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Thread by @ecomentario: "p.31 ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A… ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A… p.49 ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A… ecoed.wikispaces.co […]"
[on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ecomentario/status/1007269183317512192 ]

[many of the captures come from: "From A Pedagogy for Liberation to Liberation from Pedagogy" by Gustavo Esteva, Madhu S. Prakash, and Dana L. Stuchul, which is no longer available online as a standalone PDF (thus the UTexas broken link), but is inside the following document, also linked to in the thread.]

[“Rethinking Freire: Globalization and the Environmental Crisis" edited by C.A.Bowers and Frédérique Apffel-Marglin
https://ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A.+Bowers,+Frdrique+Apffel-Marglin,+Frederique+Apffel-Marglin,+Chet+A.+Bowers+Re-Thinking+Freire+Globalization+and+the+Environmental+Crisis+Sociocultural,+Political,+and+Historical+Studies+in+Educatio+2004.pdf ]
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june 2018 by robertogreco
Nicky Case: Seeing Whole Systems - The Long Now
"Nicky Case is an independent game developer who creates interactive games and simulations including Parable of the Polygons (02014), Coming Out Simulator (02014), We Become What We Behold (02016), To Build A Better Ballot (02016), and LOOPY (02017).



Nicky Case’s presentations are as ingenious, compelling, and graphically rich as the visualizing tools and games Nicky creates for understanding complex dynamic systems.

Case writes: “We need to see the non-linear feedback loops between culture, economics, and technology. Not only that, but we need to see how collective behavior emerges from individual minds and motives. We need new tools, theories, and visualizations to help people talk across disciplines.”

Nicky Case is the creator of Parable of the Polygons (02014), Coming Out Simulator (02014), We Become What We Behold (02016), To Build A Better Ballot (02016), and LOOPY (02017).



How to finesse complexity

HE BEGAN, “Hi, I’m Nicky Case, and I explain complex systems in a visual, tangible, and playful way.” He did exactly that with 207 brilliant slides and clear terminology. What system engineers call “negative feedback,” for example, Case calls “balancing loops.” They maintain a value. Likewise “positive feedback” he calls “reinforcing loops.” They increase a value

Using examples and stories such as the viciousness of the board game Monopoly and the miracle of self-organizing starlings, Case laid out the visual basics of finessing complex systems. A reinforcing loop is like a ball on the top of a hill, ready to accelerate downhill when set in motion. A balancing loop is like a ball in a valley, always returning to the bottom of the valley when perturbed.

Now consider how to deal with a situation where you have an “attractor” (a deep valley) that attracts a system toward failure:

[image]

The situation is precarious for the ball because it is near a hilltop that is a reinforcing loop. If the ball is nudged over the top, it will plummet to the bottom of the balancing-loop valley and be stuck there. It would take enormous effort raise the ball out of such an attractor—which might be financial collapse or civil war. Case’s solution is not to try to move the ball, MOVE THE HILLS—identify the balancing and reinforcing loops in the system and weaken or strengthen them as needed to reconfigure the whole system so that the desired condition becomes the dominant attractor.

Now add two more characteristics of the real world—dense networks and chaos (randomness). They make possible the phenomena of emergence (a whole that is different than the sum of its parts) and evolution. Evolution is made of selection (managed by reinforcing and balancing loops) plus variation (unleashed by dense networks and chaos). You cannot control evolution and should not try--that way lies totalitarianism. Our ever popular over-emphasis on selection can lead to paralyzed systems—top-down autocratic governments and frozen businesses. Case urges attention to variation, harnessing networks and chaos from the bottom up via connecting various people from various fields, experimenting with lots of solutions, and welcoming a certain amount of randomness and play. “Design for evolution,” Case says, “and the system will surprise you with solutions you never thought of.”

To do that, “Make chaos your friend.”

--Stewart Brand"
systems  systemsthinking  nickycase  2017  illustration  visualization  longnow  maps  mapping  stewartbrand  games  gaming  gamedesign  capitalism  socialism  monopoly  economics  technology  culture  precarity  chaos  networks  evolution  socialtrust  voting  design  complexity  abstraction  communication  jargon  unknown  loopiness  alinear  feedbackloops  interconnectedness  dataviz  predictions  interconnected  nonlinear  linearity  interconnectivity 
august 2017 by robertogreco
Design Is Mainly About Empathy — Track Changes
"1. The user has a way of thinking about the information they want. Example: “I heard about jousting and it sounds weird so I think I’ll watch some jousting videos.”

2. The information our user needs actually exists a certain way in the world. Example: A database of video information with some metadata are magnetized regions of alloy on a hard drive on a server somewhere in North Carolina.

3. A product designer has represented the information to the user with some degree of abstraction. Example: A web page at a certain URL shows a place to type a search query, a loading indicator, some branding, a sorted list of results with previews, and a plenty of enticing buttons to click on in case your jousting interest flickers out and Christina Aguilera on Jimmy Kimmel could help you pass the time instead.

[screenshot captioned: "Jousting is actually pretty interesting btw"]

Between the magnetized alloy and a user on a couch watching jousting videos is…a bunch of abstraction. So it’s the job of a good product designer to hold all three models of the information in her mind, and build a bridge between them. She covers the gaps between her users and the machine, so her users don’t have to bother. As Alan Cooper puts it:
Computer literacy is a euphemism for forcing human beings to stretch their thinking to understand the inner workings of application logic, rather than having software-enabled products stretch to meet people’s usual ways of thinking.


Let’s take a closer look at those three methods. Alan Cooper tackles all three in the seminal About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design.

The first one is the user’s mental model. Cooper writes that a lot of people think “electricity flows like water from the wall into the appliances through the little black tube of the electrical cord” when they plug in their vacuum or computer.

Of course, the electricity doesn’t flow like water at all. In the real world, electricity’s implementation model is much more complex. But a simpler view of electricity works just fine for most of us. It’s informative enough to help us understand, for example, that we need to cram a cord into an outlet to charge our computer.

Finally, the represented model is the way the thing ends up looking to the user. This is the part the designer spends their time working on, and the part that people will actually touch.

Here’s the secret for the designer, again from Cooper:
“The closer the represented model comes to the user’s mental model, the easier he will find the application to use and understand.”


Bravo! For a designer, that might mean spending more time talking to users, and less time digging through the API. It might mean that early design phases are better spent researching user psychology instead of tinkering with typography.

The user’s mental model, faulty though it may be, is our guiding light. If we don’t invest effort in understanding that model, it’s going to be really hard to know if our work is successful. Design is mainly about empathy.

Example time. Animation is a great tool for practicing user empathy. Animation is a user interface pattern for aligning a user’s mental model with the product’s represented model. The notifications menu in iOS 9 isn’t physically tucked up underneath the top of the device on a curtain roll, and everyone knows that. But users have mental models of tugging on objects in their world from the near the top to reveal a new temporary state.

[two GIFs (one of blinds, one of the notifications pane in iOS being opened by swiping from the top) captioned "Blinds image courtesy IKEA"]

The thing that’s special about the represented model—Cooper helped me see this—is that it’s the only part a designer can control. We can’t control the implementation model, because a good engineer will use abstractions in the codebase to make it maintainable and safe. And we can’t control our user’s mental model, since it’s shaped by their culture and dozens of other unknowable factors.

As designers, we have the power to manipulate representations. Design is the process of making our users feel awesome by representing the software in a way that meets them where they are."
design  ux  alancooper  richardfeynmann  teaching  empathy  explanation  2016  neilrenicker  representation  ui  mentalmodels  abstraction 
july 2016 by robertogreco
The Jacob’s Ladder of coding — Medium
"Anecdotes and questions about climbing up and down the ladder of abstraction: Atari, ARM, demoscene, education, creative coding, community, seeking lightness, enlightenment & strange languages"



"With only an hour or two of computer time a week, our learning and progress was largely down to intensive trial & error, daily homework and learning to code and debug with only pencil and paper, whilst trying to be the machine yourself: Playing every step through in our heads (and on paper) over and over until we were confident, the code did as we’d expect, yet, often still failing because of wrong intuitions. Learning this analytical thinking is essential to successful debugging, even today, specifically in languages / environments where no GUI debugger is available. In the late 90s, John Maeda did similar exercises at MIT Media Lab, with students role-playing different parts of a CPU or a whole computer executing a simple process. Later at college, my own CS prof too would often quote Alan Perlis:
“To understand a program you must become both the machine and the program.” — Alan Perlis

Initially we’d only be using the machine largely to just verify our ideas prepared at home (spending the majority of the time typing in/correcting numbers from paper). Through this monastic style of working, we also learned the importance of having the right tools and balance of skills within the group and were responsible to create them ourselves in order to achieve our vision. This important lesson stayed with me throughout (maybe even became) my career so far… Most projects I worked on, especially in the past 15 years, almost exclusively relied on custom-made tooling, which was as much part of the final outcome as the main deliverable to clients. Often times it even was the main deliverable. On the other hand, I’ve also had to learn the hard way that being a largely self-sufficient generalist often is undesired in the modern workplace, which frequently still encourages narrow expertise above all else…

After a few months of convincing my parents to invest all of their saved up and invaluable West-german money to purchase a piece of “Power Without the Price” (a much beloved Atari 800XL) a year before the Wall came down in Berlin, I finally gained daily access to a computer, but was still in a similar situation as before: No more hard west money left to buy a tape nor disk drive from the Intershop, I wasn’t able to save any work (apart from creating paper copies) and so the Atari was largely kept switched on until November 10, 1989, the day after the Berlin Wall was opened and I could buy an XC-12 tape recorder. I too had to choose whether to go the usual route of working with the built-in BASIC language or stick with what I’d learned/taught myself so far, Assembly… In hindsight, am glad I chose the latter, since it proved to be far more useful and transportable knowledge, even today!"



"Lesson learned: Language skills, natural and coded ones, are gateways, opening paths not just for more expression, but also to paths in life.

As is the case today, so it was back then: People tend to organize around specific technological interests, languages and platforms and then stick with them for a long time, for better or worse. Over the years I’ve been part of many such tool-based communities (chronologically: Asm, C, TurboPascal, Director, JS, Flash, Java, Processing, Clojure) and have somewhat turned into a nomad, not being able to ever find a true home in most of them. This might sound judgemental and negative, but really isn’t meant to and these travels through the land of languages and toolkits has given me much food for thought. Having slowly climbed up the ladder of abstraction and spent many years both with low & high level languages, has shown me how much each side of the spectrum can inform and learn from the other (and they really should do more so!). It’s an experience I can highly recommend to anyone attempting to better understand these machines some of us are working with for many hours a day and which impact so much of all our lives. So am extremely grateful to all the kind souls & learning encountered on the way!"



"In the vastly larger open source creative computing demographic of today, the by far biggest groups are tight-knit communities around individual frameworks and languages. There is much these platforms have achieved in terms of output, increasing overall code literacy and turning thousands of people from mere computer users into authors. This is a feat not be underestimated and a Good Thing™! Yet my issue with this siloed general state of affairs is that, apart from a few notable exceptions (especially the more recent arrivals), there’s unfortunately a) not much cross-fertilizing with fundamentally different and/or new ideas in computing going on and b) over time only incremental progress is happening, business as usual, rather than a will to continuously challenge core assumptions among these largest communities about how we talk to machines and how we can do so better. I find it truly sad that many of these popular frameworks rely only on the same old imperative programming language family, philosophy and process, which has been pre-dominant and largely unchanged for the past 30+ years, and their communities also happily avoid or actively reject alternative solutions, which might require fundamental changes to their tools, but which actually could be more suitable and/or powerful to their aims and reach. Some of these platforms have become and act as institutions in their own right and as such also tend to espouse an inward looking approach & philosophy to further cement their status (as owners or pillars?) in their field. This often includes a no-skills-neccessary, we-cater-all-problems promise to their new users, with each community re-inventing the same old wheels in their own image along the way. It’s Not-Invented-Here on a community level: A reliance on insular support ecosystems, libraries & tooling is typical, reducing overall code re-use (at least between communities sharing the same underlying language) and increasing fragmentation. More often than not these platforms equate simplicity with ease (go watch Rich Hickey taking this argument eloquently apart!). The popular prioritization of no pre-requisite knowledge, super shallow learning curves and quick results eventually becomes the main obstacle to later achieve systemic changes, not just in these tools themselves, but also for (creative) coding as discipline at large. Bloatware emerges. Please do forgive if that all sounds harsh, but I simply do believe we can do better!

Every time I talk with others about this topic, I can’t help but think about Snow Crash’s idea of “Language is a virus”. I sometimes do wonder what makes us modern humans, especially those working with computing technology, so fundamentalist and brand-loyal to these often flawed platforms we happen to use? Is it really that we believe there’s no better way? Are we really always only pressed for time? Are we mostly content with Good Enough? Are we just doing what everyone else seems to be doing? Is it status anxiety, a feeling we have to use X to make a living? Are we afraid of unlearning? Is it that learning tech/coding is (still) too hard, too much of an effort, which can only be justified a few times per lifetime? For people who have been in the game long enough and maybe made a name for themselves in their community, is it pride, sentimentality or fear of becoming a complete beginner again? Is it maybe a sign that the way we teach computing and focus on concrete tools too early in order to obtain quick, unrealistically complex results, rather than fundamental (“boring”) knowledge, which is somewhat flawed? Is it our addiction to largely focus on things we can document/celebrate every minor learning step as an achievement in public? This is no stab at educators — much of this systemic behavior is driven by the sheer explosion of (too often similar) choices, demands made by students and policy makers. But I do think we should ask ourselves these questions more often."

[author's tweet: https://twitter.com/toxi/status/676578816572067840 ]
coding  via:tealtan  2015  abstraction  demoscene  education  creativecoding  math  mathematics  howwelearn  typography  design  dennocoil  alanperlis  johnmaeda  criticalthinking  analyticalthinking  basic  programming  assembly  hexcode  georgedyson  computing  computers  atari  amiga  commodore  sinclair  identity  opensource  insularity  simplicity  ease  language  languages  community  communities  processing  flexibility  unschooling  deschooling  pedagogy  teaching  howweteach  understanding  bottomup  topdown  karstenschmidt 
december 2015 by robertogreco
The Thriving World, the Wilting World, and You — Medium
"We are a community branded as leaders living through this revolutionary moment, living through this extreme winning and extreme losing. It falls on us to ask the tough questions about it.

But we here in Aspen are in a bit of a tight spot.

Our deliberations about what to do about this extreme winning and losing are sponsored by the extreme winners. This community was formed by stalwarts of American capitalism; today we sit in spaces named after Pepsi (as in the beverage) and Koch (as in the brothers); our discussion of Martin Luther King and Omelas is sponsored by folks like Accenture, David Rubenstein and someone named Pom; we are deeply enmeshed and invested in the establishment and systems we are supposed to question. And yet we are a community of leaders that claims to seek justice. These identities are tricky to reconcile.

Today I want to challenge how we reconcile them. There is no consensus on anything here, as any seminar participant knows. But I believe that many of our discussions operate within what I will call the “Aspen Consensus,” which, like the “Washington Consensus” or “Beijing Consensus,” describes a nest of shared assumptions within which diverse ideas hatch. The “Aspen Consensus” demarcates what we mostly agree not to question, even as we question so much. And though I call it the Aspen Consensus, it is in many ways the prevailing ethic among the winners of our age worldwide, across business, government and even nonprofits.

The Aspen Consensus, in a nutshell, is this: the winners of our age must be challenged to do more good. But never, ever tell them to do less harm.

The Aspen Consensus holds that capitalism’s rough edges must be sanded and its surplus fruit shared, but the underlying system must never be questioned.

The Aspen Consensus says, “Give back,” which is of course a compassionate and noble thing. But, amid the $20 million second homes and $4,000 parkas of Aspen, it is gauche to observe that giving back is also a Band-Aid that winners stick onto the system that has privileged them, in the conscious or subconscious hope that it will forestall major surgery to that system — surgery that might threaten their privileges.

The Aspen Consensus, I believe, tries to market the idea of generosity as a substitute for the idea of justice. It says: make money in all the usual ways, and then give some back through a foundation, or factor in social impact, or add a second or third bottom line to your analysis, or give a left sock to the poor for every right sock you sell.

The Aspen Consensus says, “Do more good” — not “Do less harm.”

I want to sow the seed of a difficult conversation today about this Aspen Consensus. Because I love this community, and I fear for all of us — myself very much included — that we may not be as virtuous as we think we are, that history may not be as kind to us as we hope it will, that in the final analysis our role in the inequities of our age may not be remembered well.

This may sound strange at first, because the winners of our disruptive age are arguably as concerned about the plight of the losers as any elite in human history. But the question I’m raising is about what the winners propose to do in response. And I believe the winners’ response, certainly not always but still too often, is to soften the blows of the system but to preserve the system at any cost. This response is problematic. It keeps the winners too safe. It allows far too many of us to evade hard questions about our role in contributing to the disease we also seek to treat."



"Now, a significant minority of us here don’t work in business. Yet even in other sectors, we’re living in an age in which the assumptions and values of business are more influential than they ought to be. Our culture has turned businessmen and -women into philosophers, revolutionaries, social activists, saviors of the poor. We are at risk of forgetting other languages of human progress: of morality, of democracy, of solidarity, of decency, of justice.

Sometimes we succumb to the seductive Davos dogma that the business approach is the only thing that can change the world, in the face of so much historical evidence to the contrary.

And so when the winners of our age answer the problem of inequality and injustice, all too often they answer it within the logic and frameworks of business and markets. We talk a lot about giving back, profit-sharing, win-wins, social-impact investing, triple bottom lines (which, by the way, are something my four-month-old son has).

Sometimes I wonder whether these various forms of giving back have become to our era what the papal indulgence was to the Middle Ages: a relatively inexpensive way of getting oneself seemingly on the right of justice, without having to alter the fundamentals of one’s life.

Because when you give back, when you have a side foundation, a side CSR project, a side social-impact fund, you gain an exemption from more rigorous scrutiny. You helped 100 poor kids in the ghetto learn how to code. The indulgence spares you from questions about the larger systems and structures you sustain that benefit you and punish others: weak banking regulations and labor laws, zoning rules that happen to keep the poor far from your neighborhood, porous safety nets, the enduring and unrepaired legacies of slavery and racial supremacy and caste systems.

These systems and structures have victims, and we here are at risk, I think, of confusing generosity toward those victims with justice for those victims. For generosity is a win-win, but justice often is not. The winners of our age don’t enjoy the idea that some of them might actually have to lose, to sacrifice, for justice to be done. In Aspen you don’t hear a lot of ideas involving the privileged and powerful actually being in the wrong, and needing to surrender their status and position for the sake of justice.

We talk a lot here about giving more. We don’t talk about taking less.

We talk a lot here about what we should be doing more of. We don’t talk about what we should be doing less of.

I think sometimes that our Aspen Consensus has an underdeveloped sense of human darkness. There is risk in too much positivity. Sometimes to do right by people, you must begin by naming who is in the wrong.

So let’s just come out and say the thing you’re never supposed to say in Aspen: that many of the winners of our age are active, vigorous contributors to the problems they bravely seek to solve. And for the greater good to prevail on any number of issues, some people will have to lose — to actually do less harm, and not merely more good.

We know that enlightened capital didn’t get rid of the slave trade. Impact investing didn’t abolish child labor and put fire escapes on tenement factories. Drug makers didn’t stop slipping antifreeze into medicine as part of a CSR initiative. In each of these cases, the interests of the many had to defeat the interests of the recalcitrant few.

Look, I know this speech won’t make me popular at the bar tonight. But this, for me, is an act of stepping into the arena — something our wonderful teacher-moderators challenged us to do.

I know many of you agree with me already, because we have bonded for years over a shared feeling that something in this extraordinary community didn’t feel quite right. There are many others who, instead of criticizing as I do, are living rejections of this Aspen Consensus — quitting lucrative lives, risking everything, to fight the system. You awe me: you who battle for gay rights in India, who live ardently among the rural poor in South Africa, who risk assassination or worse to report news of corruption.

I am not speaking to you tonight, and I know there are many of you. I am speaking to those who, like me, may feel caught between the ideals championed by this Institute and the self-protective instinct that is always the reflex of people with much to lose.

I am as guilty as anyone. I am part of the wave of gentrification and displacement in Brooklyn, one of the most rapidly gentrifying places in America. Any success I’ve had can be traced to my excellent choice in parents and their ability to afford incredibly expensive private schools. I like good wine. I use Uber — a lot. I once stole playing cards from a private plane. I want my new son to have everything I can give him, even though I know that this is the beginning of the inequality I loathe.

I often wonder if what I do — writing — is capable of making any difference.

When I entered this fellowship, I was so taken with that summons to make a difference. But, to be honest, I have also always had a complicated relationship to this place.

I have heard too many of us talking of how only after the IPO or the next few million will we feel our kids have security. These inflated notions of what it takes to “make a living” and “support a family” are the beginning of so much neglect of our larger human family.

I walk into too many rooms named for people and companies that don’t mean well for the world, and then in those rooms we talk and talk about making the world better.

I struggled in particular with the project. I couldn’t figure out what bothered me about it for the longest time. I wasn’t very good at coming up with one or getting it done.

And I realized, through conversation with fellows in similar dilemmas, what my problem was. Many people, including some being featured later tonight, are engaged in truly extraordinary and commendable projects. We are at our best when our projects take the system head on. But I wrestled with what I perceived to be the idea behind the project, of creating generous side endeavors rather than fighting to reform, bite by bite, the hands that feed us. I felt the project distracted us from the real question: is your regular life — not your side project — on the right side … [more]
anandgiridharadas  capitalism  change  cooperation  aspeninstitute  philanthropy  climatechange  inequality  virtue  competition  inequity  elitism  power  systemschange  privilege  finance  wealth  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  wealthdistribution  davos  riggedgames  goldmansachs  indulgence  handwashing  via:tealtan  risk  stackeddecks  labor  employment  disruption  work  civics  commongood  abstraction  business  corporatism  corporations  taxes  government  socialgood  virtualization  economics  politics  policy  speculation  democracy  solidarity  socialjustice  neoliberalism  well-being  decency  egalitarianism  community  indulgences  noblesseoblige  absolution  racism  castes  leadership  generosity  sacrifice  gambling  gender  race  sexism  emotionallabor  positivity  slavery  socialsafetnet  winwin  zerosum  gentrification  stewardship  paradigmshifts  charitableindustrialcomplex  control 
august 2015 by robertogreco
Just to be clear, Teaching Math is a Tire Fire Right Now | ThinkThankThunk
"When a student comes to me and says she can’t concentrate on her projects because of how she’s doing in another one of her classes, I tend to feel a violent ambivalence.

When someone is asked to prove that two trigonometric expressions are equal by using arcane identities, especially when this someone is a barely abstract-thinking 16 year old, I can’t help but wonder at the logic of it all. Is this practice–for surely a problem this steeped in meaninglessness must only be seen as some level of abstract proving-gound-ness–really worth the life-long aversion to analytical methods that it’s creating?

That gets me really thinking! Is the goal of all this math to create analytical thinkers? Is it? Really?! If you believe all of the saccharine posters hanging on lowest-bidder brick walls in schools everywhere, math is, in some ineffable way, “learning how to think.”

Is it?

Or, is that the goal of making math a part of school?

As a mathematician, I find it beautiful when two unknown things connect. I find it exhilarating, the connection between pattern, numbers, and the world. This is much the same feeling as when I turn out a good pair of shoes or a fine piece of furniture.

But, school? Math is for learning to think and quantify. To reason and objectify. To abstract and re-abstract.

If those are the mental capabilities we expect in our students, then how do you grade what our math curriculum does for students, and why is doing a trig identity the only way to prove a student has gotten there?"
shawncornally  2015  math  mathematics  schooliness  education  schools  curriculum  purpose  abstraction  howweteach  howwelearn 
march 2015 by robertogreco
SINGLE STREAM (trailer) on Vimeo
"2014, 4K CinemaScope, 5.1 surround sound, 23 minutes
Picture: Paweł Wojtasik, Toby Lee
Sound: Ernst Karel

SINGLE STREAM explores a recycling facility in the Boston area, where hundreds of tons of refuse are sorted daily. Blurring the line between observation and abstraction, SINGLE STREAM plunges the viewer into the steady flow of the plant and the waste it treats, examining the material consequences of our society's culture of excess."

[See also:
https://twitter.com/single_stream
http://ek.klingt.org/currenthappenings.html ]
sensoryethnography  sensoryethnographylab  ernstkarel  pawełwojtasik  tobylee  film  documentary  boston  video  2014  observation  abstraction 
january 2015 by robertogreco
[this is aaronland] interpretation roomba
"Part of the reason these two quotes interest me is that I've been thinking a lot about origin stories and creation myths. I've been thinking about how we recognize and choose the imagery and narratives — the abstractions — that we use to re-tell a story. There's nothing a priori wrong with those choices. We have always privileged certain moments over others as vehicles for conveying the symbolism of an event."



"I've been thinking about history as the space between the moments that come to define an event. History being the by-product of a sequence of events pulling apart from each, over time, leaving not just the peaks a few dominant imagery but the many valleys of interpretation.

When I think of it this way I am always reminded of Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics in which he celebrates "the magic in the gutter". The "gutter" being the space between frames where action is unseen and left to imagination of the reader. These are the things I think of when I consider something like the 9/11 Memorial and the construction of a narrative around the event it commemorates.

Not much is left to abstraction and so it feels as though the memorial itself acts as a vacuum against interpretation, at all. It is a kind of "Interpretation-Roomba" that moves through your experience of the venue sucking up any space in which you might be able to consider the event outside of the master narrative."



"After the panel some of us went out for drinks and for people of a certain it was difficult not to fall prey to moments sounding exactly like our parents and saying things like: The kids today, they don't know what it was like back in the day when all we had were bulletin board systems... I mention this for a couple reasons.

The first is to ask the question: Is a slow network akin to no network at all? It is hard to imagine going back to the dial-up speeds of the 1990's Internet and I expect it would be a shock to someone who's never experienced them but I think we would all do well to keep Staehle's comments about the time to broadcast and the time to relay in mind.

The second is that as we were all sitting around the table waxing nostalgic about 28.8 Kbps modems I remember thinking: Actually, when I first discovered the web I wanted the next generation to be able to take this for granted. I wanted the "kids" to live in a world where the Internet was just part of the fabric of life, where it didn't need to be a philosophical moment everytime you got online.

The good news is that this has, by and large, happened. The bad news is we've forgotten why it was important in the first place and if it feels like the Network is governed by, and increasingly defined, by a kind of grim meathook fatalism I think maybe that's why.

Somewhere in all the excitement of the last 20 years we forgot, or at least neglected, the creation myth and the foundational story behind the Network and in doing so we have left open a kind of narrative vacuum. We have left the space to say why the Network exists at all to those who would see it shaped in ways that are perhaps at odds with the very reasons that made it special in the first place."



"A question I've been asking myself as I've been thinking about this talk is: Does a littlenet simply transit data or does it terminate that data? Is a littlenet specific to a place? Are littlenets defined by the effort is takes to get there? That seems a bit weird, almost antithetical to the idea of the Network, right?

Maybe not though or maybe it's less about littlenets acting like destinations or encouraging a particular set of rituals but instead simply taking advantage of the properties the Network offers to provide bespoke services. For example, what if bars ran captive portal networks that you couldn't get out of, like Dan Phiffer's Occupy.here, but all they did was offer access to a dictionary?

That might seem like an absurb example at first but let it sink in for a minute or two and if you're like me you'll find yourself thinking that would be kind of awesome. A dictionary in a bar is a polite of saying We're here to foster the conversation on your own terms rather than dictate it on ours.

A dictionary in a bar would be a "service" in the, well, service of the thing that bars don't need any help with: conversation, socializing, play. People aren't going to stop frequenting bars that they don't have dictionaries in them, but a bar with a dictionary in it is that much better.

If a littlenet does not terminate then does it or should it engage in traffic shaping? What separates littlenet from a fake cell phone towers? What about deep packet inspection (DPI) ? What about goatse? If a littlenet does not drink the common carrier Kool-Aid is it still a Network or just gated-community for like minded participants?

None of these problems go away just because a network is little and, in fact, their little-ness and the potential ubiquity of littlenets only exascerbates the problem. It casts the questions around an infrastructure of trust as much as an infrastructure of reach in to relief.

We have historically relied on the scarcity and the difficulty of access to the tools that can manipulate the Network at, well, the network layer as a way to manage those questions of trust. Ultimately, littlenets force those larger issues of how we organize (and by definition how we limit) ourselves as a community to the fore. It speaks to the question of public institutions and their mandates. It speaks to the question of philosophy trumping engineering.

It speaks to the question of how we articulate an idea of the Network and why we believe it is important and what we do to preserve those qualities."



"It goes like this: If we liken the network to weather what does it mean to think of its climate as too hostile for any one person to survive in isolation? What would that mean, really? I have no idea and I recognize that this is one line of argument in support of a benevolent all-seeing surveillance state but perhaps there are parallels to be found in the way that cold-weather countries organize themselves relative to the reality of winter. Regardless of your political stripes in those countries there is common cause in not letting people face those months alone to die of exposure.

I really don't know how or whether this translates to the Network in part because it's not clear to me whether the problem is not having access to the Network, not having unfettered access to the Network (think of those Facebook-subsidized and Facebook-only data plans for mobile phones) or that the Network itself, left unchecked, is in fact a pit of vipers.

Should the state suspend reality in the service of a mandate for the Network the way that they sometimes do for universal health care or, if you live in the US, the highway system? Is that just what we now call network neutrality or should we do more to temper the consequences of assuming the Network is inherently hostile? To activiely foster a more communitarian sensibilities and safeguards?

You're not supposed to say this out loud, particularly in light of events like the Snowden revelations, but the reality is that societies announce that 2+2=5 because "reasons" all the time."



"My issue is that we have spent a good deal of the last 500 years (give or take) trying to make visibility a legitimate concern. We have spent a lot of time and lot of effort arguing that there is a space for voices outside the dominant culture and to now choose to retract in to invisibility, as a tactic, seems counter-productive at best and fitting the needs of people who were never really down the project at worst.

The only reason many of know each other is because we were willing, because we desired, to stick our head above the parapet and say "I am here". Acting in public remains complicated and is still decidedly unfair for many but if the creation myth of visibility is one of malice-by-default then we might have a bigger problem on our hands."



"The problem I have with littlenets is that I want to live in a world with a "biggernet" that doesn't make me sad or suspect or hate everyone around me. The concern I have with littlenets is that they offer a rhetorical bluff from which to avoid the larger social questions that a networked world lay bare. And that in avoiding those questions we orphan the reasons (the creation myths) why the Network seemed novel and important in the first place.

There's a meme which has bubbling up more and more often these days, advanced by people like Ingrid and others, that perhaps libraries should operate as internet service providers. That the mandate of a publicly-minded institution like a library is best suited to a particular articulation of the Network as a possibility space.

Libraries lend books on the principle that access to information is value in and of itself not because they know what people will do with that knowledge. Libraries have also been some of the earliest adopters of littlenets in the service of that same principle in the form of electronic distribution hubs. I bet some of those littlenets even have dictionaries on them.

So, despite my reservations and in the interests of defaulting to action maybe we should all endeavour to run our own read-only littlenets of stuff we think is worth preserving and sharing. If the politics and the motives surrounding the Network are going to get all pear-shaped in the years to come then maybe littlenets are our own samizdat and the means to save what came before and to say as much to ourselves as to others: This is how it should be."
aaronstraupcope  2014  history  storytelling  time  memory  scottmccloud  abstraction  gaps  memorial  objects  artifacts  shareholdervalue  motive  confidence  internet  web  purpose  networks  littlenets  meshnetworks  community  communities  occupy.here  visibility  invisibility  legibility  illegibility  samizdat  realpolitik  access  information  ingridburrington  libraries  sharing  online  commons 
october 2014 by robertogreco
The Common Core Commotion
"We can assume that if Goals 2000 or NCLB or any of the other reform programs had been effective, the reformers could congratulate themselves for a job well done and go off to find another line of work. They haven’t, which brings us to the third reason that educational reform is an enterprise without end. 

It has to do with the old rule that supply creates its own demand. Over the last two generations, as the problem became unignorable and as vast freshets of money poured from governments and nonprofit foundations, an army of experts emerged to fix America’s schools. From trade unions and think tanks they came, from graduate schools of education and nonprofit foundations, from state education departments and for-profit corporations, from legislative offices and university psych labs and model schools and experimental classrooms, trailing spreadsheets and PowerPoints and grant proposals; they found work as lobbyists, statisticians, developmental psychologists, neurological researchers, education theorists, entrepreneurs, administrators, marketers, think tank fellows, textbook writers—even teachers! So great a mass of specialists cannot be kept idle. If they find themselves with nothing to do, they will find something to do. 

And so, after 40 years of signal failure, the educationists have brought us the Common Core State Standards. It is a totemic example of policy-making in the age of the well-funded expert."



"The foundation’s generosity seems indiscriminate, reflecting the milky centrism of its founder. Evidently Bill Gates doesn’t have a political bone in his body. His intellectual loyalty lies instead with the ideology of expertise. His faith is technocratic and materialist: In the end he believes the ability of highly credentialed observers to identify and solve problems through the social sciences is theoretically limitless. “Studies” and “research” unlock the human secret. This is the animating faith of most educationists, too. All human interactions can be dispassionately observed and their separate parts identified, isolated, analyzed, and quantified according to some version of the scientific method. The resulting data will yield reliable information about how and why we behave as we do, and from this process can be derived formulas that will be universally applicable and repeatable.

“One size fits all” may be a term of mockery used by people who disdain the top-down solutions of centralized power; in the technocratic vision, “one size fits all” describes the ideal.

A good illustration of the Gates technocratic approach to education reform is an initiative called “Measures of Effective Teaching” or MET. (DUH.) The effectiveness of a truly gifted teacher was once considered mysterious or ineffable, a personal transaction rooted in intuition, concern, intelligence, wisdom, knowledge, and professional ardor, combined in a way that defies precise description or replication. Such an old-fashioned notion is an affront to the technocratic mind, which assumes no human phenomenon can be, at bottom, mysterious; nothing is resistant to reduction and measurement. “Eff the Ineffable” is the technocrat’s motto."



"Exciting as it undoubtedly is for the educationist, MET research tells us nothing about how to improve the world that students and teachers inhabit. It is an exercise by educationists for educationists to ponder and argue over. Three hundred and thirty five million dollars can keep a lot of them busy."



"In the confusion between content and learning, the Standards often show the telltale verbal inflation that educationists use to make a simple idea complicated. The Standards for Reading offer a typical example. They come in groups of three—making a wonderful, if suspicious, symmetry. Unfortunately, many of the triplets are essentially identical. According to the rubric Key Ideas and Details, a student should “read closely to determine what the text says explicitly.” Where one standard says the student must be able to “analyze the development of central ideas,” the next standard says the student should be able to “analyze” “how ideas develop.” One “key detail” is to “learn details.” Under Craft and Structure, the student should be able to “analyze” how “portions of text” “relate to each other or the whole.” Another says he “should cite specific textual evidence” and still another that he should “summarize the key supporting details.” All of this collapses into a single unwritten standard: “Learn to read with care and to explain what you’ve read.” But no educationist would be so simple-minded.

There are standards only an educationist could love, or understand. It took me a while to realize that “scaffolding” is an ed-school term for “help.” Associate is another recurring term of art with a flexible meaning, from spell to match, as when third graders are expected to “associate the long and short sounds with the common spellings (graphemes) for the five major vowels.” This seems like students are being asked to spell vowels, but that can’t be right, can it? And when state and local teachers have to embody such confusing standards in classroom exercises, you’re likely to wind up with more confusion."



"THE RISE OF THE RIGHT

Most of the criticism of the Standards has come from the populist right, and the revolt of conservative parents against the pet project of a national educationist elite is genuine, spontaneous, and probably inevitable. But if you move beyond the clouds of jargon, and the compulsory gestures toward “critical thinking” and “metacognitive skills,” you will begin to spy something more interesting. There’s much in the Standards to reassure an educational traditionalist—a vein of subversion. At several points, Common Core is clearly intended as a stay against the runaway enthusiasms of educationist dogma.

The Standards insist schools’ (unspecified) curriculums be “content-rich”—meaning that they should teach something rather than nothing. They even go so far as to require students to read Shakespeare, the Preamble and First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and works of Greek mythology. Phonics is the chief means of teaching reading in Common Core, rejecting the notorious “whole language” method first taken up in the 1970s and—research shows!—a likely culprit in the decline in reading scores. The Standards discourage the use of calculators, particularly in early grades where it has become a popular substitute for acquiring basic math. The Standards require memorization of multiplication tables as an important step in learning arithmetic, striking a blow against “fuzzy math.” Faddish notions like “visual literacy” are nowhere to be found.

Perhaps most impressively, at least in language arts, the Standards require students to read and write ever larger amounts of nonfiction as they move toward their high school diploma. Anyone familiar with the soupy “young adult” novels fed to middle- and high-school students should be delighted. Writing assignments, in tandem with more rigorous reading, move away from mere self-expression—commonly the focus of writing all the way through high school—to the accumulation of evidence and detail in the service of arguments. The architect of the Language Arts Standards, an educationist called David Coleman, explained this shift in a speech in 2011. He lamented that the most common form of writing in high school these days is “personal writing.”

It is either the exposition of a personal opinion or it is the presentation of a personal matter. The only problem, forgive me for saying this so bluntly, the only problem with those two forms of writing is as you grow up in this world you realize people really don’t give a shit about what you feel or what you think.

Now, it is hard to imagine a more traditionalist sentiment than that. Yet conservative Common Core activists single out Coleman as a particularly sinister adversary, perhaps for his potty mouth. The populist campaign against the Standards has been scattershot: Sometimes they are criticized for being unrealistically demanding, at other times for being too soft. Even Common Core’s insistence on making the Constitution part of any sound curriculum has been attacked as insidious. Recall that students will be required to read only the Preamble and the First Amendment. That is, they will stop reading before they reach the Second Amendment and the guarantee of gun rights.

Coincidence? Many activists think not. "



"Conservative hostility to the Common Core is also entangled with hostility to President Obama and his administration. Joy Pullman, an editor and writer who is perhaps the most eloquent and responsible public critic of Common Core, wrote recently in thefederalist.com: “I wager that 90 percent of the debate over Common Core would instantly dissipate if states adopted the top-rated standards from, say, Massachusetts or Indiana and dropped the Obama administration tests.”

While the personal hostility to Obama might be overwrought, the administration’s campaign on behalf of the Standards has borne all the marks of the president’s other efforts at national persuasion."



"THUNDER ON THE LEFT

The administration’s bullying and dishonesty might be reason enough to reject the Standards. The campaign has even begun to worry its natural allies, who are losing trust in assurances that the Common Core is an advance for progressive education. Educationists on the leftward edge point to its insistence that teachers be judged on how much their students learn. This bears an unappealing resemblance to NCLB requirements, and they worry it will inject high-pressure competition into the collegial environment that most educationists prefer. Worse, it could be a Trojan horse for a reactionary agenda, a return to the long-ago era when students really had to, you know, learn stuff.

“The purpose of education,” says … [more]
education  reform  edreform  anationatrisk  nclb  georgewbush  georgehwbush  ronaldreagan  barackobama  jimmycarter  money  policy  experts  commoncore  curriclum  2014  andrewferguson  via:ayjay  1990  2000  1979  departmentofeducation  edwardkennedy  tedkennedy  goals2000  1983  gatesfoundation  billgates  arneduncan  bureaucracy  markets  aft  nonprofits  centralization  standards  schools  publicschools  us  ideology  politics  technocracy  credentialism  teaching  howweteach  measurement  rankings  testing  standardizedtesting  abstraction  nonprofit 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Episode Seventy Two: Symptom Masquerading As Disruption (2); The Model Is The Modeled; Labour Not Employment; Superstar Ratings, Here We Go; Not Swarm
"John V Willshire's observation, that I mentioned on Twitter kind of blew my mind. Now, John *has* studied economics, and the point he made was this: this "stack" view of people - that there are those who now think of people as virtualised substitutable AWS EC2 instances that can be activated, spun up, assigned a parcel of work, and then demobilised, "is the way that economists have always liked to think of people anyway - little atoms of meat who must behave in predictable ways."

Yes, OK, so what we have is our humans as rational actors and, in a sense, what Uber and Airbnb have done is not necessarily produced an API that controls the world, but an API that instead controls other humans. We reach out and use these services, and our requests get translated, mediated, into instructions for other humans to perform for us. You can see a sort of spectrum-disorder response to this in Hacker News comments where occasionally someone will call for an even better version of Uber where there is literally no need to interact or converse with your driver at all, and essentially the human is totally abstracted away behind a piece of glass-fronted interface.

But John's *best* point for me, was when he said:

"What if rather than being a way to describe the world, economics has unwittingly become a way to proscribe the world. Then we're fucked."

Abstract it away and it's kind of saying this: a model of a subject that is so successful at describing the subject that the subject takes on the attributes of the model. The model becomes the thing being modeled.

This is a thing, now. Seeing the world as addressable stacks. A kind of mankind's dominion over a computer-addressable, insructable directable world. There was someone at work who got super excited about "an API for the world!" and I think that's kind of the problem for me: an API for the world abstracts the world so that you can deal with it and manipulate it, which is great, but the thing is we have a super high bandwidth low-latency interface for the world that's super multi-modal. And I think it's fair to say that our APIs for the world right now are really coarse and in that way, treat the objects (note! objects! Not people!) that they interact with in a necessarily coarse way. And humans aren't coarse. Humans are many splendored things.

And maybe this is part of the whole "design with empathy" mini-crusade that I'm on. Sure, APIs that allow you to instruct humans to do things like Uber and Airbnb are successful right now, but I'm questioning whether they're successful good, or successful because of a symptom of changes in the labour market, or, honestly, a combination of the two. And, you know, first attempt at providing an API layer for humans that's more nuanced, I think, than Mechanical Turk, which I should've referenced earlier. But I like to think that an empathic API that's more considerate of humans will do better than one that is less considerate. Remember this, hackers of the Bay Area: you do not like being thought of as replaceable resource units, and there aren't many people who think "yeah, Human Resources is totally the best name for that department". "
danhon  johnwillshire  2014  economics  obseroreffect  modeling  empathy  humans  dehumanization  systemsthinking  systems  capitalism  worldbuilding  internet  humanresources  gr  uber  airbnb  abstraction  scale  disruption  models  shrequest1  sharingeconomy 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Public Books — Humans and Other Animals
"Manakamana is the latest feature film to emerge out of Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab (“SEL”), which has produced a remarkable run of documentaries since its founding in 2006.  The SEL’s integration of aesthetic experimentation and academic rigor landed comprehensive surveys at the Whitney Biennial and The Film Society of Lincoln Center this spring. The exhibitions included widely acclaimed feature films Leviathan (2012), Foreign Parts (2010), and Sweetgrass (2009), alongside many shorter works by faculty and students.

The films are far from homogeneous. Yet many shared characteristics link the projects, including the extended duration of images; an attention to nonhuman environments, animals, and machines; and a recurring tension between realism and abstraction.

Aryo Danusiri, a SEL PhD student whose films explore Islamic ritual and crowds, demonstrates some of these shared interests. “We are always talking about the long take,” he says. Danusiri’s film On Broadway (2011), included in the Whitney program, documents Friday prayers at a Mosque renting space from a Chinese cultural center in Lower Manhattan. The film is 62 minutes and only four shots, all from a single fixed position. Danusiri describes these long takes as the core of observational cinema, a visual building block that is also an essential research method: “I’m very curious if I have this kind of infrastructure in the film, what will happen—what kind of encounter will it produce, and what kind of knowledge can my film produce as a result.”"
sensoryethnographylab  2014  film  documentary  realism  abstraction  longtakes  filmmaking  sweetgrass  manakamana  leviathan 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Buzz Andersen — I suppose I understand the perspective of these...
I suppose I understand the perspective of these engineers, though I don’t think their fear is of abstraction. It is a fear of improper abstraction, which is often the product of trying to create an abstraction before you even understand the problem; you know sit around and talk aimlessly for a couple of hours driven development. Good abstractions start very simple and evolve overtime to become useful mental models for a particular problem.

—Abstraction - A Tool For Collective Thought [Merrick Christensen https://dayone.me/8WwzfO ]

"I’ve been wanting for awhile now to write a post about programmatic abstractions that would be very much along these lines. I think this is a really important insight that separates great abstractions that hold up over time from lousy ones that are fashionable for a season until people start to understand their limitations. Good abstractions start simply—often close to the minimal solution possible—and evolve over time in a way that is always informed by specific use cases encountered in the wild. Abstractions that start out as monolithic, seamless, end-all-be-all solutions tend to break down very quickly when exposed to anything but the textbook use cases their creators anticipated, whereas more humble efforts, judiciously managed, tend to grow more organically into true general purpose tools with real staying power."
buzzanderson  tools  abstraction  2014  small  scale  simple  simplicity  problemsolving  toolmaking  lms  purpose 
april 2014 by robertogreco
DrupalCon Portland 2013: DESIGN OPS: A UX WORKFLOW FOR 2013 - YouTube
"Hey, the dev team gets all these cool visual analytics, code metrics, version control, revision tagging, configuration management, continuous integration ... and the UX design team just passes around Photoshop files?

Taking clues from DevOps and Lean UX, "DesignOps" advocates more detailed and durable terminology about the cycle of user research, design and production. DesignOps seeks to first reduce the number of design artifacts, to eliminate the pain of prolonged design decisions. DesignOps assumes that the remaining design artifacts aren't actionable until they are reasonably archived and linked in a coherent way that serves the entire development team.

This talk will introduce the idea of DesignOps with the assumption that the audience has experience with a basic user research cycle — iterative development with any kind of user feedback.

DesignOps is a general approach, intended to help with a broad array of questions from usability testing issues, documentation archiving, production-time stress, and general confusion on your team:

What are the general strategies for managing the UX design process?
How do you incorporate feedback without huge cost?
What happened to that usability test result from last year?
How much space goes between form elements?
Why does the design cycle make me want to drink bleach?
WTF why does our website look like THIS?
* Features turnkey full-stack (Vagrant ) installation of ubuntu with drupal 7 install profile utilizing both php and ruby development tools, with all examples configured for live css compilation"
chrisblow  contradictions  just  simply  must  2013  drupal  drupalcon  designops  fear  ux  terminology  design  audience  experience  shame  usability  usabilitytesting  work  stress  archiving  confusion  relationships  cv  canon  collaboration  howwework  workflow  versioncontrol  versioning  failure  iteration  flickr  tracker  creativecommons  googledrive  tags  tagging  labels  labeling  navigation  urls  spreadsheets  links  permissions  googledocs  timelines  basecamp  cameras  sketching  universal  universality  teamwork  principles  bullshitdetection  users  clients  onlinetoolkit  offtheshelf  tools  readymadetools  readymade  crapdetection  maps  mapping  userexperience  research  designresearch  ethnography  meetup  consulting  consultants  templates  stencils  bootstrap  patterns  patternlibraries  buzzwords  css  sass  databases  compass  webdev  documentation  sharing  backups  maintenance  immediacy  process  decisionmaking  basics  words  filingsystems  systems  writing  facilitation  expression  operations  exoskeletons  clarification  creativity  bots  shellscripts  notes  notetaking  notebo 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Liberal Education, Stewardship, and the Cosmopolitan Temptation | Front Porch Republic
"When speaking of the proper care for the natural world, the word that best describes our efforts is stewardship. Stewards are care-takers. They lovingly guide, protect, and cultivate that which is under their care. In the language of stewardship the concepts of indebtedness, gratitude, love, and responsibility all find their proper places. But it is not only in the context of the natural world that the concept of stewardship has meaning. When we examine the topic of liberal education the idea of stewardship is indispensable. For as inheritors of a civilization, we are its stewards. And because the gifts of civilization are tender plants requiring constant nourishment, our task as stewards requires perseverance, courage, and, ultimately, faith that succeeding generations will take up the mantle when we are no longer able to bear it.



It is, in the end, impossible seriously to engage the great tradition without cultivating the habit (or is it the art?) of attention. Tocqueville notes that the habit of inattention is the greatest vice of democracy. This vice is exponentially more pervasive in an age where email, text messaging, Tweets, and YouTube are only a click away. Learning to attend carefully is, perhaps, one of our culture’s greatest needs. Paying attention requires self-control. We must learn to listen before we speak and think before we act. These habits are essential for self-government.



But with all this, there is at the heart of much writing about liberal education a sort of cosmopolitan temptation that, ultimately, does a disservice to the concept of stewardship. When proponents of liberal education describe it as the attempt to grasp the whole, they are partially right, but if we do not continue with the acknowledgment that the whole is grasped via particulars and that, as human creatures, we necessarily inhabit only a small and particular part of the whole, we are missing something crucial.

If a liberal education teaches a person to love abstraction, to relish the exchange of universal ideas of justice, charity, and beauty, yet to be inattentive to the neighbor down the street or the beauty of a well-tended garden, then something has gone wrong. Such an education is suited to abstract beings who naturally belong in no particular place and have none of the senses by which particular beauty or empathy can be experienced. Such an education is, in other words, not fit for human beings.



In other words, a liberal education should teach students how to be human beings and how to live in some particular place. If a course of education cultivates a hatred for home, it has failed. If it cultivates a dissatisfaction with the local, particular, and the provincial in favor of distant, abstract places where cosmopolitanism drowns out the loveliness and uniqueness of local customs, practices, stories, and songs, then the education has failed. To be well-educated is to be educated to live well in a particular place. It is to acknowledge the creatureliness of one’s existence and thereby to recognize our many debts of gratitude and the scale proper to a human life. A successful liberal education cultivates stewards who are disposed to love their places and who are equipped to tend them well."

[via: http://randallszott.org/2013/03/01/mark-t-mitchell-the-art-of-attention-stewardship-and-cosmopolitan-neglect/ ]
liberaleducation  democracy  liberalarts  2009  via:randallszott  cosmopolitanism  stewardship  gratitude  love  responsibility  civilization  sustainability  humanism  attention  tocqueville  self-control  self-government  local  slow  small  abstraction  justice  charity  beauty  global  glocal 
march 2013 by robertogreco
Dr. Jeannette Wing | Jon Udell's Interviews with Innovators
"For Interviews with Innovators, Jon Udell speaks with Jeannette Wing, a Carnegie Mellon computer scientists who coined the term computational thinking. Her idea is that ways of thinking and problem-solving that involve algorithms and data structures and levels of abstraction and refactoring aren't just for computer scientists, they're really for everybody."
podcasts  tolisten  jeannettewing  computationalthinking  problemsolving  algorithms  datastructures  2007  abstraction  refactoring  compsci  thinking 
february 2013 by robertogreco
Stéphane Mallarmé | HiLobrow
"When painter Edgar Degas complained to friends that despite being full of ideas for new poetry, he had struggled all day to write a sonnet, the salon’s host, STÉPHANE MALLARMÉ (1842-98), replied, “But Degas, it is not at all with ideas that one makes poetry. It is with words.” Sound did not follow sense: consider the distortion between language and reality even in the darkened vowels of jour (day) and the bright ones of nuit (night). That was the lesson of Baudelaire and especially Poe, whose verse Mallarmé translated into French prose and to whom Mallarmé dedicated a famous sonnet celebrating the poet’s “black flights of blasphemy” against taste and tradition in his attempts to “give a purer meaning to the words of the tribe.” In time, Mallarmé’s insistence on the elemental role of words led him from sound to space, writing his breathtakingly experimental poem “Un Coup de des” (“A Throw of the dice”) and a series of influential essays calling for a free verse modeled in part on the daily newspaper: the “full sheet on display… [allows for] mass production and circulation, but that advantage is secondary to a miracle, in the highest sense of the word: words led back to their origin, which is the twenty-six letters of the alphabet, so gifted with infinity that they will finally consecrate language.” Many of Mallarmé’s longest projects, including an elaborate combinatorial performance piece alternately called simply Le Livre (The Book) or Le Grand Oeuvre (The Great Work), remained incomplete or in fragments at his death."
edgardegas  degas  mallarmé  stéphanemallarmé  words  language  french  abstraction  timcarmody  poetry  painting  2011 
february 2013 by robertogreco
Time & Eternity
"We eat Wonder Bread which is styrofoam injected with some chemicals that are supposed to be nutritive. We do not even know how to drink. In other words, living, we live in the abstract, not in the concrete. We work for money, not for wealth. We look forward to the future, and do not know how to enjoy today. Now you see is the meaning of eternal life. When Jesus said "Before Abraham was," he didn't say "I was," he said "I am." And to come to this, to know that you are and there is no time except the present. And then suddenly, you see, you attain a sense of reality. You have to find it now. And so really, the aim of education is to teach people to live in the present, to be all here. As it is, our educational system is pretty abstract. It neglects the absolutely fundamentals of life, teaching us all to be bureaucrats, bankers clerks, accountants and insurance salesmen; all cerebral.

It entirely neglects our relationships to the material world."

[See also: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ERbvKrH-GC4 ]
plans  planning  symbols  words  philosophy  speed  energy  motion  hurry  attention  slow  children  sovietunion  posterity  hereandnow  present  abstraction  abstract  presence  reality  capitalism  communism  alanwatts  education  eternity  time 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Badges: talking at cross purposes? ~ Stephen's Web
"The world is a complex place. The only way to deal with it is is to simply - to create abstractions, or as I would say, to identify and recognize patterns in the phenomena. When we teach, we often take the short-cut of teaching these simplifications directly, rather than having students identify and recognize them for themselves. This may be more efficient - there's no shortage of studies that show this - but each time we teach a simplification, we make it harder for students to recognize new or alternative patterns in the same phenomena. But complex phenomena are dynamic, changing, and the simplifications are rarely valid for long. It's better to learn how to recognize patterns for oneself, to cope with this changing phenomena. The use of badges to recognize learning exaggereates that problem, because badges tend to privilege the learning of simplifications."

[Click through for references.]
2012  abstraction  badges  dougbelshaw  terrywassall  davecormier  criticalthinking  efficiency  simplicity  complexity  patterns  patternrecognition  stephendownes 
april 2012 by robertogreco
A Reason for Everything . . . — Imprint-The Online Community for Graphic Designers
"There is nothing finer than reality, so far as I'm concerned, and yet there seems to be no life unless reality is coupled with imagination, and attention to reality is coupled to imagination. You give people some simple, abstract marks, which represent some speakable sounds, which represent in turn some thinkable meanings, and they supply the pictures for themselves. Still, reality underlies imagination, an attention to reality trues and tunes imagination. That's how listening works, and listening is the foundation on which reading and writing is based."
meaningmaking  meaning  abstraction  living  life  books  stevenheller  2012  writing  listening  noticing  attention  imagination  reality  robertbringhurst  reading  via:tealtan 
february 2012 by robertogreco
Benedikt Groß – Metrography – London Tube Map to large scale collective mental map
"Nowadays our orientation is very often not longer based exclusively on the actual geography & their landmarks. There are loads of alternatives, from street numbers to GPS routing in our smartphones, to guide us to a destination…those wayfinding devices have in common that they are abstracted projections of real world’s spatial arrangement. Which brings us to 2 interesting implications:…[1] because abstraction means in this case a decrease of information, something is lost…[2] the longer you are using a device the more you accept it or get used to it. For instance the geographical structure of transportation networks are often reshaped to provide users w/ more understandable transit maps. These distortions have a major influence on people’s perception of city’s geography, to the point they get stored mentally & become collective representation of real world’s geography.

‘Metrography’ attempts to explore this phenomenon using the most famous of of transit maps: the London Tube Map."
deformation  osm  openstreetmap  SAX  scriptographer  maperitive  noamtoran  bertrandclerc  benediktgroß  landmarks  gps  cities  transportation  perception  collectiverepresentation  abstraction  mentalmaps  distortion  geography  via:mayonissen  metrography  londontube  processing  mapping  maps  london 
february 2012 by robertogreco
AIGA | Video: Jonathan Harris [Cold + Bold]
"Combining elements of computer science, architecture, statistics, storytelling and design, Jonathan Harris’s online projects create large-scale living portraits of the human world—portraits that both simplify and complicate our understanding of it. Jonathan discusses his recent work and poses intriguing questions about what kind of space the digital world is becoming and what that world is doing to us as individuals."

[I find myself on a Jonathan Harris binge about once a year. This time sparked by an article: http://designmind.frogdesign.com/articles/the-never-ending-story.html . Hadn't seen this video before.]

[The passage he reads in the video was originally posted here: http://www.number27.org/today.php?d=20100319 ]
design  art  jonathanharris  storytelling  coding  coldness  2010  thewhy  purpose  meaning  meaningfulness  human  digital  life  empathy  programming  depression  glvo  relationships  feelings  emotions  rationality  determinism  problemsolving  detachment  expression  web  internet  abstraction  humanity  control  learning  resistance  resistanceofthemedium  process  cold+bold  identity  individuality  diversity  outcomes  scale  sociopaths  jaronlanier  culture  behavior  introspection  self-reflection  time  computation  howwework 
august 2011 by robertogreco
electronic computation is invisible: maeda at RISD (tecznotes) {best to read the whole thing, and also the Natalia Ilyin post]
"…post about Maeda’s difficulties at RISD is interesting, but I was particularly struck by broader resonance of this:

"The Medialab is much more random than that. This may help to illuminate why John’s approach is so alien to traditional art students. Paul Rand seems to think it’s John’s engineering background which interferes with his leadership ability at RISD, but I think it’s actually scarier. John’s approach is hands off & experimental. Anything goes. Confusing & startling people is valorized…

…NONE of these artists have managed to broach the basic limitation that electronic computation is invisible. All techno artwork thus far relies on impenetrable microchips which require observer/participants to form abstractions in order to appreciate them. Look how hard it is to teach art students to program…

…once you go back in time & look at a Maeda or PLW project & realize you can’t run their code anymore, the collapsing of reality can be devastating."
johnmaeda  michalmigurski  risd  2011  handsoff  leadership  management  disconnect  medialab  mit  engineering  confusion  experimentation  paulrand  computers  computation  art  electroniccomputation  invisibility  reality  collapsingofreality  administration  learning  change  abstraction  inpenetrability  technology  mitmedialab 
april 2011 by robertogreco
Eide Neurolearning Blog: Simpler is Better: Avoiding the TMI Trap
"In studies of map-based problem solving, whether young or old, expert or novice, a consistent pattern was always seen - people of all ages & expertise seemed to prefer being presented more information, not less, even if it takes longer to study detail-laden maps, figures, or diagrams filled with extraneous material.
simplification  abstraction  displays  design  information  processing  filtering  sensemaking  maps  mapping  tmi  realism  patternrecognition  patterns  simplicity  research 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Near Future Laboratory » And the time it takes to make them is the time taken to mean it.
"'[Martin Puryear's] sculptures look the way they do because they need to in order to mean what they do. The labor that is compressed into them allows them to work over time, and the time it takes to make them is the time taken to mean it. That they so often employ specialized tradesmen’s skills in their making allows them to work at the edges of utility—vessels that might be dwellings in the shapes of bodies—and in that fertile seam between representation and abstraction.'

A quote from “From Head to Hand: Art and the Manual” by David Levi Strauss.

Why do I blog this? I like the way that time is emphasized here rather than the outcome. The emphasis is on the the practice and process, which have so much to say about the sculpture."
sculrpture  process  toshare  topost  julianbleecker  martinpuryear  davidlevistrauss  creation  time  processoverproduct  productasindicationofprocess  outcomes  labor  craft  representation  abstraction  sculpture  craftsmanship 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Frank Chimero - "In many ways the work of a critic is easy."
"Consider for a moment that this touching little rumination by Anton Ego, feared food critic in Ratatouille, about the critic’s relationship to the artist. It is from an animated film. A cartoon, if you will.

Animated movies can tackle deep, complex issues, but to tackle something so abstract as the pathos and jubilation of a critic, and offer up that meditation as a way to give closure to a plot arch is something I think can only be done by the most skillful of hands (no matter the medium: animation or otherwise). Pixar is celebrated at large for the quality of its films, but very rarely appreciated in this capacity. And, Brad Bird’s ability to offer depth through the integration of abstract issues gives his films, whether The Incredibles, Ratatouille, or The Iron Giant, a sense of profundity that is sorely lacking in many mass-market American films these days, even those non-animated movies made for us “grown-ups.”"
frankchimero  pixar  criticism  abstraction  ratatouille  film  filmmaking  bradbird 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Dangerously Irrelevant: Test score burrito
"Like Jacob, the biblical youth who sold his patrimony to his brother Esau for the equivalent of a Big Mac, our youth are cajoled into giving up their independent spirit of learning, their spiritual heritage as self-motivated seekers, to get a test score burrito or a report card wrap. The ultimate irony of this transference is that those few students who manage to retain their independent learning spirit . . . are likely to be better positioned to blossom academically and vocationally than those who pursue academic achievement through the Game. It is from that minority unencumbered by pseudo-goals that we get most of our inventors, entrepeneurs, artists, and scientists. What leads to success at higher levels of abstraction and study is precisely this ability to turn from the expected to pursue the intriguing . . . to awaken to the new theory or pattern amid the cacophony of conventional thinking. [The Game of School by Robert Fried, p. 80]"

[book here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0787973475 ]
thegameofschool  schools  education  learning  authenticity  curiosity  incentives  creativity  tcsnmy  robertfried  abstraction  success  pseudo-goals  academics  unschooling  deschooling  lcproject  cv  testing  academictreadmill 
february 2009 by robertogreco
Rice University Webcasts: President's Lecture: Robert Irwin on Abstraction
"Internationally renowned artist Robert Irwin, an environmental artist and sculptor who launched the light and space movement, speaks on abstraction, perception and reality. His lecture was the Dominique de Menil Lecture of the 1999-2000 President's Lecture Series."
robertirwin  architecture  space  abstraction  art  riceuniversity 
september 2008 by robertogreco
Map–territory relation - Wikipedia
"The map is not the territory is a remark by Alfred Korzybski, encapsulating his view that an abstraction derived from something, or a reaction to it, is not the thing itself, e.g., the pain from a stone falling on your foot is not the stone; one's opinion of a politician, favorable or unfavorable, is not that person; a metaphorical representation of a concept is not the concept itself; and so on."
abstraction  conceptualization  perception  philosophy  representation 
august 2008 by robertogreco
Chris Heathcote: anti-mega: abstract pointillist
"Presenting the abstract pointillist powerpoint toolkit. 20 slides that can be used for any presentation. Cut, paste, copy, crop the slides to create an abstract of your ideas that you can then talk to and through. WARNING: This is an ADVANCED powerpoint
abstraction  keynote  powerpoint  presentations  slides  statistics  chrisheathcote 
may 2008 by robertogreco
wrapping up 2007 (28 December 2007, Interconnected)
"Stafford Beer in his book Platform for Change. Beer talks about social institutions such as 'schooling,'... These are self-organising and self-regulating systems. As their environment changes, how do they not collapse? How are they not sensitive to shock?

Beer says that an ultrastable social institution will do one of three things in response to change:

1. It will change internally and still survive (I guess this is like scouting or soccer, both institutions that have changed minimally).

2. The institution's internal form will change, but its relationships to other institutions will remain. Perhaps this is like prisons, which have the same relationship to the population, police, courts and government... but operate internally very differently.

3. Dramatic change occurs. This makes me think of the Church: it has changed enormously internally and in its external relations over the last millennium, yet it's still the Church."
semanticweb  socialsoftware  markets  structures  mattwebb  lcproject  marketing  gamechanging  social  web2.0  trends  thinking  theory  technology  groups  future  organizations  simplicity  coding  science  computers  systems  collapse  institutions  society  change  reform  deschooling  staffordbeer  complexity  environment  evolution  flocking  cars  transportation  rfid  gps  physics  astronomy  astrophysics  nanotechnology  ultrastablesystems  progress  phenotropics  search  microformats  patterns  drugs  advertising  browser  web  internet  thermodynamics  freemarkets  capitalism  behavior  economics  modeling  identity  reputation  sharing  networks  networking  socialnetworks  socialnetworking  self  human  memory  forgetting  play  flickr  webdev  development  webdesign  experience  ux  flow  iphoto  interaction  design  radio  typologies  words  motivation  risk  abstraction  schooling  schools  2007  browsers 
december 2007 by robertogreco
Barney's rubble | Art & Architecture | Guardian Unlimited Arts
"Adolescent retardation is a common quality in American art: think of Hemingway having his adventures, Jackson Pollock drinking and raging. But American art in Pollock's time broke through to majestic abstraction. Perhaps Americans can only really make ab
art  matthewbarney  us  abstract  abstraction  jacksonpollock 
september 2007 by robertogreco

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