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Resolved: Debate is stupid | The Outline
"People — yes, even you — do not make decisions on an entirely rational basis. An audience is more easily won over with a one-liner that inspires applause or laughter than a five-minute explanation of a complicated phenomenon. A false statistic repeated confidently will be more convincing than a truth stated haltingly by some guy you’ve never heard of, and who you’ve already decided you don’t like because he’s arguing against the guy you came to see. Massively complex ideologies with hundreds of years of scholarship behind them are reduced to a couple of fast-talking egos in Dockers thinking about the best way to make their opponent look like a dumbass. Debate is not politics. It’s theater.

Real learning is hard. It’s a slow, confusing process where you sometimes have to read long books with dreadful covers, and look at footnotes and shit. It requires us to recognize and then overcome our biases as best we can. It can take years to learn what we really think and why, and then if we get a lingering feeling we might be wrong, it can take years to un-learn and start all over.

Debate, in contrast, offers an easy way out. Some dudes spouting their favorite buzzwords in each other’s vicinity makes us feel smart and engaged, like we’re in that fresco of the Greek men they put on all the philosophy textbooks. (Small aside — have you ever noticed how in this image, all the female figures look thoroughly sick of these guys?) However, the format of debate, which is supposed to represent the height of intellectual tradition, encourages us instead to applaud the candidate who is best at using simple rhetoric, looking suave, and machine-gunning irrelevant lines at their browbeaten interlocutor. These are all things that real intellectual inquiry is supposed to look beyond.

Do not be tempted by the promise of easy satisfaction. Watching a debate can make you actively worse at understanding the nuances of a topic. If you want to really know about a subject, here’s my advice: read widely and extensively (and not just the books your favorite YouTuber recommends). Talk to people, patiently and fairly, rejecting your instinctual desire to win. And perhaps most importantly — take this from a veteran — do not reward former debate team kids with your attention. They are the worst type of nerds and they never share their snacks."
debate  learning  thinking  2018  aislingmccrea  politics  howwelearn  truth  theater  performance  slow  schooliness  deschooling  unschooling 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Overgrowth - e-flux
"Architects and urban practitioners, toiling daily at the coalface of economic expansion, are complicit in the perpetuation of growth. Yet they are also in a unique position to contribute towards a move away from it. As the drivers of growth begin to reveal their inadequacies for sustaining life, we must imagine alternative societal structures that do not incentivize unsustainable resource and energy use, and do not perpetuate inequality. Working on the frontline of capitalism, it is through architecture and urban practice that alternative values, systems, and logics can be manifest in built form and inherited by generations to come.

Editors
Nick Axel
Matthew Dalziel
Phineas Harper
Nikolaus Hirsch
Cecilie Sachs Olsen
Maria Smith

Overgrowth is a collaboration between e-flux Architecture and the Oslo Architecture Triennale within the context of its 2019 edition."

[See also: https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221902/editorial/ ]

[including:

Ateya Khorakiwala: "Architecture's Scaffolds"
https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221616/architecture-s-scaffolds/
The metaphor of grassroots is apt here. Bamboo is a grass, a rhizomatic plant system that easily tends towards becoming an invasive species in its capacity to spread without seed and fruit. Given the new incursions of the global sustainability regime into third world forests to procure a material aestheticized as eco-friendly, what would it take for the state to render this ubiquitous material into a value added and replicable commodity? On one hand, scaffolding offers the site of forming and performing the subjectivity of the unskilled laborer—if not in making the scaffolding, then certainly in using it. Bamboo poles for scaffolding remain raw commodities, without scope for much value addition; a saturated marketplace where it can only be replaced by steel as building projects increase in complexity. On the other hand, bamboo produces both the cottage industry out of a forest-dwelling subject, on the margins of the state, occupying space into which this market can expand.

Bamboo is a material in flux—what it signifies is not transferable from one scale to another, or from one time to another. In that sense, bamboo challenges how we see the history of materials. In addition to its foundational architectural function as scaffolding, it acts as a metaphorical scaffolding as well: it signifies whatever its wielders might want it to, be it tradition, poverty, sustainability, or a new form of eco-chic luxury. Bamboo acts more as a scaffolding for meaning than a material with physical properties of flexibility and strength. Scaffolding, both materially and metaphorically, is a site of politics; a space that opens up and disappears, one that requires much skill in making.

Edgar Pieterse: "Incorporation and Expulsion"
https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221603/incorporation-and-expulsion/
However, what is even more important is that these radically localized processes will very quickly demand spatial, planning, and design literacy among urban households and their associations. The public pedagogic work involved in nurturing such literacies, always amidst action, requires a further institutional layer that connects intermediary organizations with grassroots formations. For example, NGOs and applied urban research centers with knowledge from different sites (within a city and across the global South) can provide support to foster these organizational literacies without diminishing the autonomy and leadership of grassroots movements. Intermediary organizations are also well placed to mediate between grassroots associations, public officers, private sector interests, and whoever else impinge on the functioning of a neighborhood. Thinking with the example of Lighthouse suggests that we can think of forms of collective economic practice that connect with the urban imperatives of securing household wellbeing whilst expanding various categories of opportunity. The transformative potential is staggering when one considers the speed with which digital money systems and productive efficiencies have taken off across East Africa during the past five years or so.

There is unprecedented opportunity today to delink the imperatives of just urban planning from conventional tropes about economic modernization that tend to produce acontextual technocracy. We should, therefore, focus our creative energies on defining new forms of collective life, economy, wellbeing, invention, and care. This may even prove a worthwhile approach to re-signify “growth.” Beyond narrow economism there is a vast canvas to populate with alternative meanings: signifiers linked to practices that bring us back to the beauty of discovery, learning, questioning, debate, dissensus, experimentation, strategic consensus, and most importantly, the courage to do and feel things differently.

Ingerid Helsing Almaas: "No app for that"
https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221609/no-app-for-that/
Conventionally, urban growth is seen in terms of different geometries of expansion. Recent decades have also focused on making existing cities denser, but even this is thought of as a process of addition, inscribed in the conventional idea of growth as a linear process of investments and profits. But the slow process of becoming and disappearance is also a form of growth. Growth as slow and diverse accretion and shedding, layering, gradual loss or restoration; cyclical rather than linear or expansive. Processes driven by opportunity and vision, but also by irritation, by lack, by disappointment. In a city, you see these cyclical processes of accretion and disruption everywhere. We just haven’t worked out how to make them work for us. Instead, we go on expecting stability and predictability; a city with a final, finished form.

Peter Buchanan: "Reweaving Webs of Relationships"
https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221630/reweaving-webs-of-relationships/

Helena Mattsson and Catharina Gabrielsson: "Pockets and Folds"
https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221607/pockets-and-folds/
Moments of deregulations are moments when an ideology of incessant growth takes over all sectors of life and politics. Returning to those moments allows us to inquire into other ways of organizing life and architecture while remaining within the sphere of the possible. Through acts of remembrance, we have the opportunity to rewrite the present through the past whereby the pockets and folds of non-markets established in the earlier welfare state come into view as worlds of a new becoming. These pockets carry the potential for new political imaginaries where ideas of degrowth reorganize the very essence of the architectural assemblage and its social impacts. These landscapes of possibilities are constructed through desires of collective spending—dépense—rather than through the grotesque ideas of the wooden brain.

Angelos Varvarousis and Penny Koutrolikou: "Degrowth and the City"
https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221623/degrowth-and-the-city/
The idea of city of degrowth does not attempt to homogenize, but rather focus on inclusiveness. Heterogeneity and plurality are not contrary to the values of equity, living together and effective sharing of the resources. Difference and plurality are inherent and essential for cities and therefore diverse spatial and social articulations are intrinsic in the production of a city of degrowth. They are also vital for the way such an idea of a city could be governed; possibly through local institutions and assemblies that try to combine forms of direct and delegative democracy.
]
growth  degrowth  architecture  overgrowth  2018  nickaxel  matthewdalziel  phineasharper  nikolaushirsch  ceciliesachsolsen  mariasmith  ateyakhorakiwala  edgarpieterse  ingeridhelsingalmaas  peterbuchanan  helenamattsson  catharinagabrielsson  angelosvarvarousis  pennykoutrolikou  2019  anthropocene  population  sustainability  humans  civilization  economics  policy  capitalism  karlmarx  neoliberalism  systemsthinking  cities  urban  urbanism  urbanplanning  urbanization  ecology  consumption  materialism  consumerism  oslo  bymelding  stability  change  predictability  design  africa  southafrica  postcolonialism  ethiopia  nigeria  housing  kenya  collectivism  dissensus  experimentation  future  learning  questioning  debate  discovery  wellbeing  intervention  care  technocracy  modernization  local  grassroots  materials  multiliteracies  ngos  autonomy  shigeruban  mumbai  bamboo  burkinafaso  patrickkeré  vikramadityaprakash  lecorbusier  pierrejeanneret  modernism  shivdattsharma  chandigarh  india  history  charlescorrea  scaffolding 
november 2018 by robertogreco
We Spend Too Much Time Teaching Students to Argue - Education Week
"Anyone who has been around American public schools recently has probably noticed that our kids spend a lot of time learning to argue. First graders practice by writing claims about the Big Bad Wolf; they might misspell "evidence," but they learn if they are going to call the wolf big and bad, they better be able to back it up. Third graders construct arguments about whether it is harder to be an older or a younger sibling. High school students write persuasive essays on the same topics their parents argue about online.

Argumentation is a focus of the Common Core State Standards for English. The Next Generation Science Standards and many social studies standards also emphasize argument. When you add it all together, it yields a curriculum that pushes students to frequently frame their work in terms of claims, evidence, and reasoning. In my work with teachers across New England, I have watched this emphasis expand over the past decade.

For years, I was passionate about teaching these skills to the high school students in my own English classes. I had read the research cited in the common core, which indicates that argumentation skills will help students advance and excel in any career path. I wanted my students to be the most powerful thinkers and communicators in any room.

As the years went by, however, a problem became clear: Too many students seemed to be learning that the first step to crafting an argument is finding evidence to support a pre-formed opinion. As the internet became ubiquitous, this instinct became more and more dangerous.

There are few things more perilous than an inability to perceive reality. For his book Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why, Laurence Gonzales analyzed accident reports from fatal incidents and found that disaster follows when people look at the world, and, instead of seeing what is there, see what they expect to see. Hikers leave the trail because a break in the trees looks like a turn that they were expecting, and end up helplessly lost. Rafters who have run a river in low water fail to notice that the water is high this year, because they are "seeing" the river of their memory, until the current sucks them into violent rapids. Expectations skew their view of reality, with terrible results.

Was I teaching argumentation to empower my students? Of course. But by teaching them to focus on finding evidence to support claims, I was achieving the opposite effect. I was making them susceptible to an epidemic of our time: the tendency to select facts that support a certain perception of reality, rather than discerning what reality is by analyzing observations and facts.

With this in mind, I shifted my focus to the work that needs to happen before one makes an argument—the work of looking at the world. I designed projects that would allow students to look deeply at an issue. They would gather data for a long time, researching in academic or professional journals, conducting interviews, making observations. Once a wealth of information had been gathered, they would examine it by asking two questions: What do I see here? What is this telling me? Only after looking at patterns in the data would they begin to craft an argument.

In this approach to teaching, the skill my students practiced most was not cobbling together arguments intended to support their assumptions, but rather seeing reality as accurately as possible. I didn't stop teaching my students to express their views with evidence, clarity, and eloquence. But the skill I wanted them to master was looking at texts or data or the world itself with keen powers of observation and listing their observations before asking, "What does this all mean?"

Now it is 2018, and not a day goes by without a chorus of lamentation about the fracturing of our society, the evaporation of our sense of shared reality. I don't know all the answers, but I do know that one thing teachers can do is to ensure that the time students spend in school is spent practicing, over and over, the components of problem-solving: gathering and analyzing information, making observations, defining problems, collaborating with others, testing possible solutions, and learning from failure.

If we are to survive as a nation, then our students must learn that the goal is not to win an argument. The goal is not to define reality according to the terms of one's beliefs. The goal is to see what is around us and respond wisely.

Students shine when they work this way. I've seen teenagers in Vermont, after analyzing student data from their school, define the most critical problem not as "too many students use drugs," but as "it is almost impossible for people in our rural area to access psychiatric care." I've seen students argue for novel ways to prevent bullying, to increase attendance at girls' sports events, to slow the spread of Lyme disease, to route traffic more safely in the school parking lot. Although all these students made powerful arguments, their goal was not to argue; their goal was to solve problems.

Teachers can drive this change, and parents can play a role, too. At back-to-school night this fall, parents all over America can ask their children's teachers these questions: What kinds of problems will my child work on in this class? Will my child have opportunities to define problems that need solving?

The more that our classrooms are set up with this focus, the more hope there is that our students will come to regard themselves as American innovators working together to overcome challenges, partners in the face of a reality that we all perceive together, rather than as members of rival factions trying to score points in an endless argument.

If we can succeed in this, then perhaps our children can teach us to follow their lead."
debate  kateehrenfeldgardoqui  2018  education  unschooling  deschooling  arguement 
october 2018 by robertogreco
General Vagaries. • winchysteria: ossacordis: crockpotcauldron: ...
"there’s something endlessly hilarious to me about the phrase “hotly debated” in an academic context. like i just picture a bunch of nerds at podiums & one’s like “of course there was a paleolithic bear cult in Northern Eurasia” and another one just looks him in the eye and says “i’l kill you in real life, kevin”

>>

[image

"The Milton scholars screamed and argued about how the serpent was supposed to move before it crawled on its belly. Dr. Matthews, enraged that Dr. Goldstein could believe the serpent bounced around on the coiled end of its tail, flipped over the conference table. "Satan is not a fucking pogo stick!" he howled."]

>>

I heard a story once about two microbiologists at a conference who took it out into the parking lot to have a literal fistfight over taxonomy.

>>

have i told this story yet? idk but it’s good. The Orangutan Story:

my american lit professor went to this poe conference. like to be clear this is a man who has a doctorate in being a book nerd. he reads moby dick to his four-year-old son. and poe is one of the cornerstones of american literature, right, so this should be right up his alley?

wrong. apparently poe scholars are like, advanced. there is a branch of edgar allen poe scholarship that specifically looks for coded messages based on the number of words per line and letters per word poe uses. my professor, who has a phd in american literature, realizes he is totally out of his depth. but he already committed his day to this so he thinks fuck it! and goes to a panel on racism in poe’s works, because that’s relevant to his interests.

background info: edgar allen poe was a broke white alcoholic from virginia who wrote horror in the first half of the 19th century. rule 1 of Horror Academia is that horror reflects the cultural anxieties of its time (see: my other professor’s sermon abt how zombie stories are popular when people are scared of immigrants, or that purge movie that was literally abt the election). since poe’s shit is a product of 1800s white southern culture, you can safely assume it’s at least a little about race. but the racial subtext is very open to interpretation, and scholars believe all kinds of different things about what poe says about race (if he says anything), and the poe stans get extremely tense about it.

so my professor sits down to watch this panel and within like five minutes a bunch of crusty academics get super heated about poe’s theoretical racism. because it’s academia, though, this is limited to poorly concealed passive aggression and forceful tones of inside voice. one professor is like “this isn’t even about race!” and another professor is like “this proves he’s a racist!” people are interrupting each other. tensions are rising. a panelist starts saying that poe is like writing a critique of how racist society was, and the racist stuff is there to prove that racism is stupid, and that on a metaphorical level the racist philosophy always loses—

then my professor, perhaps in a bid to prove that he too is a smart literature person, loudly calls: “BUT WHAT ABOUT THE ORANGUTAN?”

some more background: in poe’s well-known short story “the murder in the rue morgue,” two single ladies—a lovely old woman and her lovely daughter who takes care of her, aka super vulnerable and respectable people—are violently killed. the murderer turns out to be not a person, but an orangutan brought back by a sailor who went to like burma or something. and it’s pretty goddamn racially coded, like they reeeeally focus on all this stuff about coarse hairs and big hands and superhuman strength and chattering that sounds like people talking but isn’t actually. if that’s intentional, then he’s literally written an analogy about how black people are a threat to vulnerable white women, which is classic white supremacist shit. BUT if he really only meant for it to be an orangutan, then it’s a whole other metaphor about how colonialism pillages other countries and brings their wealth back to europe and that’s REALLY gonna bite them in the ass one day. klansman or komrade? it all hangs on this.

so the place goes dead fucking silent as every giant ass poe stan in the room is immediately thrust into a series of war flashbacks: the orangutan argument, violently carried out over seminar tables, in literary journals, at graduate student house parties, the spittle flying, the wine and coffee spilled, the friendships torn—the red faces and bulging veins—curses thrown and teaching posts abandoned—panels just like this one fallen into chaos—distant sirens, skies falling, the dog-eared norton critical editions slicing through the air like sabres—the textual support! o, the quotes! they gaze at this madman in numb disbelief, but he could not have known. nay, he was a literary theorist, a 17th-century man, only a visitor to their haunted land. he had never heard the whistle of the mortars overhead. he had never felt the cold earth under his cheek as he prayed for god’s deliverance. and yet he would have broken their fragile peace and brought them all back into the trenches.

much later, when my professor told this story to a poe nerd friend, the guy said the orangutan thing was a one of the biggest landmines in their field. he said it was a reliable discussion ruiner that had started so many shouting matches that some conferences had an actual ban on bringing it up.

so my professor sits there for a second, still totally clueless. then out of the dead silence, the panel moderator stands up in his tweed jacket and yells, with the raw panic of a once-broken man:

WE! DO NOT! TALK ABOUT! THE ORANGUTAN!"
conferences  via:robinsonmeyer  2018  academia  arguments  debate  humor  orangutans  racism  disagreement  rules  taxonomy  johnmilton  edgarallanpoe  serpents  highered  highereducation  education 
february 2018 by robertogreco
of course, there’s the backchannel – Freddie deBoer – Medium
"My position was unpopular, but I was right then, and I’m right now. The situation made no sense. And while I appreciated that people were willing to reach out privately, the failure to speak up publicly can have high stakes. Increasingly I am concerned, in various worlds, with the distance between the public and private. Increasingly I wish that people were willing to say publicly what they now reserve only for all the backchannels out there."



"And that all comes down to a broader reality: on campus and off, even many or most of those who are deeply committed to the cause of social justice and its expression in feminism, anti-racism, and the fight for LGBTQ rights recognize that the culture of social justice is deeply unhealthy. You’ve heard all that from me before. I have been attempting to address that simple fact for years: that there is a difference between a commitment to fighting bigotry and accepting uncritically every argument that is made in the name of that fight. Many people join me in feeling that something has gone deeply wrong in how we prosecute the movement for social justice, but precisely because of the unhealthy conditions of that movement, they feel they can’t say so publicly.

*****

This seems like another one of those moments where what I’m saying is completely obvious, and would be barely worth mentioning if people didn’t react so negatively to actually spelling it out. (All it takes to be a media critic is a willingness to state the obvious.) I mean, it’s not exactly breaking news, right: people say different things privately than they are willing to say publicly. But the very nature of the backchannel makes it impossible to draw out these threads. Some will respond to this post by saying I’m making it all up, and they will be right to object to talking about a phenomenon for which I can’t present specific examples and proof. That’s a constraint I operate under because my very position as a locus of the backchannel requires me to honor the commitment to privacy. (And I always will, don’t worry.) But if you’re in my position, how do you help convince a bunch of disparate, disconnected voices to speak out, when the consequences seem so dire?

The fact remains that I am not making this up. And it remains even if you think I am personally an asshole. What good, progressive, feminist, antiracist people need to be willing to do, if they want to grow this movement so that we can stop losing elections and start acquiring the power to actually make tangible change, is to be willing to say when you think that movement has gone wrong. You must be willing to say, publicly, I am with the cause, but I am not with this. You have to be willing to say, yes, the world is full of offensive things, and yes, I stand with you when someone does something offensive, but this particular claim to offense is not credible. You have to be willing to fight for social justice loudly and passionately and then, when someone takes the language of social justice applies it to ridiculous and illegitimate ends, be one of the people willing to say “enough.”"



"I’ve said it for years: there’s a backlash brewing, against these tactics. People are fed up. Those who live and operate in left discursive spaces are numb and exhausted from living in the constant fear of saying the wrong thing and stepping on a landmine. Over-the-top wokeness is now obligatory in media and academia, which means that much of it is performed in bad faith, with the cynical and the opportunistic now adopting that language and those tactics for their own selfish ends. Meanwhile, decent people who are sincerely committed to the actual ideals that underlie that language are forced to self-censor or else to drop out entirely. This is no way to advance the cause."
freddiedeboer  backchannel  socialjustice  left  2017  progressive  progressivism  academia  debate  wokeness 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Pookleblinky on Twitter: "1. Assemble a corpus of a person's utterances. 2. Compute their redundancy. 3. Now you know whether to ignore them or not"
"1. Assemble a corpus of a person's utterances.

2. Compute their redundancy.

3. Now you know whether to ignore them or not

That quote about Eichmann being an unthinking finite state automaton, endlessly regurgitating the same words.

Consider the role of redundancy in political discourse. You could summarily ignore as worthless any convo with asymmetric entropy between

Theory: actually rational debate, which has never been observed, can only occur between parties with similar entropy levels.

If person A and Person B both say things that are about equally unpredictable, they can claim to be debating.

Granted, neither will actually change either other's minds, because that has never once happened. But, they'll think it was pleasant.

Vary the entropy a bit, make one person a bit more compressible than the other, and there's no chance of a debate occurring.

Person A uses a vocabulary of 20,000 words and varied sentence structures. Person B pseudorandomly utters one of 6 catchphrases

Entropy asymmetry makes debate impossible. Thus, a good strategy if your goal is to avoid debate.

Either make yourself incompressible, and maximize the spider nipples randomness of your utterances, or make america great again

Both sesquipedian polysyllabicism and semiliterate howls serve the same strategy of rendering argument impossible.

On one side: the bitter graduate student. On the other, the foxnews chyron voter

Obviously, if you want to gain power, it's much much easier to aim for the latter than the former. Books are expensive.

If your strategy is to acquire followers who cannot be debated, increasing their compressibility is in every way a cheaper option

You want to be more Eichmann than Chomsky. More Git R Done than dialectical materialism.

Theory: every fascist movement looks similar, partly because all of them have found the same cheapest solution to the engineering problem.

That solution will appear different in superficial ways, but will always tend toward the same trend: redundancy and low-entropy

Suppose the average reading level in a nation is that of a 13 year old. Reduce your followers to a 10 year old's levels, and voila.

What's interesting is that you can do this even to people who are highly educated. Cf. Normal cults.

Education is not at all a solution to this. It's ahistoric to suggest highly-educated people can't parrot phrases while commiting evil.

Feynman, a horrible person but a great teacher, used to recount how students would not connect two fields of knowledge.

They'd know about indices of refraction, and parrot the equations on demand. But couldn't explain a spoon in a glass of water with them.

They'd effortlessly recite laws of thermodynamics, but be incapable of connecting that knowledge to anything else.

One of the big problems teachers have, is that students automatically compartmentalize. Consilience is hard.

The natural tendency is to not connect fields of knowledge, forcing students to piece things together is what takes hard work.

Historically, you can't stop atrocity by hoping that education is a solution.

All you end up with are people who can write papers on physiology, while freezing prisoners in 55 gallon drums.

People who can cite the great philosophers of history, while getting riled up hours later by the same 5 phrases shouted at them."
pooklebinky  via:jessicaferris  2016  election  donaldtrump  entropy  debate  richarfeynman  cults  education  language  communication  adolfeichmann  noamchomsky  redundancy  dialecticalmaterialism 
march 2017 by robertogreco
Boris Anthony 🕸 📚 on Twitter: "Debate = Finite game Purpose is to overcome. One winner, one loser Discussion = Infinite game Purpose is to accommodate. No winner, no loser"
"Debate = Finite game
Purpose is to overcome. One winner, one loser
Discussion = Infinite game
Purpose is to accommodate. No winner, no loser

In debate, opponents seek to turn the other into one of them—thus destroying the other—by arguing rationales & perceptions.

In discussion, participants seek to combine and expand each other into something greater by sharing rationales & perceptions."
conversation  debate  discussion  borisanthony  2017  competition  collaboration  cooperation  listening  sharing  perception  unfinished  infinite  finite 
february 2017 by robertogreco
Mapping with Bias · Mapzen
"Places change. The physical boundaries of the USA changed 141 times between the years 1789 and 1959. The entire notion of what Yugoslavia meant changed three times in the 20th century before finally atomizing in to seven countries, by 2008.

Ultimately there is a much larger question about how an individual, or worse a community, decides whether an event constitutes a simple update versus a fundamental change. This is the realm of hard philosophical questions and those are things we are not going to try to answer.

We can provide breadcrumbs, though. Every record in Who’s On First has both a superseded_by and supersedes property that are used to signal that a change has occurred but not necessarily why. That part is left up to you.

These properties act as a kind of linked-list for places indicating, for example, that the Kingdom of Yugloslavia was superseded by the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia in 1946, and so on.

This decision means two things:

1. That there might be multiple entries for the “same” place in Who’s On First and consumers of the data need to account for this fact.

2. That if you have been using the the first iteration of a place in Who’s On First its meaning and semantics won’t suddenly change when there is a legimate reason to create a second iteration.

We do this as a way to foster confidence in the robustness and durability of Who’s On First identifiers. The past is complicated territory and though it is not the focus of our daily work we want to try and make sure that it is always welcome.

It’s probably obviously by now but it bears repeating: The world is full of complex and contradictory opinions. We do not want to try and settle those debates. We can not settle those debates.

For almost as long as we’ve had the notion of place itself people have had the benefit of complete sentences and entire paragraphs and even book-length arguments to make sense of the nature and meaning and value of place.

And still we don’t agree so I don’t know why anyone can imagine that a bag of key/value pairs will do better at answering any of these questions.

Obviously there are a few instances where Who’s On First needs to assert some degree of editorial opinion about but as a rule we try to do this as infrequently and as transparently as possible.

When there is genuine debate about something we leave it to the consumers of the data to interpret. We want to signal that there is debate about something rather than try to gloss over the awkward bits.

I mentioned at the beginning that Who’s On First was designed to “outlast people’s reluctance”.

What this means is that Who’s On First is not optimized for any one application including Mapzen, which makes for some awkward conversations around the office from time to time.

What this means, in concrete terms, is that at its core Who’s On First is a gigantic bag of plain-text files. The failure scenario for updating a Who’s On First record should always be the ability to edit it using nothing more than a text editor. You shouldn’t have to do that but when everything else breaks you still can do that.

The point is not that Who’s On First doesn’t play with databases but that it should be able to play nicely with all the databases. The point is that the demands Who’s On First places on its users should be as universal as possible across platforms and concerns.

Sometimes this makes getting things set up a little harder than we’d like but it’s 2016 and we’ve all gotten pretty good at processing text files at scale and feeding them in to databases.

Despite all the advances we’ve made over the years it turns out that the simplest, most universal and accessible thing is still plain-old, plain-vanilla, plain-text files on disk.

They have the added benefit of being (still) the most reliable way to archive things as the technological landscape shifts, year over year. We can print them out, if necessary.

This focus – of demanding a high degree of portability and durability in our work - is very much influenced by the early systems designs for the Unix, and Multics before it, operating system and more recently the Unicode project.

These are subjects that could occupy many, many more nights of presentations all on their own and it remains to be seen whether we can accomplish our work as well as they did theirs.

But that is the work."
aaronstraupcope  2016  mapzen  maps  mapping  bias  gazetteers  geocoding  time  data  history  debate 
september 2016 by robertogreco
Fiction or Standardized Test? ‘Multiple Choice’ Is Both - The New York Times
Zambra was born in Chile in 1975, and his entire primary education took place during the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. His four works of fiction that have been translated into English before “Multiple Choice” have been lauded for exploring how the repressive forces of that era continue to haunt the country today. This new book, however, is the first to focus solely on the role that education and testing played in constricting the discussion of art and ideas during the dictatorship — and still plays, more than 25 years later in the different context of today. Just last week, my 16-year-old niece in Chile took a multiple-choice test in her literature class that asked her and her classmates to identify “the correct ­order” of events in a Borges story.

[Via
"I'ma leave this one right ... Here. [link to article]"
https://twitter.com/TheJLV/status/769588860787552256

"Read this as part of the struggle vs overtesting. Bars."
https://twitter.com/TheJLV/status/769590022534225920

See also:

"No coincidence that Milton Friedman's free market schooling ideology had its first outing in Chile."
https://twitter.com/clanghoff1/status/769591540247367680 ]
tests  testing  multiplechoice  chile  education  policy  politics  2016  books  borges  miltonfriedman  debate  conversation  control  authority  authoritarianism  standardization  standardizedtesting  idranovey  alejandrozambra 
september 2016 by robertogreco
more than 95 theses — Now how about this: We know that greenhouse gases...
"
Now how about this: We know that greenhouse gases are producing destabilizing changes in the Earth’s climate. And that human beings evolved from other species over millions of years. And that Barack Obama is a Christian. And that Hillary Clinton had nothing to do with the death of Vince Foster.

Large numbers of Americans deny those and many other assertions. Why? Because the trustworthiness of the authorities that make the claims has been under direct and continuous attack for the past several decades — and because the internet has given a voice to every kook who makes a contrary assertion. What we’re left with is a chaos of competing claims, none of which has the authority to dispel the others as untrue.


—Damon Linker [https://theweek.com/articles/645664/rise-american-conspiracy-theory ]

Most of what Damon says here is exactly right, but he’s leaving out another major factor: the toxic combination of habitual arrogance and habitual error that afflicts so many of our “authorities.” Consider the amazingly inaccurate track record of expert economic forecasters [http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/finance-why-economic-models-are-always-wrong/ ]. Consider the vast claims made by neuroscientists wielding fMRI machines — machines that consistently yield false results [http://arstechnica.com/science/2016/07/algorithms-used-to-study-brain-activity-may-be-exaggerating-results/ ]. And consider the constant cheerleading for expert bullshit from much of the media.

It is true that “the trustworthiness of the authorities that make the claims has been under direct and continuous attack for the past several decades” — but it is also true that some of those authorities deserve to be attacked, and indeed to be attacked more strongly than they are. So in this situation, what is the ordinary person to do? How is she supposed to tell the difference between the reliable expertise of climate scientists and the unreliable “expertise” of yet another neuroscience charlatan? Isn’t it perfectly understandable that in such a noisy environment she will say, “Yeah, right, ‘experts’ — who needs that crap?”"
alanjacobs  damonlinker  arrogance  experts  trustworthiness  science  neuroscience  2016  confidence  skepticism  economics  economists  politics  debate  information  criticalthinking  media 
september 2016 by robertogreco
School Without Walls' low-test approach could be model
"It only took about an hour for teacher Mariana Barry and her School Without Walls students to break just about every taboo in education.

The students ate snacks, wore hats and got up and walked around when they needed to. Barry, meanwhile, divided her attention between them and the pot of coffee she was brewing. She only spoke when a student called on her — by her first name.

They weren't working on math or English, but rather planning an Amazing Race-style competition in the school. They had learned from experience that some ground rules were needed for the extreme eating portion of the contest.

"If anyone throws up, you have to keep it a secret," Barry warned. "I don't want to get in trouble."

It didn't look much like a traditional classroom. But of course, traditional classrooms in the Rochester City School District haven't always worked very well.

School Without Walls, a high school on Broadway Street, is the highest-performing high school in the district, graduating 94 percent of its students in 2015. It is also part of the New York Performance Standards Consortium, a group of 27 schools across the state that have used a testing waiver over the last 20 years to demonstrate an alternate model of teaching and learning.

With parents and educators across the state up in arms over student and teacher evaluations, New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia has pointed to the consortium model as worth further investigating and said she hopes to expand it through a pilot program in the new federal education legislation.

The consortium schools, most of which are downstate, vary in particulars but all follow a few core principles.

First, their students do not take most Regents exams, but rather Performance-Based Assessment Tasks (PBATs). They can be research projects, science experiments or practical applications of academic concepts in math or history. The students spend most of the school year working on them, then present them to a panel that includes teachers as well as their peers.

"When you take a test, you can kind of blow it off, but you can’t do that when you have to present in front of people," said Haley Vega, a School Without Walls 12th-grader. "This is more like the real world. We get to talk to people and interact."

The PBATs follow from a dedication to inquiry-based learning, where students learn through questioning and experimentation rather than having a teacher deliver a lesson. The consortium schools are nearly all small — School Without Walls has fewer than 250 students in grades 9-12 — and their teachers get extensive, and expensive, professional development.

Part of the trade-off in not having annual state testing is that there is less data to analyze regarding students' performance. Graduation rates in consortium schools, though, are consistently higher than those in their home school districts. A recent report showed those graduates are more likely to enroll in college and more likely to complete a two- or four-year degree.

The new federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, allows more local control of a variety of education measures. One little-noticed provision will give five-year testing waivers to seven states that propose an alternate model of assessing students.

The provision seems tailor-made for an expansion of New York's consortium model, and Elia, the new state education commissioner, has expressed interest in applying for one of the waivers.

"Any way we can still keep the rigor in our graduation requirements but open up opportunities for different people to do things in different ways … can only strengthen our approach to supporting students who, I would venture to say, don’t all walk to the same drummer," she said at a Jan. 11 Board of Regents meeting. "I think it’s important for us to look at small ways we could start to introduce (PBATs) … so we get kind of a working knowledge of how much it will require from the districts and the state in terms of resources."

The state is still waiting to learn how the federal approval process will work, and Elia didn't have full details of what an expansion would look like. She mentioned the PBATs could be an option only for students who have already failed traditional Regents exams; she also said she'd like to find a district willing to experiment with them on a wider scale.

Martha Foote, who served as the consortium's director of research until 2014 and now works with them as a consultant, said any sort of expansion would require careful planning.

"You can’t just throw schools into the consortium — it's hard work, and it's not for everybody," she said. "But it’s incumbent on our education system to have these programs available for teachers and students who really want and need something like this."

Even beyond the PBATs, School Without Walls bucks a number of educational trends. Its students are required to perform 75 hours of community service each year and are expected to do much of their research independently, outside the classroom.

For that reason, they have the shortest school day in the city: from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. most days, including an hour of "personal needs time" that allows for lunch as well as short research trips to the downtown library or other community destinations. On Thursdays, they're out by noon.

"It’s a very powerful model to get students to take ownership of their learning," principal Idonia Owens said. "The students are taught to be critical thinkers. The work they’re doing is real ... and it tells a lot more about (them) than a test score does."

Most days also include 90 minutes for "extended class," a kind of thematic home room where students in all four grades come up with a broad subject — race and culture, or gastronomy, or teen issues — then spend the entire school year immersed in it.

That's what Mariana Barry's students were doing, in their own way. Their discussion wasn't exactly linear. There were digressions, distractions and jokes, but the hour was seeded with serious debate.

They signed up to attend a musical at the Auditorium Theatre and debated which charities should benefit from an upcoming fundraiser. A boy recommended a mental health organization; a girl said she wanted one for premature babies.

“I don’t want to say why," she said. They decided to give to several.

Several students and faculty agreed the model wouldn't work for every student, or for every teacher. But they agreed an approach that focuses less on testing is worth expanding in some way.

"When you’re taking a test, you just learn what they want you to learn," 12th-grader Larry Williams said. "(Here), you learn how to learn by yourself.""
schoolwithoutwalls  education  schools  lcproject  openstudioproject  2016  rochester  communityservice  debate  learning  howwelearn  inquiry  sfsh 
february 2016 by robertogreco
climate science and public scrutiny - Text Patterns - The New Atlantis
Eric Holthaus writes in Slate about a new climate study led by James Hansen that argues that we are likely to see ocean levels rising higher and far more quickly than has been expected. To say that the study is frightening is to master understatement.

But right now I just want to call attention to how the study is being presented to the world:
One necessary note of caution: Hansen’s study comes via a non-traditional publishing decision by its authors. The study will be published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, an open-access “discussion” journal, and will not have formal peer-review prior to its appearance online later this week. The complete discussion draft circulated to journalists was 66 pages long, and included more than 300 references. The peer-review will take place in real-time, with responses to the work by other scientists also published online. Hansen said this publishing timeline was necessary to make the work public as soon as possible before global negotiators meet in Paris later this year. Still, the lack of traditional peer review and the fact that this study’s results go far beyond what’s been previously published will likely bring increased scrutiny. On Twitter, Ruth Mottram, a climate scientist whose work focuses on Greenland and the Arctic, was skeptical of such enormous rates of near-term sea level rise, though she defended Hansen’s decision to publish in a non-traditional way.


It’s interesting that Holthaus says that this decision calls for “a note of caution”: we need to be careful before placing any trust in studies that haven’t been peer-reviewed. And that’s true — but not the primary lesson to be taken from the decision Hansen and his co-authors have made.

Hansen et al. are saying that having their conclusions — and the data from which they drew those conclusions — evaluated in as ruthlessly public a way as possible is infinitely more important than keeping any possible errors secret or achieving maximal prestige through publishing in a Big Journal. They are saying: What we believe we have discovered matters enormously, and therefore we want to expose everything we have done to the most rigorous possible scrutiny. That means opening their work to the world and saying: Go at it. When Holthaus says that this decision “will likely bring increased scrutiny” — well, yes. Precisely the point. Feature, not bug.

So whatever you think about what’s happening to our climate — and therefore to “our common home” — I don't see how you can’t applaud the way Hansen and his co-authors are handling the presentation of their work. This is science done in the most ethically responsible, and most ethically urgent, way imaginable. Every scholar ought to pay close attention to how this scholarship is being put before the world — and everyone who shares “our common home” ought to pay attention to how the ongoing public peer-review plays out."
scrutiny  alanjacobs  science  climatechange  urgency  review  2015  ericholthaus  jameshansen  discussion  debate  ethics 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Leon Botstein for Democracy Journal: Are We Still Making Citizens?
[via: http://willrichardson.com/post/115896934920/on-secret-keeping-and-forgetting ]

"Democracy requires a commitment to the public good. But for a long time now, our citizens have been taught to see themselves as only private actors."



"What the European émigrés discovered was a reality that partially resembled these principles. They saw from the outside, as it were, how vital the connection is between how we structure our schools and our capacity to maintain a functioning pluralist democracy. John Dewey, America’s greatest thinker on education since Mann, guided the ideology of public education. For Dewey, the justification for the proper pedagogy was not primarily political; his conception of teaching and learning derived largely from an epistemological conceit within Pragmatism. But for the European émigrés, the contrast between the school systems from which they came and the school system in the country in which they arrived—the virtue and attraction of American educational practice—was significant in terms of its political consequences.

In those years, the defining factor in the American system was the idea of a single, unitary public school system in which everybody enrolled. All citizens went to the same sort of schools through to the end of secondary school. Private schools were an elite phenomenon and relatively insignificant. Most European public systems, by contrast, were intentionally segregated by ability, creating distinct groups beginning at age 11. The state, using examinations, divided the school population into varying categories, each of which maintained a different track. The majority of citizens never completed school beyond elementary school. Some percentage went on to vocational schooling. A very small segment of the population went, as adolescents, either to a humanistic academic high school (Gymnasium) or to a less prestigious practical and science-oriented high school (Realschule) and received a secondary-school diploma. A Matura or Abitur, the diploma from these two types of secondary schools, permitted an elite student to enroll in the university.

Consequently, the unitary public school system that kept all children together until college and that built citizens of character, devoted to democratic values, was viewed by the émigré generation as a marvel. American education appeared to fit the idea that the nation and democracy were tied to a homogeneity of rights, and that diverse constituencies could not only obtain equal legal status but through education achieve the means to realize it in economic and social terms. Citizenship via a nominally nondiscriminatory and standard process accessible to all irrespective of birth, religion, ethnicity, or even language was unheard of in Europe, but it—and the concrete advantages education added—seemed possible in America.

Higher education was no less eye-opening. Undergraduates delayed specialization and studied more than one subject. They were, from the start, asked to do far more writing that called for the expression of their own arguments and judgments. What was equally shocking to a European was the way in which the American university system seemed immensely flexible and open to new ideas. There was not a rigid hierarchy with one professor running each “faculty.” Young scholars did not have to wait for their elders to retire or die. The university was able to create new fields and new positions. Not only was there less hierarchy and formality, but in graduate education there was even less deference to authority than in the public school system. The dissenter, rebel, and ambitious entrepreneur were prized more than in Europe. In terms of graduate education and academic career advancement, American university practice still stands in contrast to that of Europe.

That was the good news. The bad news was that the academic standards by which the American common school system operated seemed horrifically low. The price paid by the democratic culture of the American school system, the émigré observers concluded, was the low level of shared culture achieved at the end of secondary public education. Freshmen could not read or write properly, and they possessed little understanding of literature, art, philosophy, or history. The thinly veiled (at best) snobbery of the mid-century émigré scholars simply exploded when their members (such as Werner Jaeger, Leo Strauss, and Kurt Wolff) came to teach American college students."



"I distrust private languages and the tendency to rely on one’s personal narrative as the basis for talking about politics and, in particular, education, understood as a political good. The personal narrative is always contingent on those outside of it. What a child has to learn in school is not only to formulate a personal narrative but also to set it aside; children need to listen, to observe others, and thereby to distinguish their personal narrative from those of others as each individual constructs a role as a citizen. However, the two imperatives—personal growth and citizenship—don’t appear naturally to overlap. A child needs to learn things that allow him or her to function in a democratic context, to learn to consciously ignore personal self-interest and contemplate the public good. What a common public school ought to teach, therefore, is the capacity for disagreement, contest, and compromise. But if I think public goods are irrelevant, that we can do without government, I automatically subscribe to a kind of illusion of individualism against which criticism is hard, since the point of having a discussion or debate—the creation of the public space of a shared participatory politics—is rejected."



"The project of public education is fundamental to the notion of public goods in America. The restoration of public education seems a precondition for making the public sphere operate properly. Education must be about something more than personal happiness and benefit, economically defined; it has to map out the idea that there is more to the public good than the belief that through some free-market-style calculus of aggregate self-interests, the greatest good for the greatest number will emerge. In other words, public education is about educating the future citizen to consider a common ground in politics that can and will secure a more rewarding notion of personal security and tranquility for all.

But in the context of today’s disenchantment with the public sphere, what can a school-trained citizen do? Merely compete in the marketplace? Work for Google? What actually defines the public sphere today is not the government and Congress, but Google, Facebook, and Amazon. Conspiracy theorists when I was young pointed to the presence of socialists and communists who were said to undermine our system of values. Fear seemed reasonable in the Cold War and under the threat of nuclear war. The line between fear and paranoia was thin indeed. Fear was plausible.

But the people who frighten me and undermine the public sphere today are not terrorists and ideologues interested in overthrowing the government; they are not even those who work for the U.S. government within the NSA or the CIA. Rather, I’m afraid of the very large corporate giants that control our access to information, regulate our private lives by providing social networks—a platform for deceptive intimacy—and monitor every move we make in life and preserve a record of every message, thereby rendering secret-keeping and forgetting—two essential human experiences—impossible."



"So where does this bring us with regard to education? As a practitioner of education, I still hold to the idea that the most difficult and yet most vital thing to do is to construct and sustain a language of public conversation. And that language of public conversation will inevitably be different from our several private languages. We cannot expect it to be the same. The conversation on matters that affect us all has to take place in real space and time. School is one source of that essential opportunity.

One of the depressing aspects of our politics today is the extent to which our candidates think it is enough to be a personality and to rely on a private language in order to get elected. We are more interested in the personalities of our politicians, as if they were our neighbors or private friends, than we are in what they think. Today’s politicians cannot speak a comprehensible language of ideas in public conversation about public goods, the matters at stake in politics. We have lost the taste for a sustained debate about ideas.

To confront this lack of public discourse based on ideas—ideas bolstered by claims and evidence subject to open scrutiny—public education needs to work. It needs to create a community of very diverse citizens who are able to occupy a public space in which they can negotiate matters of shared concern, from foreign affairs to domestic policy, using a shared language. The Internet does not offer such a platform, nor does the virtual space or Facebook or any other social media.

I therefore think that we need to redouble the defense of a single system of public education to which our citizens have free access. We need to resist the privatization of schooling. That does not mean that every school should look alike. But since we will continue to be (I hope) an immigrant nation, we will have to champion a public school system if we are to reconcile increasing differences, inequalities of wealth, and class distinctions into a functioning, dynamic democracy made up of citizens.

I share the émigré generation’s quite romantic optimism for the potential of a democratic school system, one marked by excellence and equity. I think such a system is worth fighting for. There are lots of reasons to be optimistic. There is evidence that we can improve schools. A welcome first step would be to instill in the best of our current college students and future … [more]
leonbostein  democracy  publicschools  civics  citizenship  2015  individualism  collectivism  publicgood  education  society  us  privatization  government  disagreement  debate  participation  capitalism  hannaharendt  hansweil  christianmackauer  progressive  progressivism  freedom  interdependence  independence  politics  learning  johndewey  egalitarianism  americandream  equality  inequality  generalists  specialization  hierarchy  informality  formality  horizontality  standards  standardization  competition  universities  colleges  highered  highereducation  criticalthinking  accessibility  europe  history  leostrauss  kurtwolff  wernerjaeger  jacobklein  robertmaynardhutchins  stringfellowbarr  heinrichblücher  elitism  privateschools  content  process  methodology  pedagogy  howweteach  howwelearn  purpose  sputnik  truth  canon  discourse  isolation  technology  internet  schooling  schooliness  science  wikipedia  communication  language  eliascanetti  teaching  information  research 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Doxxing to Defend Student Privacy
When you’re doxxed, there’s a whistle: you’re now the target. Everything you do; everything you did. It’s fair game now.

Braun and Ravitch and Schneider whistled. They called out a woman for the masses on the Internet to target, to have all the data of her life pulled out, examined aggressively and maliciously. All in the service of protecting students from Pearson. Charles C. Johnson’s whistles call a different crowd, sure, but it’s still a whistle.

Now, thanks to Schneider’ justification that “doxxing is okay,” I wonder if we’ll see a new sort of crowdsourced harassment from these quarters. We’ve already seen folks from that circle go after women of color who worked for the teachers’ unions but who were, because of their demands for racial justice, deemed unruly.

If doxxing is the tactic – and “a primer” sure might indicate that it’s a-okay – then we have much more to do than prepare students how to think through the implications of portfolios or surveillance and discipline. It’s not just “don’t tweet about PARCC,” it’s – gah! – “don’t tweet.”

Seriously, we have to think about what it means when political groups decide to use those social media mechanisms not just to observe and monitor but to destroy their opposition and to stifle dissent. When I wrote my most recent story about privacy and identity development, I admit, I thought I was trying to carve out a space in which I hoped that students were free to be themselves without government or corporate influence. Now, I get to add to that list of organizations students need to protect themselves: the surveillance of well meaning education bloggers, who are willing to shame and doxx in order to sway systems to meet their own personal political machinations.

Congrats. You’re why education can’t have nice things."
audreywatters  2015  doxxing  dianravitch  education  pearson  bobbraun  civility  politics  debate  sexism  mercedesschneider  gamergate  harassment  internet  behavior 
march 2015 by robertogreco
How design fiction imagines future technology – Jon Turney – Aeon
"As technological choices become ever more complex, design fiction, not science, hints at the future we actually want"



"Design fiction’s efforts to create imaginative realisations of technology, which consciously try to evoke discussion that avoids polarising opinion, have a key ingredient, I think. Unlike the new worlds of sci-fi novels, or the ultra-detailed visuals of futuristic cinema, their stories are unfinished. Minority Report is not about critical design because its narrative is closed. In good design fiction, the story is merely hinted at, the possibilities left open. It is up to the person who stumbles across the design to make sense of how it might be part of a storied future."



Design fiction’s proponents want to craft products and exhibits that are not open to this simplified response, that fire the imagination in the right way. That means being not too fanciful, not simply dystopian, and not just tapping into clichéd science‑fictional scripts. When it works, design fiction brings something new into debates about future technological life, and involves us – the users – in the discussion."



"As design fiction comes to be recognised as a distinctive activity, it will continue to find new forms of expression. The US design theorist Julian Bleecker of the Near Future Laboratory suggests that the TBD Catalog with its realistic depictions of fictional products models a different way of innovating, in which designers ‘prototype and test a near future by writing its product descriptions, filing bug reports, creating product manuals and quick reference guides to probable improbable things’. The guiding impulse is to assist us in imagining a new normality. Design and artistic practice can both do that.

Design fictions are not a panacea for some ideal future of broad participation in choosing the ensemble of technologies that we will live with. Most future technologies will continue to arrive as a done deal, despite talk among academics of ‘upstream engagement’ or – coming into fashion – instituting ‘responsible research and innovation’. The US Department of Defense, for instance, and its lavishly-funded, somewhat science-fictional Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has an extensive catalogue of research and development (R&D) projects on topics from robotics to neural enhancement, selected according to a single over-riding criterion: might they give the USA a military advantage in future? DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office tells us, in a ghastly combination of sales talk and bureaucratese, that it is ‘looking for the best innovators from all fields who have an idea for how to leverage bio+tech to solve seemingly impossible problems and deliver transformative impact’. Here, as in other fields, military, security and much commercial R&D will probably go its own way, and we’ll get weaponised biology whether we like it or not.

For the rest, though, there is a real contribution to be made through a playful, freewheeling design practice, open to many new ideas, and which is technically informed but not constrained by immediate feasibility. There are already enough examples to show how design fiction can invite new kinds of conversations about technological futures. Recognising their possibilities can open up roads not taken.

Design fiction with a less critical (and more commercial) edge will continue to appeal to innovative corporations anxious to configure new offerings to fit better with as yet undefined markets. Their overriding aim is to reduce the chances of an innovation being lost in the ‘valley of death’ between a bright idea and a successful product that preys on the minds of budget-holders.

But the greatest potential of this new way of working is as a tool for those who want to encourage a more important debate about possible futures and their technological ingredients. This is the debate we’re still too often not having, about how to harness technological potential to improve the chances of us living the lives we wish for."
design  designfiction  2105  jonturney  technology  science  participatory  future  complexity  debate  futures  potential  howwelive  lcproject  openstudioproject  darpa  scifi  sciencefiction  change  nearfuturelaboratory  julianbleecker  tbdcatalog  fiction  prototyping  art  imagination  tinkeringwiththefuture  paulgrahamraven  alexandraginsberg  christinapagapis  sisseltolaas  syntheticbiology  alexiscarrel  frederikpohl  cyrilkornbluth  margaretatwood  anthonydunne  fionaraby  dunne&raby  koertvanmensvoort  hendrik-jangrievink  arthurcclarke  davidnye  julesverne  hgwells  martincooper  startrek  johnunderkoffler  davidkirby  aldoushuxley  bravenewworld  minorityreport  jamesauger  jimmyloizeau  worldbuilding  microworldbuilding  thenewnormal 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Final Boss Form — …elementary school and high school students should...
"
…elementary school and high school students should treat Wikipedia as a dangerous place, exactly as they treat Internet chat rooms. Students should be warned to avoid contributing to the encyclopedia and, if they do contribute, to prepare for harassment that may well spill over into email and even physical encounters. College students may have more latitude, but even then, they should understand that any significant editing about their favorite game, YouTube personality, or historical event might bring the Army of Mordor down upon them. —Mark Bernstein (via azspot)

That’s messed up.

We always said that the guiding principle of knowyourmeme contributions was to Be Not Wikipedia and value experience over expertise and it was because of culture like this. If someone says that they first saw a certain meme was on genmay in 1998, we’d say “great! thanks for the tip!” and hope that the positive feedback would lead to more contributions and leveling up. Meanwhile, the burden was on us to track down proof. While there are still negative elements of the community and folks who want to yell “deadpool!” with every new entry, none of those users had the power to chase a Brand New Member off the site just for trying to contribute.

Now at ea1, we’re using this same principle when thinking about the new user experience in fandoms: how do you make their first interaction a positive one and how do you build paths for leveling up?"
kenyattacheese  wikipedia  knowyourmeme  community  newbs  debate  experience  expertise  popculture  culture  cultureproduction  meta  inclusion  fandom  ea1  everybodyatonce  inlcusivity  inclusivity 
march 2015 by robertogreco
If leftwingers like me are condemned as rightwing, then what’s left? | Tim Lott | Comment is free | The Guardian
"I am a “lefty”. I have voted Labour all my life. I believe in the abolition of public schools and the inviolability of the NHS, and that the renewal of Trident is a vanity project. I believe the state must work to ensure equality of opportunity for all: women, the LBGT “community”, those with disabilities, those of minority cultures and ethnicities, and the working class. The Guardian has been my newspaper forever. I was glad to see the back of the Sun’s Page 3, and I believe there should be more all-women shortlists for parliamentary seats. I believe immigration is more of a positive force than a negative one.

However, you might be less certain about my status when I finish laying out my stall. Because I find myself holding a “transgressive” body of beliefs and doubts alongside my blue-chip leftwing ones that are liable to get me branded a misogynist, an Islamophobe and a Little Englander – at least by people on my Twitter feed, and others of my peer group.

These “beliefs” are more like questions, largely about identity politics, those deep and dangerous rift valleys of the left. I believe the jury is still out about whether gender identity is entirely constructed. I question whether the gender pay gap in Britain is as large as is sometimes suggested, and wonder whether it may have as much to do with the way it is calculated and with the choices women make after having children as it does with patriarchy or prejudice (although the government could do more to close the gap by funding childcare better). There is huge work to do to liberate women from the very real yoke of patriarchy. But I would venture – checking my privilege – that this is not a crisis in Britain in way it is in the developing world.

I am not convinced jihadists have “nothing to do” with Islam – although this strikes me as a largely theological and semantic point. I am wary of even moderate Islam for the same reason I am wary of even moderate Christianity: because I am an atheist and a humanist and a social liberal, and consider most religions to be counter-rational and socially conservative. To acknowledge that grooming gangs and FGM and tendencies towards homophobia and gender oppression have arisen out of some of the matrices of Muslim practices and belief systems adds to my unease.

I believe more in free speech than I do in “safe spaces” in universities. I do not think people with unpleasant opinions should be prosecuted, or even denied a platform, unless they directly threaten to incite violence or lawbreaking. I do not think “political correctness” is a myth – although I would prefer the term groupthink – but that it is a system of thought that has a real impact on public policy and institutional behaviour.

I think of myself as English rather than British, and have some residual affection for my country – though for reasons of its humour, cultural imagination and common grassroots culture rather than its imperial past.

My stance on these issues makes some people in my “tribe” very angry. It is the anger of the pure believer towards the apostate. However, I can find echoes of my populist worldview in one strand of the left – that represented by the Spiked web magazine, which grew out of the ashes of Living Marxism and the Revolutionary Communist party, once known as the libertarian or anti-Stalinist left. Describing their philosophy as radical humanism, they poke and prod at the sacred cows of the left but from a socialist rather than a rightwing populist position. The fact that I enjoy Spiked – although I by no means agree with all of it – feels like dirty little secret. But that’s what the mainstream left specialises in: generating shame.

This shame comes from the phenomenon of what I call assumption creep – the assumption that if you believe one thing you probably believe another thing, which you are hiding. If you believe women behave differently in the real world from men, whether for cultural or biological reasons, you also (secretly) believe women are more suited for domestic life than careers.

That if you believe religion, including Islam, is the source of much conflict in the world you also (secretly) believe all Muslims are potential terrorists and you (secretly) dislike immigrants to boot. That if you have a particular attachment to your country, defined as England rather than Britain, you keep a St George’s flag and a knuckle-duster in the back of your drawer. These supposed secret assumptions are the primary source of censure from leftwing critics of the “paradoxical voice” – which is the term I use to describe the thinking of “non-pure” leftwing thinkers.

Assumption creep may be accurate in some cases. We all know about the “I’m not a racist, but … ” arguments. But more often than not, it simply isn’t true. To insist otherwise is lazy. It’s just a way of making sure people who have opinions contrary to your own stay safely in their boxes – the boxes marked “bad people”. To actually address the issues is thus avoided, because who needs to debate with a bad person? It’s enough just to condemn them.

One very key element of the liberal left has long been under threat: its liberalism – that is, its willingness to debate with anything outside a narrow range of opinions within its own walls. And the more scary and incomprehensible the world becomes, the more debate is replaced by edict and prejudice: literally pre-judging. Identity politics is one of the most significant developments of the last 50 years, but it has led to nerves being exposed in a way they rarely were by economic issues. Because identity is less about politics and more about that most sensitive of human constructions, the protection of the self – both group and individual.

And the more it becomes about the protection of self, the less it becomes about the back and forth of rational argument. All the beliefs, opinions and doubts I hold are just that: they are ideas, not ironclad convictions. I am not certain about any of them, and am quite willing to change my mind, as I have done many times in the past. But I will not alter them if I am faced with invective rather than debate; in fact, they will become more entrenched.

Nick Cohen, Christopher Hitchens, David Aaronovich, Julie Burchill, Julie Bindel and others have often been at the rough end of this debate, for daring to voice opinions of their own that do not fit the overarching narrative. David Mamet’s admittedly provocative essay, Why I Am No Longer a “Brain-Dead Liberal”, published in the Village Voice, must have cost him a fair few dinner party invitations. This marginalisation is invidious, not only because it violates the principles of free debate – we cannot suppress awkward questions lest it “give succour to the enemy” – but because it is bound to alienate the wider public.

Those who identify with the “paradoxical voice” self-censor because they know they are going to get rocks thrown at them – not by their enemies but by their friends. That’s not only a bad feeling; it’s a tendency that’s bad for democracy, for politics, and the wider movement we call the left. And the left – in its compassion, freedom and concern for social justice – is the only hope for the future of this country."
via:anne  debate  discourse  politics  identitypolitics  2015  timlott  politicalcorrectness  liberalism  uk  shame  shaming  privilege  left  assumption  assumptioncreep  leftwing  purity 
march 2015 by robertogreco
I don’t know what to do, you guys | Fredrik deBoer
[See also the notes in this bookmark, which reference this article at one point: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:13419c858fc0 ]

"So, to state the obvious: Jon Chait is a jerk who somehow manages to be both condescending and wounded in his piece on political correctness. He gets the basic nature of language policing wrong, and his solutions are wrong, and he’s a centrist Democrat scold who is just as eager to shut people out of the debate as the people he criticizes. That’s true.

Here are some things that are also true.

I have seen, with my own two eyes, a 19 year old white woman — smart, well-meaning, passionate — literally run crying from a classroom because she was so ruthlessly brow-beaten for using the word “disabled.” Not repeatedly. Not with malice. Not because of privilege. She used the word once and was excoriated for it. She never came back. I watched that happen.

I have seen, with my own two eyes, a 20 year old black man, a track athlete who tried to fit organizing meetings around classes and his ridiculous practice schedule (for which he received a scholarship worth a quarter of tuition), be told not to return to those meetings because he said he thought there were such a thing as innate gender differences. He wasn’t a homophobe, or transphobic, or a misogynist. It turns out that 20 year olds from rural South Carolina aren’t born with an innate understanding of the intersectionality playbook. But those were the terms deployed against him, those and worse. So that was it; he was gone.

I have seen, with my own two eyes, a 33 year old Hispanic man, an Iraq war veteran who had served three tours and had become an outspoken critic of our presence there, be lectured about patriarchy by an affluent 22 year old white liberal arts college student, because he had said that other vets have to “man up” and speak out about the war. Because apparently we have to pretend that we don’t know how metaphorical language works or else we’re bad people. I watched his eyes glaze over as this woman with $300 shoes berated him. I saw that. Myself.

These things aren’t hypothetical. This isn’t some thought experiment. This is where I live, where I have lived. These and many, many more depressing stories of good people pushed out and marginalized in left-wing circles because they didn’t use the proper set of social and class signals to satisfy the world of intersectional politics. So you’ll forgive me when I roll my eyes at the army of media liberals, stuffed into their narrow enclaves, responding to Chait by insisting that there is no problem here and that anyone who says there is should be considered the enemy.

By the way: in these incidents, and dozens and dozens of more like it, which I have witnessed as a 30-hour-a-week antiwar activist for three years and as a blogger for the last seven and as a grad student for the past six, the culprits overwhelmingly were not women of color. That’s always how this conversation goes down: if you say, hey, we appear to have a real problem with how we talk to other people, we are losing potential allies left and right, then the response is always “stop lecturing women of color.” But these codes aren’t enforced by women of color, in the overwhelming majority of the time. They’re enforced by the children of privilege. I know. I live here. I am on campus. I have been in the activist meetings and the lefty coffee houses. My perspective goes beyond the same 200 people who write the entire Cool Kid Progressive Media.

Amanda Taub says political correctness “doesn’t exist.” To which I can only ask, how would you know? I don’t understand where she gets that certainty. Is Traub under the impression that the Vox offices represents the breadth of left-wing culture? I read dozens of tweets and hot take after hot take, insisting that there’s no problem here, and it’s coming overwhelmingly from people who have no idea what they’re talking about.

Well, listen, you guys: I don’t know what to do. I am out of ideas. I am willing to listen to suggestions. What do I do, when I see so many good, impressionable young people run screaming from left-wing politics because they are excoriated the first second they step mildly out of line? Megan Garber, you have any suggestions for me, when I meet some 20 year old who got caught in a Twitter storm and determined that she never wanted to set foot in that culture again? I’m all ears. If I’m not allowed to ever say, hey, you know, there’s more productive, more inclusive ways to argue here, then I don’t know what the fuck I am supposed to do or say. Hey, Alex Pareene. I get it. You can write this kind of piece in your sleep. You will always find work writing pieces like that. It’s easy and it’s fun and you can tell jokes and those same 200 media jerks will give you a thousand pats on the back for it. Do you have any advice for me, here, on campus? Do you know what I’m supposed to say to some shellshocked 19 year old from Terra Haute who, I’m very sorry to say, hasn’t had a decade to absorb bell hooks? Can you maybe do me a favor, and instead of writing a piece designed to get you yet-more retweets from Weird Twitter, tell me how to reach these potential allies when I know that they’re going to get burned terribly for just being typical clumsy kids? Since you’re telling me that if I say a word against people who go nuclear at the slightest provocation, I’m just one of the Jon Chaits, please inform me how I can act as an educator and an ally and a friend. Because I am out of fucking ideas.

I know, writing these words, exactly how this will go down. I know Weird Twitter will hoot and the same pack of self-absorbed media liberals will herp de derp about it. I know I’ll get read the intersectionality riot act, even though everyone I’m criticizing here is white, educated, and privileged. I know nobody will bother to say, boy, maybe I don’t actually understand the entire world of left-wing politics because I went to Sarah Lawrence. I know that. But Christ, I wish people would think outside of their social circle for 5 minutes.

Jon Chait is an asshole. He’s wrong. I don’t want these kids to be more like Jon Chait. I sure as hell don’t want them to be less left-wing. I want them to be more left-wing. I want a left that can win, and there’s no way I can have that when the actually-existing left sheds potential allies at an impossible rate. But the prohibition against ever telling anyone to be friendlier and more forgiving is so powerful and calcified it’s a permanent feature of today’s progressivism. And I’m left as this sad old 33 year old teacher who no longer has the slightest fucking idea what to say to the many brilliant, passionate young people whose only crime is not already being perfect."

[also posted here: http://qz.com/335941/im-fed-up-with-political-correctness-and-the-idea-that-everyone-should-already-be-perfect/ ]
freddiedeboer  politics  politicalcorrectness  discourse  2015  culture  pc  jonathanchait  liberalism  liberals  amandataub  megangarber  alexpareene  left  patriarchy  marginaalization  weirdtwitter  gender  race  ableism  racism  sexism  homophobia  inclusion  exclusion  intersectionalpolitics  progressivism  debate  discussion  prohibition  allies  kindness  empathy  inlcusivity  inclusivity 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Talk to Your Kids: The poorer parents are, the less they talk with their children. The mayor of Providence is trying to close the “word gap.”
"Providence Talks had its critics, some of whom thought that the program seemed too intrusive. The A.C.L.U. raised questions about what would happen to the recordings, and one of the organization’s Rhode Island associates, Hillary Davis, told National Journal, “There’s always a concern when we walk in with technology into lower-income families, immigrant populations, minority populations, and we say, ‘This will help you.’ ” She continued, “We don’t necessarily recognize the threat to their own safety or liberty that can accidentally come along with that.”

Others charged that Providence Talks was imposing middle-class cultural values on poorer parents who had their own valid approaches to raising children, and argued that the program risked faulting parents for their children’s academic shortcomings while letting schools off the hook. Nobody contested the fact that, on average, low-income children entered kindergarten with fewer scholastic skills than kids who were better off, but there were many reasons for the disparity, ranging from poor nutrition to chaotic living conditions to the absence of a preschool education. In a caustic essay titled “Selling the Language Gap,” which was published in Anthropology News, Susan Blum, of Notre Dame, and Kathleen Riley, of Fordham, called Providence Talks an example of “silver-bullet thinking,” the latest in a long history of “blame-the-victim approaches to language and poverty.”

To some scholars, the program’s emphasis on boosting numbers made it seem as though the quality of conversation didn’t matter much. As James Morgan, a developmental psycholinguist at Brown University, put it, obsessive word counting might lead parents to conclude that “saying ‘doggy, doggy, doggy, doggy’ is more meaningful than saying ‘doggy.’ ” Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, a psychologist at Temple University, told me that Hart and Risley had “done a very important piece of work that pointed to a central problem”; nevertheless, their findings had often been interpreted glibly, as if the solution were to let words “just wash over a child, like the background noise of a TV.” Her own research, including a recent paper written with Lauren Adamson and other psychologists, points to the importance of interactions between parents and children in which they are both paying attention to the same thing—a cement mixer on the street, a picture in a book—and in which the ensuing conversation (some of which might be conducted in gestures) is fluid and happens over days, even weeks. “It’s not just serve and return,” Hirsh-Pasek said. “It’s serve and return—and return and return.”

The original Hart and Risley research, whose data set had only six families in the poorest category, was also called into question. Mark Liberman, a linguist at the University of Pennsylvania, said, “Do low-income people talk with their kids less? Well, that’s a question about millions of people. Think of people in the survey business, trying to predict elections or develop a marketing campaign. They would find it laughable to draw conclusions without a large randomized sample.” Encouraging adults to talk more to children was all to the good, Liberman said, but it was important to remember that “there are some wealthy people who don’t talk to their children much and some poor people who talk a lot.”

Indeed, recent research that supports Hart and Risley’s work has found a great deal of variability within classes. In 2006, researchers at the LENA Foundation recorded the conversations of three hundred and twenty-nine families, who were divided into groups by the mothers’ education level, a reasonable proxy for social class. Like Hart and Risley, the LENA researchers determined that, on average, parents who had earned at least a B.A. spoke more around their children than other parents: 14,926 words per day versus 12,024. (They attributed Hart and Risley’s bigger gap to the fact that they had recorded families only during the late afternoon and the evening—when families talk most—and extrapolated.) But the LENA team also found that some of the less educated parents spoke a lot more than some of the highly educated parents.

Anne Fernald, a psychologist at Stanford, has published several papers examining the influence of socioeconomic status on children’s language development. In one recent study, Fernald, with a colleague, Adriana Weisleder, and others, identified “large disparities” among socioeconomic groups in “infants’ language processing, speech production, and vocabulary.” But they also found big differences among working-class families, both in terms of “the children’s language proficiency and the parents’ verbal engagement with the child.” Fernald, who sits on the scientific advisory board for Providence Talks, told me, “Some of the wealthiest families in our research had low word counts, possibly because they were on their gadgets all day. So you can see an intermingling at the extremes of rich and poor. Socioeconomic status is not destiny.”

In response to the privacy concerns, Mayor Taveras and his team volunteered their own households to be the first ones recorded. They also guaranteed that the LENA Foundation’s software would erase the recordings after the algorithm analyzed the data. Though this probably reassured some families, it also disappointed some scholars. “That’s a huge amount of data being thrown out!” James Morgan, of Brown, told me. “There were real concerns whether families would participate otherwise. But as a scientist it breaks my heart.”

To those who argued that Providence Talks embodied cultural imperialism, staff members responded that, on the contrary, they were “empowering” parents with knowledge. Andrea Riquetti, the Providence Talks director, told me, “It really is our responsibility to let families know what it takes to succeed in the culture they live in. Which may not necessarily be the same as the culture they have. But it’s their choice whether they decide to. It’s not a case of our saying, ‘You have to do this.’ ” Riquetti grew up in Quito, Ecuador, came to America at the age of seventeen, and worked for many years as a kindergarten teacher in Providence schools. In Latino culture, she said, “the school is seen as being in charge of teaching children their letters and all that, while parents are in charge of discipline—making sure they listen and they’re good and they sit still. Parents don’t tend, overall, to give children a lot of choices and options. It’s kind of like ‘I rule the roost so that you can behave and learn at school.’ ” The Providence Talks approach “is a little more like ‘No, your child and what they have to say is really important.’ And having them feel really good about themselves as opposed to passive about their learning is important, because that’s what’s going to help them succeed in this culture.”

Riquetti and the Providence Talks team didn’t seem troubled by the concerns that Hart and Risley’s data set wasn’t robust enough. Although no subsequent study has found a word gap as large as thirty million, several of them have found that children in low-income households have smaller vocabularies than kids in higher-income ones. This deficit correlates with the quantity and the quality of talk elicited by the adults at home, and becomes evident quite early—in one study, when some kids were eighteen months old. Lack of conversation wasn’t the only reason that low-income kids started out behind in school, but it was certainly a problem.

The biggest question was whether Providence Talks could really change something as personal, casual, and fundamental as how people talk to their babies. Erika Hoff, of Florida Atlantic University, told me, “In some ways, parenting behavior clearly can change. I have a daughter who has a baby now and she does everything differently from how I did it—putting babies to sleep on their backs, not giving them milk till they’re a year old. But patterns of interacting are different. You’re trying to get people to change something that seems natural to them and comes from a fairly deep place. I don’t know how malleable that is.”

After decades of failed educational reforms, few policymakers are naïve enough to believe that a single social intervention could fully transform disadvantaged children’s lives. The growing economic inequality in America is too entrenched, too structural. But that’s hardly an argument for doing nothing. Although improvements in test scores associated with preschool programs fade as students proceed through elementary school, broader benefits can be seen many years later. A few oft-cited studies have shown that low-income kids who attended high-quality preschool programs were more likely to graduate from high school and less likely to become pregnant as teen-agers or to be incarcerated; they also earned more money, on average, than peers who were not in such programs. Such data suggest that a full assessment of Providence Talks will take decades to complete."
class  language  cultue  education  parenting  2015  margarettalbot  headstart  bettyhart  toddrisley  nclb  learning  vocabulary  rttt  policy  angeltaveras  providence  rhodeisland  conversation  words  children  howwelearn  providencetalks  andreariquetti  jamesmorgan  linguistics  annettelareau  patriciakuhl  richardweissbourd  debate  verbalacuity  advocacy  self-advocacy  academics  schoolreadiness  kennethwong 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Hooked on labs
[via: http://interconnected.org/home/2014/12/05/filtered ]

"From startups to venture capital, arts to social policy, everyone wants to experiment and to do so they want labs…

To understand labs we need to go back to 1660 where Robert Hooke's experimenting went hand-in-hand with discussion

Labs are places where people conduct experiments to test out theories. The new labs proliferating outside the hard sciences are a symptom of the spread of experimentalism as an ideology for how we should shape the future.

Curiosity is at the core of experimentalist culture: it holds that knowledge should develop by being testable and therefore provisional; and that the best theories should be designed to be examined by both data and open debate. That commitment to experimentalism is at the leading edge of a wide range of fields. …

Having a lab is a way to signal an attachment to experimentalist culture, testing our way into an uncertain future…

The most prolific, Nobel Prize winning labs of the 20th century were places where people debated…

New social labs around the world are trying to kindle the hope of finding clear and authoritative ways to solve problems…

"Some of our biggest challenges transcend the laboratory, demanding new kinds of experiments"



"Over the next few years inner-city labs will sprout all over the world, from the ambitious plans of Novartis, the pharmaceuticals giant based at a research campus in Basel to lean biotech startups in San Francisco. In downtown Stockholm a giant life sciences cluster is taking shape in Hagastaden, an area with four universities; the Karolinska University Hospital; 5,300 life scientists; and more than 100,000 students to recruit from both for work and for clinical trials. This is a science district which markets its credentials by noting that Stockholm is held in high regard by Monocle magazine. A major highway will be covered over to create the area known as Stockholm Life, with its slogan “greater science, greater business, greater life.”

The resurgence of inner-city science does not just mean that labs will return to the heart of cities, rather than being located in lifeless suburban science parks. It marks a further shift in urban culture, lifestyles and patterns of work towards an explicit and deliberate experimentalism. But this is anything but a new idea. When the scientists at the Crick Institute and the Google campus start migrating into Kings Cross they will feel modern, in their gleaming new buildings replete with computers, WiFi, gene sequencers, servers, teleconferencing, smartphones, 3D printers and much more. Yet the fundamentals of the way they work, the way they assemble knowledge, the culture they create, even the lifestyles they aspire to will be following a path first taken by that remarkable, irascible bohemian eccentric who frequented the taverns and coffee houses of Bishopsgate in the 1660s, Robert Hooke: the original pioneer of the experimental life."
charlesleadbeater  labs  laboratories  studios  lcproject  openstudioproject  2014  1660  roberthooke  experimentation  uncertainty  debate  social  howwelearn  problemsolving  science  experiments  curiosity  knowledge 
december 2014 by robertogreco
6, 31: Nixtamalization
"Broadly, you’re getting three things here:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

2. Think of times you’ve changed your mind about something important. Think especially of the ways that people tried to talk you out of it that failed before you did come around. Then, when debating, use ways of arguing that have worked on you. Maybe more importantly, don’t use ways of arguing that only entrenched you."
2014  charlieloyd  firstimpressions  listening  assumptions  conversation  mindchanging  openmindedness  iterestedness  debate  debating  arguing  argument  meritocracy  technology  siliconvalley  fiction  patriarchy  feminism  humility  rigor  criticism  nuance  complexity  systemsthinking  epiphenomena  internet  web  mindchanges 
november 2014 by robertogreco
The steel man of #GamerGate — The Message — Medium
"Every so often, the Long Now Foundation here in San Francisco hosts a debate. It might be about nuclear power or synthetic biology or perhaps the very notion of human progress — high-stakes stuff. But the format is nothing like the showdowns on cable news or the debates in election season.

Instead, it goes like this:

There are two debaters, Alice and Bob. Alice takes the podium, makes her argument. Then Bob takes her place, but before he can present his counter-argument, he must summarize Alice’s argument to her satisfaction — a demonstration of respect and good faith. Only when Alice agrees that Bob has got it right is he permitted to proceed with his own argument — and then, when he’s finished, Alice must summarize it to his satisfaction.

The first time I saw one of these debates, it blew my mind.

Our democratic culture has, I believe, basically given up on debate as a tool for changing minds or achieving consensus. Instead, we use it as a stage for performance, for political point-scoring. When we debate — and this is true whether it’s a big televised event or a little online roundtable — we direct our arguments not at our opponents but rather at our allies. We rile the base. We face the choir. We preach!

Apparently, the Long Now Foundation didn’t get the memo, and neither did L. Rhodes. In his piece addressing #GamerGate, he truly speaks to his opponents, and his focus never wavers. There are no winks to his allies and no dog whistles that I can detect. It’s a miracle of tone. There are so many opportunities to be snide, to score a point — just one little point! — and he takes none of them.

Rhodes’s piece reminded me, also, of Alan Jacobs’s reference [http://www.theamericanconservative.com/jacobs/thomas-nagel-is-admirably-fair-minded/ ], years ago, to the philosopher Thomas Nagel’s review of a book by the philosopher Alvin Plantinga. Nagel is a staunch atheist; Plantinga, a devout Christian.

Jacobs wrote:
Having confessed that he “cannot imagine believing what [Plantinga] believes,” Nagel nevertheless must acknowledge that Plantinga is doing excellent philosophical work and that his arguments cannot be easily dismissed. Moreover, Nagel clearly relishes simply being exposed to ways of thinking so alien to his own — he obviously finds it refreshing.

Instead of the straw man argument — that scourge — we have the steel man: “the best form of the other person’s argument, even if it’s not the one they presented.”

The fact that Nagel takes this approach shouldn’t be surprising; it has long been valued in philosophy and rhetoric, and more recently by the so-called “rationalist” community online. This is laudable — I mean, these people really know how to argue! — but there’s an inertness to the practice in those communities: a sense, too often, of arguments unfolding for their own sake in a hermetically-sealed arena.

So the thing that impresses me about Rhodes’s piece is that it is real: enmeshed in a real conversation and addressed to real opponents, which implies real risk. This isn’t a philosophy symposium; it’s a roiling argument that has spawned mobs of internet harassers.

Did Rhodes’s piece turn #GamerGate around? No.

Did it change a few people’s minds? There is evidence, here on Medium and also on Twitter, that it did. In this culture — on this internet — that’s a small miracle.

There’s a recipe available here, for anyone brave enough to use it: strong arguments presented in good faith not to our allies but to our actual opponents. I use the word “brave” very consciously, because I believe this is just about the most dangerous kind of writing and thinking you can do."



"This kind of writing is dangerous because it goes beyond (mere) argumentation; it becomes immersion, method acting, dual-booting. To make your argument strong, you have to make your opponent’s argument stronger. You need sharp thinking and compelling language, but you also need close attention and deep empathy. I don’t mean to be too woo-woo about it, but truly, you need love. The overall sensibility is closer to caregiving than to punditry."
debate  empathy  ethnography  listening  robinsloan  lrhodes  alanjacobs  thomasnagel  alvinplantinga  goodfaith  strawman  steelman  strawmen  steelmen  philosophy  rhetoric  conversation  goodwill  mindchanging  mindchanges 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Toward a Luddite Pedagogy - Hybrid Pedagogy
"In stark contrast to the fluffy talk of a thousand “revolutions” coming from plush conference halls in places like Long Beach, California – talk that reduces serious political discourse to the level of a sales pitch – the Luddites were willing to pay the ultimate price for a real revolution in the prevailing power relations, hoping to build a social order that forward-thinking people like the Luddites might be able to believe in.

A Luddite pedagogy for the 21st century

Just as the 19th century Luddism was interested far more in a forward-looking political agenda than in particular pieces of technology, so a 21st century Luddism in education will be concerned with more important issues than whether or not allowing pupils to use their own devices in class is a good idea. Like their political ancestors, the Luddite pedagogues will wield a hammer, but they won’t see any urgency in bringing it down on trivial things like touch-screen gadgetry. Instead, the targets lie elsewhere.

One place they lie is in the false talk of liberation that has gained popularity among people using the #edtech hashtag. A Luddite pedagogy is a pedagogy of liberation, and, as such, it clashes head on with the talk of liberation peddled by advocates of edtech. According to the latter, the child, previously condemned to all the unbearably oppressive restrictions of having to learn in groups, can now be liberated by the tech that makes a 1:1 model of education feasible, launching each and every child on an utterly personal learning journey. Liberation as personalisation – here the Luddite finds something that ought to be smashed.

But what needs to be smashed is less the pedagogy itself than the idea of freedom it rests on – the more general political notion that freedom is all about freeing individuals from social constraints so that they can pursue their personal projects unhampered by the claims of society. This is the essentially liberal idea championed by Sir Ken Robinson, for instance, for whom it is enough for individuals to find things to do that they enjoy and that allow them to develop a talent.

But we need to be clear here: Luddism doesn’t want to smash the concern for personal freedom, rather it wants to smash the idea that it is enough. The untruth of personalisation is its unjustified narrowing of the horizon of liberation."



"A Luddite pedagogy takes its cue from this need to build (and later maintain) a world – a society – of a certain sort. And in pursuing this end, the Luddite hammer has to be brought down again on a number of currently dominant assumptions about education.

One is the assumption that education must be child-centred. Luddites laugh at the assumption that education must have a single centre. No, it has two (as Hannah Arendt argued). It must also be centred on the needs of the society whose construction and maintenance depend partly on education. Rather than the ideal of letting the child pursue his or her curiosity unconstrained (an impossible ideal in any case), Luddite teachers are right to cultivate the broadest possible engagement with the world that children will find themselves bearing responsibility for in the future.

And this means that the education of children at its best is less about personalisation than socialisation. And, no, it is not a form of indoctrination beginning with infants being frogmarched around the schoolyard before being compelled to learn the Little Red Book off by heart.

This does not imply any antithesis to solitary work or personal choice or occasional use of 1:1 techniques. All it entails is the inclusion of these in the broader framework of an education taking place chiefly in a school outside the home, where children can be introduced to the habits, values, ideas and ways of thinking that are crucial to a free society.

Like all societies, that free society, at the very least needs to be able to use the pronoun “we”. We can only achieve freedom historically if we find ourselves among people similarly engaged by the questions of who we are, what we are doing, what we believe and what makes sense to us. As preparation for this, a crucial initial task of school is to enable children to feel that they are part of a larger whole beyond the family, and then to equip them and inspire them to carry on the dialogue about the beliefs and ideas and frameworks of sense that hold society together."



"Because of the centrality in that debate of the questions about who we are, what we are doing, what we believe the Luddite pedagogy entails what might be called a Delphic model of education (recalling the inscription outside the Temple of Apollo in Delphi: Know Thyself), and it entails bringing the Luddite hammer down hard on the liberal taboo against what we would call an education in belief (and they would call indoctrination).

The broader liberal framework of personalising edtech requires keeping values out of education as much as possible, except as things to be studied “objectively” (e.g. in the form of comparative religion, where belief systems are presented without being questioned and evaluated). Only a minimal set of values are to be openly endorsed: chiefly the values of a respect for the facts and logic, combined with the minimal liberal agenda of tolerance, peace, and the value of a sort of idle critical thinking (idle because it is not really in earnest about criticising other systems of belief – that would be too illiberal).

A Luddite pedagogy puts the non-idle interrogation of values at the centre of the curriculum, at least in the high school, when children have a broad enough background to draw on when making their critical appraisals of ideas about value – the aim being to help children begin to think more deeply about what we believe and what makes sense and what doesn’t."
tornhalves  luddites  history  2014  luddism  edtech  education  socialization  democracy  learning  howwelearn  individualization  technology  1:1  kenrobinson  tcsnmy  freedom  collectivism  collectivity  debate  discourse  curriculum  walterbenjamin  hannaarendt  progress  disruption  mechanization  automation  atomization  subservience  revolution  neoluddism  society  unschooling  deschooling  personalization  schools  schooling  child-centered  children  1to1 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Young Minds in Critical Condition - NYTimes.com
"It happens every semester. A student triumphantly points out that Jean-Jacques Rousseau is undermining himself when he claims “the man who reflects is a depraved animal,” or that Ralph Waldo Emerson’s call for self-reliance is in effect a call for reliance on Emerson himself. Trying not to sound too weary, I ask the student to imagine that the authors had already considered these issues.

Instead of trying to find mistakes in the texts, I suggest we take the point of view that our authors created these apparent “contradictions” in order to get readers like us to ponder more interesting questions. How do we think about inequality and learning, for example, or how can we stand on our own feet while being open to inspiration from the world around us? Yes, there’s a certain satisfaction in being critical of our authors, but isn’t it more interesting to put ourselves in a frame of mind to find inspiration in them?

Our best college students are very good at being critical. In fact being smart, for many, means being critical. Having strong critical skills shows that you will not be easily fooled. It is a sign of sophistication, especially when coupled with an acknowledgment of one’s own “privilege.”

The combination of resistance to influence and deflection of responsibility by confessing to one’s advantages is a sure sign of one’s ability to negotiate the politics of learning on campus. But this ability will not take you very far beyond the university. Taking things apart, or taking people down, can provide the satisfactions of cynicism. But this is thin gruel.

The skill at unmasking error, or simple intellectual one-upmanship, is not totally without value, but we should be wary of creating a class of self-satisfied debunkers — or, to use a currently fashionable word on campus, people who like to “trouble” ideas. In overdeveloping the capacity to show how texts, institutions or people fail to accomplish what they set out to do, we may be depriving students of the chance to learn as much as possible from what they study.

In campus cultures where being smart means being a critical unmasker, students may become too good at showing how things can’t possibly make sense. They may close themselves off from their potential to find or create meaning and direction from the books, music and experiments they encounter in the classroom.

Once outside the university, these students may try to score points by displaying the critical prowess for which they were rewarded in school, but those points often come at their own expense. As debunkers, they contribute to a cultural climate that has little tolerance for finding or making meaning — a culture whose intellectuals and cultural commentators get “liked” by showing that somebody else just can’t be believed. But this cynicism is no achievement.

Liberal education in America has long been characterized by the intertwining of two traditions: of critical inquiry in pursuit of truth and exuberant performance in pursuit of excellence. In the last half-century, though, emphasis on inquiry has become dominant, and it has often been reduced to the ability to expose error and undermine belief. The inquirer has taken the guise of the sophisticated (often ironic) spectator, rather than the messy participant in continuing experiments or even the reverent beholder of great cultural achievements.

Of course critical reflection is fundamental to teaching and scholarship, but fetishizing disbelief as a sign of intelligence has contributed to depleting our cultural resources. Creative work, in whatever field, depends upon commitment, the energy of participation and the ability to become absorbed in works of literature, art and science. That type of absorption is becoming an endangered species of cultural life, as our nonstop, increasingly fractured technological existence wears down our receptive capacities.

In my film and philosophy class, for example, I have to insist that students put their devices away while watching movies that don’t immediately engage their senses with explosions, sex or gag lines. At first they see this as some old guy’s failure to grasp their skill at multitasking, but eventually most relearn how to give themselves to an emotional and intellectual experience, one that is deeply engaging partly because it does not pander to their most superficial habits of attention. I usually watch the movies with them (though I’ve seen them more than a dozen times), and together we share an experience that becomes the subject of reflection, interpretation and analysis. We even forget our phones and tablets when we encounter these unexpected sources of inspiration.

Liberal learning depends on absorption in compelling work. It is a way to open ourselves to the various forms of life in which we might actively participate. When we learn to read or look or listen intensively, we are, at least temporarily, overcoming our own blindness by trying to understand an experience from another’s point of view. We are not just developing techniques of problem solving; we are learning to activate potential, and often to instigate new possibilities.

Yes, hard-nosed critical thinking is a useful tool, but it also may become a defense against the risky insight that absorption can offer. As students and as teachers we sometimes crave that protection; without it we risk changing who we are. We risk seeing a different way of living not as something alien, but as a possibility we might be able to explore, and even embrace.

Liberal education must not limit itself to critical thinking and problem solving; it must also foster openness, participation and opportunity. It should be designed to take us beyond the campus to a life of ongoing, pragmatic learning that finds inspiration in unexpected sources, and increases our capacity to understand and contribute to the world — and reshape it, and ourselves, in the "
criticalthinking  criticism  cynicism  2014  intellect  debate  skepticism  creativity  immersion  attention  inquiry  education  tcsnmy  lcproject  openstudioproject  engagement  investment  michaleroth  philosophy  participatory  irony  spectators  sophistication 
may 2014 by robertogreco
I AM FRANKENSTEIN’S MONSTER — Medium
"Dad once called me his frankenstein’s monster, now this sounds like a hard and possibly cruel way to refer to your one and only son, but I never took it as an insult. In fact, I think it tells us about one of the most important traits of how he approached fatherhood; his ultimate aim was to create something he wasn’t. In this simple approach, he did something strong, brave and good. With two children, Vicky and myself, he achieved his goal — we became something completely other to him.

At times he would say that we spoke a different language; our words, ideas and cultural references made him feel like he’d been parachuted into a strange land.. We presented to him, on almost a weekly basis, a challenge to his values and positions on the world. We wouldn’t let him rest with views that were dubious in their ethical and political position, we argued him into submission and frustration. In short, we were massive pains in the arse.

I would like to celebrate this. Without my dad, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I wouldn’t be armed with the passion and drive to argue about the world. In his quite, provocative charm, Dad managed to create his frankensteins. In his desire to make me different to him, he gave me the ultimate prize — a voice of my own.

In a world, where individuals find it hard to take control and direct their lives, my parents gave Vicky and myself the most important powers, that of: autonomy, self determination and independence.

Now, I know my dad never read Mary Shelley. I know that his understanding of Frankenstein was more Boris Karloff than a deep literary analysis. But I think it’s important to recognise that Dr Frankenstein always loved his creation, he just couldn’t fully understand or control it. And like the monster, I was let loose on the world, to wreak havoc!

My favourite story about how dad pushed and extended my life experiences, experiences that he would never enjoy or understand, was with something very close to my heart — food. As a child, I was aware that there were no barriers to me experiencing food. No price too high, or food to strange, my dad would order it off the menu. It was only as an adult did I fully realise that he never partook. The frogs legs, the snails, the chickens feet all appeared at the table for his family to try, without a morsel touching his lips. He relished our enjoyment, he loved introducing me to things that he would never like himself. He sat back, like a voyeuristic gourmet, watching his family experiencing wonderful things. Hedonistic at times, the drive to see pleasure from others demonstrated my dad’s underlying generosity.

Although today, by his own standards, should be spent enjoying good food, great conversation and copious amounts of alcohol. I think I need to reflect on the last two years and the gradual loss, the mental and physical decline, of dad. Dementia is without doubt one of the cruelest diseases to take a person. Those that loved dad have had to witness a slow and miserable loss of his life blood. We have been mourning the man we loved for a while now. But this sad time is over, what we have to hold onto the memories of the good times, the memories of a man who would desperately hold onto his holidays, always provoked deep conversations and ultimately strived to have a good time.

Over the last two years, not a day has gone by that I haven’t thought about the world without Tony Ward. However, by the time I was ready to say important things to dad, by the time it was necessary for him to say important things to me, he’d lost his grip on reality. This means I feel that I didn’t get chance to say goodbye, With the overwhelming emotional awkwardness that stops people discussing their feelings towards the people they love, the moment slipped by without me realising it.

But this is okay, it was unlikely, even if he was of sound mind that he’d have said anything. He struggled to express his emotions in that way. He was a man of ‘that generation’ — hard and stoic — and I’ve been aware of this for years. It first struck me, as a teenager, when I’d give him a kiss on the top of his head as he dropped me off at the train station to go to school. I could sense his physical discomfort, but instead of being put off, his monster continued, relishing and forcing him to get used to a big man kissing him in public. The last time I saw dad, on the day he died, I kissed his head."
mattward  parenting  2013  love  children  autonomy  independence  frankenstein  voice  self-determination  storytelling  dementia  food  life  living  debate 
december 2013 by robertogreco
The Homeschool Apostates
"For Ryan Stollar and many other ex-homeschoolers, debate club changed everything. The lessons in critical thinking, he says, undermined Farris’s dream of creating thousands of eloquent new advocates for the homeschooling cause. “You can’t do debate unless you teach people how to look at different sides of an issue, to research all the different arguments that could be made for and against something,” Stollar says. “And so all of a sudden, debate as a way to create culture-war soldiers backfires. They go into this being well trained, they start questioning something neutral like energy policy, but it doesn’t stop there. They start questioning everything.”

Many women leaders in the ex-homeschool movement had fewer opportunities than men to join debate clubs or political groups like Generation Joshua. They developed their organizing skills in a different way, by finding power in the competence they gained as “junior moms” to large families. “All of these girls who are the oldest of eight, nine, ten children—we are organizational geniuses,” says Sarah Hunt, a Washington, D.C. attorney who grew up the oldest of nine in a strict fundamentalist family. “We know how to get things done. We know how to influence people. Put any of us in a room with other people for 45 minutes, and they’re all working for us. That’s just what we do.”"
homeschool  fundamentalists  patriarchy  debate  2013  quivering  quiverfull  education  parenting  us  hslda  kathrynjoyce  religion  christianity  families 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Luke's Commonplace Book: The end of Jane Tomkin’s West of Everything
“… the academic experience combine(s) the elements of admiration, bloodlust and moral self-congratulation…. We feel justified in this because we are right, so right, and they, like the villains in the Western, are wrong, so wrong…. These remarks have a moralizing tendency, to say the least, and at this juncture it would seem I ought to say something like, “And so the cowboys and the farmers should be friends,” or “Do unto other critics as you would have other critics do unto you.” I believe in peace and I believe in the Golden Rule, but I don’t believe I’ve earned the right to such pronouncements. At least not yet. It’s difficult to unlearn the habits of a lifetime, and this very essay has been fueled by a good deal of the righteousness it is in the business of questioning. So instead of offering you a moral, I call your attention to the moment: the moment of righteous ecstasy, the moment when you know you have the moral advantage of your adversary, the moment of murderousness. It’s a moment when there’s still time to stop, there’s still time to reflect, there’s still time to say, “I don’t care who’s right or who’s wrong. There has to be some better way to live.”

—The end of Jane Tomkin’s West of Everything 
janetomkin  academia  morality  righteousness  questioning  reflection  right  wrong  debate  life  living  coexistence  conviviality  gray  slef-congratulation  critics  criticism 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Tobias Revell on the future of art and design at 'A New Dawn' by ArtEZ studium generale, 24 May 2013 on Vimeo
"Tobias Revell outlines how the willing acceptance and grasping of uncertainty has led to a new way of thinking in the present and a resurgence of romantic futurism. He gives specific examples of solutions outside of a 'grand plan', new production methods that liberalise and free design and art from larger systems. He shows how science-fiction imagery and fantasy have penetrated the arts.
Opening lecture at 'A New Dawn' by ArtEZ studium generale on 24 May 2013, Enschede, the Netherlands."
tobiasrevell  2013  art  design  designfiction  futurism  systems  towatch  artez  uncertainty  video  debate  reflection  critique  change  futures  kickstarter  bitcoins  makerbot  3dprinting  reprap  globalvillageonstructionset  opensource  opensourceecology  cohenvanbalen  thomasthwaites  manufacturing  control  consumption  economics  systemsthinking  bigdog  robots  technology  normalization  marsone  uncannyvalley  spacetravel  space  film  nasa  hierarchy  music  vincentfournier  prosthetics  evil  googleglass  internetofthings  superflux  dance  computing  data  anabjain  iot 
june 2013 by robertogreco
The School of Panamerican Unrest - Pablo Helguera
"The School of Panamerican Unrest is an artist-led, not-for -profit public art project initiated in 2003 that seeks to generate connections between the different regions of the Americas through discussions, performances, screenings, and short-term and long-term collaborations between organizations and individuals. Its main component was a nomadic forum or think-tank that will cross the hemisphere by land, from Anchorage, Alaska, to Ushuaia, Argentina, in Tierra del Fuego. This hybrid project included a collapsible and movable architectural structure in the form of a schoolhouse, as well as a video collection component. The project, which seeks to involve a wide range of audiences and engage them at different levels, offers alternative ways to understand the history, ideology, and lines of thought that have significantly impacted political, social and cultural events in the Americas.

After an official ceremony in New York (Ellis Island), the SPU initiated its road trip in Anchorage. From May 19 through September 15, the SPU made 27 official stops. The journey was documented in video footage that will result in a documentary to be launched in 2007. Daily updates of the trip are documened on this site. A virtual bilingual forum discussing aspects of this trip was initiated in January of 2006 and can be accessed at http://espanol.groups.yahoo.com/group/forovirtualpanamericano

Initiated by Mexican artist Pablo Helguera, and with the support of more than 40 organizations and more than 100 affiliated artists, curators, and cultural promoters in the Americas, The School of Panamerican Unrest responded to the need to support inter-regional communication amongst English, Spanish and Portuguese speaking America, as well as its other communities in the Caribbean and elsewhere, making connections outside its regular commercial and economic links. In contrast to Europe, which over the years has been orchestrating its cultural integration through an open flux of dialogue, many Latin American countries still have a limited cultural exchange amongst one another, and often limited to the connections offered by the hegemonic points such as New York, Miami, or even Madrid. Many years after the initial impulses by various Latin American intellectuals such as José Vasconcelos, Simón Bolívar, José Martí, who once envisioned a unified cultural region in the Americas, this project seeks to revisit and evaluate the meaning of those ideas during the time of the Internet and post-globalization. In the debates, programs and roundtable discussions, the project will seek to articulate and debate issues that pertain to local concerns around culture and society. We also seek to discuss ways through which artistic practice in the Americas can acquire an influential role in public life, political, cultural and social discourse, enriching their respective communities in a productive and proactive manner.

As an artistic project, the SPU seeks to innovate by combining performative and educational strategies, creating new forms of presentation and debate about political and historical subjects and creating a discussion infrastructure that will break with the usual academic formats, and the predictable means of communication and debate that are normally used in the art world. The theoretical outcome of this project has been articulated by Helguera through the term of Transpedagogy. The project was inspired by the travel itineraries of those who once crossed the continent, ranging from missionaries, explorers, scientists, revolutionaries, intellectuals, writers, and others. In the utopian spirit of those who once conceived the Americas as a unified entity, the SPU will cross the continent literalizing the very idea of Panamericanism.

The journey waas completed in September of 2006, and the documentation of it will be brought together in the form of a publication, a documentary and a traveling exhibition starting in 2008."

[see also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_School_of_Panamerican_Unrest ]

[Via https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:9e7f7ff17e98 points to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQoEP3pPPjg ]
pablohelguera  schoolofpanamericanunrest  panamerica  americas  art  conversation  education  learning  2006  2008  artists  performance  debate  transpedagogy  unschooling  deschooling 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Whedon '87 Delivers 181st Commencement Address
"You have, which is a rare thing, that ability and the responsibility to listen to the dissent in yourself, to at least give it the floor, because it is the key—not only to consciousness-but to real growth. To accept duality is to earn identity. And identity is something that you are constantly earning. It is not just who you are. It is a process that you must be active in. It’s not just parroting your parents or the thoughts of your learned teachers. It is now more than ever about understanding yourself so you can become yourself."



"The thing about our country is—oh, it’s nice, I like it—it’s not long on contradiction or ambiguity. It’s not long on these kinds of things. It likes things to be simple, it likes things to be pigeonholed—good or bad, black or white, blue or red. And we’re not that. We’re more interesting than that. And the way that we go into the world understanding is to have these contradictions in ourselves and see them in other people and not judge them for it. To know that, in a world where debate has kind of fallen away and given way to shouting and bullying, that the best thing is not just the idea of honest debate, the best thing is losing the debate, because it means that you learn something and you changed your position. The only way really to understand your position and its worth is to understand the opposite. That doesn’t mean the crazy guy on the radio who is spewing hate, it means the decent human truths of all the people who feel the need to listen to that guy. You are connected to those people. They’re connected to him. You can’t get away from it.

This connection is part of contradiction. It is the tension I was talking about. This tension isn’t about two opposite points, it’s about the line in between them, and it’s being stretched by them. We need to acknowledge and honor that tension, and the connection that that tension is a part of. Our connection not just to the people we love, but to everybody, including people we can’t stand and wish weren’t around. The connection we have is part of what defines us on such a basic level."



"So here’s the thing about changing the world. It turns out that’s not even the question, because you don’t have a choice. You are going to change the world, because that is actually what the world is. You do not pass through this life, it passes through you. You experience it, you interpret it, you act, and then it is different. That happens constantly. You are changing the world. You always have been, and now, it becomes real on a level that it hasn’t been before."
josswhedon  commencementspeeches  debate  ambiguity  2013  empathy  dissent  criticalthinking  humanism  human  humans  tension  contradictions  opposition  perspective  freedom  life  living  change  present  future 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Doyen of American critics turns his back on the 'nasty, stupid' world of modern art | Art and design | The Observer
""Money and celebrity has cast a shadow over the art world which is prohibiting ideas and debate from coming to the fore," he said yesterday, adding that the current system of collectors, galleries, museums and art dealers colluding to maintain the value and status of artists quashed open debate on art.

"I hope this is the start of something that breaks the system. At the moment it feels like the Paris salon of the 19th century, where bureaucrats and conservatives combined to stifle the field of work. It was the Impressionists who forced a new system, led by the artists themselves. It created modern art and a whole new way of looking at things.

"Lord knows we need that now more than anything. We need artists to work outside the establishment and start looking at the world in a different way – to start challenging preconceptions instead of reinforcing them." …"
glvo  art  debate  deschooling  unschooling  outsiders  questioning  challenge  establishment  subversion  statusquo  money  celebrity  quitting  artworld  rant  davehickey  2012  outsider 
november 2012 by robertogreco
In defense of open source innovation and polite disagreement | hello.
"One dynamic that happens in a lot of idealist communities: we praise our opponents who make even a small step in our direction, but we attack our own mercilessly when they make even a small step away from us. It’s counter-productive.

I don’t know what MakerBot will do regarding the Replicator 2′s licenses and source material, but if they do something I disagree with, I will talk to them in the same tone that I’d expect them to address me in if I did something they disagreed with. I won’t call them names.

So: if you’ve got an objection to what MakerBot or anyone in your own community does, speak up. But do it politely. Before you say anything, phrase it as if you had the person you’re addressing in front of you. Check the language with your grandmother, if you need to. If she tells you you’re being impolite, listen to her. She’s probably right. She changed your diaper once, you know. She knows when your poo stinks."
counterproductivepractices  civility  respect  discussion  debate  attack  praise  criticism  brepettis  replicator2  tomigoe  idealism  opensource  disagreement  2012 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Jackdaws love my big sphinx of quartz - The Wisest Steel Man
"#aristosophy and Konkvistador recently set a challenge: to steel man the Time Cube. [http://www.timecube.com/ ]

Steelmanning is the opposite of strawmanning. Strawmanning takes a strong opposing argument and converts it into a weaker version to avoid having to engage with the main points. Steelmanning takes a weak opposing argument and converts it into a stronger version to ensure you're engaging with the underyling ideas as seriously as possible.

No one can tell you what the Time Cube is. You have to see it for yourself. [http://www.timecube.com/ ]"

[via a comment: http://snarkmarket.com/2012/7997/comment-page-1#comment-174240 ]
timecube  engagement  understanding  conversation  debate  intellectualexcercises  steelman  steelmanning  strawman  strawmanning 
september 2012 by robertogreco
A whole magazine of this, please « Snarkmarket
"Seriously, imagine this magazine. (And when I say “magazine” I obviously mean “website.”) It would be so different from anything that’s out there today. It wouldn’t be people trying to convince you of things. (This is the usual mode of, say, The New York Review of Books—although props to them for publishing Nagel on Plantinga.) Nor would it be people ironically infiltrating different belief systems. (This is the mode of a lot of narrative journalism today, and it’s super entertaining! You know: “I spent six weeks hanging out with these crazy people and here’s what I saw.”) It would be… brains at work. Call it The Grappler. An engine of empathy. I don’t know. It would probably have a readership of 300 people but maybe that’s okay."

[Alexis Madrigal comment: "All hail that which does not scale! All hail that which does not scale!"]
saulwurman  intimacy  small  scale  externalization  debate  belief  thomasnagel  longnow  alanjacobs  ianbogost  www.www  wwwconference  intellectualexcercises  understanding  writing  ideas  magazines  comments  snarkmarket  2012  thegrappler  perspective  empathy  robinsloan 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Bergstrom: "Don't feed the troll": Shutting down debate about community expectations on Reddit.com
"While many online communities have explicit codes of conduct that one must follow in order to participate, there are often many “unwritten rules” or community expectations that users are expected to abide by. In this case study of www.reddit.com, a news aggregate Web site whose affordances seem to imply a transient and fluid approach to online identity, I outline an example of a community member (known as “Grandpa Wiggly”) who ran afoul of community expectations of authentic representation of one’s “true” off–line self. I also detail how accusations of trolling were used as a justification for shutting down debates about community expectations, as well as justifying actions against Grandpa Wiggly that violated the Reddit terms of service (and his privacy)."
communityexpectations  griefers  debate  communities  internet  online  privacy  grandpawiggly  2011  reddit  trolling  trolls  kellybergstrom 
september 2012 by robertogreco
n+1: Lions in Winter, Part Two
"The result is a bad dialectic between the casual readers, who like to check out books, & the fussy, over-educated “elite” readers, who want obscure volumes."

"More than anything, this rhetoric reveals the fundamentally anti-democratic worldview that has taken hold at the library. It is of a piece with what the new Masters of the Universe have accomplished in the public schools, where hedge funders have provided the lion’s share of the backing for privatization, & in the so-called reforms to our financial system, where technocrats meet behind closed doors to decide what will be best for the rest of us."

"Communicate & market—this is what “managed democracy” looks like."

"An internal culture of collegial debate, protected by an understanding that senior librarians had a form of tenure which gave them security to express themselves candidly, has been replaced at the library by what… is a culture of secrecy & fear."

[Part 1: http://nplusonemag.com/lions-in-winter ]
finance  technocrats  schoolreform  privatization  publicschools  elites  power  philanthropy  oligarchy  manageddemocracy  collegiality  debate  inclusion  decisionmaking  management  organizations  fear  secrecy  change  democracy  newyorkpubliclibrary  culture  research  2012  books  library  libraries  nyc  nypl  inclusivity  inlcusivity 
july 2012 by robertogreco
DAILY SERVING » Summer of Utopia: Interview with Ted Purves
"I feel like a project is successful if we have had substantive encounters with people, if we have created spaces where a kind of exchange—whether it’s family history, or talking about why something should or shouldn’t be in an art museum, or sometimes it’s just swapping recipes—some form of animated or engaged dialogue comes out, or some sort of story emerges. It means we learn something, a story can be brought forward from that, that’s when things are successful. Another high-five moment comes when there is something compelling to look at. A lot of times when you see a social practice show, it’s either a room full of crap to read, or it looks like a place where they had a party and you didn’t get to go. I’ve been to a lot of those, and they’re not satisfying! You either wish they had just printed a book you could take home and read in your own chair—because it’s not very comfortable to sit in a museum—or you wish that you’d been at the party."

[via: http://randallszott.org/2012/05/25/ted-purves-aesthetics-social-practice-personal-economies/ ]
urbanism  rural  cities  urban  suburban  suburbia  suburbs  belief  via:leisurearts  democracy  alteration  change  perception  lemoneverlastingbackyard  wrongness  weirdness  glvo  openendedness  seeing  art  aesthetics  fruit  dialog  publicspaces  publicspace  workinginpublic  disagreement  decisionmaking  debate  negotiation  unplanning  thebluehouse  temescalamityworks  susannecockrell  sharing  2010  overlappingeconomies  capitalism  economics  utopia  thomasmore  socialpractice  tedpurves  dialogue 
may 2012 by robertogreco
Taylor and Goldstein Debate Schooling | To the best of our KNOWLEDGE
"Do public schools stifle creativity and real learning, or are they essential to a diverse society?  Does homeschooling undercut public schools? Do parents with progressive values have an ethical obligation to support public schools? These questions have sparked a lively debate in response to Astra Taylor’s recent essay “Unschooling” in the literary magazine n+1 and Dana Goldstein’s response in Slate. In this NEW and UNCUT interview, Taylor and Goldstein join Steve Paulson for their first joint debate on schools and the best learning environments."
class  race  deschooling  competition  debate  society  policy  tracking  segregation  hierarchy  publiceducation  2012  progressive  learning  education  unschooling  astrataylor  danagoldstein 
march 2012 by robertogreco
Deborah Meier's Blog on Education: February 2012 - Trip to Japan
"My son reminded them that it was not so long ago when teachers and politicians in America were told that Japanese schools were the future. Why can’t we do as they do, we were asked? Before that it was Russian schools. And since then it’s been Singapore and now Finland. We were told Japanese children were obedient and hard working, although listening to the teacher talk last week it was clear that they were having virtually all the same problems we were and moving in the same direction we are. They found our description of Japanese education amusing.

There is a lot of educational turmoil there as here, as two “factions” battle for the future: those wanting a more rigid, centralized, exam-driven top-down approach and those who believe the Japanese have to move in a progressive direction if they are to become innovators as well as followers—economically and politically."
debate  comparison  international  standardizedtesting  obedience  testing  traditional  progressive  policy  via:cervus  education  2012  japan  deborahmeier 
february 2012 by robertogreco
The Aporeticus - by Mills Baker · Design & Compromise [So much more within, read the whole thing and the comments too.]
"…why does compromise have its “undeservedly high reputation”?…b/c we are discomfited by philosophical implications of fact that some ideas are objectively better. We exempt science from our contemporary anxieties because its benefits are too explicit to deny, but in most creative fields we are no longer capable of accepting the superiority of some solutions to others; unable to sustain confidence in soundness of artistic problem-solving process, we will not provoke interpersonal/organizational conflict for sake of mere ideas.

This sad, mistaken epistemological cowardice turns competing hypotheses into groundless, subjective opinions, & reasonable course of action when managing conflicting, groundless opinions…is to compromise, because there is no better answer.

But the creative arts are not so subjective as we tend to think, which is why a talented, dictatorial auteur will produce better work than polls, fcus groups, or hundreds of compromising committees."
creativecontrol  dictatorship  dictators  dictatorialcreativity  violence  stevejobs  wateringdown  choice  debate  persuasion  2011  waste  stagnation  innovation  creativity  madetofail  setupforfailure  problemsolving  hypotheses  brokenbydesignprocess  democracy  control  procedure  process  inferiority  superiority  average  averages  means  politics  policy  howwework  meetings  committees  mediocrity  epistemology  philosophy  authoritarianism  cowardice  ideas  science  art  design  millsbaker  compromise 
january 2012 by robertogreco
The Gopher Hole | Popular Culture Across Borders
"A collaboration between aberrant architecture and Beatrice Galilee, our agenda is to explore new ways of curating ideas in popular culture and to provide a forum for critical debate on the arts and society"
lcproject  thegopherhole  aberrantarchitecture  design  education  galleries  glvo  curating  art  london  uk  beatricegalilee  popculture  discourse  debate  society  arts  interdisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  multidisciplinary 
october 2011 by robertogreco
2837 University questions | AGITPROP
"This past Thursday as part of the Summer Salon Series at the San Diego Museum of Art, attendees were asked at the front door to fill out cards that had one of four questions below.  The cards posted here are the cards that were turned in."
the2837university  sandiego  informal  unschooling  deschooling  education  learning  lcproject  knowledge  information  debate  universities  colleges  informallearning  davidwhite  2837university 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Americans should talk about politics more
""The Martins are coming to dinner - be sure you don't bring up politics." That familiar injunction may make for domestic tranquillity, but it is also killing our democracy.

Americans don't talk politics enough. We have outsourced the conversation to quarrelsome politicians and talk show celebrities. The consequence is that Americans are failing at the most basic task of civics: the obligation to fully understand the issues facing us and participate as informed citizens in running our country.

It is time to take the conversation back. Our democracy is utterly dependent upon an informed and engaged citizenry. We must talk to each other about politics to form thoughtful opinions and maybe learn something that will help us run our communities. We may as well start at home…"
politics  us  debate  democracy  paulsaffo  citizenship  citizenry  2011  participation 
august 2011 by robertogreco
The Cult That Is Destroying America - NYTimes.com
"…it’s increasingly obvious that what we’re looking at is the destructive influence of a cult that has really poisoned our political system.<br />
<br />
…I don’t mean the fanaticism of the right. Well, OK, that too. But my feeling about those people is that they are what they are; you might as well denounce wolves for being carnivores. Crazy is what they do and what they are.<br />
<br />
No, the cult that I see as reflecting a true moral failure is the cult of balance, of centrism.<br />
<br />
…We have a crisis in which the right is making insane demands, while the president & Democrats in Congress are bending over backward to be accommodating — offering…plans that are far to the right of public opinion.<br />
<br />
So what do most news reports say? They portray it as a situation in which both sides are equally partisan, equally intransigent — because news reports always do that. And we have influential pundits calling out for a new centrist party, a new centrist president, to get us away from the evils of partisanship."
paulkrugman  2011  debtceiling  crisis  us  politics  policy  journalism  media  debate  centrism 
july 2011 by robertogreco
BBC News - Five Minutes With: Alain de Botton
"I was a disturbed child, an adolescent, and I think that's where my interest in ideas comes from. I think that people become intellectual because of disturbance. My goal, raising my own children, is that they will never read a book or at least not be that dramatically inclined towards writing and reading. <br />
<br />
I think that reading and writing is a response to anxiety, often having a basis in childhood. I hope to at least quench some of that need in my children…<br />
<br />
The point of reading is to help you to live. It's not to pass an exam. It's not to sound clever. It's to get something out of it that you can use…<br />
<br />
We should be reading to help ourselves and help our societies. I don't believe in knowledge that is abstract and simply made to impress. I believe in knowledge that can be practical and that can bring us, in the broadest sense, happiness."
alaindebotton  philosophy  ideas  thinking  action  2010  parenting  paternalism  government  life  art  bbc  dialogue  debate  conversation  reading  writing  anxiety  tests  testing  adolescence  intellectualism  living  dialog 
april 2011 by robertogreco
TeachPaperless: Why Teachers Should Blog
"…to blog is to teach yourself what you think.

And sometimes what we think embarrasses us and we must then confront our thoughts and consider whether there are alternatives.

This is real maturity. Because real maturity is not about having the right answers, it's about having the audacity to have the wrong answers and re-address them in light of contemplation, self-argument, and experience.

This is made perhaps even more evident by the public nature of the blog, and that is one of the foremost reasons all teachers should in fact blog. Because to face one's ill conclusions, self-congratulations, petty foibles, and impolite rhetoric among peers in the public square of the blogosphere is to begin to learn to grow.

And to begin to understand that it's not all about 'getting it right', but rather is a matter of 'getting it'…

we should be instilling in students both a strident determination to take part in the unadulterated public debate and yet have humility."
shellyblake-pock  blogging  teaching  tcsnmy  toshare  topost  socialmedia  thinking  education  humility  learning  edtech  debate  organization  transparency  modeling  embarrassment  maturity  risk  risktaking  mistakes  contemplation  self-arguement  experience  teacherasmasterlearner 
august 2010 by robertogreco
How US Public School almost killed an Entreprenuer | The Do Village ["10 things that were constantly reinforced during my 12 years of public school in America that had to be unlearned as an adult desiring to be an entrepreneur."]
"10 things that were constantly reinforced during my 12 years of public school in America that had to be unlearned as an adult desiring to be an entrepreneur.

1. Fit in instead of be original

2. Follow the rules instead of questioning why they exist

3. Helping others is cheating despite the fact that everything you do as a successful adult is a team effort

4. Have good handwriting instead of teaching me to type

5. Do it because the teacher said so, instead of teaching me to understand why doing it is important

6. Don’t challenge authority instead of teaching me that I deserve respect too

7. Get good grades in all my classes, even though I will never do trigonometry ever in life. (Sine these nuts. lol)

8. Don’t fail instead of teaching me to value trial and error

9. Debating and arguing with friends is a bad thing, instead of encouraging independent thought and self confidence

10. Be a generalist and learn things I hate, instead of developing my genius at things that i like.

More Dumbshit that I still dont understand.

*Getting to school late will be punished by making you stay home for 3 days…WTF

*Memorize stuff that now can be looked up on Google.

*Learn to do calculus by hand, despite being required to purchase a $200 calculator.

*Appearing smart is more important than being effective…. REALLY?

These are all that I can think of now. Feel free to add dumbshit you learned in the comments section."
education  tcsnmy  rules  handwriting  typing  cheating  collaboration  helping  respect  authority  schools  schooliness  backwards  confidence  self-confidence  arguing  debate  generalists  specialists  doing  making  do  via:cervus  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  teaching  learning  entrepreneurship  unlearning  rote  math  mathematics  trialanderror  failure  risk  risktaking  toshare  topost  manifesto  specialization  manifestos  rotelearning 
july 2010 by robertogreco
BigThink videos: Penn Jillette and Dan Ariely - Boing Boing
"A couple of great videos from BigThink. First, Penn Jillette on how reading the great religious texts will make you into an atheist, the future of magic, and how he and Teller work together."

[Videos are at: http://bigthink.com/pennjillette AND http://bigthink.com/danariely ]
behavior  rationality  religion  pennjillette  skepticism  atheism  irrationality  primarysources  criticalthinking  magic  pennandteller  performance  business  partnerships  ikeaeffecy  ikea  onlinedating  math  politics  tolerance  respect  morality  right  wrong  glenbeck  abbiehoffman  libertarianism  honesty  humility  tcsnmy  classideas  civics  policy  humanity  context  media  perspective  evil  good  wisdom  disagreement  debate  philosophy  drugs  alcohol  modeling 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Why School? - Practical Theory
"One of my frustrations right now is what I feel is a thin and destructive dialogue about public education in our country. Much of the dialogue is from a deficit model -- "How do we fix broken schools?" -- without ever recognizing the incredible work that happens in schools all over the country every day. Worse, the "fix" that is being advocated is often more reductive than what we currently offer - a focus on tested subjects, a focus on "work-ready" skills that ignores the civic needs of a nation. We look to the edu-capitalists to solve our problem at a time when, dare we suggest, the morality of the market should not be the model for school."
chrislehmann  education  mikerose  whyschool  books  policy  toread  markets  civics  tcsnmy  publicschools  debate  2010  morality  deficitmodel 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Do blog - Ten Do’s and Don’ts for speakers
"1. Do tell your story. It will inspire others more than you will ever know. 2. Do inspire yourself too. Don’t do the talk you always do. Leave your comfort zone. 3. Do tell us of your struggles as well as your successes. Failure is often a better teacher than success. 4. Don’t read it. You know your story off by heart, so let it come from the heart. You will touch more people that way. 5. Do tell us your dreams, your passions, what you stand for, your crazy new idea or your brave new thinking. We need to know what drives you. 6. Do entertain. We cover some serious subjects but that doesn’t mean we have to be serious. Entertainment is good. People learn a lot while laughing. 7. Do disagree. Debate is important. You don’t have to agree with other speakers. 8. Don’t steal other speakers time. It’s a 25 minute talk. 9. Do give the best talk that you have ever done. 10. Do stay around. The food, the beer, the music and the fire-side conversation all go to make The Do lectures so special."
do  speaking  presentations  storytelling  disagreement  debate  failure  success  advice 
february 2010 by robertogreco
How Christian Were the Founders? - NYTimes.com
"This is how history is made — or rather, how the hue and cry of the present and near past gets lodged into the long-term cultural memory or else is allowed to quietly fade into an inaudible whisper. Public education has always been a battleground between cultural forces; one reason that Texas’ school-board members find themselves at the very center of the battlefield is, not surprisingly, money. The state’s $22 billion education fund is among the largest educational endowments in the country. Texas uses some of that money to buy or distribute a staggering 48 million textbooks annually — which rather strongly inclines educational publishers to tailor their products to fit the standards dictated by the Lone Star State. California is the largest textbook market, but besides being bankrupt, it tends to be so specific about what kinds of information its students should learn that few other states follow its lead."

[see also: http://www.washingtonmonthly.com//features/2010/1001.blake.html ]
history  government  religion  2010  controversy  conservatism  christianity  education  politics  science  debate  creationism  textbooks  tcsnmy  texas  california  us  commentary 
february 2010 by robertogreco
Do School Libraries Need Books? - Room for Debate Blog - NYTimes.com
"Keeping traditional school libraries up to date is costly, with the constant need to acquire new books and to find space to store them. Yet for all that trouble, students roam the stacks less and less because they find it so much more efficient to work online. One school, Cushing Academy, made news last fall when it announced that it would give away most of its 20,000 books and transform its library into a digital center.
education  learning  technology  schools  internet  future  online  books  research  libraries  digital  digitization  reading  ebooks  advocacy  debate  library2.0  nicholascarr  lizgray  williampowers  jamestracy  cushingacademy  matthewkirschenbaum 
february 2010 by robertogreco
The Library, Through Students’ Eyes - Room for Debate Blog - NYTimes.com
"After a Room for Debate discussion last week, “Do School Libraries Need Books?” the comments from readers included some first-hand views from students. Below are excerpts of their observations on how studying has changed, how they use libraries (if at all) and how to use the space differently."
libraries  education  learning  technology  future  books  students  reading  controversy  debate  advocacy  architecture  bookfuturism 
february 2010 by robertogreco
Essay - Is Technology Dumbing Down Japanese? - NYTimes.com
"Now the Japanese language is being transformed by blogs, e-mail and keitai shosetsu, or cellphone novels. Americans may fret over the ways digital communications encourage sloppy grammar and spelling, but in Japan these changes are much more wrenching. A vertically written language seems to be becoming increasingly horizontal. Novels are being written and read on little screens. People have gotten so used to typing on computers that they can no longer write characters by hand. And English words continue to infiltrate the language.
languages  language  japan  japanese  english  technology  internet  change  harukimurakami  history  debate  simplification  books  mobile  phones  email  reading  writing  culture  society  immigration  learning 
december 2009 by robertogreco
We Have A President - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan
"What we are seeing… is what we see everywhere with Obama: a relentless empiricism in pursuit of a particular objective & a willingness to let the process take its time. The very process itself can reveal - not just to Obama, but to everyone - what exactly the precise options are. Instead of engaging in adolescent tests of whether a president is "tough" or "weak", we actually have an adult prepared to allow the various choices in front of us be fully explored. He is, moreover, not taking the decision process outside the public arena. He is allowing it to unfold w/in the public arena…What strikes me about this is the enormous self-confidence this reveals. Here is a young president, prepared to allow himself to be portrayed as "weak" or "dithering" in the slow & meticulous arrival at public policy. He is trusting the reality to help expose what we need to do. He is allowing the debate - however messy & confusing & emotional - to take its time & reveal the real choices in front of us."
barackobama  afghanistan  confidence  leadership  politics  debate  via:migurski  andrewsullivan  foreignpolicy  military  terrorism  analysis  policy  process  empiricism  2009  middleeast  us  presidency 
november 2009 by robertogreco
E.D. Kain - American Tory – Christianity and healthcare reform - True/Slant
"This is not to say that everything about the northern European model is desirable. Indeed, many of those nations are scaling back to some degree on public services and trying to push down tax rates, increase competition and choice, and so forth. But their citizens do not have to go without healthcare, nor do they have to worry about raising a family without help, and they seem – in the end – less plagued by out-and-out greed than we Americans. There’s something to be said for a capitalist model that doesn’t place so much emphasis on greed, and places a bit more emphasis on community."
capitalism  socialism  2009  scandinavia  nordiccountries  us  policy  debate  christianity  healthcare  health  economics  greed 
november 2009 by robertogreco
What I've learned from debating religious people around the world. - By Christopher Hitchens - Slate Magazine
"I haven't yet run into an argument that has made me want to change my mind. After all, a believing religious person, however brilliant or however good in debate, is compelled to stick fairly closely to a "script" that is known in advance, and known to me, too. However, I have discovered that the so-called Christian right is much less monolithic, and very much more polite and hospitable, than I would once have thought, or than most liberals believe."
christopherhitchens  philosophy  debate  controversy  ideology  society  science  evolution  religion  atheism 
october 2009 by robertogreco
Keep Your Identity Small
"I think what religion and politics have in common is that they become part of people's identity, and people can never have a fruitful argument about something that's part of their identity. By definition they're partisan. ... Most people reading this will already be fairly tolerant. But there is a step beyond thinking of yourself as x but tolerating y: not even to consider yourself an x. The more labels you have for yourself, the dumber they make you."

[Related: http://docs.freebsd.org/cgi/getmsg.cgi?fetch=506636+0+/usr/local/www/db/text/1999/freebsd-hackers/19991003.freebsd-hackers ]
culture  science  politics  religion  paulgraham  identity  psychology  conversation  communication  personality  argument  discussion  thinking  online  bias  conflict  debate 
september 2009 by robertogreco
One Laptop Per Child - The Dream is Over | UN Dispatch
"The laptop never came down to the hundred dollar price that was promised. The huge orders never materialized, and the project was very slow to allow sales to NGOs and charities instead of just governments. They abandoned the human-powered power source. They abandoned the special child-friendly OS. The laptop still didn’t sell to their target market in the developing world...Once the laptop finally started arriving in the developing world, its impact was minimal. We think." Response from Negroponte: http://www.olpcnews.com/commentary/press/negropontes_response_to_un_dis.html AND Jon Camfield: http://www.olpcnews.com/commentary/press/in_defense_of_olpc_xo_laptop.html AND See also the comments like this one: "for most people, who have been spoon-fed their knowledge all their lives, they are not capable of making the leap and learning on their own"
xo  olpc  negroponte  $100  digitaldivide  technology  debate  criticism  deschooling  constructivism  learning 
september 2009 by robertogreco
Should I Be Offended? (How Do We Teach Our Kids to Deal With Ignorance) | GeekDad | Wired.com
"When we talk about something being deserving of outrage, what’s the scale? What do we measure it against? So that’s my big question, & it’s not really anything new: how do we pick our fights? To some degree, holding a grudge, insisting that an offender offer some type of apology, only makes us more bitter. A moral victory tastes sweet, but is it always worth the effort? Is our outrage simply a way to vent (and if so, does speaking out make us more or less outraged)? Is it meant to change bad behavior (and is it likely to work)? Or is it simply, a la FailBlog, a form of schadenfreude, a way to say “Hey, you screwed up and I noticed”? Are we teaching our kids to better the world? Or just to be angry at it? What I hope for myself is that I teach my kids how to evaluate things that make them upset, how to know when to stick to their guns and when to just let things slide. Sometimes kids are being mean-spirited about race, or gender, or whatever. And sometimes they’re just being curious."
parenting  outrage  ethics  behavior  debate  argument  curiosity 
august 2009 by robertogreco
Figures of Speech - Teach a Kid to Argue
"Why on earth would any parent want that? Because persuasion is powerful. Rhetoric originated in the lawsuits of ancient Greece, when citizens who weren’t good at persuading could lose their houses — or their lives. It was a staple of education until the early 1800s, teaching society’s elite how to debate, make public decisions, and reach consensus. It probably explains how the founding fathers managed to carve a nation out of 13 squabbling colonies.
rhetoric  education  parenting  children  teaching  psychology  philosophy  persuasion  tcsnmy  language  debate  writing  thinking 
june 2009 by robertogreco
Salon (gathering) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"A salon is a gathering of stimulating people of quality under the roof of an inspiring hostess or host, partly to amuse one another and partly to refine their taste and increase their knowledge through conversation and readings, often consciously following Horace's definition of the aims of poetry, "either to please or to educate" ("aut delectare aut prodesse est"). The salons, commonly associated with French literary and philosophical salons of the 17th century and 18th century, were carried on until quite recently in urban settings among like-minded people of a 'set': many 20th-century salons could be instanced."
salon  gathering  social  politics  poetry  debate  tcsnmy  history 
april 2009 by robertogreco
Debategraph
"Our goal is to make the best arguments on all sides of any public debate freely available to all and continuously open to challenge and improvement by all. In pursuit of this goal, Debategraph is: (1) A wiki debate visualization tool ... (2) A web-based, creative commons project ... (3) A global graph of all the debates"
debategraph  debate  semanticweb  community  mapping  visualization  politics  learning  tcsnmy  reference  mindmap  dialogue  argument  data  dialog 
april 2009 by robertogreco
The Civil Heretic - Freeman Dyson - Profile - NYTimes.com
"All 6 Dysons describe eventful child­hoods w/ people like Feynman coming by...father...always preaching virtues of boredom: “Being bored is the only time you are creative”...Around the Institute for Advanced Study, that intellectual Arcadia where the blackboards have signs on them that say Do Not Erase, Dyson is quietly admired for candidly expressing his doubts about string theory’s aspiration to represent all forces and matter in one coherent system. “I think Freeman wishes the string theorists well,” Avishai Margalit, the philosopher, says. “I don’t think he wishes them luck. He’s interested in diversity, and that’s his worldview. To me he is a towering figure although he is tiny — almost a saintly model of how to get old. The main thing he retains is playfulness. Einstein had it. Playfulness & curiosity. He also stands for this unique trait, which is wisdom. Brightness here is common. He is wise. He integrated, not in a theory, but in his life, all his dreams of things.”"
freemandyson  skepticism  science  play  curiosity  diversity  tcsnmy  physics  futurism  future  climate  globalwarming  time  weather  boredom  creativity  sandiego  geneticengineering  tinkering  learning  habitsofmind  howwework  richardfeynman  generalists  attention  nuclearweapons  algore  optimism  intellect  genius  interdisciplinary  problemsolving  ingenuity  multidisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  orthodoxy  heretics  belief  debate 
march 2009 by robertogreco
Principles of the American Cargo Cult
"I wrote these principles after reflecting on the content of contemporary newspapers and broadcast media and why that content disquieted me. I saw that I was not disturbed so much by what was written or said as I was by what is not. The tacit assumptions underlying most popular content reflect a worldview that is orthogonal to reality in many ways. By reflecting this skewed weltanschauung, the media reinforces and propagates it.
society  culture  politics  economics  us  sociology  religion  wisdom  psychology  media  debate  logic  cargocult  philosophy  life  critique  rhetoric  fallacies  crisis  catastrophe  fail  ruins  via:rodcorp 
march 2009 by robertogreco
Airbag - Cholesterol.
"Ah, if only more leaders were strong enough to consider a point of view that may not jibe with their own. Not just political leaders, all of them. I have worked for persons who didn't like the idea of debate in the workplace, even when it was conducted in the interest of delivering a smarter and better result. After a while my existence at these organizations became absolutely pointless and I quickly lost interest in the work and ultimately employment. Not because I feel the need to fight each and every little battle. It's just that we don't live long enough on this Earth to go through life jumping off bridges or drinking instant grape beverage each and every time we're asked to do so..."If two people think alike all the time, one of them is redundant."...The more you live and work around people who rarely present a different viewpoint, the softer your brain gets, the more complacent you become, and before you know it Wilford Bradley is the only one who makes any sense in the world."
leadership  organizations  debate  opinions  innovation  problemsolving  barackobama  work  life  management  complacency  politics  intelligence 
december 2008 by robertogreco
Jonathan Raban: 'He tried his best to veil it, but Obama is an intellectual' | Comment is free | The Guardian
"We've elected as president someone who is empirical, cautious, conservative with a small "c", yet unusually sure of his own judgment when he makes it, which is often slowly. He's sure to disappoint those of his supporters who believe he can raise the dead, turn water into wine, and walk on water. But he has rescued the White House from the besotted rationalists of PNAC with their Platonist designs on the world, and restored it to the realm of common reason. It's a measure of the madness of the last eight years that, for this seemingly modest contribution to the nation's welfare (and not just this nation's), grown men and women wept in gratitude on Tuesday night."
slow  barackobama  empiricism  culture  politics  us  psychology  government  via:preoccupations  intellectualism  change  problemsolving  debate  thought  hope 
november 2008 by robertogreco
Can Obama take the politics out of abortion? - By William Saletan - Slate Magazine
"This is an issue that—look, it divides us. And in some ways, it may be difficult to—to reconcile the two views. But there surely is some common ground when both those who believe in choice and those who are opposed to abortion can come together and say, "We should try to prevent unintended pregnancies by providing appropriate education to our youth, communicating that sexuality is sacred and that they should not be engaged in cavalier activity, and providing options for adoption, and helping single mothers if they want to choose to keep the baby." Those are all things that we put in the Democratic platform for the first time this year, and I think that's where we can find some common ground, because nobody's pro-abortion. I think it's always a tragic situation. We should try to reduce these circumstances."
barackobama  abortion  politics  society  via:preoccupations  debate  2008  elections  ideology  johnmccain  sarahpalin 
november 2008 by robertogreco
Joho the Blog » We. One.
"To live up to the ideal we just embraced, we have to do intentionally what Obama does by nature. He listens to those with whom he disagrees, but he responds only to the goodness expressed in even the most fear-driven of statements. Ignore the small, the petty, the self-involved, the defensive, and respond to the moments of goodness in all of us. This is a practical program. I’ve seen it adopted on purpose and I’ve seen it work. Avoiding getting dragged into negative shoutfests is basic troll management. Learning to hear and respond to what is good and shared in an expression we find detestable is harder. The best teachers do this routinely. We can all learn to do it. We can. Yes, we can. It is a big part of how Obama brings out the better nature in us. It is a big reason the unrelenting and unreasoned negative campaign aimed at him failed."
via:preoccupations  listening  barackobama  2008  hope  optimism  teaching  politics  understanding  debate 
november 2008 by robertogreco
The Meming of Life » Dissent done right 1
"It’s easy to generalize the nastiness in your mind, until every silent house on your street seems to harbor a family that wants you strung up. But then we remembered that the tally I just described was ten thumbs up for every thumb down. And as Louise Gendron (senior writer for L’Actualité) reminded me last year, angry people are at least three times more likely to make their POV known than happy or indifferent people. If she gets three angry letters for every one happy letter after an article runs, she assumes the reader response was about even. By that logic, perhaps 3-4 percent of the folks in our neighborhood are likely suspects for the angry notes. But our limbic response pictures the reverse, and two pissy letters become the tip of a 96 percent iceberg of hate."

[part 2 here: http://parentingbeyondbelief.com/blog/?p=463 ]
dissent  opinion  politics  religion  debate  change  voice  society  statistics  logic  limbicresponse  emotions  dalemcgowan 
august 2008 by robertogreco
YouTube - Orquesta Tipica: The Tango Fight in San Telmo
"The Tango Orchestra Fernandez Fierro, is going to start their show on the streets of San Telmo, the oldest neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. But the police try to abort it, and the audience begin a fight with the autority. This is Tango. This is Buenos Aires."

[via: http://www.marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2008/08/the-rule-of-law.html ]
film  buenosaires  argentina  culture  debate  humor  law 
august 2008 by robertogreco
Thomas B. Fordham Institute - Commentary - "The genius of American education" [via: http://joannejacobs.com/2008/07/18/extracurricular-learning/]
"here's where most such visitors err: they tend to look inside our classrooms...might be wiser to look at what's happening outside of them, for it might be our extra-curricular activities that represent the true genius of today's American education system
education  us  extracurricular  academics  curriculum  economics  competition  athletics  debate  aftreschool  studentgovernment 
july 2008 by robertogreco
Seed: Design and the Elastic Mind: In the emerging dialogue between design and science, scale and pace play fundamental roles. By MoMA curator Paola Antonelli.
"Much of this is being done by bona fide designers, but scientists and artists have also turned to design to give method to their productive tinkering, what John Seely Brown has called "thinkering." They all belong to a new culture in which experimentation is guided by engagement in the world and by open, constructive collaboration with colleagues and other specialists." ... "...importance of "critical design," or "design for debate," which he defines as a way of using design as a medium to challenge narrow assumptions, preconceptions, and givens about the role products play in everyday life"
paolaantonelli  seed  design  science  moma  gamechanging  designandtheelasticmind  nanotechnology  biomimicry  topography  brain  art  debate  eames  architecture  society  dialogue  interdisciplinary  crosspollination  johnseelybrown  dialog  biomimetics 
april 2008 by robertogreco
Purse Lip Square Jaw: Social sciences and design: managing complexity and mediating expectations
"Now, the idea that design can play a productive role in managing complexity is hardly new, but I do see a lot of potential in designing and using objects (things) to engage publics around particular issues, or matters of concern."
design  debate  socialsciences  emergingtechnologies  complexity  conversation  dialogue  public  objects  annegalloway  gamechanging  technology  critique  dialog 
april 2008 by robertogreco
How to Disagree
"If we’re all going to be disagreeing more, we should be careful to do it well...Most readers can tell difference between mere name-calling & carefully reasoned refutation, but...intermediate stages...here’s an attempt at a disagreement hierarchy."
writing  arguments  communication  language  howto  paulgraham  blogging  psychology  debate  dialog  discourse  discussion  internet  web  logic  netiquette  etiquette  conflict  conversation  culture  philosophy  argument  dialogue 
march 2008 by robertogreco
Monitor | The battle for Wikipedia's soul | Economist.com
"The internet: The popular online encyclopedia, written by volunteer contributors, has unlimited space. So does it matter if it includes trivia?"
collaboration  wikipedia  culture  debate  encyclopedia  knowledge  internet  trivia  trends  publishing  politics  pokemon  pokémon 
march 2008 by robertogreco
apophenia: The Economist Debate on Social "Networking"
"Tools do not define pedagogy, but pedagogy can leverage tools. The first step is understanding what the technology is about, when and where it is useful, and how it can and will be manipulated by users for their own desires."
youth  schools  teaching  learning  danahboyd  pedagogy  education  debate  controversy  community  socialsoftware  social  socialnetworks  socialnetworking  technology  myspace  facebook  wikipedia  google 
january 2008 by robertogreco
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