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robertogreco : commodification   17

What It Takes to Put Your Phone Away | The New Yorker
"During the first few days of my Internet decluttering, I found myself compulsively checking my unchanged in-box and already-read text messages, and scanning the same headlines over and over—attempting, as if bewitched, to see new information there. I took my dog out for longer walks, initially trying to use them for some productive purpose: spying on neighbors, planning my week. Soon I acquiesced to a dull, pleasant blankness. One afternoon, I draped myself on my couch and felt an influx of mental silence that was both disturbing and hallucinatorily pleasurable. I didn’t want to learn how to fix or build anything, or start a book club. I wanted to experience myself as soft and loose and purposeless, three qualities that, in my adulthood, have always seemed economically risky.

“Nothing is harder to do than nothing,” Jenny Odell writes, in her new book, “How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy” (Melville House). Odell, a multidisciplinary artist who teaches at Stanford, is perhaps best known for a pamphlet called “There’s No Such Thing as a Free Watch,” which she put together while in residence at the Museum of Capitalism, in Oakland. Odell investigated the origins of a blandly stylish watch that was being offered for free (plus shipping) on Instagram, and found a mirrored fun house of digital storefronts that looked as though they had been generated by algorithm. The retailers advertised themselves as brands that had physical origins in glitzy Miami Beach or hip San Francisco but were, in fact, placeless nodes in a vast web of scammy global wholesalers, behind which a human presence could hardly be discerned.

Like Newport, Odell thinks that we should spend less time on the Internet. Unlike him, she wants readers to question the very idea of productivity. Life is “more than an instrument and therefore something that cannot be optimized,” she writes. To find the physical world sufficiently absorbing, to conceive of the self as something that “exceeds algorithmic description”—these are not only “ends in and of themselves, but inalienable rights belonging to anyone lucky enough to be alive.” Odell details, with earnest wonder, moments in her life when she was reoriented toward these values. After the 2016 election, she began feeding peanuts to two crows on her balcony, and found comfort in the fact that “these essentially wild animals recognized me, that I had some place in their universe.” She also developed a fascination, via Google Maps, with the creek behind her old kindergarten, and she went to see it with a friend. She followed the creek bed, which, she learned, runs beneath Cupertino’s shopping centers and Apple’s headquarters. The creek became a reminder that under the “streamlined world of products, results, experiences, reviews” there is a “giant rock whose other lifeforms operate according to an ancient, oozing, almost chthonic logic.”

Odell elegantly aligns the crisis in our natural world and the crisis in our minds: what has happened to the natural world is happening to us, she contends, and it’s happening on the same soon-to-be-irreparable scale. She sees “little difference between habitat restoration in the traditional sense and restoring habitats for human thought”; both are endangered by “the logic of capitalist productivity.” She believes that, by constantly disclosing our needs and desires to tech companies that sift through our selfhood in search of profit opportunities, we are neglecting, even losing, our mysterious, murky depths—the parts of us that don’t serve an ulterior purpose but exist merely to exist. The “best, most alive parts” of ourselves are being “paved over by a ruthless logic of use.”

“Digital Minimalism” and “How to Do Nothing” could both be categorized as highbrow how-to—an artist and a computer scientist, both of them in their thirties, wrestling with the same timely prompt. (At one point, Odell writes, she thought of her book as activism disguised as self-help.) Rather than a philosophy of technology use, Odell offers a philosophy of modern life, which she calls “manifest dismantling,” and which she intends as the opposite of Manifest Destiny. It involves rejecting the sort of progress that centers on isolated striving, and emphasizing, instead, caregiving, maintenance, and the interdependence of things. Odell grew up in the Bay Area, and her work is full of unabashed hippie moments that might provoke cynicism. But, for me—and, I suspect, for others who have come of age alongside the Internet and have coped with the pace and the precariousness of contemporary living with a mixture of ambient fatalism and flares of impetuous tenderness—she struck a hopeful nerve of possibility that I hadn’t felt in a long time.

Odell writes about the first electronic bulletin-board system, which was set up, in Berkeley, in 1972, as a “communal memory bank.” She contrasts it with Nextdoor, a notoriously paranoid neighborhood-based social platform that was recently valued at $1.5 billion, inferring that the profit motive had perverted what can be a healthy civic impulse. Newport, who does not have any social-media accounts of his own, generally treats social media’s current profit model as an unfortunate inevitability. Odell believes that there is another way. She cites, for example, the indie platform Mastodon, which is crowdfunded and decentralized. (It is made up of independently operated nodes, called “instances,” on which users can post short messages, or “toots.”) To make money from something—a forest, a sense of self—is often to destroy it. Odell brings up a famous redwood in Oakland called Old Survivor, which is estimated to be almost five hundred years old. Unlike all the other trees of its kind in the area, it was never cut down, because it was runty and twisted and situated on a rocky slope; it appeared unprofitable to loggers. The tree, she writes, is an image of “resistance-in-place,” of something that has escaped capitalist appropriation. As Odell sees it, the only way forward is to be like Old Survivor. We have to be able to do nothing—to merely bear witness, to stay in place, to create shelter for one another—to endure."



"My Newport-inspired Internet cleanse happened to coincide with a handful of other events that made me feel raw and unmanageable. It was the end of winter, with its sudden thaws and strange fluctuations—the type of weather where a day of sunshine feels like a stranger being kind to you when you cry. I had just finished writing a book that had involved going through a lot of my past. The hours per day that I had spent converting my experience into something of professional and financial value were now empty, and I was cognizant of how little time I had spent caring for the people and things around me. I began thinking about my selfhood as a meadow of wildflowers that had been paved over by the Internet. I started frantically buying houseplants.

I also found myself feeling more grateful for my phone than ever. I had become more conscious of why I use technology, and how it meets my needs, as Newport recommended. It’s not nothing that I can text my friends whenever I think about them, or get on Viber and talk to my grandmother in the Philippines, or sit on the B54 bus and distract myself from the standstill traffic by looking up the Fermi paradox and listening to any A Tribe Called Quest song that I want to hear. All these capacities still feel like the stuff of science fiction, and none of them involve Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. It occurred to me that two of the most straightforwardly beloved digital technologies—podcasts and group texts—push against the attention economy’s worst characteristics. Podcasts often demand sustained listening, across hours and weeks, to a few human voices. Group texts are effectively the last noncommercialized social spaces on many millennials’ phones.

On the first day of April, I took stock of my digital experiment. I had not become a different, better person. I had not acquired any high-value leisure activities. But I had felt a sort of persistent ache and wonder that pulled me back to a year that I spent in the Peace Corps, wandering in the dust at the foot of sky-high birch trees, terrified and thrilled at the sensation of being unknowable, mysterious to myself, unseen. I watered my plants, and I loosened my StayFocusd settings, back to forty-five daily minutes. I considered my Freedom parameters, which I had already learned to break, and let them be."
jiatolentino  2019  internet  attention  jennyodell  capitalism  work  busyness  resistance  socialmedia  instagram  twitter  facebook  infooverload  performance  web  online  nature  nextdoor  advertising  thoreau  philosophy  care  caring  maintenance  silence  happiness  anxiety  leisurearts  artleisure  commodification  technology  selfhood  identity  sms  texting  viber  podcasts  grouptexts  digitalminimalism  refusal  calnewport  mobile  phones  smartphones  screentime  ralphwaldoemerson  separatism  interdependence 
28 days ago by robertogreco
Ocean Vuong on being generous in your work [The Creative Independent]
"I find a home in feeling. I feel at home in feeling. When I collaborate or talk with my friends, the place doesn’t matter. We could be on Mars and it would feel like home, because I feel free. I can be myself. I can be uber-queer, uber-strange, and we can be uber-curious with one another. That’s comforting. Perhaps it’s even harder to protect a home that doesn’t exist in a physical space, because we have to continually tend to this abstract feeling: “How do I create the parameters in which I am safe enough to be free amongst my peers?”

My whole artistic life has been in New York City—the past 11 years—and I learned that one has to work. Competition is a patriarchal structure that privileges conquest. The most pivotal thing for me as an artist was to be able to say “no” to those structures in order to say “yes” to the structures I want to create. That’s why it’s so scary."



"Take the long way home, if you can."



"Competition, prizes and awards are part of a patriarchal construct that destroys love and creativity by creating and protecting a singular hierarchical commodification of quality that does not, ever, represent the myriad successful expressions of art and art making. If you must use that construct, you use it the way one uses public transport. Get on, then get off at your stop and find your people. Don’t live on the bus, and most importantly, don’t get trapped on it."



"The agency for joy is safety—and vice versa. It is not a place, but a feeling. But you can see it, even in the dark."
oceanvuong  competition  prizes  awards  patriarchy  hierarchy  love  creativity  art  poetry  conquest  2019  commodification  canon  capitalism  neoliberalism  freedom  artmaking  making  privilege  joy  safety  slow  small  meaning  purpose  beauty  relationships  identity  expression  home  comfort  collaboration 
29 days ago by robertogreco
Critical Perspectives on Soka’s Lu’au
"In its 10th anniversary this year, the Lū’au performance is one of our oldest traditions here at Soka. The club which spearheads it every year is called, “Ka Pilina Ho’olokahi,” which means “the coming together in harmony for peace” in the Hawaiian language.

Growing up in Hawai’i, we understood how direly peace in the Pacific was needed. I watched as the place where I grew up ballooned with military bases and personnel. We watched the Hawaiian Islands bend beyond their capacity to host tourists. We saw the cost of living skyrocket and the number of people evicted from their homes turn into a crisis overlooked every year. I am not Kānaka (Native Hawaiian), and I cannot say I have experienced the same displacement and loss of agency over land as Native Hawaiians have in the last century. However, as the daughter of a Filipina immigrant, I can say I know what it’s like to hear that you will never be able to go back to your home because it is too polluted, too politically unsafe, and void of opportunity. For Filipinas, the displacement of our people was mechanized by the same forces which continue to displace and extract from Native Hawaiians. The parallels of the occupation of our homelands have been, at times, painful to compare because of their stark similarities.

So, when people ask me about the Lū’au or Hawai’i, I’m met with conflicting feelings. It touches me that people are so dedicated to planning and executing an event meant to celebrate a place I care for and want to protect. However, when people ask me about the Lū’au, I can’t help but think of my own experiences in Waikīkī, where I would pick up my cousins after their shifts working at “lū’aus.” After working in the tourism industry since I was 14, I’ve become critical of its mechanisms. In this article, I hope to unpack our involvement in Hawaii’s history of colonization, cultural extraction, and commercialization by tourism developers.

Activist, author, poet, and Professor of Hawaiian Studies at the University of Hawai’i, Haunani-Kay Trask, wrote the essay “‘Lovely Hula Hands’: Corporate Tourism and the Prostitution of Hawaiian Culture,” [https://journals.lib.unb.ca/index.php/bl/article/view/24958/28913 ] which delineated the cultural commodification mechanized by tourist industries she witnessed as a Native Hawaiian woman. She provides her analysis placed amongst the backdrop of the linguistic genocide, land theft, and unjust annexation to statehood Native Hawaiian people faced. Trask posits that the tourism industry extracts and commercializes Hawai’i and Hawaiian culture into a consumable and often times sexualized fantasy. She writes, “To most Americans, then, Hawai’i is theirs: to use, to take, and, above all, to fantasize about long after the experience…. Just five hours away by plane from California, Hawai’i is a thousand light years away in fantasy. Mostly a state of mind, Hawai’i is the image of escape from the rawness and violence of daily American Life.” In her essay, Trask argues that these fantasy-based images of Hawai’i strip it of its political history, culture, language, and people.

Other Native Hawaiian scholars such as @haymakana [https://twitter.com/haymakana/status/1036950291902590976 ], a Ph.D. student with interests in indigenous education and race in Hawaii, have spoken out against the exploitation of Native Hawaiian culture through the tourism industry. Here, she explains how images and fantasy of escape come at the expense of Native Hawaiians, leading to more Kānaka (Native Hawaiian) displacement: “When you fantasize about laying on our beaches you fantasize about tearing us away from our homeland and our ‘ohana that still live there … Kānaka are being displaced by hotels, rich people’s summer homes, Airbnbs, etc.”

From the perspective of a resident, I can also attest that the overwhelming presence of tourism contributes to the rising cost of living, homelessness, environmental destruction, and sex trafficking within our communities.

Other scholars such as Gregory Pōmaika’i [https://twitter.com/gspomaikai/status/1112163934734172162 ], a Ph.D. student at UC San Diego with interests in the Hawaiian diaspora in Las Vegas, Nevada, militarism, and queer Indigenous relations of off-island resurgence, responded to @haymakana’s thread with their own.

In this instance, Pōmaika’i affirms the sentiment originally proposed by @haymakana. They argue that the extraction of Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) otherness is exploitive, but goes mostly unchecked by the usual assumption of innocence under Euro-American audiences. They expound upon the common phenomena of Asian Americans who, due to their proximity based on settlement, diaspora, or existing within the category of Asian American Pacific Islanders, reap social or material capital off of Hawaiian culture due to their proximity to Hawai’i. Because of this and the universal ideas of “Hawai’i,” which are formed and normalized by the tourism industry, most audiences are less likely to question the cultural appropriateness of demonstrations of “Hawaiian culture,” especially those led by people who consider themselves proximate to Hawai’i.

Pōmaika’i later goes on to stress the importance of solidarity, rather than extraction, when it comes to showing up for indigenous folk. As settlers within a system of settler-colonialism, which automatically defers to our protection rather than indigenous folk, how are we showing up for them? Are we still following outdated models of racism and settler-colonialism where we are only assessing our liability based on our conscious prejudices and attitudes? Or are we critically evaluating our involvement within systems which subjugate others based on race and class?

I’ve spoken to Ka’pilina members who, from the bottom of their heart, believe they are part of the preservation of Hawaiian culture. However, I think Pōmaika’i, @haymakana, and Trask would all agree that the very concept of a Lū’au pulls from tourism-based ideas of Hawaii—ideas inevitably predicated on Native Hawaiian displacement. I’ve spoken to Lū’au officials who have told me that they don’t know about the Kanaka Maoli. These interactions led me to question what qualifications officials who have either varying or no connections to Hawai’i have for culture preservation. In what way are we actively able to combat Native Hawaiian stereotypes if there is no one involved who can call them out and unpack them? To what point is our relationship to Hawai’i extractive, especially if we’re, intentionally or not, upholding fantasy ideals of what Hawai’i is? These are questions of self-reflection which I hope my article can help facilitate within our community. Images of a commodified culture, made accessible to us and which remain pervasive after years of colonization, will persist in spaces vacuous of critical thought. So from here, I hope we may critically assess, how to move forward without perpetuating the commodification of Native Hawaiian culture.

Post notes: Soka’s Lū’au will be donating a small amount of the proceeds, all accumulated through the raffle, to a Hawaiian cultural preservation non-profit. I am happy about these donations, but I hope this will not excuse us from engaging in critical reflection of our actions."
sokauniversityofamerica  via:sophia  2019  hawaii  cultue  criticism  luau  haunani-kaytrask  tourism  exploitation  solidarity  extraction  indigeneity  indigenous  gregorypōmaika’i  kanakamaoli  commodification  stereotypes  kapalina 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Isabel Rodríguez on Twitter: "The most important goal of any person working with children should be doing no harm. The most important goal of any teacher preparation program should be about unlearning violence, disrespect, prejudices and abuse of power a
"The most important goal of any person working with children should be doing no harm. The most important goal of any teacher preparation program should be about unlearning violence, disrespect, prejudices and abuse of power against children. Everything else is secondary.

With enough willingness and some help, we can learn almost anything we want at any age, but some emotional scars take a lifetime to heal and some never heal.

As I said once before, teachers' experiences and knowledge of students are limited, biased and fragmented. They didn't know them when they were just happy kids living life. They don't know what they are like when they are at home. They stop seeing them after they leave school.

And considering that our world's most threatening problems have not much to do with lack of knowledge, but much to do with power imbalances, violence, lack of empathy, alienation, property rights, and the commodification of human beings...

The emphasis of conventional schools on having well managed classrooms and making children learn is shortsighted and misguided.

If anything, schools should be about communities where children are allowed to co-exist as equals and where they are given access to the resources they need in order to learn for their own purposes and on their own terms, not those of the structures seeking to exploit them.

And if our main concern is social justice, schools could be meeting places, places of discussion, places of access to information, places of access to learning resources that most people would not be able to afford on their own.

However, the maintenance of strong hierarchies and attempts to control what children should learn and how they should behave are contradictory to the notion of wanting create a world of equals were people are not treated as tools or commodities for someone else's purposes.

In fact, if we were truly serious about social justice, schools would be open to their communities, people could keep attending school throughout their lives as fellow learners or fellow teachers, and schools would transcend their walls. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WkiX7R1-kaY

It is only in an unequal world in which we are valued in terms of the economic value we produce, in which we are disposable, and in which many are deemed arbitrarily as undeserving or useless...

that we learn to think of ourselves as something with a useful life, an expiration date and in need of a certificate or letter of acceptance...

that countless human beings are forced to obtain a diagnosis in order to be able to exercise some of their most basic rights...
The right to learn differently should be a universal human right that’s not mediated by a diagnosis. http://boren.blog/2018/07/29/the-right-to-learn-differently-should-be-a-universal-human-right-thats-not-mediated-by-a-diagnosis/

It is only in a world in which competition, scarcity and exclusion are normalized that we learn to think of learning as something happening exclusively within schools' walls in which there is not enough space or enough money for everyone to attend.

It is only in a world in which competition, scarcity and exclusion are normalized that we learn to think that assigning grades and sorting children is okay."
isabelrodríguez  sfsh  schools  schooling  unschooling  deschooling  hierarchy  horizontality  community  lcproject  openstudioproject  agesegregation  2018  rynboren  mitchaltman  hackerspaces  makerspaces  dignity  parenting  children  power  control  exploitation  coercion  race  racism  prejudice  abuse  empathy  alienation  labor  work  capitalism  solidarity  propertyrights  commodification  humanrights  humans  learning  howwelearn  school  schooliness 
july 2018 by robertogreco
After Authenticity
"Meanwhile, years of semantic slippage had happened without me noticing. Suddenly the surging interest in fashion, the dad hats, the stupid pin companies, the lack of sellouts, it all made sense. Authenticity has expanded to the point that people don’t even believe in it anymore. And why should we? Our friends work at SSENSE, they work at Need Supply. They are starting dystopian lifestyle brands. Should we judge them for just getting by? A Generation-Z-focused trend report I read last year clumsily posed that “the concept of authenticity is increasingly deemed inauthentic.” It goes further than that. What we are witnessing is the disappearance of authenticity as a cultural need altogether.

Under authenticity, the value of a thing decreases as the number of people to whom it is meaningful increases. This is clearly no longer the case. Take memes for example. “Meme” circa 2005 meant lolcats, the Y U NO guy and grimy neckbeards on 4chan. Within 10 years “meme” transitioned from this one specific subculture to a generic medium in which collective participation is seen as amplifying rather than detracting from value.

In a strange turn of events, the mass media technologies built out during the heady authenticity days have had a huge part in facilitating this new mass media culture. The hashtag, like, upvote, and retweet are UX patterns that systematize endorsement and quantify shared value. The meme stock market jokers are more right than they know; memes are information commodities. But unlike indie music 10 years ago the value of a meme is based on its publicly shared recognition. From mix CDs to nationwide Spotify playlists. With information effortlessly transferable at zero marginal cost and social platforms that blast content to the top of everyone’s feed, it’s difficult to for an ethics based on scarcity to sustain itself.

K-HOLE and Box1824 captured the new landscape in their breakthrough 2014 report “Youth Mode.” They described an era of “mass indie” where the search for meaning is premised on differentiation and uniqueness, and proposed a solution in “Normcore.” Humorously, nearly everyone mistook Normcore for being about bland fashion choices rather than the greater cultural shift toward accepting shared meanings. It turns out that the aesthetics of authenticity-less culture are less about acting basic and more about playing up the genericness of the commodity as an aesthetic category. LOT2046’s delightfully industrial-supply-chain-default aesthetics are the most beautiful and powerful rendering of this. But almost everyone is capitalizing on the same basic trend, from Vetements and Virgil Abloh (enormous logos placed for visibility in Instagram photos are now the norm in fashion) to the horribly corporate Brandless. Even the names of boring basics companies like “Common Threads” and “Universal Standard” reflect the the popularity of genericness, writes Alanna Okunn at Racked. Put it this way: Supreme bricks can only sell in an era where it’s totally fine to like commodities.

Crucially, this doesn’t mean that people don’t continue to seek individuation. As I’ve argued elsewhere exclusivity is fundamental to any meaning-amplifying strategy. Nor is this to delegitimize some of the recognizable advancements popularized alongside the first wave of mass authenticity aesthetics. Farmer’s markets, the permaculture movement, and the trend of supporting local businesses are valuable cultural innovations and are here to stay.

Nevertheless, now that authenticity is obsolete it’s become difficult to remember why we were suspicious of brands and commodities to begin with. Maintaining criticality is a fundamental challenge in this new era of trust. Unfortunately, much of what we know about being critical is based on authenticity ethics. Carles blamed the Contemporary Conformist phenomenon on a culture industry hard-set on mining “youth culture dollars.” This very common yet extraordinarily reductive argument, which makes out commodity capitalism to be an all-powerful, intrinsically evil force, is typical of authenticity believers. It assumes a one-way influence of a brand’s actions on consumers, as do the field of semiotics and the hopeless, authenticity-craving philosophies of Baudrillard and Debord.

Yet now, as Dena Yago says, “you can like both Dimes and Doritos, sincerely and without irony.” If we no longer see brands and commodity capitalism as something to be resisted, we need more nuanced forms of critique that address how brands participate in society as creators and collaborators with real agency. Interest in working with brands, creating brands, and being brands is at an all-time high. Brands and commodities therefore need to be considered and critiqued on the basis of the specific cultural and economic contributions they make to society. People co-create their identities with brands just as they do with religions, communities, and other other systems of meaning. This constructivist view is incompatible with popular forms of postmodern critique but it also opens up new critical opportunities. We live in a time where brands are expected to not just reflect our values but act on them. Trust in business can no longer be based on visual signals of authenticity, only on proof of work."
tobyshorin  2018  authenticity  culture  anthropology  hispters  sellouts  sellingout  commercialism  kanyewest  yeezy  yeezysupply  consumerism  commercialization  commodification  personalbranding  branding  capitalism  shepardfairey  obeygiant  tourism  sarahperry  identity  critique  ethics  mainstream  rjaymagill  popculture  aesthetics  commentary  conformism  scale  scalability  venkateshrao  premiummediocre  brooklyn  airbnb  wework  local  handmade  artisinal  economics  toms  redwings  davidmuggleton  josephpine  jamesgilmore  exclusivity  denayago  systems  sytemsofmeaning  meaning  commodities  k-hole 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Eight Theses Regarding Social Media | L.M. Sacasas
"1. Social media are the fidget spinners of the soul.

2. Each social media platform is a drug we self-prescribe and consume in order to regulate our emotional life, and we are constantly experimenting with the cocktail.

3. Law of Digital Relativity: Perception of space and time is relative to the digital density of the observer’s experience.

4. Affect overload is a more serious problem than information overload. The product of both is moral apathy and mental exhaustion.

5. While text and image flourish online, the psycho-dynamics of digital culture are most akin to those of oral cultures (per Walter Ong).

6. Just as the consumer economy was boundless in its power to commodify, so the attention economy is boundless in its power to render reality standing reserve for the project of identity construction/performance. The two processes, of course, are not unrelated.

7. In the attention economy, strategic silence is power. But, because of the above, it is also a deeply demanding practice of self-denial.

8. Virtue is self-forgetting. The structures of social media make it impossible to forget yourself."
michaelsacasas  2017  lmsacasas  socialmedia  virtue  forgetting  attention  attentioneconomy  economics  power  silence  self-denial  walterong  figeting  addiction  emotions  digitalrelativity  relativity  space  time  perception  experience  online  internet  affectoverload  apathy  exhaustion  infooverload  secondaryorality  oralcultures  images  text  commodification  identity  performance 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Technology Imperialism, the Californian Ideology, and the Future of Higher Education
"This matters greatly for those of us in education technology in several ways (and not simply because Internet.org has partnered with edX to offer free online education). Facebook is really just synecdochal here, I should add – just one example of the forces I think are at play, politically, economically, technologically, culturally. These forces matter at the level of infrastructure, technological infrastructure: who controls the networks, who controls the servers, who controls our personal devices, who controls the software that’s installed on them?

And it matters at the level of ideology. Infrastructure is ideological, of course. The new infrastructure – “the Internet” if you will – has a particular political, economic, and cultural bent to it. It is not neutral. Some of this is built upon old infrastructure. In the United States, for example, networks are layered upon networks: waterways provided the outline onto which we mapped the railroads. Railroads provided the outline onto which we mapped the telegraph. The telegraph for the telephone. The telephone for the Internet. Transportation of people, products, ideas across time and space."



"The first two nodes of what would eventually become ARPANET (which in turn would eventually become “the Internet”) were connected in California in 1969 – from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to SRI International in Menlo Park – from Hollywood to Silicon Valley.
The infrastructure and the ideology of the Internet remain quite Californian."



"Another story from California, one specifically this time about higher education:

It may be that “the beginning of the end of public higher education as we know it” has its roots in an earlier development well before investors and tech entrepreneurs started predicting that we were only a couple of decades away from having only 10 universities in the world, thanks to their MOOCs. The beginning of the end, say Aaron Bady and Mike Konczal: the governorship of Ronald Reagan in the late 1960s, who then vowed he would “clean up that mess in Berkeley.”

At the time, the state had already developed what historian Kenneth Starr has called a “utopia for higher education.” The pinnacle arguably: The Master Plan for Higher Education, signed into law in 1960. The plan was, in essence, a commitment to provide all Californians with access to higher education, something that’s been, as Tressie McMillan Cottom points out in her work, a cornerstone of how Americans have viewed class mobility. The Master Plan was meant to offer three avenues for access to college, a tripartite system where the top 12.5% of high school graduates in the state could attend one of the campuses of the University of California – at Berkeley, for example, or LA – tuition-free. The top one-third were guaranteed a spot at one of the campuses of the California State University system – Cal State, San Francisco State, and so on. Community colleges in the state would accept any students “capable of benefiting from instruction” – that is, both new high school graduates and “non-traditional” students. Upon graduation from community college, those students could then transfer to any Cal State or UC campus in order to finish their Bachelor’s Degree. As Bady and Konczal write,
In theory and to a significant extent in practice, anyone from anywhere in California could, if they worked hard enough, get a bachelor’s degree from one of the best universities in the country (and, therefore, in the world), almost free of charge. The pronounced social and economic mobility of the postwar period would have been unthinkable without institutions of mass higher education, like this one, provided at public expense.

When Reagan took office as Governor of California in 1967, he made it clear: public expenses would be curbed, particularly in the university system. “There are certain intellectual luxuries that perhaps we could do without,” he told reporters. Taxpayers, he said, should not be “subsidizing intellectual curiosity.” The purpose of college, in other words, was not to offer what we’ve long construed as a liberal arts education; the purpose of higher education: to learn “job skills.”

The tech industry is just the latest to latch onto this argument. “Everyone should learn to code,” we now hear.

And as the state of California – and elsewhere – has withdrawn its financial commitment to free or subsidized public higher education, who has stepped in to meet the demands? The for-profit sector.

And the tech industry is latching onto this market as well."



"Tim Draper’s (unconstitutional) plan to split up the state of California would have completely reshaped American politics. It failed, but I think it underscores the sort of transformative vision – “the Silicon Valley narrative,” the “Californian Ideology” – that the tech industry has. This vision is not simply about “the virtual world.”

We in education would be naive, I think, to think that the designs that venture capitalists and technology entrepreneurs have for us would be any less radical than creating a new state, like Draper’s proposed state of Silicon Valley, that would enormously wealthy and politically powerful.

When I hear talk of “unbundling” in education – one of the latest gerunds you’ll hear venture capitalists and ed-tech entrepreneurs invoke, meaning the disassembling of institutions into products and services – I can’t help but think of the “unbundling” that Draper wished to do to my state: carving up land and resources, shifting tax revenue and tax burdens, creating new markets, privatizing public institutions, redistributing power and doing so explicitly not in the service of equity or justice.

Echoes of imperialism. Imperialism’s latest form."
california  californianideology  capitalism  commodification  education  technology  neoliberalism  2015  audreywatters  timdraper  aaronbady  mikekonczal  ronaldreagan  richardbarbrook  andycameron  libertarianism  inequality  infrastructure  privatization  unbundling  markzuckerberg  facebook  evgenymorozov  connectivity  injustice  losangeles  internet  web  online  netneutrality  politics  policy  economics 
october 2015 by robertogreco
New Left Review - Wolfgang Streeck: How Will Capitalism End?
"In summary, capitalism, as a social order held together by a promise of boundless collective progress, is in critical condition. Growth is giving way to secular stagnation; what economic progress remains is less and less shared; and confidence in the capitalist money economy is leveraged on a rising mountain of promises that are ever less likely to be kept. Since the 1970s, the capitalist centre has undergone three successive crises, of inflation, public finances and private debt. Today, in an uneasy phase of transition, its survival depends on central banks providing it with unlimited synthetic liquidity. Step by step, capitalism’s shotgun marriage with democracy since 1945 is breaking up. On the three frontiers of commodification—labour, nature and money—regulatory institutions restraining the advance of capitalism for its own good have collapsed, and after the final victory of capitalism over its enemies no political agency capable of rebuilding them is in sight. The capitalist system is at present stricken with at least five worsening disorders for which no cure is at hand: declining growth, oligarchy, starvation of the public sphere, corruption and international anarchy. What is to be expected, on the basis of capitalism’s recent historical record, is a long and painful period of cumulative decay: of intensifying frictions, of fragility and uncertainty, and of a steady succession of ‘normal accidents’—not necessarily but quite possibly on the scale of the global breakdown of the 1930s."
capitalism  disaster  economics  failure  finance  decline  labor  government  democracy  plutocracy  oligarchy  inequality  comingrevolution  wolfgangstreeck  corruption  politics  latecapitalism  commodification  growth 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Why the Landline Telephone Was the Perfect Tool - Suzanne Fischer - The Atlantic
"Illich's achievement was a reframing of human relationships to systems and society, in everyday, accessible language. He advocated for the reintegration of community decisionmaking and personal autonomy into all the systems that had become oppressive: school, work, law, religion, technology, medicine, economics. His ideas were influential for 1970s technologists and the appropriate technology movement -- can they be useful today?

In 1971, Illich published what is still his most famous book, Deschooling Society. He argued that the commodification and specialization of learning had created a harmful education system that had become an end in itself. In other words, "the right to learn is curtailed by the obligation to attend school." For Illich, language often pointed to how toxic ideas had poisoned the ways we relate to each other. "I want to learn," he said, had been transmuted by industrial capitalism into "I want to get an education," transforming a basic human need for learning into something transactional and coercive. He proposed a restructuring of schooling, replacing the manipulative system of qualifications with self-determined, community-supported, hands-on learning. One of his suggestions was for "learning webs," where a computer could help match up learners and those who had knowledge to share. This skillshare model was popular in many radical communities.

With Tools for Conviviality (1973), Illich extended his analysis of education to a broader critique of the technologies of Western capitalism. The major inflection point in the history of technology, he asserts, is when, in the life of each tool or system, the means overtake the ends. "Tools can rule men sooner than they expect; the plow makes man the lord of the garden but also the refugee from the dust bowl." Often this effect is accompanied by the rise in power of a managerial class of experts; Illich saw technocracy as a step toward fascism. Tools for Conviviality points out the ways in which a helpful tool can evolve into a destructive one, and offers suggestions for how communities can escape the trap.

So what makes a tool "convivial?" For Illich, "tools foster conviviality to the extent to which they can be easily used, by anybody, as often or as seldom as desired, for the accomplishment of a purpose chosen by the user." That is, convivial technologies are accessible, flexible, and noncoercive. Many tools are neutral, but some promote conviviality and some choke it off. Hand tools, for Illich, are neutral. Illich offers the telephone as an example of a tool that is "structurally convivial" (remember, this is in the days of the ubiquitous public pay phone): anyone who can afford a coin can use it to say whatever they want. "The telephone lets anybody say what he wants to the person of his choice; he can conduct business, express love, or pick a quarrel. It is impossible for bureaucrats to define what people say to each other on the phone, even though they can interfere with -- or protect -- the privacy of their exchange."

A "manipulatory" tool, on the other hand, blocks off other choices. The automobile and the highway system it spawned are, for Illich, prime examples of this process. Licensure systems that devalue people who have not received them, such as compulsory schooling, are another example. But these kinds of tools, that is, large-scale industrial production, would not be prohibited in a convivial society. "What is fundamental to a convivial society is not the total absence of manipulative institutions and addictive goods and services, but the balance between those tools which create the specific demands they are specialized to satisfy and those complementary, enabling tools which foster self-realization."

To foster convivial tools, Illich proposes a program of research with "two major tasks: to provide guidelines for detecting the incipient stages of murderous logic in a tool; and to devise tools and tool systems that optimize the balance of life, thereby maximizing liberty for all." He also suggests that pioneers of a convivial society work through the legal and political systems and reclaim them for justice. Change is possible, Illich argues. There are decision points. We cannot abdicate our right to self-determination, and to decide how far is far enough. "The crisis I have described," says Illich, "confronts people with a choice between convivial tools and being crushed by machines."

Illich's ideas on technology, like his ideas on schooling, were influential among those who spent the 1970s thinking that we might be on the cusp of another world. Some of those utopians included early computer innovators, who saw the culture of sharing, self-determination, and DIY that they lived as something that should be baked into tools.

Computing pioneer Lee Felsenstein has spoken about the direct influence Tools for Conviviality on his work. For him, Illich's description of radio as a convivial tool in Central America was a model for computer development: "The technology itself was sufficiently inviting and accessible to them that it catalyzed their inherent tendencies to learn. In other words, if you tried to mess around with it, it didn't just burn out right away. The tube might overheat, but it would survive and give you some warning that you had done something wrong. The possible set of interactions, between the person who was trying to discover the secrets of the technology and the technology itself, was quite different from the standard industrial interactive model, which could be summed up as 'If you do the wrong thing, this will break, and God help you.' ... And this showed me the direction to go in. You could do the same thing with computers as far as I was concerned." Felsenstein described the first meeting of the legendary Homebrew Computer Club, where 30 or so people tried to understand the Altair together, as "the moment at which the personal computer became a convivial technology."

In 1978, Valentina Borremans of CIDOC prepared a Reference Guide to Convivial Tools. This guide to resources listed many of the new ideas in 1970s appropriate technology -- food self-sufficiency, earth-friendly home construction, new energy sources. But our contemporary convivial tools are mostly in the realm of communications. At their best, personal computers, the web, mobile technology, the open source movement, and the maker movement are contemporary convivial tools. What other convivial technologies do we use today? What tools do we need to make more convivial? Ivan Illich would exhort us to think carefully about the tools we use and what kind of world they are making."
ivanillich  2012  suzannefischer  technology  technogracy  conviviality  unschooling  deschoooling  education  philosophy  history  society  valentinaborremans  leefelsenstein  telephone  landlines  radio  self-determination  diy  grassroots  democracy  computing  computers  internet  web  tools  justice  flexibility  coercion  schools  schooling  openstudioproject  lcproject  learningwebs  credentials  credentialism  learning  howwelearn  commodification  business  capitalism  toolsforconviviality 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Videogames and the Spirit of Capitalism | Molleindustria
"We are only learning to speak of immeasurable qualities through videogames. It’s a slow and collective process of hacking accounting machines into expressive machines. Computer games need to learn from their non-digital counterparts to be loose interfaces between people. A new game aesthetic has to be explored: one that revels in problem-making over problem-solving, that celebrates paradoxes and ruptures, that doesn’t eschew broken and dysfunctional systems because the broken and dysfunctional systems governing our lives need to be unpacked and not idealized.

Strategies are to be discovered: poetic wrenches have to be thrown in the works; gears and valves have to grow hair, start pulsing and breathing; algorithms must learn to tell stories and scream in pain."

[direct link to video: https://vimeo.com/86738382 ]
videogames  gaming  paolopedercini  molleindustria  games  art  design  capitalism  economics  efficiency  control  rationalization  marxism  bureaucracy  consumption  commerce  standardization  socialnetworks  quantification  sybernetics  gamification  goals  society  taylorism  relationships  pokemon  facebook  farmville  zynga  management  power  labor  addiction  addictiveness  badges  behavior  measurement  commodification  rogercaillois  play  idleness  ludism  leisure  leisurearts  artleisure  maxweber  resistance  consciousness  storytelling  notgames  taleoftales  agency  proteus  richardhofmeier  cartlife  simulation  2014  douglaswilson  spaceteam  henrysmith  cooperativegames  collaborativegames  tamatipico  tuboflex  everydaythesamedream  unmanned  systemsthinking  human  humans  oligarchy  negativeexternalities  gamedesign  poetry  johannsebastianjoust  edg  srg  shrequest1  simulations  pokémon 
february 2014 by robertogreco
Works Cited: Wasting time on the internet: a syllabus
"This is a syllabus in progress, imagined as part writing workshop, part American studies course on aesthetics. Comments and suggestions are welcome.

What I Did For Love: Taste, Evaluation, and Aesthetics in American Culture

“I don’t know art, but I know what I like,” goes the disclaimer. In this writing-intensive part-workshop, part-seminar, we will seek to unpack the relationship between “art” and “what I like” by examining a variety of cultural objects together with accounts of “taste.” What are the uses of an art that nobody likes? Could “annoyance” be an aesthetic principle? What is the role of money in taste? What are the ethics of aesthetics? Under what circumstances is an aesthetic pleasure “guilty”? When should the appreciation of art works be a matter of disinterested judgment, and when a matter of passionate engagement? Does “love” blind? What is the difference between a “fan” and a “critic”? What are the affordances and limits of the “formulaic” and the “generic”?

Four weeks of this course will be devoted to workshopping students’ critical writing, examining the roles of description, praise, blame, analysis, and enthusiasm in writing about culture. Students will also maintain a course blog. For the final assignment, students are encouraged to pitch their writing to an appropriately chosen publication.



Short exercise: choose a cultural object to describe as plainly as possible. About 500 words.



Essay 1: Describe some piece of culture (novel, film, painting, poem, music video, etc.) that you love, and that you also think is good. (These are two different things.) Explain why it is that you love the piece, what it is that makes it good, and how you can tell the difference (and under what circumstances you can’t). Be sure to explain what it is that makes art good in general—you don’t need to advance a fully developed theory of aesthetics, but you do need to unpack your assumptions as much as you can. Have an argument. This should be around 3000 words.



Short exercise: write a piece of fanfiction, about 1000 words, in the setting of your choice.



Short exercise: Make the case that some cultural object is a “remake” of another, earlier one (for example, that Pixar’s Toy Story is a remake of Disney’s Pinocchio). Be honest about the ways in which the claim does not hold up. In addition to noting similarities or lines of influence, you should explain what we gain from understanding the later object as a remake of the earlier one. 500–1,000 words.



Essay 2: Choose a piece of art and viciously pan it. Your critique should be utterly devastating, which is to say that you should be able to persuade your reader that this piece is a blight on humanity, and not merely that you are a mean-spirited person. This will be more effective if you resist choosing an easy target. 2,000–3,000 words.



Essay 3: Review some piece of culture that was recently produced—say, since January 2012. Give your reader a fairly thickly textured sense of what this piece is like, and explain what its successes and failures are. Once again, be sure to unpack what it means for something to “succeed” (in any register). What is the historical, cultural, or aesthetic milieu in which this piece is ideally legible? Make a point. This should be around 3,000 words.



Essay 4: Revise your review for publication in a venue of your choice. It may be print or online. When you submit this assignment to me, you should also submit a copy of the submission guidelines for this venue (to which your revised review should adhere) and a rationale (about 500 words) for choosing this publication. You are encouraged to actually submit the review to the publication you have chosen. (You might be interested in this [http://whopays.tumblr.com/ ].)"
nataliacecire  culture  internet  web  reading  2013  johnkeats  robertfrost  petercoviello  aesthetics  beauty  guiltypleasures  thomasnagel  judgement  clementgreenberg  pierrebordieu  thorsteinveblen  barbarahernsteinsmith  tseliot  andrewlloydwebber  thewasteland  taste  class  williambutleryeats  josefalbers  difficulty  mariannemoore  siannengai  leonarddiepeveen  lawrencelevine  rosalindkrauss  popculutre  authenticity  criticism  gender  chinuaahcebe  appropriation  music  williamgibson  cuteness  commodification  marktwain  edgarallanpoe  lililoofbourow  christianbök  walterbenjamin  maryoliver  writing  syllabus  classideas  highbrow  lowbrow  kant  syllabi 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Wed 8.14.13 | Memory and the Radical Imagination | Against the Grain: A Program about Politics, Society and Ideas
"Global capitalism, far from being only an economic phenomenon, affects and influences how we think, including what and how we think about the past. Max Haiven reveals how neoliberal-era initiatives frame human cooperation and collective action; he also emphasizes the importance of what he calls "commoning memory.""
capitalism  memory  economics  maxhaiven  neoliberalism  cooperation  collective  collectiveaction  collectivism  commoningmemory  2013  history  radicalimagination  radicalism  well-being  labor  work  commodification  colonization  conviviality  biopoliticalproduction  via:caseygollan  walterbenjamin  communism  politics  utopia  possibility  past  present  future  humans  human  optimism  society  imagination  complexity  unfinished  pessimism  fascism  courage  1968  patriarchy  socialmovements  revolution  change  activism  utopiandream  struggle 
august 2013 by robertogreco
Convenience | Near Future Laboratory
"The newspaper is called Convenience and it’s based on the hypothesis that all great innovations and inventions find their way into the Corner Convenience store. Take for example, the nine we selected to feature in the newspaper, amongst a couple dozen:

AA Battery (Power)
BiC Cristal Pen (Writing)
Eveready LED Flashlight (Light..and laser light!)
Durex Condom (Prophylactic)
Reading Spectacles
Map (Cartography/way-finding)
BiC Lighter (Fire)
Disposable Camera (Memory)
Wristwatch (Time)

It’s a hypothesis designed to provoke consideration as to the trajectory of ideas from mind-bogglingly fascinating and world-changing when they first appear to numbingly routine and even dull by the time they commodify, optimize and efficient-ize…"

[Follow-up post: http://nearfuturelaboratory.com/2012/03/04/corner-convenience-near-future-design-fiction/ ]
nickfoster  rhysnewman  nearfuturelaboratory  nicolasnova  2012  cornerconvenience  electricity  power  writing  vision  glasses  cartography  wayfinding  fire  cameras  memory  time  wristwatches  batteries  maps  innovation  inventions  technology  commodification  convenience  design  julianbleecker  designfiction 
march 2012 by robertogreco
The Behaviour Guru: The Box: Shift Doesn’t Happen, Ken Robinson, and the creative epiphenomenal imbroglio
"Every time I hear about someone saying that kids learn in different ways these days, & that teachers have to get on board or get off the bus, I despair. No they don’t. People are the same as they’ve always been…learn in the same ways…no amount of expensive software or digital popcorn will alter that fact. This isn’t being reactionary—this is me trying to fight off the vultures that want to commodify education…turn it into something they can sell us. It isn’t. Education takes place in a space where the teacher & student exist in a relationship; where the learned instructs & guides the learner. It isn’t a software package; these things are tools, strategies, but not replacements.

& every time I hear people calling for a revolution in the curriculum, or a brand, brave new world of education, where pupils turn up & give the lessons in semi-circles, using the medium of the Haka to describe their physics homework, I roll my eyes & wonder when the bad noises in my head will stop…"
karlfisch  shifthappens  change  education  teaching  learning  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  commodification  technology  schools  schooling  via:preoccupations  kenrobinson  learningstyles  policy  thebox  2011  video 
september 2011 by robertogreco
Michael Hardt - Wikipedia
"Michael Hardt (born 1960)[1] is an American literary theorist and political philosopher perhaps best known for Empire, written with Antonio Negri and published in 2000.[2] It has been called the Communist Manifesto of the 21st Century.[3]

Hardt and his co-author suggest that what they view as forces of contemporary class oppression, globalization and the commodification of services (or production of affects), have the potential to spark social change of unprecedented dimensions. A sequel, Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire, published in August 2004, details the notion, first propounded in Empire, of the multitude as possible locus of a democratic movement of global proportions.

The third and final part of the trilogy, Commonwealth, appeared in the Fall of 2009."
philosophy  sociology  climatechange  michaelhardt  communism  marxism  globalization  opression  class  commodification  socialchange  change  antonionegri 
march 2011 by robertogreco

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