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robertogreco : bignow   11

Traditions of the future, by Astra Taylor (Le Monde diplomatique - English edition, May 2019)
"If the dead do not exactly have power or rights, per se, they do still have a seat at the table—Thomas Jefferson among them. In ways obvious and subtle, constructive and destructive, the present is constrained and shaped by the decisions of past generations. A vivid example is the American Constitution, in which a small group of men ratified special kinds of promises intended to be perpetual. Sometimes I imagine the Electoral College, which was devised to increase the influence of the southern states in the new union, as the cold grip of plantation owners strangling the current day. Even Jefferson’s beloved Bill of Rights, intended as protections from government overreach, has had corrosive effects. The Second Amendment’s right to bear arms allows those who plundered native land and patrolled for runaway slaves, who saw themselves in the phrase “a well regulated Militia,” to haunt us. Yet plenty of our ancestors also bequeathed us remarkable gifts, the right to free speech, privacy, and public assembly among them.

Some theorists have framed the problematic sway of the deceased over the affairs of the living as an opposition between tradition and progress. The acerbic Christian critic G. K. Chesterton put it this way: “Tradition may be defined as an extension of the franchise. Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death.” Social progress, in Chesterton’s account, can thus be seen as a form of disenfranchisement, the deceased being stripped of their suffrage. Over half a century before Chesterton, Karl Marx expressed sublime horror at the persistent presence of political zombies: “Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living.”

The most eloquent partisans in this trans-temporal power struggle said their piece at the end of the 18th century. Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine had a furious debate that articulated the dichotomy between past and future, dead and living, tradition and progress. A consummate conservative shaken by the post-revolutionary violence in France, Burke defended the inherited privilege and stability of aristocratic government that radical democrats sought to overthrow: “But one of the first and most leading principles on which the commonwealth and the laws are consecrated, is lest the temporary possessors and life-renters in it, unmindful of what they have received from their ancestors, or of what is due to their posterity, should act as if they were the entire masters; that they should not think it amongst their rights to cut off the entail, or commit waste on the inheritance, by destroying at their pleasure the whole original fabric of their society.” Any revolution, Burke warned, hazards leaving those who come after “a ruin instead of an habitation” in which men, disconnected from their forerunners, “would become little better than the flies of summer.”

The left-leaning Paine would have none of it. Better to be a buzzing fly than a feudal serf. “Whenever we are planning for posterity we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary,” he quipped. His critique, forcefully expressed in Common Sense and The Rights of Man, was not just an attack on monarchy. Rather, it was addressed to revolutionaries who might exercise undue influence over time by establishing new systems of government. “There never did, there never will, and there never can, exist a Parliament, or any description of men, or any generation of men, in any country, possessed of the right or the power of binding and controlling posterity to the ‘end of time,’” he protested.

In his pithy style, Paine popularized a commitment both to revolution and to novelty. “A nation, though continually existing, is continually in the state of renewal and succession. It is never stationary. Every day produces new births, carries minors forward to maturity, and old persons from the stage. In this ever-running flood of generations there is no part superior in authority to another.” Given the onslaught of change, a constitution “must be a novelty, and that which is not a novelty must be defective.” Never one for moderation, Paine advocated a decisive break with tradition, rejecting lessons from the past, castigating those who scoured records of ancient Greece and Rome for models or insights. What could the dead teach the living that could possibly be worth knowing?

Every person, whether or not they have children, exists as both a successor and an ancestor. We are all born into a world we did not make, subject to customs and conditions established by prior generations, and then we leave a legacy for others to inherit. Nothing illustrates this duality more profoundly than the problem of climate change, which calls into question the very future of a habitable planet.

Today, I’d guess that most of us are more able to imagine an environmental apocalypse than a green utopia. Nuclear holocaust, cyber warfare, mass extinction, superbugs, fascism’s return, and artificial intelligence turned against its makers—these conclusions we can see, but our minds struggle to conjure an image of a desirable, credible alternative to such bleak finales, to envision habitation rather than ruin.

This incapacity to see the future takes a variety of forms: young people no longer believe their lives will be better than those of their parents and financial forecasts give credence to their gloomy view; political scientists warn that we are becoming squatters in the wreckage of the not-so-distant liberal-democratic past, coining terms such as dedemocratization and postdemocracy to describe the erosion of democratic institutions and norms alongside an ongoing concentration of economic power. Meanwhile, conservative leaders cheer on democratic regression under the cover of nostalgia—“Make America Great Again,” “Take Our Country Back”—and seek to rewind the clock to an imaginary and exclusive past that never really existed."



"Questions of labor and leisure—of free time—have been central to debates about self-government since peasant citizens flooded the Athenian Pnyx. Plato and Aristotle, unapologetic elitists, were aghast that smiths and shoemakers were permitted to rub shoulders with the Assembly’s wellborn. This offense to hierarchical sensibilities was possible only because commoners were compensated for their attendance. Payments sustained the participation of the poor—that’s what held them up—so they could miss a day’s work over hot flames or at the cobbler’s bench to exercise power on equal footing with would-be oligarchs.

For all their disdain, Plato’s and Aristotle’s conviction that leisure facilitates political participation isn’t wrong. Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, radical workers agreed. They organized and fought their bosses for more free time, making substantial inroads until a range of factors, including the cult of consumption and a corporate counterattack, overpowered their efforts. A more sustainable, substantive democracy means resuscitating their campaign. Free time is not just a reprieve from the grindstone; it’s an expansion of freedom and a prerequisite of self-rule.

A reduction of work hours would have salutary ecological effects as well, as environmentalists have noted. A fundamental reevaluation of labor would mean assessing which work is superfluous and which essential; which processes can be automated and which should be done by hand; what activities contribute to our alienation and subjugation and which integrate and nourish us. “The kind of work that we’ll need more of in a climate-stable future is work that’s oriented toward sustaining and improving human life as well as the lives of other species who share our world,” environmental journalist and political theorist Alyssa Battistoni has written. “That means teaching, gardening, cooking, and nursing: work that makes people’s lives better without consuming vast amounts of resources, generating significant carbon emissions, or producing huge amounts of stuff.” The time to experiment with more ecologically conscious, personally fulfilling, and democracy-enhancing modes of valuing labor and leisure is upon us, at precisely the moment that time is running out.

With climate calamity on the near horizon, liberal democracies are in a bind. The dominant economic system constrains our relationship to the future, sacrificing humanity’s well-being and the planet’s resources on the altar of endless growth while enriching and empowering the global 1 percent. Meanwhile, in America, the Constitution exacerbates this dynamic, preserving and even intensifying a system of minority rule and lashing the country’s citizens to an aristocratic past.

The fossil fuel and finance industries, alongside the officials they’ve bought off, will fight to the death to maintain the status quo, but our economic arrangements and political agreements don’t have to function the way they do. Should democratic movements manage to mount a successful challenge to the existing order, indigenous precolonial treaty-making processes provide an example of the sort of wisdom a new, sustainable consensus might contain. The Gdoonaaganinaa, or “Dish with One Spoon” treaty, outlines a relationship between the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and Nishnaabeg people. The dish symbolizes the shared land on which both groups depend and to which all are responsible; in keeping with the Haudenosaunee Great Law of peace, … [more]
astrataylor  ancesors  climatechange  history  2019  democracy  capitalism  patriarchy  whitesupremacy  borders  power  time  future  change  hannaharendt  ecology  sustainability  globalwarming  interconnected  interconnectedness  indigeneity  indigenous  leannebetasamosakesimpson  leisure  plato  aristotle  philosophy  participation  participatory  organizing  labor  work  marxism  karlmarx  socialism  freetime  longnow  bighere  longhere  bignow  annpettifor  economics  growth  degrowth  latecapitalism  neoliberalism  debt  tradition  gkchesterson  thomaspaine  thomasjefferson  us  governance  government  edmundburke  commonsense  postdemocracy  dedemocratization  institutions  artleisure  leisurearts  self-rule  collectivism  alyssanattistoni  legacy  emissions  carbonemissions  ethics  inheritance  technology  technosolutionism  canon  srg  peterthiel  elonmusk  liberalism  feminism  unions  democraticsocialism  pericles  speed  novelty  consumerism  consumption  obsolescence  capital  inequality 
may 2019 by robertogreco
Small is Beautiful | Henderson Hallway
"Recently in my Global Issues class, our learning community looked at E.F. Schumacher’s notion of Small is Beautiful [http://www.ee.iitb.ac.in/student/~pdarshan/SmallIsBeautifulSchumacher.pdf ]. We read his infamous essay and watched the film below created by the National Film Board of Canada on his idea. What he suggests is a rethinking of the prevailing trend that unfettered economic growth is essential to the development of the species. We have had great discussions related to ungrowth, systems thinking, and the idea that we are all connected to every system and species on this planet.

Democracy Now! recently interviewed Elizabeth Kolbert, the author of a new book entitled the Sixth Extinction – a book identifying how humans are causing the largest mass extinction since the fall of the dinosaurs. Our investigations over the last few days got me thinking about my role as an educator and how I am to foster learning communities, not just learning environments, where learners can find opportunities for transformation that can address the issues raised by Kolbert and Schumacher. I find this even more challenging given that I am teaching the Global Issues course as an online course.

Small Is Beautiful: Impressions of Fritz Schumacher by Donald Brittain by Barrie Howells & by Douglas Kiefer, National Film Board of Canada

I have started to read at great length about how to create learning communities that are transformative from a virtual platform from the likes of Richard Schweir and Jay Roberts. Both of these scholars have really impacted my understanding of how we can foster ecologically literate communities. Thomas Steele-Maley and I, over the past year or so, have had critical conversations about how to develop these virtual communities, for which I am eternally grateful.

[video]

What I am beginning to understand, much like Schumacher did, is that vibrant and vigorous learning communities, whether online or face-to-face, need to be small, based on connectedness, and the transformation of knowledge. I love the way Jay Roberts puts it:
So, bring on MOOCS, bring on distance learning, flipped classrooms, and blended education. Use this new Gutenberg moment to supplement and highlight what transformative teachers have always done best– curating high impact learning experiences for the students in their care.

As opposed to MOOCS and giant groups of learners, I feel from my perspective that my online learning communities need to be intimate and small. We need to know each others history and create a collective identity while respecting each other as individuals. I am just on the beginning of my quest, but would love to hear what other educators and student have to say."
education  learning  groupsize  matthenderson  thomassteele-maley  globalissues  globalstudies  efschumacher  elizabethkolbert  bighere  smallnow  bignow  longehere  extinction  mooc  moocs  donaldbrittain  barriehowells  douglaskiefer  virtualcommunities  onlinelearning  distancelearning  flippedclassrooms  blendedlearning  2014  small 
february 2014 by robertogreco
The long here, the big now | Lift conference, what can the future do for you?
"Adam Greenfield, head of design director at Nokia, talks about the emotional aspects of living in a networked city. What happens when the choices of action in the city are not only physical, but also influenced by an invisible overlay of networked information?"
adamgreenfield  bignow  longhere  cities  networkedcities  unicomp  newsongdo  2008  networkedinformation  technology  lift 
december 2011 by robertogreco
A Networked Learning Project: The Connected Day
[Broken link, alternative refs here:
https://steelemaley.io/2014/03/06/a-networked-learning-ecology/
http://www.networkedresearch.net/index.php/Networked_Learning_Ecology_Design
http://steelemaley.io/2015/10/25/the-rise-of-micro-schools/ ]

"Piper is a 15 year old who lives in Midcoast Maine, US. A year ago, Piper heard about a new way to learn, and decided to take part in a new learning experience called the Maine Networked Learning Project. Known as “the Mesh” to participants, this learning ecology offered Piper the chance to apply her passion for learning in highly experiential and collaborative ways with groups of young people of varied ages, adult and youth mentors with knowledge territory specialties and organizations focused on ensuring sustainable and resilient societies, economies, and the environment. This is a snapshot of her day…"
connectivism  cck11  thomassteele-maley  maine  mlearning  mobilelearning  mobile  networks  netoworking  lcproject  bighere  longhere  bignow  elearning  self-organizedlearning  self-organizedlearningenvironment  self-organization  sugatamitra  mesh  meshnetworks  twitter  googlereader  projectbasedlearning  realworld  farming  sustainability  ecology  projects  local  glocalism  experientiallearning  meetups  education  speculativefiction  designfiction  pbl  agriculture 
february 2011 by robertogreco
Not in isolation / from a working library
"Wise words about making things from A Pattern Language, page xiii:

"This is a fundamental view of the world. It says that when you build a thing, you cannot merely build that thing in isolation, but must also repair the world around it, and within it, so that the larger world at one place becomes more coherent, and more whole; and the thing which you make takes its place in the web of nature, as you make it."

I love the use of the word “repair” here. It presumes that—while things are not perfect—neither are they forlorn."
meaning  making  connectedness  creating  apatternlanguage  christopheralexander  glvo  repair  repairing  isolation  longhere  bignow  relationships  context  nature  make  lcproject  decentralization  schools  education 
december 2010 by robertogreco
David Smith's Statements | Writings & Lectures by The Estate of David Smith
[From the "Questions to Students"]

11. Have you examined the echoes of childhood and first learning, which may have once given you the solutions? Are any of these expectancies still operating on your choices?...

18. Do you think that your own time and now is the greatest in the history of art, or do you excuse your own lack of full devotion with the half belief that some other time would have been better for you to make art?...

20. In the secret dreams of attainment have you faced each dream for its value on your own basis, or do you harbor inherited inspirations of the bourgeoisie or those of false history or those of critics?...

36. Or do you think that you are unworthy or that your life has not been dramatic enough or your understanding not classic enough, or do you think that art comes from Mount Parnassus or France or from an elite level beyond you?"

[via: http://www.kickerstudio.com/blog/2009/04/six-questions-from-kicker-crispin-jones/]
classideas  toprint  longhere  bignow  davidsmith  design  art  process  creativity  pedagogy  socraticmethod  perpective  dedication  glvo 
july 2010 by robertogreco
The Demon-Haunted World
"I want to talk about cities, and “practical city magic” City Magic is a phrase I use a lot - I have a whole bunch of things tagged with ‘City Magic’ on delicious. Where next? It comes from a comic book I love called “The Invisibles” by Grant Morrison... Where next?"
mattjones  technology  ubicomp  everyware  psychogeography  urbancomputing  architecture  urban  cities  geography  local  location-based  location-aware  culture  infrastructure  archigram  presentation  2009  talk  webstock  gamechanging  future  pivotalmoments  mobile  phones  architects  design  history  networks  socialsoftware  situationist  botanicalls  behavior  environment  sustainability  exploration  urbanism  landscape  awareness  nuagevert  bignow  longhere 
february 2009 by robertogreco
Work on Stuff that Matters: First Principles - O'Reilly Radar
"I spent a lot of last year urging people to work on stuff that matters. This led to many questions about what that "stuff" might be. I've been a bit reluctant to answer those questions, because the list is different for everyone. I thought I'd do better to start the new year with some ideas about how to think about this for yourself. ... 1. Work on something that matters to you more than money.2. Create more value than you capture. 3. Take the long view."

[See also video interview: http://radar.oreilly.com/2009/01/work-on-stuff-that-matters-interview-tim-oreilly.html ]
timoreilly  business  economics  recessions  importance  community  work  life  productivity  startups  entrepreneurship  valueadded  sustainability  brianeno  longhere  longnow  bighere  bignow  bubbles  innovation  philosophy  principles  advice 
january 2009 by robertogreco
Bionic Noticing on Irving Street « Magical Nihilism
"There’s been a flurry of writing on the skill, innate or learned of noticing. I like to think I have a little bit of the innate, but I’ve been *ahem* noticing that my increasingly mobile personal-informatics tool-cloud seems to be training me to notice more."
noticing  observation  culture  architecture  mapping  geotagging  mattjones  meaning  location  arg  ubicomp  flickr  cities  maps  urban  mobile  games  future  adamgreenfield  longnow  bighere  bignow  longhere  computers  place  janejacobs  interested  driftdeck  interestedness 
november 2008 by robertogreco
Shirky: Situated Software
"We've been killing conversations about software with "That won't scale" for so long we've forgotten that scaling problems aren't inherently fatal. The N-squared problem is only a problem if N is large, and in social situations, N is usually not large. A reading group works better with 5 members than 15; a seminar works better with 15 than 25, much less 50, and so on. This in turn gives software form-fit to a particular group a number of desirable characteristics -- it's cheaper and faster to build, has fewer issues of scalability, and likelier uptake by its target users. It also has several obvious downsides, including less likelihood of use outside its original environment, greater brittleness if it is later called on to handle larger groups, and a potentially shorter lifespan."
via:blackbeltjones  clayshirky  situated  situatedsoftware  scalability  software  community  socialsoftware  socialnetworking  longtail  technology  culture  internet  philosophy  innovation  bignow  longhere  programming  design  social  web  scale  scaling 
september 2008 by robertogreco
The long here and the big now « Adam Greenfield’s Speedbird
"The “long here” part is, I think, a little easier to make out; we’ve already seen how easily we can lay a persistently retrievable history of the things that are done and witnessed there over any place that can specified with lat/long coordinates. Whenever I’ve used the phrase “anchoring subjectivities,” this is what I was thinking of: place now has visible depth in time.

What about “the big now,” though? It’s shorthand for the enhanced and deepened sense of simultaneity – of the world’s massive parallelism – that certain digital artifacts lend us. The most concrete example I can come up with is my experience of Twitter, which, like one of the great NYTE visualizations, though more subtly and expressively, quite clearly reveals the great waves of activity and slumber sweeping over the globe. A ten-minute interval may see reports of friends’ experiencing rush-hour frustrations in the Bay Area, dining out in New York, and late night dancing in London, a notable lacuna in pings from Brussels or Torino or Helsinki, and then the first groggily pre-caffeinated dispatches from Seoul and Tokyo. For me, at least, it’s been difficult to see my New York through quite the same eyes, when every time I get my phone out I feel the entire planet’s deeper rhythms working themselves out.

I’m willing to bet that these are among the factors which will do the most to bend and shape our experience of urban place in the next few years to come."
adamgreenfield  experience  flickr  place  urban  twitter  time  technology  space  history  gamechanging  ephemeralization  urbanism  ubicomp  ubiquitous  location  locative  location-based  everyware  informatics  longhere  bignow 
may 2008 by robertogreco

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