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robertogreco : ambercase   6

'I Love My Label': Resisting the Pre-Packaged Sound in Ed-Tech
"I’ve argued elsewhere, drawing on a phrase by cyborg anthropologist Amber Case, that many of the industry-provided educational technologies we use create and reinforce a “templated self,” restricting the ways in which we present ourselves and perform our identities through their very technical architecture. The learning management system is a fine example of this, particularly with its “permissions” that shape who gets to participate and how, who gets to create, review, assess data and content. Algorithmic profiling now will be layered on top of these templated selves in ed-tech – the results, again: the pre-packaged student.

Indie ed-tech, much like the indie music from which it takes its inspiration, seeks to offer an alternative to the algorithms, the labels, the templates, the profiling, the extraction, the exploitation, the control. It’s a big task – an idealistic one, no doubt. But as the book Our Band Could Be Your Life, which chronicles the American indie music scene of the 1980s (and upon which Jim Groom drew for his talk on indie-ed tech last fall), notes, “Black Flag was among the first bands to suggest that if you didn’t like ‘the system,’ you should simply create one of your own.” If we don’t like ‘the system’ of ed-tech, we should create one of our own.

It’s actually not beyond our reach to do so.

We’re already working in pockets doing just that, with various projects to claim and reclaim and wire and rewire the Web so that it’s more just, more open, less exploitative, and counterintuitively perhaps less “personalized.” “The internet is shit today,” Pirate Bay founder Peter Sunde said last year. “It’s broken. It was probably always broken, but it’s worse than ever.” We can certainly say the same for education technology, with its long history of control, measurement, standardization.

We aren’t going to make it better by becoming corporate rockstars. This fundamental brokenness means we can’t really trust those who call for a “Napster moment” for education or those who hail the coming Internet/industrial revolution for schools. Indie means we don’t need millions of dollars, but it does mean we need community. We need a space to be unpredictable, for knowledge to be emergent not algorithmically fed to us. We need intellectual curiosity and serendipity – we need it from scholars and from students. We don’t need intellectual discovery to be trademarked, to a tab that we click on to be fed the latest industry updates, what the powerful, well-funded people think we should know or think we should become."
2016  audreywatters  edupunk  edtech  independent  indie  internet  online  technology  napster  history  serendipity  messiness  curiosity  control  measurement  standardization  walledgardens  privacy  data  schools  education  highered  highereducation  musicindustry  jimgroom  ambercase  algorithms  bigdata  prediction  machinelearning  machinelistening  echonest  siliconvalley  software 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Men (Still) Explain Technology to Me: Gender and Education Technology | boundary 2
"There’s that very famous New Yorker cartoon: “On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” The cartoon was first published in 1993, and it demonstrates this sense that we have long had that the Internet offers privacy and anonymity, that we can experiment with identities online in ways that are severed from our bodies, from our material selves and that, potentially at least, the internet can allow online participation for those denied it offline.

Perhaps, yes.

But sometimes when folks on the internet discover “you’re a dog,” they do everything in their power to put you back in your place, to remind you of your body. To punish you for being there. To hurt you. To threaten you. To destroy you. Online and offline.

Neither the internet nor computer technology writ large are places where we can escape the materiality of our physical worlds—bodies, institutions, systems—as much as that New Yorker cartoon joked that we might. In fact, I want to argue quite the opposite: that computer and Internet technologies actually re-inscribe our material bodies, the power and the ideology of gender and race and sexual identity and national identity. They purport to be ideology-free and identity-less, but they are not. If identity is unmarked it’s because there’s a presumption of maleness, whiteness, and perhaps even a certain California-ness. As my friend Tressie McMillan Cottom writes, in ed-tech we’re all supposed to be “roaming autodidacts”: happy with school, happy with learning, happy and capable and motivated and well-networked, with functioning computers and WiFi that works.

By and large, all of this reflects who is driving the conversation about, if not the development of these technology. Who is seen as building technologies. Who some think should build them; who some think have always built them.

And that right there is already a process of erasure, a different sort of mansplaining one might say."

"Ironically—bitterly ironically, I’d say, many pieces of software today increasingly promise “personalization,” but in reality, they present us with a very restricted, restrictive set of choices of who we “can be” and how we can interact, both with our own data and content and with other people. Gender, for example, is often a drop down menu where one can choose either “male” or “female.” Software might ask for a first and last name, something that is complicated if you have multiple family names (as some Spanish-speaking people do) or your family name is your first name (as names in China are ordered). Your name is presented how the software engineers and designers deemed fit: sometimes first name, sometimes title and last name, typically with a profile picture. Changing your username—after marriage or divorce, for example—is often incredibly challenging, if not impossible.

You get to interact with others, similarly, based on the processes that the engineers have determined and designed. On Twitter, you cannot direct message people, for example, that do not follow you. All interactions must be 140 characters or less.

This restriction of the presentation and performance of one’s identity online is what “cyborg anthropologist” Amber Case calls the “templated self.” She defines this as “a self or identity that is produced through various participation architectures, the act of producing a virtual or digital representation of self by filling out a user interface with personal information.”

Case provides some examples of templated selves:
Facebook and Twitter are examples of the templated self. The shape of a space affects how one can move, what one does and how one interacts with someone else. It also defines how influential and what constraints there are to that identity. A more flexible, but still templated space is WordPress. A hand-built site is much less templated, as one is free to fully create their digital self in any way possible. Those in Second Life play with and modify templated selves into increasingly unique online identities. MySpace pages are templates, but the lack of constraints can lead to spaces that are considered irritating to others.

As we—all of us, but particularly teachers and students—move to spend more and more time and effort performing our identities online, being forced to use preordained templates constrains us, rather than—as we have often been told about the Internet—lets us be anyone or say anything online. On the Internet no one knows you’re a dog unless the signup process demanded you give proof of your breed. This seems particularly important to keep in mind when we think about students’ identity development. How are their identities being templated?

While Case’s examples point to mostly “social” technologies, education technologies are also “participation architectures.” Similarly they produce and restrict a digital representation of the learner’s self.

Who is building the template? Who is engineering the template? Who is there to demand the template be cracked open? What will the template look like if we’ve chased women and people of color out of programming?"

"One interesting example of this dual approach that combines both social and technical—outside the realm of ed-tech, I recognize—are the tools that Twitter users have built in order to address harassment on the platform. Having grown weary of Twitter’s refusal to address the ways in which it is utilized to harass people (remember, its engineering team is 90% male), a group of feminist developers wrote The Block Bot, an application that lets you block, en masse, a large list of Twitter accounts who are known for being serial harassers. That list of blocked accounts is updated and maintained collaboratively. Similarly, Block Together lets users subscribe to others’ block lists. Good Game Autoblocker, a tool that blocks the “ringleaders” of GamerGate.

That gets, just a bit, at what I think we can do in order to make education technology habitable, sustainable, and healthy. We have to rethink the technology. And not simply as some nostalgia for a “Web we lost,” for example, but as a move forward to a Web we’ve yet to ever see. It isn’t simply, as Isaacson would posit it, rediscovering innovators that have been erased, it’s about rethinking how these erasures happen all throughout technology’s history and continue today—not just in storytelling, but in code.

Educators should want ed-tech that is inclusive and equitable. Perhaps education needs reminding of this: we don’t have to adopt tools that serve business goals or administrative purposes, particularly when they are to the detriment of scholarship and/or student agency—technologies that surveil and control and restrict, for example, under the guise of “safety”—that gets trotted out from time to time—but that have never ever been about students’ needs at all. We don’t have to accept that technology needs to extract value from us. We don’t have to accept that technology puts us at risk. We don’t have to accept that the architecture, the infrastructure of these tools make it easy for harassment to occur without any consequences. We can build different and better technologies. And we can build them with and for communities, communities of scholars and communities of learners. We don’t have to be paternalistic as we do so. We don’t have to “protect students from the Internet,” and rehash all the arguments about stranger danger and predators and pedophiles. But we should recognize that if we want education to be online, if we want education to be immersed in technologies, information, and networks, that we can’t really throw students out there alone. We need to be braver and more compassionate and we need to build that into ed-tech. Like Blockbot or Block Together, this should be a collaborative effort, one that blends our cultural values with technology we build.

Because here’s the thing. The answer to all of this—to harassment online, to the male domination of the technology industry, the Silicon Valley domination of ed-tech—is not silence. And the answer is not to let our concerns be explained away. That is after all, as Rebecca Solnit reminds us, one of the goals of mansplaining: to get us to cower, to hesitate, to doubt ourselves and our stories and our needs, to step back, to shut up. Now more than ever, I think we need to be louder and clearer about what we want education technology to do—for us and with us, not simply to us."
education  gender  technology  edtech  2015  audreywatters  history  agency  ambercase  gamergate  society  power  hierarchy  harassment  siliconvalley  privilege  safety  collaboration  identity  tressiemcmillancottom  erasure  inclusion  inclusivity  templates  inlcusivity 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Calm Technology
"The world around is made up of information that competes for our attention. What is necessary? What is not?

When we design products, we aim to choose the best position for user interface components, placing the most important ones in the most evident and accessible places within the screen. Equally important is the design of communication. How many are notifications are necessary? How and when should they be displayed? To solve this, we can be inspired by the principles of calm technology.1

Principles of Calm Technology

I. Technology should require the smallest amount of our attention.
Technology can communicate, but doesn’t need to speak.
Create ambient awareness through different senses.
Communicate information without taking the wearer out of their environment or task.

II. Technology should inform and encalm.
A person's primary task should not be computing, but being human.
Give people what they need to solve their problem, and nothing more.

III. Technology should make use of the periphery.
A calm technology will move easily from the periphery of our attention, to the center, and back.
The periphery is informing without overburdening.

IV. Amplify the best of technology and the best of humanity.
Design for people first.
Machines shouldn't act like humans.
Humans shouldn't act like machines.
Amplify the best part of each.


Tea Kettle
If a technology works well, we can ignore it most of the time. A teapot tells us when it is ready, and is off or quiet the rest of the time. A tea kettle can be set and forgotten, until it sings. It does not draw constant attention to itself until necessary. A tea kettle's whistle brings information from another room to one's attention.

Inner Office Window
An inner office window provides an understanding of whether someone is busy or not without the need to interrupt them.

Jawbone Up
The Jawbone Up has a single button and a colored status light. The device can be set to buzz after a short nap or at the optimium sleep cycle for a good night of sleep. It counts movement in the background without requiring additional action from the wearer. The device syncs to the user's phone through the audio jack and gives a summary of the wearer's individual day in sleep and physical activity.

Lavatory Sign
This simple sign tells you whether the lavatory is occupied or not. No need to translate it into multiple languges. The simple icon is either occupied or not.

Roomba Vacuum Cleaner
The humble Roomba Vacuum cleaner chirps happily when it is done and emits a sad tone when it is stuck. There is no uncanny valley present in this technology. Roomba doesn't have a spoken language, just simple tones. This makes it easy to understand what Roomba is saying, and elimates the need to translate the tone into many different languages.

Sleep Cycle
Sleep Cycle is a mobile application that monitors your sleep and allows you to track times of deep sleep and REM. You can set an alarm in the app and Sleep Cycle will wake you up before the time at the best place in your sleep cycle with a soft noise or buzz. Because the haptic alert occurs under your pillow, you can configure it so that you can wake up without anyone else being affected by the alarm.

Smart Badge
A smart badge is simple. Smart badges are small, wearable technologies that don't require a charger, user interface or operating system. Simply touch a provisioned smart badge to a door or elavator panel and you'll easily gain access.

Calm Communication

Haptic Alert
Use haptics or touch to inform someone of important information. Many people set their phones to buzz, but other products such as the LUMOBack Smart Posture Sensor buzzes you when you exhibit poor posture. Touch is a high resolution of human sensation. A lot of information can be conveyed with no visual or auditory requirement.

Trend Graph
A good trend graph is all about making the formerly invisible visible. The Sleep Cycle app graphs sleep over time, compressing that long term data into an easily accessible format. Be patient: good data may a long time to collect, but it is well worth the wait! Displaying data in a elegant way is one of the most important aspects of trend graphs. Elegance is about information and comprehension, not just visual appearance.

Status Light
Status lights are farily common on video cameras. A device is active when the red 'record' light is on. Status lights can be used for more than just recording. Our daily travels are mediated by the simple colors of traffic lights. A light that shows the weather is far more calm than a weather ssystem that constantly calls attention to itself. Think about how to use different colors of light to inform and encalm in your products.

Status Tone
A status tone is a quick way for a device to let a person know whether it needs attention or not. Products that have a positive tones upon completion, or negative tones when stuck are more likely to be helped by their human owners.

Status Shout
A Status Shout is similar to a Status Tone but can be much louder and more urgent. Smoke alarms, tea kettles and microwaves all use shouts to alert people to their status. Ambulances use Status Shouts to alert people to make way for an emergency. Tornado warnings utilize Status Shouts to help neighborhoods get to a safe place and out of the tornado's path. Status Shouts should be reserved for very important information.

Popup alerts are perhaps the most common form of alert, but they can quickly overwhelm people when not used correctly. Alerts should be used when deleting a piece of content, for an emergency, or when someone has specifically opted into a piece of content or stream. Otherwise, try to think of ways to alert a person using the other senses.

Timed Trigger
A simple status light on a timer can make for a calm and informative notifier. An orange light that turns on at sundown or reminds you to brush your teeth.

Use a delay or interrupt during a change of state. For example, when the headphones of an iPhone become disconnected, the music player automatically pauses the music."
technology  design  ux  ui  teakettles  calm  calmtechnology  via:alexismadrigal  slow  communication  calmcommunication  haptics  ambientintimacy  ambient  roomba  jawbone  windows  glanceable  attention  humanism  periphery  information  chrisdancy  ambercase 
november 2014 by robertogreco
The Cooper Journal: The best interface is no interface
"Creative minds in technology should focus on solving problems. Not just make interfaces.

As Donald Norman said in 1990, “The real problem with the interface is that it is an interface. Interfaces get in the way. I don’t want to focus my energies on an interface. I want to focus on the job…I don’t want to think of myself as using a computer, I want to think of myself as doing my job.”

It’s time for us to move beyond screen-based thinking. Because when we think in screens, we design based upon a model that is inherently unnatural, inhumane, & has diminishing returns. It requires a great deal of talent, money & time to make these systems somewhat usable, & after all that effort, the software can sadly, only truly improve w/ a major overhaul.

There is a better path: No UI. A design methodology that aims to produce a radically simple technological future without digital interfaces. Following three simple principles, we can design smarter, more useful systems that make our lives better."
glowingrectangles  via:maxfenton  screens  square  paymentsystems  nfc  everyware  ubicomp  calmtechnology  markweiser  ambercase  kevinashton  adamgreenfield  donaldnorman  goldenkrishna  computing  nest  ui  cars  interfaces  interactiondesign 
august 2012 by robertogreco
The Setup / Amber Case
"For note-taking and wireframing I use whiteboards, people, graph paper notebooks, napkins, an iPhone, small scraps of paper and the palm of my hand.

To document all of these items I use a Canon PowerShot ELPH 300 HS. I take around 30,000 photos a year. This breaks the camera. I get a new PowerShot each time because every year they come out with something new. When I get home all of my documents automatically upload to Flickr on private mode, so that I can choose which ones to reveal or delete with a minimum of work. I use an EyeFi Connect 4G SD card for this. The camera takes video, too. Surprisingly excellent video. This also automatically uploads to Flickr as well."

"My home is a 600 sqft rectangle armed with an iMac, a handful of X-10 controllers, some temperature sensors, a camera, and a private IRC server. Geoloqi detects when my phone has entered the radius defined as "home" & sends a message to the lights to switch on."

"I sometimes run a very old version of The Sims to optimize living conditions for two people with busy lives who want to achieve maximum happiness and self actualization. I run simulations of floor-plans and then try to find places that are similar to those floorplans. It took two years to find my current place of residence, and not only is it cheap, but I can run Sims whenever something seems odd in the house. Turns out that an errant chair or a table configuration might cause undue friction and, over time, decrease joy and happiness. It's difficult to step outside of life and watch it from an isomorphic architecture view in 30x speed, but the Sims allows you to do that. It's kind of my version of debugging life, and it's another reason why I have a PC lying around. I don't play the game unless I'm trying to figure out a more optimal living condition. I don't use this religiously by any means, but as more of thought experiment."
geoloqi  thesims  eyefi  photography  notetaking  flickr  thesetup  ambercase  2011  usesthis 
july 2012 by robertogreco
This is the next positive step in human evolution: We become “persistent paleontologists of our external memories” | Pew Internet & American Life Project
"Amber Case, cyberanthropologist and CEO of Geoloqi, agreed: “The human brain is wired to adapt to what the environment around it requires for survival. Today and in the future it will not be as important to internalize information but to elastically be able to take multiple sources of information in, synthesize them, and make rapid decisions.”

She added, “Memories are becoming hyperlinks to information triggered by keywords and URLs. We are becoming ‘persistent paleontologists’ of our own external memories, as our brains are storing the keywords to get back to those memories and not the full memories themselves.”"
technology  externalmemory  2012  persistentpaleontologists  search  keywords  information  geoloqi  ambercase  outboardmemory  memoryretrieval  memory  memories  urls  cv 
april 2012 by robertogreco

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