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Trinh T. Minh-ha on Vimeo
"Trinh Minh-ha operates on the boundary of documentary, experimental and traditional film, focusing on several powerful themes. As well as the status of women in society, she examines the life of migrants, portraits of whom she depicts in the background of the dynamic relationship between traditional and modern societies. The artist calls these figures the “inappropriate/d other”, and says in one of her interviews: “We can read the term “inappropriate/d other” in both ways, as someone whom you cannot appropriate, and as someone who is inappropriate. Not quite other, not quite the same.”

However, anyone expecting objective documentaries in this exhibition will be surprised. Trinh Minh-ha draws on her own experience, transforming the personal into the public and socially engaged, and in this way her films becomes “poetic-political” works. The artist’s sensitivity and empathy is not simply a way of presenting political themes in a user-friendly way, but is also manifest in unobtrusively recurring motifs of love and friendships.

What are the most powerful impressions we receive from films by Trinh Minh-ha? Firstly, there is a balance to her treatment of themes that offers the viewer the possibility of examining things from many different perspectives. Then there is the persistence with which she attempts to offer a three-dimensional image of “those others”.

However, even upon a first viewing our attention is caught by something else. Trinh Minh-ha works with the viewer’s senses, which she attempts to provoke into total vigilance. The sounds and music she uses are not any in any sense background, but at certain moments take over the narrative role, at others withdraw discreetly in order to allow the actors themselves to speak. The combination of stylised interviewers and theatrical scenes, modified in the postproduction stage by archival materials and linear film narration, along with sounds and suggestive colours, creates an almost synaesthetic experience, in which words express the same as sounds and colours. However, concentration on the part of the viewer is essential. How, otherwise, might they perceive all these levels simultaneously with the same intensity? How can such films be shown in a gallery? How does one create an environment in which the visitor does not just gaze, but accepts the role of a genuine film audience? Walls and chairs soundproofed in soft foam and the proximity of the screen will perhaps make it easier to accept the role of attentive viewers, who will insist on following a film from beginning to end."
trinhminh-ha  2015  film  documentary  migration  othering  vigilance  sensitivity  empathy  society  others  appropriate  inappropriate  innappropriated  gaze  concentration  attention 
4 days ago by robertogreco
Spaces of encounter: the performative art of reading | Thinkpiece | Architectural Review
"When the ‘counter novel’ Hopscotch by Julio Cortázar was published in 1963 it was celebrated as one of the most innovative experiments in 20th-century literature. The book was written to allow and encourage many different and complementary readings. As the author’s note at the beginning of the novel suggests, it can be read either progressively in the first 56 chapters or by ‘hopscotching’ through the entire set of 155 chapters according to a ‘Table of Instructions’. Cortázar also allows the reader the option of choosing their own unique path through the book. It’s no coincidence that the narrative – from the title of the book to the several overlapping stories that are contained in it – is based on a game often played in small groups in public spaces and playgrounds, in which the player has to hop or jump to retrieve a small object tossed into numbered patterns drawn on the ground. The book’s main structure has strong allusions to the notions of ‘space’ and the way we navigate through it, with its three main sections entitled ‘From the Other Side’, ‘From this Side’, and ‘From Diverse Sides’.

[image: "Since 2010, the ‘book bloc’ has been a visible feature of protests"]

Similarly, but from a different perspective, one of the first things the reader notes when flipping through Fantasies of the Library edited by Anne-Sophie Springer and Etienne Turpin and published in 2016 by MIT Press, is that the book itself can be understood as a kind of public space. In effect, it presents a brilliant dérive through books, book collections and the physical spaces of libraries from a curatorial perspective, going from private collections and the way their shelves are organised, to more ad hoc and temporary infrastructures, such as the People’s Library at Occupy Wall Street in New York, or the Biblioburro, a travelling library in Colombia that distributes books from the backs of two donkeys, Alfa and Beto. Various configurations and layouts have been designed in response to these narratives. They include essays, photos and interviews, setting up different kinds of encounters between authors, editors, readers, photographers and illustrators. Once you have the book in your hands, you gradually start to apprehend that the four conversations are printed only on left-hand pages, interspersed with other essays on right-hand ones. So it is only when you start reading voraciously and are interrupted by the ‘non-sense’ of these jumps, when the understanding of the dynamics imposed by the layout manifests itself, that you become aware you are already ‘hopscotching’ from page to page. The chapter ‘Reading Rooms Reading Machines’ is not only a visual essay about the power of books to create spaces around them and gather a community, it is also a curated, annotated and provocative history of these spaces as a conceptual continuation between the book and the city, ‘two environments in conjunction’, as Springer writes.

In some ways, it resembles the encounters you have in the streets of your neighbourhood. Some people you only glance at, others you smile at, there are a few with whom you talk and if you’re lucky, you might meet a friend. Within the texts, you can hop back and forth, approving, underlining, or absorbing in more detail. From individual object to the container known as the library, the idea of the book as a territory is explored in depth. Different kinds and sizes of spaces and the interactions that happen in and between them emerge. Springer describes the library as ‘a hybrid site for performing the book’ – a place where the book is not a static object but a space in which the reader is an active agent, coming and going from the outside; outside the pages and outside the library. It recalls Ray Bradbury’s assertion that: ‘Books are in themselves already more than mere containers of information; they are also modes of connectivity and interrelation, making the library a meta-book containing illimitable intertextual elements.’

[image: "Improvised book blocs on the street" from source: Interference Archive]

In moving from the ‘hopscotching’ suggested by Cortázar to the idea of the ‘library as map’ as discussed by Springer and Turpin, it is clear that the inextricable relationship between books and space forms the basis of our understanding of books as spaces of encounter, and the importance of heterogeneous books – whether fiction, poetry or critical theory – as spaces of encounter for architectural discourse. In that sense, books can be perceived as new kinds of spaces, where empathy, alterity and otherness are stronger than ideologies. Catalysing dissent and open dialogue, they can be one of the most effective tools of resistance in times of censorship, fake news and post-truth. Social anthropologist Athena Athanasiou explains how books have been used in public space as part of political struggles. ‘People have taken to the streets to fight for critical thinking and public education, turning books into banners and shields against educational cuts and neoliberal regimes of university governance’, she writes. This activism emphasises the strong symbolic power of the relationship between books and architectural spaces, ‘where the books were not only at the barricades, they were the barricades’. Such agency can transgress almost any kind of limit or boundary, and can happen in any sort of space – from your mobile device to the library or the street. But it is in the public sphere where the book’s agency can have the ‘power to affect’, becoming ‘a hybrid site for performing the book’ beyond the confines of the library.

Books can be ‘performed’ in many ways, especially when critical writing and the act of reading create spaces of encounter in the city. In June 2013, after plans were unveiled to develop Istanbul’s Gezi Park, artist Erdem Gunduz initiated his Standing Man protest while he stood motionless in Taksim Square for eight hours. This thoughtful form of resistance inspired a group of ‘silent readers’ who successfully transformed a space of fighting and friction into a meaningful space of encounter by simply standing still and reading books. It became known as the Tak sim Square Book Club, paradoxically one of the most dynamic demonstrations in recent years. The strength and energy contained in the bodies of each reader, but also in every book and the endless stories and narratives between covers, transformed Taksim Square into a highly politicised space. Instead of being compromised by conflict between government and citizens, it became a space of encounter that gave agency to each silent reader and to the wider collectivity they brought into being.

[image: "Readers in Istanbul’s Taksim Square transform the space through peaceful activism"]

The moment when writing, often carried out in solitude, is published, circulated and made accessible to everyone is the moment of generating public space, argues the French philosopher and art historian Georges Didi-Huberman. This was demonstrated in the ‘Parasitic Reading Room’, a nomadic, spontaneous and parasitic set of reading spaces staged during the opening days of the 4th Istanbul Design Biennial. Initially consisting of a series of out-loud readings of texts at selected venues, it then expanded to become an urban dérive across the streets of the city in the company of a mobile radio broadcasting the live readings. In that moment, the ‘walking reading room’ became a space of exchange, knowledge and collaboration. Different points of view coexisted, enriching each other, forming knowledge assemblages. It reminds us that reading together, whether silently or aloud, forces us to interact, to respect the times and rhythms of others, to learn new words and their sounds and to think new thoughts. In doing so, we rediscover new territories of empathy that become visible when visiting these spaces of encounter, where we learn that we can host otherness as part of the self. Where comradeship is a means instead of an end. Books create the spaces in which to play hopscotch together again."
ethelbaraonapohl  césarreyesnájera  books  reading  howweread  howwewrite  rayuela  2019  neilgaiman  fiction  space  performance  etienneturpin  derive  collections  libraries  raybradbury  connectivity  interrelation  hypertext  athenaathanasiou  architecture  protest  biblioburro  nomads  nomadism  nomadic  ows  occupywallstreet  conversation  neighborhoods  urban  urbanism  cities  istanbul  geziprk  erdemgunduz  taksimsquare  georgesdidi-huberman  comradeship  solidarity  empathy  writing  visibility  hopscotch  juliocortázar  anna-sophiespringer  dérive 
12 weeks ago by robertogreco
Together: The Rituals Pleasures and Politics of Cooperation with Richard Sennett - YouTube
"New York University sociologist and historian Richard Sennett addresses the phenomenon of why people tend to avoid engaging with others who are different, leading to a modern politics of the tribe rather than the city. In this thought-provoking talk, Sennett offers ideas on what might be done to encourage people to live with others who are racially, ethnically, religiously or economically unlike themselves. [3/2012] [Public Affairs] [Show ID: 23304]"
tichardsennett  togetherness  community  2012  empathy  sympathy  design  ethnography  sociology  diversity  difference  curiosity  segregation  self-segregation  openness  openminded  jeromebruner  cognition  xenophobia  xenophilia  tribes  politics 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Sam Byers on Twitter: "Jack’s thread on Vipassana meditation is fascinating."
[referenced thread:
https://twitter.com/jack/status/1071575088695140353 ]

"Jack’s thread on Vipassana meditation is fascinating.

It’s significant, I think, that he sees it as a practice that is of value primarily when he returns to work. He likes it because it enables him to refresh and then return to doing more of what he did before.

There is no suggestion, in his thread, that he regards his personal practice as being part of any wider, more selfless contribution to life and the world. It’s simply a method of personal betterment, a hack.

He’s also, it seems, unable to let go of metrics. He wore his Apple Watch and thingummyjig ring throughout and regards the data he gleans from those devices as objectively significant - more significant, in fact, than any inner insight he might have achieved.

Throughout, there’s a distinctly macho emphasis on discomfort. He emphasises the pain of sitting, the mosquito bites, the tough guy willpower and endurance he had to summon.

He’s at pains to labour the point that this is not easy, or gentle, or something anyone can do. It’s tough, it’s gritty, it’s for the hard core.

And then he returns unchanged, determined to do even more work and, one presumes, keep getting richer.

I find this intriguing because I think it’s indicative of a very specific cultural and economic moment in which very old and very traditional belief systems are effectively ransacked for anything they can contribute to the modern cult of productivity.

No emphasis here on empathy or compassion, for example.

This doesn’t tell us a great deal about Vipassana meditation, but it tells us a huge amount about the belief system that is Silicon Valley tech-bro capitalism.

It is closed, highly individual, inward-looking, metric-driven, proud of itself.

It’s easy to see how the practice of meditation, which seems so solitary, even solipsistic, when poorly framed and understood, might be appealing as an adjunct to this world view, but the way these ideologies and practices intersect merits a lot of unpicking, in my view.

I would also say that the replies are pretty fascinating too. People are extraordinarily proud of their cynicism, and their ability to communicate that cynicism with wild hostility, as if this in itself is part of some kind of holistic world view.

When in fact those replies are just the *same* solipsistic, cynical, and very western mindset redoubled and reflected back.

So the whole exchange becomes a kind of pissing contest to see who can be most sure of themselves.

We’re right at the toxic intersection, here, of co-opted “eastern spirituality” and vapidly unquestioning capitalistic self-certainty and the result is frankly wild - just a total shitshow of confusion and anger.

Nothing new of course. Post sixties hippie capitalism is by now so entrenched as to be the norm, but the whole thing is hugely illustrative on all sides and merits a great deal more thought than, ironically, Jack’s medium will allow.

It’s also important to remember that Vipassana meditation doesn’t “belong” to Jack - it’s an ancient and significant tradition. Using that as a means to ridicule him actually just winds up ridiculing a whole big chunk of culture as an unintended consequence.

Short version: it *might not* be possible to interrogate spiritual materialism using... non-spiritual materialism."

[full text of referenced thread:

"For my birthday this year, I did a 10-day silent vipassana meditation, this time in Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar 🇲🇲. We went into silence on the night of my birthday, the 19th. Here’s what I know 👇🏼

Vipassana is a technique and practice to “know thyself.” Understanding the inner nature as a way to understand…everything. It was rediscovered by Gautama the Buddha 2,500 years ago through rigorous scientific self-experimentation to answer the question: how do I stop suffering?

Vipassana’s singular objective is to hack the deepest layer of the mind and reprogram it: instead of unconsciously reacting to feelings of pain or pleasure, consciously observe that all pain and pleasure aren’t permanent, and will ultimately pass and dissolve away.

Most meditation methods end with a goal of strengthening concentration: focus on the breath. This was not Gautama’s goal. He wanted to end his attachment to craving (of pleasure) and aversion (of pain) by experiencing it directly. His theory was ending attachment ends his misery.

Imagine sitting on a concrete floor cross-legged for an hour without moving. Pain arises in the legs in about 30-45 minutes. One’s natural reaction is to change posture to avoid the pain. What if, instead of moving, one observed the pain and decided to remain still through it?

Vipassana would likely be good for those suffering chronic pain to help manage it. That’s not the goal of course, but definitely a simple practice to help. Being able to sit without moving at all for over an hour through pain definitely teaches you a lot about your potential.

Meditation is often thought of as calming, relaxing, and a detox of all the noise in the world. That’s not vipassana. It’s extremely painful and demanding physical and mental work. I wasn’t expecting any of that my first time last year. Even tougher this year as I went deeper.

I did my meditation at Dhamma Mahimã in Pyin Oo Lwin. This is my room. Basic. During the 10 days: no devices, reading, writing, physical excercise, music, intoxicants, meat, talking, or even eye contact with others. It’s free: everything is given to meditators by charity.

I woke up at 4 am every day, and we meditated until 9 pm. There were breaks for breakfast, lunch, and walking. No dinner. Here’s the sidewalk I walked for 45 minutes every day.

The 2nd day was my best. I was able to focus entirely on my breath, without thoughts, for over an hour. The most I could do before that was 5 minutes. Day 6 was my worst as I caught a nasty cold going around the center. Couldn’t sleep from then on but pushed through til the end.

On day 11, all I wanted to do was listen to music, and I again turned to my favorite poet, @kendricklamar and his album DAMN. The greatest effect coming out of silence is the clarity one has in listening. Every note stands alone.

Myanmar is an absolutely beautiful country. The people are full of joy and the food is amazing. I visited the cities of Yangon, Mandalay, and Bagan. We visited and meditated at many monasteries around the country.

The highlight of my trip was serving monks and nuns food, and donating sandals and umbrellas. This group of young nuns in Mandalay and their chanting was breathtaking and chilling.

We also meditated in a cave in Mandalay one evening. In the first 10 minutes I got bit 117 times by mosquitoes 🦟 They left me alone when the light blew a fuse, which you can see in my heart rate lowering.

I also wore my Apple Watch and Oura ring, both in airplane mode. My best meditations always had the least variation in heart rate. When I wasn’t focused, it would jump around a lot. Here’s a night of sleep on the 10th night (my resting heart rate was consistently below 40).

Vipassana is not for everyone, but if any of this resonates with you even in the slightest, I’d encourage you to give it a try. If in the US, this center in Texas is a great start: https://siri.dhamma.org/

And if you’re willing to travel a bit, go to Myanmar: https://www.dhamma.org/en/schedules/schmahimar

Thanks for reading! Always happy to answer any questions about my experience. Will track responses to this thread. I’ll continue to do this every year, and hopefully do longer and longer each time. The time I take away to do this gives so much back to me and my work. 🇲🇲🙏🏼🧘🏻‍♂️

I’ve been meditating for 20 years, with the last 2 years focused on vipassana. After experiencing it in Texas last year, I wanted to go to the region that maintained the practice in its original form. That led me to Myanmar.

I took this time with a singular objective of working on myself. I shared my experience with the world with the singular objective of encouraging others to consider a similar practice. Simply because it’s the best thing I’ve found to help me every day.

I’m aware of the human rights atrocities and suffering in Myanmar. I don’t view visiting, practicing, or talking with the people, as endorsement. I didn’t intend to diminish by not raising the issue, but could have acknowledged that I don’t know enough and need to learn more.

This was a purely personal trip for me focused on only one dimension: meditation practice. That said, I know people are asking about what Twitter is doing around the situation, so I’ll share our current state.

Twitter is a way for people to share news and information about events in Myanmar as well as to bear witness to the plight of the Rohingya and other peoples and communities. We’re actively working to address emerging issues. This includes violent extremism and hateful conduct.

We know we can’t do this alone, and continue to welcome conversation with and help from civil society and NGOs within the region. I had no conversations with the government or NGOs during my trip. We’re always open to feedback on how to best improve.

Will keep following the conversation and sharing what I learn here. 🙏🏼"]
jackdorsey  buddhism  religion  meditation  compassion  empathy  metrics  gamification  spirituality  quantification  vipassana  sambyers  individualism  materialism  capitalism  us  self-certainty  solipsism  cynicism  siliconvalley  californianideology  ideology 
december 2018 by robertogreco
The Gay Love Stories of Moomin and the Queer Radicality of Tove Jansson | Autostraddle
"In 1955, Tove Jansson asked Tuulikki Pietilä to dance. They had sat all night around the gramophone together, guarding it whilst they played their records so that nobody could change the music. But Pietilä said no: same-sex relationships were still illegal in Finland — and would be until 1971 — and – the threat of judgement from peers and colleagues was intense. Queer people know well the hollow of panic, deep in the gut, when you think that your disguises may have failed. It is why, historically, we have avoided large displays of affection; why our histories take the form of private letters, fragments hidden inside books and diaries. The story of Tove and Tuulikki is no different; soon after she refused to dance, Tuulikki sent Tove a card with a cat, fat and striped, hand-drawn on the front. A code that meant: I am thinking of you. After telephone calls over the holidays, Tove finally set off to Tuulikki’s studio. It was March, and snowing, when she walked over; the streets were dark and the fat flakes fell in drifts that made the roads shine. When she got there, the studio warm and light like a ship’s cabin at sea, they drank wine and played French records.

Jansson’s queerness is often left out in stories of her life. Puffin editions of Moomin books talked about how she lived alone on her Finnish island; documentaries still talk of Pietilä as a lifelong friend. Jansson is no
 misnomer, rather, she fits in neatly with the trend of avoiding the personal lives of gay people
 – particularly lesbians – that exists to this day. Society dissolves queer realities: erases the two bodies sharing a bed, wrapped around each other, the two bodies fucking, the moments and hours and days, the holding hands and arguing and kissing and small talk. As seen throughout history, gayness is coded as dangerous for children. It is portrayed something purely sexual or purely chaste, rarely afforded the complexity and nuance afforded to heterosexual relationships. For Jansson to be a successful children’s writer she was portrayed as sexless, loveless. It’s particularly egregious when queerness informs the work of a writer to that extent that it did for Jansson. Not only do the themes of loneliness, family and love shape her work for adults and children, but she included characters based on her female lovers in many of her works.

Before meeting Pietilä, Jansson had been in a creative crisis. She knew the demand was high for another Moomin book, but dreaded the thought of repeating herself – she longed for new ground to tread, for the freedom of inspiration. As her fame had increased, so had her awareness that the Moomins were no longer hers alone; they now appeared on waste paper baskets and brooches and wrapping paper, and the public always wanted more. In 1955 she wrote of her conflicting feelings, saying, “I can’t recall exactly when I became hostile to my work, or how it happened and what I should do to recapture my natural pleasure in it.” The knowledge that she had to write another Moomin book loomed large in her mind. It was precisely Pietilä’s influence that helped overcome her writer’s block: “That I was able to write Moominland Midwinter was entirely due to Tooti,” Jansson stated to biographer Boel Westin in Tove Jansson: Life, Art Words. Out of their love letters the character of Too-tikky had been formed, first as an inky doodle of her lover’s likeness (‘My Tootikki!’, she nicknamed Pietilä), and then slowly as a fleshed-out form.

Moominland Midwinter was a radical departure from the sun-drenched summers of the Moomin valley that readers had seen before — sailing boats framed by orange-slice suns, picnics on the terrace, dances in the woods. Instead, Moomin wakes up from hibernation in the cold dark of a Finnish winter, pine trees blanketed with snow. He is disoriented and scared, eager to wake up his mother for comfort. However, when she turns away from him in her sleep he realises he must deal with this new world — and his yearning for spring — on his own. There to help him is Too-tikky, as no-nonsense as her flesh and blood counterpart, who describes to him the dancing colours of the Northern Lights, states “One has to discover everything for oneself.” Moomin realises that the winter is needed, for after it follows the spring, lush and bright and alive. It’s hard not to read this as a mirror of Jansson and Pietilä’s relationship, blooming out of the snow and cold — in Moominland Midwinter, our narrator states “There are such a lot of things that have no place in summer and autumn and spring. Everything that’s a little shy and a little rum. Some kinds of night animals and people that don’t fit in with others and that nobody really believes in.” The winter gives us as queer people the chance to show ourselves, to claim the world as ours.

This wasn’t the first lover she had included in her stories: Vivica Bandler, the married theatre director with whom Jansson had an affair in 1946, became the character of Bob. Bob’s counterpart, Thingumy, was Tove, who wrote to Bandler, “No one understands their language, but that doesn’t matter so long as they themselves know what it’s all about… Do you love me? Of dourse you coo! Sanks and the thame to you!” This exchange ended up almost entirely complete in Jansson’s next Moomin book, Finn Family Moomintroll, where Thingumy and Bob are introduced as intertwined, inextricable creatures, their names better known in conjunction than when on their own. They even look the same, only differentiated by the hat Bob wears. By placing them, idiosyncratic and unmissable, at the centre of the story, Jansson was able to make a public declaration of love in a private manner. Her passion – her willingness to depict their relationship for anybody who could decipher the code – led Bandler to warn her to be secretive. Not only was their love illegal, but it was classed as a psychiatric condition, and its reveal would have cost both women their livelihoods and families.

Queerness is Jansson’s works is never as simplistic as direct representation of lovers. It’s something that seeped into the pages, flowing along the lines in the illustrations. In a letter to Bandler, Jansson talks of how “everything has changed since I met you! Every tone is more vivid, every colour cleaner, all my perceptions are sharper.” Already so occupied with “pure, fresh colours” – fleshy greens and cornflower blues and sherbet yellows – Jansson’s passion for Bandler allowed her to utilise them further in her work, encouraging her to use them with a giddy joy on the front cover of Finn Family Moomintroll. Her renewed passion for colour around this time is also prominent in the murals she painted in Helsinki Town Hall, into which she painted Bandler, a tiny Moomintroll and herself; fan in one hand, cigarette in the other, turning her blue eyes away from the viewer’s gaze.

Throughout Finn Family Moomintroll there is a presence, cold and dark and flat, sucking the light from the sun, wilting the flowers. The Groke is the closest the Moomin books get to an antagonist, although even she is treated with sympathy. She is grey as a storm cloud, and wherever she goes the plants and creatures die. She is the antithesis of Thingumy and Bob’s happiness, the embodiment of loneliness to their companionship. It is they who get to keep suitcase of rubies in the end of the story, a treasure many long for but one whose dazzling contents are only available to those who have ‘the right’ to own it — their love makes them the only ones suitable for the honour. It’s tempting to read the Groke as an allegory for the bigotry of a society that seeks to separate lovers, and for the misery that follows. In typical Tove fashion, however, the Groke is not a figure of hatred or derision, but one of pity.

It is Too-Ticky who, in Moominland Midwinter, encourages us to empathise with the Groke — to consider how desperately lonely a life untouched by love must be. This is not to say that Jansson did not face the isolation that is inherent in the lives of most queer people — although she remained with Pietilä for the rest of her life, and although they shared connected apartments and their island cottage, she could never discuss her love with her family. Jansson was open with her friends, telling them that she the “happiest and most genuine solution for me will be to go over to the spook side;” a wonderfully matter-of-fact way of resolving her own conflicts over her sexuality. But both her father and her mother were unable to discuss it with her — Jansson describes how her father tried to speak with her after he had heard gossip, but ultimately, he could not say the “difficult word homosexual.” Jansson suspected that her mother knew, but never raised the subject, writing “I can accept this […] But it feels lonely.”

Only after her parents had died did Jansson write Fair Play, a collection of short stories that fictionalised her relationship with Pietilä. The characters in the book, Jonna and Mari, live as Jansson and Pietilä do – in adjoining apartments with connecting studios. They are – respectively – an artist, and an illustrator and writer. The stories are quiet: Jonna and Mari watch westerns together, try to protect their fishing nets from a storm, bicker over the way paintings hang on the wall. They travel to America, as their real-life counterparts did, and sleep in a tent when a guest stays in their island cottage. But it’s everyday-ness is precisely what makes it so calmly radical. It is a portrait of a lifelong lesbian couple, allowing us to see into their daily lives, the minutiae of how they live, and on display at the centre of everything is their love for one another. In her introduction Ali Smith brilliantly summarises it as “affectionate discretion […] a good-working love, a homage to the kind of coupledom that rarely receives such homage.” No longer forced to be… [more]
tovejansson  tuulikkipietilä  2018  moomins  sexuality  writing  hannahilliams  queerness  relationships  creativity  finland  love  boelwestin  1955  1946  vivicabandler  language  groke  empathy  literature  howwerite  homosexuality  alismith  affection  discretion 
november 2018 by robertogreco
There’s Nothing Virtuous About Finding Common Ground | Time
"I recall this experience now, over 40 years later, as we are in a political moment where we find ourselves on opposite sides of what feels like an unbreachable gulf. I find myself annoyed by the hand-wringing about how we need to find common ground. People ask how might we “meet in the middle,” as though this represents a safe, neutral and civilized space. This American fetishization of the moral middle is a misguided and dangerous cultural impulse.

The middle is a point equidistant from two poles. That’s it. There is nothing inherently virtuous about being neither here nor there. Buried in this is a false equivalency of ideas, what you might call the “good people on both sides” phenomenon. When we revisit our shameful past, ask yourself, Where was the middle? Rather than chattel slavery, perhaps we could agree on a nice program of indentured servitude? Instead of subjecting Japanese-American citizens to indefinite detention during WW II, what if we had agreed to give them actual sentences and perhaps provided a receipt for them to reclaim their things when they were released? What is halfway between moral and immoral?

When we revisit our shameful past, ask yourself, Where was the middle?

The search for the middle is rooted in conflict avoidance and denial. For many Americans it is painful to understand that there are citizens of our community who are deeply racist, sexist, homophobic and xenophobic. Certainly, they reason, this current moment is somehow a complicated misunderstanding. Perhaps there is some way to look at this–a view from the middle–that would allow us to communicate and realize that our national identity is the tie that will bind us comfortably, and with a bow. The headlines that lament a “divided” America suggest that the fact that we can’t all get along is more significant than the issues over which we are sparring."



"Now I understand that my experience at a public school was literally an ocean away from the brave children of Soweto. However, my empathy with them was complete. Many people understand politics as merely a matter of rhetoric and ideas. Some people will experience wars only in news snippets, while the poor and working class that make up most of our volunteer army will wage war, and still others far and not so far away will have war waged upon them. For the people directly affected, the culture war is a real war too. They know there is no safety in the in-between. The romance of the middle can exist when one’s empathy is aligned with the people expressing opinions on policy or culture rather than with those who will be affected by these policies or cultural norms. Buried in this argument, whether we realize it or not, is the fact that these policies change people’s lives.

As Americans, we are at a crossroads. We have to decide what is central to our identity: Is the importance of our performance of national unity more significant than our core values? Is it more meaningful that we understand why some of us support the separation of children from their parents, or is it more crucial that we support the reunification of these families? Is it more essential that we comprehend the motives of white nationalists, or is it more urgent that we prevent them from terrorizing communities of color and those who oppose racism? Should we agree to disagree about the murder and dismemberment of a journalist? Should we celebrate our tolerance and civility as we stanch the wounds of the world and the climate with a poultice of national unity?

For the people directly affected, the culture war is a real war too"



"Compromise is not valuable in its own right, and justice seldom dwells in the middle."

[Response about the term "common ground":

"I agree with this piece yet am troubled by the author equating "common ground" with "meet in the middle" and “good people on both sides." Not the same thing! I've taught nonviolence for years and 1 principle is finding common ground with people you consider to be Other."
https://twitter.com/earnestdrollery/status/1059803183424380928

"This is a practice used by mediators, hostage negotiators, and often by family members of opposing politics who still talk to each other."
https://twitter.com/earnestdrollery/status/1059803227049340928

"Real & lasting political/social change often happens person-to-person. It has to do with recognizing that all of us have a core of humanity. Open dialogue to establish both people have same goals, like keeping our families safe, yet see different ways to get there is a beginning"
https://twitter.com/earnestdrollery/status/1059803663336701954

"To feel heard and understood is vital. A first step is to listen well and re-state someone else’s position so accurately and comprehensively that the person agrees you’ve captured their view. It’s a growth step for both people, largely because it’s so unusual."
https://twitter.com/earnestdrollery/status/1059803700603113472

"Open dialogue with the very people she condemned is what inspired Megan Phelps-Roper to renounce her membership in the extremist Westboro Baptist Church. It’s what led neo-Nazi skinhead @cpicciolini to stop spreading hate and work to lead others away from such ideologies."
https://twitter.com/earnestdrollery/status/1059803905364803584

"It’s how Daryl Davis, a black man, befriends Ku Klux Klan members in hopes they will have a change of heart. It is an ongoing act of great strength that leads to direct, open, productive discussion rather than conflict avoidance."
https://twitter.com/earnestdrollery/status/1059804197535838208

"I too condemn what author describes. I just don’t want us to condemn the “common ground” I know as a path to peace that bravely leads right through the hard topics."
https://twitter.com/earnestdrollery/status/1059804242435809280 ]
tayarijones  canon  middleground  democrats  morality  centrists  politics  emptiness  2018  values  cv  identity  conviction  unity  empathy  commonground 
november 2018 by robertogreco
The Equality Trust | Working to improve the quality of life in the UK by reducing economic inequality
[See also:
(book) "The Spirit Level"
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Spirit_Level_(book)
The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better[1] is a book by Richard G. Wilkinson and Kate Pickett,[2] published in 2009 by Allen Lane. The book is published in the US by Bloomsbury Press (December, 2009) with the new sub-title: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger.[3] It was then published in a paperback second edition (United Kingdom) in November 2010 by Penguin Books with the subtitle, Why Equality is Better for Everyone.[4]

The book argues that there are "pernicious effects that inequality has on societies: eroding trust, increasing anxiety and illness, (and) encouraging excessive consumption".[5] It claims that for each of eleven different health and social problems: physical health, mental health, drug abuse, education, imprisonment, obesity, social mobility, trust and community life, violence, teenage pregnancies, and child well-being, outcomes are significantly worse in more unequal countries, whether rich or poor.[1] The book contains graphs that are available online.[6]

In 2010, the authors published responses to questions about their analysis on the Equality Trust website.[7] As of September 2012, the book had sold more than 150,000 copies in English.[8] It is available in 23 foreign editions.

"The Spirit Level authors: why society is more unequal than ever"
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/09/society-unequal-the-spirit-level

[follow-up book] "The Inner Level: How More Equal Societies Reduce Stress, Restore Sanity and Improve Everyone’s Wellbeing"
https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/188607/the-inner-level/
Why is the incidence of mental illness in the UK twice that in Germany? Why are Americans three times more likely than the Dutch to develop gambling problems? Why is child well-being so much worse in New Zealand than Japan? As this groundbreaking study demonstrates, the answer to all these hinges on inequality.

In The Spirit Level Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett put inequality at the centre of public debate by showing conclusively that less-equal societies fare worse than more equal ones across everything from education to life expectancy. The Inner Level now explains how inequality affects us individually, how it alters how we think, feel and behave. It sets out the overwhelming evidence that material inequalities have powerful psychological effects: when the gap between rich and poor increases, so does the tendency to define and value ourselves and others in terms of superiority and inferiority. A deep well of data and analysis is drawn upon to empirically show, for example, that low social status is associated with elevated levels of stress, and how rates of anxiety and depression are intimately related to the inequality which makes that status paramount.

Wilkinson and Pickett describe how these responses to hierarchies evolved, and why the impacts of inequality on us are so severe. In doing so, they challenge the conception that humans are innately competitive and self-interested. They undermine, too, the idea that inequality is the product of 'natural' differences in individual ability. This book sheds new light on many of the most urgent problems facing societies today, but it is not just an index of our ills. It demonstrates that societies based on fundamental equalities, sharing and reciprocity generate much higher levels of well-being, and lays out the path towards them.

"Does inequality cause suicide, drug abuse and mental illness?"
https://www.economist.com/books-and-arts/2018/06/14/does-inequality-cause-suicide-drug-abuse-and-mental-illness

"“The Inner Level” seeks to push that debate forward, by linking inequality to a crisis of mental health. This time the authors’ argument focuses on status anxiety: stress related to fears about individuals’ places in social hierarchies. Anxiety declines as incomes rise, they show, but is higher at all levels in more unequal countries—to the extent that the richest 10% of people in high-inequality countries are more socially anxious than all but the bottom 10% in low-inequality countries. Anxiety contributes to a variety of mental-health problems, including depression, narcissism and schizophrenia—rates of which are alarming in the West, the authors say, and rise with inequality.

Manifestations of mental illness, such as self-harm, drug and alcohol abuse and problem gambling, all seem to get worse with income dispersion, too. Such relationships seem to apply within countries as well as between them. Damaging drug use is higher in more unequal neighbourhoods of New York City, in more unequal American states and in more unequal countries. The authors emphasise that it is a person’s relative position rather than absolute income that matters most. A study of 30,000 Britons found that an individual’s place in the income hierarchy predicted the incidence of mental stress more accurately than absolute income did. And in America, relative income is more closely linked to depression than absolute income. It is not enough to lift all boats, their work suggests, if the poshest vessels are always buoyed up more than the humblest.

The fact that relative status matters so much is a result of human beings’ intrinsically social nature, Ms Pickett and Mr Wilkinson argue. Group interaction and co-operation have been an essential component of humanity’s evolutionary success; indeed, the authors say, its social nature helped drive the growth of human brains. Across primates, they write, the size of the neocortex—a part of the brain responsible for higher-level cognitive functions—varies with the typical group size of a species. Living in complex social groups is hard cognitive work. Survival requires an understanding of roles within the social hierarchy, and intuition of what others are thinking. Thus people are necessarily sensitive to their status within groups, and to social developments that threaten it.

Such hierarchies are found in all human societies. But as inequality rises, differences in status become harder to ignore. There is more to be gained or lost by moving from one rung on the ladder to another. And however much some maintain that disparities in pay-cheques do not correspond to differences in human worth, such well-meaning pieties feel hollow when high-rollers earn hundreds or thousands of times what ordinary folk take home. Money cannot buy everything, but it can buy most things. The steeper the income gradient, the less secure everyone becomes, in both their self-respect and their sense of the community’s esteem.

And so people compensate. They take pills, to steel their nerves or dull the pain. Some cut themselves. Some adopt a more submissive posture, avoiding contact with others. Yet such withdrawal can feed on itself, depriving recluses of the social interaction that is important to mental health, undermining relationships and careers and contributing to economic hardship.

Others respond in the opposite way, by behaving more aggressively and egotistically. Studies of narcissistic tendencies showed a steep increase between 1982 and 2006, the authors report; 30% more Americans displayed narcissistic characteristics at the end of the period than at the beginning. Scrutiny of successive American cohorts found a progressive rise in those listing wealth and fame as important goals (above fulfilment and community). Over time, more people cited money as the main motivation for attending college (rather than intellectual enrichment).

Domineering responses to anxiety are associated with loss of empathy and delusions of grandeur. Thus highly successful people often display narcissistic or even psychopathic behaviour. In surveys, the rich are generally less empathetic and more likely to think they deserve special treatment than others. Modern capitalism, the authors suggest, selects for assertiveness, for a lack of sentimentality in business and comfort in sacking underlings, and for showy displays of economic strength. From the top to the bottom of the income spectrum, people use conspicuous consumption and other means of enhancing their image to project status.

The least secure are often the most likely to exaggerate their qualities. For example, countries with lower average life-expectancy tend to do better on measures of self-reported health; 54% of Japanese say they are in good health compared with 80% of Americans, though the Japanese live five years longer on average. Whereas 70% of Swedes consider themselves to be above-average drivers, 90% of Americans do. Such figures cast declamations of America’s greatness, and the politicians who make them, in a new light."

"The Inner Level review – how more equal societies reduce stress and improve wellbeing"
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/jun/20/the-inner-level-review ]

[via: https://www.instagram.com/p/BmquJ7Ngvme/ ]
equality  inequality  society  trust  anxiety  well-being  stress  mentalhealth  uk  economics  community  socialmobility  class  education  drugs  drugabuse  health  violence  illness  consumption  hierarchy  horizontality  mentalillness  status  self-harm  gambling  depression  narcissism  schizophrenia  relativity  excess  cooperation  egotism  selfishness  empathy  dunning–krugereffect  greatness  politics  lifeexpectancy  japan  sweden  us  driving  capitalism  latecapitalism  fame  fulfillment  money  motivation  colleges  universities  exceptionalism  assertiveness  aggressiveness  richardwilkinson  katepickett  growth  erichfromm 
august 2018 by robertogreco
Isabel Rodríguez on Twitter: "The most important goal of any person working with children should be doing no harm. The most important goal of any teacher preparation program should be about unlearning violence, disrespect, prejudices and abuse of power a
"The most important goal of any person working with children should be doing no harm. The most important goal of any teacher preparation program should be about unlearning violence, disrespect, prejudices and abuse of power against children. Everything else is secondary.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is only in a world in which competition, scarcity and exclusion are normalized that we learn to think that assigning grades and sorting children is okay."
isabelrodríguez  sfsh  schools  schooling  unschooling  deschooling  hierarchy  horizontality  community  lcproject  openstudioproject  agesegregation  2018  rynboren  mitchaltman  hackerspaces  makerspaces  dignity  parenting  children  power  control  exploitation  coercion  race  racism  prejudice  abuse  empathy  alienation  labor  work  capitalism  solidarity  propertyrights  commodification  humanrights  humans  learning  howwelearn  school  schooliness 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Rebecca Solnit: Not Caring is a Political Art Form | Literary Hub
"Sometimes it seems to me a better way to organize the political spectrum than along a continuum of right and left would be the ideology of disconnection versus the ideology of connection. In the short term we are working to protect the rights of immigrants and to prevent families from being torn apart at the border—and to address the relationship between our greenhouse gas emissions and the global climate, between our economic systems and poverty, between what we do and what happens beyond us, because the ideology of isolation is in part a denial of cause and effect relations, and a demand to be unburdened even from scientific fact and the historical and linguistic structures governing truth. In the long term our work must be to connect and to bring a vision of connection as better than disconnection, for oneself and for the world,  to those whose ideology is “I really don’t care”—whether or not it’s emblazoned on their jackets. Somewhere in there is the reality that what we do we do for love, if it’s worth doing."
rebeccasolnit  2018  immigration  politics  connection  disconnection  empathy  compassion  refugees  donaldtrump  race  racism  climatechange  ideology  care  caring  economics  inequality  poverty 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Survival of the Kindest: Dacher Keltner Reveals the New Rules of Power
"When Pixar was dreaming up the idea for Inside Out, a film that would explore the roiling emotions inside the head of a young girl, they needed guidance from an expert. So they called Dacher Keltner.

Dacher is a psychologist at UC Berkeley who has dedicated his career to understanding how human emotion shapes the way we interact with the world, how we properly manage difficult or stressful situations, and ultimately, how we treat one another.

In fact, he refers to emotions as the “language of social living.” The more fluent we are in this language, the happier and more meaningful our lives can be.

We tackle a wide variety of topics in this conversation that I think you’ll really enjoy.

You’ll learn:

• The three main drivers that determine your personal happiness and life satisfaction
• Simple things you can do everyday to jumpstart the “feel good” reward center of your brain
• The principle of “jen” and how we can use “high-jen behaviors” to bootstrap our own happiness
• How to have more positive influence in our homes, at work and in our communities.
• How to teach your kids to be more kind and empathetic in an increasingly self-centered world
• What you can do to stay grounded and humble if you are in a position of power or authority
• How to catch our own biases when we’re overly critical of another’s ideas (or overconfident in our own)

And much more. We could have spent an hour discussing any one of these points alone, but there was so much I wanted to cover. I’m certain you’ll find this episode well worth your time."
compassion  kindness  happiness  dacherkeltner  power  charlesdarwin  evolution  psychology  culture  society  history  race  racism  behavior  satisfaction  individualism  humility  authority  humans  humanism  morality  morals  multispecies  morethanhuman  objects  wisdom  knowledge  heidegger  ideas  science  socialdarwinism  class  naturalselection  egalitarianism  abolitionism  care  caring  art  vulnerability  artists  scientists  context  replicability  research  socialsciences  2018  statistics  replication  metaanalysis  socialcontext  social  borntobegood  change  human  emotions  violence  evolutionarypsychology  slvery  rape  stevenpinker  torture  christopherboehm  hunter-gatherers  gender  weapons  democracy  machiavelli  feminism  prisons  mentalillness  drugs  prisonindustrialcomplex  progress  politics  1990s  collaboration  canon  horizontality  hierarchy  small  civilization  cities  urban  urbanism  tribes  religion  dogma  polygamy  slavery  pigeons  archaeology  inequality  nomads  nomadism  anarchism  anarchy  agriculture  literacy  ruleoflaw  humanrights  governance  government  hannah 
march 2018 by robertogreco
Shira Erlichman on Twitter: "I teach writing. A lot. & If I had to distill the lesson that comes up the most it would be: Sensuality > Concepts Sensuality > Concepts Sensuality > Concepts Sensuality > Concepts Sensuality > Concepts Sensuality > Concepts"
[via:
"Dear poets-I-chaperone-through-the-process-of-exploring-creative-writing: this thread is to be considered #requiredreading. And then some."
https://twitter.com/jsamlarose/status/960434099524644864 ]

"I teach writing. A lot. & If I had to distill the lesson that comes up the most it would be:

Sensuality > Concepts
Sensuality > Concepts
Sensuality > Concepts
Sensuality > Concepts
Sensuality > Concepts
Sensuality > Concepts

Sure, I'd like to know what you think about the world. But only if I can trust that you can invite me into the world: sense by sense. If you write "That year was really hard for me" I don't know what year it is, I don't know what "hard" means for you. Give me bone, give me break.

If I wrote, "When we moved to the US my dad protected us" like, okay? What is protected? What do I mean? The same thing you mean? What if I said "We lived in a basement apartment. The first time I saw snow it blocked our whole front door. My dad dug us out."

& Then, there's so much room for specificity. "Aba" instead of "my dad." My language is not conceptual; it's based in migration, country, movement, slang, whozeewhats, whatevertheFiwant.

You are the only you, you-ing right now.

Be specific.

Be sensual.

Give us the gift of your aliveness.

The second thing that comes up the most when teaching is a total misunderstanding of editing. I get that. Because about 7 years ago I was really skeptical of a 2nd, let alone 19th draft. However, the palace I live in now is the Utter Joy of the (Literally) 21st Draft Palace.

What changed?

For one, I was writing so much that sometimes I'd go back (years later!) to an old 1st draft & see the second Russian Doll hiding inside it. "Whoa, that's weird," I thought & I'd open up that second Russian Doll. Behold, a third Russian Doll (draft) inside it. [image of Russian dolls]

I banished the idea of editing as boring, reductive. Poems were suddenly turned inside out, upside down. I'd find a hidden gem (an image, let's say) & like Sardines, there'd be all these possibilities tucked up beside it. Editing. Became. More. Creative. Than. Writing.

The proof was in the pudding. I'd write a poem, work on it with my little chisel for years & then BAE WOULD ARRIVE! This poem would suddenly strut, sing, thank ME! As if I hadn't been chasing her for her number all these years!

This poem, "Barometer," 2 years before publication basically read like a Dream Journal LOL. Not great. But necessary! Maybe if I get brave I'll post that first draft here. I send it to students to show them the journey!

https://preludemag.com/posts/ode-to-lithium-6-barometer/

Think about going 2 the doctor. When you go, you want a listener. Tenderness. Empathy. Thats how I approach a draft: How can I best listen to u? To whats hiding here? Can I have patience for ur glitches & starts? What might u already know––& if I ask the right questions––show me?

& Always remember baby!

There's nothing wasted!

Even if you get to draft 22 & throw that lil beast out. So what? So you sat there, refining & chiseling & flipping language & seeking secret caves & spelunking?

You're muscular as fuck for it. I promise. You'll glow for it."
shiraerlichman  writing  advice  howwerite  classideas  editing  poems  poetry  via:jslr  sensuality  aliveness  individuality  tenderness  empathy 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Emery, N.: Bird Brain: An Exploration of Avian Intelligence (Hardcover and eBook) | Princeton University Press
"Birds have not been known for their high IQs, which is why a person of questionable intelligence is sometimes called a "birdbrain." Yet in the past two decades, the study of avian intelligence has witnessed dramatic advances. From a time when birds were seen as simple instinct machines responding only to stimuli in their external worlds, we now know that some birds have complex internal worlds as well. This beautifully illustrated book provides an engaging exploration of the avian mind, revealing how science is exploding one of the most widespread myths about our feathered friends—and changing the way we think about intelligence in other animals as well.

Bird Brain looks at the structures and functions of the avian brain, and describes the extraordinary behaviors that different types of avian intelligence give rise to. It offers insights into crows, jays, magpies, and other corvids—the “masterminds” of the avian world—as well as parrots and some less-studied species from around the world. This lively and accessible book shows how birds have sophisticated brains with abilities previously thought to be uniquely human, such as mental time travel, self-recognition, empathy, problem solving, imagination, and insight.

Written by a leading expert and featuring a foreword by Frans de Waal, renowned for his work on animal intelligence, Bird Brain shines critical new light on the mental lives of birds.

Nathan Emery is senior lecturer in cognitive biology at Queen Mary University of London. His research interests focus on what corvids, apes, and parrots understand about their social and physical worlds, especially others' mental states, insight, and imagination, as well as the psychology and evolution of innovation and creativity. He is currently working with the ravens at the Tower of London. He is the coeditor of Social Intelligence: From Brain to Culture and The Cognitive Neuroscience of Social Behaviour, and is on the editorial board of the journals Animal Cognition and Journal of Comparative Psychology. He is the author of more than eighty publications, including papers in Nature, Science, and Current Biology. His work has been extensively covered by international newspapers and magazines, in books, and on TV."
multispecies  birds  intelligence  animals  corvids  via:eden  nthanemery  parrots  empathy  tools  self-recognition  imagination  fransdewaal  problemsolving 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Design Thinking is Kind of Like Syphilis — It’s Contagious and Rots Your Brains
"Miller never bothers to define all the modes, and we will consider them more below. But for now, we should just note that the entire model is based on design consulting: You try to understand the client’s problem, what he or she wants or needs. You sharpen that problem so it’s easier to solve. You think of ways to solve it. You try those solutions out to see if they work. And then once you’ve settled on something, you ask your client for feedback. By the end, you’ve created a “solution,” which is also apparently an “innovation.”

Miller also never bothers to define the liberal arts. The closest he comes is to say they are ways of “thinking that all students should be exposed to because it enhances their understanding of everything else.” Nor does he make clear what he means by the idea that Design Thinking is or could be the new liberal arts. Is it but one new art to be added to the traditional liberal arts, such as grammar, logic, rhetoric, math, music, and science? Or does Miller think, like Hennessy and Kelly, that all of education should be rebuilt around the DTs? Who knows.

Miller is most impressed with Design Thinking’s Empathize Mode. He writes lyrically, “Human-centered design redescribes the classical aim of education as the care and tending of the soul; its focus on empathy follows directly from Rousseau’s stress on compassion as a social virtue.” Beautiful. Interesting.

But what are we really talking about here? The d.school’s An Introduction to Design Thinking PROCESS GUIDE says, “The Empathize Mode is the work you do to understand people, within the context of your design challenge.” We can use language like “empathy” to dress things up, but this is Business 101. Listen to your client; find out what he or she wants or needs.

Miller calls the Empathize Mode “ethnography,” which is deeply uncharitable — and probably offensive — to cultural anthropologists who spend their entire lives learning how to observe other people. Few, if any, anthropologists would sign onto the idea that some amateurs at a d.school “boot camp,” strolling around Stanford and gawking at strangers, constitutes ethnography. The Empathize Mode of Design Thinking is roughly as ethnographic as a marketing focus group or a crew of sleazoid consultants trying to feel out and up their clients’ desires.

What Miller, Kelly, and Hennessy are asking us to imagine is that design consulting is or could be a model for retooling all of education, that it has some method for “producing reliably innovative results in any field.” They believe that we should use Design Thinking to reform education by treating students as customers, or clients, and making sure our customers are getting what they want. And they assert that Design Thinking should be a central part of what students learn, so that graduates come to approach social reality through the model of design consulting. In other words, we should view all of society as if we are in the design consulting business."



In recent episode of the Design Observer podcast, Jen added further thoughts on Design Thinking. “The marketing of design thinking is completely bullshit. It’s even getting worse and worse now that [Stanford has] three-day boot camps that offer certified programs — as if anyone who enrolled in these programs can become a designer and think like a designer and work like a designer.” She also resists the idea that any single methodology “can deal with any kind of situation — not to mention the very complex society that we’re in today.”

In informal survey I conducted with individuals who either teach at or were trained at the top art, architecture, and design schools in the USA, most respondents said that they and their colleagues do not use the term Design Thinking. Most of the people pushing the DTs in higher education are at second- and third-tier universities and, ironically, aren’t innovating but rather emulating Stanford. In afew cases, respondents said they did know a colleague or two who was saying “Design Thinking” frequently, but in every case, the individuals were using the DTs either to increase their turf within the university or to extract resources from college administrators who are often willing to throw money at anything that smacks of “innovation.”

Moreover, individuals working in art, architecture, and design schools tend to be quite critical of existing DT programs. Reportedly, some schools are creating Design Thinking tracks for unpromising students who couldn’t hack it in traditional architecture or design programs — DT as “design lite.” The individuals I talked to also had strong reservations about the products coming out of Design Thinking classes. A traditional project in DT classes involves undergraduate students leading “multidisciplinary” or “transdisciplinary” teams drawing on faculty expertise around campus to solve some problem of interest to the students. The students are not experts in anything, however, and the projects often take the form of, as one person put it, “kids trying to save the world.”

One architecture professor I interviewed had been asked to sit in on a Design Thinking course’s critique, a tradition at architecture and design schools where outside experts are brought in to offer (often tough) feedback on student projects. The professor watched a student explain her design: a technology that was meant to connect mothers with their premature babies who they cannot touch directly. The professor wondered, what is the message about learning that students get from such projects? “I guess the idea is that this work empowers the students to believe they are applying their design skills,” the professor told me. “But I couldn’t critique it as design because there was nothing to it as design. So what’s left? Is good will enough?

As others put it to me, Design Thinking gives students an unrealistic idea of design and the work that goes into creating positive change. Upending that old dictum “knowledge is power,” Design Thinkers giver their students power without knowledge, “creative confidence” without actual capabilities.

It’s also an elitist, Great White Hope vision of change that literally asks students to imagine themselves entering a situation to solve other people’s problems. Among other things, this situation often leads to significant mismatch between designers’ visions — even after practicing “empathy” — and users’ actual needs. Perhaps the most famous example is the PlayPump, a piece of merry-go-round equipment that would pump water when children used it. Designers envisioned that the PlayPump would provide water to thousands of African communities. Only kids didn’t show up, including because there was no local cultural tradition of playing with merry-go-rounds.

Unsurprisingly, Design Thinking-types were enthusiastic about the PlayPump. Tom Hulme, the design director at IDEO’s London office, created a webpage called OpenIDEO, where users could share “open source innovation.” Hulme explained that he found himself asking, “What would IDEO look like on steroids? [We might ask the same question about crack cocaine or PCP.] What would it look like when you invite everybody into everything? I set myself the challenge of . . . radical open-innovation collaboration.” OpenIDEO community users were enthusiastic about the PlayPump — even a year after the system had been debunked, suggesting inviting everyone to everything gets you people who don’t do research. One OpenIDEO user enthused that the PlayPump highlighted how “fun can be combined with real needs.”

Thom Moran, an Assistant Professor of Architecture at the University of Michigan, told me that Design Thinking brought “a whole set of values about what design’s supposed to look like,” including that everything is supposed to be “fun” and “play,” and that the focus is less on “what would work.” Moran went on, “The disappointing part for me is that I really do believe that architecture, art, and design should be thought of as being a part of the liberal arts. They provide a unique skill set for looking at and engaging the world, and being critical of it.” Like others I talked to, Moran doesn’t see this kind of critical thinking in the popular form of Design Thinking, which tends to ignore politics, environmental issues, and global economic problems.

Moran holds up the Swiffer — the sweeper-mop with disposable covers designed by an IDEO-clone design consultancy, Continuum — as a good example of what Design Thinking is all about. “It’s design as marketing,” he said. “It’s about looking for and exploiting a market niche. It’s not really about a new and better world. It’s about exquisitely calibrating a product to a market niche that is underexploited.” The Swiffer involves a slight change in old technologies, and it is wasteful. Others made this same connection between Design Thinking and marketing. One architect said that Design Thinking “really belongs in business schools, where they teach marketing and other forms of moral depravity.”

“That’s what’s most annoying,” Moran went on. “I fundamentally believe in this stuff as a model of education. But it’s business consultants who give TED Talks who are out there selling it. It’s all anti-intellectual. That’s the problem. Architecture and design are profoundly intellectual. But for these people, it’s not a form of critical thought; it’s a form of salesmanship.”

Here’s my one caveat: it could be true that the DTs are a good way to teach design or business. I wouldn’t know. I am not a designer (or business school professor). I am struck, however, by how many designers, including Natasha Jen and Thom Moran, believe that the DTs are nonsense. In the end, I will leave this discussion up to designers. It’s their show. My concern is a different one — namely that… [more]
designthinking  innovation  ideas  2017  design  leevinsel  maintenance  repair  ideation  problemsolving  davidedgerton  willthomas  billburnett  daveevans  stanford  d.school  natashajen  herbertsimon  robertmckim  ideo  singularity  singularityuniversity  d.tech  education  schools  teaching  liberalarts  petermiller  esaleninstitute  newage  hassoplattner  johnhennessey  davidkelly  jimjones  empathy  ethnography  consulting  business  bullshit  marketing  snakeoil  criticism  criticalthinking  highereducation  highered  thomamoran  tedtalks  openideo  playpump  designimperialism  whitesaviors  post-its  transdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  art  architecture  complexity  simplicity  methodology  process  emptiness  universities  colleges  philipmirowski  entrepreneurship  lawrencebusch  elizabethpoppberman  nathanielcomfort  margaretbrindle  peterstearns  christophermckenna  hucksterism  self-promotion  hype  georgeorwell  nathanrosenberg  davidmowery  stevenklepper  davidhounshell  patrickmccray  marianamazzucato  andréspicer  humanitariandesign 
december 2017 by robertogreco
10 Fascinating Facts About Ravens | Mental Floss
"Edgar Allan Poe knew what he was doing when he used the raven instead of some other bird to croak out “nevermore” in his famous poem. The raven has long been associated with death and dark omens, but the real bird is somewhat of a mystery. Unlike its smaller cousin the crow, not a lot has been written about this remarkable bird. Here are 10 fascinating facts about ravens.

1. Ravens are one of the smartest animals.
When it comes to intelligence, these birds rate up there with chimpanzees and dolphins. In one logic test, the raven had to get a hanging piece of food by pulling up a bit of the string, anchoring it with its claw, and repeating until the food was in reach. Many ravens got the food on the first try, some within 30 seconds. In the wild, ravens have pushed rocks on people to keep them from climbing to their nests, stolen fish by pulling a fishermen’s line out of ice holes, and played dead beside a beaver carcass to scare other ravens away from a delicious feast.

If a raven knows another raven is watching it hide its food, it will pretend to put the food in one place while really hiding it in another. Since the other ravens are smart too, this only works sometimes.

2. Ravens can imitate human speech.
In captivity, ravens can learn to talk better than some parrots. They also mimic other noises, like car engines, toilets flushing, and animal and birdcalls. Ravens have been known to imitate wolves or foxes to attract them to carcasses that the raven isn’t capable of breaking open. When the wolf is done eating, the raven gets the leftovers.

3. Europeans often saw ravens as evil in disguise.
Many European cultures took one look at this large black bird with an intense gaze and thought it was evil in the flesh … er, feather. In France, people believed ravens were the souls of wicked priests, while crows were wicked nuns. In Germany, ravens were the incarnation of damned souls or sometimes Satan himself. In Sweden, ravens that croaked at night were thought to be the souls of murdered people who didn’t have proper Christian burials. And in Denmark, people believed that night ravens were exorcized spirits, and you’d better not look up at them in case there was a hole in the bird’s wing, because you might look through the hole and turn into a raven yourself.

4. Ravens have been featured in many myths.
Cultures from Tibet to Greece have seen the raven as a messenger for the gods. Celtic goddesses of warfare often took the form of ravens during battles. The Viking god, Odin, had two ravens, Hugin (thought) and Munin (memory), which flew around the world every day and reported back to Odin every night about what they saw. The Chinese said ravens caused bad weather in the forests to warn people that the gods were going to pass by. And some Native American tribes worshipped the raven as a deity in and of itself. Called simply Raven, he is described as a sly trickster who is involved in the creation of the world.

5. Ravens are extremely playful.
The Native Americans weren’t far off about the raven’s mischievous nature. They have been observed in Alaska and Canada using snow-covered roofs as slides. In Maine, they have been seen rolling down snowy hills. They often play keep-away with other animals like wolves, otters, and dogs. Ravens even make toys—a rare animal behavior—by using sticks, pinecones, golf balls, or rocks to play with each other or by themselves. And sometimes they just taunt or mock other creatures because it’s funny.

6. Ravens do weird things with ants.
They lie in anthills and roll around so the ants swarm on them, or they chew the ants up and rub their guts on their feathers. The scientific name for this is called “anting.” Songbirds, crows, and jays do it too. The behavior is not well understood; theories range from the ants acting as an insecticide and fungicide for the bird to ant secretion soothing a molting bird’s skin to the whole performance being a mild addiction. One thing seems clear, though: anting feels great if you’re a bird.

7. Ravens use “hand” gestures.
It turns out that ravens make “very sophisticated nonvocal signals,” according to researchers. In other words, they gesture to communicate. A study in Austria found that ravens point with their beaks to indicate an object to another bird, just as we do with our fingers. They also hold up an object to get another bird’s attention. This is the first time researchers have observed naturally occurring gestures in any animal other than primates.

8. Ravens are adaptable.
Evolutionarily speaking, the deck is stacked in the raven’s favor. They can live in a variety of habitats, from snow to desert to mountains to forests. They are scavengers with a huge diet that includes fish, meat, seeds, fruit, carrion, and garbage. They are not above tricking animals out of their food—one raven will distract the other animal, for example, and the other will steal its food. They have few predators and live a long time: 17 years in the wild and up to 40 years in captivity.

9. Ravens show empathy for each other.
Despite their mischievous nature, ravens seem capable of feeling empathy. When a raven’s friend loses in a fight, they will seem to console the losing bird. They also remember birds they like and will respond in a friendly way to certain birds for at least three years after seeing them. (They also respond negatively to enemies and suspiciously to strange ravens.) Although a flock of ravens is called an “unkindness,” the birds appear to be anything but.

10. Ravens roam around in teenage gangs.
Ravens mate for life and live in pairs in a fixed territory. When their children reach adolescence, they leave home and join gangs, like every human mother’s worst nightmare. These flocks of young birds live and eat together until they mate and pair off. Interestingly, living among teenagers seems to be stressful for the raven. Scientists have found higher levels of stress hormones in teenage raven droppings than in the droppings of mated adults. It’s never easy being a teenage rebel."
ravens  corvids  classideas  birds  animals  behavior  myth  myths  2016  play  intelligence  ants  tools  empathy  toys  adaptability  gestures  communication 
december 2017 by robertogreco
The Double Empathy Problem: Developing Empathy and Reciprocity in Neurotypical Adults | Ryan Boren
"My oldest is autistic. He attended elementary school until a few years ago, when we started unschooling. He has an incredible memory that provides gritty texture to his stories of his time there. Stories about forced neurotypicalization, lack of empathy and understanding, and color-coded behaviorism. Stories about the pathologizing of his wonderful mind that killed confidence, making room for shame to unfurl. Such stories are common in deficit and medical model cultures, which is why we need a social model awakening.

A pernicious stereotype about autism is that autistic people lack empathy. To be openly autistic is to encounter and endure this supremely harmful trope. One of the cruel ironies of autistic life is that autistic folks are likely to be hyper-empathic. Another irony is that neurotypicals and NT society are really, really bad at empathy and reciprocity. When your neurotype is the default, you have little motivation to grow critical capacity. Marginalization develops critical distance and empathic imagination.

We have an empathy problem, and it’s not one confined to autistic people. It’s a double empathy problem.
The ‘double empathy problem’ refers to the mutual incomprehension that occurs between people of different dispositional outlooks and personal conceptual understandings when attempts are made to communicate meaning.


Source: From finding a voice to being understood: exploring the double empathy problem

Neurodivergent people are forced to attempt understanding of neurotypical people and society. We are constantly judged and assessed by neurotypical standards. We must analyze and interpret in order to conform and pass so that we can get the sticker, the “cool kid cash”, and the promotion. There is almost no reciprocity in return. Let’s change that. Turn the diagnostic lens upon yourself. Question assumptions, learn about other matrices of sociality, and reciprocate.
Empathy and communication go two ways, and neurotypical folks haven’t shown much interest in meeting neurodivergent folks halfway. Reciprocity is a basic tenet of social skills, and neurotypicals are often incapable of reciprocity outside of their usual scripts. We autistics are called mind-blind by folks who have made zero effort to understand and empathize with neurodivergent minds, who are utterly ignorant of alternative matrices of sociality.

Source: Autistic Empathy – Ryan Boren

In that post on autistic empathy are many resources to help neurotypical folks develop empathy for neurodivergent perspectives. My school district’s work on in-class inclusion of neurodivergent and disabled students is a great and wonderful relief. Segregation is always lesser and wrong. Let’s continue that progress toward social model understanding with attention to the mutual incomprehension of the double empathy problem. “When the adults change, everything changes.”"



"“Empathy is not an autistic problem, it’s a human problem, it’s a deficit in imagination.” We can’t truly step into another neurotype, but we can seek story and perspective. I’ll leave you with this video offering a taste what it is like to endure the daily gauntlet of neurotypical questioning. To not respond to questions is to be called rude. To not respond will get you publicly color-coded as an orange or red and denied perks that the compliant NT kids get. To not exchange this disposable social styrofoam is to be a problem. Make it stop. Empathize with what it is like to navigate these interactions while dealing with the sensory overwhelm of raucous environments not designed for you."
ryanboren  autism  neurodiversity  empathy  2017  communication  inclusion  inclusivity  segregation  marginalization  unschooling  deschooling  schools  education  learning  reciprocity 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Being rich wrecks your soul. We used to know that. - The Washington Post
"The point is not necessarily that wealth is intrinsically and everywhere evil, but that it is dangerous — that it should be eyed with caution and suspicion, and definitely not pursued as an end in itself; that great riches pose great risks to their owners; and that societies are right to stigmatize the storing up of untold wealth. That’s why Aristotle, for instance, argued that wealth should be sought only for the sake of living virtuously — to manage a household, say, or to participate in the life of the polis. Here wealth is useful but not inherently good; indeed, Aristotle specifically warned that the accumulation of wealth for its own sake corrupts virtue instead of enabling it. For Hindus, working hard to earn money is a duty (dharma), but only when done through honest means and used for good ends. The function of money is not to satiate greed but to support oneself and one’s family. The Koran, too, warns against hoarding money and enjoins Muslims to disperse it to the needy.

Some contemporary voices join this ancient chorus, perhaps none more enthusiastically than Pope Francis. He’s proclaimed that unless wealth is used for the good of society, and above all for the good of the poor, it is an instrument “of corruption and death.” And Francis lives what he teaches: Despite access to some of the sweetest real estate imaginable — the palatial papal apartments are the sort of thing that President Trump’s gold-plated extravagance is a parody of — the pope bunks in a small suite in what is effectively the Vatican’s hostel. In his official state visit to Washington, he pulled up to the White House in a Fiat so sensible that a denizen of Northwest D.C. would be almost embarrassed to drive it. When Francis entered the Jesuit order 59 years ago, he took a vow of poverty, and he’s kept it.

According to many philosophies and faiths, then, wealth should serve only as a steppingstone to some further good and is always fraught with moral danger. We all used to recognize this; it was a commonplace. And this intuition, shared by various cultures across history, stands on firm empirical ground.

Over the past few years, a pile of studies from the behavioral sciences has appeared, and they all say, more or less, “Being rich is really bad for you.” Wealth, it turns out, leads to behavioral and psychological maladies. The rich act and think in misdirected ways.

When it comes to a broad range of vices, the rich outperform everybody else. They are much more likely than the rest of humanity to shoplift and cheat , for example, and they are more apt to be adulterers and to drink a great deal . They are even more likely to take candy that is meant for children. So whatever you think about the moral nastiness of the rich, take that, multiply it by the number of Mercedes and Lexuses that cut you off, and you’re still short of the mark. In fact, those Mercedes and Lexuses are more likely to cut you off than Hondas or Fords: Studies have shown that people who drive expensive cars are more prone to run stop signs and cut off other motorists .

The rich are the worst tax evaders, and, as The Washington Post has detailed, they are hiding vast sums from public scrutiny in secret overseas bank accounts.

They also give proportionally less to charity — not surprising, since they exhibit significantly less compassion and empathy toward suffering people. Studies also find that members of the upper class are worse than ordinary folks at “reading” people’ s emotions and are far more likely to be disengaged from the people with whom they are interacting — instead absorbed in doodling, checking their phones or what have you. Some studies go even further, suggesting that rich people, especially stockbrokers and their ilk (such as venture capitalists, whom we once called “robber barons”), are more competitive, impulsive and reckless than medically diagnosed psychopaths. And by the way, those vices do not make them better entrepreneurs; they just have Mommy and Daddy’s bank accounts (in New York or the Cayman Islands) to fall back on when they fail."



"Some will say that we have not entirely forgotten it and that we do complain about wealth today, at least occasionally. Think, they’ll say, about Occupy Wall Street; the blowback after Mitt Romney’s comment about the “47 percent”; how George W. Bush painted John Kerry as out of touch. But think again: By and large, those complaints were not about wealth per se but about corrupt wealth — about wealth “gone wrong” and about unfairness. The idea that there is no way for the vast accumulation of money to “go right” is hardly anywhere to be seen.

Getting here wasn’t straightforward. Wealth has arguably been seen as less threatening to one’s moral health since the Reformation, after which material success was sometimes taken as evidence of divine election. But extreme wealth remained morally suspect, with the rich bearing particular scrutiny and stigmatization during periods like the Gilded Age. This stigma persisted until relatively recently; only in the 1970s did political shifts cause executive salaries skyrocket, and the current effectively unprecedented inequality in income (and wealth) begin to appear, without any significant public complaint or lament.

The story of how a stigma fades is always murky, but contributing factors are not hard to identify. For one, think tanks have become increasingly partisan over the past several decades, particularly on the right: Certain conservative institutions, enjoying the backing of billionaires such as the Koch brothers, have thrown a ton of money at pseudo-academics and “thought leaders” to normalize and legitimate obscene piles of lucre. They produced arguments that suggest that high salaries naturally flowed from extreme talent and merit, thus baptizing wealth as simply some excellent people’s wholly legitimate rewards. These arguments were happily regurgitated by conservative media figures and politicians, eventually seeping into the broader public and replacing the folk wisdom of yore. But it is hard to argue that a company’s top earners are literally hundreds of times more talented than the lowest-paid employees.

As stratospheric salaries became increasingly common, and as the stigma of wildly disproportionate pay faded, the moral hazards of wealth were largely forgotten. But it’s time to put the apologists for plutocracy back on the defensive, where they belong — not least for their own sake. After all, the Buddha, Aristotle, Jesus, the Koran, Jimmy Stewart, Pope Francis and now even science all agree: If you are wealthy and are reading this, give away your money as fast as you can."
charlesmathewes  evansandsmark  2017  wealth  inequality  behavior  psychology  buddha  aristotle  jesus  koran  jimmystewart  popefrancis  ethics  generosity  vices  fscottfitzgerald  ernesthemingway  tonystark  confucius  austerity  tacitus  opulence  christ  virtue  caution  suspicion  polis  poverty  donaldtrump  jesuits  morality  humanism  cheating  taxevasion  charity  empathy  compassion  disengagement  competition  competitiveness  psychopaths  capitalism  luxury  politics  simplicity  well-being  suicide  ows  occupywallstreet  geogewbush  johnkerry  mittromney  gildedage  kochbrothers 
august 2017 by robertogreco
some thoughts on the humanities - Text Patterns - The New Atlantis
"The idea that underlies Bakhtin’s hopefulness, that makes discovery and imagination essential to the work of the humanities, is, in brief, Terence’s famous statement, clichéd though it may have become: Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto. To say that nothing human is alien to me is not to say that everything human is fully accessible to me, fully comprehensible; it is not to erase or even to minimize cultural, racial, or sexual difference; but it is to say that nothing human stands wholly outside my ability to comprehend — if I am willing to work, in a disciplined and informed way, at the comprehending. Terence’s sentence is best taken not as a claim of achievement but as an essential aspiration; and it is the distinctive gift of the humanities to make that aspiration possible.

It is in this spirit that those claims that, as we have noted, emerged from humanistic learning, must be evaluated: that our age is postmodern, posthuman, postsecular. All the resources and practices of the humanities — reflective and critical, inquiring and skeptical, methodologically patient and inexplicably intuitive — should be brought to bear on these claims, and not with ironic detachment, but with the earnest conviction that our answers matter: they are, like those master concepts themselves, both diagnostic and prescriptive: they matter equally for our understanding of the past and our anticipating of the future."
alanjacobs  posthumanism  2016  humanities  understanding  empathy  postmodernism  postsecularism  georgesteiner  kennethburke  foucault  stephengrenblatt  via:lukeneff  erikdavis  raykurzweil  claudeshannon  mikhailbakhtin  terence  difference  comprehension  aspiration  progress  listening  optimism  learning  inquiry  history  future  utopia  michelfoucault 
july 2017 by robertogreco
When Did The Fight for Human Rights Begin? de Innovation Hub | Escúchalo gratis en SoundCloud
"Human rights are hotly-debated, but when did that debate begin? UCLA’s Lynn Hunt talks about what might have been the formative moment for human rights - and how we’re constantly changing our definition of equality."

[via: "The origins of human rights theory & its ties to the 18th c. novel. Historian Lynn Hunt on @IHubRadio:"
https://twitter.com/ablerism/status/885990212815474689

"And writers, fiction & non-fiction: take heart here about the power of words to enact new realities. Messy, asynchronous, but effectual."
https://twitter.com/ablerism/status/885992263712722945 ]

[See also:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7pD6Oogdeg

"Professorship in Historiography, with a response by Professor Sandra Fredman (Rhodes Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Oxford Martin Programme on Human Rights for FutureGenerations),University of Oxford, May 2014.
-http://strategicdialogue.org/humanitas
-http://www.torch.ox.ac.uk/humanitas
-http://www.crassh.cam.ac.uk/programme...

Declarations of rights, Professor Hunt argues in her lecture, do not emerge from long historical developments but rather from an acute sense of outrage. In other words, rights only become rights when they are claimed, and they are only claimed when they are violated. This poses a problem for the assertions of 'timelessness' and 'self-evidence' that often accompany declarations of rights. Professor Hunt argues that in the case of universal rights, an emotional epiphany comes before reason. Professor Sandra Fredman gives a response to Professor Hunt's lecture, building on the ideas raised as a way of looking at the future of human rights."

via: "If you want more Lynn Hunt on human rights theory, here you go. Force of nature, this scholar."
https://twitter.com/ablerism/status/886046387670003713 ]
lynnhunt  humanrights  history  novels  literature  2017  writing  whywewrite  empathy  understanding  humanities  change  changemaking  progress 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Designed lines. — Ethan Marcotte
"We’re building on a web littered with too-heavy sites, on an internet that’s unevenly, unequally distributed. That’s why designing a lightweight, inexpensive digital experience is a form of kindness. And while that kindness might seem like a small thing these days, it’s a critical one. A device-agnostic, data-friendly interface helps ensure your work can reach as many people as possible, regardless of their location, income level, network quality, or device.

The alternative is, well, a form of digital disenfranchisement. Disenfranchisement that’s outlined—brightly, sharply—by our design decisions."

[See also: "The Unacceptable Persistence of the Digital Divide"
https://www.technologyreview.com/s/603083/the-unacceptable-persistence-of-the-digital-divide/ ]
broadband  empathy  internet  performance  kindness  webdev  webdesign  2017  digitalredlining  digitaldivide  us  access  accessibility  inequality  ethanmarcotte 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Mindfulness training does not foster empathy, and can even make narcissists worse – Research Digest
"Sharing with others, helping people in need, consoling those who are distressed. All these behaviours can be encouraged by empathy – by understanding what other people are thinking and feeling, and sharing their emotions. Enhance empathy, especially in those who tend to have problems with it – like narcissists – and society as a whole might benefit. So how can it be done?

In fact, the cultivation of empathy is a “presumed benefit” of mindfulness training, note the authors of a new study, published in Self and Identity, designed to investigate this experimentally. People who are “mindfully aware” focus on the present moment, without judgement. So, it’s been argued, they should be better able to resist getting caught up in their own thoughts, freeing them to think more about the mental states of other people. As mindfulness courses are increasingly being offered in schools and workplaces, as well as in mental health settings, it’s important to know what such training can and can’t achieve. The new results suggest it won’t foster empathy – and, worse, it could even backfire.

Anna Ridderinkhof, at the University of Amsterdam, and her colleagues divided 161 adult volunteers in three groups. Each completed questionnaires assessing their levels of narcissistic and also autistic traits. It’s already known that people who score highly on narcissism (who feel superior to others, believe they are entitled to privileges and want to be admired) tend to experience less “affective empathy”. They aren’t as likely to share the emotional state of another person. People who score highly on autistic traits have no problem with affective empathy, but tend to show impairments in “cognitive empathy”. They find it harder to work out what other people are feeling.

One group spent five minutes in a guided mindfulness meditation, in which they were encouraged to focus on the physical sensations of breathing, while observing any thoughts, without judging them. The second group took part in a relaxation exercise (so any effects of stress relief alone could be examined). People in the control group were invited to let their minds wander, and to be immersed in their thoughts and feelings.

After these exercises, the researchers tested the volunteers’ propensity to feel cognitive empathy, via the Reading the Mind in the Eyes test, which involves identifying emotions from photographs of people’s eyes, and they also tested their affective empathy, by analysing how much emotional concern they showed toward a player who was socially rejected in a ball game.

There is some debate about whether a greater capacity for empathy would be helpful for most people. Some researchers, such as Professor Tania Singer, a director at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, even suggest that an “excess” of empathy explains what’s often termed “burnout” in members of caring professions, such as nurses. But Ridderinkhof’s team predicted that mindfulness training would improve empathy in the volunteers who needed it most: in people with high levels of autistic or narcissistic traits.

It didn’t. While there was no overall effect on empathy in the mindfulness group, further analysis revealed that, compared with the control and relaxation groups combined, non-narcissists who completed the mindfulness exercise did show a slight improvement specifically in cognitive empathy, but for narcissistic people, their cognitive empathy was actually reduced. For the people who scored highly on autistic traits, meanwhile, there was no effect on mind-reading accuracy, though there were intriguing signs of greater prosocial behaviour, indicated by an increase in the number of passes of the ball to socially excluded individuals.

Since volunteers were encouraged not to judge any thoughts they had during the mindfulness meditation, this might indeed have helped non-narcissists let go of self-critical thoughts, allowing them to think more about the mental states of others, the researchers suggest. “By contrast, it may have ironically ‘licensed’ narcissistic individuals to focus more exclusively on their self-aggrandising thoughts.” As a result, they may have thought even less about the mental states of others.

Critics may argue that a single five-minute mindfulness meditation exercise is simply not enough, and that improvements in empathy – in non-narcissists, at least – might perhaps show up with longer sessions. While the research team thinks this is worth exploring, there is evidence from earlier studies (that lacked a proper control group) that five-minute sessions can increase accuracy on a mind-reading test, for example. It was reasonable to opt for a brief session in this study, they argue.

Future research might also investigate whether alternative approaches – perhaps training the related concept of “compassion” (which involves “feeling for” rather than “feeling with” a person in psychological pain, and is advocated by Singer) might help narcissists behave more pro-socially."

["Does mindfulness meditation increase empathy? An experiment"
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15298868.2016.1269667 ]
narcissism  mindfulness  meditation  emmayoung  2017  empathy  behavior  psychology  cognitiveempathy  annaridderinkhof 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Thinking and Friendship in Dark Times: Hannah Arendt for Now | On Being
[via: https://www.instagram.com/p/BUht-yij3OyVQraCWufQICDNRQbRNmhMZd0s_M0/

"Still thinking about the recent @onbeing podcast with historian Lyndsey Stonebridge talking about the new/old/new wisdom of Hannah Arendt. Cannot recommend highly enough: the "organized loneliness" of totalitarianism, the limits of empathy as commonly defined, on refugees and belonging, on the theater of politics and neighborly love. Gonna have to re-listen with a notebook in hand."]

"MS. TIPPETT: I think, just for me, rereading The Origins of Totalitarianism, dipping back into her after quite a few years, that she wasn’t just — this is not historical. It’s not history-telling. It’s really delving into the human essence of what we experience and analyze as political historical events.

But something that struck me so much that I’d forgotten is this idea about the isolation of — that she wrote, “What prepares men for a totalitarian domination” — and here, again, is what happens in the human heart and psyche and society that makes these things possible — “is the fact that loneliness, once a borderline experience, usually suffered in certain marginal social conditions like old age, has become an everyday experience of the ever-growing masses of our century.”

And if I think about the Brexit experience in the UK, and I think about this last presidential election in the US, so much of the dynamic were human beings who had felt unseen and feel disconnected. It’s that language, she says, “atomized, isolated individuals.”

MS. STONEBRIDGE: Yeah. And she makes a further distinction in the last chapter of Origins of Totalitarianism, which she wrote later, between uprootedness, which is what people — since the Industrial Revolution, this has happened, but obviously, it’s got worse — and in periods of economic crisis, it gets far worse — is not feeling recognized, not feeling at home. So it’s a kind of malaise about rootedness. And then she contrasts and compares with superfluousness, which is not being not being treated like you’re in the world at all.

And that was the camps, and that is the refugee camps. So there’s this awful relationship between the uprooted of the world, in Europe, in the States, and the new superfluous of the world, which she understood very well because she was one of the superfluous of the world in the 1940s. So I think she was very interested in that relationship. And I think you’re absolutely right; the loneliness is absolutely crucial, but it’s the question of how we imagine a response to that. I think it’s very interesting — I discovered recently that Hannah Arendt taught George Orwell’s 1984 to Berkeley undergraduates in 1955. [laughs]

MS. TIPPETT: [laughs] Another new bestseller.

MS. STONEBRIDGE: Exactly. Another new — and what would one give to have been in that classroom?

MS. TIPPETT: [laughs] Right.

MS. STONEBRIDGE: Maybe your listeners were in Berkeley in 1955 being taught 1984 by Hannah Arendt. [laughs] I would love to hear. And she had — I think she read the novel earlier because she started rewriting the last chapter of Origins of Totalitarianism. So she’s getting that kind of analysis off Orwell. She’s in dialogue with Orwell, who’s, of course, dead by then. And he’s saying, “Actually, this is what happens.” The visional title of 1984 was The Last Man in Europe. I mean, if you can hear the Brexit resonance. [laughs]

MS. TIPPETT: Yeah.

MS. STONEBRIDGE: The Last Man in Europe. And the loneliness. And the reason why Winston Smith is so drawn to Big Brother in the end is he cannot bear being alone. And I think you’re absolutely right. Listening to that cri de cœur, that cry of the heart around not having a place to go. But I, on the other hand — she would have been, I think, very cautious of having too ready answers to what you do with that dilemma.

I mean, she’d been very, very suspicious of throwing up another worldview or ideology to end the loneliness or very — I think she’d be very impatient with the way that those of us who are trying to react to our current scenarios, both in the UK and the US, are either turning on each other, or blaming the liberal elite, or blaming high capitalism, or blaming whatever. Making people un-lonely is a good project, but how that’s going to happen, what politics you need for that to happen is going to be a very, very hard question.

MS. TIPPETT: Right. Or even if politics is the place where that would start, if it would be a political project, which is a different kind of question to raise in the 21st century than it was in the 20th century…

MS. STONEBRIDGE: Absolutely.

MS. TIPPETT: And that is something I wanted to ask you also because she had this insistence that people should be more political, which meant one thing for her, and maybe this is a way in which the foundation on which that idea was based in her century is so different. I mean, because politics itself is called into question in a different way as part of our crisis.

MS. STONEBRIDGE: Yeah. I was very interested about your question about imagination because I think we talk a lot today about empathy and suffering. And I’m like Arendt. I’m always a bit wary. It sounds like a terrible thing to say. I’m really a bit wary about empathy. [laughs] I really don’t know about this.

MS. TIPPETT: I wanted to ask you about that because when we talk — talking about loneliness, as we’re discussing it in the context of her work, it’s clearly the human condition, and it can be a personal experience. But it’s not talking about loneliness as something that, if we can be compassionate towards each other’s loneliness, things will get better.

MS. STONEBRIDGE: Well, I think for her — I mean, she was critical of pity, and she wrote very famously in her On Revolution book that what she didn’t like about pity is it kept the power relationship. Other people’s suffering for the one who’s doing the pitying or the empathizing keeps the power.

And also, she didn’t like it because once you have suffering as your ground zero, you can allow for anything in the name to end that suffering. And that was the tragedy for her of the French Revolution. We have to be piteous in order to save the suffering people. And she’s thinking about what it’s like to imagine not being in the place you’re in, to be imagine to be in the place of another.

And that’s slightly different from pity, and it’s a slightly different take from empathy, because it involves something a bit harder, actually. [laughs] So when she’s teaching to Berkeley students in 1955, she says, “Imagine what it was like to have the political experience of a European, which is an experience totally unlike yours.” And then she puts in brackets, “A bit like mine, but totally unlike yours.” [laughs]

MS. TIPPETT: [laughs] Right.

MS. STONEBRIDGE: Which I thought was very sweet given what she’d just been through. And I think it’s that kind of — what she says to do is not just to empathize, but which is to actually build blueprints, or worlds, or frames for understanding experience that is not ours, that cannot be incorporated into ours. So why I think it’s different from empathy or pity is, when you are imagining — because you’re imagining to be empathetic or to share suffering — you’re immediately incorporating that experience into a view of yourself and your own worldview.

What Arendt wanted was actually something a bit more radical than that, is to imagine something that’s not your world, that makes you feel uncomfortable. And that’s where the work has to start. And that’s why she was also very committed to thinking. [laughs]

MS. TIPPETT: Right.

MS. STONEBRIDGE: To the activity of thinking.

MS. TIPPETT: Yes. And…

MS. STONEBRIDGE: Which is how you do that.

MS. TIPPETT: Which is how you do that. Right. And honestly, Americans have a very conflicted kind of relationship, historically and philosophically, with thought and ideas. It’s a different thing than it was, for example, in the Germany that Hannah Arendt was raised in. The power of ideas. But it feels to me like there might be a receptivity now precisely because we see that it’s not getting us anywhere to be meeting my emotion with your emotion. Her — as you say, you can only have moral imagination if you also think, if you are thinking.

You talked in this podcast I heard you in that brought me to you, In Our Time, about how she always talked about the dialogue we have in our heads, that we are constantly working out what it means to be human, to be a person, whether we realize it or not."



"MS. TIPPETT: So one of her famous phrases is the “banality of evil,” which was an observation she made about Eichmann, and that was controversial. But you said something about the bureaucratization, which was part of that banality, a refuge for — instead of thinking, you are part of the system, and you follow the rules, and you enact the rules.

And again, not to — I really would not compare Eichmann to anyone alive right now in full, but the revulsion and the sense of alienation people all over the place have from bureaucracy, which in our age is globalized, right? The way the phrase “the government” will be received in many places in the US, the way the phrase “the EU” is received in England, there are echoes of something that goes wrong — something that goes wrong in human societies that were still with us or we’re feeling again. I don’t know.

MS. STONEBRIDGE: Yeah, I think it’s — one of the first things Arendt did when she finally got to New York, one of her first jobs was to help edit Kafka’s diaries. You remember the story of The Castle near the stranger is kind of a — it’s certainly a migrant story. You know, stranger arrives in a new place, he comes for work, and then he can’t work out what’s going on, and he can’t settle, and he’s blocked by this … [more]
hannahjarendt  via:ablerism  kristatippett  2017  lyndseystonebridge  totalitarianism  empathy  refugees  belonging  politics  neighborliness  love  organizedloneliness  thinking  howwethink  acitivism  activists  isonomia  liberty  freedom 
may 2017 by robertogreco
4 years "real" — Funomena
"two very different games that each aim to express the same core messages about community, empathy, and the ultimate value of every person on this planet."



"Making games is a process of creative discovery - embracing the unknown. With each challenge, we have learned new ways to collaborate, to face uncertainty and most importantly to accept our own mistakes and failures as a part of the learning process that makes each of us better colleagues and creatives."



"Most importantly, the process of making art together helps us grow as individuals, capable of dealing with the ups and downs that naturally emerge while solving difficult problems, together, as a team."
funomena  robinhunicke  teams  collaboration  2017  discovery  creativity  empathy  games  gaming  videogames  problemsolving  community  personhood  uncertainty  mistakes  process  howwelearn  learning 
april 2017 by robertogreco
How Telling Someone to Go Educate Themselves Can Actually Be Oppressive
"(Note: This comic has been transcribed below.)

You should never have to push yourself beyond your boundaries to educate someone about your experiences with oppression. And some people, like trolls, just have no genuine interest in an education.

But if you’re wondering why everyone doesn’t just go educate themselves on the Internet, you might be missing something about some other forms of oppression.

The truth is that there are real, valid barriers to accessing social justice education. So check out this comic to help you find a balance between setting your boundaries and having patience with folks who are still learning."
self-education  oppression  feminism  race  racism  sexuality  socialjustice  education  compassion  empathy  patience  love  friendship  leelai  2017  comics 
april 2017 by robertogreco
Negative Capability - Keats' Kingdom
"A term used many times on this website...

'The concept of Negative Capability is the ability to contemplate the world without the desire to try and reconcile contradictory aspects or fit it into closed and rational systems.'

Keats was a romantic poet, full of intense passion and desire, yet shy and reserved. He was a young man with all the determination and melancholy of a teenager on a romantic quest to be among the English poets when he died.

He is an inspiration to all of us, full of colourful language and imagination. He battled through tuberculosis and only lived to be 25. He wanted to be famous, and he has well and truly lived up to his dream.

Keats longed to find beauty in what was often an ugly and terrible world. He was an admirer of Shakespeare, and his reading of the Bard is insightful and intriguing, illustrating the genius of Shakespeare's creativity. In a letter to his brothers, Keats describes this genius as 'Negative Capability':

'At once it struck me, what quality went to form a Man of Achievement, especially in literature, and which Shakespeare possessed so enormously- I mean Negative Capability, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties. Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.'

This description can be compared to a definition of conflict:

'An emotional state characterized by indecision, restlessness, uncertainty and tension resulting from incompatible inner needs or drives of comparable intensity.'

These two definitions are very similar; the meaning of conflict sounds very negative and hopeless. However, Keats' creative concept seems positive and full of potential by leaving out 'restlessness' by avoiding an 'irritable reaching after fact and reason'

In another letter, Keats says that the 'poetical character... has no self- it is everything and nothing- it has no character and enjoys light and shade; it lives in gusto, be it foul or fair, high or low, rich or poor, mean or elevated- it has as much delight in conceiving an Iago as an Imogen. What shocks the virtuous philosopher delights the camelion Poet... A Poet is the most unpoetical of anything in existence, because he has no identity, he is continually filling some other body'

In order for Keats to be able to create true poetry, one had to be able to remain in what may be states of conflict without 'irritably' reaching after facts or reasons. By not imposing one self upon the doubts and uncertainties which make up a conflict, Keats would rather we were open to the Imagination.

The word 'doubt' it from the Latin, 'dubitare' and comes from 'two' as in two minds. In most conflicts, two people (i.e. two minds) oppose each other. Yet instead of fighting the other, Keats finds the situation to be one that is open for creativity.

In this sense, Negative Capability is a sublime expression of supreme empathy.

And empathy, is the capacity for participating in, experiencing and understanding another's feelings or ideas. It's a creative tool to help us understand each other, understand different points of views or different cultures so that we might be able to express them.

Being able to see thing from another's point of view, and to apply an open, imaginative creativity, are both critical, poetical methods to resolve conflicts creatively.

This phrase must confuse many people, who think it means 'being capable'. It actually means 'being capable of eliminating one's own personality, in order imaginatively to enter into that of another person, or, in extreme cases, an animal or an object'. The phrase was coined by Keats, in a letter- 22nd Dec 1817, to his brothers George and Thomas: 'it struck me what quality went to form a Man of Achievment, especially in literature and which Shakespeare possessed so enormously- I mean Negative Capability, that is when Man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after facts and reason'.

It looks, on the face of it, as if the kind of genius Keats is thinking about, simply cannot make up his mind, and that is partly the case; but the reason he cannot make up his mind is because his own identity is precarious, and he is continually being invaded by the identies of other people. The person of fixed opinion, such as Wordsworth, enjoys, or perhaps suffer from, 'egotistic sublime'.

In an earlier letter, of the 22nd November 1817, Keats had affirmed that 'Men of Genius' do not have 'any individuality' or 'determined character'. Another letter (27th October 1818) defines 'the poetic character' as taking 'as much delight in conceiving an Iago as an Imogen', adding 'what shocks the virtuous philosopher delights the camelion poet'. We see 'Negative Capability' in operation in Keats as he contemplates a bird on a gravel path, and he told Richard Woodhouse that he could even conceive of a billiard ball taking a sense of delight in 'its own roundness, smoothness, volubility and the rapidity of its motion'. When in a room with the dangerous, leopardess-like woman Jane Cox, he felt her identity pressing in upon him: 'I forget myself entirely because I live in her' (letter of October 1818).

Many writers have identified themselves as having 'Negative Capability', even if they have not always used the phrase. Coleridge speaks in a letter of November 1819 of 'a sort of transfusion and transmission of my consciousness to identify myself with the object'. Byron says, in a letter to Thomas Moore (4th March 1822) that he embodies himself 'with the character' while he is drawing it. Browning claims to be able imaginatively to enter other beings. Clough's main character in Amours de Voyage says '...I walk, I behold.../That I can be and become anything that I meet with or look at'. T.S.Elliot in Tradition and the Individual Talent writes that 'the progress of the artist is a continual self sacrifice, a continual extinction of personality.' Mrs Ramsey, in Virginia Woolfe's 'To the Lighthouse', looks intently 'until she became the things she looked at'. Certainly it is a pervasive characteristic of the creative faculty. Margaret Atwood writes in Second Words (1982) of the writers desire to be teleported into somebody else's mind, but retaining one's own perceptions and memories.

Many artists long for such freedom of movement, but a central philosophical problem remains in all this: if other beings take over the artist's mind, how can the artist present them in a decisive, descriminating way; on the other hand, if the artist enters other beings with his or her own personality, perceptions and memories intact (like Satan entering the body of the serpent), how can it be claimed that they remain other beings?"
johnkeats  negativecapability  messiness  uncertainty  lordbyron  samueltaylorcoleridge  conflict  doubt  truth  restlessness  empathy  canon  cv  gray  grey  mystery  openmindedness  openminded  via:mattcallahan 
february 2017 by robertogreco
California Today: A One-Woman Lifeline for Eureka’s Homeless - The New York Times
"When we asked readers last week to describe the homelessness in their communities, several urged us to take a look at the work of Betty Chinn, a homeless advocate based in Eureka. So we did.

Ms. Chinn is known around Humboldt County as “the Chinese Mother Teresa.”

Eureka’s police chief, Andrew Mills, described her as a philanthropic force of nature. “It’s a humbling experience just to sit in her presence,” he said on Monday.

Born in China’s Guangdong Province, Ms. Chinn earned her reputation by becoming a lifeline to hundreds of destitute people in Humboldt County.

Over three decades, she has risen before dawn seven days a week, loaded up her vehicle with coffee and doughnuts and trekked to camps up and down the coast where homeless people congregate. She repeats the routine with evening meals.

In addition to food, Ms. Chinn is known for delivering tough talk.

“I love them. I am honest with them,” she said of her approach. “I tell them: ‘How much longer am I going to live on this earth? You’ve got to learn how to take care of yourself.’”

Ms. Chinn, 69, who had no formal education, said her meal deliveries are financed largely by her Social Security and retirement pay as a former schools employee. Her husband, Leung Chinn, a retired physics professor at Humboldt State University, also helps.

She said she is driven by empathy forged during extraordinary hardship in childhood.

As a girl in the 1960s, she spent years on the streets, she said, after her family was targeted during China’s Cultural Revolution. Her father fled their hometown and her mother was imprisoned.

She became mute, she said, and eventually made her way to California to reunite with an older sibling.

“I still carry my past everyday,” Ms. Chinn said. “In a way, I’m healing myself.”

One of her clients, Kim Johnson, 56, said he was on the streets, just out of jail on a drug charge, when Ms. Chinn showed up with coffee in the 1990s.

He now works as a night watchman for a temporary housing project in Eureka that Ms. Chinn spearheaded. Asked where he would be without her, he said likely dead.

“I gave up on life,” he added. “And she believed in me. Still does. I don’t know why.”"
bettychinn  eureka  california  empathy  philanthropy  2016  homeless  homelessness 
december 2016 by robertogreco
CM 048: Dacher Keltner on the Power Paradox
"Is there a secret to lasting power? Yes, and Dacher Keltner has been teaching leaders about it for decades. And the secret is not the ruthless, manipulative approach associated with 15th-century politician and writer Niccolo Machiavelli. It is actually the opposite.

As a University of California, Berkeley, Professor of Psychology, and Founder and Director of the Greater Good Science Center, Dacher Keltner shares research-based insights he has gained. And in his latest book, The Power Paradox: How We Gain and Lose Influence, he discusses a new science of power and 20 guiding power principles.

In this interview, we talk about:

• How the legacy of Niccolo Machiavelli continues to inform power
• Why power is about so much more than dominance, manipulation, and ruthlessness
• Why we need to question a coercive model of power
• The short- versus long-term impact of different kinds of power
• Why power is about lifting others up
• Why lasting power is given, not grabbed
• The important role that reputation, gossip and esteem play in who gains power
• How, within days, group members already know who holds the power
• What makes for enduring power
• How our body language and words speak volumes about power
• Why Abraham Lincoln is a fascinating study of empathetic power
• The fact that great and powerful leaders are incredible storytellers
• How feeling powerful makes us less aware of risk
• How feeling powerful makes us less empathetic, attentive and responsive to others
• How feeling powerful actually overrides the part of our brain that signals empathy
• How drivers of more expensive cars (46 percent) tend to ignore pedestrians
• How powerful people often tell themselves stories to justify hierarchies
• The price we pay for powerlessness
• Concrete ways we can cultivate enduring, empathetic power
• Gender and power
• Why the key to parenting is to empower children to have a voice in the world

Selected Links to Topics Mentioned [all linked within]

Dacher Keltner
Greater Good Science Center
Frans de Waal
The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
Thomas Clarkson and the abolition movement
Why Civil Resistance Works by Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan
House of Cards
The 100-Year Life by Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott
What Works by Iris Bohnet
Arturo Behar and Facebook
Greater Good in Action
Science of Happiness course on edX"
dacherkeltner  power  hierarchy  machiavelli  influence  paradox  coercion  2016  thomasclarkson  abolition  slavery  history  greatergoodsciencecenter  resistance  ericchenoweth  mariastephan  houseofcards  andrewscott  lyndagratton  irisbohnet  arturobejar  fransdewaal  chimpanzees  primates  privilege  superiority  psychology  empathy  class  poverty  wealth  inequality  poor  happiness  humility  altruism  respect  sfsh  leadership  administration  parenting  friendship  dignity  workplace  horizontality  sharing  generosity  powerlessness  recognition  racism  gender  prestige  socialintelligence  empowerment 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Understanding Trump « George Lakoff
"Unconscious thought works by certain basic mechanisms. Trump uses them instinctively to turn people’s brains toward what he wants: Absolute authority, money, power, celebrity.

The mechanisms are:

1. Repetition. Words are neurally linked to the circuits the determine their meaning. The more a word is heard, the more the circuit is activated and the stronger it gets, and so the easier it is to fire again. Trump repeats. Win. Win, Win. We’re gonna win so much you’ll get tired of winning.

2. Framing: Crooked Hillary. Framing Hillary as purposely and knowingly committing crimes for her own benefit, which is what a crook does. Repeating makes many people unconsciously think of her that way, even though she has been found to have been honest and legal by thorough studies by the right-wing Bengazi committee (which found nothing) and the FBI (which found nothing to charge her with, except missing the mark ‘(C)’ in the body of 3 out of 110,000 emails). Yet the framing is working.

There is a common metaphor that Immorality Is Illegality, and that acting against Strict Father Morality (the only kind off morality recognized) is being immoral. Since virtually everything Hillary Clinton has ever done has violated Strict Father Morality, that makes her immoral. The metaphor thus makes her actions immoral, and hence she is a crook. The chant “Lock her up!” activates this whole line of reasoning.

3. Well-known examples: When a well-publicized disaster happens, the coverage activates the framing of it over and over, strengthening it, and increasing the probability that the framing will occur easily with high probability. Repeating examples of shootings by Muslims, African-Americans, and Latinos raises fears that it could happen to you and your community — despite the miniscule actual probability. Trump uses this to create fear. Fear tends to activate desire for a strong strict father — namely, Trump.

4. Grammar: Radical Islamic terrorists: “Radical” puts Muslims on a linear scale and “terrorists” imposes a frame on the scale, suggesting that terrorism is built into the religion itself. The grammar suggests that there is something about Islam that has terrorism inherent in it. Imagine calling the Charleston gunman a “radical Republican terrorist.”

Trump is aware of this to at least some extent. As he said to Tony Schwartz, the ghost-writer who wrote The Art of the Deal for him, “I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration — and it’s a very effective form of promotion.”

5. Conventional metaphorical thought is inherent in our largely unconscious thought. Such normal modes of metaphorical thinking that are not noticed as such.

Consider Brexit, which used the metaphor of “entering” and “leaving” the EU. There is a universal metaphor that states are locations in space: you can enter a state, be deep in some state, and come out that state. If you enter a café and then leave the café , you will be in the same location as before you entered. But that need not be true of states of being. But that was the metaphor used with Brexit; Britons believed that after leaving the EU, things would be as before when the entered the EU. They were wrong. Things changed radically while they were in the EU. That same metaphor is being used by Trump: Make America Great Again. Make America Safe Again. And so on. As if there was some past ideal state that we can go back to just by electing Trump.

6. There is also a metaphor that A Country Is a Person and a metonymy of the President Standing For the Country. Thus, Obama, via both metaphor and metonymy, can stand conceptually for America. Therefore, by saying that Obama is weak and not respected, it is communicated that America, with Obama as president, is weak and disrespected. The inference is that it is because of Obama.

7. The country as person metaphor and the metaphor that war or conflict between countries is a fistfight between people, leads to the inference that just having a strong president will guarantee that America will win conflicts and wars. Trump will just throw knockout punches. In his acceptance speech at the convention, Trump repeatedly said that he would accomplish things that can only be done by the people acting with their government. After one such statement, there was a chant from the floor, “He will do it.”

8. The metaphor that The nation Is a Family was used throughout the GOP convention. We heard that strong military sons are produced by strong military fathers and that “defense of country is a family affair.” From Trump’s love of family and commitment to their success, we are to conclude that, as president he will love America’s citizens and be committed to the success of all.

9. There is a common metaphor that Identifying with your family’s national heritage makes you a member of that nationality. Suppose your grandparents came from Italy and you identify with your Italian ancestors, you may proudly state that you are Italian. The metaphor is natural. Literally, you have been American for two generations. Trump made use of this commonplace metaphor in attacking US District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is American, born and raised in the United States. Trump said he was a Mexican, and therefore would hate him and tend to rule against him in a case brought against Trump University for fraud.

10. Then there is the metaphor system used in the phrase “to call someone out.” First the word “out.” There is a general metaphor that Knowing Is Seeing as in “I see what you mean.” Things that are hidden inside something cannot be seen and hence not known, while things are not hidden but out in public can be seen and hence known. To “out” someone is to made their private knowledge public. To “call someone out” is to publicly name someone’s hidden misdeeds, thus allowing for public knowledge and appropriate consequences."



"How Can Democrats Do Better?

First, don’t think of an elephant. Remember not to repeat false conservative claims and then rebut them with the facts. Instead, go positive. Give a positive truthful framing to undermine claims to the contrary. Use the facts to support positively-framed truth. Use repetition.

Second, start with values, not policies and facts and numbers. Say what you believe, but haven’t been saying. For example, progressive thought is built on empathy, on citizens caring about other citizens and working through our government to provide public resources for all, both businesses and individuals. Use history. That’s how America started. The public resources used by businesses were not only roads and bridges, but public education, a national bank, a patent office, courts for business cases, interstate commerce support, and of course the criminal justice system. From the beginning, the Private Depended on Public Resources, both private lives and private enterprise.

Over time those resources have included sewers, water and electricity, research universities and research support: computer science (via the NSF), the internet (ARPA), pharmaceuticals and modern medicine (the NIH), satellite communication (NASA and NOA), and GPS systems and cell phones (the Defense Department). Private enterprise and private life utterly depend on public resources. Have you ever said this? Elizabeth Warren has. Almost no other public figures. And stop defending “the government.” Talk about the public, the people, Americans, the American people, public servants, and good government. And take back freedom. Public resources provide for freedom in private enterprise and private life.

The conservatives are committed to privatizing just about everything and to eliminating funding for most public resources. The contribution of public resources to our freedoms cannot be overstated. Start saying it.

And don’t forget the police. Effective respectful policing is a public resource. Chief David O. Brown of the Dallas Police got it right. Training, community policing, knowing the people you protect. And don’t ask too much of the police: citizens have a responsibility to provide funding so that police don’t have to do jobs that should be done by others.

Unions need to go on the offensive. Unions are instruments of freedom — freedom from corporate servitude. Employers call themselves job creators. Working people are profit creators for the employers, and as such they deserve a fair share of the profits and respect and acknowledgement. Say it. Can the public create jobs. Of course. Fixing infrastructure will create jobs by providing more public resources that private lives and businesses depend on. Public resources to create more public resources. Freedom creates opportunity that creates more freedom.

Third, keep out of nasty exchanges and attacks. Keep out of shouting matches. One can speak powerfully without shouting. Obama sets the pace: Civility, values, positivity, good humor, and real empathy are powerful. Calmness and empathy in the face of fury are powerful. Bill Clinton won because he oozed empathy, with his voice, his eye contact, and his body. It wasn’t his superb ability as a policy wonk, but the empathy he projected and inspired.

Values come first, facts and policies follow in the service of values. They matter, but they always support values.

Give up identity politics. No more women’s issues, black issues, Latino issues. Their issues are all real, and need public discussion. But they all fall under freedom issues, human issues. And address poor whites! Appalachian and rust belt whites deserve your attention as much as anyone else. Don’t surrender their fate to Trump, who will just increase their suffering.

And remember JFK’s immortal, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Empathy, devotion, love, pride in our country’s values, public resources to create freedoms. And adulthood.

Be prepared. You have to understand Trump … [more]
georgelakoff  donaldtrump  2016  conservatives  markets  systems  systemsthinking  hierarchy  morality  puritanism  election  hillaryclinton  cognition  psychology  evangelicals  freemarkets  capitalism  pragmatism  patriarchy  progressivism  directcausation  systemiccausation  thinking  politicalcorrectness  identitypolitics  politics  policy  us  biconceptuals  brain  howwethink  marketing  metaphor  elections  dallas  dallaspolice  policing  lawenforcement  unions  organizing  organization  billclinton  empathy  campaigning  repetition  democrats 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Ethan Zuckerman: Solving Other People's Problems With Technology - The Atlantic
"In other words, is it possible to get beyond both a naïve belief that the latest technology will solve social problems—and a reaction that rubbishes any attempt to offer novel technical solutions as inappropriate, insensitive, and misguided? Can we find a synthesis in which technologists look at their work critically and work closely with the people they’re trying to help in order to build sociotechnical systems that address hard problems?

Obviously, I think this is possible — if really, really hard — or I wouldn’t be teaching at an engineering school. But before considering how we overcome a naïve faith in technology, let’s examine Snow’s suggestion. It’s a textbook example of a solution that’s technically sophisticated, simple to understand, and dangerously wrong."



"The problem with the solutionist critique, though, is that it tends to remove technological innovation from the problem-solver’s toolkit. In fact, technological development is often a key component in solving complex social and political problems, and new technologies can sometimes open a previously intractable problem. The rise of inexpensive solar panels may be an opportunity to move nations away from a dependency on fossil fuels and begin lowering atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide, much as developments in natural gas extraction and transport technologies have lessened the use of dirtier fuels like coal.

But it’s rare that technology provides a robust solution to a social problem by itself. Successful technological approaches to solving social problems usually require changes in laws and norms, as well as market incentives to make change at scale."



"Of the many wise things my Yale students said during our workshop was a student who wondered if he should be participating at all. “I don’t know anything about prisons, I don’t have family in prison. I don’t know if I understand these problems well enough to solve them, and I don’t know if these problems are mine to solve.”

Talking about the workshop with my friend and colleague Chelsea Barabas, she asked the wonderfully deep question, “Is it ever okay to solve another person’s problem?”

On its surface, the question looks easy to answer. We can’t ask infants to solve problems of infant mortality, and by extension, it seems unwise to let kindergarten students design educational policy or demand that the severely disabled design their own assistive technologies.

But the argument is more complicated when you consider it more closely. It’s difficult if not impossible to design a great assistive technology without working closely, iteratively, and cooperatively with the person who will wear or use it. My colleague Hugh Herr designs cutting-edge prostheses for U.S. veterans who’ve lost legs, and the centerpiece of his lab is a treadmill where amputees test his limbs, giving him and his students feedback about what works, what doesn’t, and what needs to change. Without the active collaboration with the people he’s trying to help, he’s unable to make technological advances.

Disability rights activists have demanded “nothing about us without us,” a slogan that demands that policies should not be developed without the participation of those intended to benefit from those policies.

Design philosophies like participatory design and codesign bring this concept to the world of technology, demanding that technologies designed for a group of people be designed and built, in part, by those people. Codesign challenges many of the assumptions of engineering, requiring people who are used to working in isolation to build broad teams and to understand that those most qualified to offer a technical solution may be least qualified to identify a need or articulate a design problem. This method is hard and frustrating, but it’s also one of the best ways to ensure that you’re solving the right problem, rather than imposing your preferred solution on a situation."



"It is unlikely that anyone is going to invite Shane Snow to redesign a major prison any time soon, so spending more than 3,000 words urging you to reject his solution may be a waste of your time and mine. But the mistakes Snow makes are those that engineers make all the time when they turn their energy and creativity to solving pressing and persistent social problems. Looking closely at how Snow’s solutions fall short offers some hope for building better, fairer, and saner solutions.

The challenge, unfortunately, is not in offering a critique of how solutions go wrong. Excellent versions of that critique exist, from Morozov’s war on solutionism, to Courtney Martin’s brilliant “The Reductive Seduction of Other People’s Problems.” If it’s easy to design inappropriate solutions about problems you don’t fully understand, it’s not much harder to criticize the inadequacy of those solutions.

What’s hard is synthesis — learning to use technology as part of well-designed sociotechnical solutions. These solutions sometimes require profound advances in technology. But they virtually always require people to build complex, multifunctional teams that work with and learn from the people the technology is supposed to benefit.

Three students at the MIT Media Lab taught a course last semester called “Unpacking Impact: Reflecting as We Make.” They point out that the Media Lab prides itself on teaching students how to make anything, and how to turn what you make into a business, but rarely teaches reflection about what we make and what it might mean for society as a whole. My experience with teaching this reflective process to engineers is that it’s both important and potentially paralyzing, that once we understand the incompleteness of technology as a path for solving problems and the ways technological solutions relate to social, market, and legal forces, it can be hard to build anything at all.

I’m going to teach a new course this fall, tentatively titled “Technology and Social Change.” It’s going to include an examination of the four levers of social change Larry Lessig suggests in Code, and which I’ve been exploring as possible paths to civic engagement. The course will include deep methodological dives into codesign, and will examine using anthropology as tool for understanding user needs. It will look at unintended consequences, cases where technology’s best intentions fail, and cases where careful exploration and preparation led to technosocial systems that make users and communities more powerful than they were before.

I’m “calling my shot” here for two reasons. One, by announcing it publicly, I’m less likely to back out of it, and given how hard these problems are, backing out is a real possibility. And two, if you’ve read this far in this post, you’ve likely thought about this issue and have suggestions for what we should read and what exercises we should try in the course of the class — I hope you might be kind enough to share those with me.

In the end, I’m grateful for Shane Snow’s surreal, Black Mirror vision of the future prison both because it’s a helpful jumping-off point for understanding how hard it is to make change well by using technology, and because the U.S. prison system is a broken and dysfunctional system in need of change. But we need to find ways to disrupt better, to challenge knowledgeably, to bring the people they hope to benefit into the process. If you can, please help me figure out how we teach these ideas to the smart, creative people I work with—people who want to change the world, and are afraid of breaking it in the process."
technology  technosolutionism  solutionism  designimperialism  humanitariandesign  problemsolving  2016  ethanzuckerman  design  blackmirror  shanesnow  prisons  socialchange  lawrencelessig  anthropology  medialab  courtneymartin  nutraloaf  soylent  codesign  evgenymorozov  olcp  wikipedia  bias  racism  empathy  suziecagle  mitmedialab  mit  systems  systemsthinking  oculusrift  secondlife  vr  virtualreality  solitaryconfinement  incarceration  change  changemaking  ethnography  chelseabarabas  participatory  participatorydesign 
july 2016 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
Design Is Mainly About Empathy — Track Changes
"1. The user has a way of thinking about the information they want. Example: “I heard about jousting and it sounds weird so I think I’ll watch some jousting videos.”

2. The information our user needs actually exists a certain way in the world. Example: A database of video information with some metadata are magnetized regions of alloy on a hard drive on a server somewhere in North Carolina.

3. A product designer has represented the information to the user with some degree of abstraction. Example: A web page at a certain URL shows a place to type a search query, a loading indicator, some branding, a sorted list of results with previews, and a plenty of enticing buttons to click on in case your jousting interest flickers out and Christina Aguilera on Jimmy Kimmel could help you pass the time instead.

[screenshot captioned: "Jousting is actually pretty interesting btw"]

Between the magnetized alloy and a user on a couch watching jousting videos is…a bunch of abstraction. So it’s the job of a good product designer to hold all three models of the information in her mind, and build a bridge between them. She covers the gaps between her users and the machine, so her users don’t have to bother. As Alan Cooper puts it:
Computer literacy is a euphemism for forcing human beings to stretch their thinking to understand the inner workings of application logic, rather than having software-enabled products stretch to meet people’s usual ways of thinking.


Let’s take a closer look at those three methods. Alan Cooper tackles all three in the seminal About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design.

The first one is the user’s mental model. Cooper writes that a lot of people think “electricity flows like water from the wall into the appliances through the little black tube of the electrical cord” when they plug in their vacuum or computer.

Of course, the electricity doesn’t flow like water at all. In the real world, electricity’s implementation model is much more complex. But a simpler view of electricity works just fine for most of us. It’s informative enough to help us understand, for example, that we need to cram a cord into an outlet to charge our computer.

Finally, the represented model is the way the thing ends up looking to the user. This is the part the designer spends their time working on, and the part that people will actually touch.

Here’s the secret for the designer, again from Cooper:
“The closer the represented model comes to the user’s mental model, the easier he will find the application to use and understand.”


Bravo! For a designer, that might mean spending more time talking to users, and less time digging through the API. It might mean that early design phases are better spent researching user psychology instead of tinkering with typography.

The user’s mental model, faulty though it may be, is our guiding light. If we don’t invest effort in understanding that model, it’s going to be really hard to know if our work is successful. Design is mainly about empathy.

Example time. Animation is a great tool for practicing user empathy. Animation is a user interface pattern for aligning a user’s mental model with the product’s represented model. The notifications menu in iOS 9 isn’t physically tucked up underneath the top of the device on a curtain roll, and everyone knows that. But users have mental models of tugging on objects in their world from the near the top to reveal a new temporary state.

[two GIFs (one of blinds, one of the notifications pane in iOS being opened by swiping from the top) captioned "Blinds image courtesy IKEA"]

The thing that’s special about the represented model—Cooper helped me see this—is that it’s the only part a designer can control. We can’t control the implementation model, because a good engineer will use abstractions in the codebase to make it maintainable and safe. And we can’t control our user’s mental model, since it’s shaped by their culture and dozens of other unknowable factors.

As designers, we have the power to manipulate representations. Design is the process of making our users feel awesome by representing the software in a way that meets them where they are."
design  ux  alancooper  richardfeynmann  teaching  empathy  explanation  2016  neilrenicker  representation  ui  mentalmodels  abstraction 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Transcript: George W. Bush's Remarks at Dallas Memorial Service | US News
"But none of us were prepared, or could be prepared, for an ambush by hatred and malice. The shock of this evil still has not faded. At times, it seems like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together. Argument turns too easily into animosity. Disagreement escalates too quickly into dehumanization.

Too often, we judge other groups by their worst examples, while judging ourselves by our best intentions. And this is …

And this has strained our bonds of understanding and common purpose. But Americans, I think, have a great advantage. To renew our unity, we only need to remember our values.

We have never been held together by blood or background. We are bound by things of the spirit, by shared commitments to common ideals.

At our best, we practice empathy, imagining ourselves in the lives and circumstances of others. This is the bridge across our nation’s deepest divisions.

And it is not merely a matter of tolerance, but of learning from the struggles and stories of our fellow citizens and finding our better selves in the process.

At our best, we honor the image of God we see in one another. We recognize that we are brothers and sisters, sharing the same brief moment on Earth and owing each other the loyalty of our shared humanity.

At our best, we know we have one country, one future, one destiny. We do not want the unity of grief, nor do we want the unity of fear. We want the unity of hope, affection and high purpose.

We know that the kind of just, humane country we want to build, that we have seen in our best dreams, is made possible when men and women in uniform stand guard. At their best, when they’re trained and trusted and accountable, they free us from fear."

[See also: http://www.politico.com/story/2016/07/george-w-bush-dallas-shooting-225429 ]
georgewbush  tolerance  us  police  trust  lawenforcement  2016  dallas  fear  understanding  unity  disagreement  intentions  empathy  humanism  humanity  division  values 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Superpowers Take Time | Hapgood
"This process, beginning to end takes about 3-5 minutes. I’ve done it hundreds of times since November, and now have a library of stuff which produces neat connections about half the time I use it. It took a long time to get here, a lot of work, but I am not kidding when I say it’s a superpower. Or as I said to David Wiley a while back, “My main pitch for this thing is this — it’s made me smarter. A *lot* smarter.”

It does that by forcing me to suspend my reaction to things until I’ve summarized them and connected them to previous knowledge. It forces me to confront contradictions between new knowledge and previous knowledge, and see unexpected parallels across multiple domains. It forces me to constantly review, rehearse, revise, and update old knowledge.

What do other social media solutions do? They allow you to comment on it, to share it. They ask you to react immediately, preferably with a quick opinion. They push you to always look at the new — never connect or revisit the old. They treat your reaction — your feelings about the thing — as the center of your media universe.

Can any of this be good for learning? For empathy? For innovation?"

[via: http://jslr.tumblr.com/post/147233355828/this-process-beginning-to-end-takes-about-3-5 ]
mikecaulfield  2016  wikity  learning  process  howwelearn  empathy  thoughtfulness  revision  reflection  thinking  howwething  online  tools  connections 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Radical Hope: A Teaching Manifesto – The Tattooed Professor
[Especially for this line: "Teaching is a radical act of hope."]

"Every summer, I take time to reflect on the academic year that was. The classes I taught, the workshops I either facilitated or attended, what I learned from failures and successes in and out of the classroom–when it comes to my teaching, I try to be a critically reflective practitioner. Directing a teaching center on my campus gives me a chance to also ground that reflection in the larger discourse about teaching and learning in higher education.

That discourse often doesn’t give one grounds for optimism; we’re continually reminded of the toll neoliberalism has exacted from higher education. Kansas, Louisiana, Wisconsin, and Illinois are only the most dramatic examples of a larger trend where higher education is a hostage to governing elites’ Randian economic fantasies. The fetishizing of “efficiencies” continues to erode faculty effectiveness, morale, and labor conditions. A narrow and misguided rhetoric of marketability and utility slowly chokes the Humanities. And, like a constant refrain above the din, we’re repeatedly told that students aren’t prepared for college, that technology makes them stupid, that none of them knows how to read or write or declaim or interact or balance a checkbook or do laundry or whatever. It’s easy, then, to slide into a sort of existential despair. Why bother teaching when it doesn’t matter? When no one cares about what you do or why you do it?

And, honestly, that’s where I was earlier this summer. It’s hard enough to cope with the challenges inherent in higher ed; coupled with the greasy dumpster fire that is our state of public affairs at the moment, it seems downright impossible. So I did what comes naturally to a historian–I went to my books, and then I wrote. Reconnecting with some of the books that have shaped me as an educator, and taking the time to write reflectively about where I think I stand, was a reminder that despite all of its problems, higher education is still a place of transformation and possibility. But it remains so only if we continually and intentionally hold it to the standards we know it should meet. And at the heart of that enterprise is what we do in the classroom. It comes down to, as it so often doefists, a conversation about teaching and learning.

In that spirit, I share here the products of my wrestling with angst and dismay, and the renewed drive it ultimately sparked.

This is my Teaching Manifesto.

If I want my students to take risks and not be afraid to fail then I need to take risks and not be afraid to fail.

It is tempting to think that “upholding disciplinary standards” is the only thing standing between us and the collapse of western civilization. It is also comically inaccurate.

Remember what Paolo Freire meant when he criticized the “banking model” of education, and take those insights to heart.

Learning cannot occur without metacognition and reflection. This applies to both us and our students.

Kids These Days are just like Kids in My Day, or Any Other Day, if we choose to remember honestly.

Our students are not us. If we merely teach to how we prefer to learn, we exclude a majority of our students.

I cannot assume my students will be able to do something that they have not been asked to do before coming to my class, and I cannot blame them for struggling with a task that’s new to them–no matter how ingrained that task is for me.

I am not the one to decide if a student is “ready for college.” That’s the student’s decision. If they’re admitted to my university and they’re in my class, I am ethically and morally obligated to give them my best.

They’re not deficiencies, they’re data points for our pedagogical decisions.

Just as students can get better at learning, I can get better at teaching. If I expect it from them, I should expect it from me.

There is a large body of scholarly research on teaching and learning. To not be conversant with at least its major findings is to commit professional malpractice.

If pedagogy and professional development are secondary priorities for you, don’t be surprised when your class is a secondary priority for your students.

It doesn’t matter how much I know if my students aren’t learning; knowledge must be used, not set up on a shelf to be admired but not touched.

Much of what we do in the classroom cannot be quantified.

And yet…“cannot be quantified” is not the same as “cannot be measured.” If we can’t demonstrate student learning, we aren’t doing it right.

Reclaim assessment for what it is meant to do: to show what our students can do as a result our classes. If we don’t tell our stories, someone else will tell them for us.

If universities truly value education, they cannot undercompensate or adjunctify the faculty and seriously claim to adhere to that commitment. As someone in a privileged academic position, I am obligated to speak this truth loudly and often.

Everyone is fighting their own battles, some on multiple fronts. Compassion and flexibility >>> being a hardass

Things whose pedagogical impact is often underestimated: empathy and humor.

Things whose pedagogical impact is often overestimated: shaming and rigidity.

When you say “rigor,” I think of corpses.

“Coverage” for coverage’s sake is where learning goes to die.

No matter what: Teaching is a radical act of hope."
pedagogy  technology  radicalism  teaching  2016  kevingannon  howwetech  why  thewhy  whyweteach  hope  rigor  empathy  humor  shaming  rigidity  flexibility  highered  highereducation  optimism  curriculum  manifestos  learning  metacognition  reflection  professionaldevelopment  content  knowledge  howwelearn  howweteach  via:audreywatters 
july 2016 by robertogreco
How do you Identify Racism? The Angry Eye with Jane Elliott - YouTube
"*THREE* KEY POINTS FOR EFFECTIVE RACIAL DIALOGUE:

#1: Racism and racial discrimination continues to put people
of color at a significant disadvantage.

It's THE...important starting point for any HONEST dialogue.

We have to understand the way things actual are, rather than the way we'd like them to be.

Historically and still today...the evidence is overwhelming...A huge nationwide study of 10s of 1000s of companies estimates conservatively that 1/3rd of the time, when people of color are out on a job search, they are the victims of discrimination. That effects about a million to 1.2 million people of color a year. That's not a minor consideration.

So, if we're gonna to have a talking about housing, or employment, or education, or wealth, or the criminal justice system, we have to start with the reality that the disparities are real, and that in part, they are significantly caused by racial discrimination — that's the starting point.

...The biggest problem that we have to get over is "white denial," though, and I say that as someone who has studied that for a long time. Even in the early 60s, BEFORE the Civil Rights Act was passed, Gallup Polls found that 2 out of 3 white Americans thought that black Americans had FULLY equal opportunity.

Now, obviously, that's absurd, but that's what otherwise descent, sane, intelligent people thought even then. So...the hurdle for a lot of white Americans, and even some folks of color, is THERE. But the evidence is the evidence. I encourage people that are skeptical to look at the data...the footnotes, look at the data and decide for themselves.

#2: Being color-blind, or "color mute" is not an option.

Julian Bond, civil rights legend, really says it best, "To be blind to color is to be blind to the consequences of color," (i.e., racism).

Let me give you an example:

If I'm a teacher right now in the state of Arizona, and I've got a lot of Latino kids, I can't be "colorblind" or blind to the role that their identity plays in their life, because there are right now in the eyes of some, not all...under suspicion as if they shouldn't even be there, as they don't belong. If I'm a teacher, and I'm gonna meet the needs of those kids, I've got to know where they are. I can't have this idealized version of life that says, "race doesn't matter to them," because IT DOES.

As a parent (I have two kids), if you don't TALK to children ABOUT RACISM, both PAST AND PRESENT, they grow up — they can look around and see the disparities — they can see that who has what is often about color, who lives where is often about color — if you don't provide the context for that, you know what happens, those kids grow up, according to the research, to believe that those disparities are A) natural, which is a dangerous thought, or B) that the folks on the bottom are there because...they don't try hard enough, their bad people, they aren't as smart as the rest of us.

So, really, "color blindness" or being "color mute" can actually feed racist perceptions.

#3: We all have a stake in combatting racism and racial
inequality. That is, people of colors' progress HELPS
white people.

"This is critical, especially for getting over that problem of [white] denial...a lot of times we...worry that...if people of color make progress it's gonna hurt white folks.

The fact is...racial inequity is DANGEROUS for all of us. In about 30/35/40 years...about half the [U.S.]population will be people of color, the other half will be white people. There is NO WAY that we can maintain a healthy, productive economy and society if one half of society has double the unemployment rate, three times the poverty rate of the other half, 1/10th the wealth, 8 years less life expectancy, double the infant mortality of the other half...we [MUST] worry about the racial disparity of the other half, and the racism that is, in part, responsible for them...because otherwise the whole society is not going to functional because of the racial inequity of the other half.""

[via: http://kottke.org/16/07/how-discrimination-feels

"I posted a short video earlier today featuring Jane Elliott. She's a noted anti-racism activist famous for her blue eyes/brown eyes exercise, featured in the video above.
White people's number one freedom in the United States of America is the freedom to be totally ignorant about those who are other than white. And our number two freedom is the freedom to deny that we're ignorant.

In the exercise, Elliott divides the class into two groups based on their eye color: those with blue eyes and those with brown eyes. The brown eyed group is instructed to treat the blue eyed group as inferior because of their eye color -- they are to be called "bluey" or "boy" or "honey" but not by their names.

At the beginning of the session (which starts at about 1:30 (but don't skip the intro!)), Elliott calls herself "the resident bitch for the day" and does she mean it...she does not let up because, as she says in the video, society doesn't let up on people of color either. (via @dunstan)"]

[See also:
"Here's educator Jane Elliott asking a room full of White people a very, very simple question."
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4yrg7vV4a5o
via http://kottke.org/16/07/freedom-for-some-is-not-freedom ]
janeelliot  racism  race  psychology  inequality  sympathy  empathy  experiments 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Kurt Hahn - Wikipedia
"Six Declines of Modern Youth

1. Decline of Fitness due to modern methods of locomotion [moving about];
2. Decline of Initiative and Enterprise due to the widespread disease of spectatoritis;
3. Decline of Memory and Imagination due to the confused restlessness of modern life;
4. Decline of Skill and Care due to the weakened tradition of craftsmanship;
5. Decline of Self-discipline due to the ever-present availability of stimulants and tranquilizers;
6. Decline of Compassion due to the unseemly haste with which modern life is conducted or as William Temple called "spiritual death".

Hahn not only pointed out the decline of modern youth, he also came up with four antidotes to fix the problem.

1. Fitness Training (e.g., to compete with one's self in physical fitness; in so doing, train the discipline and determination of the mind through the body)
2. Expeditions (e.g., via sea or land, to engage in long, challenging endurance tasks)
3. Projects (e.g., involving crafts and manual skills)
4. Rescue Service (e.g., surf lifesaving, fire fighting, first aid)

Ten Expeditionary Learning Principles
These 10 principles, which seek to describe a caring, adventurous school culture and approach to learning, were drawn[by whom?] from the ideas of Kurt Hahn and other education leaders[which?] for use in Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound (ELOB) schools.

1. The primacy of self-discovery
Learning happens best with emotion, challenge and the requisite support. People discover their abilities, values, passions, and responsibilities in situations that offer adventure and the unexpected. In Expeditionary Learning schools, students undertake tasks that require perseverance, fitness, craftsmanship, imagination, self-discipline, and significant achievement. A teacher’s primary task is to help students overcome their fears and discover they can do more than they think they can.

2. The having of wonderful ideas
Teaching in Expeditionary Learning schools fosters curiosity about the world by creating learning situations that provide something important to think about, time to experiment, and time to make sense of what is observed.

4. The responsibility for learning
Learning is both a personal process of discovery and a social activity. Everyone learns both individually and as part of a group. Every aspect of an Expeditionary Learning school encourages both children and adults to become increasingly responsible for directing their own personal and collective learning.

4. Empathy and caring
Learning is fostered best in communities where students’ and teachers’ ideas are respected and where there is mutual trust. Learning groups are small in Expeditionary Learning schools, with a caring adult looking after the progress and acting as an advocate for each child. Older students mentor younger ones, and students feel physically and emotionally safe.

5. Success and failure
All students need to be successful if they are to build the confidence and capacity to take risks and meet increasingly difficult challenges. But it is also important for students to learn from their failures, to persevere when things are hard, and to learn to turn disabilities into opportunities.

6. Collaboration and competition
Individual development and group development are integrated so that the value of friendship, trust, and group action is clear. Students are encouraged to compete not against each other but with their own personal best and with rigorous standards of excellence.

7. Diversity and inclusion
Both diversity and inclusion increase the richness of ideas, creative power, problem-solving ability, respect for others. In Expeditionary Learning schools, students investigate value their different histories talents as well as those of other communities cultures. Schools learning groups heterogeneous.

8. The natural world
Direct respectful relationship with the natural world refreshes the human spirit teaches[clarification needed] the important ideas of recurring cycles and cause and effect. Students learn to become stewards of the earth and of future generations.

9. Solitude and reflection
Students and teachers need time alone to explore their own thoughts, make their own connections, and create their own ideas. They also need time to exchange their reflections with others.

10. Service and compassion
We are crew, not passengers. Students and teachers are strengthened by acts of consequential service to others, and one of an Expeditionary Learning school's primary functions is to prepare students with the attitudes and skills to learn from and be of service to others."
kurthahn  learning  youth  fitness  health  skill  care  self-discipline  memory  imagination  consumerism  spectatoritis  locomotion  williamtemple  stimulation  expeditions  projects  projectbasedlearning  self-discovery  howwelearn  outwardbound  unitedworldcolleges  collaboration  competition  nature  outdoors  solitude  reflection  compassion  service  servicelearning  howweteach  education  pedagogy  experientiallearning  experience  success  failure  empathy  caring  responsibility 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Into the Beast – Versions
"“I couldn’t care less about empathy,” said Natalie Jeremijenko. “I don’t see VR as a prosthetic for empathy. I refuse that. I think it’s bullshit.”

Few people have been working at the intersections between art, technology, and animals for as long as Jeremijenko, whose eccentric, restlessly interdisciplinary energy has produced an impressive array of bizarre projects. In 2009, she set up an installation along the East River in which participants could send a text message to a fish and receive a response recording its overall health and wellbeing; at Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens, a place where many of her ideas have been realized, she built a “Salamander Superhighway” across the road that would tweet whenever salamanders migrated through it, since salamanders, in her view, represent a better potential source of ethical meat than Google’s artificial burger; more recently, she enlisted kids from New York’s PS 153 to use “Feral Robot Dogs”—some of them disturbingly repurposed AIBOs—to sniff out soil contaminants in their local community.

In 2004, Jeremijenko was already thinking about what VR could do to connect humans and animals. But she wasn’t thinking about empathy, which she views as an “atomizing, individuating phenomenon” that should never be instrumentalized. Instead, she asked a counterintuitive question: what might VR be able to do to improve the material lives of animals themselves?

Inspired by the canard digérateur—or “digesting duck”—invented by Jacques de Vaucanson in 1739, Jeremijenko created a fleet of duck and geese robots that could be operated by people wearing VR goggles (with beaks attached). After enlisting local kids from an LA public school, she encouraged them to drive their ersatz waterfowls directly into contact with real-life counterparts. The real ducks and geese never mistook the robots for other real ducks and geese. But the drivers could engage in rudimentary communication with them, learning quickly that a straight neck would be interpreted as aggressive behavior, a craned neck “would allow for a closer approach.” And they would see their interactions firsthand.

“I didn’t build a 3D environment, because we were in one,” she said. “I was actually using a physical avatar in physical space. But it constituted a critique of what it is we do with VR: whether it should be this closed world, fantastical, or whether it should allow us to understand the actual world.”

In one case, the project actually led to environmental change—or at least potential environmental change. After one mecha-goose found a nest full of smashed eggs, she and her team investigated and discovered the root cause: the park authorities had been using petrochemical fertilizers that had compromised the eggs’ structural integrity. They weren’t able to fix the situation, but they did discover a situation that might not have been discovered, precisely because they had been seeing things from a more gooselike POV. The project demonstrated one of Jeremijenko’s central theses in utter clarity: if and when VR and animals come together, the only worthwhile byproduct ought to be actual, material change. Anything else is mere escapism.

For the team behind In the Eyes of the Animal, escapism is the entire point. The project is premised on the idea that a blissful, peacefully psychedelic sensory experience can expand our vision—our moral vision—beyond the scope of the human. “Somehow it creates a cocoon,” Steel said. “It gives you this kind of isolation, in a similar kind of way that you get when you’re walking through the woods and you’ve got no mobile signal. It gives you space to think. It taps into the tranquil state of mind that you can get floating on the surface of water, or sitting on a mountain and looking at the view. That sense of presence.”

Jeremijenko would call bullshit. And in a lot of ways, she has a point, even though In the Eyes of the Animal has the advantage of being much more aesthetically and emotionally arresting than a VR-controlled duck sim in which you look for signs of petrochemical toxicity. Jeremijenko maintains that nothing good will happen from the perspective of environmental health if we let VR transport us to “nature” in the traditional sense: a space pristine, unpolluted, unaffected by our presence. VR could be an agent of real change in what she calls the “environmental commons”—a way of seeing how our animal neighbors actually live, not necessarily through their eyes but at the level of habitat. It could also be a dangerously effective way to ignore that commons: a way to strap on the headset and return to Xanadu while the world silently turns to waste."



"Major new technologies of representation have a tendency to advertise themselves as ways of bringing us into closer contact with “nature”. They also have a tendency to do precisely the opposite. When the aquarium took Britain by storm in the 1850s, it was promoted as a glass box that could bring people into a completely new relationship with the inaccessible ocean depths; it also became a way of framing those depths, making them artificial, subjecting them to editorial control. One of the very first motion pictures was Eadweard Muybridge’s Horse in Motion, which revealed new truths about animal movement; another was Edison’s electrocuted elephant, which proved in the most darkly literal way that technology could destroy animals by making them into spectacles. Nature TV from the David Attenborough 1980s to now has been defined by its gradual, insistent movement toward intimacy: where we once observed them from a reserved distance, we now find ourselves among them, in their lives, in the fray. It has also been adept at hiding its own mediation, at pretending to be a form of closeness when it is really anything but.

We already know what some animal-centric VR experiences are going to look like, and others are pretty easy to imagine. Sir Attenborough himself has already collaborated on VR nature films, insisting that “you actually really are there—inside a rainforest, diving in the ocean or exploring a pyramid, wherever you want to go.” Apps like Ocean Rift unironically use the word “safari” to encapsulate the experience of coming that much closer to exotic creatures. These experiences still place us outside the animal, albeit an inch away. More will come, though, that attempt to place us “inside,” leveraging the power of empathy that seems to be the medium’s unique ethical promise. Much more than Jeremijenko, I’m inclined to think that a piece of software that takes a stab at interspecies empathy could form the basis for material change. I can imagine seeing from the eyes of an orca at SeaWorld. I can imagine feeling a rage that lingers.

At the same time, In the Eyes of the Animal, Jeremijenko’s VR waterfowl, and Theriomorphous Cyborg share one thing in common that should serve as a warning to the creators and consumers of empathy apps in general: all three envision “VR” as a means to “AR,” the self-enclosed app as a means to a more layered, more nuanced understanding of the world—or worlds—in which we live. Perhaps this ought to be the ethical litmus test for empathy apps: what they ask us to do with the experience we’ve had as soon as we take off the headset and return to the world. What they ask us to remember. What they ask us not to forget."
vr  virtualreality  empathy  nataliejeremijenko  via:anne  multispecies  ethics  mattmargini  escapism  pov  jakobvonuexküll  simoneferracina  philipkdick  rickdeckard  nonnydelapeña  border  borders  us  mexico  wilburmercer  richardfeynman  barneysteel 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Female heroes are even more important for boys than girls - Quartz
"But the sad fact is engaging with female characters has long been optional for boys, who are specifically discouraged—by society at large if not by their own parents—from seeking out material designed “for girls.” And the female characters they do see in mainstream entertainment are more likely to be sidekicks and love interests (not to mention outnumbered by male characters three to one). Arwen stuck out to me because she shared my gender. And yet in a series full of hobbits, wizards, and warriors, I doubt she made much of an impression on those not specifically looking to see themselves represented onscreen.

And that’s what’s so cool about Rey, Katniss, and Supergirl: It’s impossible to ignore them. They are female protagonists in properties that boys are encouraged—expected, even—to watch. For the first time young boys are being asked to empathize with female leads the way girls have long been expected to empathize with male ones. After all, I may have loved Hermione, but I spent 3,000 plus pages inside Harry’s head.

And studies have shown that media has a concrete impact on how we relate to people who are different than us. As author Junot Díaz puts it, women have “spent their whole life being taught that men have a subjectivity.” Now we’re finally teaching boys a similar lesson by introducing them to female leads who are strong, smart, flawed, emotionally complex, and able to fight their own battles.

In other words, we’re raising a generation of boys who think that watching a show about a female superhero is no big deal. And that is a pretty deal in itself."
gender  fiction  boys  2016  heroes  empathy  junotdíaz  subjectivity 
march 2016 by robertogreco
The Superior Social Skills of Bilinguals - The New York Times
"We found that bilingual children were better than monolingual children at this task. If you think about it, this makes intuitive sense. Interpreting someone’s utterance often requires attending not just to its content, but also to the surrounding context. What does a speaker know or not know? What did she intend to convey? Children in multilingual environments have social experiences that provide routine practice in considering the perspectives of others: They have to think about who speaks which language to whom, who understands which content, and the times and places in which different languages are spoken."



"Multilingual exposure, it seems, facilitates the basic skills of interpersonal understanding. Of course, becoming fully bilingual or multilingual is not always easy or possible for everyone. But the social advantage we have identified appears to emerge from merely being raised in an environment in which multiple languages are experienced, not from being bilingual per se. This is potentially good news for parents who are not bilingual themselves, yet who want their children to enjoy some of the benefits of multilingualism."
bilingualism  bilingual  languages  empathy  perspective  2016  psychology  communication  katherinekinzler  boazkeysar  zoeliberman  samanthafan  interpersonal  understanding  multilingual  multilingualism 
march 2016 by robertogreco
What Kids Need From Grown-Ups (But Aren't Getting) : NPR Ed : NPR
"Q: What is this phenomenon that you call "the preschool paradox"?

A: It is the reality that science is confirming on a daily basis: that children are hardwired to learn in many settings and are really very capable, very strong, very intelligent on the one hand. On the other hand, the paradox is that many young children are doing poorly in our early education settings.

We've got a growing problem of preschool expulsions, a growing problem of children being medicated off-label for attention problems. We have a lot of anecdotal evidence that parents are frustrated and feeling overburdened. So that's what interests me: What is going on?

We have very crammed [preschool] schedules with rapid transitions. We have tons of clutter on classroom walls. We have kids moving quickly from one activity to another. We ask them to sit in long and often boring meetings. Logistically and practically, lives are quite taxing for little kids because they're actually living in an adult-sized world.

On the other hand, curriculum is often very boring. A staple of early childhood curriculum is the daily tracking of the calendar. And this is one of those absolute classic mismatches, because one study showed that, after a whole year of this calendar work where kids sit in a circle and talk about what day they're on, half the kids still didn't know what day they were on. It's a mismatch because it's both really hard and frankly very stupid.

We're underestimating kids in terms of their enormous capacity to be thoughtful and reflective, and, I would argue, that's because we're not giving them enough time to play and to be in relationships with others.

Q: Why do you think so many educators and policymakers have come to see play and learning as mutually exclusive?

A: Yeah, it's incredibly weird — this fake dichotomy. The science is so persuasive on this topic. There's all kinds of research coming not only from early childhood but animal research looking at mammals and how they use play for learning.

I think there are two answers. There really has been tremendous anxiety about closing achievement gaps between advantaged and less advantaged children. You know, we're always as a society looking for quick fixes that might close those gaps. Unfortunately, it's had downstream consequences for early learning, where we're going for superficial measures of learning.

I think the other problem is that the rich, experience-based play that we know results in learning — it's not as easy to accomplish as people think. And that's because, while the impulse to play is natural, what I call the play know-how really depends on a culture that values play, that gives kids the time and space to learn through play.

Q: What does playful learning look like?

A: Playful learning is embedded in relationships and in things that are meaningful to children. I use the example of the iconic [handprint] Thanksgiving turkey. When you really get into what's behind those cutesy crafts, a lot of curriculum is organized around these traditions, things around the calendar, things that are done because they've always been done.

When you look at how kids learn, they learn when something is meaningful to them, when they have a chance to learn through relationships — and that, of course, happens through play. But a lot of our curriculum is organized around different principles.

It's organized around the comfort and benefit of adults and also reflexive: "This is cute," or, "We've always done this." A lot of the time, as parents, we are trained to expect products, cute projects. And I like to say that the role of art in preschool or kindergarten curriculum should be to make meaning, not necessarily things. But it's hard to get parents to buy into this idea that their kids may not come home with the refrigerator art because maybe they spent a week messing around in the mud.

Preschool teachers are very interested in fine motor skills, and so often they think that these tracing and cutting activities [are important]. I would argue that those are not the most important skills that we need to foster.

Q: What are the most important skills we need to foster?

A: I think the No. 1 thing is that children need to feel secure in their relationships because, again, we're social animals. And children learn through others. So I think the No. 1 thing is for kids to have a chance to play, to make friends, to learn limits, to learn to take their turn.

Q: You're talking about soft skills, non-cognitive skills ...

A: I actually won't accept the term non-cognitive skills.

Q: Social-emotional skills?

A: I would say social-emotional skills. But, again, there's a kind of simplistic notion that there's social-emotional skills on the one hand ...

Q: And academics on the other ...

A: Right, and I would argue that many so-called academic skills are very anti-intellectual and very uncognitive. Whereas I think a lot of the social-emotional skills are very much linked to learning.

I think the biggest one is the use of language. When kids are speaking to one another and listening to one another, they're learning self-regulation, they're learning vocabulary, they're learning to think out loud. And these are highly cognitive skills. But we've bought into this dichotomy again. I would say "complex skills" versus "superficial" or "one-dimensional skills."

To give you an example, watching kids build a fort is going to activate more cognitive learning domains than doing a worksheet where you're sitting at a table. The worksheet has a little pile of pennies on one side and some numbers on the other, and you have to connect them with your pencil. That's a very uni-dimensional way of teaching skills.

Whereas, if you're building a fort with your peers, you're talking, using higher-level language structures in play than you would be if you're sitting at a table. You're doing math skills, you're doing physics measurement, engineering — but also doing the give-and-take of, "How do I get along? How do I have a conversation? What am I learning from this other person?" And that's very powerful.

Q: What is high-quality preschool to you?

A: The research base is pretty clear. I'll start by telling you what it isn't. We start by looking at two variables. One set are called "structural variables" — things like class size, student-teacher ratios, or even the square-footage of the classroom and what kinds of materials are in the classroom.

And then there are so-called process variables, which are different. They tend to be more about teaching style. Is the teacher a responsive teacher? Does she use a responsive, warm, empathic teaching style? And then the other key process variable is: Does the teacher have knowledge of child development? And is that teacher able to translate that child development knowledge into the curriculum?

Q: Which seems like a hard thing to measure.

A: It's actually not. And there are many good measures — things like: Is the teacher on the floor with the child? Is the teacher asking open-ended questions? You know: "Tell me about your picture" versus "Oh, cute house, Bobby." It's actually not that hard to measure.

But here's the thing. The structural variables are easier to regulate. And, if you have a workforce problem where you're not paying teachers well and a pipeline problem where there aren't good career paths to get into teaching, it's much easier for us to focus on the structural variables when those have an indirect effect only. The direct effect is the process variables.

My colleague Walter Gilliam at Yale has come up with this wonderful mental health classroom climate scale, which really looks at these process variables in very granular detail — so, not only looking at the interactions between the teachers and the children but how the teachers are interacting with each other.

Q: You mount a spirited defense of unscheduled kid time [at home]. Less shuttling to and from sports practice, dance practice, swim lessons. Be sure, you say, to give your child time to sit on the floor and stare at the ceiling if that's what they want to do. I know a lot of parents who would find that view heretical.

A: That's because we don't have faith in young children. And we don't really have faith in ourselves. And we've been programmed to believe that the more enrichments we can add on [the better].

I think boredom can be a friend to the imagination. Sometimes when kids appear to be bored, actually they haven't had enough time to engage in something. We quickly whisk it away and move them along to the next thing. And that's when you say, "How can I help the child to look at this in a new way? To try something new, to be patient."

You've really kind of adultified childhood so kids really don't have those long, uninterrupted stretches of time to engage in fantasy play. And because we've kind of despoiled the habitat of early childhood, a lot of times they don't know what to do when given that time. So we kind of have to coach them.

I think there's a little bit of a repair process that we need to engage in. Because if you've got a kid who's used to going to a million lessons and only uses toys that have one way of using them and then, suddenly, you put them in a room with a bunch of boxes and blocks and say, "Have fun!", the kid's gonna say, "Are you kidding me? What?!""



"Now, I do want to be clear: There are all kinds of ways to respond to being hurt, including filing a police report, reporting to your supervisor or professor or RA in a dorm, talking with your friends, ignoring. To me, I think the social norming piece is really important because I believe we put way too much faith in these administrative guidelines, "suggestions."

Is that really how behavior change happens? I don't know. I think for some things, absolutely, legal recourse makes a difference. But for other things, I think, peer norming is highly effective, and to me, Halloween costumes would be in that category.

We can't … [more]
children  education  play  unstructuredtime  learning  preschool  school  curriculum  howwelearn  rules  structure  lcproject  openstudioproject  conversation  norms  behavior  howweteach  teaching  unschooling  deschooling  listening  coryturner  erikachristakis  relationships  boredom  imagination  parenting  guidelines  process  empathy  policy  transitions  sfsh 
february 2016 by robertogreco
What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team - The New York Times
"Project Aristotle’s researchers began by reviewing a half-century of academic studies looking at how teams worked. Were the best teams made up of people with similar interests? Or did it matter more whether everyone was motivated by the same kinds of rewards? Based on those studies, the researchers scrutinized the composition of groups inside Google: How often did teammates socialize outside the office? Did they have the same hobbies? Were their educational backgrounds similar? Was it better for all teammates to be outgoing or for all of them to be shy? They drew diagrams showing which teams had overlapping memberships and which groups had exceeded their departments’ goals. They studied how long teams stuck together and if gender balance seemed to have an impact on a team’s success.

No matter how researchers arranged the data, though, it was almost impossible to find patterns — or any evidence that the composition of a team made any difference. ‘‘We looked at 180 teams from all over the company,’’ Dubey said. ‘‘We had lots of data, but there was nothing showing that a mix of specific personality types or skills or backgrounds made any difference. The ‘who’ part of the equation didn’t seem to matter.’’

Some groups that were ranked among Google’s most effective teams, for instance, were composed of friends who socialized outside work. Others were made up of people who were basically strangers away from the conference room. Some groups sought strong managers. Others preferred a less hierarchical structure. Most confounding of all, two teams might have nearly identical makeups, with overlapping memberships, but radically different levels of effectiveness. ‘‘At Google, we’re good at finding patterns,’’ Dubey said. ‘‘There weren’t strong patterns here.’’

As they struggled to figure out what made a team successful, Rozovsky and her colleagues kept coming across research by psychologists and sociologists that focused on what are known as ‘‘group norms.’’ Norms are the traditions, behavioral standards and unwritten rules that govern how we function when we gather: One team may come to a consensus that avoiding disagreement is more valuable than debate; another team might develop a culture that encourages vigorous arguments and spurns groupthink. Norms can be unspoken or openly acknowledged, but their influence is often profound. Team members may behave in certain ways as individuals — they may chafe against authority or prefer working independently — but when they gather, the group’s norms typically override individual proclivities and encourage deference to the team.

Project Aristotle’s researchers began searching through the data they had collected, looking for norms. They looked for instances when team members described a particular behavior as an ‘‘unwritten rule’’ or when they explained certain things as part of the ‘‘team’s culture.’’ Some groups said that teammates interrupted one another constantly and that team leaders reinforced that behavior by interrupting others themselves. On other teams, leaders enforced conversational order, and when someone cut off a teammate, group members would politely ask everyone to wait his or her turn. Some teams celebrated birthdays and began each meeting with informal chitchat about weekend plans. Other groups got right to business and discouraged gossip. There were teams that contained outsize personalities who hewed to their group’s sedate norms, and others in which introverts came out of their shells as soon as meetings began.

After looking at over a hundred groups for more than a year, Project Aristotle researchers concluded that understanding and influencing group norms were the keys to improving Google’s teams. But Rozovsky, now a lead researcher, needed to figure out which norms mattered most. Google’s research had identified dozens of behaviors that seemed important, except that sometimes the norms of one effective team contrasted sharply with those of another equally successful group. Was it better to let everyone speak as much as they wanted, or should strong leaders end meandering debates? Was it more effective for people to openly disagree with one another, or should conflicts be played down? The data didn’t offer clear verdicts. In fact, the data sometimes pointed in opposite directions. The only thing worse than not finding a pattern is finding too many of them. Which norms, Rozovsky and her colleagues wondered, were the ones that successful teams shared?"



"As the researchers studied the groups, however, they noticed two behaviors that all the good teams generally shared. First, on the good teams, members spoke in roughly the same proportion, a phenomenon the researchers referred to as ‘‘equality in distribution of conversational turn-taking.’’ On some teams, everyone spoke during each task; on others, leadership shifted among teammates from assignment to assignment. But in each case, by the end of the day, everyone had spoken roughly the same amount. ‘‘As long as everyone got a chance to talk, the team did well,’’ Woolley said. ‘‘But if only one person or a small group spoke all the time, the collective intelligence declined.’’

Second, the good teams all had high ‘‘average social sensitivity’’ — a fancy way of saying they were skilled at intuiting how others felt based on their tone of voice, their expressions and other nonverbal cues. One of the easiest ways to gauge social sensitivity is to show someone photos of people’s eyes and ask him or her to describe what the people are thinking or feeling — an exam known as the Reading the Mind in the Eyes test. People on the more successful teams in Woolley’s experiment scored above average on the Reading the Mind in the Eyes test. They seemed to know when someone was feeling upset or left out. People on the ineffective teams, in contrast, scored below average. They seemed, as a group, to have less sensitivity toward their colleagues."



"When Rozovsky and her Google colleagues encountered the concept of psychological safety in academic papers, it was as if everything suddenly fell into place. One engineer, for instance, had told researchers that his team leader was ‘‘direct and straightforward, which creates a safe space for you to take risks.’’ That team, researchers estimated, was among Google’s accomplished groups. By contrast, another engineer had told the researchers that his ‘‘team leader has poor emotional control.’’ He added: ‘‘He panics over small issues and keeps trying to grab control. I would hate to be driving with him being in the passenger seat, because he would keep trying to grab the steering wheel and crash the car.’’ That team, researchers presumed, did not perform well.

Most of all, employees had talked about how various teams felt. ‘‘And that made a lot of sense to me, maybe because of my experiences at Yale,’’ Rozovsky said. ‘‘I’d been on some teams that left me feeling totally exhausted and others where I got so much energy from the group.’’ Rozovsky’s study group at Yale was draining because the norms — the fights over leadership, the tendency to critique — put her on guard. Whereas the norms of her case-competition team — enthusiasm for one another’s ideas, joking around and having fun — allowed everyone to feel relaxed and energized.

For Project Aristotle, research on psychological safety pointed to particular norms that are vital to success. There were other behaviors that seemed important as well — like making sure teams had clear goals and creating a culture of dependability. But Google’s data indicated that psychological safety, more than anything else, was critical to making a team work.

‘‘We had to get people to establish psychologically safe environments,’’ Rozovsky told me. But it wasn’t clear how to do that. ‘‘People here are really busy,’’ she said. ‘‘We needed clear guidelines.’’

However, establishing psychological safety is, by its very nature, somewhat messy and difficult to implement. You can tell people to take turns during a conversation and to listen to one another more. You can instruct employees to be sensitive to how their colleagues feel and to notice when someone seems upset. But the kinds of people who work at Google are often the ones who became software engineers because they wanted to avoid talking about feelings in the first place.

Rozovsky and her colleagues had figured out which norms were most critical. Now they had to find a way to make communication and empathy — the building blocks of forging real connections — into an algorithm they could easily scale."



"Project Aristotle is a reminder that when companies try to optimize everything, it’s sometimes easy to forget that success is often built on experiences — like emotional interactions and complicated conversations and discussions of who we want to be and how our teammates make us feel — that can’t really be optimized. Rozovsky herself was reminded of this midway through her work with the Project Aristotle team. ‘‘We were in a meeting where I made a mistake,’’ Rozovsky told me. She sent out a note afterward explaining how she was going to remedy the problem. ‘‘I got an email back from a team member that said, ‘Ouch,’ ’’ she recalled. ‘‘It was like a punch to the gut. I was already upset about making this mistake, and this note totally played on my insecurities.’’"
charlesduhigg  google  teams  teamwork  groups  groupdynamics  juliarozovsky  psychology  norms  groupnorms  communication  2016  siliconvalley  collaboration  projectaristotle  behavior  safety  emocions  socialemotional  empathy  psychologicalsafety  leadership  socialemotionallearning 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Caroline Sinders
"Hi there, I'm Caroline.

I am a User Experience and Interaction Designer, researcher, interactive story teller, bad joke collector, and ridiculous pie baker. I was born in New Orleans and I am currently based in Brooklyn (and occasionally, I live in airports). Prior to graduate school, I worked in the creative world as a photographer for Harper's Bazaar Russia, Refinery 29, Style.Com, and Hypbeast as well as a marketing coordinator. My entire professional career has been in digital culture, digital imaging, and digital branding.

Sometimes I make things with Twitter and Instagram, and I play around with APIs whenever I can. I used to design stories with stills, now I love to make things move. My design approach is think of the user first and focus on problem solving through whimsy, intelligence, and intuition. My skill set is broad: I research, conceptualize, brand, wireframe, and build. I see the big picture as a system made of very tiny and very integral moving parts. I dream in wireframes and personas.

I hold a masters from NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program, and I have a BFA in Photography and Imaging with a focus in digital media and culture from NYU. Get at me sometime, I love to meet new people."

[via: "A talk on systems design, machine learning, and designing with empathy in digital spaces

Caroline Sinders is an artist and user researcher at IBM Watson who works with language, robots, and machine learning. Her work focuses on the line between human intervention and algorithms."
https://twitter.com/ablerism/status/693961348724690944 ]
carolinesinders  via:ablerism  ux  ui  interaction  design  twitter  instagram  apis  research  digital  digitalculture  digitalbranding  digitalimaging  machinelearning  systemsdesign  empathy  bots  humanintervention  algorithms 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Tyler Reinhard on the Lessons Between the Lessons (with tweets) · rogre · Storify
[Update 7 Feb 2017: Additional related thoughts from Tyler Reinhard and reference to this collection here: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:54a9852bd341 ]

"one of the greatest teachers i ever had told my mom i was struggling to stay engaged so she was going to triple my workload … it worked

she probably saved my life … she’s a cashier at a department store now

in 11th grade, i was such a problem for my teacher that the principal moved me to independent study in her third grade class

she probably saved my life too

the reason schools are so terrible in this country is because we don’t treat the women who run them with any respect

i think the reason i hated school so much was because i had to watch all these powerful women helping me slowly be broken by the state

i was really lucky to have a lot of really great teachers – almost exclusively women, but they were all visibly and chronically depressed

their constant advocacy *despite* their depression was perhaps the greatest lesson … and what ultimately motivated me to drop out of school

the best english teacher i ever had gave me a C minus and inspired me to become a writer

the best social studies teacher i ever had told me i would end up in prison for my beliefs, and inspired me to become a publisher

the best math teacher i ever had gave me extra homework on september 11 2001 in case we were being invaded

the best art teacher i ever had kicked me out of class for laughing at someones painting

the best science teacher i ever had taught me how to track animals and people through the woods

my mom raised me herself, we were in poverty the whole time, and enrolled me the first publicly funded Montessori school in the country

and when i told her i wanted to drop out, she supported me …

where do all these strong constantly generous women come from

how do they endure this world?

perhaps most importantly – what can we ever do to say thank you

all of the strong women in my life who have taught me how to be a good person have also inspired me to continue living through depression

never forget that helping people see beauty and knowledge in the chaos of the world could save their life

and never forget about the people who have taken the time to show that to you

we end up holding up education as the “way out of poverty” for marginalized people of color, but we miss what is important about school

they say “go to school” as if to say “you’re going to need some skills you won’t learn at home"

but for me, a black kid in a mostly white working class rural town, school was the place where i learned how hopeless the world really was

and was taught by the women of that town how to cope with it, and push on.

all the “job skills” i developed came from my outright opposition to that hopeless world

the wisdom to identify my interest in how other people handled powerlessness and depression as a site of lifelong learning came from school.

i wrote about why i think holding school up as a means of emancipation for people of color is a bad idea: http://maskmag.com/1IPzzQp

i want to encourage the parts of early education that matter: preparing children for a grueling life of darkness by teaching them empathy

not just by instruction, but by immersion …. i empathized with my teachers, and the monumental (largely hopeless) task they took on

the fact that teachers have to sneak massive life lessons between the lines of boring teach-the-test bullshit is a powerful metaphor

because if school prepares us for work, it means that work *doesn’t matter*, but what happens at work *does*.

from that curriculum, we can see economics, politics, social issues, and technology from a totally different position

not as productive machines, but as cages.

where relationships *have to form*

how we treat the people in our lives matters more than what we do with our lives, and it doesn’t matter if you do your homework

ok i’m done. thanks for listening."
tylerreinhard  education  society  marginalization  2015  empathy  learning  howwelearn  howweteach  depression  teachers  work  labor  engagement  women  gender  advocacy  poverty  resilience  hope  beauty  knowledge  hopelessness  opposition  jobskills  wisdom  emancipation  life  living  lifelessons  whatmatters  economics  politics  socialissyes  technology  cages  relationships  kindness  homework 
december 2015 by robertogreco
An Inside Look at a Facebook Data Center - The Atlantic
"As we wrap up the tour, I finally ask a question I've been holding back all day, partly from embarrassment and partly because I expect they’ll say no. “So we have this quadcopter,” I start.

In quite possibly the weirdest near-future moment of my life, we are immediately given an answer, and it is so precise it suggests that it's an answer they've had to give before. We are told that it's totally OK to fly the drone over and around the data center we just toured, but if we go anywhere near the currently under construction parts, we will get in trouble. The construction company, they apologetically note, has a pretty strict drone policy. Later, I try to imagine the business meeting where Facebook and their contractor carefully compared drone policies. I hate the future.

[video: https://vimeo.com/146188260 ]

From this distance the scale of the data-center campus, with the just completed Phase 2 building and power substation in the background, suddenly becomes a lot more legible, and with it Facebook’s larger position in the scheme of the network. The Internet is a massive technology built on top of and piggybacking on past massive technologies, both legacy and living. Looking at the Altoona data center from a distance, I considered the extent to which Facebook is less and less a website on the Internet and more and more a telecommunications paradigm unto itself, piggybacking off of the Internet. It is as much a part of the Internet as the Internet was part of the telephone system in the days of dialup.

And this is maybe why Facebook’s forced empathy feels so uncomfortable—as a company, it continues to make decisions that suggest an assumption that Facebook isn’t so much part of the Internet as it is the natural next evolution of it. Some of its efforts intended to be in the service of a free and open Internet have at times seemed more in the service of a free and open Facebook. Instant Articles is great for improving article loads times, but it also means that users never have to leave the confines of Facebook.

Internet.org promises to connect the world, but its initial rollout in India was heavily criticized as undermining principles of net neutrality by favoring specific companies and platforms—still connecting the world, maybe, but mostly connecting the world to Facebook. To their credit, Facebook responded to this criticism by opening the Internet.org platform (awkwardly rebranded as Free Basics) to third-party developers in May of this year, although in editorials written since then Zuckerberg has defended the program as never really antithetical to net neutrality.

While Facebook taken at its best intentions doesn’t make a distinction between access to Facebook and access to the Internet, many users apparently already do. And this matters, because the kind of agency, creativity, and innovation a user has on the open Internet is very, very different from the kind that she has on Facebook.

This isn’t to say that the Internet is going to be wholly replaced by Facebook any more than the Internet “replaced” phones. We still use phones. But the Internet and the many sea changes it engendered (like smartphones) ultimately transformed a lot of the underlying fabric and infrastructure of phones to the point where it’s actually pretty hard to use a phone without also technically using the Internet, and damn near impossible to find a phone that’s actually attached to a landline.

Facebook has all the technical infrastructure and insight to become that underlying fabric of the network as we know it, harder and harder to work around. For me, for now, not being on Facebook is more inconvenience than life-altering hindrance—at its most annoying, it means I’ve sealed my spinster fate because I can’t make a Tinder account (luckily, I already have a heart of ice and refuse love at every turn). But my war-zone reporter friend pretty much can’t do her job without it, and it’s taken as a given that the News Feed algorithm dictates the kind of traffic that her stories, and my stories, receive. And if a patent acquired by Facebook in August 2015 is any indication, in the future not having a Facebook account could shape my credit score.

This isn’t to say that Facebook is doing something terrible to Internet infrastructure—OCP has been incredibly good for Internet infrastructure. Wind farms are good for Internet infrastructure. Facebook is doing really amazing, innovative work from and through their data centers, where the people who work there don’t mind reporters who are 20 minutes late and will go two hours over time to show them the ins and outs of the data center.

Maybe my anxieties of a world in which Internet infrastructure becomes just Facebook infrastructure are alarmist gripes of a curmudgeon who really likes things like Tilde Club. I don’t really know what kind of future Facebook might shape for the network, and it would be facile to assume that future is either good or bad when all technology is inherently ambivalent, despite the best of intentions. And I’m sure that the people working at Facebook have the best of intentions. The road to Share Way, I think while gazing out onto the adjacent highway, is probably paved with them."
datacenters  facebook  ingridburrington  2015  iowa  sharing  connectivity  technology  infrastructure  internet  ocp  empathy  design  engineering 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Failures of Our Global Imagination | Civicist
"The problem with first world problems, and why we need to shift the way we talk about global tech"



"It’s time to abandon the First World/Third World dichotomy. Whether or not this dichotomy was a helpful one at some point in the past, it’s no longer helpful now. The “Third World” has glittering skyscrapers and glowing smartphones, and the “First World” has decaying neighborhoods and entire swaths of the country without broadband. There are very real and important differences between rich and poor countries, and these dynamics play out at the level of international relations, all the way down to the mundane and often humiliating work of applying for visas. But this framing creates a divide that limits our capacity to understand the vast spectra of the way human beings live in the 21st century. I don’t yet have a better vocabulary for this, but I hope someone smarter than me can figure that out. For now, I do use the phrases “developing world,” “global south,” and “poor countries,” but I’d like to have a better framework. Any suggestions?

Remember the diversity of ways we use communications technology: that includes connecting with people we care about and depend on. In contrast to narratives about vanity, slacktivism, and luxury when it comes to tech in the middle-class West, so much of the conversation about technology in the global south focuses on information and practical communications, like around agricultural trends and educational material. This is good and important work. But highly pragmatic use cases are just part of the reason anyone has used communications technology. Informal markets from Asia to Africa are filled with music and movies, like a Bluetooth-powered Napster, and people are just as likely to send text messages and Facebook posts to check in with friends and loved ones as they are to access important healthcare information and market reports. These things can coexist.

Like a city, the internet and mobile phones provide for a vast diversity of human needs, which include the basic human need for companionship, support, and access to joy in the face of suffering. Fortunately, this part of the global imagination doesn’t require too much effort: Just think of how everyone you know uses technology, the number of apps, the different ways they laugh, smile, cry, and scowl at what they see behind those plates of glass.

Shifting the narrative is such a critical part of the motivation behind my work with global internet cultures, and the above are just a few ideas for how I think we can do that. But more important than trying to know everything about the world is establishing a culture of knowing that we don’t know. The assumption that we can parachute into a foreign culture with formal expertise and knowledge and make things better has never been acceptable, and it has led to a lot of unnecessary suffering, especially in colonized countries. The fact that people in marginalized parts of the world can now call out misguided attitudes and perceptions about them will go a long way, and those of us with access to media and policy can do well to amplify and extend these voices.

But it is also not possible to know every detail about other people’s lives. Attention is limited, as is time. We can learn everything we can about the day to day of rural Laos, but the conflict in Mali will seem completely opaque. Instead, it’s more important to know that we don’t know, know that we need to listen to those who have greater familiarity, and to know that there are ways to go further. Adopting an attitude of humility and curiosity can take us much farther than an attitude of assuredness and assumption. This seems to me like a good place to start—and if you have other and better ideas, I’d love to hear them."

[Also posted here: https://medium.com/@anxiaostudio/failures-of-our-global-imagination-8648b2336c2c ]
anxiaomina  firstworldproblems  internet  thirdworld  firstworld  diversity  slacktivism  vanity  luxury  technology  globalsouth  communication  asia  africa  latinamerica  mobile  phones  smartphones  selfies  advocacy  refugees  2015  privilege  narrative  empathy  thirdworldproblems 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Hayao Miyazaki - The Essence of Humanity - YouTube
[via: http://kottke.org/15/10/what-makes-a-miyazaki-film-a-miyazaki-film

"Lewis Bond takes a look at the work of master filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki and what sets him apart from other makers of animated movies, including his work's realism and empathy."]
animation  hayaomiyazaki  humanism  humanity  filmmaking  storytelling  lewisbond  empathy  realism  emotions  reality  unpredicatablity  subtlety  anime  manga  expressiveness  expressions 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Kurt Hahn - Wikipedia
"Six Declines of Modern Youth

1. Decline of Fitness due to modern methods of locomotion [moving about];
2. Decline of Initiative and Enterprise due to the widespread disease of spectatoritis;
3. Decline of Memory and Imagination due to the confused restlessness of modern life;
4. Decline of Skill and Care due to the weakened tradition of craftsmanship;
5. Decline of Self-discipline due to the ever-present availability of stimulants and tranquilizers;
6. Decline of Compassion due to the unseemly haste with which modern life is conducted or as William Temple called "spiritual death".

Hahn not only pointed out the decline of modern youth, he also came up with four antidotes to fix the problem.

1. Fitness Training (e.g., to compete with one's self in physical fitness; in so doing, train the discipline and determination of the mind through the body)
2. Expeditions (e.g., via sea or land, to engage in long, challenging endurance tasks)
3. Projects (e.g., involving crafts and manual skills)
4. Rescue Service (e.g., surf lifesaving, fire fighting, first aid)

*****

Ten Expeditionary Learning Principles
These 10 principles, which seek to describe a caring, adventurous school culture and approach to learning, were drawn[by whom?] from the ideas of Kurt Hahn and other education leaders[which?] for use in Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound (ELOB) schools.[citation needed]

1. The primacy of self-discovery
Learning happens best with emotion, challenge and the requisite support. People discover their abilities, values, passions, and responsibilities in situations that offer adventure and the unexpected. In Expeditionary Learning schools, students undertake tasks that require perseverance, fitness, craftsmanship, imagination, self-discipline, and significant achievement. A teacher’s primary task is to help students overcome their fears and discover they can do more than they think they can.

2. The having of wonderful ideas
Teaching in Expeditionary Learning schools fosters curiosity about the world by creating learning situations that provide something important to think about, time to experiment, and time to make sense of what is observed.

3. The responsibility for learning
Learning is both a personal process of discovery and a social activity. Everyone learns both individually and as part of a group. Every aspect of an Expeditionary Learning school encourages both children and adults to become increasingly responsible for directing their own personal and collective learning.

4. Empathy and caring
Learning is fostered best in communities where students’ and teachers’ ideas are respected and where there is mutual trust. Learning groups are small in Expeditionary Learning schools, with a caring adult looking after the progress and acting as an advocate for each child. Older students mentor younger ones, and students feel physically and emotionally safe.

5. Success and failure
All students need to be successful if they are to build the confidence and capacity to take risks and meet increasingly difficult challenges. But it is also important for students to learn from their failures, to persevere when things are hard, and to learn to turn disabilities into opportunities.

6. Collaboration and competition
Individual development and group development are integrated so that the value of friendship, trust, and group action is clear. Students are encouraged to compete not against each other but with their own personal best and with rigorous standards of excellence.

7. Diversity and inclusion
Both diversity and inclusion increase the richness of ideas, creative power, problem-solving ability, respect for others. In Expeditionary Learning schools, students investigate value their different histories talents as well as those of other communities cultures. Schools learning groups heterogeneous.

8. The natural world
Direct respectful relationship with the natural world refreshes the human spirit teaches[clarification needed] the important ideas of recurring cycles and cause and effect. Students learn to become stewards of the earth and of future generations.

9. Solitude and reflection
Students and teachers need time alone to explore their own thoughts, make their own connections, and create their own ideas. They also need time to exchange their reflections with others.

10. Service and compassion
We are crew, not passengers. Students and teachers are strengthened by acts of consequential service to others, and one of an Expeditionary Learning school's primary functions is to prepare students with the attitudes and skills to learn from and be of service to others."
kurthahn  outwardbound  education  experience  experientialeducation  youth  self-discovery  service  compassion  solitude  reflection  nature  diversity  inclusion  collaboration  competition  success  failure  empathy  caring  responsibility  learning  howwelearn  thinking  criticalthinking  fitness  initiative  motivation  skills  care  projectbasedlearning  inlcusivity  inclusivity  experientiallearning 
september 2015 by robertogreco
'Care for Our Common Home': Taking Up the Moral Challenge of Pope Francis – Blog – ABC Religion & Ethics (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
"The normalisation of liberal individualism and the unsustainable form of prosperity on which the West has so long relied are, of course, the crowning achievements of what Luigino Bruni calls the "grand 'immunizing' project of modernity." But this project did not simply clear away the tyranny of inherited privilege, thereby returning individuals to themselves and their own acquisitive desires. Instead, this immunity from our obligations to others - what John Rawls more prosaically called the "mutual disinterest" constitutive of the social contract - involved the radical renunciation of the munus: that obliging gift which forms the basis of the social bond that is at the heart of communitas.

In Evangelium Vitae, John Paul II captured the essence of this gift in a simple, wondrous sentence: "God entrusts us to one another." Once this munus is renounced, what follows is a hollowed out form of social life, a debased, erstaz community in which, "Everyone else is considered an enemy from whom one has to defend oneself. Thus society becomes a mass of individuals placed side by side, but without any mutual bonds. Each one wishes to assert himself independently of the other and in fact intends to make his own interests prevail."

(It is worth pointing out in passing that Pope Francis and John Paul II find an unlikely ally in Julian Savulescu, who shares their critique of the failure of liberalism to produce the kind of citizens that are willing make decisions for the good of others, especially when doing so would run counter to self-interest and immediate benefit: "This restraint of self-interest is the very opposite of the unrestrained satisfaction of it made possible by industrialization and its profusion of material goods, which brought liberal democracy into existence. Liberal democracy has so far been a politics of prosperity, and this induces doubt whether it could turn into a politics of parsimony, voluntary restraint, and decreasing welfare." As a result, Savulescu warns, "contemporary liberal democracies are in the danger of being too liberal to last.")

The great achievement of Pope Francis's encyclical is the way it explicitly deepens and extends the scope of that which has been entrusted to us: our shared environment; the wellbeing of those near and far; the wellbeing of future generations. The language of gift and of what is in common pervades the encyclical, and at once condemns the interpersonal and political indifference that has held sway over the "climate change debate" and exposes the inadequacy of purely technocratic solutions to the problem of environmental degradation.

Implicated in the pope's critique of both interpersonal indifference and a kind of technophilic solutionism is the way that social media cultivates a feeling of concern and even ethical responsibility, all the while shielding us from any real commitment to others."



"For Francis, there is simply no substitute for the recovery of a sense of deep moral obligation - of what he calls at the end of the encyclical "generous commitment" - through which we will then joyfully constrain our behaviour and redefine those benefits to which we feel we are entitled. This is particularly clear when Francis addresses the debilitating political problem of how to galvanise public support for an intergenerational problem like climate change. As Stephen Gardiner has examined at considerable length, the problem is not only that the benefits of carbon pollution are enjoyed by the present generation while the deleterious effects (or "costs") are deferred to some future generation; the iterative nature of the problem ensures that "each new generation will face the same incentive structure as soon as it gains the power to decide whether or not to act."

This, it would seem, is the brute reality behind the myth of progress, and a powerful illustration of C.S. Lewis's extraordinarily prescient claim in his 1943 book The Abolition of Man (which is a favourite of Benedict XVI, interestingly enough). Lewis was, of course, fiercely critical of that heroic liberal narrative of the " progressive emancipation from tradition and a progressive control of natural processes resulting in a continual increase of human power.""
popefrancis  2015  laudatosi'  morality  christianity  luiginobruni  modernity  capitalism  interdependence  johnrawls  juliansavulescu  popejohnpaulii  scottstephens  normawirzba  clivehamilton  celiadeane-drummond  charlescamosy  michaelstafford  via:anne  religion  climatechange  ecology  economics  technosolutionism  anthropocene  antropocentrism  individualism  generations  internet  relationships  inequality  power  cslewis  progress  technology  stephengardner  interpersonal  indifference  empathy  responsibility  socialmedia  concern  commitment 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Frans de Waal: The Bonobo and the Atheist | Chicago Humanities Festival
"Frans de Waal, recognized for his expertise on primate behavior and social intelligence, has produced some of his field’s most influential research. Having observed chimpanzees soothe distressed neighbors and bonobos share their food, he is convinced that the seeds of ethical behavior are found in primate societies. The translation to humans—their closest living relatives—is a natural step: are we by nature selfish and aggressive, or cooperative and peace-loving, and how have these traits evolved? Join him for a far-ranging exploration of the origins of morality."
fransdewaal  morality  religion  science  ethics  behavior  2015  via:anne  primates  animals  charlesdarwin  bonobos  conflictresolution  chimpanzees  darwin  reconciliation  cats  domesticcats  mammals  emotions  social  empathy  atheism  multispecies 
may 2015 by robertogreco
On Kindness | Practical Theory
"“There’s only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”

— Kurt Vonnegut, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

Tonight, a bunch of people I know, like and respect shared yet another video on Facebook of someone accidentally making a fool of themselves. The people who shared it were other educators, some SLA students, folks I know from other parts of my life… folks from across the myriad pathways of my life. I can only imagine how many times that video has been seen across the world by now.

For whatever reason, tonight, that made me really sad. I wondered what those people would think if that was their student, their parent, their child, their sibling. We’ve become callous to the people in those videos, to the people behind the screen, and maybe too many of us are callous to the people we see in person every day.

Certainly, Schadenfreude is nothing new. People have long gotten pleasure in the suffering of others. But that doesn’t make it right.

More than anything else in this world, I value kindness – real kindness where we extend ourselves to others simply because we can.

Kindness is more than being nice. Kindness requires empathy. It requires listening. It actually requires asking people what they need – not giving them what we think they need, but listening to their needs and acting upon them.

When we engage in true kindness, we must remove the space between us and those around us. We must learn to not treat people as “The Other.” We must enter into what Martin Buber called the “I and Thou” relationship. And it means we must acknowledge that other people are as important as we are.

I want to live in a world where people think about being kind as a reflex. I want to see schools where students, teachers, administrators are willing to see each other, listen to each other, and treat each other with kindness and care.

I truly believe that if we can build schools that operate first and foremost from a place of kindness that our kids can build a world that does as well. Our students will learn what we teach, what we model, what we live. Could there be anything more powerful than seeing our students go out and change the world to a place where people truly cared for one another?

As Mr. Vonnegut said, “God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”"
chrislehmann  kindness  2015  education  schools  teaching  humanism  empathy  martinbuber  kurtvonnegut  schadenfreude  behavior  vonnegut 
may 2015 by robertogreco
The American Scholar: Empathy for Inanimate Objects - Josie Glausiusz
"“Watch this poor, abused, washing machine go completely insane and explode,” urges the technology website Gizmodo. Over the next three or so minutes, a videographer, “Aussie50,” inserts a heavy piece of metal into the drum of a front-loading washer and activates its spin cycle. The machine hammers itself to death: its door flies open, the back falls off, wires twist loose, and finally the washer lies deconstructed on the ground. “Best washer-kill ever,” says Aussie50, tittering.

I showed the video to a friend, who said he felt sorry for the machine and asked why it deserved to be destroyed? That empathic reaction makes me wonder why humans feel pity for inanimate objects.

Some insight into this question comes from Astrid M. Rosenthal-von der Pütten, a social psychologist at the University of Duisberg-Essen in Germany. She and her research team have published two studies analyzing how humans respond when a robot is tortured.

In the first study, she divided 41 participants into two groups. Group One watched a two-minute video of a person in a black sweater choking and beating a robot dinosaur, Pleo, as it emitted sounds of suffering, including crying. Group Two watched a two-minute video of Pleo being stroked and fed as it sang, purred, and babbled. The Group One subjects felt significant pity for the robot and anger at the torturer when the robot was tormented; they also experienced higher “physiological arousal,” a measure of human “fight or flight” response.

In the second experiment, published in 2014, Rosenthal-von der Pütten and her team employed brain-scanning to examine how 14 participants would respond to videos of a human, a robot (Pleo), and an inanimate object (a green box) being tortured or treated nicely. Activation of neurons in the brain’s limbic system—areas that process emotions such as anger, happiness, or fear—was similar when robots and humans were treated affectionately. Subjects showed significantly more empathy and emotional distress, however, when the human was abused, as compared to the robot.

Do humans feel empathy for robots because they seem humanlike or, as in the case of the robot-dino, because it appears to suffer when mistreated, as do live animals? “I think, to some extent robots activate the same mechanisms of empathetic processes” that humans do, Rosenthal-von der Pütten responded to my question via email, “but there are not enough studies to draw concrete conclusions. But one can say that the human likeness of robots (in terms of their appearance and of their behavior) plays a role.”

If that is the case, why would anyone feel empathy for a washing machine, which doesn’t seem human at all? Rosenthal-von der Pütten said she is “not aware of any study investigating empathy in the context of non-robotic machines” and cannot explain what the underlying brain mechanisms might be. But one clue, I believe, comes from the studies of Swiss child psychologist Jean Piaget. He noted that children go through a stage of “animistic thinking,” in which they imbue inanimate objects with human emotions; or, as my four-year-old son recently said, “the tiny tractor is tired so he is not scooping up.”

Perhaps adults’ feelings for wasted washers and other non-living matter are a residue of childhood. Or maybe we express empathy because we see what a waste of resources it is to shatter a decent device. Possibly, as we watch the wanton destruction, we intuit the human care with which it was created."
objects  empathy  josieglausiusz  2015  pleo  technology  astridrosenthal-vonerpütten  robots  machines  destruction  waste  care  caring 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Insights: K-HOLE, New York — Insights: K-HOLE, New York — Channel — Walker Art Center
"K-HOLE exists in multiple states at once: it is both a publication and a collective; it is both an artistic practice and a consulting firm; it is both critical and unapologetically earnest. Its five members come from backgrounds as varied as brand strategy, fine art, web development, and fashion, and together they have released a series of fascinating PDF publications modeled upon corporate trend forecasting reports. These documents appropriate the visuals of PowerPoint, stock photography, and advertising and exploit the inherent poetry in the purposefully vague aphorisms of corporate brand-speak. Ultimately, K-HOLE aspires to utilize the language of trend forecasting to discuss sociopolitical topics in depth, exploring the capitalist landscape of advertising and marketing in a critical but un-ironic way.

In the process, the group frequently coins new terms to articulate their ideas, such as “Youth Mode”: a term used to describe the prevalent attitude of youth culture that has been emancipated from any particular generation; the “Brand Anxiety Matrix”: a tool designed to help readers understand their conflicted relationships with the numerous brands that clutter their mental space on a daily basis; and “Normcore”: a term originally used to describe the desire not to differentiate oneself, which has since been mispopularized (by New York magazine) to describe the more specific act of dressing neutrally to avoid standing out. (In 2014, “Normcore” was named a runner-up by Oxford University Press for “Neologism of the Year.”)

Since publishing K-HOLE, the collective has taken on a number of unique projects that reflect the manifold nature of their practice, from a consulting gig with a private equity firm to a collaboration with a fashion label resulting in their own line of deodorant. K-HOLE has been covered by a wide range of publications, including the New York Times, Fast Company, Wired UK, and Mousse.

Part of Insights 2015 Design Lecture Series."

[direct link to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7GkMPN5f5cQ ]
k-hole  consumption  online  internet  communication  burnout  normcore  legibility  illegibility  simplicity  technology  mobile  phones  smartphones  trends  fashion  art  design  branding  brands  socialmedia  groupchat  texting  oversharing  absence  checkingout  aesthetics  lifestyle  airplanemode  privilege  specialness  generations  marketing  trendspotting  coping  messaging  control  socialcapital  gregfong  denayago  personalbranding  visibility  invisibility  identity  punk  prolasticity  patagonia  patience  anxietymatrix  chaos  order  anxiety  normality  abnormality  youth  millennials  individuality  box1824  hansulrichobrist  alternative  indie  culture  opposition  massindie  williamsburg  simoncastets  digitalnatives  capitalism  mainstream  semiotics  subcultures  isolation  2015  walkerartcenter  maxingout  establishment  difference  89plus  basicness  evasion  blandness  actingbasic  empathy  indifference  eccentricity  blankness  tolerance  rebellion  signalling  status  coolness  aspiration  connections  relationships  presentationofself  understanding  territorialism  sociology  ne 
march 2015 by robertogreco
VINCIANE DESPRET: Lecture (part 1 of 2) - YouTube
"WHERE ARE WE GOING, WALT WHITMAN?

An ecosophical roadmap for artists and other futurists

Conference -- festival that took place from 12--15 March, 2013 at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam.

Gabriëlle Schleijpen, head of Studium Generale Rietveld Academie invited Anselm Franke, Binna Choi, Carolyn Christof - Bakargiev, Natasha Ginwala and Vivian Ziherl to each inaugurate a discursive and performative program of one day.

Friday March 15

POIESIS OF WORLDING

Bringing together research, art, and various approaches and concerns relating to ecology, artist Ayreen Anastas, author, researcher, organiser of events and exhibitions, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, writer, philosopher and ethologist Vinciane Despret, artist Rene Gabri, artist and rural sociologist Fernando García-Dory and interdisciplinary artist Marcos Lutyens explored collectively what a 'poiesis of worlding' could involve. What could be a process of re-apprehending and re-animating worlds which our current systems of knowledge and understanding exclude? And how do such foreclosures relate to some of the most pressing challenges of our time? Departing from a lecture program by playing with predefined lecture protocols and later opening a space for shared doing-thinking, the day's journey was split into two parts which were sewn together by a collective hypnosis.

http://wherearewegoingwaltwhitman.rietveldacademie.nl/
http://gerritrietveldacademie.nl/en/ "

[part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vD77gU0XjMk]
vincianedespret  animals  storytelling  2013  via:anne  ethology  ecosophy  perspective  science  pov  multispecies  empathy  knowing  waysofknowing  waltwhitman  agency  poiesis  worlding  interdisciplinary  art  arts  ayreenanastas  meaning  meaningmaking  carolynchristov-bakargiev  perception  renegabri  fernandogarcía-dory  marcoslutyens  knowledge  future  futurism  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  worldbuilding  being  feeling  seeing  constructivism  richarddawkins  theselfishgene 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Teacher Tom: "You Want Mommy To Come Back"
"Sometimes mommy has to leave and you don't want her to leave. 

When I started teaching, I was a distractor. In fact, I considered myself a master distractor. I had every confidence that I could calm any kid down in less than five minutes through a combination of goofing, enthusiasm, and "Look what those kids are doing over there!" Today, I'm more inclined to simply sit with a crying child, to listen to any words they might be trying to say, to show warmth and empathy, to assure them that mommy always comes back, and to allow them the full arc of their strong emotion. Most kids still stop crying in less than five minutes, but that's no longer the goal now that my priority is their feelings rather than my discomfort with their feelings.

So when mommy left last Friday, when he reached out to mommy as she walked away, when he screamed and cried and pulled himself from my arms, when he dropped to the floor to kick his feet in outrage, I sat there with him, blocking out the whole world but him.

I could hear he was saying words as he screamed, but they weren't at first discernible, so I said, "You're mad that mommy left," and "You're sad that mommy left." No one can truly tell another how they feel, but I was pretty sure I was close to the mark in this case. He was still saying the words through his tears, repeating them. Finally, I thought I made out, "I want mommy to come back."

I wanted him to know that he had been heard, that I understood and empathized, and I wanted it to be something that was true, so I said, "I want your mommy to come back too."

He shout-cried at me, "I want mommy to come back!"

I nodded. I worked on keeping my voice gentle. I said, "I want your mommy to come back too."

And he said back, "I want mommy to come back!"

We went back and forth like this several times. He seemed to really wanted me to know that he wanted his mommy to come back.

Other children tried to sooth him: one girl brought him a costume, another tried to hand him a construction paper fire truck. He didn't accept their overtures, although he was by now present enough to shake his head "no" at them rather than simply scream as he was doing at me.

By now he was very clearly saying, "I want mommy to come back!" And I was replying, "I want your mommy to come back too," to which he always shout-cried back, "I want mommy to come back!"

I continued to attempt to put a name to his feelings, using words like "mad," "sad," and "angry," as well as to state the truth that "mommy always comes back." But whenever I said, "I want your mommy to come back too," he shouted at me, "I want mommy to come back!"

Then, finally, I really heard him. He said, "I want mommy to come back!" stressing the pronoun for his tin-eared teacher.

This time I answered, "You want mommy to come back."

He nodded as if to say, "Finally," and in one motion picked himself from the floor, stepped up to the art table, still crying, and got to work gluing construction paper shapes to a red fire truck pre-cut, his hands not fully under his own control. As he wadded and creased the paper, it looked almost as if he were wrestling with it, his fingers clenching and curling from the emotion that was still coursing through his whole body.

After a couple minutes, he became silent as he concentrated on manipulating the small pieces of paper, the last of his strong emotion going into this construction project.

I said one more time, "You want mommy to come back." This time he ignored me."
2015  tomhobson  teaching  howweteach  emotions  empathy  listening  learning  howwelearn  children  feelings 
march 2015 by robertogreco
LEARNING COMMITMENTS
"Learning is Playful – A program infused with creative thinking, is rich with opportunities for artistic expression, imaginative thinking and allows time for experimentation and play. An education that takes advantage of the accidental, forges connections between the disparate, is elastic with opportunity, adapts to circumstances and is sometimes spontaneous and messy.

Learning is Deliberate – A program that is intentional, challenging and  purposeful, that attends to the developmental needs of children and is aligned with student outcomes. A program that draws on the elements of design thinking (empathy, integrative thinking, optimism, experimentation, collaboration) to ensure our students are ready for the world of their future. An education that affords a broad-based foundation of academic pursuit and scholarship and prepares students for success as lifelong learners.

Learning is Social – A program that understands that learning is a social process and that collaboration, partnership, teamwork and sharing confer purpose and meaning. An education that develops community and students as educated stewards, followers, leaders and difference makers in their worlds

Learning is Active – A program that is built around learners constructing their knowledge; that is intellectually and physically active, project based and inquiry driven. An education for the mind and body centered on curiosity, engagement, activity and learning by doing.

Learning is Relevant – A program based in and connected to real world circumstances and needs. An education that is authentic and personally meaningful.

Learning is Empathetic – A program that respects and values every child. An education that develops relationships, caring for others, service, a sense of compassion and social and emotional health and awareness.

Learning is Permeable – A program that is open, interactive, shared and connected. An education that is transdisciplinary, globally-aware, and connected with the ecosystem of a learning world at school and beyond.

Learning is Deep – A program that fosters deep expertise and immersive exploration of subject matter. An education that is strengths-focused, experiential, passion-driven.

Learning is Self-Correcting – A program founded on a growth mind-set where every child sets ambitious horizons for success; that teaches neuroplasticity and the science of the brain and knows that failures today do not dictate or preclude future achievements. An education for change that develops persistence and resilience where intellectual risk-taking, trial and error, mistakes and failure are signs of progress, and that what matters is how we move forward and the ends we pursue."

[See also: http://www.josieholford.com/a-new-tool/
via: http://www.josieholford.com/surprise/ ]
learning  education  poughkeepsiedayschool  play  howwelearn  josieholford  lcproject  social  openstudioproject  unschooling  deschooling  relevance  empathy  depth 
march 2015 by robertogreco
2, 6: Neighborhoods, the Anti-Algorithm
"So what does this have to do with my neighborhood?

G.K. Chesterton, in a collection of essays titled Heretics, wrote:
"The man who lives in a small community lives in a much larger world. He knows much more of the fierce variety and uncompromising divergences of men…In a large community, we can choose our companions. In a small community, our companions are chosen for us. Thus in all extensive and highly civilized society groups come into existence founded upon sympathy, and shut out the real world more sharply than the gates of a monastery."

That was 1905. Long before the internet would give us the largest community of all. Yet, the oft-cited "filter bubble" of the internet is Chesterton's community of choice. The easy community. The one that just happens because we want what we want. And in a less troubled world, that wouldn't be much to fuss about. But in our world, the "filter bubble" is dangerous. It makes fear, hatred, and oppression all the more abundant, both online and off. Before the internet, we called "filter bubbles" segregation. We call them "filter bubbles" now because its easier to see them as a manifestation of technology than the effect of our choices. Because if we saw them for what they truly are, we'd have to call them segregation again. We thought we left that behind. But, no, we haven't. Segregation, of every kind, is the entropy against which we all struggle, the product of bodies living in time, wired down to our cells to survive at all costs, responding to their loudest signal, fear. Chesterton understood that the principal challenge we humans are given to work out in this life is each other, and that nowhere better than next door is that challenge met.

But in Facebook's world, next-door has no greater offer of intimacy than across town, or state, or country. In the large community, as Chesterton said, we can choose our companions. That's the appeal of the network. Community on my terms. Forget that we know it's not good for us. Or that it's dangerous. Forget that it's a shinier, faster form of segregation. Forget that it's invisible and layered, making it easier to explain away. None of this is Facebook's fault. If it wasn't them, then it would be AOL, or Friendster, or MySpace, or any of the many networks that came before it. We can't blame them — any of them — for segregation, however technological its 21st century incarnation may be. But we can blame them for selling it. The economic benefit of segregation is nothing new; it makes selling things easier. But segregation is Facebook's secret sauce. It's an economic imperative. Like just about every "platform" of the internet today, it is ruthlessly driven to box each one of us in. To confine us to an echo-chamber. Not for our own benefit, but for theirs. Because it makes it easier for them to control us. And no, not to usher in some dramatic, Illuminati-style new world order. It's hardly that interesting! It's to sell tiny display ads and make heaps of money. That's it. Controlling us is simply an act of inventory management.

Of course, it's easy to look past all of this. To point at the good that thrives on the network — and of that, there is plenty. The lonely who are no longer lonely because of it. The oppressed who grow more powerful when bound together. But to celebrate the network's role in that only heightens my awareness that it is something we could have — should have — without it. It's too easy, also, to celebrate the engines of our ingenuity. See this? Look what we have made! But that we are as enamored with the algorithm as we so clearly are is an indicator that our hearts are way out of sync with our minds. We have engineered such sophisticated tools for connecting, ordering, and studying ourselves; it's an astounding achievement. It's one we might even celebrate if it were truly an open project for the common good. But it isn't. Not even close. So why do we pretend that it is? The network is not ours. It's the other way around. We are the network's. To sell. That is, unless we get off the network. Or at least spend a whole lot less time there.

My neighbors have convinced me that community is not only of the network. Saying such a thing sounds trite. But it's another thing entirely to live it. Here's an example: Last year, the doctor and his wife down the street decided to organize weekly neighborhood dinners. Each Sunday evening, someone hosts dinner for the neighborhood. When I first heard the idea, I was aghast. Weekly! As in, every week? No, I thought, monthly, maybe. But we went to a few, then we hosted one of our own — which wasn't nearly as much work as we thought it would be — and we've regularly gone to most of the others since. It's not obligatory. It's not like if you go to one, you must go to them all. Or even that if you go to one, you must host one. Few people have gone to every dinner, but many of us have gone to most of them. And many of us have hosted one.

Spending this time together — committing to it — is how the work gets done, not the Facebook group. It's through being together, in each other's homes, in real life. Don't get me wrong, it's no utopia. People get on each other's nerves. Not everyone will become best friends. We're talking about people here. But that's the point. The network can't sell that. It can sell our attention, but the less of our lives we live on the network, the less our attention feels like us. That's the control we still have. Eventually, hopefully, leveraging that control could change the economics of the network. Consider the neighborhood the anti-algorithm."
2015  chrisbutler  facebook  socialnetworks  gkchesterson  difference  filterbubbles  algorithms  neighborhoods  discovery  community  communities  understanding  empathy  small  attention  feeds  segregation  diversity  technology  separation  togetherness  companionship  sympathy 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Mary Oliver — Listening to the World | On Being
"Often quoted, but rarely interviewed, Mary Oliver is one of our greatest and most beloved poets. At 79, she honors us with an intimate conversation on the wisdom of the world, the salvation of poetry, and the life behind her writing."



"You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place in the family of things."

[Spoken: https://soundcloud.com/onbeing/wild-geese-by-mary-oliver ]
maryoliver  onbeing  wisdom  poetry  2015  poems  writing  place  religion  rumi  spirituality  life  living  howwewrite  discipline  creativity  language  process  staugustine  attention  reporting  empathy  fieldguides  clarity  death  god  belief  cancer  kindness  goodness  nature  prayer  loneliness  imagination  geese  animals  slow  posthumanism 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Pray the Gay Way — The Archipelago — Medium
"But GCN was ultimately about attempting to reconcile these rifts within the community, and even the rift between queer Christians and people like Westboro. On Sunday morning, the director, Justin Lee, argued that “loving your enemies” means not just abstractly forgiving hateful protesters, but listening to the perspectives of political and personal enemies in our families and congregations. Thus it is GCN’s responsibility to reach WBC protesters, Southern Baptist leaders, Focus on the Family, Leelah Alcorn’s parents. I think this is a dangerous message to deliver to people who have been abused. But I do admire the spirit of the big tent, of committing to coming together, however uncomfortably.

Since the conference, I’ve read posts about how GCN was a revelation to many people, a first or only affirming space — it was home, family, church. For me, the weekend was an exercise in empathy, but empathy is not necessarily belonging.

Church folks have a tendency to think that “being made one in Christ” erases our differences, but in fact it means that we have an even greater responsibility to understand our diversity, so that we can truly be one body with different parts. It’s more clear to me after the conference that I don’t need to belong in “the LGBT Christian community” to stand with my siblings in God who have been hurt by the church and are trying to find their place there. My religion and sexuality are important parts of my identity, but not the only ones, or even the ones that have most strongly guided my life experiences. I’m an adult convert who was never raised to believe that God’s promises are contingent on my being “fixed.” I have plenty of white and upper middle class and cisgender privilege. I am firmly planted in progressive secular society and in mostly-welcoming church communities. I was fortunate not to feel at home at GCN — because the rest of the world is a much more welcoming place for me.

On Sunday morning, the conference tried out a more liturgical worship service. (I sang in the choir, the only choir I have ever sung with in thirty years of choral singing that had more men than women.) Sheet music was projected on giant screens so that conference-goers could sing along — but one hymn was missing a page. Fifteen hundred people just kept singing “la la la.” We didn’t know the words, but we could still sing together."
suzannefischer  2015  gcn  sexuality  christianity  community  empathy  difference  differences  inclusion  worship  privilege  diversity  religion  affirmation  listening  inlcusivity  inclusivity 
february 2015 by robertogreco
I don’t know what to do, you guys | Fredrik deBoer
[See also the notes in this bookmark, which reference this article at one point: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:13419c858fc0 ]

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

Here are some things that are also true.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[also posted here: http://qz.com/335941/im-fed-up-with-political-correctness-and-the-idea-that-everyone-should-already-be-perfect/ ]
freddiedeboer  politics  politicalcorrectness  discourse  2015  culture  pc  jonathanchait  liberalism  liberals  amandataub  megangarber  alexpareene  left  patriarchy  marginaalization  weirdtwitter  gender  race  ableism  racism  sexism  homophobia  inclusion  exclusion  intersectionalpolitics  progressivism  debate  discussion  prohibition  allies  kindness  empathy  inlcusivity  inclusivity 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Global Lives Project - A Video Library of Life ExperiencesGlobal Lives Project
"The Global Lives Project is a video library of life experience, designed to cultivate empathy across cultures. We curate an ever-expanding collection of films that faithfully capture 24 continuous hours in the lives of individuals from around the world. We explore the diversity of human experience through the medium of video, and encourage discussion, reflection, and inquiry about the wide variety of cultures, ethnicities, languages, and religions on this planet. Our goal is to foster empathy and cross-cultural understanding.

Our new web presence is possible thanks to generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts and design firm Method. Allowing visitors to engage with and become participants in the Global Lives Project, this advanced web interface is vital to transforming Global Lives’ exhibit design into an interactive video installation. Please stay tuned as we iron out kinks and continue to launch features in the coming months."

[via: https://twitter.com/robinsloan/status/558686720955125760
"This → http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/23/business/media/vice-uses-virtual-reality-to-immerse-viewers-in-news.html … makes me think of the Global Lives Project, which might be amazing as VR: http://globallives.org/ " ]
global  international  documentary  film  globalization  culture  globallives  immersion  video  diversity  empathy  vr  understanding  virtualreality 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Sara Wachter-Boettcher | Personal Histories
"1. Ask only for what I need.
There are lots of reasons companies want data about their customers or users, but a good many of them come down to marketing: How can I gather information that helps me more effectively sell you things?

There’s a difference between nice-to-have and mission-critical information. And too often, we force users to provide things we really don’t need—things they might not even have, or don’t want to tell us.

We talk a lot about being user-centered in the way we design and write. But how often do we assess—truly assess—how much we need from a person for them to use our products or services? How often do we prioritize our dreams of better user data, more accurate profiles, more “personalization”?

2. Work on their clock, not mine.
It wasn’t a problem that the German government asked about my family members—I’m proving my nationality, after all. But it came as a surprise; it threw me somewhere I hadn’t intended to go right then, and it took me a couple minutes to regain my bearings and move on.

Paper doesn’t mind the wait, but websites often do: they make it impossible to start a form and then save it for later. They time out. They’re impatient as all hell.

I suspect it’s because our industry has long prioritized speed: the one-click purchase. The real-time update. The instant download. And speed is helpful quite often—who doesn’t want a page to load as fast as possible?

But speed doesn’t mean the same thing as ease.

Margot Bloomstein has spoken recently about slowing our content roll—about slowing down the pace of our content to help users have a more memorable and successful experience.

What if we looked at ways to optimize interactions not just for speed, but also for flexibility—for a user to be able to complete steps on their own terms? When might it help someone to be able to pause, to save their progress, to skip a question and come back to it at the end?

What would a more forgiving interface look like?

3. Allow for complexity.
I didn’t need to explain my might-have-been older brother’s backstory to the German government. But in my doctor’s form, that complexity mattered to me—and a simple binary wasn’t nearly enough space for me to feel comfortable.

As interface-makers, what might seem simple to us could be anything but to our users. What can we do to allow for that complexity? Which what-ifs have we considered? What spaces do they create?

Take gender. I have qualms about many of Facebook’s practices, but they’ve done this well. Rather than a binary answer, you can now customize your gender however you’d like.

[image]

Facebook's gender selector showing Male, Female, and Custom options
You can also choose how you want to be addressed—as he, she, or they.

[image]

Facebook's pronoun selector showing they as the selected pronoun
We could call users who identify as something other than “male” or “female” an edge case—Why muck up our tidy little form fields and slow down the process to make space for them?

Or we could call them human.

4. Communicate what happens next.
One of my favorite details in Facebook’s gender settings is that little alert message that pops up before you confirm a setting change:
Your preferred pronoun is Public and can be seen by anyone.

I don’t care who knows what my preferred pronoun is. But I’m not a trans teen trying to negotiate the complex public-private spaces of the internet. I’m not afraid of my parents’ or peers’ reactions. I’m lucky.

Whether it’s an immediate announcement to a user’s social circle that they’ve changed their status or a note in their file about sexual assault that every doctor will ask about forever, users deserve to know what happens when they enter information—where it goes, who will see it, and how it will be used.

5. Above all, be kind.
When you approach your site design with a crisis-driven persona, you WILL see things differently.

Eric Meyer

Most of us aren’t living the worst-case scenario most of the time. But everyone is living. And that’s often hard enough.

How would our words change if we were writing for someone in crisis? Would our language soften? Would we ask for less? Would we find simpler words to use, cut those fluffy paragraphs, get to the point sooner? Would we make it easier to contact a human?

Who else might that help?

Humility. Intention. Empathy. Clarity. These concepts are easy enough to understand, but they take work to get right. As writers and strategists and designers, that’s our job. It’s up to us to think through those what-ifs and recognize that, at every single moment—both by what we say and what we do not say—we are making communication choices that affect the way our users feel, the tenor of the conversation we’re having, the answers we’ll get back, and the ways we can use that information.

Most of the choices aren’t inherently wrong or right. The problem is when our intentions are fuzzy, our choices unacknowledged, their implications never examined."
design  interface  inclusion  accessibility  humility  difference  intention  empathy  clarity  communication  purpose  kindness  ux  contentstrategy  gender  content  2015  sarawachter-boettcher  privacy  complexity  binary  inlcusivity  inclusivity 
january 2015 by robertogreco
infed.org | Nel Noddings, the ethics of care and education
[See also: http://infed.org/mobi/caring-in-education/
http://infed.org/mobi/friendship-and-education/

"Nel Noddings, the ethics of care and education, Nel Noddings is well known for her work around the ethics of caring, however, she has also added significantly to theory and practice more broadly in education. Here we explore her contribution."



"Caring

Nel Noddings is closely identified with the promotion of the ethics of care, – the argument that caring should be a foundation for ethical decision-making. Her first major work Caring (1984) explored what she described as a ‘feminine approach to ethics and moral education’.Her argument starts from the position that care is basic in human life – that all people want to be cared for (Noddings 2002: 11). She also starts from the position that while men and women are guided by an ethic of care, ‘natural’ caring – ‘a form of caring that does not require an ethical effort to motivate it (although it may require considerable physical and mental effort in responding to needs)’ can have a significant basis in women’s experience (ibid.: 2). ‘Natural caring’, thus, is a moral attitude – ‘a longing for goodness that arises out of the experience or memory of being cared for’ (Flinders 2001: 211). On this basis Nel Noddings explores the notion of ethical caring – ‘a state of being in relation, characterized by receptivity, relatedness and engrossment’ (op. cit.).

Sympathy

What caring actually means and entails is not that easy to establish. Nel Noddings’ approach is to examine how caring is actually experienced (what we might describe as a phenomenological analysis). She asks “what are we like” when we engage in caring encounters? ‘Perhaps the first thing we discover about ourselves’, she continues, ‘is that we are receptive; we are attentive in a special way’ (Noddings 2002: 13). This attention shares some similarities with what Carl Rogers describes as ‘empathy’ (see Carl Rogers. core conditions and education). However, Noddings is cautious as ‘empathy’ is ‘peculiarly western and masculine’ in its Western usage (op. cit.). Instead she prefers to talk about ‘sympathy’ – feeling with – as more nearly capturing ‘the affective state of attention in caring’ (ibid.: 14).

Receptive attention is an essential characteristic of a caring encounter. The carer is open to what the cared-for is saying and might be experiencing and is able to reflect upon it. However, there is also something else here – motivational displacement. In other words, the carer’s ‘motive energy’ flows towards the ‘cared-for’. The carer thus responds to the cared-for in ways that are, hopefully, helpful. For this to be called ‘caring’ a further step is required – there must also be some recognition on the part of the cared-for that an act of caring has occurred. Caring involves connection between the carer and the cared-for and a degree of reciprocity; that is to say that both gain from the encounter in different ways and both give.

A caring encounter, thus, has three elements according to Nel Noddings:

1. A cares for B – that is A’s consciousness is characterized by attention and motivational displacement – and
2. A performs some act in accordance with (1), and
4. B recognizes that A cares for B. (Noddings 2002: 19)

We could say that a caring person ‘is one who fairly regularly establishes caring relations and, when appropriate maintains them over time’ (op, cit.).

Caring-about and caring-for

Nel Noddings helpfully, also, highlights the distinction between caring-for and caring-about. Thus far, we have been looking largely at caring-for – face-to-face encounters in which one person cares directly for another. Caring-about is something more general – and takes us more into the public realm. We may be concerned about the suffering of those in poor countries and wish to do something about it (such as giving to a development charity). As Noddings initially put it, caring-about involves ‘a certain benign neglect’. She continued, ‘One is attentive just so far. One assents with just so much enthusiasm. One acknowledges. One affirms. One contributes five dollars and goes on to other things’ (Noddings 1984: 112). However, in her later works Nel Noddings has argued that caring-about needs more attention. We learn first what it means to be cared-for. ‘Then, gradually, we learn both to care for and, by extension, to care about others’ (Noddings 2002: 22). This caring-about, Noddings argues, is almost certainly the foundation for our sense of justice.
The key, central to care theory, is this: caring-about (or, perhaps a sense of justice) must be seen as instrumental in establishing the conditions under which caring-for can flourish. Although the preferred form of caring is cared-for, caring-about can help in establishing, maintaining, and enhancing it. Those who care about others in the justice sense must keep in mind that the objective is to ensure that caring actually occurs. Caring-about is empty if it does not culminate in caring relations. (Noddings 2002: 23-4)
From this we can see that caring-about is a significant force in society. As well as being an important feature of our sense of justice, it also contributes to the cultivation of social capital. We learn to care-about, according to Nel Noddings, through our experience of being cared-for. Instead of starting with an ideal state or republic, care theory starts with an ideal home and moves outward – ‘learning first what it means to be cared for, then to care for intimate others, and finally to care about those we cannot care for directly’ (Noddings 2002: 31).

Caring, schooling and education

Nel Noddings sees education (in its widest sense) as being central to the cultivation of caring in society. She defines education as ‘a constellation of encounters, both planned and unplanned, that promote growth through the acquisition of knowledge, skills, understanding and appreciation’ (Noddings 2002: 283). Given the above, it is not surprising that she places a special emphasis on the home as a site for educational encounter. Indeed, she views the home as the primary educator and argues for the re-orientation of social policy to this end. This is not to sideline the role of schools but simply to recognize just what the home contributes to the development of children and young people.

As soon as we view the home as the primary educator two major things follow in terms of social policy. These are that first, every child should ‘live in a home that has at least adequate material resources and attentive love; and second, that schools should include education for home life in their curriculum’ (Noddings 2002: 289). Both of these recommendations have far reaching consequences. For example, in the case of the first, while some governments have attempted to ensure that there are something like adequate material resources in homes where there are children, there is little evidence of policymakers seriously grappling with how attentive love might be fostered. Similarly, the question of education for home life is not normally addressed in anything like an adequate form. Indeed, the whole orientation of schooling systems in most ‘advanced capitalist’ countries is toward skilling for the needs of business and the economy. Some attention is paid to personal, social and life education – but it generally remains woefully inadequate when set against the demands of care theory. A further significant element here is the direction of a great deal of educational philosophy and theory. For example, John Dewey talks about education in terms of preparation for ‘public life’. While it is possible to see what place education for home life might have in this (and the extent to which caring-for is linked to the cultivation of caring-about) the way in which education is often discussed in terms of public life can be seen as not taking full account of what might be needed for personal flourishing.

A third element can also be seen as following from viewing the home as the primary educator, that ‘schools should, as far as possible, use the sort of methods found in best homes to educate’ (Noddings 2002: 289). This has far reaching consequences and takes us into the arena of informal education – and the appreciation and facility to move beyond understandings of education that are centred around notions such as curriculum into more conversational and incidental forms."



"Caring and reciprocity. Some might view the emphasis on caring (especially in the context of formal education) as both presenting a range of potential conflicts with professional frames of reference and as possibly patronizing. In the case of the former, there has been a general movement away from more affective and expressive language to describe the tasks that teachers and other welfare professionals undertake. A parallel example here has been the retreat from the language of friendship in education. In significant part such issues come down to the context in which the frame of reference is formed. What is ‘professional’ in one context may not be viewed as such in another – and this is rather more a matter of political and philosophical orientation than of anything intrinsically problematic about the notion of care. As to the latter – the charge of ‘caring’ being potentially patronizing or one-sided in its experience – Nel Noddings answers this by placing a strong emphasis, as we have seen, on reciprocity. This means that caring is a relation involving dialogue and exchange. Both can learn and gain from the experience; both can appeal to principle. However, this focus on reciprocity is far from simple. As David J. Finders (2001: 211) has pointed out, in unequal relationships (such as student-teacher) things can become complex. ‘Issues of time, intensity and situational variations also have to be worked out, as do questions of … [more]
nelnoddings  education  schools  teaching  pedagogy  care  caring  ethics  howweteach  learning  schooling  attention  empathy  society  modeling  dialog  practice  praxis  reciprocity  professionalism  friendship 
january 2015 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
You Are Asking The Wrong Questions About Education Technology
"Education technology is trendy. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t read an article or have a conversation in which someone makes the familiar argument that “education is the one industry that hasn’t embraced the technologies of the 21st Century.” The world has changed–so the story goes–and while business has adapted, school hasn’t.

It sounds convincing. We should certainly embrace tools and technologies that will help educators become more impactful. But we should do it because it works, not for the sake of modern humanity’s obsession with progress, newness, innovation, and disruption. These buzzwords of the industrial age, let’s remember, paved the road that led to the current landscape of education.

The very notion of education as an industry is problematic. School is about transmitting values and principles from one generation to the next, not skillfully organizing labor toward productivity. Education is the child-rearing activity of civilization. We nurture our young into reflective citizens by teaching them the social and epistemological agreements of an increasingly global collective. Educators need to understand that reading, writing, and arithmetic are primarily just mutually agreed upon languages through which we make meaning out of human experience. These disciplines are essentially useful, but only fashionably industrial. That is to say: the languages themselves have much more longevity than the current applications.

For industry, however, applicability is always prioritized over ideology. Thus, running schools according to the wisdom of the business world is precisely the thought paradigm which led to the high stakes testing procedures that currently plague the United States. We account for learning outcomes as if they were profit margins. We measure the dividends returned on technology and infrastructure investments. We see children as industrial resources evaluated according to their ability to download ‘workplace skills.’ And for some bizarre reason–and despite all evidence to the contrary–we continue to expect that these metrics will somehow correlate with intelligent, ethical, and responsible adult individuals. We’ve chosen the wrong perspective.

Implicitly arguing that the problem is poor implementation of industrialization, education pundits around the world often blame inefficient government infrastructures for preventing schools from embracing the appropriate technologies. But when I look at the multi-national corporate world, I’m thankful that bureaucracy provides a necessary filter–it keeps us from moving too fast. After all, the global economy is itself evidence that the hastiness of the digital revolution has been as tumultuous as it has been beneficial. Popular technologies have, in many cases, increased corporate productivity and profitability at the expense of the humans who operate them.

What works for industry will not work for education because, as one recent New York Times article aptly noted, “teaching is not a business.” By now, we should know better than to transplant the intellectual structures of one human activity onto another. The trouble, however, is that we mistakenly believe we can separate the medium from the message.

The Making Caring Common Project at Harvard University’s Graduate School Of Education, has already explained that students see how adults’ actions can betray the intended rhetoric. Studies show that while adults say they value empathy, compassion, and critical thinking, children learn to value achievement measured by grade points. This shouldn’t surprise anyone. Students read systems’ implicit messaging while ignoring the explicit talking points. When schools are run according to the conventions of for-profit organizations, we move with impressive efficiency toward a world full of graduates who mistakenly believe enterprising entrepreneurship is a defining value system rather than an important skill set.

Alternatively, we might understand that school is ultimately a ‘technology of the self’ (to borrow a phrase from Michel Foucault). Then, we would first focus on the systematic process through which we nurture individuals’ sense of agency, decorum, and responsibility. School itself becomes the tool which refines individuals into reflective citizens and prioritizes opportunities for emerging human dignity. Education becomes the structure within which narratives of personal and collective identity are contextualized using the intellectual structures and academic skills that we’ve inherited from preceding generations.

Digital tools have the ability to enhance these educational technologies of the self. But we need to make sure that these tools are also aligned with learning outcomes which prioritize human dignity rather than haste, consumption, and algorithmic metrics. Game-based learning is especially useful because the presence of avatars encourages players to step outside of their familiar perspectives and embody alternate ones. Therefore, they nurture the kind of intellectual self-reflection that education psychologists call “metacognitive skills.” Learning games make the question of identity development explicit and therefore truly empower students with the agency to construct their own personal narratives.

Thus far, however, we’ve unfortunately been brainwashed into thinking that educational technologies are neutral. We imagine that tablets and computers are merely tools that transmit unbiased academic content to students. On the contrary, they do much more than that. Embedded in every technological solution is a moral/ethical stance, an image of the good life, and a narrative of the idealized self. The worldwide success of Apple’s marketing is evidence enough that digital gadgets are not only tools with which we manipulate our environment, but also props in a performed identity narrative.

Technologies teach our children how to make sense of the world, how to think about knowledge and information, and how to relate to themselves and to one another. Making sure we agree, in principle, with the tool’s implicit messaging is the most important question we can ask. Yet, it is the one question we most often skip."
jordanshapiro  2014  edtech  technology  luddism  neoluddism  education  learning  howwelearn  ideology  empathy  compassion  criticalthinking  competition  grades  grading  efficiency  entrepreneurship  foucault  agency  decorum  humanism  responsibility  empowerment  games  gaming  howweteach  schools  children  slow  michelfoucault 
october 2014 by robertogreco
How urbanisation can be a friend to birds – John M Marzluff – Aeon
"Human sprawl is usually a threat to wildlife, but birds buck the trend. Can we help biodiversity take wing in our suburbs?"



"I am not claiming that suburban sprawl is the answer to our conservation prayers: many species of sensitive and rare birds could never survive in our ’burbs. Even fewer animals that crawl or walk, such as mammals, reptiles and amphibians, manage to live long among us. And, where terrestrial biological diversity is greatest – in the magnificent tropical rainforests – biodiversity is steadily lost with progressive development. But development can enrich local areas by providing what many tolerant species require. Although ensuring global diversity still requires that we leave undisturbed space elsewhere for sensitive species, even then, the political will to create such reserves depends on our experiences with local diversity."



"The response of birds to urbanisation is only just beginning. Humans began living in cities around 5,000 years ago. Today, more than half of all people are urbanites. As exploiters and adapters learn and evolve strategies to survive among us, I expect to see new and stronger co-evolved relationships between people and other city animals. As well as kindling a diverse urban biota, it might even create unforeseen species.

One of the world’s oldest and largest cities illustrates what the future might hold for birds. Crows, which are supremely intelligent and innovative, thrive in most northern cities. In Japan’s capital Tokyo, the jungle crow has developed an array of cultural traditions well-suited to city life. Some crows gather walnuts, but because their shells are too tough to crack open by beak, the crows place them where passing cars can become nutcrackers. Other crows that live in the inner city, where the sticks necessary for nest-building are rare, routinely pilfer clothes hangers that they bend and weave into unique nests.

In A Sand County Almanac (1949), Aldo Leopold, the founding father of wildlife science, noted that, because we view land as a commodity rather than a community to which we belong, we're incapable of loving and respecting it. Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in our cities and suburbs, where a small parcel of land and the home built on it is a substantial investment. But the economic value of land need not be incompatible with its ecological value; after all, houses fetch higher prices in tree-filled subdivisions where birds flourish. Letting your lawn go wild (which benefits butterflies) reduces the cost of maintenance. And surrounding metropolitan areas with a healthy, vegetated watershed saves millions of dollars every year in water purification costs.

Even without monetary incentives, experiencing nature right outside the door builds empathy. In East Brunswick, New Jersey, and Palo Alto, California, residents appalled at the roadway slaughter of newts and salamanders, created safe passageways for them in the form of small tunnels or temporary road closures. Scientists at the Smithsonian Institution have stirred up a passion for conservation in Washington, DC, by involving residents in their suburban bird research. The more personal a bird becomes to a human – by tagging it, or simply discovering its nest – the easier it is to make sacrifices on its behalf."



"My enthusiasm for wilderness remains intact, but it’s become part of a broader conservation ethic that places equal value on nearby nature. Wondering and learning from our urban ecosystem teaches us to value nature in its broadest sense. In our cities and backyards, we experience how natural processes pay economic, spiritual and biological dividends. Noticing the responses of animals and plants to our actions provides a glimpse into the creative power of natural selection. As our appreciation for nature and the ecological and evolutionary processes that shape it grows from direct experience, our gardens work symbiotically with wilderness to inform our land ethic and conserve the full range of life."
nature  birds  animals  cities  biodiversity  adaptation  evolution  wildlife  2014  johnmarzluff  crows  corvids  aldoleopold  empathy  urban  urbanism  conservation  suburbs  subirdia  suburbia  ecology 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Library as Church, Bookshelf as Altar — Or: Why I Gave Up Praying, but Carried On Reading — Medium
"I used to pray. But I also used to read. Actually, I used to read quite a bit. Brought up in a book-loving family, a naturally dutiful child, a hard worker, I threw myself at it. A set time each day…

The difference: I still read. A lot. In fact, I’ve been reflecting recently that reading has become a form of prayer, a form that pretends less, and — perhaps — achieves more.

Reading, just like prayer, is a deliberate act of focus, a form of meditation almost. It takes time. Not economically productive, it can be easily mocked as ‘useless,’ — and in the modern age it is hard to find space to get deep into it without being yanked away by the ping of notifications or other noises from the jungle of digital distractions.

Yes, like prayer, reading can be hard. But, most importantly, just like a prayer, the act of reading a novel, or a work of thoughtful non-fiction, is about sensitizing oneself to others and to the plight of the world outside of your everyday experience.

Studies show that this is the case: those who read literary fiction have more empathy than those who don’t. Why? Because, as the leader of one project put it, ‘in literary fiction, the incompleteness of the characters turns your mind to trying to understand the minds of others.’ Films and video games don’t work in the same way: the full visual experience lends itself to ‘completing’ characters, leaving little room for the imagination.

To read widely, and often, is thus to hope to be changed, to still believe that change is possible. It is never, ever a waste of time. Be it an essay or short story or novel or article, a good read never goes unanswered because a good read opens up a world that requires our attention. That might be the inner world of the self, it might be the domestic world of a family relationship, or it could be the plight of a whole people."



"Some of my friends think I’ve lost my faith by giving up on prayer. I disagree. Yes, I now refuse the easy inaction of intercession — and there’s nothing like cancer to bring that up short — but, through constant, deliberate, mindful reading I hope to be daily opening myself wider to being sensitive to the world around me, and allowing the words and stories of writers and protagonists from the furthest reaches of experience to both challenge me to act, and inspire me with hope that change remains possible.

In fact, what worries me far more than any erosion of the time people spend in prayer are the statistics about the chronic reduction in time people spend reading. Really reading, deeply and thoughtfully. Because without this, with only short bursts of tweets and YouTube, from which well will empathy and care be drawn from?"
kesterbrewin  prayer  reading  books  libraries  empathy  perspective  change  openmindedness  openmind  mindopening  mindfulness  concentration  attention  2014  religion  christianity 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Pirates and Prodigals on Vimeo
"A conversation between Kester Brewin, Peter Rollins, and Barry Taylor on the tragedy of the pirate and prodigal son archetypes and what this means for the future church. The discussion drew from ideas presented in Kester Brewin’s latest book, Mutiny! Why We Love Pirates, and How They Can Save Us.

The Berry Center for Lifelong Learning and The Inititive for the Church and Contemprary Culture, Fuller Theologcial Seminary

Wednesday, October 24, 2012"
pirates  theology  christianity  religion  belief  2012  radicaltheology  kesterbrewin  peterrollins  barrytaylor  courage  brokenness  honesty  responsibility  otherness  humanism  empathy  perspective  understanding  life  living  death  piracy  slavery  freedom  autonomy  independence  god  liberation  prodigalson  unbelief  decay  zombies 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Ello | dymaxion - Creatures of the Network
"In the interests of thinking in public, this is the talk I submitted yesterday to CCC (well, the interesting one -- there's also one on threat modeling for organizations, which should be a good, functional talk, but it's pushing few intellectual boundaries for me). I'm not sure if I know how to give it yet, but I think I can get there between now and then, which is exactly where I want to be:

Creatures of the Network

Our tools change us in fundamental ways. When we learned to cook food, our brains grew in size and made us the humans we are now. As we organized into more complex social groups and now as we've built tools that can act on our behalf, we have been and will continue to be changed by these tools. In the meantime, we live in a world that we haven't completely caught up with. There are four big fractures between our bodies and our lives right now: trust, agency, tempo, and scale.

Each one of these fractures causes a host of problems, touching everything from security failure modes in our global network to the damage venture capital is doing to the future of humanity. Solving these problems means building prostheses for our brains while we wait for our bodies to catch up. In this talk, I'll share some of the prostheses we've found.

We are at a juncture in the story of humanity. The decisions we make and the systems we build in the next twenty years will determine not just whether we live free from the boot of repressive dictatorships, but whether we live at all. The way out lies through hope, empathy, and learning to think like our systems -- through becoming creatures of the network."
eleanorsaitta  future  futures  humanity  2014  tools  society  systems  systemsthinking  systemsbuilding  networks  learning  empathy  hope  agency  trust  tempo  scale 
september 2014 by robertogreco
The steel man of #GamerGate — The Message — Medium
"Every so often, the Long Now Foundation here in San Francisco hosts a debate. It might be about nuclear power or synthetic biology or perhaps the very notion of human progress — high-stakes stuff. But the format is nothing like the showdowns on cable news or the debates in election season.

Instead, it goes like this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



"This kind of writing is dangerous because it goes beyond (mere) argumentation; it becomes immersion, method acting, dual-booting. To make your argument strong, you have to make your opponent’s argument stronger. You need sharp thinking and compelling language, but you also need close attention and deep empathy. I don’t mean to be too woo-woo about it, but truly, you need love. The overall sensibility is closer to caregiving than to punditry."
debate  empathy  ethnography  listening  robinsloan  lrhodes  alanjacobs  thomasnagel  alvinplantinga  goodfaith  strawman  steelman  strawmen  steelmen  philosophy  rhetoric  conversation  goodwill  mindchanging  mindchanges 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Mary Beard Takes On Her Sexist Detractors
[Alt URL: http://www.newyorker.com/?p=2715385 ]

"Finally, Beard arrived at the contemporary chorus of Twitter trolls and online commenters. “The more I’ve looked at the details of the threats and the insults that women are on the receiving end of, the more some of them seem to fit into the old patterns of prejudice and assumption that I have been talking about,” she said. “It doesn’t much matter what line of argument you take as a woman. If you venture into traditional male territory, the abuse comes anyway. It’s not what you say that prompts it—it’s the fact that you are saying it.” Such online interjections—“ ‘Shut up you bitch’ is a fairly common refrain”—often contain threats of violence, a “predictable menu of rape, bombing, murder, and so forth.” She mildly reported one tweet that had been directed at her: “I’m going to cut off your head and rape it.”"



"Beard’s ancient world can seem, at least on the surface, rather like the more urban and liberal parts of our own. Her Rome is polyglot and multicultural, animated by the entrepreneurialism of freed slaves in overcrowded streets. At the same time, Beard warns against the danger of smoothing away the strangeness and foreignness of Roman life. Her latest book, “Laughter in Ancient Rome: On Joking, Tickling, and Cracking Up,” which has just been published, is an engaging exploration of what made the Romans laugh—bad breath, among other things—but it also explores dimensions of Roman sensibility that have become elusive to us. Beard observes that there is no word in Latin for “smile,” and makes the striking suggestion that the Romans simply did not smile in the sense that we understand the social gesture today. […] Beard’s popularizing bent is grounded in a deep knowledge of the arcane, and she gives new insight into the hoariest of topics, according to Elaine Fantham, a well-known Latinist who is a generation Beard’s senior. “If you are a Latinist, you are always being asked to talk about Pompeii,” Fantham says. “When Mary does something, it is not old hat. It becomes new hat.”"



"Gill’s review of “Meet the Romans” had been a turning point, Beard explained. “That is when it became kind of a personal calling, because I spoke out and said, ‘Sorry, sunshine, this is just not on,’ ” she said. “The people who read the Mail are middle-aged women, and they look like me. They know what he’s saying. For all the very right-wing, slightly unpleasant populism that the Mail trades in, its readership is actually people who know an unacceptable insult when they see it. They’ve got gray hair. He’s talking about them.”"



"In another highly publicized incident, Beard retweeted a message that she had received from a twenty-year-old university student: “You filthy old slut. I bet your vagina is disgusting.” One of Beard’s followers offered to inform the student’s mother of his online behavior; meanwhile, he apologized. Beard’s object is not simply to embarrass offenders; it is to educate women. Before social media, she argues, it was possible for young women like those she teaches at Cambridge to enjoy the benefits of feminist advances without even being aware of the battles fought on their behalf, and to imagine that such attitudes are a thing of the past. Beard says, “Most of my students would have denied, I think, that there was still a major current of misogyny in Western culture.”

Beard’s zest for the online fray seems indefatigable. If there is a newspaper comments section excoriating her, readers may be surprised to come across comments from Beard, defending herself. If there is a thread praising her on Mumsnet, a popular British site for parents, she may pop up there, too, thanking her admirers. When she feels that she has been misrepresented in a newspaper article, she takes to her blog to explain herself further. If she gets into a Twitter spat, it is likely to be reported on by the British press, to whom she will give a salty, winning quote. When asked by the BBC what she would say to her university-student troll, she replied, “I’d take him out for a drink and smack his bottom.”

There is, she acknowledges, an irony in the imbalance of power: as a prominent scholar, she does have a voice, however unpleasant the threats to silence her may be. Most of her Twitter detractors are grumbling to only a handful of followers, at least until she amplifies their audience. She has discovered that, quite often, she receives not only an apology from them but also a poignant explanation. After she published the genitalia photograph on her blog, the man who ran the site where the image had originally appeared wrote her a long letter. “He explained his personal circumstances—he was married with kids—and he said how he should never have done it, in a way that was very eloquent,” she told me. After a “Question Time” viewer wrote to her that she was “evil,” further correspondence revealed that he was mostly upset because he wanted to move to Spain and didn’t understand the bureaucracy. “It took two minutes on Google to discover the reciprocal health-care agreement, so I sent it to him,” she says. “Now when I have a bit of Internet trouble, I get an e-mail from him saying, ‘Mary, are you all right? I was worried about you.’ ”

The university student, after apologizing online, came to Cambridge and took Beard out to lunch; she has remained in touch with him, and is even writing letters of reference for him. “He is going to find it hard to get a job, because as soon as you Google his name that is what comes up,” she said. “And although he was a very silly, injudicious, and at that moment not very pleasant young guy, I don’t actually think one tweet should ruin your job prospects.”

At the same time, Beard questions a narrative in which her troll is recast as her errant son and she takes on the role of scolding but forgiving mother—a Penelope who chastises Telemachus for being rude, then patiently teaches him the error of his ways. “There is something deeply conservative about that reappropriation of errant teen-ager and long-suffering female parent—it is rewriting the relationship in acceptable form,” she says. “If I said to my students, ‘What is going on here?’ and they just came out with a happy-ending story, I would be very critical. I would say, ‘Haven’t you thought about how the same sorts of gender hierarchies are written in different forms?’ ” Despite this analysis, she feels emotionally satisfied with the outcome. “Some of these adjectives we use, like ‘maternal’—try putting ‘human’ in there instead,” she told me on one occasion. “If being a decent soul is being maternal, then fine. I’ll call it human.”



"Her wrongness lay not in her political position, she explained to me, but in the language she chose to express it. Beard believes that there was a very brief moment after 9/11—“a kind of extra-ordinary rhetorical aporia”—when there was not yet a consensus about how to define the attacks, and that this gap had firmly closed in the interval between her composing her contribution and its publication, two weeks later. In the years that followed, she added, “we have constructed a series of ways in which we can disagree about 9/11 without it being hurtful.” Beard remains in occasional contact with some of the people who were angered by the L.R.B. essay, and feels grateful to all those who engaged with her rather than demonized her. Through listening, she made herself heard."



"I was an intellectual control freak, and Greek was quite good for that—you could be good at it. You could master it.” She appreciated the ancient languages precisely because nobody spoke them anymore. She told me, “Part of the pleasure of knowing Latin is that you don’t have to learn to say, ‘Where is the cathedral?’ or ‘I would like a return ticket, second class, please.’ You actually get to the literature. You don’t always have to be making yourself understood.”"



"As Beard continued through the basement, her eye fell on a dozen Roman tombstones arrayed against a wall, in a gloomy half-light. They were from a site on the Black Sea, and each was engraved with a standardized image of the dearly departed. “They look horrible, don’t they?” she said. “It’s good to come along and say they are awful. You are so trained to admire them. At school, the older the object is the more respect you were supposed to give it. But you can look at them there, all piled up, and they appear to be what they are: mass-produced, not very good gravestones. Thank God the ancient world was democratic enough that it turned out crap.”"



"In “Oh Do Shut Up Dear!,” Beard’s lecture at the British Museum, she referred to one of the very few occasions in Roman literature when a woman is permitted a public voice. After Lucretia, the wife of a nobleman, Conlatinus, is raped by Tarquin, a royal prince, she denounces her rapist, then kills herself to preserve her virtue. This rape story, as told by Livy, sets into motion the founding of the Roman Republic: Lucretia’s defenders swear that hereditary princes will no longer assume privileges through violence. In her lecture, Beard acknowledged that it is easier to document ways that women have been silenced than it is to find a remedy to their silencing. (Virtuous suicide is not an option.) The real issue, she suggested, is not merely guaranteeing a woman’s right to speak; it is being aware of the prejudices that we bring to the way we hear her. Listening, she implied, is an essential element of speech."
trolls  internet  twitter  listening  feminism  rape  academia  gender  history  ancientrome  2014  commenting  web  online  socialmedia  materalism  empathy  civility  behavior  grace  humanism  discourse  classics  ancientgreek  latin  hibrow  lowbrow  culture  democracy  cultureproduction  power  marybeard 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Sympathy for a Desert Dog - NYTimes.com
"“/Kunta,” he said addressing me by my Bushman name, “the problem with you whites is that you think dogs behave like humans or even that your dogs think that they are humans. They are not humans. They are dogs. Their ways are different.”

It took me a while to understand Kaice’s point and the apparent indifference of the Ju/’hoansi to the suffering of dogs. It seemed at odds with the idea that Ju/’hoansi and other hunter-gatherers had deeply empathetic relationships with the animals they lived among. But in time I learned that this is precisely what justifies the indifference.

Ju/’hoansi insisted that animals were people. Not humans but people. They asserted that each species of animal had its own physical forms, customs, habits and ways of experiencing and interacting with the world. Ju/’hoansi claimed to know this because they observed, engaged with and empathized with the animals with whom they shared their world.

Most pet owners claim that the sympathy they offer their pets is based on an empathetic relationship with them built on traits our species and their species have in common — in the case of dogs their sociability, their loyalty, their gratitude.

But this is a different understanding of empathy than that which hunter-gatherers like the Ju/’hoansi had for their animal neighbors.

For them animal empathy was not a question of focusing on an animal’s human-like characteristics, but of assuming the whole perspective of the animal. Their animal empathy defied verbalization. To empathize with an animal you couldn’t think like a human and project your mind-set into it; you had to “be” the animal.

This view of empathy was the product of millennia of living among the wild animals of the Kalahari as “neighbors” and hunting them. Where other peoples defined themselves by reference to other tribes or nations, Ju/’hoansi defined themselves in terms of the their differences from the lions, elephants, aardvarks, elands and many other desert creatures they lived among. Their animal neighbors were a constant source of fascination. Any interesting or unusual animal behaviors, habits and interactions would generate considerable discussion. Their knowledge of the animals was such that they were able to establish an animal’s apparent motives and actions from a few scuffs in the sand, sometimes a day or two old, and accurately predict its movements or behavior on this basis. But their success as hunters, after all, depended on their ability to accurately anticipate the behavior of their prey. And this, they insisted, required empathy.

Typically Ju/’hoansi hunted with small poison arrows that lacked fletching. It took great skill and knowledge to get close enough to an animal to shoot it and even greater skill to able to track the animal down as the poison did its work, which could take between six and 48 hours depending on the size of the animal. After shooting a large animal like an oryx or a giraffe, a hunter would memorize the individual animal’s spoor and return the following morning to track it down.

When a hunter found and followed his prey’s spoor he would not merely read it but surrender himself into it, living each footfall that scuffed the sand. In doing so he plunged into his prey’s consciousness, dissolving the boundary between the hunter and the hunted. Finally, by consuming their prey, the hunter and the prey’s relationship would move from an empathetic union to a physical one as they literally became of one body.

But this kind of empathy did not persuade Ju/’hoansi and other hunter-gatherers to feel sympathy for animals or assume a duty of care for them. Rather it made people focus more on the non-human behaviors of animals rather than what they had in common. Among people who considered themselves to be just one of many different kinds of animal-people in a wild environment, hunting, death and pain were parts of everyday life. Human compassion did not extend to other species.

My relationship with Dog, as the Ju/’hoansi reminded me, was an artifact of the Neolithic Revolution. The domestication of the wolf was but a small part of a transition that fundamentally reconfigured how humans related to their environments. Where they once saw themselves as one of many creatures sharing environments, they now placed themselves at its center and sought mastery over it. Accordingly animals were divided into a series of new categories based on how they fit into the human world. Some were designated pets or “livestock” – and a duty of care was extended to them. Others were designated pests or vermin. Animals ceased to be considered different kinds of “people,” and those like dogs were selected and bred, for human-like traits, among other things, that we could easily empathize with without displacing our sense of ourselves as humans.

My and Dog’s lives intersected momentarily. And I am glad they did. We were both Neolithic orphans stranded in a Paleolithic world. The Ju/’hoansi’s sense of interspecies relations and their extraordinary empathy was right for the wild animals that shared their world, and there is much we can learn from it. But when it comes to dogs, and other creatures that have evolved to crave our affection, I am glad to be a child of the Neolithic."
dogs  pets  animals  culture  anthropology  ethnography  empathy  sympathy  anthropomorphism  2014  africa  jamessuzman  via:anne  relationships  animalhumanrelationships 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Peculiar Benefits - The Rumpus.net
"One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do is accept and acknowledge my privilege. This is something I am still working on. I’m a woman, a person of color, and the child of immigrants but I also grew up middle class and then upper middle class. My parents raised my siblings and I in a strict but loving environment. They were and are happily married so I didn’t have to deal with divorce or crappy intramarital dynamics. I attended elite schools. My master’s and doctoral degrees were funded. I got a tenure track position my first time out. My bills are paid. I have the time and resources for frivolity. I am reasonably well published. I have an agent so I have every reason to believe my novel will find a home. My life has been far from perfect but I have a whole lot of privilege. It’s somewhat embarrassing for me to accept just how much privilege I have.

It’s also really difficult for me to accept my privilege when I consider the ways in which I lack privilege or the ways in which my privilege hasn’t magically rescued me from a world of hurt. On my more difficult days, I’m not sure what’s more of a pain in my ass—being black or being a woman. I’m happy to be both of these things, but the world keeps intervening. There are all kinds of infuriating reminders of my place in the world—random people questioning me in the parking lot at work as if it is unfathomable that I’m a faculty member, whispers of Affirmative Action when I achieve a career milestone I’ve busted my ass for, the persistence of lawmakers trying to legislate the female body, street harassment, strangers wanting to touch my hair, you know how it is.

The ways in which I do not have privilege are significant, but I am lucky and successful. Any number of factors related to privilege have contributed to these circumstances. What I remind myself, regularly, is this: the acknowledgment of my privilege is not a denial of the ways I have been and am marginalized, the ways I have suffered.

We tend to believe that accusations of privilege imply we have it easy and because life is hard for nearly everyone, we resent hearing that. Of course we do. Look at white men when they are accused of having privilege. They tend to be immediately defensive (and, at times, understandably so). They say, “It’s not my fault I am a white man.” They say, “I’m working class,” or “I’m [insert other condition that discounts their privilege],” instead of simply accepting that, in this regard, yes, they benefit from certain privileges others do not. To have privilege in one or more areas does not mean you are wholly privileged. To acknowledge privilege is not a denial of the ways you are marginalized, the ways you have suffered. Surrendering to the acceptance of privilege is difficult but it is really all that is expected.

You don’t necessarily have to do anything once you acknowledge your privilege. You don’t have to apologize for it. You don’t need to diminish your privilege or your accomplishments because of that privilege. You need to understand the extent of your privilege, the consequences of your privilege, and remain aware that people who are different from you move through and experience the world in ways you might never know anything about. They might endure situations you can never know anything about. You could, however, use that privilege for the greater good–to try to level the playing field for everyone, to work for social justice, to bring attention to how those without certain privileges are disenfranchised. While you don’t have to do anything with your privilege, perhaps it should be an imperative of privilege to share the benefits of that privilege rather than hoard your good fortune. We’ve seen what the hoarding of privilege has done and the results are shameful.

When we talk about privilege, some people start to play a very pointless and dangerous game where they try to mix and match various demographic characteristics to determine who wins at the Game of Privilege. Who would win in a privilege battle between a wealthy black woman and a wealthy white man? Who would win a privilege battle between a queer white man and a queer Asian woman? Who would win in a privilege battle between a working class white man and a wealthy, differently abled, Mexican woman? We can play this game all day. We will never find a winner. Playing the Game of Privilege is mental masturbation—it only feels good to the players.

Privilege is relative and contextual. Few people in this world, and particularly in the United States, have no privilege at all. Among those of us who participate in intellectual communities, privilege runs rampant. We have disposable time and the ability to access the Internet regularly. We have the freedom to express our opinions without the threat of retaliation. We have smart phones and iProducts and desktops and laptops. If you are reading this essay, you have some kind of privilege. It may be hard to hear that, I know, but if you cannot recognize your privilege, you have a lot of work to do; get started.

President Barack Obama enjoys a great deal of privilege. He is wealthy, educated, young, and extraordinarily successful. He is in what appears to be a loving marriage. He has two healthy children. He is the president of the United States and, arguably, the most powerful man in the world. Even as he enjoys such immense privilege, Obama knows what all successful people of color know. All the wealth and power in the world won’t shield you from racial epithets, assumptions about how you’ve achieved your success, and resentment from people who feel that the trappings of privilege are their rightful due.

Given that even very privileged people can be marginalized, how do we measure privilege? What is the correct hierarchy? We can’t measure privilege. We shouldn’t even try. Our energies would be better directed to what truly matters.

Too many people have become self-appointed privilege police, patrolling the halls of discourse, ready to remind people of their privilege, whether those people have denied that privilege or not. In online discourse, in particular, the specter of privilege is always looming darkly. When someone writes from their experience, there is often someone else, at the ready, pointing a trembling finger, accusing that writer of having various kinds of privilege. How dare someone speak to a personal experience without accounting for every possible configuration of privilege or the lack thereof? We lose sight of this but we would live in a world of silence if the only people who were allowed to write or speak from experience or about difference were those absolutely without privilege.

When people wield accusations of privilege, more often than not, they want to he heard and seen. Their need is acute, if not desperate and that need rises out of the many historical and ongoing attempts to silence and render invisible marginalized groups. Must we satisfy our need to be heard and seen at the expense of not allowing anyone else to be heard and seen? Does privilege automatically negate any merits of what a privilege holder has to say?

We need to get to a place where we discuss privilege by way of observation and acknowledgment rather than accusation. We need to be able to argue beyond the threat of privilege. We need to stop playing Privilege or Oppression Olympics because we’ll never get anywhere until we find more effective ways of talking through difference. We should be able to say this is my truth and have that truth stand without a hundred clamoring voices shouting, giving the impression that multiple truths cannot coexist. At some point, doesn’t privilege become beside the point?"

[via: https://twitter.com/nicoleisreading/status/505477013491417088 ]
roxannegay  2012  privilege  via:nicolefenton  class  gender  race  education  johnscalzi  marginalization  hierarchy  hierarchies  sexuality  economics  religion  identity  ableism  disability  canon  empathy  disabilities 
august 2014 by robertogreco
How to be Polite… for Geeks — The Message — Medium
"One more thing: politeness is not surrender. It is a way of carrying dignity through life, and acknowledging the dignity of others. Politeness is a shared sense of humanity. When I was 17 I moved alone into the territory of a Latino gang, some of whose members had marked me for killing when I was 11 (The background of this is very convoluted, and they weren’t high up in the power structure, so the threat was not as bad as it could have been.) About a week into living there, I found myself surrounded by a circle of Latino men, staring at me blank-faced. I hadn’t yet worked out how to turn on a phone line, but this I knew. I stepped forward to a man slightly older than the others and introduced myself, shaking his hand and smiling. I explained that I’d just moved into the neighborhood, indicated my apartment, and said I’d love to learn more about the area. Everyone’s tension broke into smiling faces. I apologized for my lack of Spanish, but most of them knew English. We chatted for a bit, and I went my way. I never had a problem in that neighborhood, and when I was out on my own, or buried in my teenage melodramas, my neighbors kept an eye on me.

For me the best part of these practices is that I believe them. Being willing to listen to people and empathize with them has given me tremendous hope, love, and optimism for humanity. So much so that people can’t believe that I’m so happy and upbeat about our future, despite being realistic about human violence and oppression. We are, one by one, not so bad, and when we treat each other that well, we are not quite so lost in aggregate, either."
quinnnorton  2014  politeness  empathy  listening  tone  kindness 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Itemizing Atrocity | Jacobin
"In her book Scenes of Subjection, Saidiya Hartman writes:
Rather than try to convey the routinized violence of slavery and its aftermath through invocations of the shocking and the terrible, I have chosen to look elsewhere and consider those scenes in which terror can hardly be discerned … By defamiliarizing the familiar, I hope to illuminate the terror of the mundane and quotidian rather than exploit the shocking spectacle.

Hartman’s emphasis on “the terror of the mundane and quotidian” is her attempt to address the dilemma of black people having their suffering (un)seen and (un)heard by non-blacks — including those who purport to care:
At issue here is the precariousness of empathy … how does one give expression to these outrages without exacerbating the indifference to suffering that is the consequence to the benumbing spectacle or contend with the narcissistic identification that obliterates the other or the prurience that too often is the response to such displays? This was the challenge faced by [Frederick] Douglass and other foes of slavery…

A century and a half after Douglass fought against slavery, the police have become more militarized in terms of weapons, tanks, training, and gear. SWAT teams have been deployed at an accelerated rate and for an increased number of activities. Reports, like the one recently published by the ACLU, provide some details about these technologies of war amassed by local police departments.

Julilly Kohler-Hausmann, Radley Balko, and others have explained that the militarization of US police can be traced back to the mid-1960s. For example, in 1968, urban police forces were able to buy new equipment and technologies thanks to funding from the newly passed Safe Streets Act. The social anxiety and fear engendered by the Vietnam War and domestic urban rebellions led by black people provided license for the police to turn these new products on the marginalized populations of inner-city America.

SWAT teams, batterrams, and no-knock warrants (immortalized by Gil Scott Heron and written about by James Baldwin), all predate contemporary hyper-militarized police forces. Black people have been the overwhelming targets of these instruments of war."



"Attention is drawn to the “spectacular event” rather than to the point of origin or the mundane. Circulated are the spectacles — dead black bodies lying in the streets or a black teenager ambushed by several police officers in military gear, automatic weapons drawn.

Along with these dramatic images, numbers and statistics are the main metric for soliciting empathy and galvanizing people into action.

It is the size and power of the gun. It is the number of cops at the scene. It is the tank pointed at protestors. It is the forty-one bullets shot at a black immigrant standing in his doorway. The eight to ten times a black teenager was shot “like an animal” when walking to see his relatives or the four hours his body laid in the street while family members and neighbors watched and waited helplessly. The at least eleven times a black woman was punched by a cop straddling her on the side of a highway. The over two minutes a forty-eight-year-old black woman, half-naked, was kept in the hallway and surrounded by about a dozen cops after being dragged out of her apartment. The number of black people stopped and frisked."



"How does black suffering register when we are told that it is the militarization of the police that is the problem? Again, Hartman is instructive, writing of “the narcissistic identification that obliterates the other.” It is true that militarization is a global phenomenon. It is true that the United States and its allied countries enforce their brutal agendas throughout the world through military force, sanctions, and “the war on terror.”

It is also true that, despite the black diaspora’s effort to emphasize what happens to black people worldwide (including in the United States), references to globalization, militarization, and the war on terror are often treated as markers of non-blackness — and among some progressives, as code for “needing to go beyond black and white” or for blacks in the United States to not be so “US-centric” (read: “self-absorbed”)."



"Relatedly, the push for coalition and the use of analogies suggests a difficulty to name precisely what black people experience in the United States. Scenes of police violence against blacks in Ferguson seemingly become more legible, more readable and coherent, when put into conversation with Iraq or Gaza. And yet something gets lost in translation.

The sentiments — “I thought I was looking at pictures of Iraq but I was looking at America!” or “Ferguson=Gaza” or “now [blacks in the United States] know how the Third World feels” — circulate on social media. Such statements express a belief in American exceptionalism and a certain amount of glee and resentment towards African-Americans while professing empathy.

Amid this, we are left with the difficulty to name both the spectacle and the quotidian violence blacks in the United States experience day after day, from the police and the racially deputized. What do we call this incessant violence? How do we describe it beyond the “spectacular event”? Occupation? War? Genocide? Life? Death?

We conclude with more questions: How do we rightfully account for the increased militarization of the police as a problem without forgetting what Joy James reminds us: “the dreams and desires of a society and state will be centered on the control of the black body” — or as Jared Sexton emphasizes: blacks serve as “the prototypical targets of the panoply of police practices and the juridical infrastructure built up around them?”

How do we contend with Wilderson’s assertion that “white people are not simply ‘protected’ by the police. They are — in their very corporeality — the police?” What does all this mean when we think about hyper-militarized police forces that weaponize white supremacy against black bodies and the specter of blackness among others? How does it feel to be the prototypical target?

What do the spectacles of policing — as well as the responses to it — both reveal and camouflage in regard to the “terror of the mundane and quotidian,” a terror that is often taken for granted, even in critical commentary?"
us  2014  tamaranopper  mariamekaba  saidiva  hartman  empathy  mundane  quotidian  slow  small  race  police  atrocity  indifference  suffering  globalization  militarization  spectacle 
august 2014 by robertogreco
How to Be Polite — The Message — Medium
"But no matter. What I found most appealing was the way that the practice of etiquette let you draw a protective circle around yourself and your emotions. By following the strictures in the book, you could drag yourself through a terrible situation and when it was all over, you could throw your white gloves in the dirty laundry hamper and move on with your life. I figured there was a big world out there and etiquette was going to come in handy along the way."



"Here’s a polite person’s trick, one that has never failed me. I will share it with you because I like and respect you, and it is clear to me that you’ll know how to apply it wisely: When you are at a party and are thrust into conversation with someone, see how long you can hold off before talking about what they do for a living. And when that painful lull arrives, be the master of it. I have come to revel in that agonizing first pause, because I know that I can push a conversation through. Just ask the other person what they do, and right after they tell you, say: “Wow. That sounds hard.”

Because nearly everyone in the world believes their job to be difficult. I once went to a party and met a very beautiful woman whose job was to help celebrities wear Harry Winston jewelry. I could tell that she was disappointed to be introduced to this rumpled giant in an off-brand shirt, but when I told her that her job sounded difficult to me she brightened and spoke for 30 straight minutes about sapphires and Jessica Simpson. She kept touching me as she talked. I forgave her for that. I didn’t reveal a single detail about myself, including my name. Eventually someone pulled me back into the party. The celebrity jewelry coordinator smiled and grabbed my hand and said, “I like you!” She seemed so relieved to have unburdened herself. I counted it as a great accomplishment. Maybe a hundred times since I’ve said, “wow, that sounds hard” to a stranger, always to great effect. I stay home with my kids and have no life left to me, so take this party trick, my gift to you.

A friend and I came up with a game called Raconteur. You pair up with another Raconteur at a party and talk to everyone you can. You score points by getting people to disclose something about their lives. If you dominate the conversation, you lose a point. The two raconteurs communicate using hand signals and keep a tally on a sheet of paper or in their minds. You’d think people would notice but they are so amused by the attention that the fact you’re playing Raconteur escapes their attention."



"But a whole class of problems goes away from my life because I see people as having around them a two or three foot invisible buffer. If there is a stray hair on their jacket I ask them if I can pluck it from them. If they don’t want that, they’ll do it themselves. If their name is now Susan, it’s Susan. Whatever happens inside that buffer is entirely up to them. It has nothing to do with me."



"Politeness buys you time. It leaves doors open. I’ve met so many people whom, if I had trusted my first impressions, I would never have wanted to meet again. And yet — many of them are now great friends. I have only very rarely touched their hair.

One of those people is my wife. On our first date, we went to a nice bar with blue tables and, in the regular course of conversation she told me at length about the removal of a dermoid teratoma from her ovaries. This is a cyst with teeth (not a metaphor). I had gone in expecting to flirt but instead I learned about the surgical removal of a fist-sized mutant mass of hair and teeth from her sexual parts. This killed the chemistry. I walked her home, told her I had a great time, and went home and looked up cysts on the Internet, always a nice end to an evening. We talked a little after that. I kept everything pleasant and brief. A year later I ran into her on the train and we got another drink. Much later I learned that she’d been having a very bad day in a very bad year.

Sometimes I’ll get a call or email from someone five years after the last contact and I’ll think, oh right, I hated that person. But they would never have known, of course. Let’s see if I still hate them. Very often I find that I don’t. Or that I hated them for a dumb reason. Or that they were having a bad day. Or much more likely, that I had been having a bad day.

People silently struggle from all kinds of terrible things. They suffer from depression, ambition, substance abuse, and pretension. They suffer from family tragedy, Ivy-League educations, and self-loathing. They suffer from failing marriages, physical pain, and publishing. The good thing about politeness is that you can treat these people exactly the same. And then wait to see what happens. You don’t have to have an opinion. You don’t need to make a judgment. I know that doesn’t sound like liberation, because we live and work in an opinion-based economy. But it is. Not having an opinion means not having an obligation. And not being obligated is one of the sweetest of life’s riches.

There is one other aspect of my politeness that I am reluctant to mention. But I will. I am often consumed with a sense of overwhelming love and empathy. I look at the other person and am overwhelmed with joy. For all of my irony I really do want to know about the process of hanging jewelry from celebrities. What does the jewelry feel like in your hand? What do the celebrities feel like in your hand? Which one is more smooth?

This is not a world where you can simply express love for other people, where you can praise them. Perhaps it should be. But it’s not. I’ve found that people will fear your enthusiasm and warmth, and wait to hear the price. Which is fair. We’ve all been drawn into someone’s love only to find out that we couldn’t afford it. A little distance buys everyone time.

Last week my wife came back from the playground. She told me that my two-year-old, three-foot-tall son, Abraham, walked up to a woman in hijab and asked “What’s your name?” The woman told him her name. Then he put out his little hand and said, “Nice to meet you!” Everyone laughed, and he smiled. He shared with her his firmest handshake, like I taught him."
etiquette  paulford  2014  listening  politeness  behavior  social  cv  canon  understanding  people  apologies  patience  love  empathy  socializing  relationships  secondchances  interestedness  silence  interested 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Meta is Murder - Mills Baker's Internet Haus of Cards
"One such principle is well phrased by Marilynne Robinson in her essay “When I was a Child,” in her collection When I Was a Child I Read Books:
"It may be mere historical conditioning, but when I see a man or a woman alone, he or she looks mysterious to me, which is only to say that for a moment I see another human being clearly."

The idea that a human seen clearly is a mystery is anathema to a culture of judgment —such as ours— which rests on a simple premise: humans can be understood by means of simple schema that map their beliefs or actions to moral categories. Moreover, because there are usually relatively few of these categories, and few important issues of discernment —our range of political concerns being startlingly narrow, after all— humans can be understood and judged at high speed in large, generalized groups: Democrats, Republicans, women, men, people of color, whites, Muslims, Christians, the rich, the poor, Generation X, millennials, Baby Boomers, and so on.

It should but does not go without saying that none of those terms describes anything with sufficient precision to support the kinds of observations people flatter themselves making. Generalization is rarely sound. No serious analysis, no serious effort to understand, describe, or change anything can contain much generalization, as every aggregation of persons introduces error. One can hardly describe a person in full, let alone a family, a city, a class, a state, a race. Yet we persist in doing so, myself included."



"One of the very best things Nietzsche ever wrote:
"The will to a system is a lack of integrity."

But to systematize is our first reaction to life in a society of scale, and our first experiment as literate or educated or even just “grown-up” persons with powers of apprehension, cogitation, and rhetoric. What would a person be online if he lacked a system in which phenomena could be traced to the constellation of ideas which constituted his firmament? What is life but the daily diagnosis of this or that bit of news as “yet another example of” an overarching system of absolutely correct beliefs? To have a system is proof of one’s seriousness, it seems —our profiles so often little lists of what we “believe,” or what we “are”— and we coalesce around our systems of thought just as our parents did around their political parties, though we of course consider ourselves mere rationalists following the evidence. Not surprisingly, the evidence always leads to the conclusion that many people in the world are horrible, stupid, even evil; and we are smart, wise, and good. It should be amusing, but it is not.

I hate this because I am doing this right now. I detest generalization because when I scan Twitter I generalize about what I see: “people today,” or “our generation,” I think, even though the people of today are as all people always have been, even though they are all just like me. I resent their judgments because I feel reduced by them and feel reality is reduced, so I reduce them with my own judgments: shallow thinkers who lack, I mutter, the integrity not to systematize. And I put fingers to keys to note this system of analysis, lacking all integrity, mocking my very position.

I want to maintain my capacity to view each as a mystery, as a human in full, whose interiority I cannot know. I want not to be full of hatred, so I seek to confess that my hatred is self-hatred: shame at the state of my intellectual reactivity and decay. I worry deeply that our systematizing is inevitable because when we are online we are in public: that these fora mandate performance, and worse, the kind of performance that asserts its naturalness, like the grotesquely beautiful actor who says, "Oh, me? I just roll out of bed in the morning and wear whatever I find lying about" as he smiles a smile so practiced it could calibrate the atomic clock. Every online utterance is an angling for approval; we write in the style of speeches: exhorting an audience, haranguing enemies, lauding the choir. People “remind” no one in particular of the correct ways to think, the correct opinions to hold. When I see us speaking like op-ed columnists, I feel embarrassed: it is like watching a lunatic relative address passers-by using the “royal we,” and, I feel, it is pitifully imitative. Whom are we imitating? Those who live in public: politicians, celebrities, “personalities.”

There is no honesty without privacy, and privacy is not being forbidden so much as rendered irrelevant; privacy is an invented concept, after all, and like all inventions must contend with waves of successive technologies or be made obsolete. The basis of privacy is the idea that judgment should pertain only to public acts —acts involving other persons and society— and not the interior spaces of the self. Society has no right to judge one’s mind; society hasn’t even the right to inquire about one’s mind. The ballot is secret; one cannot be compelled to testify or even talk in our criminal justice system; there can be no penalty for being oneself, however odious we may find given selves or whole (imagined) classes of selves.

This very radical idea has an epistemological basis, not a purely moral one: the self is a mystery. Every self is a mystery. You cannot know what someone really is, what they are capable of, what transformations of belief or character they might undergo, in what their identity consists, what they’ve inherited or appropriated, what they’ll abandon or reconsider; you cannot say when a person is who she is, at what point the “real” person exists or when a person’s journey through selves has stopped. A person is not, we all know, his appearance; but do we all know that she is not her job? Or even her politics?

But totalizing rationalism is emphatic: either something is known or it is irrelevant. Thus: the mystery of the self is a myth; there is no mystery at all. A self is valid or invalid, useful or not, correct or incorrect, and if someone is sufficiently different from you, if their beliefs are sufficiently opposed to yours, their way of life alien enough, they are to be judged and detested. Everyone is a known quantity; simply look at their Twitter bio and despise.

But this is nonsense. In truth, the only intellectually defensible posture is one of humility: all beliefs are misconceptions; all knowledge is contingent, temporary, erroneous; and no self is knowable, not truly, not to another. We can perhaps sense this in ourselves —although I worry that many of us are too happy to brag about our conformity to this or that scheme or judgment, to use labels that honor us as though we’ve earned ourselves rather than chancing into them— but we forget that this is true of every single other, too. This forgetting is the first step of the so-called othering process: forget that we are bound together in irreducibility, forget that we ought to be humble in all things, and especially in our judgments of one another.

Robinson once more:
"Only lonesomeness allows one to experience this sort of radical singularity, one’s greatest dignity and privilege."

Lonesomeness is what we’re all fleeing at the greatest possible speed, what our media now concern themselves chiefly with eliminating alongside leisure. We thus forget our radical singularity, a personal tragedy, an erasure, a hollowing-out, and likewise the singularity of others, which is a tragedy more social and political in nature, and one which seems to me truly and literally horrifying. Because more than any shared “belief system” or political pose, it is the shared experience of radical singularity that unites us: the shared experience of inimitability and mortality. Anything which countermands our duty to recognize and honor the human in the other is a kind of evil, however just its original intention."
millsbaker  canon  self  reality  empathy  humility  howwethink  2014  generalizations  morality  nietzsche  integrity  marilynnerobinson  mystery  grace  privacy  categorization  pigeonholingsingularity  lonesomeness  loneliness  leisure  artleisure  leisurearts  beliefs  belief  inimitability  humanism  judgement  familiarity  understanding 
august 2014 by robertogreco
The New Rules of Public Art | Public Art Now
"Demand new rules for public art now!

An organisation born in Bristol, UK, Situations reimagines what public art can be and where and when it can take place. We like to think and reflect on what happens when the spark of an idea is lit. We test out new ways in which to share those ideas through new commissions, events, interviews, books and blogs – just like this, The New Rules of Public Art.

Sign-up here to receive a link to download your free ‘The New Rules of Public Art’ poster or scroll down to get hold of your very own rulebook. In the meantime enjoy, share and debate The Rules.

THE NEW RULES OF PUBLIC ART

Rule no. 01: IT DOESN’T HAVE TO LOOK LIKE PUBLIC ART.

The days of bronze heroes and roundabout baubles are numbered. Public art can take any form or mode of encounter – from a floating Arctic island to a boat oven – be prepared to be surprised, delighted, even unnerved.

[Futurefarmers, Flatbread Society, Oslo, 2013. Photo: Max McClure]

Rule no. 02: IT’S NOT FOREVER.

From the here-today-gone tomorrow of a “one day sculpture” to the growth of a future library over 100 years, artists are shaking up the life expectancy of public artworks. Places don’t remain still and unchanged, so why should public art?

[BC System, New Works Forever, Bristol, 2013. Photo: Georgina Bolton]

Rule no. 03: CREATE SPACE FOR THE UNPLANNED.

Commissioning public art is not a simple design-and-build-process. Artworks arrive through a series of accidents, failures and experiments. Moments of uncertainty and rethinking are the points at which the artwork comes into focus. Let responses to the artwork unfold over time and be open to the potential for unforeseen things to happen.

Rule no. 04: DON’T MAKE IT FOR A COMMUNITY. CREATE A COMMUNITY.

Be wary of predefining an audience. Community is rarely born out of geography, but rather out of common purpose – whether that be a Flatbread Society of farmers, bakers and activists building a bakehouse or 23,000 citizens across 135 countries writing a constitution for a new nation. As Brian Eno once said, “sometimes the strongest single importance of a work of art is the celebration of some kind of temporary community.”

[Alex Hartley, Nowhereisland, Mevagissey, 2012. Photo: Max McClure]

Rule no. 05: WITHDRAW FROM THE CULTURAL ARMS RACE.

Towns and cities across the world are locked into a one-size fits all style of public art. In a culture of globalized brands and clone towns, we hanker after authentic, distinctive places. If we are place-making, then let’s make unusual places.

Rule no. 06: DEMAND MORE THAN FIREWORKS.

Believe in the quiet, unexpected encounter as much as the magic of the mass spectacle. It’s often in the silence of a solitary moment, or in a shared moment of recognition, rather than the exhilaration of whizzes and bangs, that transformation occurs.

[Wrights & Sites, Everything You Need to Build a Town is Here, Weston-super-Mare, 2010. Photo: Max McClure]

Rule no. 07: DON’T EMBELLISH, INTERRUPT.

We need smart urban design, uplifting street lighting and landmark buildings, but public art can do so much more than decorate. Interruptions to our surroundings or everyday activities can open our eyes to new possibilities beyond artistic embellishment.

[One Day Sculpture Heather & Ivan Morison, Journée des Barricades, Wellington, 2008. Photo: Steven Rowe]

Rule no. 08: SHARE OWNERSHIP FREELY, BUT AUTHORSHIP WISELY.

Public art is of the people and made with the people, but not always by the people. Artists are skilled creative thinkers as well as makers. They are the charismatic agents who arrive with curious ideas – a black pavilion could be barnraised in a Bristol park, a graveyard could be built to commemorate the Enrons and West India Companies of our fallen economy, the sounds of a church organ might bleed out across the city through a mobile app. Trust the artist’s judgment, follow their lead and invest in their process.

Rule no. 09: WELCOME OUTSIDERS.

Outsiders challenge our assumptions about what we believe to be true of a place. Embrace the opportunity to see through an outsider’s eyes.

[page 32 One of the Nowhereisland Ambassadors introducing the Embassy Photo Max McClureNowhereisland Ambassador, Weymouth, 2012 . Photo: Max McClure]

Rule no. 10: DON’T WASTE TIME ON DEFINITIONS.

Is it sculpture? Is it visual art? Is it performance? Who cares! There are more important questions to ask. Does it move you? Does it shake up your perceptions of the world around you, or your backyard? Do you want to tell someone else about it? Does it make you curious to see more?

Rule no. 11: SUSPEND YOUR DISBELIEF.

Art gives us the chance to imagine alternative ways of living, to disappear down rabbit holes, to live for a moment in a different world. Local specifics might have been the stepping off point – but public art is not a history lesson. Be prepared that it might not always tell the truth.

[Tony White, Missorts, Bristol, 2012. Photo: Max McClure]

Rule no. 12: GET LOST.

Public art is neither a destination nor a way-finder. Artists encourage us to follow them down unexpected paths as a work unfolds. Surrender the guidebook, get off the art trail, enter the labyrinth and lose yourself in unfamiliar territory.

[Jeppe Hein, Follow Me, Bristol, 2009. Photo: Jamie Woodley­. Courtesy University of Bristol]

Situations opens up the potential for artists to make extraordinary ideas happen in unusual and surprising places, through which audiences and participants are encouraged to explore new horizons.

We choose to work with artists who want to connect directly with people’s lives, creating space for them to take risks, to test limits and cross boundaries. Since 2002, artists have led us and thousands of others into unchartered territories, brought us together to build, bake, grow and marvel, transformed familiar surroundings, provoked us to ask ourselves challenging questions and told us tall tales of the future.

Demand new rules for public art now!"
publicart  glvo  canon  manifestos  performance  impermanence  ephemeral  ephermerality  rules  via:ablerism  imagination  community  conversation  socialpracticeart  culture  risktaking  ownership  open  openness  outsiders  empathy  perspective  listening  resistance  situationist  authorship  collaboration  participatory  cocreation  small  slow  unplanned  spontaneity  unfinished  uncertainty  ephemerality 
july 2014 by robertogreco