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Alan Kay's answer to What made Xerox PARC special? Who else today is like them? - Quora
[I noted on Twitter that "1 through 5 easily adaptable for education. For example: teach students, not subjects."]

"A good book (pretty much the only good book) to read about the research community that Parc was a part of is “The Dream Machine” by Mitchell Waldrop. There you will find out about the ARPA (before the “D”) IPTO (Information Processing Techniques Office) set up in 1962 by the visionary JCR Licklider, who created a research community of 15 or 16 “projects”, mostly at universities, but also a few at places like RAND Corp, Lincoln Labs, Mitre, BBN, SDC, etc.

There was a vision: “The destiny of computers is to become interactive intellectual amplifiers for everyone in the world pervasively networked worldwide”.

A few principles:

1. Visions not goals

2. Fund people not projects — the scientists find the problems not the funders. So, for many reasons, you have to have the best researchers.

3. Problem Finding — not just Problem Solving

4. Milestones not deadlines

5. It’s “baseball” not “golf” — batting .350 is very good in a high aspiration high risk area. Not getting a hit is not an error but the overhead for getting hits. (As in baseball, “error” is failing to pull off something that is technically feasible.)

6. It’s about shaping “computer stuff” to human ends per the vision. Much of the time this required the researchers to design and build pretty much everything, including much of the hardware — including a variety of mainframes — and virtually all of the software needed (including OSs and programming languages, etc.). Many of the ARPA researchers were quite fluent in both HW and SW (though usually better at one than the other). This made for a pretty homogeneous computing culture and great synergy in most projects.

7. The above goes against the commonsense idea that “computer people should not try to make their own tools (because of the infinite Turing Tarpit that results)”. The ARPA idea was a second order notion: “if you can make your own tools, HW and SW, then you must!”. The idea was that if you are going to take on big important and new problems then you just have to develop the chops to pull off all needed tools, partly because of what “new” really means, and partly because trying to do workarounds of vendor stuff that is in the wrong paradigm will kill the research thinking.

8. An important part of the research results are researchers. This extends the “baseball” idea to human development. The grad schools, especially, generally admitted people who “seemed interesting” and judgements weren’t made until a few years down the road. Many of the researchers who ultimately solved most of the many problems of personal computing and networking were created by the ARPA community.

Parc was the last of these “ARPA Projects” to be created, and because of funding changes from the Vietnam war, got its funding from a corporation rather than from ARPA-IPTO. But pretty much all of the computer people at Parc had grown up in ARPA projects in the 60s, and Bob Taylor, who set up the computing research at Parc, had been the 3rd director of ARPA-IPTO.

Bob’s goal was to “Realize The ARPA Dream”.

Parc was highly concentrated with regard to wealth of talents, abilities, vision, confidence, and cooperation. There was no real management structure, so things were organized to allow researchers to “suggest” and “commit” and “decommit” in a more or less orderly fashion.

Quite a lot of the inventions Parc is most known for were done in the first 5 years by a rather small pool of researchers (Butler Lampson estimates about 25 people, and that seems about right).

One of the most interesting ideas at Parc was: “every invention has to be engineered for 100 users”. So if you do a programming language or a DTP word processor, etc, it has to be documented for and usable by 100 people. If you make a personal computer, you have to be able to make 100 of them. If an Ethernet, it has to connect to 100 devices, etc.

There was no software religion. Everyone made the languages and OSs and apps, etc that they felt would advance their research.

Hardware was trickier because of the time and costs needed for replication and doing and making new designs. In practice this worked out pretty easily most of the time — via not too many meetings — and the powers of HW geniuses like Chuck Thacker. A few things — like the disk sectors and simple Ethernet protocols, etc. — were agreed on, mainly to allow more important things to be done more idiosyncratically. In practice, Parc designed and put in the field a variety of Alto designs (about 2000 Altos were built), MAXCs, Dolphins, Dorados, NoteTakers, Dandelions, etc over a period of about 10 years — i.e. quite a lot.

There were key figures. For example, Parc would not have succeeded without Bob Taylor, Butler Lampson, Chuck Thacker, and a few others.

I would call the first 5 years “effectively idyllic”. And the second 5 years “very productive but gradually erosive” (the latter due to Xerox’s many changes of management, and not being able to grapple with either the future, or a possible grand destiny for the company)."
alankay  zeroxparc  2017  vision  goals  funding  milestones  deadlines  errors  tools  toolmaking  education  learning  innovation  creativity  arpa  sfsh  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  openstudioproject  lcproject  problemsolving  problemfinding 
april 2017 by robertogreco
Svetlana Boym | Off-Modern Manifesto
"1. A Margin of Error

“It's not my fault. Communication error has occurred,” my computer pleads with me in a voice of lady Victoria. First it excuses itself, then urges me to pay attention, to check my connections, to follow the instructions carefully. I don't. I pull the paper out of the printer prematurely, shattering the image, leaving its out takes, stripes of transience, inkblots and traces of my hands on the professional glossy surface. Once the disoriented computer spat out a warning across the image “Do Not Copy,” an involuntary water mark that emerged from the depth of its disturbed memory. The communication error makes each print unrepeatable and unpredictable. I collect the computer errors. An error has an aura.

To err is human, says a Roman proverb. In the advanced technological lingo the space of humanity itself is relegated to the margin of error. Technology, we are told, is wholly trustworthy, were it not for the human factor. We seem to have gone full circle: to be human means to err. Yet, this margin of error is our margin of freedom. It's a choice beyond the multiple choices programmed for us, an interaction excluded from computerized interactivity. The error is a chance encounter between us and the machines in which we surprise each other. The art of computer erring is neither high tech nor low tech. Rather it’s broken-tech. It cheats both on technological progress and on technological obsolescence. And any amateur artist can afford it. Art's new technology is a broken technology.

Or shall we call it dysfunctional, erratic, nostalgic? Nostalgia is a longing for home that no longer exists or most likely, has never existed. That non-existent home is akin to an ideal communal apartment where art and technology co-habited like friendly neighbours or cousins. Techne, after all, once referred to arts, crafts and techniques. Both art and technology were imagined as the forms of human prosthesis, the missing limbs, imaginary or physical extensions of the human space."



2. Short Shadows, Endless Surfaces



Broken-tech art is an art of short shadows. It turns our attention to the surfaces, rims and thresholds. From my ten years of travels I have accumulated hundreds of photographs of windows, doors, facades, back yards, fences, arches and sunsets in different cities all stored in plastic bags under my desk. I re-photograph the old snapshots with my digital camera and the sun of the other time and the other place cast new shadows upon their once glossy surfaces with stains of the lemon tea and fingerprints of indifferent friends. I try not to use the preprogrammed special effects of Photoshop; not because I believe in authenticity of craftsmanship, but because I equally distrust the conspiratorial belief in the universal simulation. I wish to learn from my own mistakes, let myself err. I carry the pictures into new physical environments, inhabit them again, occasionally deviating from the rules of light exposure and focus.

At the same time I look for the ready-mades in the outside world, “natural” collages and ambiguous double exposures. My most misleading images are often “straight photographs.” Nobody takes them for what they are, for we are burdened with an afterimage of suspicion.

Until recently we preserved a naive faith in photographic witnessing. We trusted the pictures to capture what Roland Barthes called “the being there” of things. For better or for worse, we no longer do. Now images appear to us as always already altered, a few pixels missing here and there, erased by some conspiratorial invisible hand. Moreover, we no longer analyse these mystifying images but resign to their pampering hypnosis. Broken- tech art reveals the degrees of our self-pixelization, lays bare hypnotic effects of our cynical reason.




3. Errands, Transits.



4. A Critic, an Amateur

If in the 1980s artists dreamed of becoming their own curators and borrowed from the theorists, now the theorists dream of becoming artists. Disappointed with their own disciplinary specialization, they immigrate into each other's territory. The lateral move again. Neither backwards nor forwards, but sideways. Amateur's out takes are no longer excluded but placed side-by-side with the non-out takes. I don't know what to call them anymore, for there is little agreement these days on what these non-out takes are.

But the amateur's errands continue. An amateur, as Barthes understood it, is the one who constantly unlearns and loves, not possessively, but tenderly, inconstantly, desperately. Grateful for every transient epiphany, an amateur is not greedy."
philosophy  technology  svetlanaboym  via:ablerism  off-modern  canon  nostalgia  human  humanism  amateurs  unlearning  love  loving  greed  selflessness  homesickness  broken  broken-tech  art  beausage  belatedness  newness  leisurearts  walterbenjamin  errors  fallibility  erring  henribergson  billgates  prosthetics  artists  imagination  domestication  play  jaques-henrilartigue  photography  film  fiction  shadows  shortshadows  nearness  distance  balance  thresholds  rims  seams  readymade  rolandbarthes  cynicism  modernity  internationalstyle  evreyday  transience  ephemeral  ephemerality  artleisure 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Anguish beyond whirrs | Wrong Dreams
"Written in response to an essay on the New Sincerity, this offhand comment on poetry blog htmlgiant seems to express a fundamental anxiety around what we consider to be authentic, sincere and true in a world where automated programmes are increasingly responsible for both writing and distributing text. This tweet captures a similar sentiment, one that resonates across online space:

[embedded image]

that mistakes are more human, less bot and conversely, that well-written, grammatically correct statements are more contrived and mediated, because they point to the intrusion of automated technology.

Put another way- only a human decides to leave something uncorrected. Word helpfully underlines your mistakes, Skype makes its own adjustments as you type and the iPhone’s hilariously potty-mouthed corrections are regularly shared on Damn You Auto Correct (presumably it picks up words like fuckweasel, butthole and jizz off its owners?)

Keeping the mistakes becomes, therefore, a gesture of asserting human agency, making visible an active choice on the part of a human author in defiance of the ‘correct’ version a bot is programmed to deliver. Or, in its imperfection a ‘badly spelled sext’ (or other message) conveys an urgency, immediacy and therefore sincerity; scribbled in a hurry and sent off before second thoughts/ regret sets in, it becomes a display of vulnerability, fallibility and ultimately humanity.

Badly spelt and punctuated writing also quietly rebels against the slick, well-considered and crafted copy employed by corporate entities, in their slogans, email bulletins and adverts. It communicates a willingness to relinquish image-management and show your ‘real’ self, letting your image slip in a way that no brand would- unless of course it was calculated to come across as more ‘authentic’ (coming to a billboard near you, Coke/ Nike/ Converse ads with crap spelling…just you wait).

What it amounts to is a suspicion that if it’s well written, some non-human agent was involved, which points to the either corporate or technological mediation.

Sincerity effects

As an artistic strategy, keeping the mistakes in has a similar ‘sincerity effect’, suggesting an intimacy and vulnerability that Tracey Emin and to a lesser, funnier extent Laure Provost and doubtless many others have (intentionally or not) made use of. AD Jameson argues (again on htmlgiant) that in Steve Roggenbuck’s work, “persistent typos signal that the work has been written quickly, spontaneously, and is therefore less revised” and “more earnest.” He shows how contemporary poets- many, like Steve Roeggenbuck and Tao Lin, associated with the New Sincerity- are experimenting with ways of writing that can “create the illusion of transparency, of direct communication”, pointing out the irony that they use devices, or methods- which are a kind of artifice- in order to seemingly go beyond artifice and set up a ‘direct’, unmediated connection between poet and reader.

Devices include emulating the meandering flow of a G-chat through broken, stilted conversation, time elisions and slack, no-caps grammar; or channeling the ‘20 open tabs’ mentality of online drift by absent-mindedly switching between ‘deep’ shit (life/ death/ whatever) and inconsequential observations about the colour of the sky:

[poem]

Another tactic is oscillating between different levels of intimacy, which reflects the juggling of simultaneous conversations with mothers, employers and lovers all on the same device; as Senthorun Raj points out in an piece about Grindr, users must calibrate their tone depending on whether they’re texting Mr Right or Mr Right Now, which requires demanding emotional labour."
writing  bots  ericscourti  human  humans  sincerity  vulnerability  2013  flaws  seams  spelling  social  newsincerity  grammar  errors  mistakes  autocorrect  fallibility  humanity  punctuation  mediation  authenticity  squishynotslick  copywriting 
august 2013 by robertogreco
Errors in Production by Heike Bollig
"Errors in Production is an ongoing collection of a variety of products with individual manufacturing errors. Although I actively seek these objects, I mostly come across them accidentally or friends and salesclerks pass them on to me. In the attempt to further develop the collection and to keep" it alive, I would be grateful for your support."

[Examples: http://www.errors-in-production.info/errors_inpr_samples.html ]
errata  collections  mistakes  heikebollig  design  errors  manufacturing  production  errorsinproduction 
september 2012 by robertogreco
BLDGBLOG: Object Cancers
"In any case, what seems more provocative here, on the level of design, would be to appropriate this protective stance and reuse it in the design of future objects, but emphasizing the other end: to allow for the scanning of any object designed or manufactured, but to to insert, in the form of watermarks, small glitches that would only become visible upon reprinting.

We might call these object cancers: bulbous, oddly textured, and other dramatically misshapen errors that only appear in 3D-reprinted objects. Chairs with tumors, mutant silverware, misbegotten watches—as if the offspring of industrial reproducibility is a molten world of Dalí-like surrealism.

Put another way, the inadvertent side-effect of the attempted corporate control over objects would be an artistic potlatch of object errors: object cancers deliberately reprinted, shared, and collected for their monstrous and unexpected originality."
2012  errors  mutations  brucesterling  objectcancers  3dprinting  objects  geoffmanaugh  bldgblog 
february 2012 by robertogreco
Being Smart Considered Harmful « And Yet It Moves
"Scratch…Every project can be improved or branched. We can all improve on our own work,…help each other explore new ideas. We need to be able to start with an initial effort, knowing it will take more work to create a finished product and knowing that’s okay. This is exactly what we want students to do when they revise an essay in English class… when they use data to formulate a new hypothesis in science class…supports the growth mindset & the process of iterative improvement. All we have to do is not screw it up. But that turns out to be a harder than it looks."

"I’m going to start by trying to think and talk more about problem-solving skills rather than “intelligence”.

A student is doing a good job digging in to a problem. A student is doing a good job deepening their investigation. A student is doing a good job analyzing a situation to find new approaches. A student is doing a good job upgrading their skillset. Aren’t these all so much more important than just being smart?"
scratch  iteration  growthmindset  caroldweck  seymourpapert  programming  coding  constructivism  learning  unschooling  deschooling  intelligence  teaching  schools  problemsolving  errors  bugs  mindstorms  priming  failure  benchun  talent  beingwrong  tcsnmy  projectbasedlearning  pbl 
march 2011 by robertogreco
EasyWriter
"To help you better understand the conventions of academic and professional writing, we have identified the twenty error patterns (other than misspelling) most common among U.S. college students and list them here in order of frequency. These twenty errors are likely to cause you the most trouble, so it is well worth your effort to check for them in your writing.
english  errors  grammar  highschool  teaching  writing  reference  punctuation  correction  conventions  practice  tcsnmy  via:lukeneff 
june 2010 by robertogreco
Minding Mistakes: How the Brain Monitors Errors and Learns from Goofs: Scientific American
" * The brain contains neural machinery for recognizing errors, correcting them, and optimizing behavior.
learning  psychology  research  brain  neuroscience  cognitive  errors 
august 2008 by robertogreco

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