from the planet. Collected here are recent scenes from abandoned construction projects, industrial disaster zones, blighted urban neighborhoods, towns where residents left to escape violence or natural disasters, derelict Olympic venues, ghost towns, and more."
landscape  photography  apocalypse  worldwithoutus  multispecies  riodejaneiro  brasil  brazil  us  nola  neworleans  alabama  germany  belarus  italy  italia  abandonment  china  bankok  thailand  decay  shengshan  athens  greece  lackawanna  pennsylvania  tianjin  russia  cyprus  nicosia  indonesia  maine  syria  namibia  drc  fukushima  congo  philippines  havana  cuba  vallejo  paris  libya  wales  england 
may 2017 by robertogreco
How I Made My Own iPhone - in China - YouTube
"I built a like-new(but really refurbished) iPhone 6S 16GB entirely from parts I bought in the public cell phone parts markets in Huaqiangbei. And it works!

I've been fascinated by the cell phone parts markets in Shenzhen, China for a while. I'd walked through them a bunch of times, but I still didn't understand basic things, like how they were organized or who was buying all these parts and what they were doing with them.

So when someone mentioned they wondered if you could build a working smartphone from parts in the markets, I jumped at the chance to really dive in and understand how everything works. Well, I sat on it for nine months, and then I dove in."
iphone  manufacturing  shenzhen  china  diy  2017  smarthphones  electronics  classideas  hardware 
april 2017 by robertogreco
A Boom Interview: Mike Davis in conversation with Jennifer Wolch and Dana Cuff – Boom California
"Dana Cuff: You told us that you get asked about City of Quartz too often, so let’s take a different tack. As one of California’s great urban storytellers, what is missing from our understanding of Los Angeles?

Mike Davis: The economic logic of real estate and land development. This has always been the master key to understanding spatial and racial politics in Southern California. As the late-nineteenth century’s most influential radical thinker—I’m thinking of San Francisco’s Henry George not Karl Marx—explained rather magnificently, you cannot reform urban space without controlling land values. Zoning and city planning—the Progressive tools for creating the City Beautiful—either have been totally co-opted to serve the market or died the death of a thousand cuts, that is to say by variances. I was briefly an urban design commissioner in Pasadena in the mid-1990s and saw how easily state-of-the-art design standards and community plans were pushed aside by campaign contributors and big developers.

If you don’t intervene in the operation of land markets, you’ll usually end up producing the opposite result from what you intended. Over time, for instance, improvements in urban public space raise home values and tend to become amenity subsidies for wealthier people. In dynamic land markets and central locations, nonprofits can’t afford to buy land for low-income housing. Struggling artists and hipsters inadvertently become the shock troops of gentrification and soon can’t afford to live in the neighborhoods and warehouse districts they invigorated. Affordable housing and jobs move inexorably further apart and the inner-city crisis ends up in places like San Bernardino.

If you concede that the stabilization of land values is the precondition for long-term democratic planning, there are two major nonrevolutionary solutions. George’s was the most straightforward: execute land monopolists and profiteers with a single tax of 100 percent on increases in unimproved land values. The other alternative is not as radical but has been successfully implemented in other advanced capitalist countries: municipalize strategic parts of the land inventory for affordable housing, parks and form-giving greenbelts.

The use of eminent domain for redevelopment, we should recall, was originally intended to transform privately owned slums into publicly owned housing. At the end of the Second World War, when progressives were a majority in city government, Los Angeles adopted truly visionary plans for both public housing and rational suburban growth. What then happened is well known: a municipal counter-revolution engineered by the LA Times. As a result, local governments continued to use eminent domain but mainly to transfer land from small owners to corporations and banks.

Fast-forward to the 1980s. A new opportunity emerged. Downtown redevelopment was devouring hundreds of millions of dollars of diverted taxes, but its future was bleak. A few years before, Reyner Banham had proclaimed that Downtown was dead or at least irrelevant. If the Bradley administration had had the will, it could have municipalized the Spring-Main Street corridor at rock-bottom market prices. Perhaps ten million square feet would have become available for family apartments, immigrant small businesses, public markets, and the like, at permanently controlled affordable rents.

I once asked Kurt Meyer, a corporate architect who had been chairman of the Community Redevelopment Agency, about this. He lived up Beachwood Canyon below the Hollywood Sign. We used to meet for breakfast because he enjoyed yarning about power and property in LA, and this made him a unique source for my research at the time. He told me that downtown elites were horrified by the unexpected revitalization of the Broadway corridor by Mexican businesses and shoppers, and the last thing they wanted was a populist downtown.

He also answered a question that long vexed me. “Kurt, why this desperate, all-consuming priority to have the middle class live downtown?” “Mike, do you know anything about leasing space in high-rise buildings?” “Not really.” “Well, the hardest part to rent is the ground floor: to extract the highest value, you need a resident population. You can’t just have office workers going for breakfast and lunch; you need night time, twenty-four hour traffic.” I don’t know whether this was really an adequate explanation but it certainly convinced me that planners and activists need a much deeper understanding of the game.

In the event, the middle class has finally come downtown but only to bring suburbia with them. The hipsters think they’re living in the real thing, but this is purely faux urbanism, a residential mall. Downtown is not the heart of the city, it’s a luxury lifestyle pod for the same people who claim Silverlake is the “Eastside” or that Venice is still bohemian.

Cuff: Why do you call it suburbia?

Davis: Because the return to the center expresses the desire for urban space and crowds without allowing democratic variety or equal access. It’s fool’s gold, and gentrification has taken the place of urban renewal in displacing the poor. Take Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris’s pioneering study of the privatization of space on the top of Bunker Hill. Of course, your museum patron or condo resident feels at home, but if you’re a Salvadorian skateboarder, man, you’re probably headed to Juvenile Hall."



"Jennifer Wolch: Absolutely. However it’s an important question particularly for the humanities students, the issue of subjectivity makes them reticent to make proposals.

Davis: But, they have skills. Narrative is an important part of creating communities. People’s stories are key, especially about their routines. It seems to me that there are important social science skills, but the humanities are important particularly because of stories. I also think a choreographer would be a great analyst of space and kind of an imagineer for using space.

I had a long talk with Richard Louv one day about his Last Child in the Woods, one of the most profound books of our time, a meditation on what it means for kids to lose contact with nature, with free nomadic unorganized play and adventure. A generation of mothers consigned to be fulltime chauffeurs, ferrying kids from one commercial distraction or over-organized play date to another. I grew up in eastern San Diego County, on the very edge of the back country, and once you did your chores (a serious business in those days), you could hop on your bike and set off like Huck Finn. There was a nudist colony in Harbison Canyon about twelve miles away, and we’d take our bikes, push them uphill for hours and hours in the hope of peeking through the fence. Like all my friends, I got a .22 (rifle) when I turned twelve. We did bad things to animals, I must confess, but we were free spirits, hated school, didn’t worry about grades, kept our parents off our backs with part-time jobs and yard work, and relished each crazy adventure and misdemeanor. Since I moved back to San Diego in 2002, I have annual reunions with the five or six guys I’ve known since second grade in 1953. Despite huge differences in political beliefs and religion, we’re still the same old gang.

And gangs were what kept you safe and why mothers didn’t have to worry about play dates or child molesters. I remember even in kindergarten—we lived in the City Heights area of San Diego at that time—we had a gang that walked to school together and played every afternoon. Just this wild group of little boys and girls, seven or eight of us, roaming around, begging pennies to buy gum at the corner store. Today the idea of unsupervised gangs of children or teenagers sounds like a law-and-order problem. But it’s how communities used to work and might still work. Aside from Louv, I warmly recommend The Child in the City by the English anarchist Colin Ward. A chief purpose of architecture, he argues, should be to design environments for unprogrammed fun and discovery."



"Wolch: We have one last question, about your young adult novels. Whenever we assign something from City of Quartz or another of your disheartening pieces about LA, it’s hard not to worry that the students will leave the class and jump off of a cliff! But your young adult novels seem to capture some amount of an alternative hopeful future.

Davis: Gee, you shouldn’t be disheartened by my books on LA. They’re just impassioned polemics on the necessity of the urban left. And my third LA book, Magical Urbanism, literally glows with optimism about the grassroots renaissance going on in our immigrant neighborhoods. But to return to the two adolescent “science adventure” novels I wrote for Viggo Mortensen’s wonderful Perceval Press. Above all they’re expressions of longing for my oldest son after his mother moved him back to her native Ireland. The heroes are three real kids: my son, his step-brother, and the daughter of our best friends when I taught at Stony Brook on Long Island. Her name is Julia Monk, and she’s now a wildlife biologist doing a Ph.D. at Yale on pumas in the Andes. I’m very proud that I made her the warrior-scientist heroine of the novels, because it was an intuition about her character that she’s made real in every way—just a remarkable young person."
mikedavis  2016  interviews  economics  california  sanfrancisco  losangeles  henrygeorge  urbanism  urban  suburbia  suburbs  jenniferolch  danacuff  fauxurbanism  hipsters  downtown  property  ownership  housing  populism  progressive  progressivism  reynerbanham  planning  urbanplanning  citybeautiful  gentrification  cities  homeless  homelessness  michaelrotundi  frankgehry  richardlouv  gangs  sandiego  friendship  colinward  thechildinthecity  architecture  fun  discovery  informal  unprogrammed  freedom  capitalism  china  india  england  ireland  famine  optimism  juliamonk  children  teens  youth  development  realestate  zoning  sanbernardino  sciarc 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Chris Hadfield on Twitter: "With celebrity death and elections taking the media by the nose, it’s easy to forget that this year saw a great many positives. Let’s look."
[See also: "99 Reasons 2016 Was a Good Year: Our media feeds are echo chambers. And those echo chambers don’t just reflect our political beliefs; they reflect our feelings about human progress. Bad news is a bubble too."
https://medium.com/future-crunch/99-reasons-why-2016-has-been-a-great-year-for-humanity-8420debc2823#.tj7kowhpd

"With celebrity death and elections taking the media by the nose, it’s easy to forget that this year saw a great many positives. Let’s look.

1. The Colombian government and FARC rebels committed to a lasting peace, ending a war that killed or displaced over 7 million people.

2. Sri Lanka spent five years working to exile the world’s deadliest disease from their borders. As of 2016, they are malaria free.

3. The Giant Panda, arguably the world’s second cutest panda, has official been removed from the endangered species list.

4. @astro_timpeake became the first ESA astronaut from the UK, symbolizing a renewed British commitment to space exploration.

5. Tiger numbers around the world are on the rise for the first time in 100 years, with plans to double by 2022.

6. Juno, a piece of future history, successfully flew over 588 million miles and is now sending back unprecedented data from Jupiter.

7. The number of veterans in the US who are homeless has halved in the past half-decade, with a nearly 20% drop in 2016.

8. Malawi lowered its HIV rate by 67%, and in the past decade have seen a shift in public health that has saved over 250,000 lives.

9. Air travel continue to get safer, and 2016 saw the second fewest per capita deaths in aviation of any year on record.

10. India’s dogged commitment to reforestation saw a single day event planting more than 50 million trees, a world record.

11. Measles has been eradicated from the Americas. A 22 year vaccination campaign has led to the elimination of the historic virus.

12. After a century, Einstein’s theory of gravitational waves has been proven correct, in a ‘moon shot’ scientific achievement.

13. China has announced a firm date for the end of the ivory trade, as public opinion is becoming more staunchly environmentalist.

14. A solar powered airplane flew across the Pacific Ocean for the first time, highlighting a new era of energy possibilities.

15. Costa Rica’s entire electrical grid ran on renewable energy for over half the year, and their capacity continues to grow.

16. Israeli and US researchers believe they are on the brink of being able to cure radiation sickness, after successful tests this year.

17. The ozone layer has shown that through tackling a problem head on, the world can stem environmental disasters, together.

18. A new treatment for melanoma has seen a 40% survival rate, taking a huge step forward towards long-term cancer survivability.

19. An Ebola vaccine was developed by Canadian researchers with 100% efficacy. Humans eradicated horror, together.

20. British Columbia protected 85% of the world’s largest temperate rainforest, in a landmark environmental agreement.

21. 2016 saw the designation of more than 40 new marine sanctuaries in 20 countries, covering an area larger than the United States.

22. These marine reserves include Malaysia’s 13 year struggle to complete a million hectare park, completed this year.

23. This also includes the largest marine reserve in history, created in Antarctica via an unprecedented agreement by 24 nations.

24. Atmospheric acid pollution, once a gloomy reality, has been tackled to the point of being almost back to pre-industrial levels.

25. Major diseases are in decline. The US saw a 50% mortality drop in colon cancer; lower heart disease, osteoporosis and dementia.

26. Uruguay successfully fought tobacco companies to create a precedent for small countries looking to introduce health-focused legislation.

27. World hunger has reached its lowest point in 25 years, and with poverty levels dropping worldwide, seems likely to continue.

28. The A.U. made strides to become more unified, launching an all-Africa passport meant to allow for visa-free travel for all citizens.

29. Fossil fuel emissions flatlined in 2016, with the Paris agreement becoming the fastest UN treaty to become international law.

30. China announced a ban on new coal mines, with renewed targets to increase electrical capacity through renewables by 2020.

31. One third of Dutch prison cells are empty as the crime rate shrank by more than 25% in the last eight years, continuing to drop.

32. In August went to the high Arctic with some incredible young artists. They helped open my eyes to the promise of the next generation.

33. Science, economics, and environmentalism saw a reversal in the overfishing trends of the United States this year.

34. @BoyanSlat successfully tested his Ocean Cleanup prototype, and aims to clean up to 40% of ocean-borne plastics starting this year.

35. Israel now produces 55% of its freshwater, turning what is one of the driest countries on earth into an agricultural heartland.

36. The Italian government made it harder to waste food, creating laws that provided impetus to collect, share and donate excess meals.

37. People pouring ice on their head amusingly provided the ALS foundation with enough funding to isolate a genetic cause of the disease.

38. Manatees, arguably the most enjoyable animal to meet when swimming, are no longer endangered.

39. Grizzlies, arguable the least enjoyable animal to meet while swimming, no longer require federal protection in US national parks.

40. Global aid increased 7%, with money being designated to helping the world’s 65 million refugees doubling.

41. 2016 was the most charitable year in American history. China’s donations have increased more than ten times since a decade ago.

42. The Gates Foundation announced another 5 billion dollars towards eradicating poverty and disease in Africa.

43. Individual Canadians were so welcoming that the country set a world standard for how to privately sponsor and resettle refugees.

44. Teenage birth rates in the United States have never been lower, while at the same time graduation rates have never been higher.

45. SpaceX made history by landing a rocket upright after returning from space, potentially opening a new era of space exploration.

46. Finally - The Cubs won the World Series for the first time in 108 years, giving hope to Maple Leafs fans everywhere. Happy New Year.

There are countless more examples, big and small. If you refocus on the things that are working, your year will be better than the last."
chrishadfield  optimism  2016  improvement  trends  humanity  earth  environment  economics  health  poverty  refugees  crime  news  imprisonment  incarceration  prisons  us  canada  india  reforestation  forests  vaccinations  measles  manatees  tigers  giantpandas  wildlife  animals  multispecies  endangeredanimals  change  progress  oceans  pollutions  peace  war  colombia  government  srilanka  space  science  pacificocean  china  energy  sustainability  costarica  electricity  reneableenergy  britishcolumbia  ebola  ozone  africa  uruguay  smoking  disease  healthcare  dementia  mortality  environmentalism  italy  italia  bears  grizzlybears  spacex  gatesfoundation  angusharvey 
january 2017 by robertogreco
This is Anji Play — Anji Play
[previously: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:3c2ce79a5e29 ]

"Love, Risk, Joy, Engagement, Reflection

Anji Play is the internationally-recognized early childhood curriculum developed and tested over the past 15 years by educator Cheng Xueqin. Today, Anji Play is the curriculum of the 130 public kindergartens in Anji County, China serving more than 14,000 children from ages 3 to 6. Through sophisticated practices, site-specific environments, unique materials and integrated technology Anji Play is quickly establishing itself as a new global standard for early childhood education. Love, Risk, Joy, Engagement, Reflection, these are the guiding principles of Anji Play.

[Read more: "The inspiring story of Ms. Cheng's revolutionary movement of True Play" http://www.anjiplay.com/about ]

True Play

A movement of children, teachers, families and communities
In the kindergartens of Anji, children lead their own play and self-expression. They chose what, where and with whom to play. Self-determination in play, ownership of discovery and learning in play and the time and freedom to express complex intentions in play means that Anji Play is True Play.

Teachers, parents and grandparents support the growth and reflection that takes place in the classroom and bring their inter-generational and inter-cultural experiences of play to the materials and environments both in school and in the community at large.

Anji Play is equitable and universal. Every child in Anji County has access to Anji Play kindergartens. 99.5% of children 3-6 years old in Anji County attend Anji Play schools regardless of their legal status or financial means.

[more: http://www.anjiplay.com/rights ]

Environments

Minimally-structured, open-ended environments allow children to explore, imagine and create. In Anji Play, these environments are designed to maximize opportunities for imaginitive play and contact with natural phenomena and elements. Water, earth, trees, bamboo, ditches, tunnels and hills are among the environmental features that engage children in endless exploration and discovery.

Materials

Minimally-structured, open-ended materials allow for risk, building, discovery and teamwork in Anji Play. Many of the materials are large and substantial and challenge children to stretch their hands and arms as they disover new ways to build their own playscape. The materials of Anji Play were designed over years based on experimentation and observation of their use by the children of Anji.

Activities

Observation, reflection, expression and technology play crucial roles in the practices of Anji Play. Anji teachers are keen observers. During the day, teachers record the play that takes place at school with their smart phones. In the afternoon, during Play Sharing, the photos and videos from that day are projected in the classroom and the children discuss their experiences, insights and discoveries as a group. After Play Sharing, children have access to variety of materials and draw, paint, collage and otherwise express their experiences that day through Play Stories."


[See also:
https://anjiplay.tumblr.com/
https://www.instagram.com/anjiplay/
https://vimeo.com/user37626288
https://twitter.com/anjiplay ]
anjiplay  china  anji  education  children  play  earlychildhood  schools  lcproject  openstudioproject  sfsh  love  risk  joy  engagement  reflection  howwelearn  learning  chelseabailey  chengxueqin  casholman  jesserobertcofino  time  space  environment  materials  rights  childrensrights  responsibilities  expression  peagogy  teaching  howweteach  imagination 
december 2016 by robertogreco
WeChat’s world | The Economist
"China’s WeChat shows the way to social media’s future"



"As one American venture capitalist puts it, WeChat is there “at every point of your daily contact with the world, from morning until night”. It is this status as a hub for all internet activity, and as a platform through which users find their way to other services, that inspires Silicon Valley firms, including Facebook, to monitor WeChat closely. They are right to cast an envious eye. People who divide their time between China and the West complain that leaving WeChat behind is akin to stepping back in time.

Among all its services, it is perhaps its promise of a cashless economy, a recurring dream of the internet age, that impresses onlookers the most. Thanks to WeChat, Chinese consumers can navigate their day without once spending banknotes or pulling out plastic. It is the best example yet of how China is shaping the future of the mobile internet for consumers everywhere.

That is only fitting, for China makes and puts to good use more smartphones than any other country. More Chinese reach the internet via their mobiles than do so in America, Brazil and Indonesia combined. Many leapt from the pre-web era straight to the mobile internet, skipping the personal computer altogether. About half of all sales over the internet in China take place via mobile phones, against roughly a third of total sales in America. In other words, the conditions were all there for WeChat to take wing: new technologies, business models built around mobile phones, and above all, customers eager to experiment.

The service, which is known on the mainland as Weixin, began five years ago as an innovation from Tencent, a Chinese online-gaming and social-media firm. By now over 700m people use it, and it is one of the world’s most popular messaging apps (see chart). More than a third of all the time spent by mainlanders on the mobile internet is spent on WeChat. A typical user returns to it ten times a day or more."
wechat  2016  chat  china  money  mobile  messaging 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Study Finds Chinese Students Excel in Critical Thinking. Until College. - The New York Times
"Chinese primary and secondary schools are often derided as grueling, test-driven institutions that churn out students who can recite basic facts but have little capacity for deep reasoning.

A new study, though, suggests that China is producing students with some of the strongest critical thinking skills in the world.

The unexpected finding could recast the debate over whether Chinese schools are doing a better job than American ones, complementing previous studies showing Chinese students outperforming their global peers in reading, math and science.

But the new study, by researchers at Stanford University, also found that Chinese students lose their advantage in critical thinking in college. That is a sign of trouble inside China’s rapidly expanding university system, which the government is betting on to promote growth as the economy weakens.

The study, to be published next year, found that Chinese freshmen in computer science and engineering programs began college with critical thinking skills about two to three years ahead of their peers in the United States and Russia. Those skills included the ability to identify assumptions, test hypotheses and draw relationships between variables.

Yet Chinese students showed virtually no improvement in critical thinking after two years of college, even as their American and Russian counterparts made significant strides, according to the study.

“It’s astounding that China produces students that much further ahead at the start of college,” said Prashant Loyalka, an author of the study. “But they’re exhausted by the time they reach college, and they’re not incentivized to work hard.”"



"“The common narrative that we hear is that Chinese educational system kills creativity and kills innovation,” he said. “But China is probably one of the most entrepreneurial societies in the world.”

The slowing economy has made it difficult for university graduates to find work, with about one-fifth remaining unemployed immediately after graduation and many settling into low-paying jobs.

Lu Jiawei, 22, who studies engineering management at Beijing Information Science and Technology University, said the gloomy job market was to blame for a lack of motivation among students.

“Some students just give up, because no matter how hard they work, they still will never get their dream jobs,” she said.

The shortcomings of the higher education system have left students struggling to find programs that match their aspirations.

Niu Fuzhi, an aspiring computer scientist at Harbin University of Commerce, had high hopes when she enrolled in 2014. But she was quickly disappointed. Professors focused on teaching high-level theories, she said, and classrooms were chaotic.

“I feel like the past two years were a waste,” said Ms. Niu, 20, who ranks near the top of her class.

But Ms. Niu is hoping to make up for the skills she failed to learn in college — by enrolling in graduate school."
china  criticalthinking  2016  schools  education  highered  highereducation  universities  colleges 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Futuristic straddling bus allows cars running underneath - YouTube
"Tired of traffic jams and tail gas? The design of electric "straddling buses" lets cars drive underneath them, and can help reduce air pollution. Also known as land airbus, the new invention is less costly than subway systems."

[via: https://twitter.com/Exen/status/760736548388216832
via: https://twitter.com/burritojustice/status/760740212343312384 ]

[See also:
"China's elevated bus: Futuristic 'straddling bus' hits the road"
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-36961433

"China finally built an elevated bus that straddles traffic and it's totally bizarre"
http://www.theverge.com/2016/8/2/12360620/china-TEB-elevated-straddling-bus-unveiled

"Everything That Makes China's New Traffic-Straddling Bus So Fascinating"
http://jalopnik.com/everything-that-makes-chinas-new-traffic-straddling-bus-1784768447 ]
buses  transportation  china  publicstransit  masstransit  streets  2016 
august 2016 by robertogreco
China Residencies: An Artist's Guide to WeChat
"WeChat is *the* most important app in China. It's absolutely crucial for navigating life in mainland China, and we tell all artists heading that way to download it immediately. To help convey all the wonders of WeChat, we here at China Residencies commissioned Katy Roseland, artist & co-founder of Basement6 Collective, a Shanghai artist run space and residency, to write this guide. Katy's been based in China since the construction of the Great Firewall in 2009, she makes performance work and research centering on the Chinese internet. This guide was generated from her years of researching WeChat along with interviews from Chinternet Noobs and her fellows at the Swatch Art Peace Hotel, where she's currently an artist-in-residence.


An Artist's Guide to WeChat

1. INTRODUCTION (LIFE WITHOUT WECHAT)
2. DOWNLOAD!
3. SET IT UP
4. TALK TO PEOPLE
5. LOOK AT PICTURES
6. GROUPTHINK
7. MONEY, MONEY
8. WHERE R U NOW ?
9. JUST HAVE A GOOD TIME
10. MOBILIZE YOURSELF


1. INTRODUCTION (LIFE WITHOUT WECHAT)

In preparing your transition into the "other side of the world", it's safe to assume you have done a bit of research no? You're thinking about what to pack, but you might not have anticipated how to plan for your first encounter with the Chinese internet. The Great Firewall. The big data dissolve. The weirdest facet of this country.

You say censorship, I say xxxxxx xxxx xx.

Once your flight touches down, instinctively you’ll reboot your phone to what might feel like a data void. Maybe you’re adorably surprised by all the new things you can’t access... Not all internets are the same, I met a girl from Japan who couldn’t understand why her Gmail wouldn’t refresh, a friend thought her Facebook had been hacked, and, for a visiting writer, his “critical tweets” were out of reach. If you’re wondering why you’re lacking notifications, it’s because you’re in the land of 404. This is daily life on the Chinese internet, VPN off, we survive.

2. DOWNLOAD!

Let me show you how... Tencent’s China-centric answer to Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, Twitter, Vine, and Paypal in a single application. You download this one thing [download it now! do it!] and place it very centrally on your homescreen. You have not a single choice.

…"
wechat  china  chinternet  2016  katyroseland  socialmedia  messaging  mobile  whatsapp  twitter  vine  paypal  facebook  instagram 
july 2016 by robertogreco
61 Glimpses of the Future — Today’s Office — Medium
"1. If you want to understand how our planet will turn out this century, spend time in China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria and Brazil.

2. If you’re wondering how long the Chinese economic miracle will last, the answer will probably be found in the bets made on commercial and residential developments in Chinese 3rd to 6th tier cities in Xinjiang, Gansu, Qinghai and Tibet.

4. Touch ID doesn’t work at high altitude, finger prints are too dry.

5. You no longer need to carry a translation app on your phone. If there’s someone to speak with, they’ll have one on theirs.

6. A truly great border crossing will hold a mirror up to your soul.

9. The art of successful borderland travel is to know when to pass through (and be seen by) army checkpoints and when to avoid them.

10. Borders are permeable.

12. The premium for buying gasoline in a remote village in the GBAO is 20% more than the nearest town. Gasoline is harder to come by, and more valuable than connectivity.

13. After fifteen years of professionally decoding human behaviour, I’m still surprised by the universality of body language.

14. Pretentious people are inherently less curious.

15. Everything is fine, until that exact moment when it’s obviously not. It is easy to massively over/under estimate risk based on current contextual conditions. Historical data provides some perspective, but it usually comes down to your ability to read undercurrents, which in turn comes down to having built a sufficiently trusted relationship with people within those currents.

16. Sometimes, everyone who says they know what is going on, is wrong.

17. Every time you describe someone in your own country as a terrorist, a freedom is taken away from a person in another country.

18. Every country has its own notion of “terrorism”, and the overuse, and reaction to the term in your country helps legitimise the crack-down of restive populations in other countries.

17. China is still arguably the lowest-trust consumer society in the world. If a product can be faked it will be. Out of necessity, they also have the most savvy consumers in the world.

18. After twenty years of promising to deliver, Chinese solar products are now practical (available for purchase, affordable, sufficiently efficient, robust) for any community on the edge-of-grid, anywhere in the world. Either shared, or sole ownership.

20. When a fixed price culture meets a negotiation culture, fun ensues.

21. The sharing economy is alive and well, and has nothing to with your idea of the sharing economy.

25. Chinese truckers plying their trade along the silk road deserve to be immortalised as the the frontiersmen of our generation. (They are always male.)

29. The most interesting places have map coordinates, but no names.

30. There are are number of companies with a competitive smartphone portfolio. The rise of Oppo can be explained by its presence on every block of 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th tier Chinese cities.

32. People wearing fake Supreme are way more interesting than those that wear the real deal.

33. An iPhone box full of fungus caterpillar in Kham Tibet sold wholesale, is worth more than a fully specced iPhone. It’s worth 10x at retail in 1st/2nd Tier China. It is a better aphrodisiac too.

35. One of the more interesting aspects of very high net worth individuals (the financial 0.001%), is the entourage that they attract, and the interrelations between members of that entourage. This is my first time travelling with a spiritual leader (the religious 0.001%), whose entourage included disciples, and members of the financial 0.01% looking for a karmic handout. The behaviour of silicon valley’s nouveau riche is often parodied but when it comes to weirdness, faith trumps money every time. Any bets on the first Silicon Valley billionaire to successfully marry the two? Or vice versa?

37. For every person that longs for nature, there are two that long for man-made.

38. Tibetan monks prefer iOS over Android.

40. In order to size up the tribe/sub-tribe you’re part of, any group of young males will first look at the shoes on your feet.

42. After the Urumqi riots in 2009 the Chinese government cut of internet connectivity to Xinjiang province for a full year. Today connectivity is so prevalent and integrated into every aspect of Xinjiang society, that cutting it off it would hurt the state’s ability to control the population more than hinder their opposition. There are many parts to the current state strategy is to limit subversion, the most visible of which is access to the means of travel. For example every gas station between Kashi and Urumqi has barbed wire barriers at its gates, and someone checking IDs.

43. TV used to be the primary way for the edge-of-grid have-nots to discover what they want to have. Today it is seeing geotagged images from nearby places, sometimes hundreds of kilometres away.

44. Facebook entering China would be a Pyrrhic victory, that would lead to greater scrutiny and regulation worldwide. Go for it.

45. The sooner western companies own up to copying WeChat, the sooner we can get on with acknowledging a significant shift in the global creative center of gravity.

48. Green tea beats black tea for acclimatising to altitude sickness.

49. The most interesting destinations aren’t geotagged, are not easily geo-taggable. Bonus points if you can figure that one out.

50. The first time you confront a leader, never do it in front of their followers, they’ll have no way to back down.

51. There is more certainty in reselling the past, than inventing the future.

55. Pockets of Chengdu are starting to out-cool Tokyo.

56. To what extent does cultural continuity, and societal harmony comes from three generations under one roof?

58. If you want to understand where a country is heading pick a 2nd or 3rd tier city and revisit it over many years. Chengdu remains my bellwether 2nd tier Chinese city. It’s inland, has a strong local identity and sub-cultures, and has room to grow. Bonus: its’ only a few hours from some of the best mountain ranges in the world.

60. The difference between 2.5G and 3G? In the words of a smartphone wielding GBAO teenager on the day 3G data was switched on her town, “I can breathe”."
janchipchase  2016  travel  technology  borders  authenticity  pretension  curiosity  china  tibet  japan  eligion  culture  capitalism  wechat  facebook  android  ios  tokyo  chengdu  future  past  communication  tea  greentea  certainty  monks  translation  nature  indonesia  nigeria  brasil  brazil  india  shoes  connectivity  internet  mobile  phones  smartphones  sharingeconomy  economics  negotiation  touchid  cities  urban  urbanism  location  risk  relationships  consumers  terrorism  truckers  oppo  siliconvalley  wealth  nouveauriche  comparison  generations 
july 2016 by robertogreco
McDonald's: you can sneer, but it's the glue that holds communities together | Business | The Guardian
[Tweeted previously:
"“Unlike community centers, it is also free of bureaucracy.” When our public institutions no longer serve the public."
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/742821334476951554

and noting
"Same with other chains (like Starbucks, KFC) in my neighborhood. Places for youth to assemble too, when programs come with too many strings."
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/742821897553874944

"When many lower-income Americans are feeling isolated by the deadening uniformity of things, by the emptiness of many jobs, by the media, they still yearn for physical social networks. They are not doing this by going to government-run community service centers. They are not always doing this by utilizing the endless array of well-intentioned not-for-profit outreach programs. They are doing this on their own, organically across the country, in McDonald’s.

Walk into any McDonald’s in the morning and you will find a group of mostly retired people clustering in a corner, drinking coffee, eating and talking. They are drawn to the McDonald’s because it has inexpensive good coffee, clean bathrooms, space to sprawl. Unlike community centers, it is also free of bureaucracy."



"In almost every franchise, there are tables with people like Betty escaping from the streets for a short bit. They prefer McDonald’s to shelters and to non-profits, because McDonald’s are safer, provide more freedom, and most importantly, the chance to be social, restoring a small amount of normalcy.

In the Bronx, many of my friends who live on the streets are regulars. Steve, who has been homeless for 20 years, uses the internet to check up on sports, find discarded papers to do the crossword puzzle, and generally escape for a while. He and his wife Takeesha will turn a McDonald’s meal into an evening out. Beauty, who has been homeless for five years, uses the internet to check up on her family back in Oklahoma when she can find a computer to borrow.

Most importantly though, McDonald’s provide many with the chance to make real and valuable connections. When faced with the greatest challenges, with a personal loss, wealthier Americans turn to expensive therapists, others without the resources or the availability, turn to each other.

In Sulfur Springs, Texas, in the late morning, Lew Mannon, 76, and Gerald Pinkham, 78, were sitting alone at a table, the last of the morning regulars to leave. She was needling him about politics. (“I like to tease the men who come, get them all riled up, tell them they just don’t want a female as president.”) Both are retired, Gerald from working for an airfreight company, and Lew after 28 years as a bank teller.

When I asked Lew about her life, she started to tear up, stopped for a second, and composed herself. “Life is hard. Very hard. Seven years ago I lost my husband to leukemia. Then three years ago I lost one of my sons. Health complications from diabetes. When my son died, I had nobody to help me, emotionally, except this community here. Gerald lost his wife three years ago, and we have helped support each other through that.”

She stopped again, unable to speak from tears. After a moment of silence: “I look composed on the outside. Many of us do. But I struggle a lot on the inside. This community here gives me the support to get by.”"

[Update: Kenyatta Cheese blogged this with the following notes:
http://finalbossform.com/post/145925082985/mcdonalds-you-can-sneer-but-its-the-glue-that

I’ve learned through @triciawang that spaces like these are known as third places in sociology. Third places are neutral, accessible spaces where people can meet with old friends and be exposed to possible new ones.

Tricia spent a decade living in, mapping, and understanding third places in Beijing, Wuhan, Brooklyn, Bangalore, and Oaxaca. (She’s badass that way.)

She taught me that Starbucks and Pizza Hut serve a similar role among young folks in China, especially for people who don’t necessarily feel comfortable sleeping in the third places that are internet cafes.

Small note on how this connects to @everybodyatonce: tv networks and creators sometimes ask us if they should create a dedicated app or website for their fandoms to which we almost always say no.

Much like the government-run community center, a dedicated app creates an unnecessary barrier to entry for new fans and requires you to program the space in the same way that you need to program and organize physical space. By meeting fans in neutral spaces (tumblr, twitter, IG, LJ, even reddit), you build bigger community by supporting the culture that already exists. ]
2016  chrisarnade  community  cities  mcdonalds  poverty  society  inequality  elitism  us  bureaucracy  elderly  aging  economics  civics  lowerclass  precarity  classism  thirdspaces  kenyattacheese  triciawang  beijing  starbucks  china  brooklyn  wuhan  bangalore  oaxaca  pizzahut  kfc  everybodyatonce  fandom  socialmedia 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Is this what's really hurting the US middle class? | World Economic Forum
"The saving critique merits further analysis. The data show that countries with saving deficits tend to run trade deficits, while those with saving surpluses tend to run trade surpluses. The United States is the most obvious example, with a net national saving rate of 2.6% in late 2015 – less than half the 6.3% average in the final three decades of the twentieth century – and trade deficits with 101 countries.

The pattern also holds true elsewhere. The United Kingdom, Canada, Finland, France, Greece, and Portugal – all of which have large trade deficits – save much less than other developed countries. Conversely, high savers like Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, South Korea, Sweden, and Switzerland all run trade surpluses.

Saving imbalances can also lead to destabilizing international capital flows, asset bubbles, and financial crises. That was the case in the run-up to the financial crisis of 2008-2009, when global saving imbalances, as measured by the disparities between countries with current-account deficits and surpluses, hit a modern record. The asset and credit bubbles fueled by those imbalances brought the world to the brink of an abyss not seen since the 1930s.

Here, too, there is considerable finger pointing. Deficit countries tend to blame the yield-seeking “saving glut” that sloshes around in world financial markets. As former US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke put it, if only countries like China had spent more, the bubbles that nearly broke America would not have formed in the first place. Others have been quick to point out that America’s supposed growth miracle probably could not have happened without the capital provided by surplus countries.

The prudent approach would be to strike a better balance between saving and spending. That is particularly important for the US and China, which together account for a disproportionate share of the world’s saving disparities. Simply put, America needs to save more and consume less, while China needs to save less and consume more. To succeed, both countries will have to overcome entrenched mindsets.

On this front, China has been leading the way, with a strategy of consumer-led rebalancing that it introduced five years ago. The results so far have been mixed, as inadequate funding of a social safety net continues to temper the support to household incomes provided by services-driven job creation and urbanization-led increases in real wages. But China has lately shown a commitment to addressing this shortcoming. Its recently enacted 13th Five-Year Plan aims to dampen fear-driven precautionary saving through interest-rate liberalization, the introduction of deposit insurance, the loosening of the hukou residential permit system (which would improve benefit portability), and relaxation of the one-child family planning policy.

The US, however, is headed in the opposite direction. There is no interest in debating the saving issue, let alone implementing policies to address it. A pro-saving US policy agenda should draw on the following: longer-term fiscal consolidation, expanded IRAs (individual retirement accounts) and 401Ks, consumption-based tax reform (such as value-added or sales taxes), and interest-rate normalization. Instead, US politicians continue to focus on keeping the consumption binge going, regardless of its implications for America’s saving imperative.

The asymmetrical response of the world’s two largest economies to their respective saving dilemmas has far-reaching consequences. To the extent that China makes progress on the road to consumer-led rebalancing, it will shift from surplus saving to saving absorption. Already, China’s gross national saving rate has declined from a peak of 52% of GDP in 2008 to around 44% this year. It should fall further in the years ahead.

The US, long locked in a codependent economic relationship with China, cannot afford to ignore this shift. After all, along with reduced current-account and trade surpluses, China’s consumer-led shift to saving absorption likely entails diminished accumulation of foreign-exchange reserves and reduced recycling of those reserves into dollar-based assets such as US Treasuries.

To the extent that America fails to boost its domestic saving, the lack of Chinese capital may well force the US to pay a steeper price for external financing, through a weaker dollar, higher real interest rates, or both. Such are the classic pitfalls of codependency: when one partner alters the relationship, there are consequences for the other.

No country can prosper indefinitely without saving. Holding the world’s reserve currency, America has gotten away with it, largely because the rest of the world let it. After all, the enablers – especially export-led economies like China, along with its resource-dependent supply chain – benefited from America’s consumption binge, as it drove an outsize expansion of global trade.

But those days are numbered. American voters – especially disenfranchised, angry middle-class workers – increasingly recognize that something does not add up. Yet US politicians continue to deflect the electorate’s anger outward, dismissing the growth subsidy that accompanies the “kindness of strangers.” It is time for politicians to own up to the uncomfortable truth: The saving deficit is the single greatest threat to the American Dream."
us  middleclass  society  china  2016  class  savings  economics  inequality  debt  politics  policy 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Teacher Tom: Revolution
"We need a revolution in how we perceive children. They are not incomplete adults or empty vessels or anything less than full-fledged human beings with rights, including the right to be respected, heard, and responded to as fellow human beings and not inferior ones to be bossed around.

We need a revolution in how we view learning. It's not the job of adults to decide what and when children learn. That is the children's job. Our responsibility as adults is to role model our values in day to day life, strive to be the person we want our kids to grow up to be, take a genuine interest in what our children are excited about, and know that childhood exists, first and foremost, for play.

We need a revolution in how we view "stuff." I recently returned from China. In the US, we tend to think of "communist" China, but that somehow hasn't been an impediment to their decision-makers deciding that the nation should move toward a "consumer economy" more like those found in western societies. The thing is, the Chinese people apparently haven't been particularly accommodating. They don't seem overly interested in more stuff, they've learned to love what they already have, and it is putting the skids on their central plan. Yes, I'm sure part of that is generations of official education emphasizing that consumerism is an evil of the west, but it is noteworthy nevertheless. Many of the barriers to improving our educational system have to do with our consumption of stuff, the cars and houses and electronics and space we think we need. It makes us need two incomes and long work days. None of it is necessary, and probably detrimental, to a satisfying life.

We need a revolution against authoritarianism. Yes, I'm talking about politics, but also about day to day life. We must rise up against the entire concept of obedience. As Utah Phillips sang, "I will not obey." And then he sang, "But I'm always ready to agree." That is, at its heart, is what this revolution is about.

All of it is scary. Our revolution requires upending at least four sacred cows. All of it is daunting. This revolution requires generations of work. I used to be uncomfortable using the word revolution, but I've come to realize that human history is one of continual revolution, we're all a part of every one of them by either our actions or inactions. Revolution is the engine of progress and we are it's fuel. We either choose our revolution or it chooses us.

Of course, I hear you: all of this is well and good for some ivory tower blogger, but what about my kid, right now? This is where idealism meets reality. Public schools are looking increasingly like test score coal mines, private education is too much of a financial stretch for most of us, we love our kids with every ounce of our beings, and we want what's best for them. Something's got to give. Given reality, given our fears, given how daunting it is, what do we do? At bottom it's a question each of us can only answer for ourselves, but I think we make a mistake when we don't err on the side of revolution because in that direction lies the better future we want for those we love.

We must be firm, I think, in our defiance of standardization in our schools and specifically I'm talking about opting our children out of high stakes testing and home work. Be assured, high stakes testing and home work are not evidence-based aides to learning: indeed the evidence points to testing and homework mostly succeeding in making our children hate school even more. Your child is objectively more likely to grow into an avid, life-long learner if he is not subjected to high stakes testing and homework. The more of us who stand up for this, the more revolutionary it will be.

The second thing you can do for your child right now is talk to your friends and family. Talk to them about their own childhoods, ask them about their memories, revel in their stories about playing outdoors, unsupervised, with their friends and few toys. Share your own stories along with your concerns about today's children missing out on that. Revolutions must speak to the souls of every day people and I've found that there is no more direct way to get there than through connecting folks with their own childhoods.

Thirdly, we can all work on how we speak with the children in our lives, striving to avoid the directives of obedience, those commands like, "Come here" or "Sit down" or "Eat this" or "Stop it!" Better is to practice replacing those commands with informative statements, like "It's time to go" or "The people behind you can't see if you stand up" or "I don't want you to do that." Yes, it takes more words, but it is trading out commands for the space of simple truth in which children can practice thinking for themselves. A revolution will not be told what to do.

And finally, perhaps most difficult, and definitely most important is coming to appreciate the beauty of living with less. This would be the greatest revolution of all. The time it would give us as parents would set our children free.

The only thing we can do is to try. Just try. I give all my respect to each one of you who does. And ultimately this is the only way to guarantee that you will be doing the best you can to make a better future for your child. A revolution will never be a result of what you do, but it will always be a result of what we do. Everything is daunting if you feel you're going it on your own. If we all try at the same time, we cannot be stopped.

Our children love freedom and so do we."
tomhobson  children  youth  rights  2016  ageism  authoritarianism  politics  schooling  policy  china  us  consumerism  consumption  childhood  play  learning  unschooling  deschooling  education  standardization  testing  standardizedtesting  freedom  sfsh  high-stakestesting 
may 2016 by robertogreco
What History Teaches Us About Walls - The New York Times
"It is lost to history whether Hadrian, Qin Shi Huang or Nikita Khrushchev ever uttered, “I will build a wall.”

But build they did, and what happened? The history of walls — to keep people out or in — is also the history of people managing to get around, over and under them. Some come tumbling down.

The classic example is the Great Wall of China. Imposing and remarkably durable, yes, yet it didn’t block various nomadic tribes from the north. History is full of examples of engineering thwarted by goal-oriented rank amateurs. But Donald Trump has promised to build a wall on the United States-Mexican border that he says will be big, beautiful, tall and strong, and he says Mexico will pay for it.

Here’s some more historical perspective on walls."
walls  borders  border  us  mexico  israel  palestine  germany  history  2016  photography  donaldtrump  china  spain  españa  morocco  melilla  hadrian'swall  england  moscow  russia  vaticancity  korea  southkorea  northkorea  romania  roma  warsaw  poland  india  bangladesh  cyprus  ireland  northernireland  mauritania 
may 2016 by robertogreco
Identity 2016: 'Global citizenship' rising, poll suggests - BBC News
"People are increasingly identifying themselves as global rather than national citizens, according to a BBC World Service poll.

The trend is particularly marked in emerging economies, where people see themselves as outward looking and internationally minded.

However, in Germany fewer people say they feel like global citizens now, compared with 2001.

Pollsters GlobeScan questioned more than 20,000 people in 18 countries.

More than half of those asked (56%) in emerging economies saw themselves first and foremost as global citizens rather than national citizens.

In Nigeria (73%), China (71%), Peru (70%) and India (67%) the data is particularly marked.
By contrast, the trend in the industrialised nations seems to be heading in the opposite direction.

In these richer nations, the concept of global citizenship appears to have taken a serious hit after the financial crash of 2008. In Germany, for example, only 30% of respondents see themselves as global citizens."

[See also: http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/people-increasingly-identify-as-globalnot-nationalcitizens ]
identity  cosmopolitanism  nigeria  china  perú  india  spain  españa  kenya  uk  greece  brazil  brasil  canada  pakistan  ghana  indonesia  us  mexico  chile  germany  russia  ethnicty  citizenships  globalization 
may 2016 by robertogreco
Chinese 'Button Town' Struggles with Success : NPR
"Look down at the shirt you're wearing. Chances are the buttons came from Qiaotou. The small Chinese town, with about 200 factories and 20,000 migrant workers, produces 60 percent of the world's supply.

But Qiaotou's button manufacturers are victims of their own success; their global domination means there's no place left to go and now they're cannibalizing one another at cutthroat prices.

Legend has it that Qiaotou's button boom began on the town's dusty streets. The story goes that three decades ago, three brothers were walking along the street when suddenly it caught their eye that some buttons had been thrown away and landed in the gutter. They thought "there's money to be made here" so they picked up the buttons and decided to sell them. That simple action launched the town onto its trajectory as the button capital of the world.

Poverty and the scarcity of land actually led to Qiaotou's success. Inhabitants had to depend on trade rather than farming, according to Wang Chunqiao, the owner of two of the town's button factories.

"When we started building factories like crazy, it was for our own survival," Wang says. "We had no capital. Everything came from the work of our own two hands."

Huang Changmu, 25, earns $120 a month at Wang's button factory, where he has worked for four years. But many workers are now starting to look beyond unskilled jobs, and a labor shortage is emerging.

For bosses like Wang, that means offering extra enticements.

"Now workers are demanding more," he says. "They want food, accommodation and cultural activities on top of their salaries. We're planning to build a library and sports facilities."

His factories are facing other difficulties, too. Wang complains that profit margins are too low on such a low-tech product, so he's diversifying into lace borders. And last year, the cost of commodities soared worldwide — in part because of demand from China. Copper button prices doubled."
2006  buttons  china  qiaotou  clothing 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Is China's Mosuo tribe the world's last matriarchy? | Life and style | The Guardian
"Women from the Mosuo tribe do not marry, take as many lovers as they wish and have no word for "father" or "husband". But the arrival of tourism and the sex industry is changing their culture"



"Two women row a canoe made of driftwood across a lake, their eyes fixed on a destination in the distance. The woman in the foreground bites her bottom lip with determination. There's a steeliness in her expression that says she's done this many times before.

In a series of exceptional photographs, Italian photographer Luca Locatelli spent a month documenting the lives of the Mosuo tribe, often described as one of the last matriarchal societies in the world. Locatelli travelled to Lugu Lake in southwest China, 2,700 metres above sea level, taking two days to reach his destination by road. There, in a valley on the border of the Yunnan and Sichuan provinces, he shadowed a society where women are in charge and where there are no words to express the concepts of "father" or "husband".

Locatelli describes Lugu Lake as "paradise". "The water is clear and clean and the surroundings are peaceful and beautiful – it's perfect," he says. Known as the "Kingdom of Women" throughout China, 40,000 Mosuo people live in a series of villages around the lake. Women here make most major decisions; they control household finances, have the rightful ownership of land and houses, and full rights to the children born to them – quite radical considering that many parts of China still practise arranged marriages – although political power tends to rest with the men (making the description "matrilineal" more accurate).

But what makes the Mosuo unique is their practice of zuo hun, or "walking marriage". From the age of 13, after being initiated, females may choose to take lovers from men within the tribe, having as many or as few as they please over their lifetime. Male companions are known as axias and spend their days carrying out jobs such as fishing and animal rearing, and visit the women's homes at night, often secretly; any resulting children are raised by the woman's family. The father and all adult men are known as "uncles" – there is no stigma attached to not knowing who a child's father is.

As commerce tries to elbow tradition out of the way and younger generations of the Mosuo are tempted by outside influence, a darker, seedier side has emerged in recent years. Tourism is booming, and the Chinese government is keen to market and monetise the Mosuo to Chinese tourists, even installing a toll booth charging $5 to enter the area from the newly laid main road. Curious and frisky visitors are lured in by the suggestion that the Mosuo women offer free sex – hotels, restaurants, casinos and karaoke bars have been built, and sex workers shipped over from Thailand dress in Mosuo traditional dress in the "capital village", Luoshu.

"Arriving in Luoshu was a shock – it was tacky and not how I expected," says Locatelli. "There were a lot of people asking for money: bar owners and prostitutes that are obviously not Mosuo – it's all geared towards male Chinese tourists."

After talking to locals, Locatelli decided to move on to another village, Lige, in search of "real Mosuo". "I crossed the lake to another village and found them living in the same traditions they have done for 2,000 years – the people there were lovely, kind and living simple, happy lives." With all the modern temptations for the younger generation of Mosuo now right on their doorstep, Locatelli found a community caught between cultural tradition and the modern world.

"Their way of life is slowly changing, but there is a real sense of pride in the way they live," he says. "Men and women are very much equals, but the women are just a little more in charge.""
mosuo  matricarchy  china  culture  2016  shahestashaitly  gender  women 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Why Digital Maps Are Inaccurate in China | Travel + Leisure
"One of the most interesting, if unanticipated, side effects of modern copyright law is the practice by which cartographic companies will introduce a fake street—a road, lane, or throughway that does not, in fact, exist on the ground—into their maps. If that street later shows up on a rival company’s products, then they have all the proof they need for a case of copyright infringement. Known as trap streets, these imaginary roads exist purely as figments of an overactive legal imagination.

Trap streets are also compelling evidence that maps don’t always equal the territory. What if not just one random building or street, however, but an entire map is deliberately wrong? This is the strange fate of digital mapping products in China: there, every street, building, and freeway is just slightly off its mark, skewed for reasons of national and economic security.

The result is an almost ghostly slippage between digital maps and the landscapes they document. Lines of traffic snake through the centers of buildings; monuments migrate into the midst of rivers; one’s own position standing in a park or shopping mall appears to be nearly half a kilometer away, as if there is more than one version of you on the loose. Stranger yet, your morning running route didn’t quite go where you thought it did.

It is, in fact, illegal for foreign individuals or organizations to make maps in China without official permission. As stated in the “Surveying and Mapping Law of the People’s Republic of China,” for example, mapping—even casually documenting “the shapes, sizes, space positions, attributes, etc. of man-made surface installations”—is considered a protected activity for reasons of national defense and “progress of the society.” Those who do receive permission must introduce a geographic offset into their products, a kind of preordained cartographic drift. An entire world of spatial glitches is thus deliberately introduced into the resulting map.

The central problem is that most digital maps today rely upon a set of coordinates known as the World Geodetic System 1984, or WGS-84; the U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency describes it as “the reference frame upon which all geospatial-intelligence is based.” However, as software engineer Dan Dascalescu writes in a Stack Exchange post, digital mapping products in China instead use something called “the GCJ-02 datum.” As he points out, an apparently random algorithmic offset “causes WGS-84 coordinates, such as those coming from a regular GPS chip, to be plotted incorrectly on GCJ-02 maps.” GCJ-02 data are also somewhat oddly known as “Mars Coordinates,” as if describing the geography of another planet. Translations back and forth between these coordinate systems—to bring China back to Earth, so to speak—are easy enough to find online, but they are also rather intimidating to non-specialists.

While algorithmic offsets introduced into digital maps might sound like nothing more than a matter of speculative concern—something more like a dinner conversation for fans of William Gibson novels—it is actually a very concrete issue for digital product designers. Releasing an app, for example, whose location functions do not work in China has immediate and painfully evident user-experience, not to mention financial, implications.

One such app designer posted on the website Stack Overflow to ask about Apple’s “embeddable map viewer.” To make a long story short, when used in China, Apple’s maps are subject to “a varying offset [of] 100-600m which makes annotations display incorrectly on the map.” In other words, everything there—roads, nightclubs, clothing stores—appears to be 100-600 meters away from its actual, terrestrial position. The effect of this is that, if you check the GPS coordinates of your friends, as blogger Jon Pasden writes, “you’ll likely see they’re standing in a river or some place 500 meters away even if they’re standing right next to you.”

The same thread on Stack Overflow goes on to explain that Google also has its own algorithmically derived offset, known as “_applyChinaLocationShift” (or more humorously as “eviltransform”). The key, of course, to offering an accurate app is to account for this Chinese location shift before it ever happens—to distort the distortions before they occur.

In addition to all this, Chinese geographic regulations demand that GPS functions must either be disabled on handheld devices or they must be made to display a similar offset. If a given device—such as a smartphone or camera—detects that it is in China, then its ability to geo-tag photos is either temporarily unavailable or strangely compromised. Once again, you would find that your hotel is not quite where your camera wants it to be, or that the restaurant you and your friends want to visit is not, in fact, where your smartphone thinks it has guided you. Your physical footsteps and your digital tracks no longer align.

It is worth pointing out that this raises interesting geopolitical questions. If a traveler finds herself in, say, Tibet or on a short trip to the artificial islands of the South China Sea—or perhaps simply in Taiwan—are she and her devices really “in China”? This seemingly abstract question might already be answered, without the traveler even knowing that it’s been asked, by circuits inside her phone or camera. Depending on the insistence of China’s territorial claims and the willingness of certain manufacturers to acknowledge those assertions, a device might no longer offer accurate GPS readings.

Put another way, you might not think you’ve crossed an international border—but your devices have. This is just one, relatively small example of how complex geopolitical questions can be embedded in the functionality of our handheld devices: cameras and smartphones are suddenly thrust to the front line of much larger conversations about national sovereignty.

These sorts of examples might sound like inconsequential travelers’ trivia, but for China, at least, cartographers are seen as a security threat: China’s Ministry of Land and Resources recently warned that “the number of foreigners conducting surveys in China is on the rise,” and, indeed, the government is increasingly cracking down on those who flout the mapping laws. Three British geology students discovered this the hard way while “collecting data” on a 2009 field trip through the desert state of Xinjiang, a politically sensitive area in northwest China. The students’ data sets were considered “illegal map-making activities,” and they were fined nearly $3,000.

What remains so oddly compelling here is the uncanny gulf between the world and its representations. In a well-known literary parable called “On Exactitude in Science," from Collected Fictions, Argentine fabulist Jorge Luis Borges describes a kingdom whose cartographic ambitions ultimately get the best of it. The imperial mapmakers, Borges writes, devised “a Map of the Empire whose size was that of the Empire, and which coincided point for point with it.” This 1:1 map, however, while no doubt artistically and conceptually wondrous, was seen as utterly useless by future generations. Rather than enlighten or educate, this sprawling and inescapable super-map merely smothered the very territory whose connections it sought to clarify.

Mars Coordinates, eviltransform, _applyChinaLocationShift, the “China GPS Offset Problem”—whatever name you want to describe this contemporary digital phenomenon of full-scale digital maps sliding precariously away from their referents, the gap between map and territory is suitably Borgesian.

Indeed, Borges ends his tiniest of parables with an image of animals and beggars living wild amidst the “tattered ruins” of an abandoned map, unaware of what its original purpose might have been—perhaps foreshadowing the possibility that travelers several decades from now will wander amidst remote Chinese landscapes with outdated GPS devices in hand, marveling at their apparent discovery of some parallel, dislocated version of the world that had been hiding in plain view."
via:tealtan  maps  mapping  gps  cartography  china  borges  gis  2016 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Ranking countries by the worst students - The Hechinger Report
"But recently the OECD decided to analyze the past decade of test scores in a new way, to see which nations do the best job of educating their struggling students, and what lessons could be learned. This is important because low-performing students are more likely to drop out of school, and less likely to obtain good jobs as adults. Ultimately, they put more strains on social welfare systems and brakes on economic growth. The results were released on February 10, 2016 in an OECD report, “Low-Performing Students: Why They Fall Behind and How To Help Them Succeed.”

It turns out that many of the top performing nations or regions also have the smallest numbers of low-performing students. Fewer than 5 percent of 15-year-olds in Shanghai (China), Hong Kong (China), South Korea, Estonia and Vietnam scored at the lowest levels on the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests in math, reading and science.

In the United States, by contrast, 29 percent of students scored below a basic baseline level in at least one subject, and 12 percent students score below a basic baseline level on all three tests — math, reading and science. The latter number amounts to half a million 15-year-olds who can’t do the basics in any subject. The worst is math. More than a million U.S. 15-year-olds can’t reach the baseline here. The OECD calculated that if all American 15-year-olds reached a baseline level of performance, then the size of the U.S. economy could gain an additional $27 trillion over the working life of these students.

Of course, the United States has relatively higher poverty rates than many nations in this 64-country analysis. One might expect more low performers given that our number of disadvantaged students in public schools surpasses 50 percent. But the interesting thing is that there wasn’t as tight a connection between low performance and poverty as we might expect. Some countries contend with higher poverty levels, but do better — Vietnam, for example, where only 4 percent of students were low performers in all subjects. Meanwhile, some other countries with lower poverty rates nonetheless have a bigger problem of low performers. For example, France, Luxembourg and Sweden all had higher percentages of low-performing students than the United States did.

Poor children around the world, on average, are between four and five times more likely to become low performers in school than children who grew up in a wealthier homes among more educated parents. But in the United States, poverty seems to seal your educational fate more. A socioeconomically disadvantaged American student is six times more likely to be a low performer than his or her socioeconomically advantaged peer. Here’s a stark figure: 41 percent of disadvantaged students in the United States were low performers in mathematics in 2012, while only 9 percent of advantaged students were.

In South Korea, by contrast, only 14 percent of disadvantaged students were low performers in math. In neighboring Canada, it was only 22 percent of the poorest students who scored the worst.

The report highlighted countries that had significantly reduced their share of low performers in math between 2003 and 2012. They were Brazil, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Portugal, Tunisia and Turkey.

“What do these countries have in common? Not very much,” admitted Andreas Schleicher, director of the education division at the OECD. “They are about as socioeconomically and culturally diverse as can be.”

Also, each country had embarked upon different reforms to improve educational outcomes at the bottom. But Schleicher sees hope in the fact that these countries succeeded at all, proving that poverty isn’t destiny and that schools can make a difference. “All countries can improve their students’ performance, given the right policies and the will to implement them,” Schleicher said."
education  schools  rankings  2016  pisa  standardizedtesting  testing  jillbarshay  poverty  us  southkorea  estonia  vietnam  hongkong  china  shanghai  france  luxembourg  sweden  brazil  brasil  germany  italy  poland  portugal  tunisia  turkey  diversity 
february 2016 by robertogreco
An Xiao Mina at Biased Data - An Xiao Mina - Open Transcripts
"Just to close, as we think about the role of lan­guage on the Internet, it really biases our expe­ri­ence, and there are a lot of risks and chal­lenges there, espe­cially as peo­ple from the Global South are com­ing online. The abil­ity for them to access con­tent and for them to con­tribute to impor­tant con­ver­sa­tions online will be severely lim­ited. It’ll look more like this, and I think some of the most impor­tant work we can do in tech is to bring it out into lan­guages that they can under­stand."
anxiaomina  language  languages  internet  online  web  2016  mikemcdandless  translation  blacklivesmatter  umbrellamovement  crowdsourcing  machinetranslation  sarahkendzior  russian  uzbek  opentranslationproject  aiweiwei  meedan  inequity  socialjustice  wechat  audio  chinese  china  bias  experience 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Narrating the Chinese Vietnamese Identity
"Narrating the Chinese Vietnamese Identity is an oral history project that investigates the histories, cultural backgrounds, communities, and pre- and post- migration identities of the first and second generation of Chinese Vietnamese in America and shares their stories through interviews and photographs of the places they now call home.

This project seeks to provide an accessible space to share the first and second generation stories of the Vietnam War—an event that has shaped millions of lives both in and outside of the U.S.

This project focuses on the experiences of the Chinese Vietnamese (also known as Hoa people or ethnic Chinese in Vietnam) who settled there and how nearly one million refugees from a world away had come to call America their new home.

Having grown up on stories of escape, I was inspired by my family's story and many others whose walks of life were cut from the same fabric.

Through this project, I explored questions such as:

How do you navigate and construct what it means to belong within multiple historical narratives? In what ways have multiple narratives of history and place shaped the perceptions of how we understood identity?"
us  vietnam  china  migration  immigration  oralhistory  hoa  refugees 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Inside China's Memefacturing Factories, Where The Hottest New Gadgets Are Made
"This holiday season, we want to roll around on motorized two-wheeled scooters — and China wants to give us what we want, as soon as we want it. BuzzFeed News travels to Shenzhen, the world capital of memeufacturing, to see how your Black Friday sausage gets made."
namufacturing  2015  china  shenzhen  electronics  trends  josephbernstein  memes 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Time to get serious about chat apps » Nieman Journalism Lab
“For users, why worry of a more feudal Internet when you can send amazing stickers to select groups of friends? For publishers, you get a direct connection with an untapped audience, with your updates dinging on their phones.”



"WeChat, WhatsApp, Line, and their brethren never played a big role in my daily life until I moved to Asia earlier this year. The extent to which they became indispensable, because communication happens almost exclusively inside their ecosystems, exposed a missed opportunity for Western news organizations. But I expect that to change. 2016 is the year we’ll see more media companies get serious about chat apps.

Chat apps have reached stunning scale across the world — 650 million active monthly unique users on WeChat, and at least that many on WhatsApp. For the many publishers who now capitalize on social sharing, these platforms do more than facilitate chat; they provide a captive audience for updates, one-to-one communication, and payments. (On WeChat, users can not just send money, but book doctor’s appointments, hail cabs, and more.) The engagement possibilities are rife for exploration, and chat apps have young, growing user bases that aren’t being met by Western news sources.

BuzzFeed and BBC are among the players already present on these platforms, but we’re past time far more news publishers — some with the world’s leading data, interactive, and visual news offerings — to find a place in chat apps, too. There’s a compelling reason to be there just for the types of audiences they reach (young, global and growing), but perhaps even more importantly, for the insight these apps can offer about our communications present and future. Even if WeChat, Line, or KakaoTalk never take hold in the United States, experimentation and learning from just trying stuff on chat apps will prepare news organizations for the similar players that will. (Facebook has already signaled it’s following WeChat and Kakao’s lead, by offering Uber hailing inside its Messenger app. What features will follow?)

I realize these are closed networks. Part of WeChat’s popularity is a consequence of China’s great firewall, since it blocks social media most commonly used in the West. Like every other user of WeChat, I trade away any notion of privacy in the deal I make for speed and ease of communication. So it is with KakaoTalk, the messenger with 93 percent penetration rate among smartphone users in South Korea. It’s no secret it turns over private user data to the government.

At the same time, these closed networks also feel intimate. For users, why worry of a more feudal Internet when you can send amazing stickers to select groups of friends? For publishers, you get a direct connection with an untapped audience, with your updates dinging on their phones. It’s also an opportunity to challenge the very order you’d burrow into: Principle-driven news organizations with stories calling out governments, corporations and other institutions of power ought to help inform the huge numbers of readers and viewers inside these walled gardens.

Since we’re in this business partly because we believe news and information are vital, Western media will miss out if we aren’t exploring this mobile chat terrain, reaching the billion-plus on chat apps with information needs that deserve to be met. And the possibilities for us to learn from being there may be as abundant as the audiences."
2015  elisehu  wechat  whatsapp  lineapp  journalism  messaging  communication  socialmedia  kakaotalk  china  mobile  chat 
december 2015 by robertogreco
The Untapped Creativity of the Chinese Internet | VICE | United States
"[image]

Somewhere in mainland China, a kid in the grips of puppy love posts one of those raw, unmediated posts so saccharine it's both unbearably endearing and ridiculously funny. It's so completely melodramatic that other users stumble across the post and begin adding their own feelings and thoughts, remixing it to be even funnier. The words are skewed, images and music added, and finally uploaded to Bilibili.com, where users overlay their own comments onto the video in real-time.

The resulting GIFs, poems, videos, and comments spread through the Chinese internet on Sina Weibo and WeChat in a flurry of color and flashing animations. This is So in love, w​ill never feel tired again, an online exhibition of work by Chinese new media and net artist Yin​​g Miao, and it serves as a counterpoint to the West's view of the Chinese internet as bland and heavily censored. Despite all that I've been told in the West, the internet here looks incredibly fun and vibrant to me.

[image]

"The Chinese internet is really raw," Miao tells me. "It's so unlimited but also limited. It's really rich material." We are sitting in a café with our laptops open in downtown Beijing, a brief bike ride from Tiananmen Square. Miao is walking me through her artwork in preparation for the launch of the online exhibition series Ne​tizenet. Miao impresses upon me the depth of creativity on the Chinese internet, showing how memes emerge and morph across platforms and ideologies and around censorship.

While I'm becoming accustomed to relying on my VPN or Tor to use boringly functional sites like Gmail, Miao is taking me on an unblocked tour of her inspirations, the wildest and weirdest of the Chinese internet from behind the so-called Great Firewall. Here, everything can be remixed and .GIFs are always welcomed. Conversations on WeChat (the most popular messaging platform here) are an endless stream of reaction .GIFs that put Tumblr to shame.

[image]

In the series, LAN Love Poem, Miao explores her complicated feelings around the Chinese web. LAN stands for local area network and is suggestive of the localized nature of the internet, in both law and culture, that we in the West are rarely confronted with. Miao uses type inspired by Taobao.com (a site akin to eBay) and intentionally poor English translations of odes to her censored net.

The extreme creativity and vibrancy on the Chinese internet is hard to grasp as a Westerner who is a devout defender of free speech. My ignorance of Miao's raw material, and the many other aspects of Chinese net culture that are difficult to grasp is what Netizienet (or 网友网 in Mandarin and Wǎngyǒuwǎng in Pinyin) is all about.

[image]

Using NewHive, a multimedia publishing platform, Netizenet will examine the internet as a medium from within China, an internet very different from what I grew up with in the States. Through an ongoing series of online exhibitions by Chinese and international artists--of which Miao is the first--Netizenet asks important questions about creativity, differing online aesthetics, and location-based web access. Is the Chinese internet uniquely different from the rest of the world's, or does every country's web have its own unique aesthetics and traits?

The curator behind Netizenet is Michelle Proksell, an independent curator, researcher, and artist currently based in Beijing. Proksell was born in Saudi Arabia to expatriate American parents, and moved to the United States when the Gulf War was starting. Proksell loved traveling through Asia as a kid and this is why she eventually returned and has lived in China for over two years.

Proksell sees a ton of potential in Beijing and Shanghai for the arts, especially net art, and wants to help cultivate the scene. She was fascinated by how the Chinese internet influenced Miao's "artistic aesthetic, process and production," writing that Miao "has a bit of a love affair with the kitschy, low-tech aesthetic, and unreliable nature of this part of the [world wide web.]" ​

[image]

Miao is one of the few net artists in mainland China. She and Proksell have adopted the monumental task of helping to encourage a net art discourse in a country of over 620 million internet users as well as introducing that culture to the West. Proksell tells me, "I really wanted to set a tone for the project by working with an artist who had been intimate with this side of the web early in her art practice."

Miao has certainly been exploring the aesthetics and issues of access in the internet in her work for some time. In 2007, for her undergrad thesis exhibition at the China Academy of Fine Arts near Shanghai, Miao made The Blind Spot, which meticulously documented every word blocked from Google.cn. The piece took Miao three months to make and is a brilliant DIY version of Jason Q. Ng's work documenting blocked words on the popular Chinese social network Sina Weibo. But Miao has no interest in only focusing on the limitations of the Chinese internet, believing there are much more fascinating things underway.

For instance, iPhone Garbage is an incredible convergence of Chinese manufacturing, social media, and ​Shanzhai (slang for pirated and fake goods) culture. A heavily remixed video shows a young entrepreneur aggressively promoting his custom smartphone while continually calling the iPhone "garbage." In Miao's work we see a pushback on Western aesthetics and corporations in favor of a more local flavor.

[image]

Miao suggests that the emerging narrative of Shanzhai might be replicated in net art in China. At first Shanzhai referred only to cheap knockoffs that rarely worked and were an annoying thorn in "legitimate" companies' sides. Now, as Joi Ito has found, Shanzhai merchants are beginning to build entirely unique hardware, offering entirely different capabilities than their Western smartphone counterparts. Miao believes too that Chinese net culture should embrace their differences and push them as far as possible.

In an int​erv​iew between Miao and Proksell, Miao said, "I think there is a bright future for Chinese internet art." Proksell and Miao have an uphill battle proving that to the West, but just as I had never seen many of Miao's influences, this culture is emerging with or without the West's acknowledgement or support. Whether that appreciation comes or not, Netizenet is off to an amazing start and I for one will definitely keep my eyes open for the next show and on Miao."
via:unthinkingly  aesthetic  newaesthetic  internet  web  china  online  accretion  beijing  netart  netizenet  byob  michelleproksell  lanlovepoem  yingmao  newmedia  benvalentine  tumblr  newvibe  gifs  memes  poetry  poems  sinaweibo  weibo  wechat  animation  screenshots  low-techaesthetic  changzhai  socialmedia  joiito  2014  webrococo  newhive 
december 2015 by robertogreco
The City of the Global South and its Insurrections: Algiers, Cairo, Gaza, Chandigarh, and Kowloon | THE FUNAMBULIST MAGAZINE
"On November 10th, I was invited by friend Meriem Chabani to give a small lecture in Paris in the context of the exhibition New South that she curated around six architecture students’ thesis projects engaging cities of the Global South in Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Burkina Faso, Morocco and the Canaries. I started writing a digest of this presentation here the next day but the Nov. 13 attacks occurred and I am profoundly sadden to announce that, Amine Ibnolmobarak, the brilliant and kind author of the project for Mecca in this exhibition, was killed in the shootings. Despite the shock of this news and the difficulty to mourn in the maddening noise of the journalistic and political state of emergency, his friends gathered around his family, and remembered with emotion his life in the great hall of the Beaux Arts school last Friday.

The City of the Global South and its Insurrections: Algiers, Cairo, Gaza, Chandigarh, and Kowloon ///

This presentation constitutes a rather shallow examination of five cities’ reciprocal influence between their urban fabric and their insurrections and counter-insurrections operations. In order to make the presentation clearer, I produced a few new maps and thus propose to include my slides here, as well as a few notes to explain them."



"CONCLUSION ///

The criminalizing discourses that took the Kowloon Walled City for object as well as its inhabitants, even if based, to a certain degree on a actual facts, is common to all neighborhoods presented here. These discourses construct an imaginary of these neighborhoods that prepares the policed and/or militarized interventions against the urban fabric and its inhabitants. The insurrections evoked throughout this presentation are sometimes less the historical accomplishment of their inhabitants than a narrative forced upon them in order to (re)gain the full political control of these urban formations. As described in another recent article, the rhetorical use of “bastions” or “strongholds” to talk about these neighborhoods or other similar ones, contributes (more often than not, deliberately) to their transformation or demolition orchestrated by the State, sometimes including the very lives of their inhabitants (like in the case of Gaza)."
algiers  algeria  cairo  egypt  gaza  palestine  chandigahr  india  kowloon  hongkong  china  northafrica  asia  globalsouth  léopoldlambert  cartography  history  cities  urban  urbanism  architecture  design  insurrection  colonialism  decolonization  colonization  lecorbusier  battleofalgiers  alilapointe  tahrir  tahrirsquare  militarization 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Martin Roemers - Metropolis | LensCulture
"Dutch photographer Martin Roemers won the 1st prize in the LensCulture Street Photography Awards 2015 for his series, Metropolis, which documents street life in "mega-cities", defined as urban areas that are home to more than 10 million inhabitants. Here we present an extended slideshow of this project, as well as an interview with the photographer."

[via: http://globalvoices.tumblr.com/post/133898896954/archatlas-metropolis-martin-roemers ]
martinroemers  photography  streetphotography  2015  cities  urban  urbanism  global  kolkata  lagos  pakistan  bangladesh  cairo  nigeria  egypt  karachi  dhaka  mumbai  india  guangzhou  china  istanbul  turkey  jakarta  indonesia  buenosaires  argentina  manila  philippines  basil  brazil  riodejaneiro  mexicocity  mexicodf  mexico  nyc  sãopaulo  london  tokyo  japan  df 
november 2015 by robertogreco
The Internet is Like Water — Global, with Extreme Differences in Access — Medium
"Turn on a faucet in Manhattan, and you can be pretty certain the water you get out of the tap is potable. Though famously a dirty city, New York City provides some of the cleanest water in the United States, easy and at ready for those who live there. Internet access in much of the city is a little like that, too. Turn on your phone or tap into a wireless network, and data flow through seamlessly, thanks to powerful infrastructure that’s largely invisible to the average user.

The experience of the internet in a developing country can be quite different. Take, for instance, Manila, the capital of the Philippines. Many people access the internet via pocket wifi routers, which can be more readily available than physical landline connections. These routers work semi-reliably — in spurts, rather than a constant stream — , and people often carry multiple routers and network subscriptions to optimize for the best flow. On occasion, and sometimes far too frequently, the routers don’t work at all.

A young woman in Uganda gathers water from a well to carry back to her family. Photo by the author.

In other places, like Beijing, the internet and its infrastructure can be fairly reliable. But what comes through the pipes may need to be questioned and filtered. Many citizens of means curse the Great Firewall for slowing down or blocking entirely their access to the web, and they find other ways to go online, thanks to VPNs, proxies and other services. Most, however, live with an internet that is censored by both algorithmic and human means; depending on their priorities, this may or may not matter. But the fact remains that choice of what to access is limited.

And in a more rural area like the Oyam District of northern Uganda, internet access can often look more like a well. As I shared in a recent essay for The New Inquiry and a talk at the Theorizing the Web conference this year, “sneakernets” of data crop up in unexpected places. In very rural, no-bandwidth contexts, people find ways to trade data thanks to Bluetooth transfers, USB sticks, SD cards and other methods. The access point to the formal backbone of the internet might be hundreds of miles away, and in this regard, data is transferred hand to hand, rather than node to node. (This is literally how many rural Ugandans access their water, too.)

In other words, data flow, data spurt and data can be gathered. This metaphor matters because, just like with water access, the way people access the internet is highly stratified. Understanding this should inform how we think about policies and development strategies, especially as the web extends into the global south.



1. Shifting from a connectivity binary to a spectrum gives us a much richer view of the diversity of ways people access the internet.



The connectivity binary is the view that there is a single mode of connecting to the internet — one person, one device, one always-on subscription— rather than a spectrum.
The connectivity binary makes other modes of access invisible.



2. The internet probably has a larger impact than is currently measured, and we need better maps that reflect this.



3. In the face of scarcity, early internet access is often motivated by joy, social connection and entertainment — more so than education or politics per se.

…"
2015  anxiaomina  internet  infrastructure  water  nickseaver  sneakernet  access  uganda  beijing  china  philippines  nyc  us 
november 2015 by robertogreco
Race to renewable: five developing countries ditching fossil fuels | Global Development Professionals Network | The Guardian
"Costa Rica, Afghanistan, China, India and Albania are all embracing renewable energy sources – five experts give their opinion on what the future holds"
costarica  afghanistan  china  india  albania  energy  climatechange  fossilfuels  2015  environment  sustainability 
october 2015 by robertogreco
China: New Education model boosts child communication skills (Learning World: S5E10, part 3/3) - YouTube
"Some schools in China are breaking with the traditional Chinese rote-learning methods: the 'New Education Experiment' programme, a nationwide private education project, aims at boosting children's confidence while respecting traditional values and local culture. The model focuses on developing communication skills and creative thinking. All over China, about 1,800 in China are part of the 'New Education Experiment' programme.

New technologies and new approaches: is it the start of a new education era? Can the "flipped classroom" model really make a difference to students' learning outcomes? Watch here: http://youtu.be/6IP62OUMppA

New technology even in the poorest areas? Watch this Kenyan example on how an app inspires children to learn better: http://youtu.be/YdqkN2XRf-Y "
china  education  schools  2014  flippedclassroom  kenya  neweducation  progressive  creativity  howweteach  communication  local  rote  rotelearning 
august 2015 by robertogreco
Slow education in Spain: Taking time to learn (Learning World: S5E38, 1/3) - YouTube
""Slow education" is a concept put into practise at this school in Spain. It takes into account that each pupil has a different learning speed and rhythm - a fact neglected by conventional teaching methods. It also focuses on individual strenghts, so that pupils do not feel weak. They spend less time being taught and more time learning. How do these kids get on in secondary education? Take a look!

Is slow education also a concept known outside Europe? We explore in China: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_ukxlUlGyI and Japan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vdpgNvNE208 "
sloweducation  slow  education  spain  españa  2015  japan  china  pace  learning  howwelearn  efficiency 
august 2015 by robertogreco
Our RISD — Playing for Keeps
"Children in eastern China are taking the notion of learning through play to new heights, according to Associate Professor of Industrial Design Cas Holman, who has been collaborating with educator Cheng Xueqin to design tools for kids that complement her vision for learning. Over the past 14 years, Cheng has developed a comprehensive play-driven educational model for China that is being used to incredible effect in 120 public preschools in Anji County.

“Anji Play is about joy and agency and allowing kids to develop as whole people,” says Holman. “The play is completely child-directed; teachers don’t even prompt them about what to build. When playtime is over, the children draw ‘play stories’ to visually communicate what they made and what questions they were trying to answer.”

Holman observed the system in action during a trip to China last month and plans to return in August to work with factory directors on creating a core set of high-quality materials – ladders, barrels, blocks and the like – with consistent specs. She’s also working with Cheng’s team to help adapt the model for use in the US and other western countries.    

The approach to play at these Chinese preschools is one Holman has long advocated for through her own work. As she notes in this newly posted opinion piece for Fast Company, “The ideal toy for a child is not a toy at all but something they’ve appropriated for play.”

[Direct link to video: https://vimeo.com/120218237 ]

[See also: https://www.fastcodesign.com/3048508/the-case-for-letting-kids-design-their-own-play ]
play  children  china  kindergarten  schools  education  casholman  chengxuegin  design  schooldesign  toys  student-directedlearning  reggioemilia  via:ablerism  roleplaying  preschool  anjiplay  anji 
july 2015 by robertogreco
DRAGON GIRLS on Vimeo
[Description from:
http://www.brooklynfilmfestival.org/films/detail.asp?fid=1331

"'Dragon Girls' tells the story of three Chinese Girls, training to become Kung Fu Fighters, far away from their families at the Shaolin Kung Fu School, located right next to the Shaolin Monastery in Central-China, place of origin of Kung Fu.Three girls in a crowd of 26.000 children, under pressure to conform to the norms and structures: they are turned into fighting robots and yet, if you look behind the curtain, you see children with dreams and aspirations..."]

[Footage used here:
"GENER8ION + M.I.A. - The New International Sound Pt. II (Official music video)"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uAYPacrJnyQ ]
via:anne  documentary  towatch  children  athletics  china  kungfu  fighting  mia 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Which is the cleanest city in the world? | Cities | The Guardian
"Fines, public humiliation and citizen action – every city has a different way of dealing with urban cleanliness. But is it community clean-ups or strict municipal laws that have the most success in making a city spotless?"



"There are less punitive ways to be clean and tidy, however. Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, seems to have achieved a clean and litter-free environment without the threat of harsh fines. Not on any of Mercer’s lists, modern Kigali isn’t exactly beautiful. It rises up on a tree-covered slope and is mainly built of concrete, but the level of upkeep is extraordinary.

Indeed, the city’s roundabouts are so well-swept and the grass so well-maintained that wedding couples sprint across the traffic to be photographed in the middle of them. Unusually, this has been achieved not through punishment, but by the principle of Umuganda. This word has many meanings relating to “community” and “payment”, and dates back before Rwanda was part of Belgium’s African empire.

In the 19th century, a number visitors recorded that Rwandans were required to work two days a week for their community leader and during Belgian rule Umuganda was encouraged as a way of bolstering civic responsibility. In the years before the 1994 genocide, President Juvénal Habyarimana emphasised it as part of his concept of “true” Rwandan identity. “True Rwandans” provided free labour for state-led projects like school building, road works, the construction of sanitation facilities and digging of anti-erosion ditches. Unfortunately Habyarimana’s true Rwandans, by extension, also belonged to the Hutu tribe, and Umuganda eventually became caught up in ideas of racial purity.

After taking office in 2000, President Paul Kagame harnessed Umuganda to help clean up his gun and shell-strewn capital, as well as to promote the idea of a cohesive national identity through communal projects. Under Kagame, Umuganda was formalised as a collective event on the last Saturday in each month when traffic – including airport taxis – is stopped for three hours in the morning, and the city comes together to tidy up. This can be problematic if you have a flight to catch. This day is called umunsi w’umuganda (contribution made by the community) and all able-bodied people between the ages of 18 and 65 are required by law to participate. The knock-on effect of such conscientious cleaning up is, of course, that people are less inclined to drop litter in the first place."



"So, if Singapore is proof that cleanliness can be achieved by legislation, Kigali and Dar es Salaam are definitely proof that motivation and communal spirit can work as well. Calgary, on the other hand, falls somewhere between the two. It’s also the least interesting of the three cities to visit – but that’s a whole other list.

Finally one has to ask, does it matter? Last year a Ugandan looking at Kigali told me wistfully that Kampala used to be as pristine as Kigali: “Why can’t we keep our capital clean and tidy anymore?”

So, if you live there I think it matters, very much."
cities  uban  urbanism  rwanda  umuganda  community  civics  responsibility  civicresponsibility  kigali  kampala  uganda  daressalaam  communalism  communalspirit  tanzania  singapore  via:anabjain  cleanliness  litter  calgary  zurich  adelaide  honolulu  minneapolis  kobe  tidiness  china  paulkagame 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Three Moments With WeChat | 八八吧 · 88 Bar
"Despite being only four years old, WeChat is more popular in China than Facebook is in the US: 72% of all Chinese people with mobile devices use it, versus the 67% penetration rate Facebook has among American internet users. Yet its Facebook-esque feature, Moments, manages to avoid feeling like the Walmart of social interaction. When my soon-to-be cousin-in-law posted that photo, he no doubt received both sincere congratulations from his professional contacts and older relatives as well as jokes from his closer friends. On Moments, however, each user can only see activity from their own contacts: not even a total count of Likes is available to anyone other than the original poster. This automated privacy curtain means that group social dynamics can remain hidden in plain sight without any moderation effort required from the original poster. In other words, my cousin-in-law could perform his groomal duties without worrying about messy (and potentially embarrassing) context collapse.

This decision to prioritize context separation over the ability to perform social popularity is an important concession to what sociologist Tricia Wang calls the Elastic Self. In a culture where connections are everything, many of WeChat’s features are subtly optimized for “saving face” in complicated situations. You can chat with people without adding them as contacts: someone you met on a chat-coordinated dinner doesn’t automatically become a Contact with access to details about your social life. Even while adding someone as a Contact, there is an option to secretly prevent them from seeing your Moments updates. There’s also a conspicuous lack of presence and typing status indicators as compared to iMessage and other apps, allowing the receiver some measure of plausible deniability about when each message is received.

These days, the buzz around WeChat centers on its impressive sprawl into an entire operating system of features: in certain regions, a user can hail a cab, shop, and even manage their bank accounts all in the app. But these features, introduced in late 2013, only work because they capitalize on WeChat’s already dizzying adoption rate. What lies at the core of WeChat’s success is a series of smart design decisions that reflect the culture they were created in and, together, generate a unique experience that is as functional as it is addictive."



"WeChat privileges another mode of communication equally to text: “Hold to Talk.” This featured, used by almost as many people as texting, allows the sender to record a short voice message which is then sent in the conversation. The receiver taps it when they want to hear it, and if there are multiple messages, each subsequent one autoplays. It’s a brilliant feature that marries the intimacy and simplicity of voice with the convenience of asynchronicity that makes texting so appealing.

“Hold to Talk” may have been created for its convenience, but it’s also a powerfully expressive feature with interesting affordances of its own. In the process of writing this piece, I was thinking about a Chinese phrase I only half-remembered. Forgetting a language is funny — there are some words I can read but not pronounce, and others that I can parse while listening but not recognize visually. I remembered the vague shape and meaning of the phrase, so I sent two voice clips to my mom, fumbling the words awkwardly. An hour later, she responded with a voice clip of her own. I listened to her laugh and rib me about my illiteracy, and chuckled alongside it as if she were next to me."



"Periodically, one of our hosts would pull out his phone (a Samsung Galaxy S4, possibly shanzhai) to shoot video clips of the gathering, documenting everyone who was there. Other relatives crowded around the phone afterwards, watching all of the videos on the phone. They were so interested in the videos taken of our hosts’ lives in Beijing, where they lived for most of the year as migrant workers, that they went to desperate measures to attempt to copy them.

WeChat natively supports a surprising number of media formats: images, custom animated stickers, uploaded videos, natively captured short videos called Sights, and even PowerPoint and Word documents. It also facilitates passing these files from one conversation to another through a prominent “forwarding” option for files.

Now that my 80 year old grandmother is on WeChat, the whole family forwards anything amusing they find to the group chat we share so that she can see it. Often, it’s jokes, articles, and photos of ourselves and our food."



"Scrolling through my WeChat today, I see pictures of my cousin and cousin-in-law surfing and glowing on their honeymoon, pictures of my parents from a friend’s graduation ceremony, at least five jokes I can’t quite grok, and even the occasional dispatch from Nanzhai village. Using a chat app to hail a cab with your phone is cool, but at the end of the day the killer feature of WeChat will always be its ability to shorten distances and navigate social situations as deftly as we need to."

[via: http://tumblr.iamdanw.com/post/119597750700/despite-being-only-four-years-old-wechat-is-more ]
christinaxu  socialmedia  facebook  2015  wechat  china  contextcollapse  privacy  metrics  socialdynamics  social  interaction  moderation  mobile  application  socialnetworks  communication  tumblr  vine 
may 2015 by robertogreco
6, 55: Dilution of precision
"Some things are hard to understand until you’ve stood in them. Anthropologist Genevieve Bell (at 1:09, in the third video down) told executives at Intel how small living spaces in China could be, but when they went and stood in the places that she had described clearly, they were still surprised. “I can touch all the walls!”

Travel is a way of accumulating this embodied knowledge. Gazing up at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Climbing up the passageway in the Great Pyramid at Giza. Standing in the shadow of redwoods. When we decided to take a weekend roadtrip in California, we really didn’t have to discuss what we’d go see: both of us have been thinking a lot about infrastructure and about the California drought, so we drew up a tentative plan, woke up early, and headed east from Santa Cruz towards Interstate Highway 5, to visit one of the most significant pieces of water infrastructure in California."



"Infrastructure is the set of systems that enable you to do what you do that you never think about. Power, water, heating, communications – all the things that (if you’re lucky enough) is just piped to your house – are never noticed until something goes wrong. As Warren Ellis put it this morning, “The victory condition [of utilities] is silence.” Then there’s the larger-scale infrastructure, like the highway system. We spent a lot of time on I-5, an economic backbone of the West Coast, running from Tijuana, Mexico to Blaine, Canada. But because it’s not in crisis, we don’t think about it much. We don’t take a weekend to stand on hills overlooking it. Likewise GPS, and stable currency, and mobile phone coverage."

[Also available here: http://tinyletter.com/metafoundry/letters/metafoundry-35-dilution-of-precision ]
perspective  infrastructure  2015charlieloyd  debchachra  2015  californiaaqueduct  california  water  californiastatewaterproject  agriculture  centralvalley  sanjoaquinvalley  sanluisreservoir  perception  scale  warrenellis  landscape  genevievebell  china  housing  i5  interstate5  i-5  food  farming 
may 2015 by robertogreco
The male suicides: how social perfectionism kills | Mosaic
"Impulsivity, brooding rumination, low serotonin, poor social problem-solving abilities – there are many vulnerabilities that can heighten the risk of suicide. Professor Rory O’Connor, President of the International Academy of Suicide Research, has been studying the psychological processes behind self-inflicted death for over 20 years.

“Did you see the news?” he asks when I meet him. The morning’s papers are carrying the latest numbers: 6,233 suicides were registered in the UK in 2013. While the female suicide rate has remained roughly constant since 2007, that for men is at its highest since 2001. Nearly eight in ten of all suicides are male – a figure that has been rising for over three decades. In 2013, if you were a man between the ages of 20 and 49 who’d died, the most likely cause was not assault nor car crash nor drug abuse nor heart attack, but a decision that you didn’t wish to live any more.

In every country in the world, male suicides outnumber female. The mystery is why? What is it about being male that leads to this? Why, at least in the UK, are middle-aged men most at risk? And why is it getting worse?

Those who study suicide, or work for mental health charities, are keen to press upon the curious that there’s rarely, if ever, a single factor that leads to any self-inflicted death and that mental illness, most commonly depression, usually precedes such an event. “But the really important point is, most people with depression don’t kill themselves,” O’Connor tells me. “Less than 5 per cent do. So mental illness is not an explanation. For me, the decision to kill yourself is a psychological phenomenon. What we’re trying to do in the lab here is understand the psychology of the suicidal mind.”

We’re sitting in O’Connor’s office on the grounds of Gartnavel Royal Hospital. Through the window, the University of Glasgow’s spire rises into a dreich sky. Paintings by his two children are stuck to a corkboard – an orange monster, a red telephone. Hiding in the cupboard, a grim book collection: Comprehending Suicide; By Their Own Young Hands; Kay Redfield Jamison’s classic memoir of madness, An Unquiet Mind.

O’Connor’s Suicidal Behaviour Research Lab works with survivors in hospitals, assessing them within 24 hours of an attempt and tracking how they fare afterwards. It also carries out experimental studies, testing hypotheses on matters such as pain tolerance in suicidal people and changes in cognition following brief induced periods of stress.

After years of study, O’Connor found something about suicidal minds that surprised him. It’s called social perfectionism. And it might help us understand why men kill themselves in such numbers."



"If you’re a social perfectionist, you tend to identify closely with the roles and responsibilities you believe you have in life. “It’s not about what you expect of yourself,” O’Connor explains. “It’s what you think other people expect. You’ve let others down because you’ve failed to be a good father or a good brother – whatever it is.”

Because it’s a judgement on other people’s imagined judgements of you, it can be especially toxic. “It’s nothing to do with what those people actually think of you,” he says. “It’s what you think they expect. The reason it’s so problematic is that it’s outside your control.”

O’Connor first came across social perfectionism in studies of American university students. “I thought it wouldn’t be applicable in a UK context and that it certainly wouldn’t be applicable to people from really difficult backgrounds. Well, it is. It’s a remarkably robust effect. We’ve looked at it in the context of the most disadvantaged areas of Glasgow.” It began in 2003 with an initial study that looked at 22 people who had recently attempted suicide, as well as a control group, and assessed them using a 15-question quiz that measures agreement with statements such as “Success means that I must work even harder to please others” and “People expect nothing less than perfection from me”. “We’ve found this relationship between social perfectionism and suicidality in all populations where we’ve done the work,” says O’Connor, “including among the disadvantaged and the affluent.”

What’s not yet known is why. “Our hypothesis is that people who are social perfectionist are much more sensitive to signals of failure in the environment,” he says.

I ask if this is about perceived failure to fulfil roles, and what roles men feel they should fill? Father? Bread-winner?

“Now there’s this change in society,” O’Connor replies, “you have to be Mr Metrosexual too. There are all these greater expectations – more opportunities for men to feel like failures.”"



"If you’re a social perfectionist, you’ll have unusually high expectations of yourself. Your self-esteem will be dangerously dependent on maintaining a sometimes impossible level of success. When you’re defeated, you’ll collapse.

But social perfectionists aren’t unique in identifying closely with their goals, roles and aspirations. Psychology professor Brian Little, of the University of Cambridge, is well known for his research on ‘personal projects’. He believes we can identify so closely with them that they become part of our very sense of self. “You are your personal projects,” he used to tell his Harvard class.

According to Little, there are different kinds of projects, which carry different loads of value. Walking the dog is a personal project but so is becoming a headteacher in a lovely village, and so is being a successful father and husband. Surprisingly, how meaningful our projects are is thought to contribute to our wellbeing only slightly. What makes the crucial difference to how happy they make us is whether or not they’re accomplishable.

But what happens when our personal projects begin to fall apart? How do we cope? And is there a gender difference that might give a clue to why so many men kill themselves?

There is. It’s generally assumed that men, to their detriment, often find it hard to talk about their emotional difficulties. This has also been found to be true when it comes to discussing their faltering projects. “Women benefit from making visible their projects and their challenges in pursuing them,” Little writes, in his book Me, Myself and Us, “whereas men benefit from keeping that to themselves.”

In a study of people in senior management positions, Little uncovered another salient gender difference. “A clear differentiator is that, for men, the most important thing is to not confront impedance,” he tells me. “They’re primarily motivated to charge ahead. It’s a clear-the-decks kind of mentality. The women are more concerned about an organisational climate in which they’re connected with others. You can extrapolate that, I think, to areas of life beyond the office. I don’t want to perpetrate stereotypes but the data here seem pretty clear.”

Additional support for this comes from a highly influential 2000 paper, by a team lead by Professor Shelley Taylor at UCLA, that looked at bio-behavioural responses to stress. They found that while men tend to exhibit the well-known ‘fight or flight’ response, women are more likely to use ‘tend and befriend’. “Although women might think about suicide very seriously,” says Little, “because of their social connectedness, they may also think, ‘My God, what will my kids do? What will my mum think?’ So there’s forbearance from completing the act.” As for the men, death could be seen as the ultimate form of ‘flight’.

But that deadly form of flight takes determination. Dr Thomas Joiner, of Florida State University, has studied differences between people who think about suicide and those who actually act on their desire for death. “You can’t act unless you also develop a fearlessness of death,” he says. “And that’s the part I think is relevant to gender differences.” Joiner describes his large collection of security footage and police videos showing people who “desperately want to kill themselves and then, at the last minute, they flinch because it’s so scary. The flinch ends up saving their lives.” So is the idea men are less likely to flinch? “Exactly.”

But it’s also true, in most Western countries, that more women attempt suicide than men. One reason a higher number of males actually die is their choice of method. While men tend towards hanging or guns, women more often reach for pills. Martin Seager, a clinical psychologist and consultant to the Samaritans, believes this fact demonstrates that men have greater suicidal intent. “The method reflects the psychology,” he says. Daniel Freeman, of the University of Oxford’s department of psychiatry, has pointed to a study of 4,415 patients who had been at hospital following an episode of self-harm; it found significantly higher suicidal intent in the men than the women. But the hypothesis remains largely uninvestigated. “I don’t think it’s been shown definitively at all,” he says. “But then it would be incredibly difficult to show.”

For O’Connor, too, the intent question remains open. “I’m unaware of any decent studies that have looked at it because it’s really difficult to do,” he says. But Seager is convinced. “For men, I think of suicide as an execution,” he says. “A man is removing himself from the world. It’s a sense of enormous failure and shame. The masculine gender feels they’re responsible for providing and protecting others and for being successful. When a woman becomes unemployed, it’s painful, but she doesn’t feel like she’s lost her sense of identity or femininity. When a man loses his work he feels he’s not a man.”

It’s a notion echoed by the celebrated psychologist Professor Roy Baumeister, whose theory of suicide as ‘escape from the self’ has been an important influence on O’Connor. “A… [more]
suicide  men  via:anne  2015  perfectionism  roryo'connor  middleage  behavior  impulsivity  rumination  serotonin  socialperfectionism  responsibility  responsibilities  society  failure  judgement  urbanization  success  self-esteem  socialesteem  pressure  stress  gender  manhood  roybaumeister  martinseager  thomasjoiner  shelleytaylor  brianlittle  self-concept  korea  china  us  uk  kayredfieldjamison 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Rent-a-Foreigner in China - Video - NYTimes.com
"In this short documentary, housing developers in China hire ordinary foreigners to pose as celebrities, boosting flagging property sales."
china  realestate  forhire  2015  sales  authenticity  otherness  exoticism  marketing  capitalism 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Grading Teachers by the Test - NYTimes.com
"In 2004, the Chinese government decided there were too many accidental deaths. China’s safety record, it decreed, should be brought in line with those of other middle-income countries. The State Council set a target: a decline in accidental deaths of 2.5 percent per year.

Provincial authorities kicked into gear. Eventually, 20 out of a total of 31 provinces adopted “no safety, no promotion” policies, hitching bureaucrats’ fate to whether they met the death ceiling. The results rolled in: by 2012 recorded accidental deaths had almost halved.

It wasn’t, however, all about increased safety. For instance, officials could reduce traffic deaths by keeping victims of severe accidents alive for eight days. They counted as accidental deaths only if the victims died within seven.

In a study of China’s declining deadly accidents, Raymond Fisman of Columbia University and Yongxiang Wang of the University of Southern California concluded that “manipulation played a dominant role.” Bureaucrats — no surprise — cheated.

This is hardly unusual. It is certainly not exclusive to China. These days, in fact, it has acquired particular importance in the debate over how to improve American education.

The question is, what will happen when teachers are systematically rewarded, or punished, based to some extent on standardized tests? If we really want our children to learn more, the design of any system must be carefully thought through, to avoid sending incentives astray.

“When you put a lot of weight on one measure, people will try to do well on that measure,” Jonah Rockoff of Columbia said. “Some things they do will be good, in line with the objectives. Others will amount to cheating or gaming the system.”

The phenomenon is best known as Goodhart’s Law, after the British economist Charles Goodhart. Luis Garicano at the London School of Economics calls it the Heisenberg Principle of incentive design, after the defining uncertainty of quantum physics: A performance metric is only useful as a performance metric as long as it isn’t used as a performance metric.

It shows up all over the place. Some hospitals in the United States, for example, will often do whatever it takes to keep patients alive at least 31 days after an operation, to beat Medicare’s 30-day survival yardstick. Last year, Chicago magazine uncovered how the Chicago Police Department achieved declining crime rates, simply by reclassifying incidents as noncriminal.

“We don’t know how big a deal this is,” said Jesse Rothstein, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who has criticized evaluation metrics based on test scores. “It is one of the main concerns.”"



"Critics have questioned the Harvard scholars’ findings. Teachers argue there is no way they could isolate the impact of teaching itself from other factors affecting children’s learning, particularly such things as the family background of the students, the impact of poverty, racial segregation, even class size.

Professor Rothstein at Berkeley suggested that sorting plays a big role in their results: better-ranked teachers got better students. Other studies found teachers’ scores jump around a lot from year to year, putting their value into question. Professors Rockoff, Chetty and Friedman have defended their results.

In this heated debate, however, it is important not to lose sight of Goodhart’s Law. Most of these studies measured the impact of test scores when tests carried little weight for teachers’ future careers. But what happens when tests determine whether a teacher gets a bonus or keeps his or her job?

From Atlanta to El Paso, school officials have been accused of cheating to improve their standing on test scores.

Fraud is not the only concern. In one study, schools forced to improve grades by the No Child Left Behind law were found to have focused on helping children who were at the cusp of proficiency. They had no incentive to address those comfortably above the cut or those with little hope of gaining enough in the short term.

A survey of teachers at a school district in the Southwest that awarded bonuses based on test scores found that many tried to avoid both gifted students and those not yet proficient in English whose grades were tough to improve. Others employed “drill and kill” strategies to ensure their students nailed the tests.

Education reformers acknowledge the challenge but argue that should not stand in the way of rigorous assessments.

“Anytime you perform an evaluation you must worry about unintended side effects,” said Joel Klein, former chancellor of New York City schools, who famously battled the teachers’ union. “But the absence of evaluation is totally unacceptable.”

High-stakes tests can encourage bad behavior. But they encourage good behavior, too. A study of public schools in Florida found that schools did focus on low-performing students, lengthened the time devoted to teaching, gave teachers more resources and tried to improve the learning environment."
nclb  assessment  testing  standardizedtesting  teaching  education  schools  goodhart'slaw  2015  cheating  china  measurement  metrics  hesserothstein  atlanta  florida  elpaso  texas  policy  howweteach 
march 2015 by robertogreco
How I Became A Minor Celebrity In China (After My Stolen Phone Ended Up There)
"This really weird thing happened to my phone and an even weirder thing happened after. A continuation of: Who Is This Man And Why Are His Photos Showing Up On My Phone. Updated on March 18. Bro Orange and I are hanging out RIGHT NOW!"

{Continues here: http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/i-followed-my-stolen-iphone-across-the-world-became-a-celebr ]
internet  mobile  phones  china  weibo  via:robinsloan  twitter  web  2015  smallworld  renrousousuoyinqing  人肉搜搜引擎  humanfleshsearch 
march 2015 by robertogreco
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