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robertogreco : epistemology   23

Dr. Michelle Fine on Willful Subjectivity and Strong Objectivity in Education Research - Long View on Education
"In this interview, Dr. Michelle Fine makes the argument for participatory action research as a sophisticated epistemology. Her work uncovers the willful subjectivity and radical wit of youth. In the last ten minutes, she gives some concrete recommendations for setting up a classroom that recognizes and values the gifts that students bring. Please check out her publications on ResearchGate [https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Michelle_Fine ] and her latest book Just Research in Contentious Times (Teachers College, 2018). [https://www.amazon.com/Just-Research-Contentious-Times-Methodological/dp/0807758736/ ]

Michelle Fine is a Distinguished Professor of Critical Psychology, Women’s Studies, American Studies and Urban Education at the Graduate Center CUNY.

Thank you to Dr. Kim Case and Professor Tanya L. Domi."
michellefine  reasearch  dispossession  privilege  resistance  solidarity  participatory  participatoryactionresearch  ethnography  education  benjamindoxtdatorcritical  pedagogy  race  racism  postcolonialism  criticaltheory  imf  epistemology  research  focusgroups  subjectivity  youth  teens  stories  socialjustice  criticalparticipatoryactionresearch  sexuality  centering  oppression  pointofview  action  quantitative  qualitative  injustice  gender  deficit  resilience  experience  radicalism  incarceration  billclinton  pellgrants  willfulsubjectivity  survivance  wit  radicalwit  indigeneity  queer  justice  inquiry  hannaharendt  criticalbifocality  psychology  context  history  structures  gigeconomy  progressive  grit  economics  victimblaming  schools  intersectionality  apolitical  neoliberalism  neutrality  curriculum  objectivity  contestedhistories  whiteprivilege  whitefragility  islamophobia  discrimination  alienation  conversation  disengagement  defensiveness  anger  hatred  complexity  diversity  self-definition  ethnicity 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Monstrous, Duplicated, Potent | Issue 28 | n+1
"On first read, I was dazzled and bewildered. Desperate to impress the organizer, who I thought brilliant, I strained over it line by line in hopes of insight. In the end, I mumbled through our meeting. I didn’t understand the Manifesto until I’d read it three more times. In truth, I probably still don’t. But for a young woman struggling to understand the world after Hurricane Katrina and a global financial crisis, Haraway beckoned. She offered a way to make sense of the things that seemed absent from politics as I knew it: science, nature, feminism.

The Manifesto proclaims itself to be against origin stories, but its own is hard to resist. In 1982, the Marxist journal Socialist Review — a bicoastal publication originally titled Socialist Revolution, whose insurrectionary name was moderated in the late 1970s as politics soured — asked Haraway to write five pages on the priorities of socialist feminism in the Reagan era. Haraway responded with thirty. It was the first piece, she claimed, she had ever written on a computer (a Hewlett-Packard-86). The submission caused controversy at the journal, with disagreement breaking down along geographic lines. As Haraway later recalled in an interview, “The East Coast Collective truly disapproved of it politically and did not want it published.” The more catholic West Coast won out, and the Manifesto was published in 1985 as “A Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the 1980s,” though it has been known colloquially as the Cyborg Manifesto ever since.

In one sense, Haraway did what she was asked: she outlined the contemporary state of political economy from a socialist-feminist perspective. Her reading of the shift to post-Fordism was loose but lucid. The rise of communications technologies made it possible to disperse labor globally while still controlling it, she noted, scattering once-unionized factory jobs across the continents. The gender of industrial work was changing too: there were more women assembling computer chips in East Asia than men slapping together cars in the American Midwest. Automation was lighter and brighter: in place of hulking industrial machinery, our “machines are made of sunshine” — but this light, invisible power nevertheless caused “immense human pain in Detroit and Singapore.” Family structures were changing: mothers increasingly worked outside the home and headed up the household. The result was what Haraway, drawing on Richard Gordon, called the homework economy — a pointed term for what’s euphemistically and blandly called the service economy.

The Manifesto offered a new politics for this new economy. Prescient about the need to organize the feminized, if not always female, sectors, Haraway explicitly called leftists to support SEIU District 925, a prominent campaign to unionize office workers. She also criticized the idea of a universal subject, whether held up by Marxists (the proletarian) or radical feminists (the woman). A new politics had to be constructed not around a singular agent but on the basis of a patchwork of identities and affinities. How, then, to find unity across difference, make political subjects in a postmodern era, and build power without presuming consensus? “One is too few, but two are too many,” she wrote cryptically. “One is too few, and two is only one possibility.” Acting as isolated individuals leads nowhere, but the effort to act collectively cannot leave difference aside. Women of color, Haraway suggested, following Chela Sandoval, could not rely on the stability of either category; they might lead the way in forging a new, nonessentialist unity based on affinity rather than identity.

This is where the metaphor of the cyborg comes in. For Haraway, the cyborg is a hybrid figure that crosses boundaries: between human and machine, human and animal, organism and machine, reality and fiction. As a political subject, it is expansive enough to encompass the range of human experience in all its permutations. A hybrid, it is more than one, but less than two.

In place of old political formations, Haraway imagined new cyborgian ones. She hoped that “the unnatural cyborg women making chips in Asia and spiral dancing in Santa Rita Jail” would together “guide effective oppositional strategies.” Her paradigmatic “cyborg society” was the Livermore Action Group, an antinuclear activist group targeting the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a nuclear-weapons-research facility in Northern California. The group, she thought, was “committed to building a political form that actually manages to hold together witches, engineers, elders, perverts, Christians, mothers, and Leninists long enough to disarm the state.”

What set the Manifesto apart from other reconceptions of feminism was its embrace of science. The cyborg was a figure that only a feminist biologist — herself an unlikely figure — could imagine. While by the 1980s many feminists were wary of biological claims about sexual difference, evading charges of essentialism by separating sex from gender (biology might give you a certain body, but society conditioned how you lived in it), Haraway argued that failing to take a position on biology was to “lose too much” — to surrender the notion of the body itself as anything more than a “blank page for social inscriptions.” Distinguishing her attachment to the body from the usual Earth Mother connotations was its famous closing line: “I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess.”

Who wouldn’t? The cyborg’s popularity was no doubt fueled in part by the vision of a bionic babe it suggested — a Furiosa or the Terminator — though it couldn’t be further from her meaning. Asked what she considered a true moment of cyborgness in 1999, Haraway responded, “the sense of the intricacy, interest, and pleasure — as well as the intensity — of how I have imagined how like a leaf I am.” The point was not that she shared some biological commonality with a leaf, or that she felt leaves to be kindred spirits (though she very well might have). What made her giddy was the thought of all the work that had gone into producing the knowledge that she was like a leaf — how incredible it was to be able to know such a thing — and the kinds of relationship to a leaf that such knowledge made possible.

Despite her frequent reminders that it was written as a “mostly sober” intervention into socialist-feminist politics rather than “the ramblings of a blissed-out, techno-bunny fembot,” many still read it as the latter. Wired profiled her enthusiastically in 1997. “To boho twentysomethings,” they wrote, “her name has the kind of cachet usually reserved for techno acts or new phenethylamines.” (More recently, the entrepreneurial synthetic biologist Drew Endy deployed the Manifesto in support of his bid to label synthetic biological products as “natural” under federal guidelines to increase their appeal to cautious consumers.)

Its Reagan-era coordinates may have changed, but the Manifesto remains Haraway’s most widely read work. The cyborg became a celebrity, as did Haraway herself, both serving as signifiers of a queer, savvy, self-aware feminism. Yet she has grown weary of its success, admonishing readers that “cyborgs are critters in a queer litter, not the Chief Figure of Our Times.”

Somewhat counterintuitively, it’s Haraway herself who sometimes seems the Chief Figure. There’s no Harawavian school, though she has many acolytes. She does not belong to any particular school herself, though many have attempted to place her. You can’t really do a Harawavian analysis of the economy or the laboratory; other than the cyborg, she’s produced few portable concepts or frameworks. Her own individual prominence runs counter to her view of intellectual work as collectively produced. Yet for thirty years she’s been ahead of intellectual trends, not by virtue of building foundational frameworks but by inspiring others to spawn and spur entire fields, from feminist science studies to multispecies ethics. Her work tends to emerge from problems she sees in the world rather than from engagement with literatures, thinkers, or trends, yet it manages to transcend mere timeliness.

Her new book, Staying with the Trouble, is a commentary on the most pressing threat of our era: catastrophic climate change. It’s hard to think of someone better suited to the task. Climate change requires ways of thinking capable of confronting the closely bound future of countless humans and nonhumans, the basis for certainty in scientific findings, the political consequences of such knowledge, and the kinds of political action that such consequences call for. If Haraway has long practiced such hybrid thinking, that also means the problem best suited to challenging her thought — to testing its mettle, and its usefulness to our political future — has decisively arrived."



"Under Hutchinson’s supervision, she wrote a dissertation heavily influenced by Thomas Kuhn’s 1962 landmark The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Kuhn had caused an uproar with his argument that rather than steadily progressing toward truth, the production of scientific knowledge was marked by conflict and upheaval. What scientists had once been certain was true would eventually be considered wrong. Each emerging framework was often incommensurable with what had come before. Kuhn called this phenomenon a “paradigm shift.” A classic example was the transition from Newtonian physics to Einsteinian relativity."

[See also: "Cthulhu plays no role for me"
https://www.viewpointmag.com/2017/05/08/cthulhu-plays-no-role-for-me/ ]
donnaharaway  2017  science  scientism  feminism  cyborgs  serviceeconomy  economics  academia  philosophy  1982  1985  california  ucsantacruz  queerness  biology  nancyhartstock  marxism  fredericjameson  hueynewton  angeladavis  historyofconsciousness  teresadelauretis  climatechange  anthropocene  naomiklein  blockadia  rustenhogness  kinstanleyrobinson  cyborgmanifesto  jamesclifford  histcon  alyssabattistoni  blackpantherparty  bobbyseale  jayemiller  historyofscience  radicalism  radicalscience  multispecies  animals  praxis  gregorybateson  systemsthinking  language  storytelling  politics  intersectionality  situatedknowledge  solidarity  perspective  thomaskuhn  epistemology  reality  consciousness  primatology  theory  empiricism  octaviabutler  sciencefiction  scifi  patriarchy  colonialism  racism  ignorance  objectivity  curiosity  technology  biotechnology  technofuturism  companionspecies  dogs  ethics  chthulucene  capitalocene  ursulaleguin  utopia  mundane  kinship  families  unity  friendship  work  labor  hope  sophielewis  blackpanthers 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Against Infographics - Art Journal Open
"When design is excellent, graphics reveal data, writes the infographics guru Edward Tufte.1 Good information graphics allow the reader to see relationships not apparent in data without visual form. In principle, such graphics do not impose interpretations but, by showing relationships, make interpretations possible. In Tufte’s oft-quoted phrase: “Good design is clear thinking made visual.”2 Things become considerably more difficult, however, if, pace Tufte, your analytic goal is to complicate rather than to simplify, to open multiple avenues of inquiry, and, most important, to challenge the stability of underlying data, in fact or in principle.

All of these complexities are probed intensely in Depictions, an ongoing print series by the Dutch artist Gert Jan Kocken (b. 1971). Depictions consists of room-size maps of European cities during the Second World War—Rome, Vienna, Munich, and Berlin along the north-south axis of fascism; London, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Łódź, Warsaw, and Stalingrad along the east-west corridor of conflict—each built up in layers from dozens of source maps unearthed in archives. Kocken’s three-by-four meter Depictions of Berlin, 1933–1945 (2010), for example, is constructed from 104 historical maps, which the artist scanned, georectified, layered into a single digital image, and rendered as a C-print. The resulting composite is a welter of information representing the breakneck change, contradictory claims, and massive data production of the Second World War.

Visually, Kocken’s Depictions are both familiar and strange. Anyone who knows Berlin, particularly the internal borders drawn in 1945 and ossified in the Berlin Wall that remain central to the city’s identity, will easily recognize the terrain of Depictions of Berlin. But other cartographic ghosts visible in the work are invisible on the ground. In Kocken’s map, along with the outlines of the wall, we see the process of ethnic cleansing as registered in contemporary reports, the footprint of Germania, the megacity with which Hitler intended to replace Berlin, and the view from Allied bombers. At once, the Depictions series draws on the data-rich tradition of monumental history painting, as seen, for example, in Albrecht Altdorfer’s The Battle of Alexander at Issus (1529), and on the defocalizing, allover paintings of Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, and other artists working in the 1940s and 1950s. Kocken’s Depictions are simultaneously narrative and aleatory."



"For infographic purposes, there are a number of more obvious ways to deal with historical maps than Kocken’s approach. In the first place, we have the computer interface. Clearly, this is a resource available to Kocken, as his maps all pass through digital mediation on their way to their final printed form. One can easily imagine, for example, a mapping application that allows users to pick and choose among the 104 maps that constitute Kocken’s Depictions of Berlin, selecting display options such as color, opacity, and so forth. And, indeed, many such engines exist. Moreover, with the right approach, even Kocken’s print artifact could be rendered more legible. Kocken chose a different angle, allowing competing stories to conflict visually as well as epistemologically. In places, this conflict produces illegibility not unlike what we find in the dark regions of the Ypres map; in other places, coherences and transparencies are themselves a surprise.

In an age of infographics, we tend to forget that infographics age and the foreignness of old graphics matters to our understanding of them. Kocken’s Depictions show us that information graphics are always historical and conveying their opacity is as much a part of the historical project as is translating them into a contemporary visual language."
via:shannon_mattern  ambiguity  cartography  epistemology  complexity  art  maps  mapping  gertjankocken  danielrosenberg  2016  edwardtufte  visualization  infographics  berlin  amsterdam  rotterdam 
march 2016 by robertogreco
An Interview with James C. Scott - Gastronomica
"Tracey Campbell:

Given that few societies, if any, are now fully independent of the kind of market forces that you have been discussing today, how should ethnographers consider corporations as actors when they’re doing their research? To elaborate a little further, a lot of people studying peasant agriculturists bemoan the presence of a market or corporations who extract value from the peasants, but there doesn’t seem to be any robust methodology for dealing with the corporations on the other side of those transactions so that there’s a corporate perspective on the transaction. It seems to be a sort of “here there be dragons” area of ethnographic research.

JS:

I suppose that would be remedied by the kind of ethnography in which people who either undercover, or with permission, go and do ethnographies of corporations as they’re dealing with them, right? So I would recommend a hero student of mine who’s named Tim Pachirat. He had an idea which was not politically correct for a political scientist; he was interested in what it did to people to kill sentient beings every day all day for a living. And so what he did, although he’s originally of Thai-American background and was going to work in Thailand, he learned Spanish and got himself a job in a slaughterhouse working for a year and a half, including working on the kill floor of the slaughterhouse, and ended up writing an ethnography of vision in the slaughterhouse in a book that I promise you, you cannot put down, it is so gripping. Everybody said that this was a career-ending move as a dissertation, but he wanted to do it and the book is an astounding account of the way in which the clean and dirty sections of a slaughterhouse are kept separate from one another and workers treated differently, and the way the line works. You could only write this ethnography, I think, by actually doing this work. And if he asked permission they never would have given it to him, so he just did it. So, he avoided all of the protocols for the people you’re interviewing, etc., he just ignored it all and did it. To begin with nothing much happened; he spent three months hanging livers in a cold room with another Hispanic worker. I mean, three months just taking a liver that came on a chain and putting it in a box and passing it on. And so he didn’t think that there was a lot of ethnography coming out of the room where he was packing livers, but he gradually worked his way into other parts of the plant. But I wish more people would go into the belly of the beast, either of corporations or supermarkets or institutions. At the end of his book he suggests making slaughterhouses out of glass and allowing schoolchildren to see how their meat’s prepared. I always believed that social science was a progressive profession because it was the powerful who had the most to hide about how the world actually worked and if you could show how the world actually worked it would always have a de-masking and a subversive effect on the powerful. I don’t think that’s quite true, but it seems to me it’s not bad as a point of departure anyway.

HW:

Moving on to the state now, you associate developing technologies of rule historically with ever more exploitative forms of hierarchy, and of course revolutionary states come in for focused critique in your work, as you distinguish between struggles over and through the apparatus of the state and you point out that these struggles have generally been disastrous for peasants and the working poor. But in a globalized world where decisive forms—and here I’m thinking about things like vertically integrated food supply chains—operate at ever greater distances and seem ever less controllable to ordinary people, is there not some role for the state; is resistance possible without engaging the state, without using the state in one way or another?

JS:

It’s hard to see any institutional structure that stands in the way of the homogenization and simplification of these supply chains in international capitalism, unless it is the nation state, right? Unless it is a kind of authoritative state structure. So, “yes.” [laughs] Now, qualifications that will leave little of the “yes” standing. First of all, most states aren’t even remotely democracies and most of the people who run these states by and large do the bidding of their corporate masters and take bribes and are servants of international capitalism, right? So we can’t rely on those states, can we? And then you take contemporary Western democracies, let me use my own country which I know best as an example, yes, you have an electoral system, yes you reelected the first black man president, yes there are some changes. On the other hand, the concentration of wealth has grown steeper and steeper and steeper, it allows lobbyists and people who provide campaign finance to basically control a campaign and its message, these people tend at the sort of high echelons of the corporate world to control most of the media and its messaging—right? These people are also able to sit on the congressional committees and write the loopholes in the legislation. Even when there is reform, they’re able to so influence the wording of the legislation that the loopholes are built in, they don’t have to be found, they’re actually legislated. And so then you get a state that in a neoliberal world is less and less able to be an honest mediator, a representative of popular aspirations, to discipline corporations. I want to leave a little bit of the yes standing, because as the result of the financial crisis there were slightly more stringent rules on bank capitalization, on regulation, on some consumer protection, but I think by and large there is not much in that way. Now, Scandinavian social democracy is a better picture, but North Atlantic, Anglo-American neoliberalism is not providing the kind of state that I think can provide this kind of discipline and regulation. I’m pessimistic."
jamescscott  via:shannon_mattern  epistemology  agriculture  academia  geography  2015  harrywest  celiaplender  interviews  agrarianstudies  southeastasia  anarchism  toread  resistance  vietnam  burma  thailand  timpachirat  ethnography  hierarchy  thestate  goverment  governance  capitalism  socialdemocracy  homogenization 
october 2015 by robertogreco
How to Avoid Being Fooled by Bad Maps - CityLab
"Maps are big these days. Blogs and news sites (including this one) frequently post maps and those maps often go viral—40 maps that explain the world, the favorite TV shows of each U.S. state, and so on. They’re all over Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, and news organizations are understandably capitalizing on the power that maps clearly have in digital space: they can visualize a lot of data quickly and effectively. But they can also visualize a lot of data inaccurately and misleadingly.

A map is not just a picture—it’s also the data behind the map, the methodology used to collect and parse that data, the people doing that work, the choices made in terms of visualization and the software used to make them. A map is also a representation of the world, which in some ways must always be a little inaccurate—most maps, after all, show the roughly spherical world on a flat surface. Certain things are always left off or highlighted while others are altered, as no map can show everything at once. All of those choices and biases, conscious or not, can have important effects on the map itself. We may be looking at something inaccurate, misleading, or incorrect without realizing it.

As Mark Monmonier writes in the fantastic book How to Lie With Maps, Americans are taught from an early age to analyze and understand the meaning and manipulation of words, such as advertising, political campaigns, news and the like (to be “cautious consumers of words” as he puts it) but they are rarely taught the same skills about maps.

Education about using maps (and geography as a whole) is not thorough or common in U.S. schools. The high school Advanced Placement exams for human geography only started being offered in 2001*, for example, and many top private universities do not offer geography as a subject. Harvard dropped it in 1948, which some academics blame for kicking off a decrease in the learning of geography across the country.

Numerous studies report that the vast majority of Americans lack geographic literacy and are unable to find places like Afghanistan or Iraq on a map, let alone understand more complex spatial relationships about them—where are things, why are they there, how does that influence other things? (Harvard, to its credit, formed a Center for Geographic Analysis in 2006.) If they think of it at all, many Americans think geography is just memorizing a list of state capitals or looking at pictures of cool animals in National Geographic.

It’s no surprise then that people often assume maps are accurate, because it’s so often unclear how they are made—maps are “arcane images afforded undue respect and credibility” that are “entrusted to a priesthood of technically competent designers and drafters,” as Monmonier puts it. Almost everybody can write, but not everyone can make a map.

At the same time, the use of geographic information systems (GIS) has exploded as computers and software get more powerful and less expensive. New web mapping tools and the availability of data are democratizing cartography, allowing almost anyone to attempt mapmaking—something that was formerly possible only for experts or users of specialized software. That means many more people are creating their own maps, which is surely a good thing, but it also means that there are many more inaccurate, incorrect maps out there—either by design (to push viral or push a viewpoint) or because the creators don’t fully understand what they’re doing.

Maps are still fun, even the inaccurate ones. But there are a few steps you can take and concepts you can keep in mind to avoid being fooled by a map."
data  maps  mapping  infographics  cartography  epistemology  geography  education  literacy  classideas  andrewwiseman  markmonmonier  deception  titles  viaLshannon_mattern 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Haecceity - Wikipedia
"Haecceity (/hɛkˈsiːɪti, hiːk-/; from the Latin haecceitas, which translates as "thisness") is a term from medieval scholastic philosophy, first coined by Duns Scotus, which denotes the discrete qualities, properties or characteristics of a thing which make it a particular thing. Haecceity is a person or object's "thisness", the individualising difference between the concept 'a man' and the concept 'Socrates' (a specific person).[1] Haecceity is a literal translation of the equivalent term in Aristotle's Greek to ti esti (τὸ τί ἐστι)[2] or "the what it is."

Charles Sanders Peirce later used the term as a non-descriptive reference to an individual.[3]"

[via: “so this word came up in class yesterday http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haecceity the thisness, the ‘what-it-is’”
https://twitter.com/soulellis/status/568391019135422464 ]
epistemology  thisness  theory  distinction  haecceity  qualities  characteristics  difference  individuality 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Meta is Murder - Mills Baker's Internet Haus of Cards
"There’s enormous and increasing pressure on humans to achieve reach in their ideas, designs, morals, and policies. Despite having evolved in small groups with small-group habits of cognition and emotion, we now live in a global group and must coordinate hugely complex societies. The problems we face are problems at scale. Thus: reach is mandatory. A taxation, software design, or criminal justice solution that cannot be deployed at scale isn’t useful to us anymore; indeed, even opinions must scale up. For personal, political, governmental, commercial, literary, expediency-oriented, and many other reasons, we must have solutions that work for more human (H) units / instances, and H is always increasing (even as every sub-member of H is determined to be respected according to her or his unpredictable inimitability, range of action, moral agency, autonomy, freedom, etc.).

This pressure often inclines people to accept induction- or correlation-based models or ideas, which are inaccurate to varyingly significant degrees, in lieu of explanatory models. That is: in many situations, we’ll accept aggregates, groups, central plans, reductions, otherings, dehumanizations, short-hand-symbols, and so on because (1) they serve our ends, sometimes without any costs or (2) we have nothing else. In order to have explanations with reach in areas where we have no models, we commit philosophical fraud: we transact with elements and dynamics we cannot predict or understand and we hope for the best (better, it seems, than admitting that “I don’t know”). How we talk about speculative models, reductive schema, and plural entities —peoples, companies, generations, professions, events even— reveals a lot about how much we care for epistemological accuracy. And not caring about it is a kind of brutality; it means we don’t care what happens to the lives inaccurately described, not captured by our model, not helped by our policies, unaided by our designs, not included in our normative plan.

In politics, design, art, philosophy, and even ordinary daily thinking, being consciously aware of this tension, and of the pressure to exchange accuracy for reach, is as important as recognizing the difference between “guessing” and “knowing.” Otherwise, one is likely to adopt ideas with reach without recognizing the increased risk of inaccuracy that comes with it. One will be tempted to ignore the risk even if one knows it, tempted by how nice it is to have tidy conceptions of good and evil, friend and foe, progress and failure.

Reach is innately personally pleasing in part because it privileges the knower, whose single thought describes thousands or millions of people, whose simple position circumscribes civilization’s evolution, the history of religion, the nature of economics, the meaning of life. Exceptions be damned! But in general, if an idea has significant reach, it must be backed by an explanatory model or it will either be too vague or too inaccurate to be useful. And if it’s a political or moral idea, the innocent exceptions will be damned along with the guilty. Hence the immorality of reduction, othering, and inaccurate ideas whose reach makes them popular."
millsbaker  internet  scale  small  2014  politics  design  technology  reach  accuracy  knowing  guessing  induction  correlation  economics  globalization  dehumanization  othering  centralization  systems  systemsthinking  autonomy  freedom  agency  inimitability  notknowing  caring  progress  epistemology  thinking 
december 2014 by robertogreco
The Breakthrough Institute - Love Your Monsters
"Dr. Frankenstein's crime was not that he invented a creature through some combination of hubris and high technology, but rather that he abandoned the creature to itself. When Dr. Frankenstein meets his creation on a glacier in the Alps, the monster claims that it was not born a monster, but that it became a criminal only after being left alone by his horrified creator, who fled the laboratory once the horrible thing twitched to life. "Remember, I am thy creature," the monster protests, "I ought to be thy Adam; but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed... I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend. Make me happy, and I shall again be virtuous."


Written at the dawn of the great technological revolutions that would define the 19th and 20th centuries, Frankenstein foresees that the gigantic sins that were to be committed would hide a much greater sin. It is not the case that we have failed to care for Creation, but that we have failed to care for our technological creations. We confuse the monster for its creator and blame our sins against Nature upon our creations. But our sin is not that we created technologies but that we failed to love and care for them. It is as if we decided that we were unable to follow through with the education of our children.4

Let Dr. Frankenstein's sin serve as a parable for political ecology. At a time when science, technology, and demography make clear that we can never separate ourselves from the nonhuman world -- that we, our technologies, and nature can no more be disentangled than we can remember the distinction between Dr. Frankenstein and his monster -- this is the moment chosen by millions of well-meaning souls to flagellate themselves for their earlier aspiration to dominion, to repent for their past hubris, to look for ways of diminishing the numbers of their fellow humans, and to swear to make their footprints invisible?"



"4.
The link between technology and theology hinges on the notion of mastery. Descartes exclaimed that we should be "maîtres et possesseurs de la nature."10 

But what does it mean to be a master? In the modernist narrative, mastery was supposed to require such total dominance by the master that he was emancipated entirely from any care and worry. This is the myth about mastery that was used to describe the technical, scientific, and economic dominion of Man over Nature.

But if you think about it according to the compositionist narrative, this myth is quite odd: where have we ever seen a master freed from any dependence on his dependents? The Christian God, at least, is not a master who is freed from dependents, but who, on the contrary, gets folded into, involved with, implicated with, and incarnated into His Creation. God is so attached and dependent upon His Creation that he is continually forced (convinced? willing?) to save it. Once again, the sin is not to wish to have dominion over Nature, but to believe that this dominion means emancipation and not attachment.

If God has not abandoned His Creation and has sent His Son to redeem it, why do you, a human, a creature, believe that you can invent, innovate, and proliferate -- and then flee away in horror from what you have committed? Oh, you the hypocrite who confesses of one sin to hide a much graver, mortal one! Has God fled in horror after what humans made of His Creation? Then have at least the same forbearance that He has.

The dream of emancipation has not turned into a nightmare. It was simply too limited: it excluded nonhumans. It did not care about unexpected consequences; it was unable to follow through with its responsibilities; it entertained a wholly unrealistic notion of what science and technology had to offer; it relied on a rather impious definition of God, and a totally absurd notion of what creation, innovation, and mastery could provide.

Which God and which Creation should we be for, knowing that, contrary to Dr. Frankenstein, we cannot suddenly stop being involved and "go home?" Incarnated we are, incarnated we will be. In spite of a centuries-old misdirected metaphor, we should, without any blasphemy, reverse the Scripture and exclaim: "What good is it for a man to gain his soul yet forfeit the whole world?""

"via this string of tweets from @infrathin:

2 months later, still processing this B. Latour essay http://thebreakthrough.org/index.php/journal/past-issues/issue-2/love-your-monsters …"
https://twitter.com/infrathin/status/544737470605451265

"LT how to be responsible in the way we conceive of what our responsibility is +?"
https://twitter.com/infrathin/status/544737846280863745

"Like responsibility, love is an allegiance to follow through with the monstrous dilemmas created by it. +?"
https://twitter.com/infrathin/status/544738933566083072

"Love and responsibility both require setting aside what we want them to look like. +?"
https://twitter.com/infrathin/status/544739636665651200

"LT so difficult that i don't know how to do it and have never been able to--except briefly in song. How can i expect "us" to do it?"
https://twitter.com/infrathin/status/544740052379901952

"so.... um, love you monsters y'all http://thebreakthrough.org/index.php/journal/past-issues/issue-2/love-your-monsters …"
https://twitter.com/infrathin/status/544740320005853186 ]

[Related: Audrey Watters’s “Ed-Tech's Monsters #ALTC ” https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:42f77ca711c1 ]
brunlatour  anthropocene  responsibility  love  technology  2012  frankenstein  science  descartes  nature  environment  sustainability  care  nonhumans  emancipation  exploitation  environmentalism  climatechange  modernism  postenvironmentalism  morality  ethics  legal  law  epistemology  reason  decisionmaking  politics  policy  caregiving  intervention  stewardship  posthumanism 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Wilson’s 1997 “Educational Standards and the Problem of Error” (updated 2013)
[A comment in reaction to a post on Diane Ravitch's blog "The Fatal Flaw of the Common Core Standards", via Taryn who quotes Duane Swacker. Bookmark points to the comment.]

"the [grade/test score] becomes part of the story about yourself and with sufficient repetitions becomes true: true because those who know, those in authority, say it is true [...] true because if your mark is high you are consistently rewarded, so that your voice becomes a voice of authority in the power-knowledge discourses that reproduce the structure that helped to produce you"

[The full comment:]

"That educational standards, in this instance CCSS and standardized testing have “fatal flaws” has been know for quite a while. In 1997 Noel Wilson identified at least 13 epistemological and ontological “fatal flaws” that render the processes of the educational standards and standardized testing completely invalid. That this is not wider known is beyond me because it seems like common sense, but we know there isn’t much common sense in the Common Core. To understand why CCSS is such educational malarkey and, in reality educational malpractice read his “Educational Standards and the Problem of Error” found at: http://epaa.asu.edu/ojs/article/view/577/700

Brief outline of Wilson’s “Educational Standards and the Problem of Error” and some comments of mine. (updated 6/24/13 per Wilson email)

1. A quality cannot be quantified. Quantity is a sub-category of quality. It is illogical to judge/assess a whole category by only a part (sub-category) of the whole. The assessment is, by definition, lacking in the sense that “assessments are always of multidimensional qualities. To quantify them as one dimensional quantities (numbers or grades) is to perpetuate a fundamental logical error” (per Wilson). The teaching and learning process falls in the logical realm of aesthetics/qualities of human interactions. In attempting to quantify educational standards and standardized testing we are lacking much information about said interactions.

2. A major epistemological mistake is that we attach, with great importance, the “score” of the student, not only onto the student but also, by extension, the teacher, school and district. Any description of a testing event is only a description of an interaction, that of the student and the testing device at a given time and place. The only correct logical thing that we can attempt to do is to describe that interaction (how accurately or not is a whole other story). That description cannot, by logical thought, be “assigned/attached” to the student as it cannot be a description of the student but the interaction. And this error is probably one of the most egregious “errors” that occur with standardized testing (and even the “grading” of students by a teacher).

3. Wilson identifies four “frames of reference” each with distinct assumptions (epistemological basis) about the assessment process from which the “assessor” views the interactions of the teaching and learning process: the Judge (think college professor who “knows” the students capabilities and grades them accordingly), the General Frame-think standardized testing that claims to have a “scientific” basis, the Specific Frame-think of learning by objective like computer based learning, getting a correct answer before moving on to the next screen, and the Responsive Frame-think of an apprenticeship in a trade or a medical residency program where the learner interacts with the “teacher” with constant feedback. Each category has its own sources of error and more error in the process is caused when the assessor confuses and conflates the categories.

4. Wilson elucidates the notion of “error”: “Error is predicated on a notion of perfection; to allocate error is to imply what is without error; to know error it is necessary to determine what is true. And what is true is determined by what we define as true, theoretically by the assumptions of our epistemology, practically by the events and non-events, the discourses and silences, the world of surfaces and their interactions and interpretations; in short, the practices that permeate the field. . . Error is the uncertainty dimension of the statement; error is the band within which chaos reigns, in which anything can happen. Error comprises all of those eventful circumstances which make the assessment statement less than perfectly precise, the measure less than perfectly accurate, the rank order less than perfectly stable, the standard and its measurement less than absolute, and the communication of its truth less than impeccable.”

In other word all the logical errors involved in the process render any conclusions invalid.

5. The test makers/psychometricians, through all sorts of mathematical machinations attempt to “prove” that these tests (based on standards) are valid-errorless or supposedly at least with minimal error [they aren't]. Wilson turns the concept of validity on its head and focuses on just how invalid the machinations and the test and results are. He is an advocate for the test taker not the test maker. In doing so he identifies thirteen sources of “error”, any one of which renders the test making/giving/disseminating of results invalid. As a basic logical premise is that once something is shown to be invalid it is just that, invalid, and no amount of “fudging” by the psychometricians/test makers can alleviate that invalidity.

6. Having shown the invalidity, and therefore the unreliability, of the whole process Wilson concludes, rightly so, that any result/information gleaned from the process is “vain and illusory”. In other words start with an invalidity, end with an invalidity (except by sheer chance every once in a while, like a blind and anosmic squirrel who finds the occasional acorn, a result may be “true”) or to put in more mundane terms crap in-crap out.

7. And so what does this all mean? I’ll let Wilson have the second to last word: “So what does a test measure in our world? It measures what the person with the power to pay for the test says it measures. And the person who sets the test will name the test what the person who pays for the test wants the test to be named.”

In other words it measures “’something’ and we can specify some of the ‘errors’ in that ‘something’ but still don’t know [precisely] what the ‘something’ is.” The whole process harms many students as the social rewards for some are not available to others who “don’t make the grade (sic)” Should American public education have the function of sorting and separating students so that some may receive greater benefits than others, especially considering that the sorting and separating devices, educational standards and standardized testing, are so flawed not only in concept but in execution?

My answer is NO!!!!!

One final note with Wilson channeling Foucault and his concept of subjectivization:

“So the mark [grade/test score] becomes part of the story about yourself and with sufficient repetitions becomes true: true because those who know, those in authority, say it is true; true because the society in which you live legitimates this authority; true because your cultural habitus makes it difficult for you to perceive, conceive and integrate those aspects of your experience that contradict the story; true because in acting out your story, which now includes the mark and its meaning, the social truth that created it is confirmed; true because if your mark is high you are consistently rewarded, so that your voice becomes a voice of authority in the power-knowledge discourses that reproduce the structure that helped to produce you; true because if your mark is low your voice becomes muted and confirms your lower position in the social hierarchy; true finally because that success or failure confirms that mark that implicitly predicted the now self-evident consequences. And so the circle is complete.”

In other words students “internalize” what those “marks” (grades/test scores) mean, and since the vast majority of the students have not developed the mental skills to counteract what the “authorities” say, they accept as “natural and normal” that “story/description” of them. Although paradoxical in a sense, the “I’m an “A” student” is almost as harmful as “I’m an ‘F’ student” in hindering students becoming independent, critical and free thinkers. And having independent, critical and free thinkers is a threat to the current socio-economic structure of society."
assessment  learning  tests  testing  authority  dianravitch  duaneswacker  measurement  1997  noelwilson  commoncore  stadards  standardization  error  epistemology  grades  grading  ranking  rankings  standardizedtests  dtandardizedtesting  hierarchy  hierarchies  via:Taryn  power  tcsnmy  criticalthinking  freedom  democracy  sorting 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Nelson Goodman: Ways of Worldmaking (1978–) [EN, ES, CZ, CR] — Monoskop Log
“A major thesis of this book is that the arts must be taken no less seriously than the sciences as modes of discovery, creation, and enlargement of knowledge in the broad sense of advancement of the understanding, and thus that the philosophy of art should be conceived as an integral part of metaphysics and epistemology.”
books  art  arts  nelsongoodman  1978  epistemology  arttheory  aesthetics  science  knowledge  discovery  creation  metaphysics 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Constructivism: From Philosophy to Practice. [.pdf]
"This exploration of constructivism begins with a discussion of constructivist epistemology and learning theory, explaining that constructivist epistemology is difficult to label, though many writers, educators, and researchers have come to an agreement about how this constructivist epistemology should affect educational practice and learning. The paper goes on to consider what constructivism means for learning, offering a summary of characteristics of constructivist learning and teaching and using the summary to compile a constructivist checklist. This checklist can be applied by educators to educational projects and environments in order to observe the way in which constructivist epistemology and theories of learning can be accommodated in educational practice. The paper concludes by suggesting that an important challenge for educational reform is to begin to question and come to greater understanding of the philosophy, theory, and epistemology that presently informs educational practice. (Contains 32 references.)"

[Quote from within highlighted by Chris Blow, who pointed me here.]

"In Moliere's Bourgeois Gentilhomme, the 'nouveau riche' Jourdain, who wants nothing more than to be accepted into the company of the French Aristocracy, makes an important discovery: "I am speaking prose! I have always spoken prose! I have spoken prose throughout my whole life!". Jourdain's sudden realization highlights the notion that not all our actions are necessarily directly guided by an overt knowledge of the reasoning behind them. In the same way, educators often adopt a particular approach or method without necessarily having purposely considered the theory or philosophy that underpins the approach. Intuition, successful experiences, observations: these factors play an important role in influencing the behaviour of teachers and, no doubt, often dictate their practice."
elizabethmurphy  constructivism  moliere  learning  unschooling  deschooling  practice  behavior  epistemology  education  teaching  via:unthinkingly 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Perestroika and Epistemological Politics : Stager-to-Go
"I am suggesting that it is useful to think of what is happening as the system striving to define teaching as a technical act."

"Real restructuring of the administration and of the curriculum can only come with an epistemological restructuring, an epistemological perestroika . . . reshaping the structure of knowledge itself."

"A body of evidence is building up that puts in question, not only whether traditional scientific method is the only way to do good science, but even whether it is even practiced to any large extent."

"Control over teachers and students is simply easier when knowledge is reduced to rules stated so formally that the bureaucrat is always able to “know” unambiguously what is right and what is wrong. "

"For stable change a deeper restructuring is needed–or else the large parts of the system you didn’t change will just bring the little parts you did change back into line. We have to seek out the deeper structures on which the system is based."
accountability  power  control  sovietunion  mikhailgorbachev  rules  curriculum  cv  teaching  epistemology  revolution  perestroika  mitmedialab  logo  1990  learning  education  change  megachange  educationreform  bureaucracy  systems  systemicchange  hierarchy  constructivism  seymourpapert  medialab 
january 2013 by robertogreco
Aporia. Writing and lesser things by Mills Baker. Objectivity and Art.
"This process is progressive: science gets better and better, even though it is purely the creation of “subjective” human conjecture —imagination— tested against reality for utility…

All of which is to say: artists are natural technologists. Historically, they’ve pursued the newest and best techniques, materials, and forms. When the methodology for achieving perspective became clear, few resisted it on the basis of a calcified iconographic style considered to be “high art,” or if some did they’ve been suitably forgotten. And had new inks, better canvases, or some unimaginable invention given superior means to the impressionists to capture washes of light and mood —like, say, film— they’d have used whatever was available. The purpose of painting isn’t paint, after all; nor is the purpose of writing a book…

Perhaps we are transitioning from artists-as-depictors and artists-as-catalyzers to artists-as-world-makers…"
théodoregéricault  alberteinstein  daviddeutsch  isaacnewton  designasart  meaningmaking  meaning  universality  hildegardofbingen  michelangelo  abbotsuger  erwinschrödinger  qualia  cilewis  temporality  virtualization  control  reality  chauvetcave  epistemology  knowledge  misconceptions  objectivity  karlpopper  philosophy  experience  huamns  human  humanexperience  progress  catalysis  making  writing  2012  worldcreating  worldbuilding  worldmaking  highart  technology  design  humans  subjectivity  glvo  perception  color  science  millsbaker 
may 2012 by robertogreco
Against TED – The New Inquiry
"TED is not simply “engaging” & “entertaining” but a specific type of entertainment that is increasingly out of touch & exclusionary.

…appears that whole TED brand induces laughter from many of those skeptical of corporate speak & techno-jargon. At first, I thought I was laughing alone; however, it turns out that lots of other people are equally unimpressed by the current state of TED…I’m not the only one who does not take TED very seriously or worse, views the whole project as suspect…

Perhaps the biggest complaint I heard was that TED smells of corporatism…

So many of the TED talks take on the form of those famous patent medicine tonic cure-all pitches of previous centuries, as though they must convince you not through the content of what’s being said but through the hyper-engaging style of the delivery…

As Mike Bulajewski pointed out in a Tweet, “TED’s ‘revolutionary ideas’ mask capitalism as usual, giving it a narrative of progress and change.”"
technology  alexismadrigal  popularity  exclusionary  exclusivity  bias  ideology  paulcurrion  mikebulajewski  evangelism  delivery  snakeoilsalesmen  2012  epistemology  corporatism  nathanjurgenson  criticism  ted 
february 2012 by robertogreco
The Aporeticus - by Mills Baker · Design & Compromise [So much more within, read the whole thing and the comments too.]
"…why does compromise have its “undeservedly high reputation”?…b/c we are discomfited by philosophical implications of fact that some ideas are objectively better. We exempt science from our contemporary anxieties because its benefits are too explicit to deny, but in most creative fields we are no longer capable of accepting the superiority of some solutions to others; unable to sustain confidence in soundness of artistic problem-solving process, we will not provoke interpersonal/organizational conflict for sake of mere ideas.

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

But the creative arts are not so subjective as we tend to think, which is why a talented, dictatorial auteur will produce better work than polls, fcus groups, or hundreds of compromising committees."
creativecontrol  dictatorship  dictators  dictatorialcreativity  violence  stevejobs  wateringdown  choice  debate  persuasion  2011  waste  stagnation  innovation  creativity  madetofail  setupforfailure  problemsolving  hypotheses  brokenbydesignprocess  democracy  control  procedure  process  inferiority  superiority  average  averages  means  politics  policy  howwework  meetings  committees  mediocrity  epistemology  philosophy  authoritarianism  cowardice  ideas  science  art  design  millsbaker  compromise 
january 2012 by robertogreco
To Know, but Not Understand: David Weinberger on Science and Big Data - David Weinberger - Technology - The Atlantic
"Model-based knowing has many well-documented difficulties, especially when we are attempting to predict real-world events subject to the vagaries of history; a Cretaceous-era model of that eras ecology would not have included the arrival of a giant asteroid in its data, and no one expects a black swan. Nevertheless, models can have the predictive power demanded of scientific hypotheses. We have a new form of knowing.

This new knowledge requires not just giant computers but a network to connect them, to feed them, and to make their work accessible. It exists at the network level, not in the heads of individual human beings."
modeling  modelessinnovation  models  2012  understanding  technology  epistemology  davidweinberger  knowledge  complexity  bigdata  data  science 
january 2012 by robertogreco
The Wrong Stuff : Error Message: Google Research Director Peter Norvig on Being Wrong
"I want to talk about innovation, because it seems to me that the price of trying new things is that most of them fail. How do you build a tolerance for that kind of failure into a public corporation that's accountable to its bottom line? Getting things wrong might be necessary to getting things right, but failure can be costly.<br />
<br />
We do it by trying to fail faster and smaller. The average cycle for getting something done at Google is more like three months than three years. And the average team size is small, so if we have a new idea, we don't have to go through the political lobbying of saying, "Can we have 50 people to work on this?" Instead, it's more done bottom up: Two or three people get together and say, "Hey, I want to work on this." They don't need permission from the top level to get it started because it's just a couple of people; it's kind of off the books."
via:lukeneff  pagerank  epistemology  engineering  peternorvig  failure  iteration  innovation  google  business  creativity  culture 
august 2010 by robertogreco
The Anosognosic’s Dilemma: Something’s Wrong but You’ll Never Know What It Is (Part 1) - Opinionator Blog - NYTimes.com
"Dunning & Kruger argued...“When people are incompetent in strategies they adopt to achieve success & satisfaction, they suffer a dual burden: Not only do they reach erroneous conclusions & make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of ability to realize it. Instead...they are left w/ erroneous impression they are doing just fine.”
decisionmaking  culture  education  intelligence  incompetence  ignorance  psychology  errolmorris  epistemology  neuroscience  behavior  brain  confidence  mind  competency  tcsnmy  awareness  self-awareness  dunning-krugereffect  possibility 
june 2010 by robertogreco
Warning: Your reality is out of date - The Boston Globe
"These slow-changing facts are what I term “mesofacts.” Mesofacts are the facts that change neither too quickly nor too slowly, that lie in this difficult-to-comprehend middle, or meso-, scale. Often, we learn these in school when young and hold onto them, even after they change. For example, if, as a baby boomer, you learned high school chemistry in 1970, and then, as we all are apt to do, did not take care to brush up on your chemistry periodically, you would not realize that there are 12 new elements in the Periodic Table. Over a tenth of the elements have been discovered since you graduated high school! While this might not affect your daily life, it is astonishing and a bit humbling."
education  change  mesofacts  facts  information  history  science  learning  knowledge  epistemology  2012  philosophy  language  culture  data 
march 2010 by robertogreco
Joho the Blog » Transparency is the new objectivity
"objectivity is discredited these days as anything but an aspiration...[one that] is looking pretty sketchy. The problem with objectivity is that it tries to show what the world looks like from no particular point of view...like wondering what something looks like in the dark...Transparency prospers in a linked medium, for you can literally see the connections between the final draft’s claims & the ideas that informed it...transparency subsumes objectivity. Anyone who claims objectivity should be willing to back that assertion up by letting us look at sources, disagreements & the personal assumptions & values supposedly bracketed out of the report. Objectivity without transparency increasingly will look like arrogance. & then foolishness. Why should we trust what one person — with the best of intentions — insists is true when we instead could have a web of evidence, ideas & argument?...Objectivity is a trust mechanism you rely on when your medium can’t do links. Now our medium can."

[also at: http://www.everythingismiscellaneous.com/2009/07/19/transparency-is-the-new-objectivity/ ]
davidweinberger  politics  journalism  blogs  objectivity  transparency  trust  ethics  information  media  authority  reputation  credibility  newspapers  knowledge  news  blogging  bias  epistemology  2009  internet  philosophy  culture 
july 2009 by robertogreco
Wake Up and Smell the New Epistemology - ChronicleReview.com
""It is imperative that someone studying this generation realize that we have the world at our fingertips — & the world has been at our fingertips for our entire lives. I think this access to information seriously undermines this generation's view of authority, especially traditional scholastic authority." ... We [once] chose what knowledge needed to be conveyed to students in what order. Now ... students assign us no more authority than anyone else ... & decide what's worth knowing themselves, we need to reorganize our classes. We need to teach as if our students were colleagues from another department. That means determining what our colleagues may already know, building from that shared knowledge, adapting pre-existing analytic skills, then connecting those fledgling skills & knowledge to a deeper understanding of the discipline we love. ... we need to approach our classrooms as public intellectuals eager to share our insights graciously with a wide audience of fellow citizens"
via:preoccupations  learning  education  change  internet  online  authority  academia  academics  learningstyles  highereducation  colleges  universities  pedagogy  literacy  medialiteracy  knowledge  teaching  epistemology 
january 2009 by robertogreco

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