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robertogreco : assumptions   8

Awakening a Black Child’s Consciousness and Curiosity
"As a writer on race, ethnicity and culture in education, my frank words and activism are influenced and informed by my experiences as a mother. I read the research. I listen to the scholars and experts. And all of that data and information is filtered through the prism of a Black mom with a Black son in public schools.

The link between police in schools and overcriminalization of Black youth is about social justice. It’s also about whether my son could be next. Suspending Black boys at a disproportionate rate for non-violent infractions is the symptom of a racist and unjust system. It’s also a real thing that happens in public schools to students who look like my son. The importance of culturally relevant materials and diverse books is a prized educational value that moves from theoretical to concrete when my son is presented with a summer reading list with not one author of color.

I spend a lot of time documenting and commenting on outrages, so with admiration and appreciation I can share that something special is happening in my son’s ninth-grade Honors English class. With the new semester comes a new teacher. And a refreshing teaching philosophy.
Unless I'm in that book, you're not in it either. History is not a procession of illustrious people. It's about what happens to a people. Millions of anonymous people is what history is about. –James Baldwin

In the last three weeks my son was assigned a project on Emmitt Till (during which he learned for the first time that Till died on my son’s birthday!) Despite my prodding, he was lukewarm on seeing “Selma” until this English assignment. After seeing “Selma” he now wants to learn more about the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, the horrific act that opens Ava DuVernay's powerful movie. And his English class just started “To Kill A Mockingbird,” opening the door to more spirited conversations on race relations.

Interestingly, somewhere in his recent reading, he also settled on the belief that Coca-Cola and Pepsi are racist and decided to boycott both corporations. His historical take on these soft drink companies is accurate. His decision has made shopping for beverages and snacks a meticulous exercise requiring thorough assessment. As I do backflips inside, watching my child learn, grow and sharpen his social justice concerns.

In real-time I am seeing how culturally relevant teaching helps students develop critical-thinking and analytical skills, as well as disrupt student perceptions – laying the groundwork for adults who confront and challenge assumptions and structural inequalities. Seeing our history and culture reflected in his classroom has awakened my son’s consciousness and curiosity.

Because he’s a teenager, I guard against showing too much exuberance. For fear that anything Mom likes is questionable. But just between us…"
melindatanderson  2015  race  ethnicity  identity  learning  culture  relevance  emmitttill  education  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  socialjustice  readinglists  criticalthinking  analysis  inequality  assumptions  consciousness  curiosity 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Do Artifacts Have Ethics? | The Frailest Thing
"Years ago, Langdon Winner famously asked, “Do artifacts have politics?” In the article that bears that title, Winner went on to argue that they most certainly do. We might also ask, “Do artifacts have ethics?” I would argue that they do indeed. The question is not whether technology has a moral dimension, the question is whether we recognize it or not. In fact, technology’s moral dimension is inescapable, layered, and multi-faceted.

When we do think about technology’s moral implications, we tend to think about what we do with a given technology. We might call this the “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” approach to the ethics of technology. What matters most about a technology on this view is the use to which a technology is put. This is of course a valid consideration. A hammer may indeed be used to either build a house or bash someones head in. On this view, technology is morally neutral and the only morally relevant question is this: What will I do with this tool?

But is this really the only morally relevant question one could ask? For instance, pursuing the example of the hammer, might I not also ask how having the hammer in hand encourages me to perceive the world around me? Or, what feelings does having a hammer in hand arouse?

Below are a few other questions that we might ask in order to get at the wide-ranging “moral dimension” of our technologies. There are, of course, many others that we could ask, but this is a start.

1. What sort of person will the use of this technology make of me?
2. What habits will the use of this technology instill?
3. How will the use of this technology affect my experience of time?
4. How will the use of this technology affect my experience of place?
5. How will the use of this technology affect how I relate to other people?
6. How will the use of this technology affect how I relate to the world around me?
7. What practices will the use of this technology cultivate?
8. What practices will the use of this technology displace?
9. What will the use of this technology encourage me to notice?
10. What will the use of this technology encourage me to ignore?
11. What was required of other human beings so that I might be able to use this technology?
12. What was required of other creatures so that I might be able to use this technology?
13. What was required of the earth so that I might be able to use this technology?
14. Does the use of this technology bring me joy?
15. Does the use of this technology arouse anxiety?
16. How does this technology empower me? At whose expense?
17. What feelings does the use of this technology generate in me toward others?
18. Can I imagine living without this technology? Why, or why not?
19. How does this technology encourage me to allocate my time?
20. Could the resources used to acquire and use this technology be better deployed?
21. Does this technology automate or outsource labor or responsibilities that are morally essential?
22. What desires does the use of this technology generate?
23. What desires does the use of this technology dissipate?
24. What possibilities for action does this technology present? Is it good that these actions are now possible?
25. What possibilities for action does this technology foreclose? Is it good that these actions are no longer possible?
26. How does the use of this technology shape my vision of a good life?
27. What limits does the use of this technology impose upon me?
28. What limits does my use of this technology impose upon others?
29. What does my use of this technology require of others who would (or must) interact with me?
30. What assumptions about the world does the use of this technology tacitly encourage?
31. What knowledge has the use of this technology disclosed to me about myself?
32. What knowledge has the use of this technology disclosed to me about others? Is it good to have this knowledge?
33. What are the potential harms to myself, others, or the world that might result from my use of this technology?
34. Upon what systems, technical or human, does my use of this technology depend? Are these systems just?
35. Does my use of this technology encourage me to view others as a means to an end?
36. Does using this technology require me to think more or less?
37. What would the world be like if everyone used this technology exactly as I use it?
38. What risks will my use of this technology entail for others? Have they consented?
39. Can the consequences of my use of this technology be undone? Can I live with those consequences?
40. Does my use of this technology make it easier to live as if I had no responsibilities toward my neighbor?
41. Can I be held responsible for the actions which this technology empowers? Would I feel better if I couldn’t?"
artifacts  objects  ethics  technology  2014  morality  via:tealtan  limits  knowledge  responsibility  time  place  experience  habits  behavior  assumptions  michaelsacasas  culture  lmsacasas 
november 2014 by robertogreco
6, 31: Nixtamalization
"Broadly, you’re getting three things here:

First, reminiscences, because “I saw an unusual thing once and, on reflection, here’s what I think of it” is one of my favorite things to read.

Second, criticism of cultural criticism, especially of the tech industry. From the fact that I work in this industry, you can guess that I think there are at least a few beautiful, wholly worthwhile things here. From the fact that I’m not a complete psychopath, you can guess that I think the industry as a whole is enormously broken. My ideas about this are not very lucid, but I try to clarify them using actual experiences and numbers and introspection. One opinion you’ll see a lot is that complaining about epiphenomena – the taste of Soylent, creepy wording choices in Facebook press releases, the fact that some tech workers are rude – is fine or whatever, but it doesn’t replace serious inquiries into cultural and economic problems like systemic sexism or child labor.

What I fear is a cultural framework around technology like the one around pro sports, where a merry enterprise has grown an industry based on “a subtle but insidious form of child abuse”, but popular criticism is stuck on the level of nitpicking stars’ public behavior. To take high technology’s potential for good seriously is to take its potential for bad seriously, and to take its potential for bad seriously is to get beyond the “they call us users, which is also what drug addicts are called!!!” horseshit.

The tech industry, or its subculture, or the network itself, is neither independent of nor a seamless part of the society around it. It has its own potentials, its own points of rigidity and articulation, that are not understood in one glance. Studying it is like studying anything else. You need sweat and rigor: to build a ship that floats, that catches the wind, that can be sailed and improved by other people. You also need enchantment and humility: to have been out of sight of land and imagine, involuntarily, the abyssal plains and mountains far under you, and realize that your mind will never encompass everything as it is at once.

In this decade we have a lot of loud commentators who are very keen on certain conclusions about the network – that it’s good or bad, shaped like this or that – but don’t show the rigor or the humility. The commentators themselves are not a bad blight, as blights go. Better to have reflexive Luddites and unreflective transhumanists selling tweet-sized answers to Wikipedia-sized questions on the lecture circuit than to have locusts, or bears, or superflus, or gray goo, or dictators, or weevils.

But we can do better, I hope. We will apply more of what we already know about people to technology made and used by people. It’s a very slippery thing to talk about people, personhood itself, at the scale where experience happens. People speaking for themselves can do it. Good fiction does it, and very good narrative history. Nonfiction tends to be terrible at it. There is a big exception. It’s the structure that’s been home to a sizable plurality, maybe even a majority, of the most serious intellectual work of the last three or four generations: feminism. (Other fields have been able to talk about lived personhood, obvs, but it’s feminism that’s coordinated all these insights into productive mosaics. Third-wave feminism is the single most useful collection of ideas of what people are like. So it is that if in 2014 you read something generally about humanness that doesn’t feel like it was written by Howard Hughes on DMT, it’s likely using a hundred years feminist scholarship as a foundation.) The first of many problems, of course, is that a lot of the tech culture shares the larger culture’s suspicion that feminism is just patriarchy through a mirror, and we all know patriarchy is for crap, so.

And we have weird ideas about the future. We think that technology is more about the future than other things are. We think that to make people work for a better future, we have to convince them that things are getting worse. (The evidence is that the most important things are getting better for most people.) We think that we can make climate change not come true after it’s already come true. On the whole of course I suspect the future of people is less determined by its being the future than by their being people.

And a special note on meritocracy. The following is pandering to most readers, but occasionally someone thanks me for my “newsletter about how the tech industry isn’t really that bad” or something, so I’d like to draw a line. I’ve been lucky enough to be part of several institutions that people could move in under their own power. I’ve appreciated them partly because they’re so rare, especially in tech. The idea that the economy is an objective sorting of people according to innate virtue onto a scale of income is on a level with the idea that our fates are woven by the Norns. Maybe a bit below, in that the Norns were fictional but describable, while merit is both fictional and circularly defined. Smartness is a concept that I try to avoid, but if I had to choose someone as the smartest I know, with the best ability to analyze and construct complex and subtle ideas, she’s in training as a mid-level social worker and can expect to “““““earn”””””, at her career peak, somewhat less than a middling third-year code monkey making trick websites in SF. I know two different brilliant people stuck in subsistence retail jobs to take care of their sick relatives. I know two different eldercare nurses who are made to take extra work hours. You can take your meritocracy and shove it so far up your ass it chips your teeth."



"By request, though in some consternation about acting as if I have the answers, I suggest two rules of thumb:

1. When you meet someone, examine your first impression carefully. Consider what kind of person you reflexively think they are, and start interacting with them from the assumption that they’re sick of being treated like that kind of person. Defer to basic sensitivities and to common sense, of course. The idea is to actively negate biases rather than trying to ignore them, and it seems to land me in more interesting conversations.

2. Think of times you’ve changed your mind about something important. Think especially of the ways that people tried to talk you out of it that failed before you did come around. Then, when debating, use ways of arguing that have worked on you. Maybe more importantly, don’t use ways of arguing that only entrenched you."
2014  charlieloyd  firstimpressions  listening  assumptions  conversation  mindchanging  openmindedness  iterestedness  debate  debating  arguing  argument  meritocracy  technology  siliconvalley  fiction  patriarchy  feminism  humility  rigor  criticism  nuance  complexity  systemsthinking  epiphenomena  internet  web  mindchanges 
november 2014 by robertogreco
“When I’m designing, I believe in ghosts.” | Design Culture Lab
"When I’m designing, I believe in ghosts. Let me explain.

I’m an analytical person. I believe in science and logic. I don’t actually believe in ghosts in any serious way.

But part of great design is taking lateral leaps of logic, of challenging assumptions, letting the world change your mind, staying receptive to new experiences and ways of thinking, channeling the energy and ideas around you, knowing anything is possible, letting your intuition drive your thinking, not saying no, not shutting things down, re-evaluating your point of view, treating everyone as if they have something to teach you, staying mentally agile, sharp, light, nimble, and quick.

And when I’m in that mode, when I’m truly in touch with my creativity, when my mind is necessarily wide open, the ghosts slip in. Of course ghosts might exist, just like of course this design problem has a solution just out of my reach, one I can discover as long as I keep working at it…"
2012  flow  intuition  creativity  thinking  mindchanges  assumptions  logic  ghosts  design  mindchanging 
october 2012 by robertogreco
The Technium: Techno Life Skills
"Anything you buy, you must maintain. Each tool you use requires time to learn how to use, to install, to upgrade, or to fix. A purchase is just the beginning…

You will be newbie forever…

Often learning a new tool requires unlearning the old one…

Take sabbaticals [from the tools]…

Tools are metaphors that shape how you think. What embedded assumptions does the new tool make?…

What do you give up? This one has taken me a long time to learn. The only way to take up a new technology is to reduce an old one in my life already…

Every new technology will bite back. The more powerful its gifts, the more powerfully it can be abused. Look for its costs…

Nobody has any idea of what a new invention will really be good for. To evaluate don't think, try…

The older the technology, the more likely it will continue to be useful.

Find the minimum amount of technology that will maximize your options."

[See also: http://snarkmarket.com/2011/6833 ]
education  learning  technology  future  2011  kevinkelly  tcsnmy  unschooling  unlearning  maintenance  tools  philosophy  technium  assumptions  upgrades  change  perpetualchange  life  lifeskills  lcproject  edg  srg  impermanence 
may 2011 by robertogreco
Derek Sivers: Weird, or just different? | Video on TED.com
""There's a flip side to everything," the saying goes, and in 2 minutes, Derek Sivers shows this is true in a few ways you might not expect."
ted  dereksivers  maps  mapping  japan  india  health  medicine  culture  opposites  negativespace  streets  perspective  assumptions  inversion  music  africa  timing  westafrica  names  naming  wayfinding 
january 2010 by robertogreco

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