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robertogreco : experts   52

Wrong - By David H. Freedman - The New York Times
"Putting trust in experts who are probably wrong is only part of the problem. The other side of the coin is that many people have all but given up on getting good advice from experts. The total effect of all the contradicting and shifting pronouncements is to make expert conclusions at times sound like so much blather — a background noise of modern life. I think by now most of us have at some point caught ourselves thinking, or at least have heard from people around us, something along these lines: Experts! One day they say vitamin X / coffee / wine / drug Y / a big mortgage / baby learning videos / Six Sigma / multitasking / clean homes / arguing / investment Z is a good thing, and the next they say it’s a bad thing. Why bother paying attention? I might as well just do what I feel like doing. Do we really want to just give up on expertise in this way? Even if experts usually fail to give us the clear, reliable guidance we need, there are still situations, as we’ll see, where failing to follow their advice can be self-defeating and even deadly.

So I’m not going to spend much time trying to convince you that experts are often, and possibly usually, wrong. Instead, this book is about why expertise goes wrong and how we may be able to do a better job of seeking out more trustworthy expert advice. To that end, we’re going to look at how experts — including scientists, business gurus, and our other highly trusted sources of wisdom — fall prey to a range of measurement errors, how they come to have deep biases that lead them into gamesmanship and even outright dishonesty, and how interactions among them tend to worsen rather than correct for these problems. We’re also going to examine the ways in which the media sort through the flow of dubious expert pronouncements and further distort them, as well as how we ourselves are drawn to the worst of this shoddy output, and how we end up being even more misled on the Internet. Finally, we’ll try to extract from everything we’ve discovered a set of rough guidelines that can help to separate the most suspect expert advice from the stuff that has a better chance of holding up.

As I said, most people are quite comfortable with the notion that there’s a real problem with experts. But some — mostly experts — do in fact take objection to that claim. Here are the three objections I encountered the most often, along with quick responses.

(1) If experts are so wrong, why are we so much better off now than we were fifty or a hundred years ago? One distinguished professor put it to me this way in an e-mail note: “Our life expectancy has almost doubled in the past seventy-five years, and that’s because of experts.” Actually, the vast majority of that gain came earlier in the twentieth century from a very few sharp improvements, and especially from the antismoking movement. As for all of the drugs, diagnostic tools, surgical techniques, medical devices, lists of foods to eat and avoid, and impressive breakthrough procedures and technologies that fill medical journals and trickle down into media reports, consider this: between 1978 and 2001, according to one highly regarded study, U.S. life spans increased fewer than three years on average — when the drop in smoking rates slowed around 1990, so did life-expectancy gains. It’s hard to claim we’re floating on an ocean of marvelously effective advice from a range of experts when we’ve been skirting the edges of a new depression, the divorce rate is around 50 percent, energy prices occasionally skyrocket, obesity rates are climbing, children’s test scores are declining, we’re forced to worry about terrorist and even nuclear attacks, 118 million prescriptions for antidepressants are written annually in the United States, chunks of our food supply periodically become tainted, and, well, you get the idea. Perhaps a reasonable model for expert advice is one I might call “punctuated wrongness” — that is, experts usually mislead us, but every once in a while they come up with truly helpful advice.

(2) Sure, experts have been mostly wrong in the past, but now they’re on top of things. In mid-2008 experts were standing in line to talk about the extensive, foolproof controls protecting our banks and other financial institutions that weren’t in place in the late 1920s — just before those institutions started collapsing. Cancer experts shake their heads today over the ways in which generations of predecessors wasted decades hunting down the mythical environmental or viral roots of most cancers, before pronouncing as a sure thing the more recent theory of how cancer is caused by mutations in a small number of genes — a theory that, as we’ll see, has yielded almost no benefits to patients after two decades. Most everyone missed what was happening to our climate, or even spoke of a global cooling crisis, until we came to today’s absolutely certain understanding of global warming and its man-made causes — well, we’ll see how that turns out. How could we have been so foolish before? And what sort of fool would question today’s experts’ beliefs? In any case, the claim that we’ve come from wrong ideas to right ideas suggests that there’s a consensus of experts today on what the right ideas are. But there is often nothing close to such a consensus. When experts’ beliefs clash, somebody has to be wrong — hardly a sign of an imminent convergence on truth.

And, finally, (3) So what if experts are usually wrong? That’s the nature of expert knowledge — it progresses slowly as it feels its way through difficult questions. Well, sure, we live in a complex world without easy answers, so we might well expect to see our experts make plenty of missteps as they steadily chip away at the truth. I’m not saying that experts don’t make any progress, or that they ought to have figured it all out long ago. I’m suggesting three things: we ought to be fully aware of how large a percentage of expert advice is flawed; we should find out if there are perhaps much more disconcerting reasons why experts so frequently get off track other than “that’s just the nature of the beast”; and we ought to take the trouble to see if we can come up with clues that will help distinguish better expert advice from fishier stuff. And, by the way, if experts are so comfortable with the notion that their efforts ought to be expected to spit out mostly wrong answers, why don’t they work a little harder to get this useful piece of information across to us when they’re interviewed on morning news shows or in newspaper articles, and not just when they’re confronted with their errors?

Given that I’ve already started throwing the term “expert” around left and right, I suppose I ought to make sure you know what I mean by the word. Academics study “expertise” in pianists, athletes, burglars, birds, infants, computers, trial witnesses, and captains of industry, to name just a few examples. But when I say “expert,” I’m mostly thinking of someone whom the mass media might quote as a credible authority on some topic — the sorts of people we’re usually referring to when we say things like “According to experts . . .” These are what I would call “mass” or “public” experts, people in a position to render opinions or findings that a large number of us might hear about and choose to take into account in making decisions that could affect our lives. Scientists are an especially important example, but I’m also interested in, for example, business, parenting, and sports experts who gain some public recognition for their experience and insight. I’ll also have some things to say about pop gurus, celebrity advice givers, and media pundits, as well as about what I call “local” experts — everyday practitioners such as non-research-oriented doctors, stockbrokers, and auto mechanics.

I’ve heard it said, half kiddingly, that meteorologists are the only people who get paid to be wrong. I would argue that in that sense most of our experts are paid to be wrong, and are probably wrong a much higher percentage of the time than are meteorologists. I’m going to show that although the process of wringing useful insights and advice from complex subjects may indeed be an inherently slow and erratic one, there are many other, less benign reasons why experts go astray. In fact, we’ll see that expert pronouncements are pushed toward wrongness so strongly that in the end it’s harder, I think, to explain why they’re sometimes right. But that doesn’t mean we’re hopelessly mired in this swamp of bad advice. With a decent compass, we can find our way out. Let’s start by exploring some of the muck."
experts  expertise  authority  2010  davidfreedman  wrongness  science  medicine 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Education Gurus | the édu flâneuse
"Knowledge and advice for schools and about education often seem to exist in a world of commodification and memeification. There is plenty of disagreement and debate in education, and plenty of competition on bookshelves and in conference programs. Educators and academics position themselves as brands via bios, photographs, and certification badges. As an educator and a researcher I have those whose work I follow closely; academics, for instance, whose presence affects me when I meet them because their reputation and body of work precede them.

In education, we have perceived gurus. These are people who have become ubiquitous in education circles, at education conferences, and in education literature. Teachers and school leaders scramble to get tickets to their sessions and to get photographic evidence of having met them. Their words are tweeted out in soundbites ad infinitum (or is that ad nauseum?), and made into internet memes. Sometimes these individuals partner with publishers or education corporates, and so the visibility and reach of their work grows. They become the scholars or experts most cited in staff rooms, at professional learning water coolers, and in job interviews when asked how research informs practice.

Sometimes, these gurus are teachers or principals who have gained a large following on social media and subsequently a monolithic profile. Often, they are academics who have built up bodies of work over many years, becoming more and more well-known along the way, and eventually being perceived as celebrities or gurus. Yesterday I had the pleasure of learning from Dylan Wiliam, firstly at a day long seminar, and then at my school. At one point the seminar organisers apologised for running out of Wiliam’s books, acknowledging the desire of delegates to have the book signed.

Marten Koomen has traced networks of influencers in Australian education organisations. In his new paper ‘School leadership and the cult of the guru: the neo-Taylorism of Hattie’, Scott Eacott challenges the rise of the edu guru, those academics whose work is ubiquitous and influential to the point of being uncritically accepted and canonised. Eacott pushes back against the ‘what works’ mentality in education, in which educators are sold ‘what works’ and encouraged to slavishly apply it to their own contexts. Jon Andrews, too, questions the unquestioning way in which the loudest and most prominent voices become the accepted voices. Meta-analysis and meta-meta-analysis, often translated into league tables of ‘what works’ in education, have been the subject of criticism. George Lilley and Gary Jones have both questioned meta-analysis on their blogs. I’ve written about cautions surrounding the use of meta-analysis in education, especially when it drives clickbait headlines and a silver-bullet mentality of having the answers without having to ask any questions. Yesterday Wiliam made his oft-repeated points: that everything works somewhere, nothing works everywhere, and context matters. A guru cannot provide easy answers in education, as education is too complex and contextual for that.

Much of this conversation around the rise of the edu guru has surrounded John Hattie, although he is by no means the only globally renowned education expert likely to make conference delegates weak at the knees. I was personally uncomfortable when he was beamed in via video link to last year’s ACEL conference and began to give an ‘I have a dream’ speech about education. As an English and Literature teacher I understand the power of rhetoric and analogy to persuade and inspire, but appropriating the legacy and words of Dr Martin Luther King Junior seemed a way to gospelise a personal brand of education reform.

I don’t think that education experts, no matter how influential they become, should encourage the uncritical acceptance of their ideas as dogma, or present themselves as the bringers of the One True Thing To Rule All Things of and for education. As Dylan Wiliam, channelling Ben Goldacre, repeatedly said yesterday, “I think you’ll find it’s a little more complicated than that.”

I wonder how perceived gurus feel about being guru-ised by the education masses. In part the famous and the infamous in education are so because of their actions: accepting more and more speaking gigs, performing the game of publishing and promoting their work. Most, I would guess, do this for the same reason someone like me speaks and publishes. To contribute to education narratives and change those narratives, hopefully for the better. To be of service to the profession and the field. To explore and wrestle with ideas, trying to find ways to make sense of the complexity of education in order to improve the learning of students and the lives of teachers and school leaders.

I wondered about the rise to gurudom and the moral obligation of the academic celebrity figure last year when at AERA I saw a panel in which four educational heavy hitters—Andy Hargreaves, Michael Fullan, Linda Darling-Hammond and Diane Ravitch—all advocating for the moral imperative of educational research and practice. They spoke of lifetime journeys of work intended to make the world a better and more just place. I wondered at the time about how much an early career academic can be brave and resistant in their work, as they try to build a career via the performative pressures of the academe. Can only the guru, free from institutional performativities and the financial pressures often associated with early career academia, say what they really want to say and do the work and writing they really want to do?

I don’t think experts in education are dangerous. We need expertise and people willing to commit their lives and work to making sense of and making better the world of education and learning. But in a world where teachers and school leaders are busy racing on the mouse wheels of their own performative pressures, we need to figure out ways to support and facilitate sceptical and critical engagement with research. Even those who are highly influential and highly admired need to have their work engaged with closely and critically. The danger comes when experts become so guru-fied that the words they use become part of an unthinking professional vernacular, used by educators who haven’t looked behind the curtain or beneath the book cover."
cultofpersonality  edugurus  education  australia  newzealand  2017  deborahnetolicky  learning  research  andyhargreaves  michaelfullan  lindadarling-hammond  dianeravitch  academia  dylanwiliam  bengoldacre  scotteacott  matenkoomen  influence  leadership  thoughtleaders  neo-taylorism  schools  georgelilley  garyjones  jonandrews  bestpractices  echochambers  expertise  experts 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Breaking Down the Father on BBC Being Interrupted by His Children – Medium
"Here’s the deal: the male ego is both remarkably fragile and remarkably easy to satiate. Tell said ego he will be featured as an expert in front of a national or global audience and he will do whatever it takes — including 12 years of academia and wearing a suit at home—to ensure it is so.

The flipside of said ego-soothing, though, is a potential level of embarassment that is hard to fathom. In this case Kelly is fulfilling his self-selected destiny: he is appearing as an expert across the world on the BBC. But it’s not going well! His daughter has appeared, and while he certainly loves her, he must, MUST, keep up appearances. Thus the hand, and not the overt affection."
parenting  children  agesegregation  2017  appearances  gender  viralvideo  bbc  academia  experts  television  tv  internet 
march 2017 by robertogreco
more than 95 theses — Now how about this: We know that greenhouse gases...
"
Now how about this: We know that greenhouse gases are producing destabilizing changes in the Earth’s climate. And that human beings evolved from other species over millions of years. And that Barack Obama is a Christian. And that Hillary Clinton had nothing to do with the death of Vince Foster.

Large numbers of Americans deny those and many other assertions. Why? Because the trustworthiness of the authorities that make the claims has been under direct and continuous attack for the past several decades — and because the internet has given a voice to every kook who makes a contrary assertion. What we’re left with is a chaos of competing claims, none of which has the authority to dispel the others as untrue.


—Damon Linker [https://theweek.com/articles/645664/rise-american-conspiracy-theory ]

Most of what Damon says here is exactly right, but he’s leaving out another major factor: the toxic combination of habitual arrogance and habitual error that afflicts so many of our “authorities.” Consider the amazingly inaccurate track record of expert economic forecasters [http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/finance-why-economic-models-are-always-wrong/ ]. Consider the vast claims made by neuroscientists wielding fMRI machines — machines that consistently yield false results [http://arstechnica.com/science/2016/07/algorithms-used-to-study-brain-activity-may-be-exaggerating-results/ ]. And consider the constant cheerleading for expert bullshit from much of the media.

It is true that “the trustworthiness of the authorities that make the claims has been under direct and continuous attack for the past several decades” — but it is also true that some of those authorities deserve to be attacked, and indeed to be attacked more strongly than they are. So in this situation, what is the ordinary person to do? How is she supposed to tell the difference between the reliable expertise of climate scientists and the unreliable “expertise” of yet another neuroscience charlatan? Isn’t it perfectly understandable that in such a noisy environment she will say, “Yeah, right, ‘experts’ — who needs that crap?”"
alanjacobs  damonlinker  arrogance  experts  trustworthiness  science  neuroscience  2016  confidence  skepticism  economics  economists  politics  debate  information  criticalthinking  media 
september 2016 by robertogreco
on expertise - Text Patterns - The New Atlantis
"One of the most common refrains in the aftermath of the Brexit vote was that the British electorate had acted irrationally in rejecting the advice and ignoring the predictions of economic experts. But economic experts have a truly remarkable history of getting things wrong. And it turns out, as Daniel Kahneman explains in Thinking, Fast and Slow, that there is a close causal relationship between being an expert and getting things wrong:
People who spend their time, and earn their living, studying a particular topic produce poorer predictions than dart-throwing monkeys who would have distributed their choices evenly over the options. Even in the region they knew best, experts were not significantly better than nonspecialists. Those who know more forecast very slightly better than those who know less. But those with the most knowledge are often less reliable. The reason is that the person who acquires more knowledge develops an enhanced illusion of her skill and becomes unrealistically overconfident. “We reach the point of diminishing marginal predictive returns for knowledge disconcertingly quickly,” [Philip] Tetlock writes. “In this age of academic hyperspecialization, there is no reason for supposing that contributors to top journals—distinguished political scientists, area study specialists, economists, and so on—are any better than journalists or attentive readers of The New York Times in ‘reading’ emerging situations.” The more famous the forecaster, Tetlock discovered, the more flamboyant the forecasts. “Experts in demand,” he writes, “were more overconfident than their colleagues who eked out existences far from the limelight.”

So in what sense would it be rational to trust the predictions of experts? We all need to think more about what conditions produce better predictions — and what skills and virtues produce better predictors. Tetlock and Gardner have certainly made a start on that:
The humility required for good judgment is not self-doubt – the sense that you are untalented, unintelligent, or unworthy. It is intellectual humility. It is a recognition that reality is profoundly complex, that seeing things clearly is a constant struggle, when it can be done at all, and that human judgment must therefore be riddled with mistakes. This is true for fools and geniuses alike. So it’s quite possible to think highly of yourself and be intellectually humble. In fact, this combination can be wonderfully fruitful. Intellectual humility compels the careful reflection necessary for good judgment; confidence in one’s abilities inspires determined action....

What's especially interesting here is the emphasis not on knowledge but on character — what's needed is a certain kind of person, and especially the kind of person who is humble.

Now ask yourself this: Where does our society teach, or even promote, humility?"
experts  expertise  authority  alanjacobs  psychology  2016  danielkahneman  philiptetlock  brexit  economics  politics  predictions  dangardner  judgement  self-doubt  intellect  reality  complexity  clarity  character  hyperspecialization  specialists  specialization 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Berlin Biennale | All Problems Can Be Illuminated; Not All Problems Can Be Solved
"“There is no technology for justice. There is only justice.”12 Ursula Franklin answered when I asked her in December 2015, what to do. I reached out because I wanted her to tell me how to act on the perspectives she brings to the traditional story of progress. As someone building internet technologies, working within this received wisdom, I wanted a recipe, something I could share with others (with you!) and throw my body into.

She was warm and generous and incredibly insightful, and she gave me no smooth answers, no simple way.

Central to our conversation was my worry about the massive surveillance capacities enabled by internet technologies and the way in which public assent to surveillance is fueled by the racism and militarism of the now eternal “War on Terror.” What could we do to combat this narrative? What could we do to change the underlying technologies such that they respect human agency and privacy?

Franklin agreed. This is a grave problem. But not a “technological” problem:

“Whether it’s heathens, witches, women, communists, whoever, the institution of an enemy as a political tool is inappropriate. The only solution is an insistence on a civilized democratic society. A civilized democratic society combats this and the wish of an authority to collect personal information on citizens and their activities and loyalties. Whether it’s done by spying, by bribing children, by workplace monitoring, by confession in the confession box of the church—the collection is the issue. The means—the technology—is secondary. The problem is a problem of authoritarian power. And at the root of this problem is the issue of justice, and justice is political.”

While justice can be understood, can be felt, there is no template to follow, or checklist to work through for ensuring a just outcome. The requirements are humility, a respect for context, and a willingness to listen to the most marginalized voices. Let these define the basic requirements of whatever you do. You must “put yourself in the position of the most vulnerable, in a way that achieves a visceral gut feeling of empathy and perspective—that’s the only way to see what justice is.”

Understanding justice, honoring those most vulnerable and including them as authors of any plan that impacts them, is a necessary starting place. But the problems associated with our current technologies won’t be solved by tweaking gears or redesigning mechanisms. A roadmap that centers on justice is only the first step. “For a very long time gadgets and machinery have been anti-people. If one wants to get away from the anti-people component, then you don’t argue technology as much as you argue capitalism.” Even with a view of what justice would look like and could be, attempts at radical change will, of course, be repulsed by powerful actors who benefit richly from the unjust status quo. Political change must be a part of the equation.

This isn’t a frenzied call for revolution. The bigger the scale, the bigger the vision for just change, the more difficult it will be to “get it through” a system in which power is aligned against justice (and, of course, the more difficult it will be to truly understand this vision’s vast impact on vulnerable populations and thus ensure it really supports justice.) Not that working to build practices and plans isn’t worthwhile—it is incredibly worthwhile. But you’re unlikely to have much real impact if you start with a grand announcement. “To proceed in a hostile world,” Franklin suggests, “call it an experiment. Admit that you don’t know how to do it, but ask for space and peace and respect. Then try your experiment, quietly.” In conditions not conducive to success, situate yourself out of the spotlight and proceed subtly, humbly, and be willing to downplay expectations while new forms incubate.

“My favorite word is an old Quaker term, ‘scrupling,’ used as an activity,” Franklin begins, addressing how to approach the vastness of the political and social problems we were discussing. “It comes out of the anti-slavery movement, originally. People would get together to ‘scruple,’ that is, discuss and debate a common problem, something they had scruples about—say, justice—for which they did not have a solution. This is scrupling, and this is something you and your friends can do.”

Gather and talk. Empathize and listen. Don’t chase the spotlight, and accept that some problems are big, and difficult, and that what you’re good at may not fix them. These are not the ways of charismatic executives and flash-bang inventors. These are not instructions for entrepreneurial success. These won’t produce bigger faster newer ways of doing things.

Her parting words were meant to comfort me. “For your own sanity, you have to remember that not all problems can be solved. Not all problems can be solved, but all problems can be illuminated. If the eggs are scrambled, they’re scrambled. You can’t unscramble them. All you can possibly do is cook them and share them with somebody.”"
ursulafranklin  justice  technology  meredithmeredith  2016  efficiency  compliance  listening  empathy  progress  racism  militarism  surveillance  waronterror  democracy  society  humility  inclusivity  inclusion  vulnerability  radicalchange  power  statusquo  politics  scrupling  conversation  problemsolving  jacquesellul  capitalism  consumerism  innovation  quakers  systems  interrelationships  systemsthinking  complexity  culture  materials  art  mindset  organization  procedures  symbols  orthodoxy  luddism  occupywallstreet  ows  resistance  disruption  speed  humanism  science  scientism  legibility  elitism  experts  authority  privilege  experience  civilization  authoritarianism  socialjustice  revolution  peace  spotlight  hardproblems  success 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Granted, however…. — Medium
"There is a growing move to blame Brexit, or Trump, on voters just not trusting experts. Or being too uneducated to understand experts.

This is wrong for two big reasons beyond being contemptuous, beyond having the goal to demean those who you disagree.

Reason 1: It creates an unnecessary laziness in political discourse. Rather than really working at explaining a position, you default to the much simpler, “Well the experts say.” So when I hear arguments like, “The voters didn’t understand the consequences of Brexit,” I am also hearing, “I didn’t explain my positions very well.”

Reason 2: It ignores the huge mistakes experts have made. Like the Iraq war and the aftermath of the global financial crisis (TARP anyone!)

At the risk of borrowing from David Brooks (!), let me get a bit pop-sociology/ psychology.

The “expert class” are very slow to admit they are wrong which is a direct result of our system that rewards the most educated, and the cleverest. Rising to the top now means being clever as fuck, knowing how to game rules, and most important, being able to always argue your case.

It is almost like we now reward that kid on the playground who when tagged during recess, replies, “You didn’t ACTUALLY tag me. You only tagged my clothes. Which isn’t technically me…..” Or the person who when they lose a bet for 100 dollars, says, “I didn’t say dollars, I said, Doll Hairs.” or responds, “We never actually signed a contract.”

The experts are indeed smart. They are indeed clever. They are indeed informed. They can also be damn closed minded and stubborn. Because we reward that.

On the trading floor we called them the “Granted, however….” crowd, and they started appearing more and more as we shifted our hiring to those with resumes filled with elite education. Every argument with them was an endless game of “Granted, however….” A long spiral down more and more esoteric and absurd reasons they were right, often invoking loopholes and/or clever math.

To a lot of voters the Iraq war and the bail-out of Wall Street were huge mistakes that most of the “Granted, however” crowd defended well beyond when they should of. Some still do defend one or both. Without recognizing the harm both policies have inflicted.

The politicians that represent the expert class, Jeb Bush, Tony Blair, Hillary Clinton, Timothy Geithner, Larry Summers, are very clever, very smart, very informed. They also really struggle to just say, Sorry, I fucked up. (Think how Jeb stumbled so badly when asked was the war a mistake. That is partly why he lost so badly to Trump, who had no problems saying it was.)

To many voters burned over the last X years, it all ends up sounding like a big “Granted, however…..”

Granted your wages have stagnated for 40 years. Granted we went to war under false pretense. Granted we bailed out the big banks and not the general public. However, ……….”

If you disagree with the Leave crowd. Disagree with Trump. Admit the faults of the last X years. Be humble. Understand not everyone sees PhD’s as the chosen ones.

Understand elites and experts, HAVE made big mistakes.

Also. Please don’t be the “Granted, however person.” Nobody likes them. They may win arguments at debates, they may get the A+ at Harvard, but they don’t win elections. Not at least these days."

[in reaction to: https://foreignpolicy.com/2016/06/28/its-time-for-the-elites-to-rise-up-against-ignorant-masses-trump-2016-brexit/ ]
chrisarnade  jamestraub  brexit  elitism  classism  2016  cleverness  education  experts  psychology  donaldtrump  politics  discourse  smartness  stubbornness  rulingclass  humility  humbleness 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Intervention – “Vernacular Values: Remembering Ivan Illich” by Andy Merrifield | AntipodeFoundation.org
"Illich had it in for professional institutions of every kind, for what he called “disabling professions”; this is what interests me most in his work, this is what I’ve been trying to revisit, trying to recalibrate and reload, in our own professionalised times. I’ve been trying to affirm the nemesis of professionalism: amateurs. Illich said professionals incapacitate ordinary peoples’ ability to fend for themselves, to invent things, to lead innovative lives beyond the thrall of corporations and institutions. Yet Illich’s war against professionalism isn’t so much a celebration of self-survival (letting free market ideology rip) as genuine self-empowerment, a weaning people off their market-dependence. We’ve lost our ability to develop “convivial tools”, he says, been deprived of our use-value capacities, of values systems outside the production and consumption of commodities. We’ve gotten accustomed to living in a supermarket.

Illich’s thinking about professionalisation was partly inspired by Karl Polanyi’s magisterial analysis on the “political and economic origins of our time”, The Great Transformation (Beacon Press, 1944). Since the Stone Age, Polanyi says, markets followed society, developed organically as social relations developed organically, from barter and truck systems, to simple economies in which money was a means of exchange, a mere token of equivalent worth. Markets were always “embedded” (a key Polanyi word) in social relations, always located somewhere within the very fabric of society, whose institutional and political structure “regulated” what markets could and couldn’t do. Regulation and markets thus grew up together, came of age together. So “the emergence of the idea of self-regulation”, says Polanyi, “was a complete reversal of this trend of development … the change from regulated to self-regulated markets at the end of the 18th century represented a complete transformation in the structure of society.”

We’re still coming to terms with this complete transformation, a transformation that, towards the end of the 20th century, has made the “disembedded” economy seem perfectly natural, perfectly normal, something transhistorical, something that always was, right? It’s also a perfectly functioning economy, as economic pundits now like to insist. Entering the 1990s, this disembedded market system bore a new tagline, one that persists: “neoliberalism”. Polanyi’s logic is impeccable: a “market economy can exist only in a market society.”

Inherent vices nonetheless embed themselves in this disembedded economy. Land, labour and money become vital parts of our economic system, of our speculative hunger games. But, says Polanyi, land, labour and money “are obviously not commodities” (his emphasis). “Land is only another name for nature, which is not produced by man”, he says; “labour is only another name for human activity which goes with life itself”; “actual money … is merely a token of purchasing power which, as a rule, is not produced at all, but comes into being through the mechanism of banking or state finance”. Thus “the commodity description of labour, land and money is entirely fictitious”, a commodity fiction, the fiction of commodities.

Still, we live in fictitious times (as filmmaker Michael Moore was wont to say): land, labour and money as commodities provide us with the vital organising principle of our whole society. So fiction remains the truth, and fictitious truth needs defending, needs perpetuating; the postulate must be forcibly yet legitimately kept in place. But kept in place how, and by whom? By, we might say, a whole professional administration, by a whole professional cadre, by a whole professional apparatus that both props up and prospers from these fictitious times. Professionalism is the new regulation of deregulation, the new management of mismanagement, an induced and imputed incapacitation."



"Vernacular values are intuitive knowledges and practical know-how that structure everyday culture; they pivot not so much—as Gramsci says—on common sense as on “good sense”. They’re reasonable intuitions and intuitive reason: words, habits and understandings that inform real social life—the real social life of a non-expert population. Illich reminds us that “vernacular” stems from the Latin vernaculam, meaning “homebred” or “homegrown”, something “homemade”. (We’re not far from the notion of amateur here.) Vernacular is a mode of life and language below the radar of exchange-value; vernacular language is language acquired without a paid teacher; loose, unruly language, heard as opposed to written down. (“Eartalk”, Joyce called it in Finnegans Wake, a language for the “earsighted”.) To assert vernacular values is, accordingly, to assert democratic values, to assert its means through popular participation."



"Illich chips in to add how professionals peddle the privileges and status of the job: they adjudicate its worthiness and rank, while forever tut-tutting those without work. Unemployment “means sad idleness, rather than the freedom to do things that are useful for oneself or for one’s neighbour”. “What counts”, Illich says, “isn’t the effort to please or the pleasure that flows from that effort but the coupling of the labour force with capital. What counts isn’t the achievement of satisfaction that flows from action but the status of the social relationship that commands production—that is, the job, situation, post, or appointment”.

Effort isn’t productive unless it’s done at the behest of some boss; economists can’t deal with a usefulness of people outside of the corporation, outside of stock value, of shareholder dividend, of cost-benefit. Work is only ever productive when its process is controlled, when it is planned and monitored by professional agents, by managers and the managers of managers. Can we ever imagine unemployment as useful, as the basis for autonomous activity, as meaningful social or even political activity?"



"Perhaps, during crises, we can hatch alternative programmes for survival, other methods through which we can not so much “earn a living” as live a living. Perhaps we can self-downsize, as Illich suggests, and address the paradox of work that goes back at least to Max Weber: work is revered in our culture, yet at the same time workers are becoming superfluous; you hate your job, your boss, hate the servility of what you do, and how you do it, the pettiness of the tasks involved, yet want to keep your job at all costs. You see no other way of defining yourself other than through work, other than what you do for a living. Perhaps there’s a point at which we can all be pushed over the edge, voluntarily take the jump ourselves, only to discover other aspects of ourselves, other ways to fill in the hole, to make a little money, to maintain our dignity and pride, and to survive off what Gorz calls a “frugal abundance”.

Perhaps it’s time to get politicised around non-work and undercut the professionalisation of work and life. In opting out, or at least contesting from within, perhaps we can create a bit of havoc, refuse to work as we’re told, and turn confrontation into a more positive device, a will to struggle for another kind of work, where use-value outbids exchange-value, where amateurs prevail over professionals. If, in times of austerity, capitalists can do without workers, then it’s high time workers (and ex-workers) realise that we can do without capitalists, without their professional hacks, and their professional institutions, that we can devise work without them, a work for ourselves. Illich throws down the gauntlet here, challenges us to conceive another de-professionalised, vernacular non-working future. He certainly gets you thinking, has had me thinking, and rethinking, more than a decade after I’ve had any kind of job."
via:javierarbona  ivanillich  professionals  experts  amateurs  economics  conviviality  karlpolanyi  politics  capitalism  neoliberalism  empowerment  self-empowerment  unschooling  deschooling  production  consumption  corporatism  corporations  institutions  self-survival  invention  innovation  markets  society  labor  land  commodities  nature  money  michaelmoore  andymerrifield  bureaucracy  control  systems  systemsthinking  deregulation  regulation  management  incapacitation  work  vernacula  vernacularvalues  values  knowledge  everyday  culture  informal  bullshitjobs  andrégorz  antoniogramsci  marxism  ideleness  freedom  capital  effort  productivity  socialactivism  maxweber  time  toolsforconviviality 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Ezio Manzini: Design, When Everybody Designs. An Introduction to Design for Social Innovation on Vimeo
"A public lecture and book signing with Ezio Manzini, renowned design strategist, author and expert on sustainable design.

In a changing world, everyone designs. Each individual person and each collective subject - from enterprises to institutions, from communities to cities and regions - must define and enhance a life project. In this framework, Ezio Manzini's new book distinguishes between "diffuse design" (performed by everybody) and "expert design" (performed by those who have been trained as designers) and maps what the latter can do to trigger and support meaningful social changes.

For more than two decades, Ezio Manzini has worked in the field of design for sustainability. Most recently, his interests have focused on social innovation, a major driver of sustainable social change. He is the founder of DESIS, an international network of schools of design specifically active in the field of design for social innovation and sustainability (desis-network.org).

Presently, Ezio is Chair Professor of Design for Social Innovation at the University of the Arts London (UK), Honorary Professor at the Politecnico di Milano (Italy), and Guest Professor at Tongji University - Shanghai and Jiangnan University - Wuxi (China).

In addition to his ongoing involvement in the design for sustainability arena, Ezio has explored and promoted design potentialities in different fields, from Design of Materials in the 1980s; Strategic Design in the 1990s; and Service Design in the last ten years.

His most recent book, “Design, When Everybody Designs: An Introduction to Design for Social Innovation,” (MIT Press, 2015), presents a comprehensive picture of design for social innovation, the most dynamic field of action for both expert and non-expert designers in the coming decades."

[via:
https://instagram.com/p/4_bbhxEViC/
https://instagram.com/p/5DHH-kkVqr/
https://instagram.com/p/5DEWWREVkE/
https://instagram.com/p/5DG3eyEVqC/
https://instagram.com/p/5DHH-kkVqr/ ]

[See also: https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/design-when-everybody-designs
http://www.amazon.com/Design-When-Everybody-Designs-Introduction/dp/0262028603

"In a changing world everyone designs: each individual person and each collective subject, from enterprises to institutions, from communities to cities and regions, must define and enhance a life project. Sometimes these projects generate unprecedented solutions; sometimes they converge on common goals and realize larger transformations. As Ezio Manzini describes in this book, we are witnessing a wave of social innovations as these changes unfold—an expansive open co-design process in which new solutions are suggested and new meanings are created.

Manzini distinguishes between diffuse design (performed by everybody) and expert design (performed by those who have been trained as designers) and describes how they interact. He maps what design experts can do to trigger and support meaningful social changes, focusing on emerging forms of collaboration. These range from community-supported agriculture in China to digital platforms for medical care in Canada; from interactive storytelling in India to collaborative housing in Milan. These cases illustrate how expert designers can support these collaborations— making their existence more probable, their practice easier, their diffusion and their convergence in larger projects more effective. Manzini draws the first comprehensive picture of design for social innovation: the most dynamic field of action for both expert and nonexpert designers in the coming decades."]
via:bopuc  2015  eziomanzini  design  sustainability  socialinnovation  socialchange  books  toread  collaboration  collaborative  experts  informal 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Intervention – “Future Shock” by Andy Merrifield | AntipodeFoundation.org
"In accepted wisdom, we tend to think of amateurs as people who dabble, who don’t do things for a living, but who do something as a hobby, at weekends, in their spare time. We see amateurs as less accomplished than professionals. But professionalism, said Said, can constitute a form of compliant behavior, of making yourself marketable and presentable to the powers that be. None of which denies the need for competence, for being conscientious about what you do, and for having the right skills to do it. Not anyone can do heart surgery or pilot a plane, teach high school or cure animals. It involves training and learning. So it’s not the skills question that concerned Said; it’s more the professional practice, how you employ those skills, to whom you sell them, how you apply your knowledge, in whose interests you’re acting. Pros aren’t usually controversial; they’re on the payroll, they’re there to provide a service. Professionalism means having an expertise to hide behind, an often narrow expertise, an esoteric language that sets you apart, that gains entry into a professional bodies, one strictly off-limits to rank amateurs.

Amateurs, by contrast, aren’t moved by profit or pay; they usually care more about ideas and values not tied down to any profession; their vision is often more expansive, more eclectic, not hampered by the conservatism of narrow expertise, preoccupied with defending one’s intellectual turf. To be an amateur is to express the ancient French word: love of, a person who engages on an unpaid basis, a non-specialist, a layperson. Nothing pejorative intended. Amateurs sometimes care for ideas that question professional authority because they express concerns professions don’t consider, don’t see, don’t care about. Thus an amateur might likely be somebody who rocks the boat, who stirs up trouble, because he or she isn’t on anybody’s payroll—never will be on the payroll because of the critical things they say. In this sense, an intellectual ought to be an amateur, Said insisted, a thinking and concerned member of a society who raises questions at the very heart of even the most professionalized activity. Still, the issue for amateurs today is how to deal with the flagrant professionalism in our midst—in urban studies, in urban life, everywhere?"
maateurs  experts  2015  andymerrifield  austerity  shrinkage  plannedshrinkage  economics  authority 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Experts and the corruption of truth! | Metaquestions
"We all need to be able to understand our first principles are probably wrong. We need to realise field testing only tells us a bit of what we need to know within limits. It is just not simple, if its simple it need to be a belief like religion and that leads to people holding onto something that is not proven. Those people will stop innovation and improvement on our global knowledge base."



"There is no short-cut, there is no final proof, we are merely allowed to see only part of what makes the universe work, we do not know gravity, anti matter, black holes or even if any of these things exist! We cannot even tell why prime numbers happen in the order they do, what we do not know is very simple things that we really should know. So how on earth could we know the big stuff? Bottom line, this game we are playing only shows us a few of the rules at any one time, things will change as we discover more rules, but they force us to reconsider all our previous moves continually and as nature shows us more rules it will force us to be humble and start again.

The number of unknowns is enormous and trying to ignore them by simply an equation, fancy word for something, a measurement or even a series of experiments is simply not enough. All together they offer an ability to start to ask, none of them offer a final answer (and never will). So don’t be an expert, be an explorer and if you are nice to your fellow explorers they may even show you ways you have not yet considered. If they talk in maths riddles and hide behind fancy papers and equations then they are safe to ignore. There is no easy answer, only more information and potentially all you know may be wrong, certainly the majority is certainly wrong, so don’t be a believer, be ready to infer new conclusions as you find out more info, which may not even look related. So look at everything and prepare for massive surprises, they will happen!

This is why I struggle to give simple answers to folk, I hate lies and part of a truth is closer to a lie that saying nothing. Many understand this position, but many don’t yet. It is interesting to see though that the experts seem to be the very people who are the believers and not explorers, when folk also realise what they know is trivial and likely wrong then perhaps things will move along faster.

In saying that I also agree that the inability to easily explain something is an indication of a lack of understanding. A quandary, well yes … Just another thing I don’t know, I wish I did."
experts  via:Taryn  2015  truth  math  science  mathematics  scientificmethod  unlearning  learning  certainty  uncertainty  understanding  belief  unknowns  limits  davidirvine 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Russell Davies: Conspiracies against the laity
"George Bernard Shaw said this:

"All professions are conspiracies against the laity."

It's discussed in a surprisingly chatty un-wikipedia-feeling wikipedia entry.

I always think about this when people discuss professionalisation.

This and Adam Smith:

"People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.""
professionalization  experts  2015  cv  confidence  bureaucracy  entrenchment  economics  adamsmith  professionals  domains  artleisure  leisurearts  amateurs  impostors  georgebernardshaw 
march 2015 by robertogreco
6, 35: Moonlight
"Things I wish someone had explained to me sooner…

• To people who don’t love you, your intentions don’t matter. If you hurt them accidentally, you’ve hurt them.

• Broadly, experts get that way because they care about what they do. Because they care about it, they want to tell you about what they know. It’s easy for them to leave out what they don’t know. And so, accidentally, they tend to make their fields sound more boring than they are. On either side of an expert–layperson relationship, remember to talk about the mysteries and frontiers.



• In any complicated situation, what people can tell you about why they came to their conclusions is virtually unrelated to the truth, effectiveness, or worthwhileness of those conclusions. We’re right for the wrong reasons, and vice versa, all the time.



• Argument from origins – etymology, philosophical genealogy, institutional history – takes special humility. It’s easy to make a point that’s only a complicated, smart-sounding version of “Hitler was a vegetarian, so vegetarianism is evil”.

• Programming is more like writing than like working an algebra problem.

• Your attention is the most valuable thing you can give. It’s what lets you do anything intentionally. Put some aside to spend where it might be badly needed. That’s usually not on anything that a million people are already attending to. It might be, but more often it will be something that most people around you, with perspectives like yours, are not thinking about."



"Earlier today, a moment in the presence of the systemic sublime while drinking Yirgacheffe coffee and watching Ethiopian kids singing while sorting coffee beans – Wote, Yirgacheffe. And watching Typhoon Hagupit/Ruby crawl up on the Philippines: this tweet, my word. Not only can I track the typhoon half-hourly in infrared, I have access to two separate instruments that can see it in visible wavelengths by moonlight: VIIRS and astronauts with DSLRs. Moonlight. A lot of my life is lived as part of this stringy confederation of nerds interested in perception over distance and mediated by algorithms, in the river rapids where culture flows around protuberant lumps of technology, in volition and encoding, in the connections, separations, and flavors of the network itself, in scale, in long chains of molecules and routes of IP packets and corten containers and coffee beans, and in the submerged cathedrals and unmapped data halls that they build. And I make fun of us, our rhizome or distributed pocket, with jokes about James C. Scott and so forth. But I feel the weight when I wonder whether the children who sorted the beans I’m drinking were singing. Moonlight."
charlieloyd  2014  systems  systemsthinking  systemicsublime  coffee  jamescscott  certainty  uncertainty  programming  coding  writing  attention  experts  mystery  frontiers  unknown  intentions  love 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Why Experts Reject Creativity - The Atlantic
"The physicist Max Planck put it best: "Science advances one funeral at a time.”

One place to watch the funeral march of science is America's peer-review process for academic research, which allocates $40 billion each year to new ideas in medicine, engineering, and technology. Every year, the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation review nearly 100,000 applications for funding. The vast majority—up to 90 percent in some years—are rejected. For many breakthrough ideas, this selection process is the difference between life and death, financial backing and financial bankruptcy.

What sort of proposals do NIH evaluators approve? It’s a critical question for scientists. And the answer is nobody knows. Submissions receive such widely varying treatment that the relationship between evaluators' decisions is “perilously close to rates found for Rorschach inkblot tests,” according to a 2012 review.

A new ingenious paper raises a dangerous question: Are expert evaluators subtly biased against new ideas?

Researchers Kevin J. Boudreau, Eva Guinan, Karim R. Lakhani, and Christoph Riedl recruited 142 world-class researchers from a leading medical school and randomly assigned them to evaluate several proposals. Sometimes, faculty were experts in the subject of the submissions they read. Often, they were experts in other fields. But in all cases, the experiment was triple-blind: Evaluators did not know submitters, submitters did not know evaluators, and evaluators did not talk to each other.

The researchers found that new ideas—those that remixed information in surprising ways—got worse scores from everyone, but they were particularly punished by experts. "Everyone dislikes novelty,” Lakhami explained to me, but “experts tend to be over-critical of proposals in their own domain." Knowledge doesn’t just turn us into critical thinkers. It maybe turns us into over-critical thinkers. (In the real world, everybody has encountered a variety of this: A real or self-proclaimed expert who's impatient with new ideas, because they challenge his ego, piercing the armor of his expertise.)

Experts might be particularly biased against new ideas*, but most people aren't too fond of creativity either. In fact, they can be downright hostile.

A 1999 study found that teachers who claim to enjoy creative children don't actually enjoy any of the characteristics associated with creativity, such as non-conformity. A famous 2010 study from the University of Pennsylvania showed that ordinary people often dismiss new ideas, because their uncertainty makes us think, and thinking too hard makes us feel uncomfortable. "People often reject creative ideas even when espousing creativity as a desired goal," the researchers wrote. People are subtly prejudiced against novelty, even when they claim to be open to new ways of thinking.

* * *

How should creative people fight this widespread prejudice against creativity? Perhaps by disguising their new ideas as old ideas. If people are attracted to the familiar, it’s crucial for creative people to frame their ideas in ways that seem recognizable, predictable, and safe.

We're not prejudiced against all creativity, Karim Lakhani told me. In fact, his team studying academic submissions found that slightly novel medical proposals got the highest ratings. The graph below shows evaluation scores on the Y-axis plotted against the measured novelty of each submission. The overall trajectory is downward. Newer ideas generally got worse ratings. But you'll notice that something important is happening at the left end of the curve ...

[image]

... the line goes up. Indeed, that small bump at the beginning suggests there is an "optimal newness" for ideas that lives somewhere between the fresh and the familiar, Lakhami said.

In Hollywood, the "high-concept pitch" offers a useful example. Film producers, like NIH scientists, have to evaluate hundreds of ideas a year, but can only accept a tiny percentage. To grab their attention, writers often frame original ideas as a fresh combination of existing ideas. "It’s Groundhog Day meets War of the Worlds!” Or “It’s Transformers on the ocean!" In Silicon Valley, where venture capitalists also shift through a surfeit of proposals, the culture of the high-concept pitch is vibrant (Airbnb was once eBay for homes; Uber, Lyft, and Zipcar were all once considered Airbnb for cars; now, people want Uber for everything).

Creative people often bristle at the suggestion that they have to stoop to marketing their ideas. It's more pleasant to think that one's brilliance is self-evident and doesn't require the gloss of sales or the theater of marketing. But whether you're an academic, screenwriter, or entrepreneur, the difference between a brilliant new idea with bad marketing a mediocre idea with excellent marketing can be the difference between success and bankruptcy.

American culture worships creativity, but mostly in the abstract. Most people really don't like new ideas that sound entirely new, particularly the experts that often have to approve them. The trick is learning to frame new ideas as old ideas—to make your creativity seem, well, not quite so creative."
creativity  expertise  experts  framing  communication  novelty  2014  bias  innovation  derekthompson  newideas  ideas  acadmemia  science  research  marketing 
october 2014 by robertogreco
In Which I Confess to Lacking Grit, Apparently, and Blame It on Family - Peter Gow Associates Peter Gow Associates
"I didn’t ever know my grandfather terribly well, as he was in ill-health for much of my sentient childhood, and I never heard him say it, but he was quoted by those who should know (that is, by students and teaching colleagues, the folks for whom he saved his best thoughts) as having proclaimed that “A thing worth doing is worth doing poorly.”

What a shocking line from a respected educator! But yet, he had a point that I fully and completely embrace: that one doesn’t need to be an past master, a single-minded obsessive, a ninth-degree adept to enjoy doing something or learning about it. The Expert may be an American icon, but there is no reason that someone should have to be fluent in, say, Dutch to be interested in it as a language or to memorize the scientific names and characteristics of every apple in the Empire State to appreciate the glory of upstate apple-ness.

For my grandfather, this dilettante’s approach to learning a few things (and sometimes more) about quite a lot of things was a source of intellectual and emotional joy. He wasn’t interested in throwing his knowledge around at cocktail parties, although I daresay he might have unintentionally done so; he just liked learning stuff.

Of course, we live in an age when we are told that persistence, mastery—grit!—is the sine qua non of meaningful living. We’re told to devote our lives to whatever matters to us, to repeat as necessary (and The Gladwell has decreed that 10,000 times are necessary), until we have broken through the barriers of weakness of character and failure that leave those less gritty lying in the dust. Poor sad souls.

So there was my grandfather, child of immigrants and a college scholarship boy who gave up his chance to be a doctor in order to become a Latin teacher (thus alienating himself from his parents forever and aye). At the age of forty he chucked a steady teaching gig to start his own initially wobbly school. He would score low on the Grit Scale. Poor sad, quixotic soul.

I realize that my own household has taken on some of the characteristics of that living room; my Amazon account and my forays into the world of library book sales, where my spouse is a disciplined shopper and I buy like a sailor on a spree, are all the proof anyone would need to convict me of sharing my grandfather’s lack of grit.

So, Gritless Wonder that I must be, I find myself considering that the whole “grit” thing might just be more than a little over-blown. The recent critique that has been waged in the blogs of educators I admire (like Ira Socoland Josie Holford) seems to be onto something, suggesting as it does that prescribing persistence for victims as an band-aid for systemic social failures is more than a little bit facile and cruel.

There’s grit, and there’s grit: heavy-duty, damn-life’s-torpedoes streetwise stubbornness versus good do-bee persistence—and what educator isn’t for persistence when it matters when it comes to schoolwork? But an educator I worked for once noted that “sometimes giving up in a no-win situation is a sign of intelligence,” and there are students who have been dealt hands that no amount of extra effort on homework will turn into winners; grit alone won’t do it, and the mental and emotional energy to sustain this kind of grit are a price that no child should have to pay, although of course many do. I think that we need to focus more on fixing the no-win situations than on worrying about who has grit and who doesn’t.

The point of my grandfather’s saying, I think, is that in the end a thing worth doing is a thing worth doing. Sometimes we may achieve full mastery, and sometimes we can only do the best we can. Whether we’re up for 10,000 repetitions, or whether we just want a taste and then to move on, his belief and mine are that curiosity and enthusiasm are felicitous starting points for the exploration of a world of wonders. I’d rather have my recollections of poking around in my grandfather’s library than be under the compulsion to prove how much grit I have. I think, old-school teacher that he was, that my grandfather would agree.

And as for the grit enthusiasts among us, let’s keep in mind that there’s a difference between persistence and heroism, and that we oughtn’t to be demanding heroism from every disadvantaged kid—at least until we’re ready, 24/7, to demand it from ourselves. Let’s focus not on heroism, nor grit, nor “accepting no excuses,” but rather on something we can all own to.

In response to yet another post on this grit business, Laura Deisleycites Chris Lehman’s call for an “Ethic of Care,” a response to what she beautifully describes at kids’ “yearning for relationship and purpose.”

An Ethic of Care just beats grit all hollow."
grit  petergow  education  life  irasocol  josieholford  chrislehman  2014  care  caring  specialists  experts  expertise  lauradeisleycites 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Can Algorithms Replace Your English Professor? — Who’s Afraid of Online Education? — Medium
"Algorithms are quickly becoming our new tastemakers and gatekeepers. Social media feeds are increasingly the most immediate source of news for many people, which means we are becoming more and more beholden to algorithms. Social media algorithms have been a popular topic of discussion lately, with people undertaking experiments on what happens when you “like” everything on Facebook, or when you refrain from “liking” anything. The Facebook algorithm is being held up as the primary reason why the #Ferguson protests are not showing up on user’s Facebook feeds, in comparison to Twitter, which is the only network that shows you what you choose to follow, rather than what its algorithm thinks you should. (Note that this may also be changing.)

Algorithms are becoming our curators. They show us—based on a secret, proprietary formula—what they think we want to see. In this experiment, Tim Herrara demonstrates that Facebook’s algorithm prefers to show its users older, more popular content than new content that has not been engaged with. Despite him trying to consume his entire Facebook feed for an entire day, he realized that he only saw 29% of new content produced by his network—and that for most users, that percentage is probably a lot lower. On Facebook there isn’t a way to bypass this algorithm, even if you select“most recent” posts rather than “most popular” posts in your setting (interestingly enough, I’ve heard reports that Facebook tends to secretly reset your settings back to “most popular” no matter what you do).

There’s a lot of controversy over the power that we are giving algorithms to display and represent our world to us. But these critiques miss an important point: we’ve never not had curators and filters. Before we had algorithms, we had “experts”, “authorities”, tastemakers—we had (or have)professors and academics, we had (have) institutions that studied things and told us what was important or unimportant about the world, we had (have) editors and publishers who decided what was “good” enough to be shared with the world. But the importance and reliabilty of these authorities and tastemakers is coming under serious fire because of the impact of some social media; for example in the reporting on Ferguson on major news networks versus Twitter. Furthermore, if you take the work of postcolonial studies critics like Edward Said seriously, much of our humanistic and scientific forms of research inquiry are hardly free of cultural prejudice, and are in fact informed and dictated by these modes of thinking.

Given all of this, I have two thoughts:

One. How is algorithmic selection actually similar to older modes of tastemaking and gatekeeping (i.e. experts and authorities who tell us what to value and what not to)? How is it different? Does either mode entertain the feedback of those who they serve (i.e., can you help train an algorithm to show you more of what you want, or can you have impact on your “experts” in having them study what you think is important?)

Two. A great deal of virtual ink has been spilled on whether educators are going to be replaced by online courses such as MOOCs. Less has been said, however, about the replacement of the tastemaking function of educators/researchers—especially in the humanities, our goal has been to train students to find value in what they otherwise might not, to make legible to our students modes of seeing and doing which depart from their own. Can an algorithm replace that tastemaking function? Put another way: instead of having the “best” news and information filtered to you by “experts” (your teachers, your professors, editors and publishers etc.), what happens when an algorithm starts taking over this process? Is this necessarily good, bad, or neither? And how similar is this filtering of information to previous modes of filtering? In other words—can an algorithm become smart enough to replace your English literature professor? And what would be the result of such a scenario?"

[via (great thread follows): https://twitter.com/Jessifer/status/502632112261169152 ]
adelinekoh  2014  algorithms  facebook  twitter  education  curation  curators  gatekeepers  tastemakers  trendsetters  mooc  moocs  tastemaking  experts  authority  authorities  humanism  humanities  power  control  academia  highereducation  highered  feeds  filters 
august 2014 by robertogreco
A Thousand Rivers: What the modern world has forgotten about children and learning.
[also here: http://carolblack.org/a-thousand-rivers/ ]

"The following statement somehow showed up on my Twitter feed the other day:
“Spontaneous reading happens for a few kids. The vast majority need (and all can benefit from) explicit instruction in phonics.”

This 127-character edict issued, as it turned out, from a young woman who is the “author of the forthcoming book Brilliant: The Science of How We Get Smarter” and a “journalist, consultant and speaker who helps people understand how we learn and how we can do it better.”

It got under my skin, and not just because I personally had proven in the first grade that it is possible to be bad at phonics even if you already know how to read. It was her tone; that tone of sublime assurance on the point, which, further tweets revealed, is derived from “research” and “data” which demonstrate it to be true.

Many such “scientific” pronouncements have emanated from the educational establishment over the last hundred years or so.  The fact that the proven truths of each generation are discovered by the next to be harmful folly never discourages the current crop of experts who are keen to impose their freshly-minted certainties on children. Their tone of cool authority carries a clear message to the rest of us: “We know how children learn.  You don’t.

So they explain it to us.

The “scientific consensus” about phonics, generated by a panel convened by the Bush administration and used to justify billions of dollars in government contracts awarded to Bush supporters in the textbook and testing industries, has been widely accepted as fact through the years of “No Child Left Behind” and “Race to the Top,” so if history is any guide, its days are numbered. Any day now there will be new research which proves that direct phonics instruction to very young children is harmful, that it bewilders and dismays them and makes them hate reading (we all know that’s often true, so science may well discover it) — and millions of new textbooks, tests, and teacher guides will have to be purchased at taxpayer expense from the Bushes’ old friends at McGraw-Hill.

The problems with this process are many, but the one that I’d like to highlight is this: the available “data” that drives it is not, as a matter of fact, the “science of how people learn.” It is the “science of what happens to people in schools.”

This is when it occurred to me: people today do not even know what children are actually like. They only know what children are like in schools.

Schools as we know them have existed for a very short time historically: they are in themselves a vast social experiment. A lot of data are in at this point. One in four Americans does not know the earth revolves around the sun. Half of Americans don’t know that antibiotics can’t cure a virus. 45% of American high school graduates don’t know that the First Amendment of the Constitution guarantees freedom of the press. These aren’t things that are difficult to know. If the hypothesis is that universal compulsory schooling is the best way to to create an informed and critically literate citizenry, then anyone looking at the data with a clear eye would have to concede that the results are, at best, mixed. At worst, they are catastrophic: a few strains of superbacteria may be about to prove that point for us.

On the other hand, virtually all white American settlers in the northeastern colonies at the time of the American Revolution could read, not because they had all been to school, and certainly not because they had all been tutored in phonics, which didn’t exist at the time. Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, not exactly light reading, sold over 500,000 copies in its first year of publication, the equivalent of a book selling sixty million copies today. People learned to read in a variety of ways, some from small one-room schools, but many from their mothers, from tutors, traveling ministers, apprentice’s masters, relatives, neighbors, friends. They could read because, in a literate population, it is really not that difficult to transmit literacy from one person to the next. When people really want a skill, it goes viral. You couldn’t stop it if you tried.

In other words, they could read for all the same reasons that we can now use computers. We don’t know how to use computers because we learned it in school, but because we wanted to learn it and we were free to learn it in whatever way worked best for us. It is the saddest of ironies that many people now see the fluidity and effectiveness of this process as a characteristic of computers, rather than what it is, which is a characteristic of human beings.

In the modern world, unless you learn to read by age 4, you are no longer free to learn in this way. Now your learning process will be scientifically planned, controlled, monitored and measured by highly trained “experts” operating according to the best available “data.” If your learning style doesn’t fit this year’s theory, you will be humiliated, remediated, scrutinized, stigmatized, tested, and ultimately diagnosed and labelled as having a mild defect in your brain.

How did you learn to use a computer? Did a friend help you? Did you read the manual? Did you just sit down and start playing around with it? Did you do a little bit of all of those things? Do you even remember? You just learned it, right?”



"City kids who grow up among cartoon mice who talk and fish who sing show tunes are so delayed in their grasp of real living systems that Henrich et al. suggest that studying the cognitive development of biological reasoning in urban children may be “the equivalent of studying “normal” physical growth in malnourished children.” But in schools, rural Native children are tested and all too often found to be less intelligent and more learning “disabled” than urban white children, a deeply disturbing phenomenon which turns up among traditional rural people all over the world."



"Human cognitive diversity exists for a reason; our differences are the genius – and the conscience – of our species. It’s no accident that indigenous holistic thinkers are the ones who have been consistently reminding us of our appropriate place in the ecological systems of life as our narrowly-focused technocratic society veers wildly between conservation and wholesale devastation of the planet. It’s no accident that dyslexic holistic thinkers are often our artists, our inventors, our dreamers, our rebels. "



"Right now American phonics advocates are claiming that they “know” how children learn to read and how best to teach them. They know nothing of the kind. A key value in serious scientific inquiry is also a key value in every indigenous culture around the world: humility. We are learning."



"“It is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth sometimes comes to the top,” a great artist once said. Science is a tool of breathtaking power and beauty, but it is not a good parent; it must be balanced by something broader, deeper, older. Like wind and weather, like ecosystems and microorganisms, like snow crystals and evolution, human learning remains untamed, unpredictable, a blossoming fractal movement so complex and so mysterious that none of us can measure or control it. But we are part of that fractal movement, and the ability to help our offspring learn and grow is in our DNA. We can begin rediscovering it now. Experiment. Observe. Listen. Explore the thousand other ways of learning that still exist all over the planet. Read the data and then set it aside. Watch your child’s eyes, what makes them go dull and dead, what makes them brighten, quicken, glow with light. That is where learning lies."
carolblack  2014  education  learning  certainty  experts  science  research  data  unschooling  deschooling  schooliness  schooling  compulsoryschooling  history  literacy  canon  parenting  experimentation  listening  observation  noticing  indigeneity  howwelearn  howweteach  wisdom  intuition  difference  diversity  iainmcgilchrist  truth  idleness  dyslexia  learningdifferences  rosscooper  neurodiveristy  finland  policy  standards  standardization  adhd  resistance  reading  howweread  sugatamitra  philiplieberman  maori  aboriginal  society  cv  creativity  independence  institutionalization  us  josephhenrich  stevenjheine  aranorenzayan  weird  compulsory  māori  colonization  colonialism 
august 2014 by robertogreco
The Common Core Commotion
"We can assume that if Goals 2000 or NCLB or any of the other reform programs had been effective, the reformers could congratulate themselves for a job well done and go off to find another line of work. They haven’t, which brings us to the third reason that educational reform is an enterprise without end. 

It has to do with the old rule that supply creates its own demand. Over the last two generations, as the problem became unignorable and as vast freshets of money poured from governments and nonprofit foundations, an army of experts emerged to fix America’s schools. From trade unions and think tanks they came, from graduate schools of education and nonprofit foundations, from state education departments and for-profit corporations, from legislative offices and university psych labs and model schools and experimental classrooms, trailing spreadsheets and PowerPoints and grant proposals; they found work as lobbyists, statisticians, developmental psychologists, neurological researchers, education theorists, entrepreneurs, administrators, marketers, think tank fellows, textbook writers—even teachers! So great a mass of specialists cannot be kept idle. If they find themselves with nothing to do, they will find something to do. 

And so, after 40 years of signal failure, the educationists have brought us the Common Core State Standards. It is a totemic example of policy-making in the age of the well-funded expert."



"The foundation’s generosity seems indiscriminate, reflecting the milky centrism of its founder. Evidently Bill Gates doesn’t have a political bone in his body. His intellectual loyalty lies instead with the ideology of expertise. His faith is technocratic and materialist: In the end he believes the ability of highly credentialed observers to identify and solve problems through the social sciences is theoretically limitless. “Studies” and “research” unlock the human secret. This is the animating faith of most educationists, too. All human interactions can be dispassionately observed and their separate parts identified, isolated, analyzed, and quantified according to some version of the scientific method. The resulting data will yield reliable information about how and why we behave as we do, and from this process can be derived formulas that will be universally applicable and repeatable.

“One size fits all” may be a term of mockery used by people who disdain the top-down solutions of centralized power; in the technocratic vision, “one size fits all” describes the ideal.

A good illustration of the Gates technocratic approach to education reform is an initiative called “Measures of Effective Teaching” or MET. (DUH.) The effectiveness of a truly gifted teacher was once considered mysterious or ineffable, a personal transaction rooted in intuition, concern, intelligence, wisdom, knowledge, and professional ardor, combined in a way that defies precise description or replication. Such an old-fashioned notion is an affront to the technocratic mind, which assumes no human phenomenon can be, at bottom, mysterious; nothing is resistant to reduction and measurement. “Eff the Ineffable” is the technocrat’s motto."



"Exciting as it undoubtedly is for the educationist, MET research tells us nothing about how to improve the world that students and teachers inhabit. It is an exercise by educationists for educationists to ponder and argue over. Three hundred and thirty five million dollars can keep a lot of them busy."



"In the confusion between content and learning, the Standards often show the telltale verbal inflation that educationists use to make a simple idea complicated. The Standards for Reading offer a typical example. They come in groups of three—making a wonderful, if suspicious, symmetry. Unfortunately, many of the triplets are essentially identical. According to the rubric Key Ideas and Details, a student should “read closely to determine what the text says explicitly.” Where one standard says the student must be able to “analyze the development of central ideas,” the next standard says the student should be able to “analyze” “how ideas develop.” One “key detail” is to “learn details.” Under Craft and Structure, the student should be able to “analyze” how “portions of text” “relate to each other or the whole.” Another says he “should cite specific textual evidence” and still another that he should “summarize the key supporting details.” All of this collapses into a single unwritten standard: “Learn to read with care and to explain what you’ve read.” But no educationist would be so simple-minded.

There are standards only an educationist could love, or understand. It took me a while to realize that “scaffolding” is an ed-school term for “help.” Associate is another recurring term of art with a flexible meaning, from spell to match, as when third graders are expected to “associate the long and short sounds with the common spellings (graphemes) for the five major vowels.” This seems like students are being asked to spell vowels, but that can’t be right, can it? And when state and local teachers have to embody such confusing standards in classroom exercises, you’re likely to wind up with more confusion."



"THE RISE OF THE RIGHT

Most of the criticism of the Standards has come from the populist right, and the revolt of conservative parents against the pet project of a national educationist elite is genuine, spontaneous, and probably inevitable. But if you move beyond the clouds of jargon, and the compulsory gestures toward “critical thinking” and “metacognitive skills,” you will begin to spy something more interesting. There’s much in the Standards to reassure an educational traditionalist—a vein of subversion. At several points, Common Core is clearly intended as a stay against the runaway enthusiasms of educationist dogma.

The Standards insist schools’ (unspecified) curriculums be “content-rich”—meaning that they should teach something rather than nothing. They even go so far as to require students to read Shakespeare, the Preamble and First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and works of Greek mythology. Phonics is the chief means of teaching reading in Common Core, rejecting the notorious “whole language” method first taken up in the 1970s and—research shows!—a likely culprit in the decline in reading scores. The Standards discourage the use of calculators, particularly in early grades where it has become a popular substitute for acquiring basic math. The Standards require memorization of multiplication tables as an important step in learning arithmetic, striking a blow against “fuzzy math.” Faddish notions like “visual literacy” are nowhere to be found.

Perhaps most impressively, at least in language arts, the Standards require students to read and write ever larger amounts of nonfiction as they move toward their high school diploma. Anyone familiar with the soupy “young adult” novels fed to middle- and high-school students should be delighted. Writing assignments, in tandem with more rigorous reading, move away from mere self-expression—commonly the focus of writing all the way through high school—to the accumulation of evidence and detail in the service of arguments. The architect of the Language Arts Standards, an educationist called David Coleman, explained this shift in a speech in 2011. He lamented that the most common form of writing in high school these days is “personal writing.”

It is either the exposition of a personal opinion or it is the presentation of a personal matter. The only problem, forgive me for saying this so bluntly, the only problem with those two forms of writing is as you grow up in this world you realize people really don’t give a shit about what you feel or what you think.

Now, it is hard to imagine a more traditionalist sentiment than that. Yet conservative Common Core activists single out Coleman as a particularly sinister adversary, perhaps for his potty mouth. The populist campaign against the Standards has been scattershot: Sometimes they are criticized for being unrealistically demanding, at other times for being too soft. Even Common Core’s insistence on making the Constitution part of any sound curriculum has been attacked as insidious. Recall that students will be required to read only the Preamble and the First Amendment. That is, they will stop reading before they reach the Second Amendment and the guarantee of gun rights.

Coincidence? Many activists think not. "



"Conservative hostility to the Common Core is also entangled with hostility to President Obama and his administration. Joy Pullman, an editor and writer who is perhaps the most eloquent and responsible public critic of Common Core, wrote recently in thefederalist.com: “I wager that 90 percent of the debate over Common Core would instantly dissipate if states adopted the top-rated standards from, say, Massachusetts or Indiana and dropped the Obama administration tests.”

While the personal hostility to Obama might be overwrought, the administration’s campaign on behalf of the Standards has borne all the marks of the president’s other efforts at national persuasion."



"THUNDER ON THE LEFT

The administration’s bullying and dishonesty might be reason enough to reject the Standards. The campaign has even begun to worry its natural allies, who are losing trust in assurances that the Common Core is an advance for progressive education. Educationists on the leftward edge point to its insistence that teachers be judged on how much their students learn. This bears an unappealing resemblance to NCLB requirements, and they worry it will inject high-pressure competition into the collegial environment that most educationists prefer. Worse, it could be a Trojan horse for a reactionary agenda, a return to the long-ago era when students really had to, you know, learn stuff.

“The purpose of education,” says … [more]
education  reform  edreform  anationatrisk  nclb  georgewbush  georgehwbush  ronaldreagan  barackobama  jimmycarter  money  policy  experts  commoncore  curriclum  2014  andrewferguson  via:ayjay  1990  2000  1979  departmentofeducation  edwardkennedy  tedkennedy  goals2000  1983  gatesfoundation  billgates  arneduncan  bureaucracy  markets  aft  nonprofits  centralization  standards  schools  publicschools  us  ideology  politics  technocracy  credentialism  teaching  howweteach  measurement  rankings  testing  standardizedtesting  abstraction  nonprofit 
july 2014 by robertogreco
A Poet's Warning | Harvard Magazine Nov-Dec 2007
"Yet even as the College returns to its civilian pursuits and petty vanities—students struggling with the poems of Donne, “professors back from secret missions” bragging about their adventures—Auden sees another kind of conflict taking shape. This is the war between the two sensibilities, the two social and spiritual visions, that Auden names Apollo and Hermes. Apollo, the Greek god of light and music, becomes for Auden “pompous Apollo,” the patron saint of “official art.” Against him, Auden sets Hermes, the trickster god, protector of thieves and liars, who is “precocious” and undisciplined. Both of these gods can make a kind of music, but Auden asks the reader to decide “under which lyre” he will take his stand.

The comedy of the poem, and its prescience, lies in Auden’s description of Apollo, the presiding spirit of what he calls “the fattening forties.” The danger to postwar America, the poet suggests, lies in the soft tyranny of institutions, authorities, and experts—of people who know what’s best for you and don’t hesitate to make sure you know it, too. Auden gives a wonderful catalog of the things these Apollonians want to impose: colleges where “Truth is replaced by Useful Knowledge,” with courses on “Public Relations, Hygiene, Sport”; poems that “Extol the doughnut and commend/The Common Man” (did Byron Price flinch at those lines?); even processed foods: “a glass of prune juice or a nice/Marsh-mallow salad.” In short, Auden is already predicting the dullest, most conformist aspects of American life in the Cold War years, the kind of prosperous mediocrity that gave the 1950s a bad name.

But if it’s impossible to dislodge Apollo from his throne, Auden suggests, you can still follow Hermes in private. That is why the last stanzas of “Under Which Lyre” offer a “Hermetic Decalogue,” a set of commandments for free spirits who refuse to fall into line:

Thou shalt not do as the dean pleases,
Thou shalt not write thy doctor’s thesis
On education,
Thou shalt not worship projects nor
Shalt thou or thine bow down before
Administration.

Thou shalt not answer questionnaires
Or quizzes upon World-Affairs,
Nor with compliance
Take any test. Thou shalt not sit
With statisticians nor commit
A social science.

This advice is half-joking, but only half. For Auden is reminding his Harvard audience that all the official apparatus of the university is extraneous to its highest purpose, which is to cultivate freedom and inwardness. It is a message that still needs to be heard today, when the expense of higher education forces so many students to look at it as an investment, rather than an adventure.

Auden knows that, if everyone lived by the Hermetic Decalogue all the time, the world would grind to a halt. “The earth would soon, did Hermes run it,/Be like the Balkans,” he ruefully acknowledges. A society run by Hermes would be a disaster; but a society without any followers of Hermes in it would be a nightmare. That message makes “Under Which Lyre” a truly American poem, in the tradition of Emerson and Whitman and Twain, all of them defenders of the individual against the collective. The continued life of Auden’s Phi Beta Kappa poem is a reminder that, when the generals and censors and other powers of the earth are forgotten, it is the mere poet who remains."

[Full poem: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/under-which-lyre-3/
Also here: http://members.wizzards.net/~mlworden/atyp/auden.htm
Audio: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZE_bhSUgG8 ]

"Professors back from secret missions
Resume their proper eruditions,
Though some regret it;
They liked their dictaphones a lot,
T hey met some big wheels, and do not
Let you forget it.



The sons of Hermes love to play
And only do their best when they
Are told they oughtn't;
Apollo's children never shrink
From boring jobs but have to think
Their work important.



But jealous of our god of dreams,
His common-sense in secret schemes
To rule the heart;
Unable to invent the lyre,
Creates with simulated fire
Official art.

And when he occupies a college,
Truth is replaced by Useful Knowledge;
He pays particular
Attention to Commercial Thought,
Public Relations, Hygiene, Sport,
In his curricula.



Thou shalt not do as the dean pleases,
Thou shalt not write thy doctor’s thesis
On education,
Thou shalt not worship projects nor
Shalt thou or thine bow down before
Administration.

Thou shalt not answer questionnaires
Or quizzes upon World-Affairs,
Nor with compliance
Take any test. Thou shalt not sit
With statisticians nor commit
A social science."
via:lukeneff  trickster  whauden  poetry  experts  administration  authority  truth  mediocrity  unschooling  deschooling  edreform  education  learning  management  self-importance  hierarchy  poems  1946  highered  highereducation  tyranny  softtyranny  authorities 
february 2014 by robertogreco
Demystification versus Understanding
"So in general, Russell was correct: when the experts disagree, the lay person had best reserve judgment.

But there is an exception to the rule. Expertise also comes with taking many basic things for granted. So when radical changes happen, sometimes it is the naive novice, wrestling with the basics, who ends up innocently asking the right questions. You can only re-examine foundational assumptions if they are not ingrained second nature for you.

Thinking like a novice: the Zen idea of “beginner’s mind” is really hard for an expert. Which is one reason disruptive changes are often triggered by relative outsiders and smart novices. But not so often as romantics like to think. I suspect “experts thinking like novices” happens more often than novices serendipitously asking the brilliant right questions."
judgement  questioning  askingquestions  thinking  beginner'smind  beginners  zen  bertrandrussell  priorities  expertise  disruption  disruptivechanges  learning  demystification  venkateshrao  2012  novices  experts  understanding  questionasking 
september 2012 by robertogreco
What does it take to become an expert at anything? - Barking up the wrong tree
"It's quantity and quality. You need tons of time spent training but it has to be the right kind of practice. Just showing up is not enough, you need to continually challenge yourself with the right kind of effort. "Deliberate Practice" is a specifically defined term. It involves goal setting, quick feedback, and countless drills to improve skills with an eye on mastery. It is not "just showing up" and, plain and simple, it's not fun."

* You want practice to be as close to the real challenge as possible. Want to be a boxer? Hitting the bag is not enough. You need to be in a ring, against opponents, like a real match.

* Don't be passive. Testing yourself is far better than reviewing.

* Practice is not just repetition. Be ruthlessly critical and keep trying to improve on the constituent elements of the skill.

* Alone time. Top experts are more likely to be introverts…"

"Have Grit… Find a Great Mentor… Focus on the Negative… Focus on Improvement… Fast Feedback… It's Worth It"
persistence  experts  grit  correction  repetition  imitation  demonstration  explanation  mentors  mindset  mistakes  cv  perfectionism  mastery  skillbuilding  introverts  education  deschooling  unschooling  glvo  prototyping  howwelearn  feedback  learning  practice  via:tealtan  thisandthat  2012  expertise  mentoring  improvement  perseverence  makerstime  makertime  makersschedule 
august 2012 by robertogreco
John Kay - The parable of the ox
"By this time, there was a large industry of professional weight guessers, organisers of weight- guessing competitions and advisers helping people to refine their guesses."
analysts  analysis  finance  consulting  experts  2012  fallacies  johnkay  parables  markets  economics 
august 2012 by robertogreco
Resiliency, Risk, and a Good Compass: Tools for the Coming Chaos | Wired Business | Wired.com
"There are nine or so principles to work in a world like this:

1. Resilience instead of strength, which means you want to yield and allow failure and you bounce back instead of trying to resist failure.
2. You pull instead of push. That means you pull the resources from the network as you need them, as opposed to centrally stocking them and controlling them.
3. You want to take risk instead of focusing on safety.
4. You want to focus on the system instead of objects.
5. You want to have good compasses not maps.
6. You want to work on practice instead of theory. Because sometimes you don’t why it works, but what is important is that it is working, not that you have some theory around it.
7. It disobedience instead of compliance. You don’t get a Nobel Prize for doing what you are told. Too much of school is about obedience, we should really be celebrating disobedience.
8. It’s the crowd instead of experts.
9. It’s a focus on learning instead of education."
onthecheap  innovation  startups  collaboration  change  work  mapping  maps  compass  adaptability  howwework  cv  failure  systemsawareness  systemsthinking  systems  crowdsourcing  crowds  experts  disobedience  compliance  theory  practice  education  deschooling  hierarchy  control  unschooling  objects  tcsnmy  safety  pull  push  resiliency  2012  joiito  risktaking  risk  resilience  networks  learning 
july 2012 by robertogreco
Man is alone before the cosmos - interview - Domus [Interview with Oscar Niemeyer]
"…professor coming here to our office to talk about philosophy & the cosmos. We also edit an architectural periodical…architecture is just the pretext…magazine's real purpose is to provide young people with the information they need. In all disciplines, from medicine to engineering, when young people finish their studies, as specialists they can only talk about their idea of architecture, or more in general their job…haven't yet thought about or taken much notice of all the rest, of life itself, which is more important than architecture."

"…phrase I once used as motto…"Life is more important than architecture. The fight goes on. In defence of Latin America and the progress of the world.""

[Interviewer] "Looking from above, on the other hand, I was surprised at how the favelas seem more integrated with the environment and that, extensive as they are, they're paradoxically more respectful of it."

"Brasilia is nothing anymore. It is not an example, simply a provincial capital."
change  creativegeneralists  experts  specialists  generalists  brasil  brasilia  attobelloliardessi  space  design  architecture  oscarniemeyer  2010  specialization  brazil  brasília 
january 2012 by robertogreco
Science teacher: Doyle's School of Educharlantry
"If you want to be professional, act like one. Silence is unacceptable.

I don't need your support after the meeting. Telling me I said what everyone else is thinking after I get my ass handed to me on a platter does no good.

Join the fray, that's how democracy works. And shame the charlatans back to the ooze they came from.

Snake oil poster from Oregon state--I need to find the website..."
beenthere  education  democracy  sheeple  selfpromotion  outsiders  professionaldevelopment  experts  charlatans  speakingout  cv  teaching  comments  professionalism  michaeldoyle  outsider 
january 2012 by robertogreco
Twelve Things You Were Not Taught in School About Creative Thinking | Psychology Today
"1. You are creative.
2. Creative thinking is work.
3. You must go through the motions of being creative.
4. Your brain is not a computer.
5. There is no one right answer.
6. Never stop with your first good idea.
7. Expect the experts to be negative.
8. Trust your instincts.
9. There is no such thing as failure.
10. You do not see things as they are; you see them as you are.
11. Always approach a problem on its own terms.
12. Learn to think unconventionally."
creativity  psychology  innovation  art  designthinking  2011  michaelmichalko  cv  conformity  failure  tcsnmy  toshare  openminded  negativity  defensiveness  specialists  creativegeneralists  generalists  knowledge  instinct  problemsolving  brain  thinking  experts  paradox  biases  bias  mindset  closedmindedness  specialization 
december 2011 by robertogreco
MAKE | Zen and the Art of Making
"Some of the most talented and prolific people I know have dozens of interests and hobbies. When I ask them about this, the response is usually something like “I love to learn.” I think the new discoveries and joys of learning are the crux of this beginner thing I’ve been thinking about. Sure, when you’ve mastered something it’s valuable, but then part of your journey is over — you’ve arrived, and the trick is to find something you’ll always have a sense of wonder about. I think this is why scientists and artists, who are usually experts, love what they do: there is always something new ahead. It’s possible to be an expert but still retain the mind of a beginner. It’s hard, but the best experts can do it. In making things, in art, in science, in engineering, you can always be a beginner about something you’re doing — the fields are too vast to know it all."
philliptorrone  making  learning  unschooling  curiosity  education  experts  generalists  creativegeneralists  2011  zen  knowledge  expertise  lewiscarroll  makers  electronics  art  artists  science  scientists  tinkering  tinkerers  lifelonglearning  deschooling  mindset  beginners  invention  arduino  fear  risktaking  riskaversion  teaching  lcproject  failure  stasis  yearoff  openminded  children  interestedness  specialists  motivation  intrinsicmotivation  exploration  internet  web  online  constraints  specialization  interested  beginner'smind 
november 2011 by robertogreco
The Thinking Person's Guide to Autism: On the Matter of Empathy [To be applied also with teachers and students, claiming to know them better than they know themselves.]
"unfortunately, too many lay people look to credentials as opposed to experience when it comes to understanding non-normative conditions. Recently, in response to one autistic person’s upset at mainstream theories of impaired autistic empathy, an autism parent said that the experts should know all about it, since they’ve been studying the issue for years. & those of us who have lived it for even longer? If we were talking about the difference btwn a non-Jewish scholar of Judaism & a practicing Jew, most people would say that the practicing Jew would be the expert on Judaism. & yet, autistic people are rarely accorded this level of respect.

A refusal to listen to our experiences & to be sensitive to the real-life consequences of pervasive stereotypes shows a problematic relationship w/ empathy, to put it mildly. In the midst of this lack of true autism awareness, any assertion that autistic people lack empathy is nothing less than a textbook case of pot calling kettle black."
psychology  empathy  autism  aspergers  understanding  credentials  experts  experience  2011  behavior  cognitive  cognitiveempathy  emotionalempathy  expressedempathy  testing  measurement  nonverbal  nonverbalcommunication  stereotypes 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Amazon.com: Roads to Power: Britain Invents the Infrastructure State (9780674057593): Jo Guldi: Books
"In debates between centralist and localist approaches, Britons posited two visions of community: one centralized, expert-driven, and technological, and the other local, informal, and libertarian. These two visions lie at the heart of today’s debates over infrastructure, development, and communication."
books  toread  joguldi  power  libertarianism  informal  technology  roads  uk  britain  history  highways  infrastructure  development  communication  centralism  localism  experts  transport  trade  commerce  2011 
may 2011 by robertogreco
Noreena Hertz: How to use experts -- and when not to | Video on TED.com
"We make important decisions every day -- and we often rely on experts to help us decide. But, says economist Noreena Hertz, relying too much on experts can be limiting and even dangerous. She calls for us to start democratizing expertise -- to listen not only to "surgeons and CEOs, but also to shop staff.""
experts  specialization  specialists  tunnelvision  generalists  listening  patternrecognition  decisionmaking  ted  noreenahertz  economics  infooverload  confusion  certainty  uncertainty  democratization  blackswans  influence  blindlyfollowing  confidence  unschooling  deschooling  trust  openminded  echochambers  complexity  nuance  truth  persuasion  carelessness  paradigmshifts  change  gamechanging  criticalthinking  learning  problemsolving  independence  risktaking  persistence  self-advocacy  education  progress  manageddissent  divergentthinking  dissent  democracy  disagreement  discord  difference  espertise 
february 2011 by robertogreco
Embarrassingly pimping (Phil Gyford’s website)
"I give very few talks about anything. I am terrible at knowing what I know. I assume that most people in the audience of any conference I attend will know more than me about anything I could talk about. For similar reasons, I’m no good at thinking of things I could write about for magazines. You all know what I know.

It turns out that I need to run a website on a very specialised topic for eight years before I’m in a position to feel confident talking about it. This may be a little extreme."

[via: http://magicalnihilism.com/2011/02/21/phil-gyford-on-knowing-what-youre-talking-about/ ]
philgyford  speaking  conferences  knowing  experts  confidence  cv  writing  knowledge  sharing 
february 2011 by robertogreco
The Trouble With Experts : CJR
"By abandoning the assumption that gold-plated credentials equal expertise, the press might even change history. Could journalists have helped to take down, say, Bernie Madoff, before the feds did if they had questioned the sec’s experts more? Shirky wonders.

And then there’s the chance that authentic experts (not necessarily credentialed experts) could become journalists of some kind. It’s happening already. Take the flock of professor-bloggers masticating the news on the Foreign Policy Web site or economist bloggers like Tyler Cowen. There are journalists who have become experts via either peer or crowd review…To cheaply paraphrase Isaiah Berlin, journalists can’t all be clever hedgehogs, but perhaps some generalist foxes can start growing some quills."
society  journalism  generalists  specialization  specialists  credentials  experts  expertise  autism  jennymccarthy  science  blackswans  tunnelvision  via:coldbrain  vaccines  amateur  amateurism  unschooling  deschooling  clayshirky 
january 2011 by robertogreco
Jonah Lehrer's Head Case Column on Punditry - WSJ.com
"The dismal performance of experts inspired Mr. Tetlock to turn his case study into an epic experimental project. He picked 284 people who made their living "commenting or offering advice on political & economic trends," including journalists, foreign policy specialists, economists & intelligence analysts, & began asking them to make predictions. Over the next 2 decades, he peppered them w/ questions: Would George Bush be re-elected? Would apartheid in South Africa end peacefully? Would Quebec secede from Canada? Would the dot-com bubble burst? In each case, the pundits rated the probability of several possible outcomes. By the end of the study, Mr. Tetlock had quantified 82,361 predictions.

How did the experts do? When it came to predicting the likelihood of an outcome, the vast majority performed worse than random chance. In other words, they would have done better picking their answers blindly out of a hat. Liberals, moderates & conservatives were all equally ineffective."
jonahlehrer  experts  forecasting  politics  psychology  predictions 
october 2010 by robertogreco
Expert versus beginner - Bobulate
"Being expert at being a beginner seems the thing then. Being comfortable being uncomfortable. Feeling free to be free. Being expert at being a beginner opens up the possibility of real communication and frees us up for what’s to come. I think. But I’m no expert."
beginner  learning  growth  experts  creativity  philosophy  tcsnmy  mindset  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  generalists 
october 2010 by robertogreco
Does the web make experts dumb? – confused of calcutta
"There’s been a lot of talk about the web and the internet making us dumber.

I think it’s more serious than that. What the web does is reduce the capacity for asymmetry in education. Which in turn undermines the exalted status of the expert.

The web makes experts “dumb”. By reducing the privileged nature of their expertise.

I have three children born since 1986. One has finished her Master’s and is now a teacher. One has just finished his A Levels and is taking a “gap year” before starting university in a year’s time. The third is still in school.

The web has made them smarter. They know things I did not know at their age, and I had privileged upbringing and access. They know things more deeply than I did. Their interest in things analog is unabated, they think of the web as an AND to their analog lives rather than an OR.

Many of you reading this are experts; I myself am considered an expert in some things. And the status bestowed upon us by our expertise is dwindling."

[Part 2: http://confusedofcalcutta.com/2010/08/23/does-the-web-make-experts-dumb-part-2-whos-the-teacher/ ]
jprangaswami  web  experts  education  unschooling  hierarchy  deschooling  asymmetry  scarcity  expertise  analog  digital  internet  online 
august 2010 by robertogreco
f(t): Who else is sensing a theme here?
"Exhibit A : I don't know the answers, but it turns out the experts in the field don't either. Not because they haven't tried, but because it's that complicated and messy.

Exhibit B : Just don’t make this about some magic set of rules that are going to make your classroom perfect. Guess what? That will never happen. Stop looking. Education is always going to be ugly.

Exhibit C : Let it be clear that there is nothing magical that I am doing. There is no algorithm. I don’t woo them in with some charm and they are all of a sudden amazing students."
katenowak  via:lukeneff  uncertainty  tcsnmy  teaching  learning  education  magic  messiness  notknowing  certainty  experts  mindchanges  complexity  therearenoeasyanswers  glvo  mindchanging 
july 2010 by robertogreco
David Freedman, 'Wrong' Author, on Why to Not Trust Experts - TIME
"He begins by writing that about two-thirds of the findings published in the top medical journals are refuted within a few years. It gets worse. As much as 90% of physicians' medical knowledge has been found to be substantially or completely wrong. In fact, there is a 1 in 12 chance that a doctor's diagnosis will be so wrong that it causes the patient significant harm. And it's not just medicine. Economists have found that all studies published in economics journals are likely to be wrong. Professionally prepared tax returns are more likely to contain significant errors than self-prepared returns. Half of all newspaper articles contain at least one factual error. So why, then, do we blindly follow experts? Freedman has an idea, which he elaborates on in his book Wrong: Why Experts Keep Failing Us — and How to Know When Not to Trust Them. Freedman talked to TIME about why we believe experts, how to find good advice and why we should trust him — even though he's kind of an expert."

[via: http://twitter.com/ebertchicago/status/17818476443 ]
psychology  expertise  experts  science  research  books  certainty  trust  wrong  criticalthinking  tcsnmy  authority  blindlyfollowing  data  statistics  selffulfillingprophesies  advice  decisionmaking  judgement  brain 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Jonah Lehrer: Creative Insights on Vimeo
"Author Jonah Lehrer explores the power of outsider intelligence. At PopTech 2009, the best-selling author of How We Decide and Proust Was a Neuroscientist, notes that, paradoxically, lacking expertise on a subject can be an asset. “It’s what allows us to see the connections, to see the problems that no one else can see.”"
jonahlehrer  crossdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  outsiders  expertise  experts  innovation  breakthroughs  poptech  2009  decisionmaking  creativity  intelligence  gamechanging  outsider 
february 2010 by robertogreco
Tuttle SVC: RI, the South, and the Chance for Success Index [Funny that this appears just after discussing California's constitutional and economic crises, Prop 13, high taxes in New Jersey, the state of public schools, and the such with the old man...]
[...When I mentioned that NJ taxes have bought some of the best public schools in the country, he scoffed.] "One thing that's funny is that the next day there was a post on Flypaper about the sad state of New Jersey's schools, which rank #2 on the unmodified CFSI score and #1 on the adjusted CSFI.

Beyond that, there is precious little movement in the top states based on this analysis: some middling states go down to low and some low go up to middling, but the top states, all in the northeast, mid-Atlantic, midwest or Virginia, are consistent.

Whatever this analysis is worth (and it may not be much), it is the kind of thing that makes me scratch my head about the steadily increasing Southern influence on education policy in Rhode Island and Providence. We keep pulling in more Southerners, who seem to have had some success in pulling their states from terrible to OK, but if we were just up to the level of our New England or Mid-Atlantic peers, we'd be way above Florida, Texas, etc."
policy  education  leaders  money  taxes  politics  us  national  tomhoffman  states  newjersey  california  texas  newengland  florida  experts 
january 2010 by robertogreco
Tuttle SVC: Those Damned "Experts"
"Most experts in the testing community have presumed that the $350 million promised by the U.S. Dpt of Education to support common assessments would promote those that made greater use of open-ended items capable of measuring higher-order critical-thinking skills. But as measurement experts consider the multitude of possibilities for an assessment system based more heavily on such questions, they also are beginning to reflect on practical obstacles to doing so. The issues now on the table include the added expense of those items, as well as sensitive questions about who should be charged with the task of scoring them & whether they will prove reliable enough for high-stakes decisions. Also being confronted are matters of governance—the quandary of which entities would actually “own” any new assessments created in common by states and whether working in state..." I'm particularly amused by the concern over the "added expense." Presumably that's what the $350 MILLION DOLLARS is for."
education  assessment  money  experts  tomhoffman  us  policy  politics  government  standardizedtesting 
january 2010 by robertogreco
California Thinkers - Apply To California Thinkers
"The Directory of California Thinkers is a list of scholars, writers, and culture workers available to speak at or assist with programs at museums, schools, libraries and other cultural and educational events. Each thinker's profile lists their areas of expertise, programming experience, and ways they might participate. You can search by thinker's area of knowledge/specialization, or you can find them listed alphabetically by last name. Please feel free to contact anyone on the list directly."
california  community  research  experts  via:javierarbona 
november 2009 by robertogreco
Un-humble opinions - The Irish Times - Sat, Jun 20, 2009
"This goes some way towards explaining why a characteristic shared by many of these wrong-headed “experts” is an overweening self-confidence. All those brass-necked pundits whose self-assurance seems inversely proportional to their wisdom are merely the inevitable result of free markets, because selling certainty is easier than selling nuanced opinions that embrace complexity and doubt.

At first, this quirk of human psychology sounds like an interesting nugget of pop science, until you consider the cumulative cost of this cognitive error. If the result of this psychological quirk were restricted to football commentators embarrassing themselves before a Champions League final, no harm done. Unfortunately, the implications are rather more profound, and dangerous. ... The triumph of the competent over the confident, it would seem, is far from assured."
psychology  human  confidence  doubt  opinions  nuance  complexity  experts  certainty  competency 
july 2009 by robertogreco
Op-Ed Columnist - Learning How to Think - NYTimes.com
"The predictions of experts were, on average, only a tiny bit better than random guesses — the equivalent of a chimpanzee throwing darts at a board.
crowdsourcing  predictions  learning  culture  expertise  credentials  politics  knowledge  experts  psychology  accountability  foxes  hedgehogs 
march 2009 by robertogreco
Bridging Differences: Good Intentions, Ignorant Elites, and Scoundrels
"We live in a dangerous and dark time for schools. In many districts, the gears of power are controlled by non-educators who don't have a clue. They madly embrace testing and data and data-driven instruction because they have not a single idea about how kids learn and how teachers teach and what conditions are necessary to promote teaching and learning. This new breed also populates some of our nation's leading think tanks. Most of them have never taught; have never been in a classroom since they were students; know nothing of the history of education and nothing about research, but they know how to fix the nation's schools."
education  policy  schools  us  experts  teaching  learning  curriculum  data-driveninstruction  instruction 
november 2008 by robertogreco
The Woodwork » Blog Archive » PENIS certificate
"Not sure what to think about this, but I’m starting to wish I got rejected from graduate school. When people start charging for what experts in the field do for free, the experts need to sell out."
learning  education  free  money  classes  society  capitalism  experts  commentary 
february 2008 by robertogreco
How to Save the World: Breakthrough Business Ideas for 2008
"creating a new economy with no zero-value-added intermediaries; Projects, not Careers; constantly on the move, standing (working standing up), walking, running, fit; BarCamp; Knowing When Not to Use Experts"
future  business  p2p  markets  work  careers  administration  management  leadership  workplace  offices  generalists  experts  unconferences  deschooling  projects  lcproject  organizations 
february 2008 by robertogreco
Genius: 2012: Online Only Video: The New Yorker
"Malcolm Gladwell talks about the importance of stubbornness and collaboration in problem-solving, and how long it takes to master any challenge. Introduced by David Remnick."
malcolmgladwell  intelligence  genius  behavior  experts  expertise  learning  collaboration  newyorker  productivity  problemsolving  colleges  universities  future 
november 2007 by robertogreco
The Frontal Cortex : The Subjectivity of Wine
"a panel of wine professionals to select their top picks in the red and white category. All of the wines were tasted blind. The result is a beguiling list of delicious plonk. But I was most interested in just how little overlap there was between the diffe
experts  food  neuroscience  wine  science 
november 2007 by robertogreco
Creative Generalist - Everything is Miscellaneous
"perhaps the part of this most relevant to the generalist discussion is how the third-order diminishes experts' exclusivity over defining relevant knowledge"
davidweinberger  generalists  tags  tagging  knowledge  experts  information  specialization  web  internet  taxonomy  classification  folksonomy  socialnetworks  complexity  sorting  libraries  culture  wikipedia  statistics  groups  identity  self  clustering  marketing  specialists 
september 2007 by robertogreco

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