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Nick Kaufmann on Twitter: "Civic tech needs to study history and explore the "usable past". Everyone in #civictech / @codeforamerica network should read Professor Light's upcoming book States of Childhood, ill attempt to summarize her talk below, although
[this is the event:
https://architecture.mit.edu/computation/lecture/playing-city-building ]

[thread contains many images]

"Civic tech needs to study history and explore the "usable past". Everyone in #civictech / @codeforamerica network should read Professor Light's upcoming book States of Childhood, ill attempt to summarize her talk below, although it's only what i could grasp in an hour or so.

https://twitter.com/nickkauf/status/1071162000145817601
At @mitsap tonight tweeting about Jennifer Light's lecture "playing at city building" #urbanism #education #civictech

Light opened the talk with the observation that more disciplines are looking to study history to "look forward by looking backward" #civicfutures #usablepast

In #civictech we know this isnt the first government reform movement with a "techie spin" in the world or us. At the last turn of the century, anxieties about cities birthed the "good government movement" the "googoos" were reformers kinda like #civichackers of today

Like @codeforamerica and also #smartcities boosters, the goo-goos believed scientific models and tech tools were a source of progress. They were worried about "boss rule" and wanted to "rationalize government" compare to cfa's mottos today

After discussing the good govt movement, Lights set the historical context of shifting expectations around young people's behavior. Child labor laws did not stop children from working however, it was just framed as "play" now

In this context early models of vocational education and educational simulations emerged, including William R. George's "model republic" movement. @Erie @pahlkadot model republics were all over the usa, not as franchised like #cfabrigade but more grassroots diffusion of the idea

There were miniature republics run by children in boston(Cottage Row), Cleveland (Progress City) Philadelphia (Playground City), etc, where children worked as real pretend public servants

media coverage of the time hailed these civic simulations as educational opportunity/chance for a "second life" for youth. Some of the tenement kids that George put into his program ended up in ivy league schools, and as lawyers, Pub. Servants and admins of their own model cities

The educational theories at the time of the model republics were very similar to today's trends of "gamification" "experiential learning" etc. Light referenced Stanley Hall (imitation/impersonation) and 'identity play'

Long before Bateson and Goffman were muddling the boundary between seriousness/play, model republics were also using that ambiguity to educate and also cut costs of programs literally built and maintained by children. Imagine 1000 kids and 3 admins

John Dewey's philosophy of learning by doing was also heavily referenced in the talk, as George took great inspiration from him and Dewey was a supporter of the model republics.

Light stressed just how much model republic citizens did in their pretend-real jobs, building housing, policing, data collection, safety inspections, and they did it so well that they often circumvented the adult systems. Why send some1 to adult court when junior court works?

This dynamic reminded me so much of #civichackers today with our pretend jobs and weekly hack night play that quickly turns into real jobs for our cities

Another point Light made was that the model republics were very much about assimilation of immigrants into a certain set of white american middleclass values. But before rise of consumerism those values heavily emphasized DIY/activecitizenship/production.

One reason for the decline of the model republics might have been the rise of consumerism and passive consumption valued over production. But we still have things like model U.N. and vocational programs, vestiges of this time.

Again today we have a perceived need to train people for the "new economy", so what can #civictech #civicinnovation #smartcities learn from looking back to historical examples? For one thing, we learn that youth contribution to civic innovation is important and undervalued

When model republics were introduced into schools the educational outcomes were not the only advantage, they saved schools gobs of money through "user generated" labor. Again think about civictech volunteerism today...

At Emerson School, Light said, kids were even repairing the electrical system. And in some cities kids would stand in for the mayor at real events.

Heres a page describing the establishment of a self-governing body of newsboys in Milwaukee https://www.marquette.edu/cgi-bin/cuap/db.cgi?uid=default&ID=4167&view=Search&mh=1

Light closed the talk by remarking on the "vast story of children's unacknowledged labor in the creation of urban America". slide shows how their labor was hidden behind play. Although they couldnt work in factories,can you call it "play" if it involved *building* the playground?

Although Light's upcoming book focuses on America, she said there were civic simulations like this in many countries including the Phillipines, China, England, France...

Model republics were not however a well connected, branded international civic movement like modern #civictech. Light said that while they were promoted at national educational conferences on education or public housing, George lamented not having control of the brand/vision

The result of George's lack of guidelines and a organizational network of model republic practiciorners was many different, idiosyncratic models run by different ppl in different places. @pahlkadot George really needed a "National Advisory Council" it seems!

For example an Indiana model republic the kids put on their own circuses! George thought some model republics werent following his original values/vision but couldnt do much about it...another theme in #civictech now Fortunately @Open_Maine is allowed to be weirdos too @elburnett

Light emphasized that although the model republics were a tool to assimilate children into a set of values (presumably including colonial, racist, patriarchal, capitalist ones) they were also a site of agency where kids experimented and innovated.

For example, girls in coeducational model republics held public offices and launched voting rights campaigns before the women' suffrage movement gained the rights in the "real" world. Given the power of the republics to do real work this wasnt just a symbolic achievement.

George for his part believed that the kids should figure out model republics for themselves, even if it meant dystopian civics. One model republic kept prisoners in a literal iron cage before eventually abolishing the prison.

Light's talk held huge lessons for the #civictech movement, and the model republic movement is just one of many pieces of history that can be a "usable past" for us. every civic tech brigade should have a "historian" role!

At @Open_Maine weve always been looking back to look forward although I didnt have the "usable past" vocabulary until I saw professor Light's talk today. @ajawitz @elburnett and I have consciously explored history in promoting civic tech in Maine.Other brigades are doing this too

For example, early @Open_Maine (code for maine) posters consciously referenced civilian conservation corps aesthetic #usablepast

We also made a 100y link w/ charitable mechanics movement @MaineMechanics makerspace never happened but @semateos became president and aligned org. with modern #makermovement. we host civichackathons there. #mainekidscode class is in same room that held free drawingclass 100y ago

So you can see why Light's talk has my brain totally buzzing. After all, @Open_Maine has been dreaming of #civicisland, an experiential #civictech summer camp! Were currently applying to @MozOpenLeaders to develop open source experiential civictech curricula we could use for it.

Next steps here: I want to write an article about the "usable past" concept for #civictech. So if your brigade is engaged with history I wanna talk to you. @JBStephens1 was it you talking about the rotary club model on slack? @CodeForPhilly didnt you make a history timeline?"
nickkaufmann  urbanism  urban  cities  jenniferlight  children  lcproject  openstudioproject  sfsh  tcsnmy  civics  civictech  technology  history  codeforamerica  smartcities  boston  cleveland  philadelphia  williamgeorge  modelrepublics  simulations  simulation  gregorybateson  play  seriousplay  seriousness  education  johndewey  milaukee  labor  work  colinward  thechildinthecity  housing  governance  policy  activism  participatory  participation  experimentation  experience  experientiallearning  volunteerism  makerspaces  openmaine  maine  learning  howwelearn  ervinggoffman 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Context collapse, performance piety and civil inattention – the web concepts you need to understand in 2015 | Technology | The Guardian
"Civil inattention
In the 1950s, sociologist Erving Goffman described what happened to humans who live in cities. “When in a public place, one is supposed to keep one’s nose out of other people’s activity and go about one’s own business,” he wrote in The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. “It is only when a woman drops a package, or when a fellow motorist gets stalled in the middle of the road, or when a baby left alone in a carriage begins to scream, that middle-class people feel it is all right to break down momentarily the walls which effectively insulate them.” Dara Ó Briain picked up this idea in a standup routine in which he dared people to get into a lift last, and then, instead of facing the door, turn and face the other occupants. It would be truly chilling.

Civil inattention happens all the time in everyday life, unless you’re the kind of a weirdo who joins in other people’s conversations on the train. But we haven’t got the grip of it in the “public squares” of the internet, like social media platforms and comment sections. No one knows who is really talking to whom, and – surprise! – a conversation between anything from two to 2,000 people can feel disorienting and cacophonous. There have been various attempts to combat it – Twitter’s “at sign”, Facebook’s name-tagging, threaded comments – but nothing has yet replicated the streamlined simplicity of real life, where we all just know there is NO TALKING AT THE URINAL.

Conservative neutrality
We live in a world ruled by algorithms: that’s how Netflix knows what you want to watch, how Amazon knows what you want to read and how the Waitrose website knows what biscuits to put in the “before you go” Gauntlet of Treats before you’re allowed to check out. The suggestion is that these algorithms are apolitical and objective, unlike humans, with their petty biases and ingrained prejudices. Unfortunately, as the early computer proverb had it, “garbage in, garbage out”. Any algorithm created in a society where many people are sexist, racist or homophobic won’t magically be free of those things.

Google’s autocomplete is a classic example: try typing “Women are ...” or “Asians are ...” and recoil from the glimpse into our collective subconscious. Christian Rudder’s book Dataclysm discusses how autocomplete might reaffirm prejudices, not merely reflect them: “It’s the site acting not as Big Brother, but as Older Brother, giving you mental cigarettes.” Remember this the next time a tech company plaintively insists that it doesn’t want to take a political stance: on the net, “neutral” often means “reinforces the status quo”.

Context collapse
The problem of communicating online is that, no matter what your intended audience is, your actual audience is everyone. The researchers Danah Boyd and Alice Marwick put it like this: “We may understand that the Twitter or Facebook audience is potentially limitless, but we often act as if it were bounded.”

So, that tasteless joke your best Facebook friend will definitely get? Not so funny when it ends up on a BuzzFeed round-up of The Year’s Biggest Bigots and you get fired. That dating profile where you described yourself as “like Casanova, only with a degree in computing”? Not so winsome when it lands you on Shit I’ve Seen On Tinder and no one believes that you were being sarcastic. On a more serious level, context collapse is behind some “trolling” prosecutions: is it really the role of the state to prosecute people for saying offensive, unpleasant things about news stories in front of other people who have freely chosen to be their friends on Facebook? I don’t think so.

What is happening here is that we are turning everyone into politicians (the horror). We are demanding that everyone should speak the same way, present the same face, in all situations, on pain of being called a hypocrite. But real life doesn’t work like this: you don’t talk the same way to your boss as you do to your boyfriend. (Unless your boss is your boyfriend, in which case I probably don’t need to give you any stern talks on the difficulties of negotiating tricky social situations.) To boil this down, 2015 needs to be the year we reclaim “being two-faced” and “talking behind people’s backs”. These are good things.

Performative piety
What’s Kony up to these days? Did anyone bring back our girls? Yes, surprisingly enough, the crimes of guerrilla groups in Uganda and Nigeria have not been avenged by hashtag activism. The internet is great for what feminists once called “consciousness raising” – after all, it’s a medium in which attention is a currency – but it is largely useless when it comes to the hard, unglamorous work of Actually Sorting Shit Out.

The internet encourages us all into performative piety. People spend time online not just chatting or arguing, but also playing the part of the person they want others to see them as. Anyone who has run a news organisation will tell you that some stories are shared like crazy on social media, but barely read. Leader columns in newspapers used to show the same pattern: research showed that people liked to read a paper with a leader column in it – they just didn’t actually want to read the column.

So, next time you’re online and everyone else seems to be acting like a cross between Mother Teresa and Angelina Jolie, relax. They might leave comments saying “WHAT ABOUT SYRIA?” but they have, in fact, clicked on a piece about a milk carton that looks like a penis. As ever, actions speak louder than words."
contextcollapse  2014  internet  socialmedia  communication  conservativeneutrality  algorithms  alicemarwick  kony  performativepiety  activism  performance  presentationofself  online  socialnetworking  privacy  audience  via:chromacolaure  civics  urban  urbanism  twitter  facebook  civilinattention  attention  discourse  ervinggoffman  daraóbriain  silence  inattention  kathysierra  helenlewis  serialpodcast 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Why You Never Truly Leave High School: New science on its corrosive, traumatizing effects. -- New York Magazine
"Our self-image from those years, in other words, is especially adhesive. So, too, are our preferences. “There’s no reason why, at the age of 60, I should still be listening to the Allman Brothers,” Steinberg says. “Yet no matter how old you are, the music you listen to for the rest of your life is probably what you listened to when you were an adolescent.” Only extremely recent advances in neuroscience have begun to help explain why.

It turns out that just before adolescence, the prefrontal cortex—the part of the brain that governs our ability to reason, grasp abstractions, control impulses, and self-­reflect—undergoes a huge flurry of activity, giving young adults the intellectual capacity to form an identity, to develop the notion of a self. Any cultural stimuli we are exposed to during puberty can, therefore, make more of an impression, because we’re now perceiving them discerningly and metacognitively as things to sweep into our self-concepts or reject (I am the kind of person who likes the Allman Brothers). “During times when your identity is in transition,” says Steinberg, “it’s possible you store memories better than you do in times of stability.”"



"Until the Great Depression, the majority of American adolescents didn’t even graduate from high school. Once kids hit their teen years, they did a variety of things: farmed, helped run the home, earned a regular wage. Before the banning of child labor, they worked in factories and textile mills and mines. All were different roads to adulthood; many were undesirable, if not outright Dickensian. But these disparate paths did arguably have one virtue in common: They placed adolescent children alongside adults. They were not sequestered as they matured. Now teens live in a biosphere of their own. In their recent book Escaping the Endless Adolescence, psychologists Joseph and Claudia Worrell Allen note that teenagers today spend just 16 hours per week interacting with adults and 60 with their cohort. One century ago, it was almost exactly the reverse.

Something happens when children spend so much time apart from adult company. They start to generate a culture with independent values and priorities. James Coleman, a renowned mid-century sociologist, was among the first to analyze that culture in his seminal 1961 work, The Adolescent Society, and he wasn’t very impressed. “Our society has within its midst a set of small teen-age societies,” he wrote, “which focus teen-age interests and attitudes on things far removed from adult responsibilities.” Yes, his words were prudish, but many parents have had some version of these misgivings ever since, especially those who’ve consciously opted not to send their kids into the Roman amphi­theater. (From the website of the National Home Education Network: “Ironically, one of the reasons many of us have chosen to educate our own is precisely this very issue of socialization! Children spending time with individuals of all ages more closely resembles real life than does a same-age school setting.”)"
adolescence  adolescents  childhood  culture  argentina  photography  identity  highschool  society  socialization  social  memory  memories  stability  change  transition  neuroscience  ervinggoffman  brenébrown  shame  self-consciousness  tavigevinson  kojiueno  winnieholzman  kurtvonnegut  deborahyurgelun-todd  popularity  facebook  keithhampton  breakfastclub  peers  self-image  paulfeig  robertfaris  irinawrning  patlevitt  laurencesteinberg  deborahcarr  robertcrosnoe  jamescoleman  unschooling  deschooling  development  sociology  psychology  agesegregation  teens  parenting  vonnegut 
april 2013 by robertogreco
Performative turn - Wikipedia
"The performative turn is a paradigmatic shift in the humanities and social sciences that has affected such disciplines as anthropology, archaeology, linguistics, ethnography, history and the relatively young discipline of performance studies. Central to the performative turn is the concept of performance.

Previously used as a metaphor for theatricality, performance is now often employed as a heuristic principle to understand human behaviour. The assumption is that all human practices are 'performed', so that any action at whatever moment or location can be seen as a public presentation of the self. This methodological approach entered the social sciences and humanities in the 1990s but is rooted in the 1940s & 1950s. Underlying the performative turn was the need to conceptualize how human practices relate to their contexts in a way that went beyond the traditional sociological methods that did not problematize representation.

Performance is a bodily practice that produces meaning."

[via: http://sb129.wordpress.com/2012/08/29/on-performance/ ]
ervinggoffman  presentationofself  performancestudies  history  linguistics  archaeology  anthropology  behavior  theatricality  performance  ethnography  socialsciences  humanities  performitiveturn 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Stranger Studies 101: Cities as Interaction Machines - Kio Stark - Technology - The Atlantic
"There are three broad themes during the semester.

1. Why stranger interactions in cities are meaningful

2. The spaces and the significance of the spaces in which strangers interact, and

3. How strangers 'read' each other, how they initiate interactions, how they avoid interactions, how they trust each other and how they fool each other, how they watch, listen and follow each other.

Then there is the secret theme. I want students to fall in love with talking to strangers, to do it more, and to make technology that creates more plentiful and meaningful interactions among strangers."
discovery  serendipity  interaction  darreno'donnell  thechildinthecity  publicspace  janejacobs  josephmassey  ireneebeattie  ervinggoffman  richardsennett  kurtiveson  cosmopolitanism  cities  nyc  gothamhandbook  sophiecalle  paulauster  relationalart  situationist  georgsimmel  rolandbarthes  strangers  2010  kiostark  collaboration  psychology  social  architecture  technology  culture  urban  urbanism 
march 2012 by robertogreco

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