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robertogreco : efschumacher   9

Austin Kleon — Morris Berman, Why America Failed: The Roots of...
"Picked this up off a tip from @mattthomas​ — it’s a “post-mortem” of our nation, the third in a trilogy about the Decline of the American Empire (part one is The Twilight of American Culture, which I’m reading now, and part two is Dark Ages America). It’s a bleak portrait, one which I’m not sure a lot of people want to read about around the holidays, but for some perverse reason, I found it very enjoyable and oddly comforting — in the first book, Berman says “I’ll do my best not to entertain you,” but he fails.

The big idea here is that the dominate mode of America is a kind of “technohustling”—America is a “hustling” culture (“American English contains more than two hundred nouns and verbs referring to a swindle”) that believes in endless technological progress (“technology is not neutral”) and it’s left us with a hollowed-out nation —economically, spiritually, emotionally — in which a few have much and many have very little.

Berman points to a long “anti-hustler” tradition of people such as the Transcendentalists, Herman Melville (he sees Moby-Dick as maybe the greatest book about America), and Lewis Mumford, that culminates with Jimmy Carter’s “Crisis of Confidence” speech he delivered in 1979, which Berman regards as the tradition’s “last stand.” Here’s Carter:
In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities, and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns. But we’ve discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning. We’ve learned that piling up material goods cannot fill the emptiness of lives which have no confidence or purpose.

Berman sees very little that the individual can do to escape the “American Nightmare,” other than flee (he went to Mexico) or pursue what he calls the “monastic option” (which he explores in detail in the first book): “resisting the dominant culture and trying to do something meaningful with your life as opposed to living the mass dream.”

Made up a good reading list of books I’ve wanted to check out for a while:

• Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America
• A General Theory of Love
• Barbara Ehrenreich, Bright-sided: How Positive Thinking Is Undermining America
• E.F. Schumacher, Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered
• Lewis Mumford, Technics and Civilization"

[See also: "How America's 'Culture of Hustling' Is Dark and Empty: Results-obsessed perspectives overlook meaning — and leave little room for creativity, pleasure, or accepting the importance of sadness."
https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/08/how-americas-culture-of-hustling-is-dark-and-empty/278601/ ]
morrisberman  consumerism  jimmycarter  austinkleon  2016  2014  toread  hustle  hustling  hermanmelville  moby-dick  transcendentalism  us  culture  society  self-indulgence  consumption  materialism  technohustling  monasticism  cv  efschumacher  leismumford  barbaraehrenreich  toqueville  meaning  meaningmaking  sadness  emptiness  results  creativity  pleasure  leisurearts  artleisure  mobydick 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Human scale technology — Medium
[video now here: https://vimeo.com/180044030

"Human-Scale – Beyond user-centered design, we need to create systems that are explicitly and deliberately built to be humane. What does this mean, and is it in conflict with existing corporate structures?"]

"To me, the idea of human scale is critical. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that every idea must scale. That thinking is distracting, closes us off from great opportunities, and invites unnecessary complexity.

Turn down the amplifier a little bit. Stay small. Allow for human correction and adjustment. Build for your community, not the whole world.

At this scale, everybody counts. Plus, we get a few other benefits.

Small is simpler. This is good from a pure engineering and design perspective. We strive for simplicity in the structures we build.

Even better, though, small things are more accessible.

You don’t need a full team of fancy Google engineers to build something small. You can be new to programming, or a hobbyist. You don’t have to be born in the right place at the right time to the right parents.

Simpler systems are easier to create, deploy, and maintain.

More people can be the creators and tinkerers, and not just the users.

If you make it small, it’s also cheap to run. You can build a service that supports thousands of people on a $5/month server, or a Raspberry Pi.

So cheap, most likely, that you don’t have to charge anybody for it. With the right architecture, you can run community-size services for less than $10/month, total.

And if this works, we can tackle the issue of incentives.

Not to get all Ben Franklin on you, but if you don’t spend money, you don’t have to make money.

If complexity drops, and cost drops, the community can now build its own systems. Incentives align.

So, it really comes down to this:

Do it yourself. Strip it down. Keep control. Make it for your community. Don’t do it for the money.

And this is where I start to understand what my friend Rebecca Gates means when she says that technologists and designers have a lot to learn from punk and indie rock.

Leave the expensive, large scale, commercial arena rock to Facebook, Google, and Twitter.

We can be The Ramones.

And Bad Brains.

We can press our own records, and run our own labels.

We can make our own spaces based on our own values.

And remember that computing used to be pretty punk rock.

This is the first public computerized bulletin board system, which was set up in a record store in Berkeley in 1973.

In 1974, the year the Ramones formed, Ted Nelson wrote the first book about the personal computer.

It contained perhaps my favorite opening line of any piece of literature: “Any nitwit can understand computers, and many do.”

It was basically a giant zine.

We can reclaim autonomy and agency with the incredible tools we have at hand–we just need to approach it differently."
scale  small  accessibility  simplicity  slow  sfsh  lcproject  openstudioproject  punk  design  web  online  community  theramones  badbrains  scrappiness  diy  values  eyeo  eyeo2016  jessekriss  intimate  safe  groupsize  humans  humanism  humanscale  paulgoodman  efschumacher  ursulafranklin  incentives 
june 2016 by robertogreco
SOLARPUNKS [a snip from E.F. Schumacher's Small is Beautiful]
"The keynote of Buddhist economics, therefore, is simplicity and non-violence. From an economist’s point of view, the marvel of the Buddhist way of life is the utter rationality of its pattern — amazingly small means leading to extraordinarily satisfactory results.

For the modern economist this is very difficult to understand. He is used to measuring the ‘standard of living’ by the amount of annual consumption, assuming all the time that a man who consumes more is ‘better off’ than a man who consumes less. A Buddhist economist would consider this approach excessively irrational: since consumption is merely a means to human well-being the aim should be to obtain the maximum of well-being with the minimum of consumption. Thus, if the purpose of clothing is a certain amount of temperature comfort and an attractive appearance, the task is to attain this purpose with the smallest possible effort, that is, with the smallest annual destruction of cloth and with the help of designs that involve the smallest possible input of toil. The less toil there is, the more time and strength is left for artistic creativity. It would be highly uneconomic, for instance, to go in for complicated tailoring, like the modern west, when a much more beautiful effect can be achieved by the skilful draping of uncut material. It would be the height of folly to make material so that it should wear out quickly and the height of barbarity to make anything ugly, shabby or mean. What has just been said about clothing applies equally to all other human requirements. The ownership and the consumption of goods is a means to an end, and Buddhist economics is the systematic study of how to attain given ends with the minimum means."

— E.F. Schumacher, Small is Beautiful [http://www.ditext.com/schumacher/small/small.html ]
efschumacher  buddhism  smallisbeautiful  economics  simplicity  nonviolence  consumption  well-being  ownership  consumerism  comfort  effort  efficiency  clothing  1973 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Buddhist Economics
"(From an article by the economist E.F.Schumacher in Resurgence magazine, 1968)

"The Buddhist point of view takes the function of work to be at least threefold: to give a man a chance to utilize and develop his faculties; to enable him to overcome his ego-centeredness by joining with other people in a common task; and to bring forth the goods and services needed for a becoming existence. Again, the consequences that flow from this view are endless. To organize work in such a manner that it becomes meaningless, boring, stultifying, or nerveracking for the worker would be little short of criminal; it would indicate a greater concern with goods than with people, an evil lack of compassion and a soul-destroying degree of attachment to the most primitive side of this worldly existence. Equally, to strive for leisure as an alternative to work would be considered a complete misunderstanding of one of the basic truths of human existence, namely, that work and leisure are complementary parts of the same living process and cannot be separated without destroying the joy of work and the bliss of leisure.

From the Buddhist point of view, there are therefore two types of mechanization which must be clearly distinguished: one that enhances a man's skill and power and one that turns the work of man over to a mechanical slave. How to tell one from the other? "The craftsman himself", says Ananda Coomaraswamy, a man equally competent to talk about the Modern West as the Ancient East, "the craftsman himself can always, if allowed to, draw the delicate distinction between the machine and the tool. The carpet loom is a tool, a contrivance for holding warp threads at a stretch for the pile to be woven round them by the craftsman's fingers; but the power loom is a machine, and its significance as a destroyer of culture lies in the fact that it does the essentially human part of the work". It is clear, therefore, that Buddhist economics must be very different from the economics of modern materialism, since the Buddhist sees the essence of civilization not in the multiplication of wants but in the purification of human character. Character, at the same time, is formed primarily by a man's work. And work, properly conducted in conditions of human dignity and freedom, blesses those who do it and equally their products. The Indian philospher and economist J.C.Kumarappa sums up the matter as follows:

"If the nature of the work is properly appreciated and applied, it will stand in the same relation to the higher faculties as food is to the physical body. It nourishes and enlivens the higher man and urges him to produce the best he is capable of. It directs his freewill along the proper course and disciplines the animal in him into progressive channels. It furnishes an excellent background for man to display his scale of values and develop his personality.""
efschumacher  buddhism  economics  1968  labor  work  existence  anandacoomaraswamy  craft  jckumarappa  purpose  freewill  leisure  artleisure  leisurearts  meaning  meaningmaking 
september 2014 by robertogreco
The parable of the bees | A Working Library
"The prevailing storyline these days would have you believe that valuations and profit margins represent the complete and singular picture of a business’ worth. No other metric figures into the conversation. Schumacher, again:
Economics, moreover, deals with goods in accordance with their market value and not in accordance with what they really are. The same rules and criteria applied to primary goods, which man has to win from nature, and secondary goods, which presuppose the existence of primary goods and are manufactured from them. All goods are treated the same, because the point of view is fundamentally that of private profit-making, and this means that it is inherent in the methodology of economics to ignore man’s dependence on the natural world.

"I’ve long thought (though I’m aware just how unlikely this is) that economics, as a discipline, ought to be kicked down a notch or two. We treat it, in our ordinary political conversations, as if it were all that mattered, or at least as if it mattered more than many other things. The subtitle to Small Is Beautiful—“Economics as if People Mattered”—remains an aspiration."

[More from the MacKinnon: http://aworkinglibrary.com/reading/once-and-future-world/ ]

[More from the Schumacher: http://aworkinglibrary.com/reading/small-is-beautiful/ ]
mandybrown  jbmackinnon  efschumacher  economics  sustainability  bees  nature  capitalism  profits  measurement  value  values 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Small Is Beautiful: Impressions of Fritz Schumacher by Donald Brittain, Barrie Howells, Douglas Kiefer - NFB
"This film is a short documentary portrait of economist, technologist and lecturer Fritz Schumacher. Up to age 45, Schumacher was dedicated to economic growth. Then he came to believe that the modern technological explosion had grown out of all proportion to human need. Author of Small Is Beautiful - A Study of Economics as if People Mattered and founder of the London-based Intermediate Technology Development Group, he championed the cause of "appropriate" technology. The film introduces us to this gentle revolutionary a few months before his death."

[via: http://hendersonhallway.wordpress.com/2014/02/12/small-is-beautiful/ ]
small  economics  video  film  documentary  scale  growth  sustainability  1978  donaldbrittain  barriehowells  douglaskiefer  philosophy  efschumacher  humanscale  dehumanization  passivity  conditioning  unschooling  deschooling  humans  society  behavior  economists  place  roots  community  mobility  rootedness 
february 2014 by robertogreco
Small is Beautiful | Henderson Hallway
"Recently in my Global Issues class, our learning community looked at E.F. Schumacher’s notion of Small is Beautiful [http://www.ee.iitb.ac.in/student/~pdarshan/SmallIsBeautifulSchumacher.pdf ]. We read his infamous essay and watched the film below created by the National Film Board of Canada on his idea. What he suggests is a rethinking of the prevailing trend that unfettered economic growth is essential to the development of the species. We have had great discussions related to ungrowth, systems thinking, and the idea that we are all connected to every system and species on this planet.

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

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

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

[video]

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

As opposed to MOOCS and giant groups of learners, I feel from my perspective that my online learning communities need to be intimate and small. We need to know each others history and create a collective identity while respecting each other as individuals. I am just on the beginning of my quest, but would love to hear what other educators and student have to say."
education  learning  groupsize  matthenderson  thomassteele-maley  globalissues  globalstudies  efschumacher  elizabethkolbert  bighere  smallnow  bignow  longehere  extinction  mooc  moocs  donaldbrittain  barriehowells  douglaskiefer  virtualcommunities  onlinelearning  distancelearning  flippedclassrooms  blendedlearning  2014  small 
february 2014 by robertogreco
The Curse of Bigness | Christopher Ketcham | Orion Magazine
"Small groups of people prove to be more cohesive, effective, creative in getting things done. In the 1970s, the English management expert and business scholar Charles Handy put the ideal group size in work environments at “between five and seven” for “best participation, for highest all-round involvement.” Alexander Paul Hare, author of the classic Creativity in Small Groups, showed that groups sized between four and seven were most successful at problem solving, largely because small groups, as Hare observed, are more democratic: egalitarian, mutualist, co-operative, inclusive. Hundreds of studies in factories and workplaces confirm that workers divided into small groups enjoy lower absenteeism, less sickness, higher productivity, greater social interaction, higher morale—most likely because the conditions allow them to engage what is best in being human, to share the meaning and fruits of their labor…"
gandhi  buddhisteconomics  buddhism  energy  efschumacher  competition  paulgoodman  alienation  charlesperrow  representativedemocracy  profits  goldmansachs  standardoil  gm  innovation  committees  efficiency  standardization  corporatocracy  corporatism  economics  louisbrandeis  gigantism  growth  decentralization  human  humans  community  communities  biology  nature  size  2010  christopherketcham  toobigtosucceed  toobigtofail  power  howwework  howwelearn  hierarchy  groupdynamics  inclusiveness  inclusion  cooperation  egalitarian  egalitarianism  democratic  collaboration  management  alexanderpaulhare  tcsnmy8  tcsnmy  morale  productivity  neuroscience  social  scale  bigness  creativity  charleshandy  openstudioproject  lcproject  groupsize  cv  small  inclusivity  inlcusivity 
august 2012 by robertogreco
Small Is Beautiful - Wikipedia
"Small Is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered is a collection of essays by British economist E. F. Schumacher. The phrase "Small Is Beautiful" came from a phrase by his teacher Leopold Kohr.[1] It is often used to champion small, appropriate technologies that are believed to empower people more, in contrast with phrases such as "bigger is better"."

[see also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E._F._Schumacher ]
anarchism  books  consumerism  simplicity  consumption  culture  small  green  environment  economics  decentralization  sustainability  technology  toread  via:roberthinsch  efschumacher  scale  humanscale 
june 2010 by robertogreco

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