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robertogreco : bottomup   5

What Happened to Tagging? | JSTOR Daily
"When we fret about the perils of an algorithm-driven society, tagging represents the road not taken. It was a technology that supported decentralized content creation and community, rather than the limited number of centralized social networking sites that house the majority of online conversation today. It was an approach in which everyone added a little bit of value—for instance, in the form of tags that provided context and made content findable (and not as a way to self-promote, but just because it was easy and helpful). It was a form of conversation that centered content and ideas, not celebrities and influence: You might connect with someone who regularly used the same tags that you did, but that was because they shared your interests, not because they had X thousand followers.

And yes, it required a little more effort. But when I look around the web today, and at the many problems that have emerged from our submission to the almighty algorithm, I wonder if the effort was a feature, not a bug. By requiring us to invest ourselves in the job of finding content and building community, tag-driven conversations made us digital creators, not just digital consumers. It’s a social web we could have again—and one for which we could be truly thankful."
tagging  folksonomy  2019  alexandrasamuel  web2.0  flickr  socialnetworking  socialnetworks  tags  rss  web  online  internet  chaos  messiness  bottomup  twitter  facebook  algorithms  effort 
7 weeks ago 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: ]
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
Instead of futurists, let’s be now-ists: Joi Ito at TED2014 | TED Blog
[Update 8 July 2013: video now at ]

"Remember before the internet? Ito calls this period ”B.I.” In this stage of the world, life was simple and somewhat predictable. “But with the internet, the world became extremely complex. The Newtonian laws that we so cherished turned out to be just local ordinances … Most of the people who were surviving are dealing with a different set of principles.”

In the B.I. world, starting a business had a clear timeline: says Ito, you hired MBAs to write a business plan, you raised money, and then you built the thing you wanted to build. But in the AI world, the cost of innovation has come down so much that you start with the building—and then figure the money and business plan. “It’s pushed innovation to the edges, to the dorms rooms and startups, and away from stodgy organizations that had the money, the power and the influence.”

During Nicholas Negroponte’s era at the MIT Media Lab, the motto he proposed was: “Demo or die.” He said that the demo only had to work once.But Ito, who points out that he’s a “three-time college dropout,” wants to change the motto to: “Deploy or die.” He explains, “You have to get it into the real world to have it actually count.”

Ito takes us to Shenzhen, China, where young inventors are taking this idea to the next level. In the same way that “kids in Palo Alto make websites,” these kids make cell phones. They bring their designs to the markets, look at what’s selling and what others are doing, iterate and do it over again. “What we thought you could only do in software, kids in Shenzhen are doing in hardware,” he says.

He sees this as a possibility for the rest of us, too. He introduces us to the Samsung Techwin SMT SM482 Pick & Place Machine, which can put Samsung machine can put 23,000 components on an electronics board, something that used to take an entire factory. “The cost of prototyping and distributing is becoming so low that students and software can do it too,” says Ito. He points to the Gen9 gene assembler. While it used to take millions and millions of dollars to sequence genes, this assembler can do it on a chip, with one error per 10,000 base pairs. In the space of bioengineering. “This is kind of like when we went from transistors racked by hand to Pentium, pushing bioengineering into dorm rooms and startup companies,” he says.

Of course, this new model is scary. “Bottom-up innovation is chaotic and hard to control,” he says. But it’s a better way. It’s a way that lets you pull resources—both human and technical—when you need them rather than hoarding what you think you’ll need before you start. And we need to educate children to think along on these lines. “Education is what people do to you and learning is what you do for yourself,” says Ito. “You’re not going to be on top of mountain all by yourself with a #2 pencil … What we need to learn is how to learn.”

Ito urges us to follow a compass rather than a map. Instead of planning out every exact points before you start, allow yourself to make the decisions you need as you go in the general direction of where you need to be.

“I don’t like the word ‘futurist,’” he says. “I think we should be now-ists. Focus on being connected, always learning, fully aware and super present.”"
connectedlearning  fabrication  making  joiito  2014  education  learning  unschooling  deschooling  justintime  openstudioproject  lcproject  hardware  software  demos  demoing  now-ists  futurists  future  speculativedesign  glvo  teams  bottomup  chaos  control  resources 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Big Red & Shiny: Did someone say 'Adhocracy'? An interview with Ethel Baraona Pohl
"…how are you working with Joseph Grima…around the idea of 'adhocracy', something that "captures opportunities, self-organizes and develops new and unexpected methods of production. ""

"…the concept of adhocracy is almost inherent in design. Work tools, new technologies and forms of communication, and strategies that facilitate self-organization—like DIY projects—are readily developable, urban actions that have a real impact on our environment."

"…there was some confusion on the part of the participants on the topic 'imperfection'—the overall theme of the Biennial—and the concept of adhocracy was brought up as a response to the proposals."

"…Peter Gadanho…recently said…"curating is the new criticism""

"…the most beautiful aspect of our times (and this is also related to the adhocracy), is that there is room and respect for all."

"multi-connected society can be very saturating for some people, but it also allows them, from their loneliness and isolation, to find what they need…"
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november 2012 by robertogreco

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