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College of Theseus | Easily Distracted
"A lot of those 1960s institutions have lived on the edge of failure for their entire existence. They were responding to a temporary surge in demand. They did not have the benefit of a century or more of alumni who would contribute donations, or an endowment built up over decades. They did not have names to conjure with. They were often founded (like many non-profits) by single strong personalities with a narrow vision or obsession that only held while the strong personality was holding on to the steering wheel. Newbury is a great example of this. It wasn’t founded until 1962, as a college of business, by a local Boston entrepreneur. It relocated multiple times, once into a vacated property identified formerly with a different university. It changed its name and focus multiple times. It acquired other educational institutions and merged them with its main operations, again creating some brand confusion. It started branch campuses. It’s only been something like a standardized liberal-arts institution since 1994. In 2015 it chased yet another trend via expensive construction projects, trying to promise students a new commitment to their economic success.

This is not a college going under suddenly and unexpectedly after a century of stately and “traditional” operations. This is not Coca-Cola suddenly going under because now everyone wants kombucha made by a Juicero. This is Cactus Cooler or Mr. Pibb being discontinued.

Let’s take Hampshire College. It’s a cool place. I’ve always admired it; I considered attending it when I was graduating high school. But it’s also not a venerable traditional liberal arts college. It’s an experiment that was started as a response to an exceptionally 60s-era deliberative process shared between Amherst, Smith, Mount Holyoke and UMass Amherst. It’s always had to work hard to find students who responded to its very distinctive curricular design and identity, especially once the era that led to its founding began to lose some of its moral and political influence. You can think about Hampshire’s struggle to survive in relationship to that very particular history. You should think about it that way in preference to just making it a single data point on a generalized grid.

Let’s take Green Mountain College. “The latest to close”, as Inside Higher Education says–again fitting into a trend as a single data point. At least this time it is actually old, right? Founded in 1834, part of that huge first wave of educational genesis. But hang on. It wasn’t Green Mountain College at the start. It was Troy Conference Academy. Originally coed, then it changed its name to Ripley Female Academy and went single-sex. Then it was back to Troy Conference. Then during the Great Depression it was Green Mountain Junior College, a 2-year preparatory school. Only in 1974 did it become Green Mountain College, with a 4-year liberal arts degree, and only in the 1990s did it decide to emphasize environmental studies.

Is that the same institution, with a single continuous history? Or is it a kind of constellation of semi-related institutions, all of which basically ‘closed’ and were replaced by something completely different?

If you set out to create a list of all the colleges and universities by name which have ever existed in the United States, all the alternate names and curricular structures and admissions approaches of institutions which sometimes have existed on the same site but often have moved, you couldn’t help but see that closures are an utterly normal part of the story of American higher education. Moreover, that they are often just a phase–a place closes, another institution moves in or buys the name or uses the facilities. Sure, sometimes a college or university or prep school or boarding school gets abandoned for good, becomes a ruin, is forgotten. That happens too. We are not in the middle of a singular rupture, a thing which has never happened before, an unbroken tradition at last subject to disruption and innovation.

This doesn’t mean that we should be happy when a college or university closes. That’s the livelihood of the people who work there, it’s the life of the students who are still there, it’s a broken tie for its alumni (however short or long its life has been), the loss of all the interesting things that were done there in its time. But when you look at the story of any particular closure, they all have some important particulars. The story being told that flatters the disruptors and innovators would have us thinking that there are these venerable, traditional, basically successful institutions going about their business and then suddenly, ZANG, the future lands on them and they can’t survive. At least some of the institutions closing have been hustling or struggling or rebranding for their entire existence."
hampshirecollege  2018  timothyburke  history  disruption  colleges  universities  experimentation  alternative  greenmounaincollege  newburycollege  2019  highereducation  highered  maverickcolleges 
12 weeks ago by robertogreco
The Stories We Were Told about Education Technology (2018)
"It’s been quite a year for education news, not that you’d know that by listening to much of the ed-tech industry (press). Subsidized by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, some publications have repeatedly run overtly and covertly sponsored articles that hawk the future of learning as “personalized,” as focused on “the whole child.” Some of these attempt to stretch a contemporary high-tech vision of social emotional surveillance so it can map onto a strange vision of progressive education, overlooking no doubt how the history of progressive education has so often been intertwined with race science and eugenics.

Meanwhile this year, immigrant, refugee children at the United States border were separated from their parents and kept in cages, deprived of legal counsel, deprived of access to education, deprived in some cases of water.

“Whole child” and cages – it’s hardly the only jarring juxtaposition I could point to.

2018 was another year of #MeToo, when revelations about sexual assault and sexual harassment shook almost every section of society – the media and the tech industries, unsurprisingly, but the education sector as well – higher ed, K–12, and non-profits alike, as well school sports all saw major and devastating reports about cultures and patterns of sexual violence. These behaviors were, once again, part of the hearings and debates about a Supreme Court Justice nominee – a sickening deja vu not only for those of us that remember Anita Hill ’s testimony decades ago but for those of us who have experienced something similar at the hands of powerful people. And on and on and on.

And yet the education/technology industry (press) kept up with its rosy repetition that social equality is surely its priority, a product feature even – that VR, for example, a technology it has for so long promised is “on the horizon,” is poised to help everyone, particularly teachers and students, become more empathetic. Meanwhile, the founder of Oculus Rift is now selling surveillance technology for a virtual border wall between the US and Mexico.

2018 was a year in which public school teachers all over the US rose up in protest over pay, working conditions, and funding, striking in red states like West Virginia, Kentucky, and Oklahoma despite an anti-union ruling by the Supreme Court.

And yet the education/technology industry (press) was wowed by teacher influencers and teacher PD on Instagram, touting the promise for more income via a side-hustle like tutoring rather by structural or institutional agitation. Don’t worry, teachers. Robots won’t replace you, the press repeatedly said. Unsaid: robots will just de-professionalize, outsource, or privatize the work. Or, as the AI makers like to say, robots will make us all work harder (and no doubt, with no unions, cheaper).

2018 was a year of ongoing and increased hate speech and bullying – racism and anti-Semitism – on campuses and online.

And yet the education/technology industry (press) still maintained that blockchain would surely revolutionize the transcript and help insure that no one lies about who they are or what they know. Blockchain would enhance “smart spending” and teach financial literacy, the ed-tech industry (press) insisted, never once mentioning the deep entanglements between anti-Semitism and the alt-right and blockchain (specifically Bitcoin) backers.

2018 was a year in which hate and misinformation, magnified and spread by technology giants, continued to plague the world. Their algorithmic recommendation engines peddled conspiracy theories (to kids, to teens, to adults). “YouTube, the Great Radicalizer” as sociologist Zeynep Tufekci put it in a NYT op-ed.

And yet the education/technology industry (press) still talked about YouTube as the future of education, cheerfully highlighting (that is, spreading) its viral bullshit. Folks still retyped the press releases Google issued and retyped the press releases Facebook issued, lauding these companies’ (and their founders’) efforts to reshape the curriculum and reshape the classroom.

This is the ninth year that I’ve reviewed the stories we’re being told about education technology. Typically, this has been a ten (or more) part series. But I just can’t do it any more. Some people think it’s hilarious that I’m ed-tech’s Cassandra, but it’s not funny at all. It’s depressing, and it’s painful. And no one fucking listens.

If I look back at what I’ve written in previous years, I feel like I’ve already covered everything I could say about 2018. Hell, I’ve already written about the whole notion of the “zombie idea” in ed-tech – that bad ideas never seem to go away, that just get rebranded and repackaged. I’ve written about misinformation and ed-tech (and ed-tech as misinformation). I’ve written about the innovation gospel that makes people pitch dangerously bad ideas like “Uber for education” or “Alexa for babysitting.” I’ve written about the tech industry’s attempts to reshape the school system as its personal job training provider. I’ve written about the promise to “rethink the transcript” and to “revolutionize credentialing.” I’ve written about outsourcing and online education. I’ve written about coding bootcamps as the “new” for-profit higher ed, with all the exploitation that entails. I’ve written about the dangers of data collection and data analysis, about the loss of privacy and the lack of security.

And yet here we are, with Mark Zuckerberg – education philanthropist and investor – blinking before Congress, promising that AI will fix everything, while the biased algorithms keep churning out bias, while the education/technology industry (press) continues to be so blinded by “disruption” it doesn’t notice (or care) what’s happened to desegregation, and with so many data breaches and privacy gaffes that they barely make headlines anymore.

Folks. I’m done.

I’m also writing a book, and frankly that’s where my time and energy is going.

There is some delicious irony, I suppose, in the fact that there isn’t much that’s interesting or “innovative” to talk about in ed-tech, particularly since industry folks want to sell us on the story that tech is moving faster than it’s ever moved before, so fast in fact that the ol’ factory model school system simply cannot keep up.

I’ve always considered these year-in-review articles to be mini-histories of sorts – history of the very, very recent past. Now, instead, I plan to spend my time taking a longer, deeper look at the history of education technology, with particular attention for the next few months, as the title of my book suggests, to teaching machines – to the promises that machines will augment, automate, standardize, and individualize instruction. My focus is on the teaching machines of the mid-twentieth century, but clearly there are echoes – echoes of behaviorism and personalization, namely – still today.

In his 1954 book La Technique (published in English a decade later as The Technological Society), the sociologist Jacques Ellul observes how education had become oriented towards creating technicians, less interested in intellectual development than in personality development – a new “psychopedagogy” that he links to Maria Montessori. “The human brain must be made to conform to the much more advanced brain of the machine,” Ellul writes. “And education will no longer be an unpredictable and exciting adventure in human enlightenment , but an exercise in conformity and apprenticeship to whatever gadgetry is useful in a technical world.” I believe today we call this "social emotional learning" and once again (and so insistently by the ed-tech press and its billionaire backers), Montessori’s name is invoked as the key to preparing students for their place in the technological society.

Despite scant evidence in support of the psychopedagogies of mindsets, mindfulness, wellness, and grit, the ed-tech industry (press) markets these as solutions to racial and gender inequality (among other things), as the psychotechnologies of personalization are now increasingly intertwined not just with surveillance and with behavioral data analytics, but with genomics as well. “Why Progressives Should Embrace the Genetics of Education,” a NYT op-ed piece argued in July, perhaps forgetting that education’s progressives (including Montessori) have been down this path before.

This is the only good grit:

[image of Gritty]

If I were writing a lengthier series on the year in ed-tech, I’d spend much more time talking about the promises made about personalization and social emotional learning. I’ll just note here that the most important “innovator” in this area this year (other than Gritty) was surely the e-cigarette maker Juul, which offered a mindfulness curriculum to schools – offered them the curriculum and $20,000, that is – to talk about vaping. “‘The message: Our thoughts are powerful and can set action in motion,’ the lesson plan states.”

The most important event in ed-tech this year might have occurred on February 14, when a gunman opened fire on his former classmates at Marjory Stone Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killing 17 students and staff and injuring 17 others. (I chose this particular school shooting because of the student activism it unleashed.)

Oh, I know, I know – school shootings and school security aren’t ed-tech, ed-tech evangelists have long tried to insist, an argument I’ve heard far too often. But this year – the worst year on record for school shootings (according to some calculations) – I think that argument started to shift a bit. Perhaps because there’s clearly a lot of money to be made in selling schools “security” products and services: shooting simulation software, facial recognition technology, metal detectors, cameras, social media surveillance software, panic buttons, clear backpacks, bulletproof backpacks, … [more]
audreywatters  education  technology  edtech  2018  surveillance  privacy  personalization  progressive  schools  quantification  gamification  wholechild  montessori  mariamontessori  eugenics  psychology  siliconvalley  history  venturecapital  highereducation  highered  guns  gunviolence  children  youth  teens  shootings  money  influence  policy  politics  society  economics  capitalism  mindfulness  juul  marketing  gritty  innovation  genetics  psychotechnologies  gender  race  racism  sexism  research  socialemotional  psychopedagogy  pedagogy  teaching  howweteach  learning  howwelearn  teachingmachines  nonprofits  nonprofit  media  journalism  access  donaldtrump  bias  algorithms  facebook  amazon  disruption  data  bigdata  security  jacquesellul  sociology  activism  sel  socialemotionallearning 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Bay Area Disrupted: Fred Turner on Vimeo
"Interview with Fred Turner in his office at Stanford University.

http://bayareadisrupted.com/

https://fredturner.stanford.edu

Graphics: Magda Tu
Editing: Michael Krömer
Concept: Andreas Bick"
fredturner  counterculture  california  opensource  bayarea  google  softare  web  internet  history  sanfrancisco  anarchism  siliconvalley  creativity  freedom  individualism  libertarianism  2014  social  sociability  governance  myth  government  infrastructure  research  online  burningman  culture  style  ideology  philosophy  apolitical  individuality  apple  facebook  startups  precarity  informal  bureaucracy  prejudice  1960s  1970s  bias  racism  classism  exclusion  inclusivity  inclusion  communes  hippies  charism  cultofpersonality  whiteness  youth  ageism  inequality  poverty  technology  sharingeconomy  gigeconomy  capitalism  economics  neoliberalism  henryford  ford  empowerment  virtue  us  labor  ork  disruption  responsibility  citizenship  purpose  extraction  egalitarianism  society  edtech  military  1940s  1950s  collaboration  sharedconsciousness  lsd  music  computers  computing  utopia  tools  techculture  location  stanford  sociology  manufacturing  values  socialchange  communalism  technosolutionism  business  entrepreneurship  open  liberalism  commons  peerproduction  product 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Cory Doctorow: Things that happen in Silicon Valley and also the...
"Anton Troynikov: [https://twitter.com/atroyn/status/1014974099930714115 ]

• Waiting years to receive a car you ordered, to find that it’s of poor workmanship and quality.
• Promises of colonizing the solar system while you toil in drudgery day in, day out.
• Living five adults to a two room apartment.
• Being told you are constructing utopia while the system crumbles around you.
• ‘Totally not illegal taxi’ taxis by private citizens moonlighting to make ends meet.
• Everything slaved to the needs of the military-industrial complex.
• Mandatory workplace political education.
• Productivity largely falsified to satisfy appearance of sponsoring elites.
• Deviation from mainstream narrative carries heavy social and political consequences.
• Networked computers exist but they’re really bad.
• Henry Kissinger visits sometimes for some reason.
• Elite power struggles result in massive collateral damage, sometimes purges.
• Failures are bizarrely upheld as triumphs.
• Otherwise extremely intelligent people just turning the crank because it’s the only way to get ahead.
• The plight of the working class is discussed mainly by people who do no work.
• The United States as a whole is depicted as evil by default.
• The currency most people are talking about is fake and worthless.
• The economy is centrally planned, using opaque algorithms not fully understood by their users."
ussr  russia  economics  siliconvalley  disruption  politics  indoctrination  centralization  policy  2018  currency  planning  conformity  conformism  drudgery  work  labor  humor  tesla  elonmusk  jeffbezos  wageslavery  failure  henrykissinger  us  government  governance  ideology  experience  class  collateraldamage  elitism  antontroynikov  consequences  space  utopia  workmanship  quality  accountability  productivity  falsification  workplace  colonization 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Thread by @ecomentario: "p.31 ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A… ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A… p.49 ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A… ecoed.wikispaces.co […]"
[on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ecomentario/status/1007269183317512192 ]

[many of the captures come from: "From A Pedagogy for Liberation to Liberation from Pedagogy" by Gustavo Esteva, Madhu S. Prakash, and Dana L. Stuchul, which is no longer available online as a standalone PDF (thus the UTexas broken link), but is inside the following document, also linked to in the thread.]

[“Rethinking Freire: Globalization and the Environmental Crisis" edited by C.A.Bowers and Frédérique Apffel-Marglin
https://ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A.+Bowers,+Frdrique+Apffel-Marglin,+Frederique+Apffel-Marglin,+Chet+A.+Bowers+Re-Thinking+Freire+Globalization+and+the+Environmental+Crisis+Sociocultural,+Political,+and+Historical+Studies+in+Educatio+2004.pdf ]
isabelrodíguez  paulofreire  ivanillich  wendellberry  subcomandantemarcos  gandhi  2018  gustavoesteva  madhuprakash  danastuchul  deschooling  colonialism  future  environment  sustainability  cabowers  frédériqueapffel-marglin  education  campesinos  bolivia  perú  pedagogyoftheoppressed  globalization  marinaarratia  power  authority  hierarchy  horizontality  socialjustice  justice  economics  society  community  cooperation  collaboration  politics  progress  growth  rural  urban  altruism  oppression  participation  marginality  marginalization  karlmarx  socialism  autonomy  local  slow  small  capitalism  consumerism  life  living  well-being  consumption  production  productivity  gustavoterán  indigeneity  work  labor  knowledge  experience  culture  joannamacy  spirituality  buddhism  entanglement  interdependence  interbeing  interexistence  philosophy  being  individualism  chiefseattle  lutherstandingbear  johngrim  ethics  morethanhuman  multispecies  humans  human  posthumnism  transhumanism  competition  marxism  liberation  simplicity  poverty  civilization  greed  p 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Peripetatic Humanities - YouTube
"A lecture about Mark Sample's "Notes Toward a Deformed Humanities," featuring ideas by Lisa Rhody, Matt Kirchenbaum, Steve Ramsay, Barthes, Foucault, Bahktin, Brian Croxall, Dene Grigar, Roger Whitson, Adeline Koh, Natalia Cecire, and Ian Bogost & the Oulipo, a band opening for The Carpenters."
kathiinmanberens  performance  humanities  deformity  marksample  lisarhody  mattkirchenbaum  steveramsay  foucault  briancroxall  denegrigar  rogerwhitson  adelinekoh  ianbogost  oulipo  deformance  humptydumpty  repair  mikhailbakhtin  linearity  alinear  procedure  books  defamiliarization  reading  howweread  machines  machinereading  technology  michelfoucault  rolandbarthes  nataliacecire  disruption  digitalhumanities  socialmedia  mobile  phones  making  computation  computing  hacking  nonlinear 
february 2018 by robertogreco
HEWN, No. 250
"I wrote a book review this week of Brian Dear’s The Friendly Orange Glow: The Untold History of of PLATO System and the Dawn of Cyberculture. My review’s a rumination on how powerful the mythologizing is around tech, around a certain version of the history of technology – “the Silicon Valley narrative,” as I’ve called this elsewhere – so much so that we can hardly imagine that there are other stories to tell, other technologies to build, other practices to adopt, other ways of being, and so on.

I was working on the book review when I heard the news Tuesday evening that the great author Ursula K. Le Guin had passed away, I immediately thought of her essay “The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction” – her thoughts on storytelling about spears and storytelling about bags and what we might glean from a culture (and a genre) that praises the former and denigrates the latter.
If science fiction is the mythology of modern technology, then its myth is tragic. “Technology,” or “modern science” (using the words as they are usually used, in an unexamined shorthand standing for the “hard” sciences and high technology founded upon continuous economic growth), is a heroic undertaking, Herculean, Promethean, conceived as triumph, hence ultimately as tragedy. The fiction embodying this myth will be, and has been, triumphant (Man conquers earth, space, aliens, death, the future, etc.) and tragic (apocalypse, holocaust, then or now).

If, however, one avoids the linear, progressive, Time’s-(killing)-arrow mode of the Techno-Heroic, and redefines technology and science as primarily cultural carrier bag rather than weapon of domination, one pleasant side effect is that science fiction can be seen as a far less rigid, narrow field, not necessarily Promethean or apocalyptic at all, and in fact less a mythological genre than a realistic one.


The problems of technology – and the problems of the storytelling about the computing industry today, which seems to regularly turn to the worst science fiction for inspiration – is bound up in all this. There’s a strong desire to create, crown, and laud the Hero – a tendency that’s going to end pretty badly if we don’t start thinking about care and community (and carrier bags) and dial back this wretched fascination with weapons, destruction, and disruption.

(Something like this, I wonder: “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” by Ursula K. Le Guin.)

Elsewhere in the history of the future of technology: “Sorry, Alexa Is Not a Feminist,” says Ian Bogost. “The People Who Would Survive Nuclear War” by Alexis Madrigal.

There are many reasons to adore Ursula K. Le Guin. And there are many pieces of her writing, of course, one could point to and insist “you must read this. You must.” For me, the attraction was her grounding in cultural anthropology – I met Le Guin at a California Folklore Society almost 20 years ago when I was a graduate student in Folklore Studies – alongside her willingness to challenge the racism and imperialism and expropriation that the field engendered. It was her fierce criticism of capitalism and her commitment to freedom. I’m willing to fight anyone who tries to insist that Sometimes a Great Notion is the great novel of the Pacific Northwest. Really, you should pick almost any Le Guin novel in its stead – Always Coming Home, perhaps. Or The Word for the World is Forest. She was the most important anarchist of our era, I posted on Facebook when I shared the NYT obituary. It was a jab at another Oregon writer who I bet thinks that’s him. But like Kesey, his notion is all wrong.

Fewer Heroes. Better stories about people. Better worlds for people.

Yours in struggle,
~Audrey"
audreywatters  ursulaleguin  2018  anarchism  sciencefiction  scifi  technology  edtech  progress  storytelling  care  community  caring  folklore  anarchy  computing  siliconvalley  war  aggression  humanism  briandear  myth  heroes  science  modernscience  hardsciences  economics  growth  fiction  tragedy  apocalypse  holocaust  future  conquest  domination  weapons  destruction  disruption 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Teach Like They're Data - Long View on Education
"The same NYT article contrasts Altschool with the “boot-camp model of so many of the city’s charter schools, where learning can too easily be divorced from pleasure, and fear rather than joy is the operative motivator.” But what will Altschool – the platform – look like when it is exported to public schools where the cost of teachers and space matter? Given that “AltSchool’s losses are piling up as it spends at a pace of about $40 million per year“, it’s not hard to imagine that the more desirable aspects of Altschool’s flexibility will be only be available for purchase by the wealthy.

As one example of how the implementation of the platform might carry negative consequences in public schools, consider the Altschool’s use of cameras to gather surveillance. According to Business Insider, “Cameras are also mounted at eye level for kids, so teachers can review successful lessons and ‘the steps leading up to those ‘ah-ha’ moments,’ head of school Kathleen Gibbons said. Some children use them as confessionals, sharing their secrets with the camera.”"



"Since Ventilla’s platform is marketed as a way to customise education to children, and a less-expensive alternative than hiring more teachers, we should be most concerned about its implementation in schools that are under-funded and where communities are under-served.

Paul Hirschfield has documented the different effects of surveillance in schools “even when implemented under the same federal funding initiative.” Surveillance becomes “disparate and unequal,” especially when it interacts with the racism that drives exclusionary discipline policies. While “surveillance methods that are popular in largely white towns and suburbs appear designed to affirm and preserve student individuality and dignity,” the same is not true in the ‘bad neighbourhoods’ with exclusionary discipline techniques, metal detectors, and the police."



"Yet, if neoliberals have succeeded in appropriating the discourse of change, in part this is because the power to act as a consumer has resonance in the face of entrenched failures of the welfare state model and administration of public education, particularly in cities.”"



"In their keynote at Digital Pedagogy Lab, ℳąhą Bąℓi مها بال and Chris Gilliard argue that platforms embody an extractive politics that has deep implications for how we treat each other as people we can ‘extract’ work from. As we bring extractive platforms into the classroom and normalise surveillance, Emmeline Taylor argues that we create a destructive ‘hidden curriculum’. Some schools have rotuinzed finger printing students so that they can access services, such as meals in the cafeteria."



"This objectification of children is also nothing new. I spend a lot of time thinking about the similarities between personalisation, the Silicon Valley solution to education, and manualisation, the drive to find ‘what works’ & implement ‘no excuses’ policies. Just because the Silicon Valley version comes with bright-rubber iPad cases and bean bags doesn’t mean that it’s not about the control of children and the deprofessionalising of teachers to the same extent as Doug Lemov’s Teach Like a Champion – different mechanisms and packaging, same result. Children become objects of control and surveillance, and adults give up professional autonomy to platforms and manuals. As Lupton and Williamson argue, “learning analytics platforms appear to displace the embodied expert judgement of the teacher to the disembodied pattern detection of data analytics algorithms.” This platformisation only defers the dreams of emancipatory education, perhaps putting it out of reach permanently, given that it’s backed by billionaires with an agenda to reshape the world."



"“Altschool Open” – the name of the platform that Ventilla wants to market – openwashes itself: it is neither free nor open-source. As Martin Weller argues, like ‘green’, “’open’ has acquired a certain market value and is worth proclaiming.” And in what we might then call empowerwashing, the Altschool website tells us that their platform is about “Using Technology to Empower People”: “AltSchool tools make insights actionable, super-powering teachers to do what they do best.”

The openwashing of Ventilla’s platform matters at a deeply pedagogical level because much of what is called ‘open’ is in fact black-boxed. Suppose that the Altschool platform delivers up a playlist based on its representation of your child. What mechanism is there for understanding how that decision came about and for contesting it? As Frank Pasquale argues, the extent to which algorithms are black-boxed and protected as trade secrets “makes it practically impossible to test whether their judgments are valid, honest, or fair”; “black box methods are just as likely to entrench a digital aristocracy.”

In an interview with John Battellle, Ventilla tells us that “you don’t leave a place like Google to do something hokey and small.” We should indeed be worried about an entrenched digital aristocracy overtaking education. Battelle asks: “You have raised over $100 million, so when you’re pitching to the big money, like Andreessen or Founders Fund, and you’re saying, “Here’s the total addressable market,” is it the US school system?”"



"It’s easy to keep track of the overt authoritarians, but wrapped in the language of ‘choice’, platforms become insidious. Ben Williamson has exposed the deeper structure of the political economy:
“Silicon Valley has successfully juxtaposed the student-centered progressivist philosophy of homeschooling on to its technocratic vision; it has latched on to the U.S. charter schools agenda to launch its own startup schools; its interests are integrated into prestigious teaching and research centers such as Stanford University; it has generated new entrepreneurial apprenticeship programs and fellowships through its philanthropic donors; and it has become entwined with the therapeutic culture of self-help training curricula associated with behavioral economics.”

In his book Disruptive Fixation, Christo Sims draws an important lesson from his ethnography of a school in New York that venture philanthropists designed to give kids the kind of engaging education they thought would prepare students for economic success. The philanthropists focused on “newly available means”, such as digital technology and game-based learning, but that focus “tended to fix reformers energy and attention on what they could foreseeably control and transform with these new tools.” Thus, “seemingly cutting-edge philanthropic interventions” often “help sustain and extend the status quo.”

As educators, our job is not to nod along with the Silicon Valley reformers, but to look beyond what the edtech billionaires fixate on, to ask about the sacrifice zones, and engage with the community voices that have long been frustrated. Maybe we can reclaim the idea of platform as a verb, something we offer to people so we can better hear their voices, instead of something we can purchase to feed students into."
benjamindoxtdator  2017  altschool  education  schools  learning  children  surveillance  paulhirschfield  discipline  neoliberalism  mahabali  chrisgilliard  emmelinetaylor  objectification  siliconvalley  technology  maxventilla  douglemov  deborahlupton  benilliamson  empowerment  open  openwashing  martinelle  greenwashing  behavior  economics  behavioraleconomics  personalization  manualization  disruption  christosims  edtech  philanthropy 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Public Books — Rembrandt
"Certain exceptional artists in exceptional circumstances broke free of the norms of the tradition and produced work that was diametrically opposed to its values, yet these artists are acclaimed as the tradition’s supreme representatives, a claim which is made easier by the fact that after their death, the tradition closed around their work, incorporating minor technical innovations, and continuing as though nothing of principle had been disturbed. This is why Rembrandt or Vermeer or Poussin or Chardin or Goya or Turner had no followers but only superficial imitators."

[via: http://jarrettfuller.tumblr.com/post/131433640167/certain-exceptional-artists-in-exceptional ]
rembrandt  johnberger  art  2015  tradition  values  avantgarde  innovation  disruption  change  arthistory  rebels  rebellion  norms 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Berlin Biennale | All Problems Can Be Illuminated; Not All Problems Can Be Solved
"“There is no technology for justice. There is only justice.”12 Ursula Franklin answered when I asked her in December 2015, what to do. I reached out because I wanted her to tell me how to act on the perspectives she brings to the traditional story of progress. As someone building internet technologies, working within this received wisdom, I wanted a recipe, something I could share with others (with you!) and throw my body into.

She was warm and generous and incredibly insightful, and she gave me no smooth answers, no simple way.

Central to our conversation was my worry about the massive surveillance capacities enabled by internet technologies and the way in which public assent to surveillance is fueled by the racism and militarism of the now eternal “War on Terror.” What could we do to combat this narrative? What could we do to change the underlying technologies such that they respect human agency and privacy?

Franklin agreed. This is a grave problem. But not a “technological” problem:

“Whether it’s heathens, witches, women, communists, whoever, the institution of an enemy as a political tool is inappropriate. The only solution is an insistence on a civilized democratic society. A civilized democratic society combats this and the wish of an authority to collect personal information on citizens and their activities and loyalties. Whether it’s done by spying, by bribing children, by workplace monitoring, by confession in the confession box of the church—the collection is the issue. The means—the technology—is secondary. The problem is a problem of authoritarian power. And at the root of this problem is the issue of justice, and justice is political.”

While justice can be understood, can be felt, there is no template to follow, or checklist to work through for ensuring a just outcome. The requirements are humility, a respect for context, and a willingness to listen to the most marginalized voices. Let these define the basic requirements of whatever you do. You must “put yourself in the position of the most vulnerable, in a way that achieves a visceral gut feeling of empathy and perspective—that’s the only way to see what justice is.”

Understanding justice, honoring those most vulnerable and including them as authors of any plan that impacts them, is a necessary starting place. But the problems associated with our current technologies won’t be solved by tweaking gears or redesigning mechanisms. A roadmap that centers on justice is only the first step. “For a very long time gadgets and machinery have been anti-people. If one wants to get away from the anti-people component, then you don’t argue technology as much as you argue capitalism.” Even with a view of what justice would look like and could be, attempts at radical change will, of course, be repulsed by powerful actors who benefit richly from the unjust status quo. Political change must be a part of the equation.

This isn’t a frenzied call for revolution. The bigger the scale, the bigger the vision for just change, the more difficult it will be to “get it through” a system in which power is aligned against justice (and, of course, the more difficult it will be to truly understand this vision’s vast impact on vulnerable populations and thus ensure it really supports justice.) Not that working to build practices and plans isn’t worthwhile—it is incredibly worthwhile. But you’re unlikely to have much real impact if you start with a grand announcement. “To proceed in a hostile world,” Franklin suggests, “call it an experiment. Admit that you don’t know how to do it, but ask for space and peace and respect. Then try your experiment, quietly.” In conditions not conducive to success, situate yourself out of the spotlight and proceed subtly, humbly, and be willing to downplay expectations while new forms incubate.

“My favorite word is an old Quaker term, ‘scrupling,’ used as an activity,” Franklin begins, addressing how to approach the vastness of the political and social problems we were discussing. “It comes out of the anti-slavery movement, originally. People would get together to ‘scruple,’ that is, discuss and debate a common problem, something they had scruples about—say, justice—for which they did not have a solution. This is scrupling, and this is something you and your friends can do.”

Gather and talk. Empathize and listen. Don’t chase the spotlight, and accept that some problems are big, and difficult, and that what you’re good at may not fix them. These are not the ways of charismatic executives and flash-bang inventors. These are not instructions for entrepreneurial success. These won’t produce bigger faster newer ways of doing things.

Her parting words were meant to comfort me. “For your own sanity, you have to remember that not all problems can be solved. Not all problems can be solved, but all problems can be illuminated. If the eggs are scrambled, they’re scrambled. You can’t unscramble them. All you can possibly do is cook them and share them with somebody.”"
ursulafranklin  justice  technology  meredithmeredith  2016  efficiency  compliance  listening  empathy  progress  racism  militarism  surveillance  waronterror  democracy  society  humility  inclusivity  inclusion  vulnerability  radicalchange  power  statusquo  politics  scrupling  conversation  problemsolving  jacquesellul  capitalism  consumerism  innovation  quakers  systems  interrelationships  systemsthinking  complexity  culture  materials  art  mindset  organization  procedures  symbols  orthodoxy  luddism  occupywallstreet  ows  resistance  disruption  speed  humanism  science  scientism  legibility  elitism  experts  authority  privilege  experience  civilization  authoritarianism  socialjustice  revolution  peace  spotlight  hardproblems  success 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Solving All the Wrong Problems - The New York Times
"We are overloaded daily with new discoveries, patents and inventions all promising a better life, but that better life has not been forthcoming for most. In fact, the bulk of the above list targets a very specific (and tiny!) slice of the population. As one colleague in tech explained it to me recently, for most people working on such projects, the goal is basically to provide for themselves everything that their mothers no longer do.

He was joking — sort of — but his comment made me think hard about who is served by this stuff. I’m concerned that such a focus on comfort and instant gratification will reduce us all to those characters in “Wall-E,” bound to their recliners, Big Gulps in hand, interacting with the world exclusively through their remotes.

Too many well-funded entrepreneurial efforts turn out to promise more than they can deliver (i.e., Theranos’ finger-prick blood test) or read as parody (but, sadly, are not — such as the $99 “vessel” that monitors your water intake and tells you when you should drink more water).

When everything is characterized as “world-changing,” is anything?

Clay Tarver, a writer and producer for the painfully on-point HBO comedy “Silicon Valley,” said in a recent New Yorker article: “I’ve been told that, at some of the big companies, the P.R. departments have ordered their employees to stop saying ‘We’re making the world a better place,’ specifically because we have made fun of that phrase so mercilessly. So I guess, at the very least, we’re making the world a better place by making these people stop saying they’re making the world a better place.”

O.K., that’s a start. But the impulse to conflate toothbrush delivery with Nobel Prize-worthy good works is not just a bit cultish, it’s currently a wildfire burning through the so-called innovation sector. Products and services are designed to “disrupt” market sectors (a.k.a. bringing to market things no one really needs) more than to solve actual problems, especially those problems experienced by what the writer C. Z. Nnaemeka has described as “the unexotic underclass” — single mothers, the white rural poor, veterans, out-of-work Americans over 50 — who, she explains, have the “misfortune of being insufficiently interesting.”

If the most fundamental definition of design is to solve problems, why are so many people devoting so much energy to solving problems that don’t really exist? How can we get more people to look beyond their own lived experience?

In “Design: The Invention of Desire,” a thoughtful and necessary new book by the designer and theorist Jessica Helfand, the author brings to light an amazing kernel: “hack,” a term so beloved in Silicon Valley that it’s painted on the courtyard of the Facebook campus and is visible from planes flying overhead, is also prison slang for “horse’s ass carrying keys.”

To “hack” is to cut, to gash, to break. It proceeds from the belief that nothing is worth saving, that everything needs fixing. But is that really the case? Are we fixing the right things? Are we breaking the wrong ones? Is it necessary to start from scratch every time?

Empathy, humility, compassion, conscience: These are the key ingredients missing in the pursuit of innovation, Ms. Helfand argues, and in her book she explores design, and by extension innovation, as an intrinsically human discipline — albeit one that seems to have lost its way. Ms. Helfand argues that innovation is now predicated less on creating and more on the undoing of the work of others.

“In this humility-poor environment, the idea of disruption appeals as a kind of subversive provocation,” she writes. “Too many designers think they are innovating when they are merely breaking and entering.”

In this way, innovation is very much mirroring the larger public discourse: a distrust of institutions combined with unabashed confidence in one’s own judgment shifts solutions away from fixing, repairing or improving and shoves them toward destruction for its own sake. (Sound like a certain presidential candidate? Or Brexit?)

Perhaps the main reason these frivolous products and services frustrate me is because of their creators’ insistence that changing lives for the better is their reason for being. To wit, the venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, who has invested in companies like Airbnb and Twitter but also in services such as LikeALittle (which started out as a flirting tool among college students) and Soylent (a sort of SlimFast concoction for tech geeks), tweeted last week: “The perpetually missing headline: ‘Capitalism worked okay again today and most people in the world got a little better off.’ ”

Meanwhile, in San Francisco, where such companies are based, sea level rise is ominous, the income gap between rich and poor has been growing faster than in any other city in the nation, a higher percentage of people send their kids to private school than in almost any other city, and a minimum salary of $254,000 is required to afford an average-priced home. Who exactly is better off?

Ms. Helfand calls for a deeper embrace of personal vigilance: “Design may provide the map,” she writes, “but the moral compass that guides our personal choices resides permanently within us all.”

Can we reset that moral compass? Maybe we can start by not being a bunch of hacks."
2016  allisonarieff  siliconvalley  problemsolving  disruption  claytarver  sanfrancisco  capitalism  jessicahelfand  books  invention  narcissism  theranos  comfort  instantgratification  hacking  innovation  publicdiscourse  publicgood  inequality  marcandreessen  morality  moralcompass  soylent  venturecapitalism  brexit  us  priorities 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Few quick thoughts on Brexit — Medium
"Brexit is pushback against huge social and economic changes that have devalued a great many people.

They are changes that have demanded many people give up long standing notions of who they are, what is their place in the world, and questioned how they find meaning.

That same anger, and the reasons for it, is here in the US also.

I work with addicts these days and have spent the last five years driving all across the country, spending weeks/months/years in places many live in, but few visit. Places filled with poverty and addiction.

What I learned is that addiction is on the same spectrum as suicide. It is a slower form, but comes from the same place.

It led me to one of the first books to study suicide, by Émile Durkheim who wanted to understand why people would kill themselves.

He suggests people needed a sense of integration and regulation, to feel part of something that worked. They needed strong bonds to larger society. Without that, they often took their own life. He called that sense of isolation or disruption, Anomie.

I see Anomie wherever I go. The things that used to give people meaning: Their work, their union, their family, their church, their bridge club, their elks club, whatever, have been eroded. And often mocked.

We over the last 50 years have replaced that, and now demand that people be valued by their intellect, and their wealth. We have further diminished whole groups of people by increasing the amount we reward the new and few “winners.”

To make things even worse, we often outright mock anyone who can’t keep up, or doesn’t fit in with the new order. We call them dumb. Idiots. Religious freaks. Rednecks. Thugs. Hoodlums. Ghetto trash. White trash.

The language we use to talk about those who have been left behind is rife with nasty attempts to turn them into lesser humans. We use the tactics of racist, and apply it to economic losers.

And often they respond by joining racist groups. Or latching onto racist policies and agendas.

Which makes it easier to demean them, because racism is bad. Bad. Bad. Bad. And as a kid of a German Jew who barely made it out of Nazi Germany, as a kid who grew up in a small southern town. As a kid who had our car windows shot out (while his dad was in it!) because my dad was a “Nigger loving Jew”. Yes racism is awful. Bad. Disgusting. Nasty.

But racism, and fascism, are very successful scams that sell to the desperate. Fascism understands that people want to feel valued and integral part of something larger. Racism is, sadly, the easiest and cheapest way to do that.

So, yes push back against the racism. Loudly.

But offer something else, a way for others to feel included. Provide a process, other than getting an education in an elite school, that gives people meaning, solidarity, and value.

Simply saying they are not valid, or lesser, or they are stupid. Or they are idiots. That is racism’s ugly cousin elitism, so don’t turn it into a fight of the ugly. You think that is going to help people feel included?

If you hate racism, then you really really really should hate any economic and social system that creates and rewards massive inequality. Because when you get that. You get racism.

And that is the system we have built and now have. That is the system that most everyone screaming about the dumb racists is part of, usually supports, and wins from."
elitism  racism  politics  us  uk  brexit  chrisarnade  2016  anger  inequality  understanding  winners  losers  winnertakeall  economics  society  integration  regulation  community  belonging  addiction  suicide  émiledurkheim  isolation  disruption  anomie  work  rednecks  religion  ostracization  fascism  desperation  rejection  inclusion  inclusivity  socialinequality  economicinequality  incomeinequality  classism 
june 2016 by robertogreco
In Praise of Impractical Movements | Dissent Magazine
"Bernie Sanders’s insurgent presidential campaign has opened up a debate about how social change happens in our society. The official version of how progress is won—currently voiced by mainstream pundits and members of a spooked Democratic Party establishment—goes something like this: politics is a tricky business, gains coming through the work of pragmatic insiders who know how to maneuver within the system. In order to get things done, you have to play the game, be realistic, and accept the established limits of debate in Washington, D.C.

A recent article in the Atlantic summed up this perspective with the tagline, “At this polarized moment, it’s incremental change or nothing.” This view, however, leaves out a critical driver of social transformation. It fails to account for what might be the most important engine of progress: grassroots movements by citizens demanding change.

Social change is seldom either as incremental or predictable as many insiders suggest. Every once in a while, an outburst of resistance seems to break open a world of possibility, creating unforeseen opportunities for transformation. Indeed, according to that leading theorist of disruptive power, Frances Fox Piven, the “great moments of equalizing reform in American political history”—securing labor rights, expanding the vote, or creating a social safety net—have been directly related to surges of widespread defiance.

Unlike elected officials who preoccupy themselves with policies considered practical and attainable within the political climate of the moment, social movements change the political weather. They turn issues and demands considered both unrealistic and politically inconvenient into matters that can no longer be ignored; they succeed, that is, by championing the impractical.

Such movements, of course, face immense barriers, but that shouldn’t stop us from acknowledging their importance and highlighting the key role played by moments of mass defiance in shaping our world. Outbreaks of hope and determined impracticality provide an important rebuttal to the politics of accommodation, to the idea that the minor tweaking of the status quo is the best we can expect in our lifetimes.

Here, then, are three moments when the world broke open—and two when it still might."
socialchange  politics  policy  society  revolution  civilrightsmovement  us  bosnia  serbia  otpor  gaymarriage  markengler  paulengler  2016  environment  immigration  economics  humanity  evanwolfson  marcsolomon  egypt  resistance  protest  nonviolence  martinlutherkingjr  history  incrementalism  francesfoxpiven  berniesanders  grassroots  polarization  disruption  statusquo  laborrights  defiance  mlk 
june 2016 by robertogreco
what Thomas Hardy taught me | Fredrik deBoer
"Never mind that the idea of salvation through technology is the hoariest old cliche in the history of education, stretching back to the fear among the educated classes that the invention of the printing press would render education obsolete. Never mind that the radio was sure to change teaching forever, or that the television was too, or that the VCR was, as was the personal computer. Never mind that I still hear people talking about what the internet will surely do for the schools of the future, despite the fact that we had the internet in our classroom when I was in junior high school 21 years ago, the school of the past. Never mind that one of the most easily predicted outcomes in educational research is that a highly-touted educational technology will result in no meaningful difference in learning gains. Nope: it’s the same old shit. We’re better and smarter than those other guys who told you that they were better and smarter than the guys who came before them. Our jargon is newer and better. Gamify the cloud with synergistic flipped classrooms that take an active learning approach to emergent technologies and the internet of things. Our app has flavor crystals. Rinse and repeat, now and for forever.

A piece like this makes you realize the real tragedy of this (profitable, and thus perpetual) fantasy of remaking education is that its progenitors are guilty of precisely what they accuse others of: a complete failure to think of education outside of a narrow, restrictive framework. Mead refers to the educational vision on offer here as utilitarian, and I suppose it’s that. But I would argue that the current orthodoxy about education — which, make no mistake, all these proud free thinkers clearly share — is fundamentally mechanistic. That is, it presumes that there is a basic correspondence between particular inputs to a student’s learning and straightforward and clearly-defined outputs in a student’s outcomes. So you teach a student division, and they’ve learned division, and nothing more; you teach a kid to code (in a language that will be obsolete by the time they reach even undergraduate education) and they learn to code (a skill that will be largely automated by the time they reach middle age) and that’s why you bother to do it. And you don’t teach them to read poetry or to dance a waltz because you can’t get a job troubleshooting Geico’s android app with those skills. Everything is a simple and uncomplicated matter of what you put in and what you put out, and the value and importance of what you get out depends entirely on what’s taken seriously by the staff at Wired magazine."



"In a very real way that was the moment when I contemplated the world outside of my own subjectivity in a genuine and mature way. And like so many other important ideas, its consequences continue to spool out in my mind for years to come. It multiplied complexity; it introduced patterns of thinking and difficult questions that I had never thought to consider before. It deepened my mind in more ways than I can express. And yet the value of this insight, in any conventional educational assessment you can name — and I say that as an expert — would be nil. This understanding, which has been central to my development as an adult intelligence, would not factor into any assessment of my academic aptitude. We do not have instruments that measure this kind of learning and we never will.

Now: I don’t and can’t represent myself as anyone’s definition of a human success. And I’m not interested in making this about the rigor or quality of my research or my field. But I can say that, by the typical benchmarks of educational success, I have performed well. I graduated from high school, finished a bachelor’s degree, and went on to two graduate degrees. I’ve performed very well on standardized tests, both state-run assessments of educational progress and entrance exams like the SAT and GRE. I’ve been published in major newspapers and magazines. I’ve written a major policy position paper for a respected think tank. I’ve been published in peer reviewed journals. If you want to get neoliberal about it, I’ve gotten jobs and earned something like the median income. Again, this is not about representing myself as some sort of great success story, but rather just to establish that I have had the kind of academic outcomes that policy makers, members of the media, and parents say they want.

Yet on the level of thinking of our Silicon Valley overlords, aspects of my cognitive abilities that are absolutely central to my educational success are taken to have literally no value at all. In educational research, perhaps the greatest danger lies in thinking “that which I cannot measure is not real.” The disruption fetishists have amplified this danger, now evincing the attitude “teaching that cannot be said to lead to the immediate acquisition of rote, mechanical skills has no value.” But absolutely every aspect of my educational journey — as a student, as a teacher, and as a researcher — demonstrates the folly of this approach to learning."



"The point is not that the humanities, or the liberal arts, or the deeper concepts and values of civilization, or whatever only have value because of how they support more narrowly-remunerative skills. The point is that these deeper values and these monetizable skills exist in relationships so deeply intertwined that they are permanently inextricable from one another. And the utter folly of disregarding those traditional aspects of education that can’t be immediately tied to skills you list on your Monster.com profile is one we and our children will pay for, for generations. I have no doubt that we will come in time to learn again the absolute necessity of learning that goes beyond the rote skills we currently perceive to be important, that someday people will learn to again see the utter necessity of humanistic thinking. But such understanding will only come after we have allowed deluded privateers to wring every last dollar out of our educational system as they strip it of all learning that has a function other than training more efficient little capitalists.

Albert Einstein was obsessed with music. Would he have been a better physicist, or a worse one, had he spent the time he devoted to music and the other arts on what we now call “STEM subjects”? It’s an absurd, pointless, unanswerable question. What matters is that Einstein was a full-fledged human being, and enjoyed an education that permitted him to be that, and that took the creation of such full-fledged human beings as its central mission. And if we only have the courage to devote ourselves to that project, too, the rest will sort itself out in time."

[See also: http://blog.mrmeyer.com/2016/silicon-valley-v-the-liberal-arts/ ]
freddiedeboer  humanities  altschool  education  pedagogy  teaching  learning  howwelearn  measurement  2016  automation  complexity  economics  politics  rebeccamead  edtech  howweteach  unschooling  deschooling  labor  capitalism  neoliberalism  whywelearn  thomashardy  alberteinstein  stem  interdisciplinary  silos  rotelearning  rote  disruption 
march 2016 by robertogreco
When They Promise the Netflix for Education, Cover Your Wallet | Just Visiting
"According to education consultant Michael Horn,[1] college has a lot in common with “your cable TV package.”

Horn says, “You really want just the accounting degree and you also get the football team alongside it. You’re paying for things that you will never ever use. It’s not tailored to actual needs.”

Horn (and his disruptor ilk) maintain that education needs to be “Netflixed.”

Do we really need to run through these arguments again and point out that education is not merely a content delivery system? Did the great MOOC hype collapse not already expose this fiction?

We already have things that are the educational equivalent of Netflix. I call them libraries, and guess what? They’re even better than Netflix because rather than relying solely on algorithms, they come stocked with trained professionals who will help you fulfill your content needs.

But never mind, because like all things, education must be disrupted. I just wish for once, the disruptors spoke to actual, you know, students before engaging in their disruptory ways.

Someone who thinks that football is not important to college choice must not be aware of student attitudes at places like Alabama, Clemson, or University of Michigan, where you will find many non-athlete students who indeed chose the school because of the football team.

But remember that Horn is not an educator. These people are never educators. He comes out of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation Boogaloo. He is now a principal in something called Entangled Solutions, a higher ed consultancy that uses their “startup connections to bring cutting edge technology to the academic world.”

Interestingly, the principals at Entangled Solutions with their “let them eat competency” attitudes have degrees from U. Chicago, Yale, Harvard MBA, CalTech, and Wharton.[2]

Their enemy is accreditation, and so Horn and others have formed a “task force” to challenge the control accreditors have over which institutions get access to federal grant and loan money. If they are successful, they will “open the door for the Airbnbs and Ubers of higher education.”

Do you join me in wondering how the introduction of rent-seeking entities into higher education could possibly benefit the broader public?

I don’t doubt these people deep down mean well, and sincerely believe their own B.S., but let’s not lose sight of the fact that it is B.S., and these companies are indeed on the grift. If their ideas were so good, they wouldn’t need to attach themselves to the public teat to fund them.

Indeed, programming bootcamps have managed to thrive in the marketplace, with the chief strategy officer at Reactor Core, the parent of the successful Hack Reactor camps telling the Washington Post that seeking accreditation, “Seemed like a lot of overhead and no real benefit for the students.”

Hack Reactor and the bootcamps like it are filling an underserved niche and bringing benefit to their customers and the industries they serve. For now. It seems inevitable that this sector too will overshoot the mark of demand and some providers will fall by the wayside, as they should in a free and open market.

Not satisfied with nibbling at the underserved edges, the higher ed disruptor crowd flat doesn’t like how college works, not in terms of education, but as a marketplace, and want to take their own shot at the problem. They don’t want to compete with legacy institutions so much as wreck them so they can rise in their place.
It’s unfortunate then, that our futuristic saviors seem to know so little about actual human beings.

It’s true, many fewer people would be interested in a four-year college experience if it didn’t come bundled with a degree. And yet, when you talk to students they will name dozens of other reasons they are glad to be in college: to grow as a person, to figure out what they want to do, to make friends and connections, to learn, to have fun, and yes, to go to football games.

College is like life, something to be lived, experienced, and we can't really predict or quantify the outcomes.

If you talk to students (and I do) and ask them if they want or would benefit from an “unbundled” education, you will find very few who answer in the affirmative.
My students are somewhere between befuddled by (Why would anyone want that?) and terrified of (I would fail, hard) such a future.

I teach a very traditional cohort of students, and the traditional college and university structure doesn’t make sense for everyone pursuing post-secondary education. There is indeed a role for competency-based education serving industries where discrete, demonstrable skills are necessary.

Though, I remember a time when the business themselves provided this service and called it “training,” but never mind.

And I am not one to deny the very real problems institutions face. The cost of college to students is a crisis. Of course the cause of this crisis is the disinvestment of public money in education, a fact the disruptor crowd almost always ignores because to acknowledge it would mean casting doubt over the necessity for disruption.

They see public disinvestment as a fixed state of being, as opposed to a reversible policy choice.

The idea that we’ll technology our way out of this is a fantasy. Entangled Solutions should know this better than anyone, as one of its other principals, Paul Freedman, had his first educational venture, Altius Education, which was supposed to help people move from associates degrees to four-year colleges, go splat after underperforming, and attracting a Justice Department investigation.[3]

But the disruptors continue to push a narrative of broken institutions, failing students, and too much of the policy-making public is willing to accept that story.

I have a counter-narrative, the oldest one in the book: History repeats itself.

Just as the worst actors of the for-profit industry slink off the stage, followed by lawsuits and government fines, we see our techno-solutionists stepping into the breach, claiming that higher education is “over-regulated.”
Tell that to the former customers of Corinthian Colleges.[4]
Different players, same game. Let’s not be fooled."
2016  johnwarner  education  michaelhorn  highered  highereducation  claytonchristensen  publicgood  funding  unbundling  corinthiancollege  privatization  forprofit  disruption  technology  training  competency  policy 
february 2016 by robertogreco
The Reductive Seduction of Other People’s Problems — The Development Set — Medium
"“If you’re young, privileged, and interested in creating a life of meaning, of course you’d be attracted to solving problems that seem urgent and readily solvable.”"

"Let’s pretend, for a moment, that you are a 22-year-old college student in Kampala, Uganda. You’re sitting in class and discreetly scrolling through Facebook on your phone. You see that there has been another mass shooting in America, this time in a place called San Bernardino. You’ve never heard of it. You’ve never been to America. But you’ve certainly heard a lot about gun violence in the U.S. It seems like a new mass shooting happens every week.

You wonder if you could go there and get stricter gun legislation passed. You’d be a hero to the American people, a problem-solver, a lifesaver. How hard could it be? Maybe there’s a fellowship for high-minded people like you to go to America after college and train as social entrepreneurs. You could start the nonprofit organization that ends mass shootings, maybe even win a humanitarian award by the time you are 30.

Sound hopelessly naïve? Maybe even a little deluded? It is. And yet, it’s not much different from how too many Americans think about social change in the “Global South.”

If you asked a 22-year-old American about gun control in this country, she would probably tell you that it’s a lot more complicated than taking some workshops on social entrepreneurship and starting a non-profit. She might tell her counterpart from Kampala about the intractable nature of our legislative branch, the long history of gun culture in this country and its passionate defenders, the complexity of mental illness and its treatment. She would perhaps mention the added complication of agitating for change as an outsider.

But if you ask that same 22-year-old American about some of the most pressing problems in a place like Uganda — rural hunger or girl’s secondary education or homophobia — she might see them as solvable. Maybe even easily solvable.

I’ve begun to think about this trend as the reductive seduction of other people’s problems. It’s not malicious. In many ways, it’s psychologically defensible; we don’t know what we don’t know.

If you’re young, privileged, and interested in creating a life of meaning, of course you’d be attracted to solving problems that seem urgent and readily solvable. Of course you’d want to apply for prestigious fellowships that mark you as an ambitious altruist among your peers. Of course you’d want to fly on planes to exotic locations with, importantly, exotic problems.

There is a whole “industry” set up to nurture these desires and delusions — most notably, the 1.5 million nonprofit organizations registered in the U.S., many of them focused on helping people abroad. In other words, the young American ego doesn’t appear in a vacuum. Its hubris is encouraged through job and internship opportunities, conferences galore, and cultural propaganda — encompassed so fully in the patronizing, dangerously simple phrase “save the world.”"



"We are easily seduced by aid projects that promise play. The SOCCKET, an energy-generating soccer ball, made a splash in 2011 when it raised $92,296 on Kickstarter. Three short years later, the company that created it wrote to its backers: “Most of you received an incredibly underwhelming product with a slew of manufacturing and quality control errors… In summary, we totally f*#ked up this Kickstarter campaign.”

Reading their surprisingly candid mea culpa, I couldn’t help but wonder where the equivalent message was to the kids in energy-starved areas whose high hopes were darkened by a defunct ball.

In some cases, the reductive seduction can actively cause harm. In its early years, TOMS Shoes — which has become infamous for its “buy one give one” business model, wherein they give a pair of shoes for every one sold — donated American-made shoes, which put local shoe factory workers out of jobs (they’ve since changed their supply chain).

Some development workers even have an acronym that they use to describe these initiatives: SWEDOW (stuff we don’t want). AIDWATCH, a watchdog development blog, created a handy flow chart that helps do gooders reality check their altruistic instincts. It begins with the simplest of questions — “Is the stuff needed?” — and flows down to more sophisticated questions like, “Will buying locally cause shortages or other disruptions?”

Second, the reductive seduction of other people’s problems is dangerous for the people whose problems you’ve avoided. While thousands of the country’s best and brightest flock to far-flung places to ease unfamiliar suffering and tackle foreign dysfunction, we’ve got plenty of domestic need."



"I understand the attraction of working outside of the U.S. There’s no question that the scale and severity of need in so many countries goes far beyond anything we experience or witness stateside. Why should those beautiful humans deserve any less of our best energy just because we don’t share a nationality?

(And I’m not arguing that staying close to home inoculates kids, especially of the white, privileged variety, like me, from making big mistakes.)

But don’t go because you’ve fallen in love with solvability. Go because you’ve fallen in love with complexity.

Don’t go because you want to do something virtuous. Go because you want to do something difficult.

Don’t go because you want to talk. Go because you want to listen.

Don’t go because you loved studying abroad. Go because, like Molly Melching, you plan on putting down roots. Melching, a native of Illinois, is widely credited with ending female genital cutting (FGC) in Senegal. But it didn’t happen overnight. She has been living in and around Dakar since 1974, developing her organization, Tostan, and its strategy of helping communities collectively address human rights abuses. Her leadership style is all about finely calibrated moments of risk — when she will challenge a local leader, for example — and restraint — when she will hold off on challenging a local leader because she intuits that she hasn’t yet developed enough trust with him. That kind of leadership doesn’t develop during a six-month home stay.

The rise of the social entrepreneurship field in the last few decades has sent countless young people packing across continents. In 2015, global nonprofit Echoing Green received 3,165 applications for about 40 fellowship spots, the majority of them from American applicants interested in social change abroad. For the last decade, recent college grads have been banging down the doors at places like Ashoka and Skoll World Forum, both centers of the social entrepreneurship universe, and SOCAP, focused on impact investing. And, to be sure, a lot of those grads are doing powerful work.

But a lot of them, let’s be real, are not. They’re making big mistakes — both operationally and culturally — in countries they aren’t familiar with. They’re solving problems for people, rather than with, replicating many of the mistakes that the world’s largest development agencies make on a much smaller scale. They drop technology without having a training or maintenance plan in place, or try to shift cultural norms without culturally appropriate educational materials or trusted messengers. Or they’re spending the majority of their days speaking about the work on the conference circuit, rather than actually doing it.

This work can take a toll on these young, idealistic Americans. They feel hollowed out by the cumulative effects of overstating their success while fundraising. They’re quietly haunted by the possibility that they aren’t the right people to be enacting these changes. They feel noble at times, but disconnected from their own homes, their own families, their own friends. They burn out.

There’s a better way. For all of us. Resist the reductive seduction of other people’s problems and, instead, fall in love with the longer-term prospect of staying home and facing systemic complexity head on. Or go if you must, but stay long enough, listen hard enough so that “other people” become real people. But, be warned, they may not seem so easy to “save.”"

[Two responses:
https://medium.com/the-development-set/the-global-development-long-game-a1a42b8c67ee#.36h0y6rtl
https://medium.com/the-development-set/the-hand-that-gives-9187a8ccfcd0#.3x4h3miel ]
courtneymartin  designimperialism  humanitariandesign  problemsolving  colonialism  solvability  2016  privilege  virtue  complexity  mollymelching  roots  culture  idealism  cznnaemeka  guns  homelessness  homeless  prisons  criminaljusticesystem  tomsshoes  aidwatch  globalsouth  disruption  charitableindustrialcomplex  socialentrepreneurship  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  capitalism  power  control 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Toward Humane Tech — Medium
"If you make technology, or work in the tech industry, I have good news for you: we won."

"We’re not nerds, or outsiders, or underdogs anymore. What we do, and what we make, shapes culture and society, deeply influencing everything from artistic expression to policy and regulation to the way we see our friends, family and selves.

But we haven’t taken responsibility for ourselves in a manner that befits the wealthiest and most powerful industry that’s ever been created. We fancy ourselves outlaws while we shape laws, and consider ourselves disruptive without sufficient consideration for the people and institutions we disrupt. We have to do better, and we will.

While thinking about this reality, and these problems, I’ve struggled with all the different dimensions of the challenge. We could address our profound issues around inclusion and diversity but still be wildly irresponsible about our environmental impact. We could start to respect legal processes and the need for thoughtful engagement with policy makers but still be cavalier about the privacy and security of our users’ data. We could continue to invest in design and user experience but remain thoughtless about the emotional and psychological impacts of the experiences we create. We could continue to bemoan the shortcomings of legacy industries while exacerbating issues like income inequality or social inequity.

I’m not hopeless about it; in fact, if there’s one unifying value that connects everyone in tech, no matter how critical or complacent they may be, it’s an underlying vein of optimism. I want to tap into that optimism, but direct it toward making sure we’re actually making things better, and not just for ourselves.

So I’m going to start to keep some notes, about the functional, pragmatic things we can do to make sure our technologies, and the community that creates those technologies, become far more humane. The conversation about the tech industry has changed profoundly in the past few years. It is no longer radical to raise issues of ethics or civics when evaluating a new product or company. But that’s the simplest starting point, a basic acknowledgment that what we do matters and actually affects people.

We have to think about inclusion, acceptance and diversity, to start. We need to think deeply about our language and communications, and the way we express what technology does. We need to question the mythologies we build around concepts like “founders” or “inventions” or even “startups”. We need to challenge our definitions of success and progress, and to stop considering our work in solely commercial terms. We need to radically improve our systems of compensation, to be responsible about credit and attribution, and to be generous and fair with reward and remuneration. We need to consider the impact our work has on the planet. We need to consider the impact our work has on civic and academic institutions, on artistic expression, on culture.

I’m optimistic, but I think this is going to continue to require a lot of hard work over a long period of time. My first step is to start taking notes about the goal we’re working toward. Let’s get to work."
anildash  2016  technology  siliconvalley  inclusion  inclusivity  diversity  acceptance  gender  language  communication  compensation  responsibility  attribution  environment  privacy  security  inequality  incomeinequality  law  legal  disruption  culture  society 
january 2016 by robertogreco
crap futures — constraint no.3: non-ecological thinking
"When we think of the power to focus on a particular problem and solve it, we generally think of it as a useful ability. But what if the power to focus comes at the exclusion of the larger picture? Those responsible for putting new technological products into the public domain are often guilty of thinking in very localised terms - in other words, non-ecologically. This constraint is essentially about a chronic lack of lateral thinking; of being so focused on the immediate action or problem that implications for the broader ecology are ignored.

This was pioneering ecologist Charles Elton’s advice in 1927:
When an ecologist says ‘there goes a badger’, he should include in his thoughts some definite idea of the animal’s place in the community to which it belongs, just as if he had said, ‘there goes the vicar.

More recently, the cultural critic Neil Postman described technological change as ecological (in ‘Five Things We Need to Know About Technological Change’, 1998):
Technological change is not additive; it is ecological. I can explain this best by an analogy. What happens if we place a drop of red dye into a beaker of clear water? Do we have clear water plus a spot of red dye? Obviously not. We have a new coloration to every molecule of water. That is what I mean by ecological change. A new medium does not add something; it changes everything. In the year 1500, after the printing press was invented, you did not have old Europe plus the printing press. You had a different Europe. After television, America was not America plus television. Television gave a new coloration to every political campaign, to every home, to every school, to every church, to every industry, and so on.

So what happens when that dye is added? There are some obvious history lessons. To return to the nature analogy, for example, there is the introduction of humans - and with them rats, pigs, dogs, and monkeys - to Mauritius in 1505. (It was the Portuguese who first landed in Mauritius, a few years after discovering our little previously uninhabited island.) Mauritius was the home of the fabled, and sadly flightless, dodo bird. The dodo had evolved to fill a niche and naturally became complacent on its peaceful island, too relaxed in a world without predators to handle the first signs of globalisation. The flightless birds were completely unprepared for the new mammals … and as a result, they didn’t last long. Interestingly, the story of the dodo is not yet over: although the bird became extinct centuries ago, a certain species of tree that depended on the dodo for its own existence is only now following its path to extinction.

In market terms, meanwhile, there is the demise of independent local shops since the 1970s - made obsolete by supermarkets, shopping malls, and big box stores. The incursion of these consumer flytraps destabilized the harmony of communities and destroyed the fragile ecosystems of the high street and city centre - ecosystems that local governments have for years now been trying to regenerate, with varying degrees of success.

Of course, there are legitimate reasons why disruption occurs. Megastores like Whole Foods and Costco are nice to have nearby (as we at Crap Futures know very well, living on a remote island without their convenience). Food is usually cheaper and everything is in one place. Likewise Uber, which provides a better, neater, cleaner, cheaper, more efficient service than the established taxi companies in many places. The old taxi companies, like the flightless birds, became complacent in their gentle habitat; the Uber dogs came along and ate them up. But it won’t end there. As Uber’s Travis Kalanick said in a recent speech: ‘We don’t want to be like the taxi guys who came before us – we embrace the future.’ Uber drivers could well be replaced by the autonomous car in the not-too-distant future - a contingency Uber is aware of and hopes to see happen under its own control.

As the complexity of human ecosystems increases, the potential disruptors are becoming more subtle.

Perhaps the best example is the mobile phone. It started as just a portable phone, then a particularly small portable phone (what Germans sensibly named a ‘handy’). At this stage it still had relatively limited potential to disrupt. But then ‘smart’ features and supporting networks were gradually added, until suddenly the mobile phone had the ability to stir up and irreparably alter huge swathes of the urban ecosystem with app-based service companies such as Uber. In the past, interactions between user and product were temporary and limited - telephone cables fixed the context, isolating and containing the effect. The ubiquity and mobility of products today means that the effects of interaction create a complexity that cannot be readily understood - implications are far harder to imagine and more far-reaching. This only means that it is increasingly important to find ways of imagining these knock-on effects before they happen.

John Steinbeck paints a beautiful image of ecological complexity in The Log from the Sea of Cortez (1951), an account of the six-week specimen-hunting trip Steinbeck took in the Gulf of California with the marine biologist Ed Ricketts:
One merges into another, groups melt into ecological groups until the time when what we know as life meets and enters what we think of as non-life: barnacle and rock, rock and earth, earth and tree, tree and rain and air. And the units nestle into the whole and are inseparable from it … all things are one thing and one thing is all things – plankton, a shimmering phosphorescence on the sea and the spinning planets and an expanding universe, all bound together by the elastic string of time. It is advisable to look from the tide pool to the stars and then back to the tide pool again.

Steinbeck’s description of life in the tide pool poetically captures the complexity of scales, timeframes, and interactions that operate in a natural ecosystem - a complexity that is echoed in technological and cultural systems.

Some important questions to ask are:

How will a product be used, and by whom?

How will it interact with other (especially networked) products in the environment?

What happens when the product is moved to another habitat, possibly one it was not intended for, or to which it is not ideally suited?"
crapfutures  charleselton  1927  1998  neilpostman  ecosystems  systemsthinking  technology  future  complecity  production  environment  bighere  longnow  johnsteinbeck  nature  huamsn  anthropocene  globalization  2015  change  mauritius  dodo  disruption  local  power 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Top Ed-Tech Trends of 2015: The Business of Ed-Tech
"Beyond VC Funding

“US education is a $1.5 trillion industry and growing at 5 percent annually,” McKinsey wrote excitedly this summer. Of course, venture capital is just one source of the money that’s pouring into ed-tech. There’s government funding, of course. There’s personal spending. And there’s lots and lots of “philanthropy.”

The Gates Foundation is perhaps the most famous of these philanthropic organizations, having spent billions of dollars pushing various education initiatives. In October, Bill Gates gave what Education Week observed was “his first major speech on education in seven years,” and indicated his foundation would “double down” on teacher preparation and common academic standards.

The other two giants in education foundations: the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation.

In September, the LA Times obtained a memo written by the Broad Foundation, outlining its $490 million plan to put half of LAUSD students in charter schools. The memo “lays out a strategy for moving forward, including how to raise money, recruit and train teachers, provide outreach to parents and navigate the political battle that will probably ensue.” It cites several large foundations and California multi-millions who could be tapped for more financial support.

[image: @EdSurge tweet: “Melinda Gates is saying that the role of foundations is to direct where government funding goes #GatesEd"]

And this underscores one of the major criticisms of these philanthropic efforts: they are profoundly anti-democratic. As John Cassidy wrote in The New Yorker earlier this month, “people like Zuckerberg and Gates, by virtue of their philanthropic efforts, can have a much bigger say in determining policy outcomes than ordinary citizens can.”

Zuckerberg’s name is next to Gates’ in that sentence because he has signed the “Giving Pledge,” Gates’ and fellow billionaire Warren Buffet’s challenge to the 1% to give away at least half of their wealth. After the birth of his daughter this fall, Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan wrote her a letter (and posted it on Facebook, of course). In covering the contents of the letter, the New York Times got the headline totally wrong: “Mark Zuckerberg Vows to Donate 99% of His Facebook Shares for Charity.” The paper later clarified that it’s not a charity but an LLC – a “$45 billion tax loophole,” some suggested. Headlines from Gawker: “Mark Zuckerberg Will Donate Massive Fortune to Own Blinkered Worldview.” And from Rolin Moe: “You’re Not an Asshole, Mark Zuckerberg. You’re Just Wrong..”

Among the projects that the new Zuckerberg Chan Initiative will fund: “personalized learning” (whatever the hell that means).

Zuckerberg’s interest in such a thing is no doubt connected to investments that he’s already made – in the private school AltSchool, for example. And in September, Facebook announced that it had been working on building software for the Summit charter school chain. “Facebook’s move into education may be unexpected, but it seems to be sincere,” wrote The Verge’s Casey Newton about the collaboration in an article that’s not much more than a “longform expanded version of the Facebook press release.”

Joining Gates and Zuckerberg in venture philanthropy is Laurene Powell Jobs, Steve Jobs’ widow. Her organization, the Emerson Collective, announced a campaign – XQ: The Super School Project – to get folks to “rethink high school.” 5 of the “best ideas” will receive a share of the $50 million Jobs has earmarked for the project. The Emerson Collective also invested in AltSchool and Udacity this year to give you an idea of what “best ideas” might look like.

“I can conceive of no greater mistake… than that of trying to make charity do the work of justice” – William Jewett Tucker"



"All the Best Ed-Tech Narratives Money Can Buy

All this business. All this disruptive innovation. It’s just magnific… Wait, what? Academic research challenging Clayton Christensen’s famous business school concept outlined in The Innovator’s Dilemma and applied to education in Disrupting Class and The Innovative University and invoked by just about every ed-tech entrepreneur and investor ever? Oh yes please.

Jill Lepore had already skewered the idea in The New Yorker last year. I wrote a little something on the topic back in 2013.

But now, as The Chronicle of Education wrote in September,
a new paper, the most extensive test yet of Christensen’s theory, may prove more difficult to dismiss. Andrew A. King, a professor at the Dartmouth College business school, and Baljir Baatartogtokh, a graduate student at the University of British Columbia, spent two years digging into disruption, interviewing scores of experts, trying to determine whether 77 of Christensen’s own examples conformed to his theory, studies involving big names like Ford, McDonald’s, and Google, along with lesser-known makers of blood-glucose meters and blended plastics. Only a tiny minority – 9 percent – fit Christensen’s criteria. Disruption is real but rare, King and Baatartogtokh conclude, which suggests that it’s at best a marginally useful explanation of how innovation happens.

King says he’s not out to take down Christensen, although that may be what he’s done. Instead, he wants to prove a point. “A theory is like a weed,” King says. “Unless it is pruned back by empirical testing, it will grow to fill any void.”

Much like the business of ed-tech…"
philanthropy  philanthrocapitalism  capitalism  siliconvalley  audreywatters  2015  edtech  education  charities  charitableindustrialcomplex  corruption  policy  billgates  gatesfoundation  facebook  markzuckerberg  priscillachan  power  influence  democracy  melindagates  williamjewett  charity  justice  technology  johncassidy  rolinmoe  zuckerbergchaninitiative  broadfoundation  elibroad  altschool  summitcharterschools  udacity  emersoncollective  venturephilanthropy  vc  disruption  disruptiveinnovation  innovation  claytonchristensen  andrewking  baljirbaatartogtokh  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  control  charterschools 
december 2015 by robertogreco
analysis about cabbies & uber in toronto (with images, tweets) · pangmeli · Storify
"touching on technological progress as a natural disaster, uber as walmart in sheep's clothing, cabbies' right to economic survival, the idea of guaranteed living wages, the problem with jobs, cabbies' anti-blackness, how race complicates our relationship to this issue, protesting as "PR", and more."



"uber users who see protesting cabbies as luddites fighting an already-lost war against a superior technology are missing the point

if technological progress really is like a natural disaster — faceless, inexorable, amoral — shouldn't we protect those dispossessed by it

the point isn't to reverse progress, the point is to protect a vulnerable class of workers amid a major technological shift

yes the traditional taxi system sucked, but that doesn't absolve us of responsibility, especially when we back-burnered the warning signs

cabbies' demands for taxi reform were ignored to the point of crisis — now we patronizingly inform them that 'lack of reform' is the culprit

why are we okay with consigning our cabbies to poverty & obsolescence? because the better tech 'deserves' the win? even over human lives?

it's the canadian way — squeeze immigrants (cab drivers, international students, chinese railroad workers) & then flick them off our fingers

maybe one day we can live in a world where everything is so efficient & convenient that all humans except tech CEOs are destitute

if the tech is going to put 11,000 torontonians' livehihoods at risk, it's not that they aren't ready — it's that the tech isn't ready

@torontodan @pangmeli That's why many techies/futurists also tend to be "basic income" proponents. We know autonomous tech coming very soon

nice point from @_divyeshM — if we want to let technology loose so badly, let's demand a guaranteed living wage https://twitter.com/_DivyeshM/status/674635351001010176

…"
uber  disruption  2015  economics  universalbasicincome  toronto  labor  race  walmart  jobs  taxis  technology  dispossessed  displacement  canada  responsibility  society  capitalism  obsolescence  vulnerability  ubi 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Uber for School? - DML Central
"Disruptive innovation. Bleeding edge. Scalable solutions. The Uber for X. Silicon Valley is routinely ridiculed for the language of technology entrepreneurship and startup culture it has dispersed. Yet, the Silicon Valley vocabulary is fast becoming part of the language of education, and major tech companies are using their massive financial power to create their own new schools.

In the last few years, IBM has launched P-TECH, a network of “smarter schools” modeled on its Smarter Cities program. A former Google executive has established AltSchool, a chain of schools designed more like makerspaces than conventional schools. And, the widow of Steve Jobs of Apple has dedicated a huge philanthropic donation to a school redesign competition, XQ: Super School Project. Rather than tinkering in the margins of state schooling, Silicon Valley is setting out on a kind of creative destruction of the institution of education itself.

These innovations are, to borrow a phrase, the “Uber for School.” They are radically disruptive “startup schools” — new kinds of educational institutions that originate in Silicon Valley startup culture. These new schools are being designed as scalable technical platforms, underpinned by software engineering expertise; they are funded by commercial and venture capital sources; staffed and managed by execs and engineers from some of Silicon Valley’s most successful startups and web companies; and proposed to reinvent, reimagine and rebuild schools in the image of Silicon Valley itself."
uber  education  schools  benwilliamson  code/school  xq  superschoolproject  makerschools  altschool  homeschool  emersoncollective  robkitchin  martindodge  p-tech  greglinday  disruption  siliconvalley  scale  scalability  technosolutionism  ibm 
november 2015 by robertogreco
Alex Blandford — Government and the cargo cult
"As part of work with Parliament User Group recently, we’ve been trying to think about the institutional blockers to reform and “progress” (without the Soviet, vanguardist associations).

One of the ones that came up a few times was the issue of “we’ve always done it like this, so we shall continue to do it like this”. Inertia is a powerful force in large organisations, especially ones with an aversion to being seen to fuck up.

There is an obverse to this, especially in the case of Parliament and a lot of Local Authorities: “We’re not GDS, so we won’t do anything that they do”. Wishing to have a sense of individuality is not uncommon. We’ll do this thing - we’ll succeed. We’ll show them.

Both of these behaviours come from a lack of strategic understanding. Simon Wardley has put it around 1000x better than I could: “why does a general bombard a hill? It isn’t because 95% of other generals did the same thing”.

[video]

Understanding where your business/organisation is going is absolutely vital. Merely saying (in government especially) that you will do open source because GDS did it (but did they really) or that you won’t be focusing on user needs as you are internal only (no word of a lie, have had this chat) is doomed to failure, and likely an expensive and public failure.

Mimicry in this space is often called Cargo Culting; an allusion to a particular fascination of anthropologists in the post-war period (although it goes back a lot further).

You can read up on it at wikipedia including how it came to be used in this context. But my problem with this is that cargo cults and their formation have very little to do with the way that we use the phrase, and I am hugely uncomfortable with the ethnocentrism involved in using the phrase. It relies on an implicit assumption that people in “tribes” are somehow dumb and that they see an airplane and thus mimic it like children. There is a huge long list of reading on how we treat people in tribes like children, and rob them of a claim to complex thought. I’d like to think we can do better in our metaphors.

So I thought I’d try and reverse this a little bit. Taking the same broad brush strokes as everyone else, I’d like to consider Trobriand Cricket. It’s not quite in the same bit of the Pacific as the cargo cults, but it has a similar use of “western” ideas.

[video]

This game is a syncretic mix of cricket as introduced by missionaries to the Trobriand Islands (along with football), and the rituals of war on the islands. It includes teams whose victory dances for a catch include references to WW2 soldiers and military materiel. Many of the islanders are university educated.

Now. Unless we’re going to say that Norwich City’s canary branding is part of an animistic shaman cult led by Delia Smith, this all seems quite normal for sport. Or even life. You have a game, you change it to fit your local context. You understand your strategy. It is also worth pointing out that the Prince Philip Movement’s cult of personality around the Duke of Edinburgh wouldn’t look out of place in the comments section of a number of national newspapers.

Here’s where it breaks down though. The game was imposed by missionaries. The way that these people lived was changed irreparably by British colonialism. The power dynamics in this idea are huge. So changing the game becomes a response to colonialism. A way of maintaining some control against overwhelming power.

And there is where my discomfort is. What people in the Pacific were often doing was a response to the invasion of their land, and its use as a strategic assett in war. Many islanders died. The power relations and political history of the phrase have been shed so that it becomes a glib way of comparing someone’s actions to the old saying about the definition of insanity as being the repetition of something expecting a previous result to the previous time.

As I mentioned yesterday, ‘disruption’ can feel like an existential threat to the status quo. It is all around us, and the internet is going to change how you do your job. Or else someone who will change will put you out of business, or make your organisation seem too inefficient by comparison. Copying your work of the kid at the next desk won’t work. Learning together and open conversation might help. But treat this as a plea: don’t get sucked in by tired cliche. Shorthand is just that - a reminder of the nuance and complexity that has been left out.

Go out and explore that."
alexblandford  2015  cargocult  disruption  complexity  nuance  copying  mimicry  imitation  systemsthinking  organizations  power  anthropology  ethnography  gds 
october 2015 by robertogreco
The Thriving World, the Wilting World, and You — Medium
"We are a community branded as leaders living through this revolutionary moment, living through this extreme winning and extreme losing. It falls on us to ask the tough questions about it.

But we here in Aspen are in a bit of a tight spot.

Our deliberations about what to do about this extreme winning and losing are sponsored by the extreme winners. This community was formed by stalwarts of American capitalism; today we sit in spaces named after Pepsi (as in the beverage) and Koch (as in the brothers); our discussion of Martin Luther King and Omelas is sponsored by folks like Accenture, David Rubenstein and someone named Pom; we are deeply enmeshed and invested in the establishment and systems we are supposed to question. And yet we are a community of leaders that claims to seek justice. These identities are tricky to reconcile.

Today I want to challenge how we reconcile them. There is no consensus on anything here, as any seminar participant knows. But I believe that many of our discussions operate within what I will call the “Aspen Consensus,” which, like the “Washington Consensus” or “Beijing Consensus,” describes a nest of shared assumptions within which diverse ideas hatch. The “Aspen Consensus” demarcates what we mostly agree not to question, even as we question so much. And though I call it the Aspen Consensus, it is in many ways the prevailing ethic among the winners of our age worldwide, across business, government and even nonprofits.

The Aspen Consensus, in a nutshell, is this: the winners of our age must be challenged to do more good. But never, ever tell them to do less harm.

The Aspen Consensus holds that capitalism’s rough edges must be sanded and its surplus fruit shared, but the underlying system must never be questioned.

The Aspen Consensus says, “Give back,” which is of course a compassionate and noble thing. But, amid the $20 million second homes and $4,000 parkas of Aspen, it is gauche to observe that giving back is also a Band-Aid that winners stick onto the system that has privileged them, in the conscious or subconscious hope that it will forestall major surgery to that system — surgery that might threaten their privileges.

The Aspen Consensus, I believe, tries to market the idea of generosity as a substitute for the idea of justice. It says: make money in all the usual ways, and then give some back through a foundation, or factor in social impact, or add a second or third bottom line to your analysis, or give a left sock to the poor for every right sock you sell.

The Aspen Consensus says, “Do more good” — not “Do less harm.”

I want to sow the seed of a difficult conversation today about this Aspen Consensus. Because I love this community, and I fear for all of us — myself very much included — that we may not be as virtuous as we think we are, that history may not be as kind to us as we hope it will, that in the final analysis our role in the inequities of our age may not be remembered well.

This may sound strange at first, because the winners of our disruptive age are arguably as concerned about the plight of the losers as any elite in human history. But the question I’m raising is about what the winners propose to do in response. And I believe the winners’ response, certainly not always but still too often, is to soften the blows of the system but to preserve the system at any cost. This response is problematic. It keeps the winners too safe. It allows far too many of us to evade hard questions about our role in contributing to the disease we also seek to treat."



"Now, a significant minority of us here don’t work in business. Yet even in other sectors, we’re living in an age in which the assumptions and values of business are more influential than they ought to be. Our culture has turned businessmen and -women into philosophers, revolutionaries, social activists, saviors of the poor. We are at risk of forgetting other languages of human progress: of morality, of democracy, of solidarity, of decency, of justice.

Sometimes we succumb to the seductive Davos dogma that the business approach is the only thing that can change the world, in the face of so much historical evidence to the contrary.

And so when the winners of our age answer the problem of inequality and injustice, all too often they answer it within the logic and frameworks of business and markets. We talk a lot about giving back, profit-sharing, win-wins, social-impact investing, triple bottom lines (which, by the way, are something my four-month-old son has).

Sometimes I wonder whether these various forms of giving back have become to our era what the papal indulgence was to the Middle Ages: a relatively inexpensive way of getting oneself seemingly on the right of justice, without having to alter the fundamentals of one’s life.

Because when you give back, when you have a side foundation, a side CSR project, a side social-impact fund, you gain an exemption from more rigorous scrutiny. You helped 100 poor kids in the ghetto learn how to code. The indulgence spares you from questions about the larger systems and structures you sustain that benefit you and punish others: weak banking regulations and labor laws, zoning rules that happen to keep the poor far from your neighborhood, porous safety nets, the enduring and unrepaired legacies of slavery and racial supremacy and caste systems.

These systems and structures have victims, and we here are at risk, I think, of confusing generosity toward those victims with justice for those victims. For generosity is a win-win, but justice often is not. The winners of our age don’t enjoy the idea that some of them might actually have to lose, to sacrifice, for justice to be done. In Aspen you don’t hear a lot of ideas involving the privileged and powerful actually being in the wrong, and needing to surrender their status and position for the sake of justice.

We talk a lot here about giving more. We don’t talk about taking less.

We talk a lot here about what we should be doing more of. We don’t talk about what we should be doing less of.

I think sometimes that our Aspen Consensus has an underdeveloped sense of human darkness. There is risk in too much positivity. Sometimes to do right by people, you must begin by naming who is in the wrong.

So let’s just come out and say the thing you’re never supposed to say in Aspen: that many of the winners of our age are active, vigorous contributors to the problems they bravely seek to solve. And for the greater good to prevail on any number of issues, some people will have to lose — to actually do less harm, and not merely more good.

We know that enlightened capital didn’t get rid of the slave trade. Impact investing didn’t abolish child labor and put fire escapes on tenement factories. Drug makers didn’t stop slipping antifreeze into medicine as part of a CSR initiative. In each of these cases, the interests of the many had to defeat the interests of the recalcitrant few.

Look, I know this speech won’t make me popular at the bar tonight. But this, for me, is an act of stepping into the arena — something our wonderful teacher-moderators challenged us to do.

I know many of you agree with me already, because we have bonded for years over a shared feeling that something in this extraordinary community didn’t feel quite right. There are many others who, instead of criticizing as I do, are living rejections of this Aspen Consensus — quitting lucrative lives, risking everything, to fight the system. You awe me: you who battle for gay rights in India, who live ardently among the rural poor in South Africa, who risk assassination or worse to report news of corruption.

I am not speaking to you tonight, and I know there are many of you. I am speaking to those who, like me, may feel caught between the ideals championed by this Institute and the self-protective instinct that is always the reflex of people with much to lose.

I am as guilty as anyone. I am part of the wave of gentrification and displacement in Brooklyn, one of the most rapidly gentrifying places in America. Any success I’ve had can be traced to my excellent choice in parents and their ability to afford incredibly expensive private schools. I like good wine. I use Uber — a lot. I once stole playing cards from a private plane. I want my new son to have everything I can give him, even though I know that this is the beginning of the inequality I loathe.

I often wonder if what I do — writing — is capable of making any difference.

When I entered this fellowship, I was so taken with that summons to make a difference. But, to be honest, I have also always had a complicated relationship to this place.

I have heard too many of us talking of how only after the IPO or the next few million will we feel our kids have security. These inflated notions of what it takes to “make a living” and “support a family” are the beginning of so much neglect of our larger human family.

I walk into too many rooms named for people and companies that don’t mean well for the world, and then in those rooms we talk and talk about making the world better.

I struggled in particular with the project. I couldn’t figure out what bothered me about it for the longest time. I wasn’t very good at coming up with one or getting it done.

And I realized, through conversation with fellows in similar dilemmas, what my problem was. Many people, including some being featured later tonight, are engaged in truly extraordinary and commendable projects. We are at our best when our projects take the system head on. But I wrestled with what I perceived to be the idea behind the project, of creating generous side endeavors rather than fighting to reform, bite by bite, the hands that feed us. I felt the project distracted us from the real question: is your regular life — not your side project — on the right side … [more]
anandgiridharadas  capitalism  change  cooperation  aspeninstitute  philanthropy  climatechange  inequality  virtue  competition  inequity  elitism  power  systemschange  privilege  finance  wealth  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  wealthdistribution  davos  riggedgames  goldmansachs  indulgence  handwashing  via:tealtan  risk  stackeddecks  labor  employment  disruption  work  civics  commongood  abstraction  business  corporatism  corporations  taxes  government  socialgood  virtualization  economics  politics  policy  speculation  democracy  solidarity  socialjustice  neoliberalism  well-being  decency  egalitarianism  community  indulgences  noblesseoblige  absolution  racism  castes  leadership  generosity  sacrifice  gambling  gender  race  sexism  emotionallabor  positivity  slavery  socialsafetnet  winwin  zerosum  gentrification  stewardship  paradigmshifts  charitableindustrialcomplex  control 
august 2015 by robertogreco
The Internet of Things You Don’t Really Need - The Atlantic
"We already chose to forego a future of unconnected software. All of your devices talk constantly to servers, and your data lives in the Cloud because there’s increasingly no other choice. Eventually, we won’t have unconnected things, either. We’ve made that choice too, we just don’t know it yet. For the moment, you can still buy toasters and refrigerators and thermostats that don’t talk to the Internet, but try to find a new television that doesn’t do so. All new TVs are smart TVs, asking you to agree to murky terms and conditions in the process of connecting to Netflix or Hulu. Soon enough, everything will be like Nest. If the last decade was one of making software require connectivity, the next will be one of making everything else require it. Why? For Silicon Valley, the answer is clear: to turn every industry into the computer industry. To make things talk to the computers in giant, secured, air-conditioned warehouses owned by (or hoping to be owned by) a handful of big technology companies.

But at what cost? What improvements to our lives do we not get because we focused on “smart” things? Writing in The Baffler last year, David Graeber asked where the flying cars, force fields, teleportation pods, space colonies, and all the other dreams of the recent past’s future have gone. His answer: Technological development was re-focused so that it wouldn’t threaten existing seats of power and authority. The Internet of Things exists to build a market around new data about your toasting and grilling and refrigeration habits, while duping you into thinking smart devices are making your lives better than you could have made them otherwise, with materials other than computers. Innovation and disruption are foils meant to distract you from the fact that the present is remarkably similar to the past, with you working even harder for it.

But it sure feels like it makes things easier, doesn’t it? The automated bike locks and thermostats all doing your bidding so you can finally be free to get things done. But what will you do, exactly, once you can monitor your propane tank level from the comfort of the toilet or the garage or the liquor store? Check your Gmail, probably, or type into a Google Doc on your smartphone, maybe. Or perhaps, if you’re really lucky, tap some ideas into Evernote for your Internet of Things startup’s crowdfunding campaign. “It’s gonna be huge,” you’ll tell your cookout guests as you saw into a freshly grilled steak in the cool comfort of your Nest-controlled dining room. “This is the future.”"
2015  ianbogost  iot  internetofthings  design  davidgraeber  labor  siliconvalley  technology  power  authority  innovation  disruption  work  future  past  present  marketing  propaganda  google  cloud  cloudcomputing  computers  code  googledocs  ubicomp  ubiquitouscomputing  everyware  adamgreenfield  amazon  dropbox  kickstarter 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Orion Magazine | The Rules of the River
"At midnight on the Toklat River in the Alaska Range, the thermometer recorded ninety-three degrees. The sun, dragging anchor in the northwest sky, fired rounds of heat against the cabin. I was lying naked on the bunk, slapping mosquitos. Next to the wall, my husband lay completely covered by a white sheet, as still and dismayed as a corpse. He would rather be hot than bitten, and I would rather be bitten than hot.

I had come to the Toklat River to think about global warming, and it wasn’t going well. The week’s heat was breaking all-time records, drawing a new spike on the graph of jaggedly rising temperatures in Alaska. The average day is now four degrees warmer than just a few decades ago, and seven degrees warmer in winter. The Arctic is heating twice as fast as the rest of the world.

Furious and despairing, I had no chance of falling asleep that night. So I pulled on clothes and walked to the bank of the river.

The Toklat is a shallow river that braids across a good half mile of gravel beds, dried stream courses, and deep-dug channels. Sloshing with meltwater, it clatters along among islands and willow thickets. Banging rocks on cobblestones, surging into confused swells, the gray currents that night looked unpredictable and chaotic. But there were patterns.

A hydrologist once explained the rules of rivers to me as we walked a river-path. The dynamics of a river are manifestations of energy, he said. A fast, high-energy river will carry particles—the faster the river, the bigger the particle. But when it loses energy and slows, the river drops what it carries. So anything that slows a river can make a new landscape. It could be a stick lodged against a stone or the ribcage of a calf moose drowned at high water. Where the water piles against the obstacle, it drops its load, and an island begins to form. The island—in fact, any deposition—reshapes the current. As water curls around the obstacle, the current’s own force turns it upstream. Around one small change, the energy reorganizes itself entirely.

And here’s the point: no one pattern continues indefinitely; it always gives way to another. When there are so many obstacles and islands that a channel can no longer carry all its water and sediment, it crosses a stability threshold and the current carves a different direction. The change is usually sudden, often dramatic, the hydrologist said, a process called avulsion.

On the Toklat that night, the physics of the river played out right in front of me. A chunk of dirt and roots toppled from the bank, tumbled past me, and jammed against a mid-river stone. The current, dividing itself around the rootball, wrinkled sideways and turned upstream. It curled into pocket-eddies behind the roots. Even as I watched, the pockets filled with gravel and sand. A willow could grow there, and its roots could divide and slow the river further, gathering more gravel, creating a place where new life could take root.

I shoved a rock into the river. The sudden curl of current made me grin. Yes, we are caught up in a river rushing toward a hot, stormy, and dangerous planet. The river is powered by huge amounts of money invested in mistakes that are dug into the very structure of the land, a tangled braid of fearful politicians, preoccupied consumers, reckless corporations, and bewildered children—everyone, in some odd way, feeling helpless. Of course, we despair. How will we ever dam this flood?

But we don’t have to stop the river. Our work and the work of every person who loves this world—this one—is to make one small deflection in complacency, a small obstruction to profits, a blockage to business-as-usual, then another, and another, to change the energy of the flood. As it swirls around these snags and subversions, the current will slow, lose power, eddy in new directions, and create new systems and structures that change its course forever. On these small islands, new ideas will grow, creating thickets of living things and life-ways we haven’t yet imagined.

This is the work of disruption. This is the work of radical imagination. This is the work of witness. This is the steadfast, conscientious refusal to let a hell-bent economy force us to row its boat. This is much better than stewing in the night."
kathleendeanmoore  2014  via:anne  disruption  imagination  radicalism  witness  witnessing  conscientiousness  economics  work  complacency  globalwarming  alaska  arctic  toklatriver  rivers  patterns  continuity  change  avulsion 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Everything To Like About Kevin Carey’s #EndofCollege And Reasons to Pause — The Message — Medium
"If “The End of College” gives a little love to jobs, it does not give much love inequality. There isn’t a single discussion of any of higher education’s well-documentated fault lines in the entire book. That ommission undermines the arguments chosen to advance the major claim of what technology can do. Take for instance, Carey’s framing of higher education’s skyrocketing cost. He talks about high student loan debt and tuition. But debt and cost are relative. Despite impressive sounding aggregrate numbers about student loan debt the most vulnerable students are struggling with objectively small debt burdens. Making college cheaper by cutting out the expensive campus real estate arms race does not address the fact that cheap is not an absolute value. That is why race, class, gender, and citizenship status are ways to understand how much college costs: they map onto the relative nature of debt. If you don’t talk about why skyrocketing tuition is relative then you aren’t really talking about skyrocketing tuition. And if your argument is built on the claim that it counters skyrocketing tuition, then the slightest tug of the thread unravels the whole thing.

Let’s take another example of how the “End of College” argument talks about jobs. For Carey, the key to changing higher education is employers seeing online degrees as “official”. Becoming official could, indeed, change the game. We call it legitimacy and it is hard to earn, hard to keep but worth trying because legitimacy can turn a piece of paper into currency. If Mozilla badges become the preferred degree for jobs, we may be talking about a big deal. But, again, the challenge is not about quality of teaching or the skills people learn at online colleges. Colleges aren’t even the problem for online degrees’ quest to become official. The problem is that easy access to skills training is precisely what employers do not want. A labor market of all creeds and colors and cultures with objective skills is actually a nightmare for employers. Employers benefit when they can hire for fit and disguise it as skill. If the private sector were interested in skills over racism, sexism, and classism, it need not end college to end wage disparities. Employers could start by ending inequalities among the people they already employ. They don’t because politics makes it so they don’t have to. Carey overstates the private sector’s interest in skills and understates its interest in hiring for who we are as much as for what we know."



"The argument is well aware that political priorities and coalitions produce higher education crises. But what are those politics? The book never says. Of course, other books do say but there aren’t many references of them. A reader who picks up just this one book is going to know a lot more about technology and very little about the politics of how we live with technology.

Just once I would like a technological disruption to be tuned for the most fragile institutions, rather than the most well-heeled. Carey seems to aim for just that. Less well-funded colleges, especially those without the prestige to justify their tuition are squarely in Carey’s sights. The argument is that these schools cannot compete for the best; subsidizing them is throwing good money after bad; and, individuals are better left to their own devices. But even Carey’s choice of George Washington University does not represent the typical college in the U.S. or the diversity of colleges. There is no treatment of historically black colleges, Hispanic-serving colleges, or for-profit colleges. They are in the status competition race, too, with different stakes and different traditions with different importance for different reasons than Harvard or even George Washington University. The institutions, like the students they serve, just disappear in the future. The book is about the end of college but Carey’s higher education future only describes the end of some colleges.

All of that is also fine. Really, it is. Imagined futures can be useful thought experiments, although I admit a preference for those that do not erase people who look like me. But I’m selfish that way.

Thought experiments can be fun and edifying and useful abstractions. I like that about the tech sector’s approach to problem-solving. But in reality, these arguments can also suck the air out of the room precisely when we must make hard, political choices."
tressiemcmillancottom  education  highered  highereducation  2015  kevincarey  disruption  technology  class  inequality  race  politics  policy  meritocracy  future  endofcollege  forprofit  jobs  employment  legitimacy  badges  mozilla  credentials  debt  gender  tuition 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Winning Isn’t Everything — Matter — Medium
"I used to think that games would be the dominant medium of the 21st century. The reality? They’re too big, too complex, and too smart for that to be true."



"Despite all the aspirational chatter, a decade and a half into the 21st century a ludic century seems unlikely. Impossible, even. Perhaps it’s time to take a step back from grand proclamations about the past or the future of media, and instead treat it with the attention to detail systems thinking supposedly offers.

There’s a paradox at work in systems literacy. For games to embrace a role as windows onto complexity, as depictions of interconnected systems, they must also reject the very idea of dramatic, revolutionary, disruptive change that drives so much of our contemporary understanding about technology — or about anything whatsoever.

Real systems thinking assumes simple answers are always wrong. Yet when we talk about the future—even the future of games or of systems literacy—we tend to assume that they will unleash their transformative powers in a straightforward way, through ideas like a century with a dominant medium. We are meant to speak like Pollyannas about “changing the world,” rather than admitting that the very notion of changing the world is anathema to the fundamental promise of systems literacy, namely a rejection of simplicity and a distrust of singular answers.

After all, it’s not clear at all that the 20th century is best summarized as a century of the moving image, anyway. Too much happened to pin down a single influence or media form as dominant. Systems thinking would force us to admit that any singular innovation is caught up in a web of others. We could just as easily call the last century the “electric century,” because so many of its inventions and innovations were bound up in the rollout and use of electric power. Or perhaps the “recorded century,” because photography, phonography, and other methods of analog capture and preservation rose to prominence (eventually fusing into film) — not to mention digital information storage. Cinema itself relied on the rise of leisure and the desire for escape, facilitated by two decades of economic catastrophe and war during the Great Depression and World War II. Those features were only further amplified by the rise of suburbanism and automobile culture of the 1950s, where cinema coupled to youth, desire, and freedom.

As the media theorist Marshall McLuhan put it (in 1964, I might add), “a new medium is never an addition to an old one, nor does it leave the old one in peace. It never ceases to oppress the older media until it finds new shapes and positions for them.” McLuhan thinks about media in relation to one another, as a media ecosystem subject to analysis through media ecology. There are just too many elements at work in a medium’s development and decay to single one of them out for special treatment.

When we think about a ludic century or an age of systems literacy, we do so by putting games at the center of the media ecosystem and pondering their influences on our senses and our communities. But such an idea is a fantasy. And there’s no better way of revealing that fantasy than asking instead what conditions would have to exist in order to produce the kind of age that Zimmerman, Spector, Gee, or I have imagined.

A ludic century wouldn’t just be one in which games, play, process, and systems thinking are enhanced, to use one of McLuhan’s terms. It would also be one in which the purportedly non-systemic, non-ludic formats that have reigned in the age of information — namely speech, writing, image, and the moving image — are made obsolete. For systems thinking to reign, linear and narrative thinking would have to wane.

But just the opposite has happened. We’ve never been more surrounded with text and pictures and moving images than we are in the digital era. Over half a century ago, the MIT computer scientist Alan J. Perlis imagined an age of “procedural literacy” brought about by new computational expertise — an early version of the dream of the ludic century. But instead, digital technology has accelerated the rate of production and consumption of “legacy” media formats like writing and photography.

Mostly we use computers to read, write, and look at things — not to build or experience models of complex worlds, real or imagined. It’s as if the horse still pulled the automobile rather than being displaced by it, or if the phone booth had enjoyed a sustained new fashion as a venue to make private calls, texts, or Snapchats from your smartphone."



"Games are ancient, and they are not going anywhere anytime soon. But their stock is not rising at the rate that their fans’ Twitter streams and Web forums might suggest. Instead of a ludic age, perhaps we have entered an era of shredded media. Some forms persist more than others, but more than any one medium, we are surrounded by the rough-edged bits and pieces of too many media to enumerate. Writing, images, aphorisms, formal abstraction, collage, travesty. Photography, cinema, books, music, dance, games, tacos, cats, car services. If anything, there has never been a weirder, more disorienting, and more lively time to be a creator and a fanatic of media in all their varieties. Why ruin the moment by being the one trying to get everyone to play a game while we’re letting the flowers blossom? A ludic century need not be a century of games. Instead, it can just be a century. With games in it."
ianbogost  2014  games  gaming  systemsthinking  disruption  culture  systemsliteracy  videogames  media  theory  marshallmcluhan  play  film  linear  linearity  photography  video  narrative  alanjperlis  proceduralliteracy  computation  computers  digital  consumption  writing  complexity  ericzimmerman  tomchatfield  warrenspector  austinwintory  jamespaulgee 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Hack Education Weekly Newsletter, No. 101
"Every week, I take all the essays and articles that I’ve bookmarked and sift through them in order to craft this newsletter. I’m always struck by how many weird and ridiculous claims are made about education and technology, both in the “mainstream” and industry press. (I don’t know why this continues to surprise me, and the right response, quite arguably, is to neither link to nor write for [http://www.jessestommel.com/blog/files/dear-chronicle.html ] these publications…)

There’s the continuous clarion call for more data collection, more automation, more engineering, more scientific management, and of course more disruptive innovation. These are the narratives loudly trying to shape the future.
Of course, these narratives are intertwined with power and policies. As Alan Jacobs notes [http://blog.ayjay.org/uncategorized/surveillance-and-care/ ], we confuse surveillance with care. We confuse surveillance with self-knowledge, Rob Horning adds [http://robhorningtni.tumblr.com/post/112618248845/your-permanent-record ]:
I don’t think self-knowledge can be reduced to matters of data possession and retention; it can’t be represented as a substance than someone can have more or less of. Self-knowledge is not a matter of having the most thorough archive of your deeds and the intentions behind them. It is not a quality of memories, or an amount of data. It is not a terrain to which you are entitled to own the most detailed map. Self-knowledge is not a matter of reading your own permanent record.

We confuse individuals’ acts of (self-)documentation with structural change and justice. We confuse the “sharing economy” for the latter as well. According to Evgeny Morozov:
The citizens, who are not yet fully aware of these dilemmas, might eventually realise that the actual choice we are facing today is not between the market and the state, but between politics and non-politics. It’s a choice between a system bereft of any institutional and political imagination – where some permutation of hackers, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists is the default answer to every social problem – and a system, where explicitly political solutions that might question who – citizens, firms, the state – ought to own what, and on what terms, are still part of the conversation.

It doesn’t help that so many of these narratives comes from “a town without history,” as Mike Caulfield observes in “People Have the Star Trek Computer Backwards.”

[See also: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:450933ec9018 ]
audreywatters  alanjacobs  robhorning  evgenymorozov  2015  surveillance  care  education  edtech  mikecaulfield  data  datacollection  management  scientificmanagement  self-knowledge  caring  permanentrecords  permanentrecord  records  justice  socialhustice  hierarchy  patriarchy  siliconvalley  edreform  technosolutionism  politics  policy  control  power  citizenship  civics  legibility  documentation  assessment  accountability  sharingeconomy  jessestommel  innovation  disruption  disruptiveinnovation 
march 2015 by robertogreco
BusinessTown
"An ongoing project attempting to explain our highly intangible, deeply disruptive, data-driven, venture-backed, gluten-free economic meritocracy to the uninitiated. With apologies to Richard Scarry."

[via: http://kottke.org/15/01/richard-scarrys-business-business-town
see also: http://boingboing.net/2014/11/26/tom-the-dancing-bug-richard-s.html ]
humor  richardscarry  labor  work  siliconvalley  business  2015  meritocracy  bullshitjobs  disruption 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Convivial Tools in an Age of Surveillance
"What would convivial ed-tech look like?

The answer can’t simply be “like the Web” as the Web is not some sort of safe and open and reliable and accessible and durable place. The answer can’t simply be “like the Web” as though the move from institutions to networks magically scrubs away the accumulation of history and power. The answer can’t simply be “like the Web” as though posting resources, reference services, peer-matching, and skill exchanges — what Illich identified as the core of his “learning webs” — are sufficient tools in the service of equity, freedom, justice, or hell, learning.

“Like the Web” is perhaps a good place to start, don’t get me wrong, particularly if this means students are in control of their own online spaces — its content, its data, its availability, its publicness. “Like the Web” is convivial, or close to it, if students are in control of their privacy, their agency, their networks, their learning. We all need to own our learning — and the analog and the digital representations or exhaust from that. Convivial tools do not reduce that to a transaction — reduce our learning to a transaction, reduce our social interactions to a transaction.

I'm not sure the phrase "safe space" is quite the right one to build alternate, progressive education technologies around, although I do think convivial tools do have to be “safe” insofar as we recognize the importance of each other’s health and well-being. Safe spaces where vulnerability isn’t a weakness for others to exploit. Safe spaces where we are free to explore, but not to the detriment of those around us. As Illich writes, "A convivial society would be the result of social arrangements that guarantee for each member the most ample and free access to the tools of the community and limit this freedom only in favor of another member’s equal freedom.”

We can’t really privilege “safe” as the crux of “convivial” if we want to push our own boundaries when it comes to curiosity, exploration, and learning. There is risk associated with learning. There’s fear and failure (although I do hate how those are being fetishized in a lot of education discussions these days, I should note.)

Perhaps what we need to build are more compassionate spaces, so that education technology isn’t in the service of surveillance, standardization, assessment, control.

Perhaps we need more brave spaces. Or at least many educators need to be braver in open, public spaces -- not brave to promote their own "brands" but brave in standing with their students. Not "protecting them” from education technology or from the open Web but not leaving them alone, and not opening them to exploitation.

Perhaps what we need to build are more consensus-building not consensus-demanding tools. Mike Caulfield gets at this in a recent keynote about “federated education.” He argues that "Wiki, as it currently stands, is a consensus *engine*. And while that’s great in the later stages of an idea, it can be deadly in those first stages.” Caulfield relates the story of the Wikipedia entry on Kate Middleton’s wedding dress, which, 16 minutes after it was created, "someone – and in this case it probably matters that is was a dude – came and marked the page for deletion as trivial, or as they put it 'A non-notable article incapable of being expanded beyond a stub.’” Debate ensues on the entry’s “talk” page, until finally Jimmy Wales steps in with his vote: a “strong keep,” adding "I hope someone will create lots of articles about lots of famous dresses. I believe that our systemic bias caused by being a predominantly male geek community is worth some reflection in this context.”

Mike Caulfield has recently been exploring a different sort of wiki, also by Ward Cunningham. This one — called the Smallest Federated Wiki — doesn’t demand consensus like Wikipedia does. Not off the bat. Instead, entries — and this can be any sort of text or image or video, it doesn’t have to “look like” an encyclopedia — live on federated servers. Instead of everyone collaborating in one space on one server like a “traditional” wiki, the work is distributed. It can be copied and forked. Ideas can be shared and linked; it can be co-developed and co-edited. But there isn’t one “vote” or one official entry that is necessarily canonical.

Rather than centralized control, conviviality. This distinction between Wikipedia and Smallest Federated Wiki echoes too what Illich argued: that we need to be able to identify when our technologies become manipulative. We need "to provide guidelines for detecting the incipient stages of murderous logic in a tool; and to devise tools and tool systems that optimize the balance of life, thereby maximizing liberty for all."

Of course, we need to recognize, those of us that work in ed-tech and adopt ed-tech and talk about ed-tech and tech writ large, that convivial tools and a convivial society must go hand-in-hand. There isn’t any sort of technological fix to make education better. It’s a political problem, that is, not a technological one. We cannot come up with technologies that address systematic inequalities — those created by and reinscribed by education— unless we are willing to confront those inequalities head on. Those radical education writers of the Sixties and Seventies offered powerful diagnoses about what was wrong with schooling. The progressive education technologists of the Sixties and Seventies imagined ways in which ed-tech could work in the service of dismantling some of the drudgery and exploitation.

But where are we now? Instead we find ourselves with technologies working to make that exploitation and centralization of power even more entrenched. There must be alternatives — both within and without technology, both within and without institutions. Those of us who talk and write and teach ed-tech need to be pursuing those things, and not promoting consumption and furthering institutional and industrial control. In Illich’s words: "The crisis I have described confronts people with a choice between convivial tools and being crushed by machines.""
toolforconviviality  ivanillich  audreywatters  edtech  technology  education  2014  seymourpapert  logo  alankay  dynabook  mikecaufield  wardcunningham  web  internet  online  schools  teaching  progressive  wikipedia  smallestfederatedwiki  wikis  society  politics  policy  decentralization  surveillance  doxxing  gamergate  drm  startups  venturecapital  bigdata  neilpostman  paulofreire  paulgoodman  datapalooza  knewton  computers  computing  mindstorms  control  readwrite  everettreimer  1960s  1970s  jonathankozol  disruption  revolution  consensus  safety  bravery  courage  equity  freedom  justice  learning 
november 2014 by robertogreco
The school with no rules that teaches the unteachable | Education | The Guardian
"The school’s guiding principles are empathy, respect, being non-judgemental and listening. This is, Lillis points out, a special school – there are only 40 boys, a maximum of eight to a class and in-house psychotherapists, one dedicated to children, the other to staff. Not every school can be like this, but she clearly believes that much of what goes on here could be applied elsewhere.

The building is colourful and inviting. There’s a rescue dog called McFlurry that the boys (and staff) dote on; the dining room has a juke box which seems to play all the time and there’s a flat where the boys can relax at lunchtime and where they have lessons in how to cook, wash and iron.

Elsewhere there’s a salon, where they can get haircuts, manicures and facials. It creates an easy, intimate atmosphere where even the most aggressive boys soften and have their spots squeezed and eyebrows shaped. They also learn about personal hygiene.

The atmosphere is calm and good-humoured, but the staff are constantly on alert, watching for signs of tension and intervening before anything erupts.

During the course of photographs being taken one of the boys pockets the photographer’s phone. “He always gives stuff back,” says Lillis, and he does, holding it way above the photographer’s head so she can’t reach it before finally handing it over. The head’s keys go missing; they quickly turn up. James, so closed and angry in the second episode, is there fresh-faced and laughing with the other boys.

Lillis is anxious about the documentary going out – extra support will be provided for the boys and their families – but she felt it was worth doing to encourage the public to empathise with the boys in her care and the difficulties their families face. “The current government has taken a real punitive stance in education and against families who have difficulties. Some parts of the media have run with that and glorified it.

“I wanted to give a voice to those who have been under attack and also challenge what it is that we are trying to do with education. We’ve lost sight of what education means.”

The world has changed dramatically in the past few decades, she says, “yet we are trying to have an education system that has not progressed and has not moved with society.”

Talking about the perils of idle chatting, she says: “Why are we trying to silence our children? They are locked into screens a lot of time. We need to encourage more oracy at school.”

Reacting to Pisa international league tables and the current obsession around learning from education systems in Singapore and elsewhere, she says: “We need to stop comparing ourselves to global markets and Asia. Where’s the innovation and creativity gone in Britain?

“We need to play again. We need to be creative. We need to get enjoyment again into our schools and our classrooms.”

She also warns against restrictions. “The more we try and suppress our youth, [the more likely it is] we will end with another form of riots and it will be far worse than it was a few years ago.”

Too Tough to Teach? Channel 5 9pm Monday 29 September and 6 October

The Ian Mikardo school rules

1 There are no rules

2 No detentions

3 No punishments

4 No rewards

5 No uniform (for staff or students)

6 No physical restraint

7 Instead, children are encouraged to empathise

8 Listen to each other

9 Be non-judgemental

10 And respect one another"
education  england  uk  alternative  listening  rules  ianmikardo  2014  behavior  patience  teaching  howweteach  disruption  empathy  respect 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Why Misogynists Make Great Informants: How Gender Violence on the Left Enables State Violence in Radical Movements | INCITE! Blog
"Informants in our movements are usually sent by an agency (I say this based on my personal investigations and reading of historical accounts) and Agents Provacatuers are usually self-nominated and misguided individualists (Same source). Whether you blame the state for the appearance of the latter, you can only blame our movement’s incohesion and inability to deal openly with internal conflict for their continued existence in the roles which serve to divide us.

Unless and until men (especially white men) are held accountable and actually challenged by persons in the movement in an open manner, this problem will continue to fester. What happens instead is the soft approach; the telltale abuse survivor adaptation of slander, often anonymously posted or subversively communicated.

Oh, sure it is an effective way to get at the real bastards and undercut their authority. But it is also a great way to play on the fears, ideals, and guilt of the left in general, and isolate the not-so-bastards. Because we each want so earnestly to be good allies, we tend to adopt the “believe the victim” maxim. And that is a great thing to offer when it is time to listen in private to someone who needs to tell their story. But it is a toxic thing to turn around and repeat that story as if you “know” it to be true. It is especially toxic to turn that “knowledge” of only one side of the story into action in the community. Often that action is only symbolic, sometimes it is violence. Would any of us tolerate a state trial which muzzled the defense attorney? We sure would – if the accused were a white male who pisses us off in a meeting!

We hold governments to be acocuntable through an open medium, and expect debate and counter argument. But too often we throw this out when we hear rumors of bad behavior by the guy who pisses us off in a meeting. We expect the government or corporations to come clean with an account of what they are doing, and yet almost never actually do that hard work when it comes time to find out whether someone who was accused really is that bastard their former partner says they were.

Abuse is real, and it needs to be challenged wherever we find it. But too often, we really want validation and not a harder search for the truth – and we are too easily swayed by anyone who tells us we’re special, that our own bad behavior really isn’t as bad, or bad enough, to be addressed. Isn’t that what the mysogynists say? It sure is. The most disgusting thing I ever heard a mysogynist say was that she was not responsible for her abuse because of her gender.

I am a man, and I have made mistakes for which I will always mourn. But I am a man, and not a role or an ‘archy,’ and I will always demand of my community that it speak truth to power even if that power is me.

Nothing about me, without me."

[See also: http://www.deathandtaxesmag.com/228916/on-sexism-sexual-assault-and-the-threat-of-the-non-bro/ ]
gender  misogyny  feminism  activism  politics  2014  informants  history  blackpanthers  brownberets  courtneydesireemorris  disruption  abuse  power  conflict  incohesion  organization  hierarchy  horizontality  organizing  anarchism  sexism  blackpantherparty 
september 2014 by robertogreco
My letter of application to the Harvard Kennedy School's Senior Professorship of Social Innovation
"Dear Sir or Madam, But Most Likely Sir:

I am writing to apply for your advertised position in Social Innovation. As a Comparative Literature Ph.D, I am proficient in the fabrication of closed tautological circles of non-meaning; this makes me the ideal candidate for a job seeking “innovative teachers…for the position of lecturer in innovation.”

On the other hand, as an Assistant Professor of English, I know only too well the dangers of failing to innovate. For example, I am often forced to talk to human students who are sitting in bounded classrooms often wired for multimedia applications I am unable or simply unwilling to use. Paper books are an obsolete technology barely worthy of the word, and poetry, despite its promising shortness, takes far too long to understand. These hardships have granted me an acute understanding of the innovation deficit your department so bravely seeks to overcome.

In spite of English Literature’s disciplinary hostility to “innovation,” change agency, and both entre- and intra-preneurship, my training as a literature scholar would offer immediate benefits to your department’s offerings in Social Innovation. For example, I would be pleased to proofread your job advertisements, in order to innovate their presently sub-optimal levels of intelligibility.

The professorship is open to both distinguished practitioners, especially those with a deep understanding of social entrepreneurship, and to tenure-level scholars in fields related to social innovation, including social entrepreneurs, social intrapreneurs and, more broadly, social change makers.

“Social entrepreneurs” are not a field, as the sentence’s syntax suggests, and that final clause could be made nimbler by using the adjective “social” only once, as here: “social entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, and change makers.” In addition, it’s not clear that “change makers” constitutes a broader category than “entrepreneurs,” yet neither is it obviously more specific. Given my exposure to creative industries like literature, I would be excited to invent more terminology to make this list of synonyms for “businessman” even longer.

But innovating new ways of saying “entrepreneur” isn’t the only thought-leadership I would exercise within the field of Innovation Studies. As thinkfluencers have argued persuasively, disruption must occur not only within fields and businesses but institutions and organizations. My first intrapreneurial initiative, therefore, would be to fatally disrupt your (hopefully soon to be our) department. Moving our courses entirely online and replacing department faculty other than myself with low-wage adjuncts armed with xeroxes of J.S. Schumpeter quotations would improve efficiency, reach even more students, and ultimately make a bigger difference.

To paraphrase a great disruptor: We must destroy the Professorship of Social Innovation in order to save it. I am available for immediate Skype interviews.

Sincerely,

John Patrick Leary"
2014  via:javierarbona  johnpatrickleary  language  business  education  highered  malarkey  highereducation  bullshitjobs  intrapreneurs  entrepreneurs  changeagency  thoughtleaders  leadership  thinkfluencers  disruption  endoftimes  socialentrepreneurship  entrepreneurialism  jsschumpter  innovation  canon  changemaking  changemakers 
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
Bruce Sterling's The Caryatids, my pick for best book of 2009, a novel of clear-eyed hope for the future - Boing Boing
"In The Caryatids, global warming has melted practically every government in the world (except China) -- leaving behind a slurry of refugees, rising seas, and inconceivable misery. But there are two stable monoliths sticking out of the chaos, a pair of "civil society groups" that embody the two major schools of smart green thought today: the Dispensation are Al Gore green capitalists based out of California who understand that glamor and profits, properly aimed, achieve more than any amount of stern determination and chaste conservation; their rivals are the Aquis, mostly European anarcho-techno-geeks who have abandoned money in favor of technologically mediated communal life where giant, powerful, barely controlled machines are deployed to save the refugees and heal the Earth.

The titular Caryatids are the seven clone-sisters of a Balkan war criminal (who is hiding out in orbit in a junk satellite), raised as part of a terrible fin-de-siecle plan to create a cadre of superwoman generals who would lead a militarized guerrilla force after the environmental catastrophe reached scale. Now they are scattered to the winds and divided among the world's superpowers, and the only thing they hate more than their "mother" is each other.

And the story unfolds, taking us on a tour of a 2060 Earth where the worst imaginable things have happened and yet humanity has survived. Is thriving. Not a perfect utopia, but not a tormented post-apocalyptic chaos either. Sterling's future is one in which the human race's best and most important and most deadly machine -- civilization -- survives its own meltdown.

More importantly, the future of The Caryatids is one in which human beings confront the terrible reality that technology favors attackers -- favors those who would disrupt the status quo because it gives them force-multiplier power, and undermines defenders because the complexity of a technological society always creates potential fault-lines that attackers can exploit. And in that society, Sterling's civil society types -- who care about saving the planet, even though they disagree about the best way to do this -- do their damnedest to build stable technological societies. Because in Earth's future -- and in Sterling's -- there's no going back to the land for us. Not because the land is too poisoned, but because billions of charcoal-burning hunter-gatherers are far more hazardous to the planet than a neatly ordered world of cities in which technology is used to minimize our footprints by giving us smarter handprints.

Most importantly, the future of The Caryatids is one in which there is hope. Not naive, wishful thinking hope. Hard-nosed, utterly plausible hope, for a future in which the human race outthinks its worse impulses and survives despite all the odds."
climatechange  brucesterling  hope  future  2009  corydoctorow  technology  technosolutionism  environmentalism  sustainability  novels  globalwarming  disruption  society  civilization  collapse  2060 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Corporate America Hasn’t Been Disrupted | FiveThirtyEight
"Talk to anyone in Silicon Valley these days, and it’s hard to go more than two minutes without hearing about “disruption.” Uber is disrupting the taxi business. Airbnb is disrupting the hotel business. Apple’s iTunes disrupted the music industry, but now risks being disrupted by Spotify. Listen long enough, and it’s hard not to conclude that existing companies, no matter how big and powerful, are all but doomed, marking time until their inevitable overthrow by hoodie-wearing innovators.

In fact, the opposite is true. By a wide range of measures, the advantages of incumbency in corporate America have never been greater. “The business sector of the United States,” economists Ian Hathaway and Robert Litan wrote in a recent Brookings Institution paper, “appears to be getting ‘old and fat.’”"
disruption  capitalism  us  startups  entrepreneurship  economics  business  2014 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Paul Franz Rains Hot Fire on the Silicon Valley's Disruption of Education (with tweets) · ddmeyer · Storify
"It's so liberating to spend my mental energy thinking about how to be a good teacher.

What I'm doing now is more fulfilling and more meaningful. I was around ed tech long enough to see that it's mostly hot air.

The problem with ed tech, add a sector, is not that it is capitalistic. It's that education is so much more complicated than anything else.

Seriously. MOOC hype, for example, was a classic case of techies and entrepreneurs not even remotely understanding how learning works.

Don't get me wrong. There are some good people at Coursera and all. But that they're not going to revolutionize anything is clear by now.

And they never were because education poses social, economic, cultural, and psychological problems they aren't equipped to address.

So it's all well and good that some people learn some skills through MOOCs, but that does not a revolution make.

In short, designing for learning is hard. Pretending that all it takes is faster computers and more money is foolish.

That's a core tenet of technological determinism though... Faster computers and more money solve everything.

Thing is, again, education poses the hardest problems. Harder than software can solve.

There was no app in the world that would have made a whit of difference with the kids I worked with in Hawaii with NALU Studies.

People made a difference.

The best educational technology we have is always our attention."
paulfranz  edtech  education  technology  2014  siliconvalley  complexity  attention  teaching  howweteach  mooc  moocs  coursera  learning  howwelearn  economics  culture  psychology  disruption 
august 2014 by robertogreco
elearnspace › Bundling and Re-bundling
[via: http://tinyletter.com/audreywatters/letters/hack-education-weekly-newsletter-no-70 ]

"Unbundling is an appealing concept to change mongers. The lessons of the album and mp3′s is strong with these folks. MP3s lead to newspapers which lead to music and media in general. Since change mongers (a species native to Silicon Valley but now becoming an invasive species in numerous regions around the world. Frankenfish comes to mind) do not have much regard for nuance and detail, opting instead for blunt mono-narratives, unbundling is a perfect concept to articulate needed change.

There are a few things wrong with the idea of unbundling in education:

1. Unbundling is different in social systems than it is in a content only system. An album can be unbundled without much loss. Sure, albums like The Wall don’t unbundle well, but those are exceptions. Unbundling a social system has ripple effects that cannot always be anticipated. The parts of a social system are less than the whole of a social system. Unbundling, while possible in higher education, is not a zero sum game. The pieces on the board that get rearranged will have a real impact on learners, society, and universities.

2. When unbundling happens, it is only temporary. Unbundling leads to rebundling. And digital rebundling results in less players and less competition. What unbundling represents then is a power shift. Universities are today an integrated network of products and services. Many universities have started to work with partners like Pearson (ASU is among the most prominent) to expand capacity that is not evident in their existing system.

Rebundling is what happens when the pieces that are created as a sector moves online become reintegrated into a new network model. It is most fundamentally a power shift. The current integrated higher education system is being pulled apart by a range of companies and startups. Currently the university is in the drivers seat. Eventually, the unbundled pieces will be integrated into a new network model that has a new power structure. For entrepreneurs, the goal appears to be to become part of a small number of big winners like Netflix or Google. When Sebastian Thrun stated that Udacity would be one of only 10 universities in the future, he was exhibiting the mentality that has existed in other sectors that have unbundled. Unbundling is not the real story: the real issue is the rebundling and how power structures are re-architected. Going forward, rebundling will remove the university from the drivers seat and place the control into the re-integrated networks."
georgesiemens  via:audreywatters  education  unbubdling  bundling  control  economics  universities  colleges  highered  highereducation  pearson  siliconvalley  disruption 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Maximum Happy Imagination | Magical Nihilism
"His analogies run out in the 20th century when it comes to the political, social and economic implications of his maximum happy imagination.

Consumer-capitalism in-excelsis?

That system of the world was invented. It’s not really natural. To imagine that capitalism is not subject to deconstruction, reinvention or critique in maximum happy imagination seems a little silly.

If disruption is your mantra – why not go all the way?

He states right at the start that there are zero jobs in the sectors affected by his future. Writers on futures such as Toffler and Rifkin, and SF from the lofty peaks of Arthur C. Clarke to the perhaps lower, more lurid weekly plains of 2000AD have speculated for decades on ‘The Leisure Problem’.

Recently, I read “The Lights in the Tunnel” by Martin Ford which extrapolates a future similar to Andreesen’s, wherein the self-declared market-capitalist author ends up arguing for something like a welfare state…

Another world is possible, right?

I’ll hope Marc might grudgingly nod at that at least.

It’ll need brains like his to get there."
mattjones  2014  marcandreessen  economics  capitalism  disruption  leisure  martinford  welfarestate  universalbasicincome  work  labor  markets  ubi 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Jill Lepore: What the Theory of “Disruptive Innovation” Gets Wrong : The New Yorker
“Every age has a theory of rising and falling, of growth and decay, of bloom and wilt: a theory of nature. Every age also has a theory about the past and the present, of what was and what is, a notion of time: a theory of history. Theories of history used to be supernatural: the divine ruled time; the hand of God, a special providence, lay behind the fall of each sparrow. If the present differed from the past, it was usually worse: supernatural theories of history tend to involve decline, a fall from grace, the loss of God’s favor, corruption. Beginning in the eighteenth century, as the intellectual historian Dorothy Ross once pointed out, theories of history became secular; then they started something new—historicism, the idea “that all events in historical time can be explained by prior events in historical time.” Things began looking up. First, there was that, then there was this, and this is better than that. The eighteenth century embraced the idea of progress; the nineteenth century had evolution; the twentieth century had growth and then innovation. Our era has disruption, which, despite its futurism, is atavistic. It’s a theory of history founded on a profound anxiety about financial collapse, an apocalyptic fear of global devastation, and shaky evidence.”

[See also: http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2014/06/clayton_christensen_and_disruptive_innovation_is_the_concept_a_myth.single.html
disruption  innovation  history  jilllepore  2014  claytonchristensen  buseiness  strategy  startups 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Marc Andreessen and the Inevitability of Catastrophic Ideas - The Awl
"It's not false to say that some crumbs perforce will fall from the tables of the rich onto those of the poor. It in no way follows, however, that that is the way bread should be shared."



"Those affiliated with the humanities—who interest themselves in all the things that can’t be measured, but must be judged instead, like moral, aesthetic and philosophical questions—are experiencing a daily low-grade fever of dissatisfaction (or generalized rage, in the case of Sam Biddle) as we are daily sold on the inevitability of catastrophic ideas. In 2003, Donald Rumsfeld told a reporter that the OMB had estimated that the Iraq War would cost something less than $50 billion—the total sum, to be shared by the US and its allies. There would be “smart bombs,” plans laid by expert warmongerers, all kinds of precision.
None of this persuaded the people who’d read their history and learned about the politics, who were warning against the likelihood of disaster and of civil war and the emboldening of extremists, and who marched in their millions (many, many millions) in the streets of the world’s capital cities in early 2003. So it rankles in a particular way to see that the true cost of the Iraq War topped $2 trillion not long ago.

What is the study of humanities for? It’s to prevent this. To apply the lessons of history, and consider the possible costs to the future. To consider not only what will profit us but what will be right for us to do, and why. Andreessen, a dyed-in-the-wool measurer and chart-monger if there ever was one, is a man who would never even dream of a just world, where all would sit at the same table. He is the living example of what is lost when we value things only through the money they represent."

[Via http://log.scifihifi.com/post/89088821716/those-affiliated-with-the-humanities-who-interest who adds:

"This is exactly why so much the tech industry’s rhetoric these days makes broadly educated people feel like they’re taking crazy pills. When Marc Andreesen claims, for example, that we’re about to enter a robot utopia where we all paint and compose symphonies in perfect economic harmony (and that any unpleasantness in the intervening period will be smoothed over by a form of trickle down economics that demands nothing of the rich while ensuring that society doesn’t collapse under the weight of crushing economic inequality), it’s hard not to wonder if he knows anything at all about, oh, say, the entire history of humanity. When he attempts to undermine a critic by mocking her liberal arts credentials and pointing out that she surely can’t be as smart as him because she probably knows nothing about real, scienc-ey things like “quantum entanglement,” he only demonstrates that, like so many blinkered, self-proclaimed rationalists in tech, he knows the price of everything and the value of nothing."]
technosolutionism  disruption  ideology  siliconvalley  californianideology  libertarianism  inequality  humanities  mariabustillos  2014  marcandreessen 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Will Richardson Ignite Presentation ISTE 2013 [Vimeo]
[Notes from: http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com/2012/07/19-bold-not-old-ideas-for-change.html ]

"1. Give open network tests. Forget open book / phone tests.
Let’s have open network assessments where students can use the tools they own and love for learning. School should not be a place where we force kids to unplug and disconnect from the world.

2. Stop wasting money on textbooks.
Make your own texts with things like wikis.

3. Google yourself
If we’re not empowering ourselves and our students to be Google well, we’re not doing a good job.

4. Flip the power structure from adults to learners
Empower students with the tools and resources they need to go where they want to go and explore and develop their interests and passions.

5. Don’t do work for the classroom
Support learners in doing work that is worthy of, can exist in, and can change the world.

6. Stop telling kids to do their own work
That’s not reality any longer. Support them in collaborating, interacting, and cooperating with others.

7. Learn first. Teach second.
We must come into our classrooms knowing that we are learners first. If we think we are teachers first, we are not giving our students the powerful learning models they’ll need to be successful.

8. No more how-to workshops
Educators should know how to find out how to on their own. When we come together it should be to talk about how we are doing.

9. Share everything
The best work of you and your students should be shared online. This will help us all get better.

10. Ask questions you don’t know the answer to
The learning of high stakes tests with predetermined answers is not as powerful as the learning that comes from finding our own new and unique answers.

11. Believe that you want to be found by strangers on the internet
If you think kids aren’t going to interact with strangers on the internet, you’re wrong. Let’s embrace that and support kids in being smart when doing so and learning a lot about the minds they are meeting.

12. Rethink the role of the teacher
We should not be doing the same work that 20th century teachers did. Consider how technology can and should change our roles.

13. Toss the resume
No one cares about your resume anymore. The internet is the new resume. What will people find when they look at who you are online? That is what you should be focusing on.

14. Go beyond Google to learn
Build your personal learning network and learn with and from the people you know via places like Twitter and Facebook.

15. Go free and open source
We have a budget crises, yet schools are wasting millions on things that are offered for free.

16. Create an UnCommon Core
Don’t ask how you will meet the common core, empower kids to think about how they will change the world.

17. Stop delivering the curriculum
This is no longer necessary. Information can be accessed without a teacher. Move beyond delivery to discovery.

18. Be subversive
When Lisa (was he talking about me?) is told to do a standardized test, stand up and say NO! We have to be disruptive and push back.

19, Stand up and scream
Tell everyone that education is not about publishers and politicians but rather it’s about what students and parents want and how teachers can best give that to them."
willrichardson  2013  education  unlearning  opensource  free  curriculum  howweteach  howwelearn  learning  teaching  schools  networks  systemsthinking  disruption  testing  openbooktests  opennetworktests  resumes  textbooks  power  hierarchies  hierarchy  horizontality  web  internet  access  information  collaboration  cheating  google  twitter  lifelonglearning  question  askingquestion  questionasking  subversion  empowerment  askingquestions 
june 2014 by robertogreco
The Deliberate Practice of Disruption
"This model is an accurate one in descriptive terms, but a terrible one in normative terms. So let me propose a highly prejudiced contrarian reading of what Csikszentmihalyi is describing.

What we have here is a closed boundary defined by a symbolic domain (rather than raw, unmediated reality), within which there are awestruck beginners and awe-inspiring experts. Expert performance is primarily a beautiful feeling that is derived not from the effects of the performance itself, but from the integration of metacognition and cognition into an internal superego. An inner [Tiger-] parental spectator that supervises performance according to an external standard of error-free perfection, and rewards you psychologically to the extent that you meet that standard. The performance is necessarily an incremental push beyond the edge, where received standards of performance and aesthetics can be reliably extrapolated. You cannot apply standards of violin performance if you suddenly decide to use your violin as a bat in an improvised game of softball (a profane use of a violin that is nevertheless physically possible).

In short, this is sustaining innovation driven by groupthink, divorced from reality by an internal language of symbols, and limited to what doesn’t violate sacred standards of quality or prevailing aesthetic sensibilities. As determined by honored retirees whose expertise is beyond doubt.

The reward for such metacognition is in fact the subjective state of flow: a regime of behavioral sacredness that is valued for its own sake rather than for its effects, and which is rewarded in social ways.

Disruptive Metacognition: Finding Ugly Awkwardness

It’s easy to get to the broader notion of deliberate practice. The base layer is still the same. You’re still practicing the skill for 10,000 hours.

It’s the metacognition that is different. Instead of finding creative flow, you seek out ugly awkwardness that nevertheless intrigues and tempts you. You figure out what feels uncomfortable and “wrong” in some sense, but also alluring, and figure out why. There are no judges to tell you if you’re right. There are no aesthetic standards to internalize. There are no performance standards other than what you’ve yourself done before or the behaviors of people you choose to imitate because you can’t think of anything yourself.

And most importantly, there is no clear understanding of whether variation from your own past behavior or others’ behaviors should be considered error or innovation."



"So disruptive metacognition is irreverent and transgressive. It does not respect received sacred/profane distinctions. It does not justify extended practice on the basis of “pay your dues” but as a means of exploration. It does not seek flow as an end in itself, divorced from the effects of performance. While sustaining metacognition can be whimsical in an approved way, it cannot be offensively playful in the sense of irreverently crossing the boundary separating sacred and profane. Only disruptive metacognition can do that.

If the reward for effective sustaining metacognition is a sense of your own inner sacredness, experienced as flow, the reward for effective disruptive metacognition is a sense of snowballing absurdity and paradox that miraculously does not unravel. Effective awkwardness that inspires irreverent laughter rather than reverent awe. Instead of approval from honored figures, you get the slightly vicious pleasures of desecration.

While it is possible to do this all this in closed worlds of performance, it takes a kind of sociopathy to ignore expert tastes (or refined customer/audience tastes) and willingness to suffer being punished for being genuinely innovative (customers of cultural products punish straying performers much more than other kinds of customers). This is why early rockers shocked classical musical purists by burning or smashing guitars. Of course, you can also shock aging rockers’ sense of the sacred by not being outrageous (“kids today, they have no rebellion in them!”)."



"The bad news is that success still depends on repeating some skilled behavior in roughly the 10,000 hour range, at “good enough” levels, before you’ll start stumbling across mutations that are both good and haven’t been spotted and explored before. This is why “good ideas” that beginners come up with, even if actually good, aren’t worth much. They lack the behavioral base to actually go down the bunny trail opened up by the idea. The have the idea, but not the idea maze. The genetic mutation without the protein synthesis machinery.

But if you do have the disruptive deliberate practice under your belt you can, well, be disruptive.

If you know the basics of disruption theory, you know it involves attacking a market from a marginal niche. I won’t rehash that. But I will state what might be a new point. What’s disruptive about disruption is that it violates a prevailing sense of the sacred with irreverent profanity.

A disruptor attacks a saintly mindset rather than a market. A mindset that holds certain performance standards and aesthetic considerations to be sacred, and is blind to the potential of what it considers profane. The disruptor wins by being mediocre where it is a sacred duty to be exceptional, and embracing profanity where saints are blinded by their own taboos."
venkateshrao  flow  disruption  2014  metacognition  conservatism  establishment  closedworlds  disciplines  practice  taboos  mindset  change  mutations  openworlds  gatekeepers  cv  aekwardness  mavericks  sociopathy  rewards  motivation  social  groupthink  sacredness  performance 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Reclaiming Innovation
"Udell notes: "There's a reason I keep finding novel uses for these trailing-edge technologies. I see them not as closed products and services, but rather as toolkits that invite their users to adapt and extend them.""

"Rather than framing everything at the course level, we should be deploying these technologies for the individual."

"Viewed as a whole, the web today bears little resemblance to the innately democratic and decentralized network that seduced and enticed us a decade ago."

"Railing against the academy's failure to embrace a perceived risk can be dismal fun for many of us, but an honest appraisal of our own missteps has to be in the mix."
2014  jimgroom  brianlamb  audreywatters  internet  web  highered  highereducation  it  ict  technology  mooc  moocs  disruption  open  edupunk  lms  openpublishing  publishing  adomainofone'sown  diy  decentralization  anildash  georgesiemens  stephendownes  jonudell  benjaminbratton  vendors  silos  security  privacy  venturecapital  tonyhirst  timberners-lee  bryanalexander  openness  reclaimhosting  indieweb 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Against "Innovation" #CNIE2014
[See also: http://steelemaley.net/2014/05/16/philosophers-innovation-and-questioning/ ]

"One culture values openness and collaboration and inquiry and exploration and experimentation. The other has adopted a couple of those terms and sprinkled them throughout its marketing copy, while promising scale and efficiency and cost-savings benefits. One culture values community, and the other reflects a very powerful strain of American individualism — not to mention California exceptionalism — one that touts personal responsibility, self-management, and autonomy."



"As I read Solnit’s diary about the changes the current tech boom is bringing to San Francisco, I can’t help but think about the changes that the current ed-tech boom might also bring to education, to our schools and colleges and universities. To places that have also been, in certain ways, a "refuge for dissidents, queers, pacifists and experimentalists.”

Global ed-tech investment hit a record high this year: $559 million across 103 funding deals in the the first quarter of the year alone. How does that shape or reshape the education landscape?

In the struggle to build “a great hive,” to borrow Solnit’s phrase, that is a civil society and not just a corporate society, we must consider the role that education has played — or is supposed to play — therein, right? What will all this investment bring about? Innovation? To what end?

When we “innovate” education, particularly when we “innovate education” with technology, which direction are we moving it? Which direction and why?

Why, just yesterday, an interview was published with Udacity founder Sebastian Thrun, who’s now moving away from the MOOC hype and the promises he and others once made that MOOCs would “democratize education.” Now he says, and I quote, “If you’re affluent, we can do a much better job with you, we can make magic happen." Screw you, I guess, if you're poor.

I’ve gestured towards things so far in this talk that might tell us a bit about the culture of Silicon Valley, about the ideology of Silicon Valley.

But what is the ideology of “innovation.” The idea pre-dates Silicon Valley to be sure."



"See, as I started to gather my thoughts about this talk, as I thought about the problems with Silicon Valley culture and Silicon Valley ideology, I couldn’t help but choke on this idea of “innovation.”

So I’d like to move now to a critique of “innovation,” urge caution in chasing “innovation,” and poke holes, in particular, in the rhetoric surrounding “innovation.” I’d like to challenge how this word gets wielded by the technology industry and by extension by education technologists.

And I do this, I admit in part, because I grow so weary of the word. “Innovation” the noun, “innovative” the adjective, “innovate” the verb — they’re bandied about all over the place, in press releases and marketing copy, in politicians’ speeches, in business school professors’ promises, in economists’ diagnoses, in administrative initiatives. Um, in the theme of this conference and the name of this organization behind it.

(Awkward.)

What is “innovation”? What do we mean by the term? Who uses it? And how? Where does this concept come from? Where is it taking us?

How is “innovation” deeply ideological and not simply descriptive?"



"The technology innovation insurrection isn’t a political one as much as it is a business one (although surely there are political ramifications of that).

In fact, innovation has been specifically theorized as something that will blunt revolution, or at least that will prevent the collapse of capitalism and the working class revolution that was predicted by Karl Marx.

That's the argument of economist Joseph Schumpeter who argued most famously perhaps in his 1942 book Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy that entrepreneurial innovation was what would sustain the capitalist system — the development of new goods, new companies, new markets that perpetually destroyed the old. He called this constant process of innovation “creative destruction."



"The precise mechanism of the disruption and innovation in Christensen’s theory differs than Schumpeter’s. Schumpeter saw the process of entrepreneurial upheaval as something that was part of capitalism writ large — industries would replace industries. Industries would always and inevitably replace industries.

Schumpeter argued this process of innovation would eventually mean the end of capitalism, albeit by different processes than Marx had predicted. Schumpeter suggested that this constant economic upheaval would eventually cause such a burden that democratic countries would put in place regulations that would impede entrepreneurship. He argued that, in particular, “intellectuals” — namely university professors — would help lead to capitalism’s demise because they would diagnose this turmoil, develop critiques of the upheaval, critiques that would appealing and relevant to those beyond the professorial class.

That the enemy of capitalism in this framework is the intellectual and not the worker explains a great deal about American politics over the past few decades. It probably explains a great deal about the ideology behind a lot of the “disrupting higher education” talk as well."



"“The end of the world as we know it” seems to be a motif in many of the stories that we hear about what “disruptive innovation” will bring us, particularly as we see Christensen’s phrase applied to almost every industry where technology is poised to transform it. The end of the newspaper. The end of the publishing industry. The end of print. The end of RSS. The end of the Post Office. The end of Hollywood. The end of the record album. The end of the record label. The end of the factory. The end of the union. And of course, the end of the university.

The structure to many of these narratives about disruptive innovation is well-known and oft-told, echoed in tales of both a religious and secular sort:

Doom. Suffering. Change. Then paradise."



"Our response to both changing technology and to changing education must involve politics — certainly this is the stage on which businesses already engage, with a fierce and awful lobbying gusto. But see, I worry that we put our faith in “innovation” as a goal in and of itself, we forget this. We confuse “innovation” with “progress” and we confuse “technological progress” with “progress” and we confuse all of that with “progressive politics.” We forget that “innovation" does not give us justice. “Innovation” does not give us equality. “Innovation" does not empower us.

We achieve these things when we build a robust civic society, when we support an engaged citizenry. We achieve these things through organization and collective action. We achieve these things through and with democracy; and we achieve — or we certainly strive to achieve — these things through public education. "
audreywatters  2014  edtech  culture  technology  californianideology  innovation  disruption  highered  highereducation  individualism  google  googleglass  education  schools  learning  ds106  siliconvalley  meritocracy  rebeccasolnit  class  society  poverty  ideology  capitalism  novelty  change  transformation  invention  language  salvation  entrepreneurship  revolution  business  karlmarx  josephschumpeter  johnpatrickleary  claytonchristensen  sustainability  mooc  moocs  markets  destruction  creativedestruction  publiceducation  progress  justice  collectivism  libertarianism 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Episode Seventy Two: Symptom Masquerading As Disruption (2); The Model Is The Modeled; Labour Not Employment; Superstar Ratings, Here We Go; Not Swarm
"John V Willshire's observation, that I mentioned on Twitter kind of blew my mind. Now, John *has* studied economics, and the point he made was this: this "stack" view of people - that there are those who now think of people as virtualised substitutable AWS EC2 instances that can be activated, spun up, assigned a parcel of work, and then demobilised, "is the way that economists have always liked to think of people anyway - little atoms of meat who must behave in predictable ways."

Yes, OK, so what we have is our humans as rational actors and, in a sense, what Uber and Airbnb have done is not necessarily produced an API that controls the world, but an API that instead controls other humans. We reach out and use these services, and our requests get translated, mediated, into instructions for other humans to perform for us. You can see a sort of spectrum-disorder response to this in Hacker News comments where occasionally someone will call for an even better version of Uber where there is literally no need to interact or converse with your driver at all, and essentially the human is totally abstracted away behind a piece of glass-fronted interface.

But John's *best* point for me, was when he said:

"What if rather than being a way to describe the world, economics has unwittingly become a way to proscribe the world. Then we're fucked."

Abstract it away and it's kind of saying this: a model of a subject that is so successful at describing the subject that the subject takes on the attributes of the model. The model becomes the thing being modeled.

This is a thing, now. Seeing the world as addressable stacks. A kind of mankind's dominion over a computer-addressable, insructable directable world. There was someone at work who got super excited about "an API for the world!" and I think that's kind of the problem for me: an API for the world abstracts the world so that you can deal with it and manipulate it, which is great, but the thing is we have a super high bandwidth low-latency interface for the world that's super multi-modal. And I think it's fair to say that our APIs for the world right now are really coarse and in that way, treat the objects (note! objects! Not people!) that they interact with in a necessarily coarse way. And humans aren't coarse. Humans are many splendored things.

And maybe this is part of the whole "design with empathy" mini-crusade that I'm on. Sure, APIs that allow you to instruct humans to do things like Uber and Airbnb are successful right now, but I'm questioning whether they're successful good, or successful because of a symptom of changes in the labour market, or, honestly, a combination of the two. And, you know, first attempt at providing an API layer for humans that's more nuanced, I think, than Mechanical Turk, which I should've referenced earlier. But I like to think that an empathic API that's more considerate of humans will do better than one that is less considerate. Remember this, hackers of the Bay Area: you do not like being thought of as replaceable resource units, and there aren't many people who think "yeah, Human Resources is totally the best name for that department". "
danhon  johnwillshire  2014  economics  obseroreffect  modeling  empathy  humans  dehumanization  systemsthinking  systems  capitalism  worldbuilding  internet  humanresources  gr  uber  airbnb  abstraction  scale  disruption  models  shrequest1  sharingeconomy 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Marc Andreessen’s Crude and Nuanced Tech Cynicism — Weird Future — Medium
"On Saturday night, serial-tweet-lover Marc Andreessen started a list.

1/Degrees of tech cynicism from crude to nuanced?
https://twitter.com/pmarca/status/447604341591908352

Andreessen ought to know tech cynicism — he’s been around for awhile. Indeed as co-author of Mosaic, the first widely used web browser, his career more or less spans the life of the web as we know it.

2/That can’t possibly work.
https://twitter.com/pmarca/status/447604381764960256

Today, Andreessen is a venture capitalist. He’s half of the name of Andreessen Horowitz, a firm whose holdings represent a range of successful tech start-ups. They put money into Skype, Facebook, Twitter, AirBnB, and Instagram. They also put money into Groupon and Zynga, but you can win ‘em all (actually, since both companies IPO’d, their stocks falling to 1/3 of peak valuation doesn’t really matter to Andreessen Horowitz — the exit is the win).

In short, Andreessen has seen some shit.

Embedded tweets take up too much space, so I’m gonna go ahead and paste in the rest of his list by hand.

3/Normal people will use it, but it’s trivial. 4/It will never replace [legacy]. 5/It will replace [legacy], which is why the world is going to hell. 6/Yes, fine, but just wait until [big company] does it. 7/Yes, fine, but just wait until [hypothetical better version that doesn’t actually exist] does it. 8/I can’t believe how much money those kids made from that. 9/It’s a clear and obvious bubble. 10/Whatever, innovation is dead.

That’s it. That’s the list.

Marc Andreessen thinks “Whatever, innovation is dead” is the most nuanced form of tech cynicism available.

You know, it happens. Andreessen is a busy man, what with all the innovation and disruption he’s got to fund and then exit from. When your days are that packed, it can be easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. If you have to spend all your time immersed in the promise of tech, your cynic muscles can atrophy and even the crudest cynicism might seem nuanced.

But we can do better. Here are a some additions.

11/ Normal people will use it, and then they’ll stop because it is a fad.

12/ It is as vulnerable to the logic of disruption as [legacy].

13/ It will prioritize speed of implementation over security, offering users’ personal data to hackers, advertisers, and spies on a silver platter.

14/ It will succeed long enough for a successful exit, then crash and burn, enriching VCs but doing little to improve the world as a whole.

15/ Although it preaches revolution, it will end up reproducing and empowering the structures of injustice that dominate today.

16/ It will intensify the growing concentration of wealth and power that appears to be endemic to economies which take advantage of network effects.

17/ Because it is being implemented in a country where food and healthcare are treated as luxuries rather than basic human rights, its success will multiply the misery in the world as it lays waste to [legacy].

18/ It is being created and sold to a tiny cadre of wealthy inter-connected players who are so convinced of their own intelligence that it doesn’t occur to them to ask around and find out the needs of other people.

19/ It will be powered by ads.

20/ It will do nothing to slow the headlong rush of global civilization into any number of catastrophes which would in turn render it irrelevant.

21/ It preys on and amplifies human weakness.

22/ It will have unintended consequences.

23/ It will do nothing to mitigate the chaos it leaves in its wake."

[Also

24/ It will re-enable scams that regulation had previously tamped down in [legacy].
https://twitter.com/doingitwrong/status/447812538638794752

25/ Its successful ubiquity will force users to contort their selves so they can slot into an ill-considered early design decision.
https://twitter.com/doingitwrong/status/447813472580300800 ]
timmaly  technology  marcandreessen  cynicism  technosolutionism  criticism  2014  internet  web  civilization  inequality  power  advertising  money  vc  venturecapital  legacy  unintendedconsequences  fads  wealth  economics  innovation  disruption 
march 2014 by robertogreco
The Pastry Box Project: Mandy Brown [Tuesday, 25 February 2014]
"In The Comedy of Survival, Joseph Meeker argues that much of Western civilization is modeled after the “tragic mode.” You’ll recognize that mode from the Greek and Renaissance tragedies you read in primary school. In the tragic mode, a larger-than-life character attempts to bend the world to his (and it’s always his) image. He succeeds, in part, by mutilating and murdering and generally dragging a swath of blood behind him. But his success is also his undoing, and at the end of the play, his head is carried off the stage. A eulogy praises his bravery while also issuing a caution against those who would follow in his path.

But Meeker proposes an alternative: the comic mode. As you might suspect, the comic mode takes its cues not from the great tragedies but from comedies. Whereas tragedies follow men who are determined to remake the world to suit them, comic characters remake themselves to fit the world. They are flexible and adaptable; they use their wits to take advantage of opportunities as they arise, rather than using their sword to make such opportunities appear.

Where tragedies end in funerals, comedies end in weddings — less blood, more drink.

The tragic mode is the one we slip into when we talk about men who’ve had an outsized impact on the world. We speak of the many things they’ve accomplished, the obstacles they overcame, their ambition, their disruption. We scoff at the companies or people left in their wake. If they fail, we praise their effort and courage. If they succeed, we eventually conspire to get at their throat, and the cycle begins anew.

But what of the comic mode? The comic mode eschews heroic acts. The comic mode pokes fun at ambition and celebrates leisure. The comic mode trades late nights for weekends off, empty savings accounts for day jobs, bravado for brains.

The comic mode lives beyond the curtain fall.

Less blood. More drink."
mandybrown  trickster  worldview  leisure  artleisure  leisurearts  comedy  tragedy  2014  heroism  humor  ambition  disruption 
february 2014 by robertogreco
Broken (with tweets) · ayjay · Storify
"I tried to bring together some of the best responses here, but Storify's search is br — um., somewhat inconsistent in its results."

[The tweets that sparked the conversation:]

"The vague use of "broken" is really problematic in an age of planned obsolescence. People used to fix broken things; now they're discarded. So to say "the economy is broken" or "higher ed. is broken" can be a way of evading the responsibility to make something better."



"Neither higher ed. nor the economy are broken. They're more like cars that run pretty well but are headed in the wrong direction. My point is: the language of "brokenness" breeds fatalism. Let's try a different and more precise set of descriptors."



Erin: "I think education could use a serious regression rather than innovation or 'disruption.' Too many promises broken."
alanjacobs  storify  audreywatters  erinkissane  language  words  meaning  corruption  compromise  jenniferhoward  ashergelzer-govatos  jrschmitt  justice  education  highered  highereducation  society  economics  fatalism  progress  obsolescence  change  innovation  disruption 
february 2014 by robertogreco
Tom Friedman: A New Ayn Rand for A Dark Digital Future
"There are alternatives we can pursue collectively: An aggressive government program of job creation. A return to the days of social mobility. An end to the gross concentration of wealth in the hands of a few. And, above all, affordable education for all so that we can restore the American dream of self-advancement.

Instead Friedman glorifies globalization and the destruction of good jobs. He’s indifferent to the loss of social mobility and infatuated with mediocre or at best mildly clever web enterprises. Friedman is the praise singer of Palo Alto, the griot of Los Gatos, and he’s never met a Internet billionaire he didn’t like.

Thomas Friedman is the perfect mirror for the undeserved self-infatuation which has infected our corporate, media, and political class. He’s the chief fabulist of the detached elite, the unfettered Id of the global aristocracy, the Horatio Alger of self-deluded, self-serving, self-promoting techno-hucksterism."
disruption  economics  punditry  2013  thomasfriedman  corporatism  class  politics  policy  globalization  aristocracy  technosolutionism  neoliberalism  aynrand  us 
july 2013 by robertogreco
What Can We Learn from Artists’ Projects in Museums? | The Getty Iris
"More and more museums are inviting artists to go beyond hanging their art on their walls to create engaging visitor experiences inside the museum. At a panel discussion earlier this week [http://www.getty.edu/museum/programs/lectures/artists_in_museums_panel.html ], we invited curators, educators, and artists to talk about three pioneering artist-museum collaborations in L.A.

Robert Sain, former director of LACMA Lab, and Christoph Korner, partner at GRAFT architects, discussed their work on the Lab’s Seeing exhibition; Asuka Hisa, director of education and public programs at the Santa Monica Museum of Art (SMMoA), and artist Olga Koumoundouros presented their collaborative Wall Works installation (detailed in a great interview on KCET’s Artbound [http://www.kcet.org/arts/artbound/counties/los-angeles/wall-works-santa-monica-museum-of-art.html ]); and Machine Project’s Mark Allen and Elizabeth Cline (formerly of the Hammer Museum) discussed Machine’s yearlong public engagement residency at the Hammer.

Though the projects spanned three very different institutions and well over a decade, several common themes emerged. For more from the event, see the live tweets on Storify. [http://storify.com/gettymuseum/do-we-need-artists-in-art-museums ]"
lacmalab  robertsain  museums  art  2012  christophkorner  asukahisa  olgakoumoundouros  wallworks  artbound  markallen  machineproject  elizabethcline  hammermuseum  publicengagement  getty  artists  glvo  engagement  education  confusion  documentation  disruption  lcprocect  openstudioproject  lcproject 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Alex Payne — Letter To A Young Programmer Considering A Startup
"But startups are the new big company. They are, as I’ll describe below, the field offices of a large distributed workforce assembled by venture capitalists and their associate institutions."



I won’t equivocate: I am deeply skeptical of this system. I’m skeptical of this system’s slavering, self-congratulatory fetishization of “disruption” while so obviously becoming the sort of stolid institution it seeks to displace. I’m skeptical of the startup community’s often short-term outlook. I’m particularly skeptical of its callous disregard for both the lives of the people who participate in it and the lives of those who live in the world that startups seek to reshape. Let’s not even begin to discuss how commonplace collusion, price fixing, and other market-corrupting activities are in the world of VC. The point being: it’s a bad game and a rigged one.

And yet. There are startups I wouldn’t want to see disappear. There are people working at and funding those startups who are good, kind, balanced in their personal and professional lives, thoughtful of the impact of their work. Just as we might cast aspersions and accusations of corruption on other systems like politics, mass media entertainment, and professional sports, we must admire those who operate ethically and efficiently within them. We should further celebrate those who are pioneering new and alternative systems, for they work in the shadow of a community that has a constant hand on the crank of the hype machine.

Now, you could say that I’m laying too much responsibility at the feet of the startup world. Though this system daily broadcasts itself as the savior of everything from capitalism to culture, surely we can accept that business is business and ideals are best left at the door. As a VC at a top-tier Sand Hill Road firm told me during a pitch several years ago when describing a conceptual feature in Simple that would let users easily and regularly donate a portion of their savings to charity, “let’s not waste time on that stuff; we’re here to make money”.

You could take this tack, but I hope that your idealism hasn’t been worn down at such a relatively young age. I hope you want your work to be imbued with meaning, purpose, and value no matter what form that work takes. More than that, I hope you want your life to be defined by more than work.

Young programmer, I urge you to consider both sides of the startup coin. There are so many ways to make a dent in the world."
vc  alexpayne  change  idealism  ideals  2013  systems  responsibility  startups  labor  disruption  meaning  meaningfulness  vocations  collusion  pricefixing  corruption  finance  power  control  hierarchy  purpose  bureaucracy  incubators  accelerators 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Updated: My speech at The Economist (on innovation)
"First, most teams don’t work. They don’t trust each other. They are not led in a way that creates a culture where people feel trust. Think of most of your peers  – how many do you trust? How many would you trust with a special, dangerous, or brilliant idea?  I’d say, based on my experiences at many organizations, only one of every three teams, in all of the universe, has a culture of trust. Without trust, there is no collaboration. Without trust, ideas do not go anywhere even if someone finds the courage to mention them at all."



"Without teams of trust and good leaders who take risks innovation rarely happens. You can have all the budget in the world, and resources, and gadgets, and theories and S-curves and it won’t matter at all. Occam’s razor suggests the main barrier to innovation are simple cultural things we overlook because we like to believe we’re so advanced. But mostly, we’re not."



"Next, we need to get past our obsession with epiphany. You won’t find any flash of insight in history that wasn’t followed, or proceeded, by years of hard work. Ideas are easy. They are cheap. Any creativity book or course will help you find more ideas. What’s rare is the willingness to bet you reputation, career, or finances on your ideas. To commit fully to pursuing them. Ideas are abstractions. Executing and manifesting an idea in the world is something else entirely as there are constraints, political, financial, and technical that the ideas we keep locked up in our minds never have to wrestle with. And this distinction is something no theory or book or degree can ever grant you. Conviction, like trust and willingness to take risks, is exceptionally rare. Part of the reason so much of innovation is driven by entrepreneurs and independents is that they are fully committed to their own ideas in ways most working people, including executives, are not.

Lastly, I need to talk about words. I’m a writer and a speaker, so words are my trade. But words are important, and possibly dangerous, for everyone. A fancy word I want to share is the word reification. Reification is the confusion between the word for something and the thing itself. The word innovation is not itself an innovation. Words are cheap. You can put the word innovation on the back of a box, or in an advertisement, or even in the name of your company, but that does not make it so. Words like radical, game-changing, breakthrough, and disruptive are similarly used to suggest something in lieu of actually being it. You can say innovative as many times as you want, but it won’t make you an innovator, nor make inventions, patents or profits magically appear in your hands."
words  innovation  trust  teams  teamwork  leadership  administration  tcsnmy  ideas  howwework  howwelearn  risktaking  culture  conviction  gamechanging  disruption  invention  epiphanies  2010 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Art’s a Fucking Mess | HTMLGIANT
"Good art disrupts the social order. It wakes you up, shocks you, makes you feel alive—it makes you see the world again, differently. Bad art is boring, predictable, prescribed, a weak illustration of what you’ve already been thinking."
art  glvo  shockart  predictability  socialpracticeart  socialorder  disruption  living  life  goodart  badart 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Bruce Sterling on Fantasy prototypes and real disruption | NEXT Berlin
[video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7KErICTSHU ]

"In the closing keynote of NEXT Berlin 2013, acclaimed science-fiction author and journalist Bruce Sterling tackled a variety of topics like design fiction, start-up culture, and the mass adoption of disruptive technology. He sees science fiction as a form of design – design fiction that is part of the start-up world."
brucesterling  anabjain  superflux  nearfuturelaboratory  designfiction  disruption  design  networkedsociety  2013  nextberlin  nextberlin2013  protoyping  future  sciencefiction  scifi  capitalism  startups  money  culture  startup 
april 2013 by robertogreco
Evgeny Morozov: 'We are abandoning all the checks and balances' | Technology | The Observer
"Do we want [technological devices] to obviate problem solving? To make our lives frictionless? Or do we want these new devices to enhance our problem solving – not to make problems disappear but assist us with solving them?"

"I have bought myself a type of laptop from which it was very easy to remove the Wi-Fi card – so when I go to a coffee shop or the library I have no way to get online. However, at home I have cable connection. So I bought a safe with a timed combination lock. It is basically the most useful artefact in my life. I lock my phone and my router cable in my safe so I'm completely free from any interruption and I can spend the entire day, weekend or week reading and writing. [...] To circumvent my safe I have to open a panel with a screwdriver, so I have to hide all my screwdrivers in the safe as well."
evgenymorozov  google  howwework  disruption  concentration  2013  attention  via:rodcorp 
march 2013 by robertogreco
Design is the easy part… | disambiguity
"Politics and egos are the main reasons that great design goes awry – either it is never presented (because presenting it is a risk to those egos and would be not wise politically), or it is presented and dismissed, or it is presented and then changed such that egos are not wounded and the politics are in tact, the design integrity is hardly a passing consideration.

Organisation processes and complexity are another common killer. As more and more, the digital products replace the previous products and functions of the organisation, this requires a transition in how things should be done that most organisations are unprepared for an unwilling to support. They’d rather keep doing things the way they always have, and craft a design that doesn’t trouble their processes or require additional resources. You know you’re designing for an organisation on the way out the back door when you come across this – disrupt yourselves or be disrupted, Peter Drucker, amongst others, has been telling us this for half a century (or more). Still, it can be surprisingly hard to do. We don’t like change and the changes required often threaten the existing egos and power structures. See above."
leisareichelt  design  systemsthinking  systems  politics  organizations  disruption  2013  peterdrucker  change  gamechanging  egos  organzationalchange  oganizations  bureaucracy  culture  transitions  strategy 
march 2013 by robertogreco
Django Unchained : Mirror: Motion Picture Commentary
"In movies about race especially, the form of the film is now more important to me than the content. If a film comments on race but is traditional in terms of narrative structure, casting, aesthetics etc in one way it’s defeated its points already. Fighting inequality is about changing a way of thinking. It involves locating the systems, large and small, that support tradition, and smashing them. A movie’s worth is directly related to how effectively it disrupts ways of thinking. The less power you have in the world, the more necessary this disruption is for your identity."
kartinarichardson  2013  djangounchained  film  content  form  racism  race  structure  casting  aesthetics  narrative  narrativestructure  writing  criticism  identity  power  disruption 
february 2013 by robertogreco
Invasion of the cyber hustlers
"The cyber-credo of “open” sounds so liberal and friendly that it is easy to miss its remarkable hypocrisy. The big technology companies that are the cybertheorists’ beloved exemplars of the coming world order are anything but open. Google doesn’t publish its search algorithm; Apple is notoriously secretive about its product plans; Facebook routinely changes its users’ privacy options. Apple, Google and Amazon are all frantically building proprietary “walled-garden” content utopias for profit."
apple  google  wikipedia  sharing  cybertheorists  charlatans  internet  government  davidweinberger  journalism  disruption  online  newmedia  future  media  politics  technology  open  2012  stevenpoole  janemcgonigal  clayshirky  jeffjarvis 
december 2012 by robertogreco
The American Scholar: Start a Blog - William Deresiewicz
"As Jack Miles puts it in a stellar essay on the question, “It takes years of disciplined preparation to become an academic. It takes years of undisciplined preparation to become an intellectual.”"

"But celebrity, like the institutionalization that comes with being an academic, is inimical to the intellectual’s mission: questioning the mental status quo. The more a part of things you are—the more embedded in the machinery of status and position—the harder that is to do. As Kazin said, “values are our only home in the universe.” Allegiances, to any group, are fatal. The intellectual’s job is to think past the culture: to question the myths, metaphors, and assumptions that limit our collective imagination. The founder of the breed was Socrates. As Kazin also said, an intellectual is someone for whom ideas are “instruments of salvation.” Becoming one requires a little more than setting up a blog."
disruption  status  celebrity  russelljacoby  academics  academia  intellectuals  socrates  deschooling  unschooling  outsiders  thesystem  jackmiles  writing  alfredkazin  haroldrosenberg  clementgreenberg  dwightmacdonald  lioneltrilling  edmundwilson  blogging  publicintellectuals  williamderesiewicz  2012  change  allegiances  outsider 
december 2012 by robertogreco
Unbuilding — Lined & Unlined
[now here: https://linedandunlined.com/archive/unbuilding ]

Here's another something that's too large to unpack in a quote or two or three or more, so just one, then read and view (many images) the rest.

"Unlike the thesis, Antithesis was an optional class. Instead of a constant, year-long process, it was interstitial, happening during a “down time” in the year. We didn’t really have class meetings — instead, I spent my time hanging out in the studio. Everyone loosened up. After thinking intensively about the thesis for 12 weeks, it was time to stop thinking about it — at least, consciously. The goal was not to keep pushing forward on the thesis but to get new projects started in parallel."

[video: https://vimeo.com/63008758 ]
completeness  sourcecode  viewsource  critique  susansontag  webdesign  aestheticpractice  criticalautonomy  canon  andrewblauvelt  billmoggridge  khoivinh  community  communities  livingdocuments  constitution  usconstitution  metaphors  metaphor  borges  telescopictext  joedavis  language  culturalsourcecode  cooper-hewitt  sebchan  github  johngnorman  recycling  interboropartners  kiva  pennandteller  jakedow-smith  pointerpointer  davidmacaulay  stevejobs  tednelson  humanconsciousness  consciousness  literacy  walterong  pipa  sopa  wikipedia  robertrauschenberg  willemdekooning  humor  garfieldminusgarfield  garfield  danwalsh  ruderripps  okfocus  bolognadeclaration  pedagogy  mariamontessori  freeuniversityofbozen-bolzano  openstudioproject  lcproject  tcsnmy  howweteach  cv  anti-hierarchy  hierarchy  autonomy  anti-autonomy  anti-isolation  anti-specialization  avant-garde  vanabbemuseum  charlesesche  understanding  knowing  socialsignaling  anyahindmarch  thinking  making  inquiry  random  informality  informal  interstitial  antithesis  action  non-action  anikaschwarzlose  jona 
november 2012 by robertogreco
Demystification versus Understanding
"So in general, Russell was correct: when the experts disagree, the lay person had best reserve judgment.

But there is an exception to the rule. Expertise also comes with taking many basic things for granted. So when radical changes happen, sometimes it is the naive novice, wrestling with the basics, who ends up innocently asking the right questions. You can only re-examine foundational assumptions if they are not ingrained second nature for you.

Thinking like a novice: the Zen idea of “beginner’s mind” is really hard for an expert. Which is one reason disruptive changes are often triggered by relative outsiders and smart novices. But not so often as romantics like to think. I suspect “experts thinking like novices” happens more often than novices serendipitously asking the brilliant right questions."
judgement  questioning  askingquestions  thinking  beginner'smind  beginners  zen  bertrandrussell  priorities  expertise  disruption  disruptivechanges  learning  demystification  venkateshrao  2012  novices  experts  understanding  questionasking 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Disrupting the discourse of school
"• Questions about…fundamental purpose of education are often misconstrued as indictments of the system… they don’t have to be.

• There exists deep suspicion about using schools to achieve a social end or greater purpose, despite the fact that economic development through increased human capital is itself such a purpose. This purpose of school has been significantly “naturalized” & is difficult to uproot.

• We may need to get comfortable w/ a world where broad-based social institutions like school exist for multiple purposes simultaneously & a priori reform efforts are impossible.

• There is a significant yearning for policy-makers to acknowledge the social dimension of school rather than simply increase the abilities of individual students… remembering school’s social essence may be the key to both the future of school &…of school reform.

• If we imagine schools as serving purposes like increasing civic engagement or building a more just society, reforming them in isolation may…"
society  schooling  cv  tcsnmy  lcproject  insightlabs  politics  democracy  economics  2012  disruption  theinsightlabs  publicschools  learning  schoolreform  purpose  schools  education 
august 2012 by robertogreco
A Jester’s Guide to Creative See[k]ing across Disciplines | American Journal of Play
"For many centuries and in many cultures, jesters recited tales of heroic exploits, but they did more than simply recount past events—they amused, cajoled, and spun tales that transported listeners to the edge of mysterious, unmapped territories. Through the transformative power of play and the imagination, they reworked what was already understood and created from it new realities that transcended the established order. The author maintains that such imaginative play is vital to creativity in any medium and is fundamental for optimal human development. She explores possibilities for cultivating creativity through the playful, paradoxical stance of the jester—a serendipitous and purposeful, strange and familiar, disruptive and productive figure. Her discussion, grounded in a visual-arts practice that leverages uncertainty and randomness, considers the role of play in light of its wider implications for knowledge and creativity."

[PDF: http://www.journalofplay.org/sites/www.journalofplay.org/files/pdf-articles/4-3-article-jesters-guide-to-creative-seeking-across-disciplines.pdf ]
challenge  howwelearn  howwework  productivity  strangeness  purpose  generalists  randomness  uncertainty  visualarts  imagination  play  serendipity  dianerosen  jester  jesters  cv  interdisciplinary  interdisciplinarity  creativity  disruption 
august 2012 by robertogreco
XOXO Festival by Andy Baio — Kickstarter
"Hey Kickstarter! We're organizing XOXO, an arts and technology festival in Portland, Oregon this September 13-16th.

XOXO is a celebration of disruptive creativity. We want to take all the independent artists using the Internet to make a living doing what they love — the makers, craftspeople, musicians, filmmakers, comic book artists, game designers, hardware hackers — and bring them together with the technologists building the platforms that make it possible. If you have an audience and a good idea, nothing’s standing in your way.

XOXO is in three parts:

Conference (Saturday – Sunday). Talks from artists and creative technologists around the country that are breaking new ground.
Market (Saturday – Sunday). A large marketplace with a tightly-curated list of the best of Portland's arts and tech scenes, sharing and selling their work, with food supplied by the best of our thriving food cart scene…"
via:caseygollan  togo  oregon  interdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  crosspollination  crossdisciplinary  technology  arts  collaboration  hackerspaces  hackers  hardware  design  2012  events  andybaio  kickstarter  disruption  disruptive  conferences  portland  xoxo 
may 2012 by robertogreco
The New Aesthetic Needs to Get Weirder - Ian Bogost - Technology - The Atlantic
"The New Aesthetic is an art movement obsessed with the otherness of computer vision and information processing. But Ian Bogost asks: why stop at the unfathomability of the computer's experience when there are airports, sandstone, koalas, climate, toaster pastries, kudzu, the International 505 racing dinghy, and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner to contemplate?"

[Nice selection of quotes chosen and comment by @litherland below]

Yes.
Rather than wondering if alien beings exist in the cosmos, let's assume that they are all around us, everywhere, at all scales.
Why should a new aesthetic [be] interested only in the relationship between humans and computers, when so many other relationships exist just as much? Why stop with the computer, like Marinetti foolishly did with the race car?
Being withdraws from access. There is always something left in reserve, in a thing.

Cf. Derrida, e.g., “L'annihilation des restes, les cendres peuvent parfois en témoigner, rappelle un pacte et fait acte de mémoire.”
thinking  via:litherland  futuristmanifesto  filippomarinetti  thecreatorsproject  gregborenstein  timmorton  levibryant  grahamharman  brucesterling  aggregation  ontography  carpentry  dada  futurism  surprise  disruption  ubicomp  georgiatech  awarehome  michaelmateas  zacharypousman  marioromero  tableaumachine  robots  robotreadableworld  timoarnall  alienaesthetic  nataliabuckley  avant-garde  craftwork  craft  art  design  intentionality  jamesbridle  computing  computers  davidmberry  philosophy  technology  thenewaesthetic  newaesthetic  2012  ianbogost  ooo  object-orientedontology  objects 
april 2012 by robertogreco
Why Anti-Authoritarians are Diagnosed as Mentally Ill | Mad In America
"Some activists lament how few anti-authoritarians there appear to be in the United States. One reason could be that many natural anti-authoritarians are now psychopathologized and medicated before they achieve political consciousness of society’s most oppressive authorities.



Americans have been increasingly socialized to equate inattention, anger, anxiety, and immobilizing despair with a medical condition, and to seek medical treatment rather than political remedies. What better way to maintain the status quo than to view inattention, anger, anxiety, and depression as biochemical problems of those who are mentally ill rather than normal reactions to an increasingly authoritarian society."

…authoritarians financially marginalize those who buck the system, they criminalize anti-authoritarianism, they psychopathologize anti-authoritarians, and they market drugs for their “cure.”"
despair  inattention  xanax  drugs  adderall  overdiagnosis  diagnosis  policy  illegitimacy  saulalinsky  defiance  hyperactivity  children  youth  teens  russellbarkley  impulse-control  impulsivity  disruption  behavior  oppositiondefiantdisorder  odd  trust  skepticism  opression  marginalization  deschooling  unschooling  education  schooliness  schools  cv  brucelevine  medication  depression  add  adhd  criticalthinking  society  control  anxiety  anger  compliance  attention  pathology  2012  anti-authoritarians  authoritarianism  authority  psychiatry  politics  health  psychology  anti-authoritarian  problemswithauthority  issueswithauthority 
march 2012 by robertogreco
David Skok: Aggregation is deep in journalism’s DNA » Nieman Journalism Lab
"Henry Luce’s Time started as a full-fledged aggregator almost 89 years ago.

A quick visit to the library confirmed his statements. Sure enough, all 29 pages of the black and white weekly — its signature red-border cover not yet developed — were packed with advertisements and aggregation. This wasn’t just rewrites of the week’s news; it was rip-and-read copy from the day’s major publications — The Atlantic Monthly, The Christian Science Monitor, and the New York World, to name a few."

"Because new-market disruptions initially attract those that aren’t traditional consumers of The New York Times or the Wall Street Journal, these incumbent organizations feel little pain or threat. So they stay the course on content, competing on “quality” against these new-market disruptors."

"We’ve been here before. The question is not, how aggregation is ruining journalism, but how traditional journalism will respond to the aggregation."
via:allentan  nothingnewunderthesun  newmedia  magazines  news  huffingtonpost  buzzfeed  1923  davidskok  disruption  history  timemagazine  2012  florilegium  curation  journalism  aggregation 
january 2012 by robertogreco
Rex Sorgatz: LA is the future (kill me now) » Nieman Journalism Lab
"When the collapse hits, capital will rush out of the traditional entertainment industry faster than you can say “Lehman Brothers.” And, as in New York, talented young people with industry awareness will be there to grab that capital & create new businesses. That’s when things will get interesting. Just as New York—against all odds—became the locus of traditional business being disrupted by technology, Los Angeles will erupt with creativity around the collision of technology & entertainment. New forms of content—programming that isn’t bound by 13 episodes that are 22 minutes long!—will appear overnight. The disruption will be challenging at first, but a Video Renaissance will emerge.

And as the production & distribution costs plummet (just as they have for written media), innovation will start to appear in related industries: social sharing technology, revenue models, aggregation, and distribution. Suddenly, coders in SF will consider LA as another option for employment. Crazy talk!"
disruption  mediaproduction  technology  business  economics  entertainment  media  video  creativity  rebirth  collapse  rexsorgatz  2012  losangeles 
december 2011 by robertogreco
Margaret J. Wheatley: Bringing Schools Back to Life
"We speak so easily these days of systems -- systems thinking, systems change, connectivity, networks. Yet in my experience, we really don't know what these terms mean, or their implications for our work. We don't yet know how to act or think about this new interconnected world of systems we've created. Those of us educated in Western culture learned to think and manage a world that was anything but systemic or interconnected. It was a world of separations and clear boundaries: boxes described jobs, lines charted relationships and accountabilities, roles and policies described the limits of what each individual did and who we wanted them to be. Western culture became very skilled at describing the world with these strange, unnatural separations."
hierarchy  deschooling  unschooling  systems  organizations  leadership  lcproject  1999  margaretwheatley  administration  tcsnmy  change  schools  education  community  rules  mindset  interdependency  meaning  meaningmaking  disruption  disruptiveinnovation  behavior  management  cv  chaos  autonomy  engagement  resistance  systemschange  life  collegiality  networks  livingnetworks  charterschools 
december 2011 by robertogreco
PopTech : Reykjavik 2012
"In a world fraught with disruptions, what causes some systems, organizations, communities and people to break down and others to bounce back? For those that rebound, what do they tell us about how to build a secure future, and sturdier selves to inhabit it?

To explore these pressing questions, in June 2012 PopTech will convene a gathering of researchers, practitioners and thought leaders—working in fields such as international development, global business, climate adaptation, social psychology, economics, systems ecology, public health, emerging technology, disaster relief and community activism—for a dialogue about the emerging field of resilience. This area of research is yielding powerful insights into how to build systems that anticipate disruption, heal themselves when breached and can reorganize themselves to maintain their core purpose."
resilience  iceland  2012  conferences  systems  systemsthinking  disruption  self-healingsystems  purpose  economics  psychology  socialpsychology  adaptability  future 
november 2011 by robertogreco
Google Ideas chief talks about how technology is changing world | The Columbian
"“In any field, if you’re not thinking about technology you’re not fully grasping what’s going on,” he said."
technology  Google  2011  disruption  change  via:Preoccupations 
november 2011 by robertogreco
Jad Abumrad, Radiolab’s ‘genius’ storyteller, on what public radio needs now: ‘more joy, more chaos’ » Nieman Journalism Lab
How do you hang on to a successful formula while also trying to break free from it?

“I think about Stefan Sagmeister,” the Austrian graphic designer, “who every six years, I think it is, seven years, he just quits his life and moves to some distant spot on the globe and just throws himself into some new art and comes back, refreshed. I think to myself, how can I do that without actually leaving?” he said.

“It’s also going to be about, frankly, it’s going to be about sucking, you know? The only way to really loosen the reins a little bit is to say to yourself, ‘Let’s do an experiment that makes me actually deeply nervous, because it could be bad.’ I’m prepared to suck for awhile.”…

“It needs more joy. It needs more chaos. It needs more anarchy. And it needs more moods. The range of human experiences is covered and reported about on NPR, but it’s not reflected in the tone, and it’s not reflected in the style…"
radiolab  radio  npr  jadabumrad  2011  stefansagmeister  sabbaticals  cv  risktaking  sucking  chaos  anarchy  messiness  work  disruption  thisamericanlife  iraglass  anarchism 
september 2011 by robertogreco
» A Focus on Founders: The Anatomy of a New Design Education Johnny Holland – It's all about interaction » Blog Archive
"In a word, the intent of our educational model is disruption. At AC4D, we intend to empower our alumni to make a difference in the world, using the persuasive, thoughtful, and provocative ualities of design (or “design thinking” combined with “design doing”) as the mechanism

But there’s another question that we ask, and strive to answer, and this question is more important: what should we design, in the first place?…

…our initial question – what should we design, in the first place – alters the conversation about “career.” When we start to question the fundamentals of our industry and the economic system that contains it, we arrive quickly at a rejection of “corporate vs. consultancy”, “job titles”, and the other baggage of our jobs…

And this poses a problem for designers acting as entrepreneurs: how can they remain focused, passionate, and excited during the process of packaging, refining, detailing, and producing the actual offering?"
ac4d  jonkolko  education  socialentrepreneurship  designeducation  independence  meaning  disruption  2011  focus  passion  creativity  designthinking  altgdp  entrepreneurship  empowerment 
july 2011 by robertogreco
» A Focus on Founders: The Anatomy of a New Design Education Johnny Holland – It's all about interaction » Blog Archive
"In a word, the intent of our educational model is disruption. At AC4D, we intend to empower our alumni to make a difference in the world, using the persuasive, thoughtful, and provocative ualities of design (or “design thinking” combined with “design doing”) as the mechanism.

But there’s another question that we ask, and strive to answer, and this question is more important: what should we design, in the first place?…
…our initial question – what should we design, in the first place – alters the conversation about “career.” When we start to question the fundamentals of our industry and the economic system that contains it, we arrive quickly at a rejection of “corporate vs. consultancy”, “job titles”, and the other baggage of our jobs…

And this poses a problem for designers acting as entrepreneurs: how can they remain focused, passionate, and excited during the process of packaging, refining, detailing, and producing the actual offering?"
ac4d  jonkolko  education  socialentrepreneurship  designeducation  independence  meaning  disruption  2011  focus  passion  creativity  designthinking  altgdp  entrepreneurship  empowerment 
july 2011 by robertogreco
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