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The Uncanny Power of Greta Thunberg’s Climate-Change Rhetoric | The New Yorker
"During the week of Easter, Britain enjoyed—if that is the right word—a break from the intricate torment of Brexit. The country’s politicians disappeared on vacation and, in their absence, genuine public problems, the kinds of things that should be occupying their attention, rushed into view. In Northern Ireland, where political violence is worsening sharply, a twenty-nine-year-old journalist and L.G.B.T. campaigner named Lyra McKee was shot and killed while reporting on a riot in Londonderry. In London, thousands of climate-change protesters blocked Waterloo Bridge, over the River Thames, and Oxford Circus, in the West End, affixing themselves to the undersides of trucks and to a pink boat named for Berta Cáceres, an environmental activist and indigenous leader, who was murdered in Honduras. Slightly more than a thousand Extinction Rebellion activists, between the ages of nineteen and seventy-four, were arrested in eight days. On Easter Monday, a crowd performed a mass die-in at the Natural History Museum, under the skeleton of a blue whale. In a country whose politics have been entirely consumed by the maddening minutiae of leaving the European Union, it was cathartic to see citizens demanding action for a greater cause. In a video message, Christiana Figueres, the former executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, compared the civil disobedience in London to the civil-rights movement of the sixties and the suffragettes of a century ago. “It is not the first time in history we have seen angry people take to the streets when the injustice has been great enough,” she said.

On Tuesday, as members of Parliament returned to work, Greta Thunberg, the sixteen-year-old Swedish environmental activist, was in Westminster to address them. Last August, Thunberg stopped attending school in Stockholm and began a protest outside the Swedish Parliament to draw political attention to climate change. Since then, Thunberg’s tactic of going on strike from school—inspired by the response to the Parkland shooting in Florida last year—has been taken up by children in a hundred countries around the world. In deference to her international celebrity, Thunberg was given a nauseatingly polite welcome in England. John Bercow, the speaker of the House of Commons, briefly held up proceedings to mark her arrival in the viewing gallery. Some M.P.s applauded, breaching the custom of not clapping in the chamber. When Thunberg spoke to a meeting of some hundred and fifty journalists, activists, and political staffers, in Portcullis House, where M.P.s have their offices, she was flanked by Ed Miliband, the former Labour Party leader; Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary and a prominent Brexiteer; and Caroline Lucas, Britain’s sole Green Party M.P., who had invited her.

Thunberg, who wore purple jeans, blue sneakers, and a pale plaid shirt, did not seem remotely fazed. Carefully unsmiling, she checked that her microphone was on. “Can you hear me?” she asked. “Around the year 2030, ten years, two hundred and fifty-two days, and ten hours away from now, we will be in a position where we set off an irreversible chain reaction beyond human control that will most likely lead to the end of our civilization as we know it.”

Thunberg—along with her younger sister—has been given a diagnosis of autism and A.D.H.D. In interviews, she sometimes ascribes her unusual focus, and her absolute intolerance of adult bullshit on the subject of climate change, to her neurological condition. “I see the world a bit different, from another perspective,” she told my colleague Masha Gessen. In 2015, the year Thunberg turned twelve, she gave up flying. She travelled to London by train, which took two days. Her voice, which is young and Scandinavian, has a discordant, analytical clarity. Since 2006, when David Cameron, as a reforming Conservative Party-leadership contender, visited the Arctic Circle, Britain’s political establishment has congratulated itself on its commitment to combatting climate change. Thunberg challenged this record, pointing out that, while the United Kingdom’s carbon-dioxide emissions have fallen by thirty-seven per cent since 1990, this figure does not include the effects of aviation, shipping, or trade. “If these numbers are included, the reduction is around ten per cent since 1990—or an average of 0.4 per cent a year,” she said. She described Britain’s eagerness to frack for shale gas, to expand its airports, and to search for dwindling oil and gas reserves in the North Sea as absurd. “You don’t listen to the science because you are only interested in solutions that will enable you to carry on like before,” she said. “Like now. And those answers don’t exist anymore. Because you did not act in time.”

The climate-change movement feels powerful today because it is politicians—not the people gluing themselves to trucks—who seem deluded about reality. Thunberg says that all she wants is for adults to behave like adults, and to act on the terrifying information that is all around us. But the impact of her message does not come only from her regard for the facts. Thunberg is an uncanny, gifted orator. Last week, the day after the fire at Notre-Dame, she told the European Parliament that “cathedral thinking” would be necessary to confront climate change.

Yesterday, Thunberg repeated the phrase. “Avoiding climate breakdown will require cathedral thinking,” she said. “We must lay the foundation while we may not know exactly how to build the ceiling.” In Westminster, Thunberg’s words were shaming. Brexit is pretty much the opposite of cathedral thinking. It is a process in which a formerly great country is tearing itself apart over the best way to belittle itself. No one knew what to say to Thunberg, or how to respond to her exhortations. Her microphone check was another rhetorical device. “Did you hear what I just said?” she asked, in the middle of her speech. The room bellowed, “Yes!” “Is my English O.K.?” The audience laughed. Thunberg’s face flickered, but she did not smile. “Because I’m beginning to wonder.”"
gretathunberg  2019  rhetoric  climatechange  sustainability  globalwarming  activism  samknight  autism  aspergers  adhd  attention  focus  emissions  action  teens  youth  brexit 
4 weeks ago by robertogreco
Director Andrea Arnold on the cross-country party that produced American Honey | The Verge
"How did you end up with the 4:3 aspect ratio?

It's an artistic decision. I've done my last three films with the same ratio. It's a ratio I much love. My films are usually about one person and their experiences of the world. So I'm mainly following them around, filming them quite closely. And it's a very beautiful frame for one person. It frames them with a huge amount of respect. It gives them kind of honors, the human in that frame. I was very attracted to it when I first started making films, but I wasn't able to articulate it and understand why I was doing it until later. But now I understand, that respect is what it's about."
4:3  aspectratio  andreaarnold  2016  film  framing  srg  filmmaking  focus 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Time for Self | Akilah S. Richards [Episode 61]
"In this episode, Atlanta-based SDE facilitator and education entrepreneur, ANTHONY GALLOWAY II, speaks on moving past the mental aspect of self-care over to the literal practice. You’ll also learn about two Atlanta events in support of Self-Directed Education, both of which Anthony is playing a major role in bringing to the city. Also, the Jamaican patois term “Dat nuh mek it” basically means “that isn’t nearly enough.” In other words, something needs leveling up, because in its current state, it just won’t do. You’re welcome! #POCinSDE"
akilahrichards  anthonygalloway  unschooling  deschooling  self-care  self-directed  self-directedlearning  creativity  art  howweteach  howwelearn  work  labor  focus  artleisure  leisurearts  play  teaching  mentoring  practice  criticism  advice  decisionmaking  schools  schooling  schooliness  decisions  skepticism  pedagogy  priorities  process  technology  2018 
july 2018 by robertogreco
003: Craig Mod - I Want My Attention Back! • Hurry Slowly
"Did you know that the mere presence of a smartphone near you is slowly draining away your cognitive energy and attention? (Even if it’s tucked away in a desk drawer or a bag.) Like it or not, the persistent use of technology is changing the quality of our attention. And not in a good way.

In this episode, I talk with writer, designer and technologist Craig Mod — who’s done numerous experiments in reclaiming his attention — about how we can break out of this toxic cycle of smartphone and social media addiction and regain control of our powers of concentration.

Key takeaways from the interview:

• How Facebook and other social media apps are lulling us into “attention slavery”

• Why interrupting your workflow to post on social media — and sharing pithy thoughts or ideas — shuts down your creative process

• How short digital detox retreats and/or meditation sessions can “defrag your mind” so that you can deploy your attention more consciously and more powerfully

• Why mapping your ideas in large offline spaces — e.g. on a whiteboard or blackboard — gives you “permission” to get messy and evolve your thinking in a way that’s impossible on a screen

• How changing the quality of your attention can change your relationship to everything — art, conversations, creativity, and business"



"Favorite Quotes

“If there was a meter of 1 to 10 of how present you are or how much you can manipulate your own attention — how confident you are that you could, say, read a book for three hours without an interruption, without feeling pulled to something else. I would say the baseline pre-smartphone was a 4 or 3. Now, it’s a 1.”

“I think that a life in which you are never present, in which you have no control over your attention, in which you’re constantly being pulled in different directions, is kind of sad — because there is this incredible gift of consciousness. And when that consciousness is deployed smartly, it’s amazing the things that can be built out of it.”

Resources

Here’s a shortlist of things Craig and I talked about in the course of the conversation, including where you can go on a meditation retreat. You should be aware that vipassana retreats are offered free of charge, and are open to anyone.

Craig’s piece on attention from Backchannel magazine
https://www.wired.com/2017/01/how-i-got-my-attention-back/

Vipassana meditation retreat locations
https://www.dhamma.org/en-US/index

Craig’s article on post-100 hours of meditation
https://craigmod.com/roden/013/

Film director Krzysztof Kieslowski
http://www.indiewire.com/2013/03/the-essentials-krzysztof-kieslowski-100770/

Writer and technologist Kevin Kelly
http://kk.org/thetechnium/

The Large Hadron Collider at Cern
http://www.wired.co.uk/article/large-hadron-collider-explained "
attention  craigmod  zoominginandout  ideas  thinking  focus  meditation  technology  blackboards  messiness  presence  writing  relationships  conversation  art  creativity  digitaldetox  maps  mapping  brainstorming  socialmedia  internet  web  online  retreats  jocelynglei  howwethink  howewrite  concentration  interruption  kevinkelly  vipassana  krzysztofkieslowski  largehadroncollider  cern 
november 2017 by robertogreco
The Mind of John McPhee - The New York Times
"Much of the struggle, for McPhee, has to do with structure. “Structure has preoccupied me in every project,” he writes, which is as true as saying that Ahab, on his nautical adventures, was preoccupied by a certain whale. McPhee is obsessed with structure. He sweats and frets over the arrangement of a composition before he can begin writing. He seems to pour a whole novel’s worth of creative energy just into settling which bits will follow which other bits.

The payoff of that labor is enormous. Structure, in McPhee’s writing, carries as much meaning as the words themselves. What a more ordinary writer might say directly, McPhee will express through the white space between chapters or an odd juxtaposition of sentences. It is like Morse code: a message communicated by gaps."



"“Draft No. 4” is essentially McPhee’s writing course at Princeton, which he has been teaching since 1975. This imposes a rigid structure on his life. During a semester when he teaches, McPhee does no writing at all. When he is writing, he does not teach. He thinks of this as “crop rotation” and insists that the alternation gives him more energy for writing than he would otherwise have.

McPhee’s students come to his office frequently, for editing sessions, and as they sit in the hallway waiting for their appointments, they have time to study a poster outside his door. McPhee refers to it as “a portrait of the writer at work.” It is a print in the style of Hieronymus Bosch of sinners, in the afterlife, being elaborately tortured in the nude — a woman with a sword in her back, a small crowd sitting in a vat of liquid pouring out of a giant nose, someone riding a platypus. The poster is so old that its color has faded.

David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker, where McPhee has been a staff writer for more than 50 years, took McPhee’s class in 1981. “There was no fancy discussion of inspiration,” he told me. “You were in the room with a craftsman of the art, rather than a scholar or critic — to the point where I remember him passing around the weird mechanical pencils he used to use. It was all about technique. In the same spirit that a medical student, in gross anatomy, would learn what a spleen is and what it does, we would learn how stuff works in a piece of writing.”

Much of that stuff, of course, was structure. One of Remnick’s enduring memories is of watching Professor McPhee sketch out elaborate shapes on the chalkboard. One looked like a nautilus shell, with thick dots marking points along its swirl. Each of these dots was labeled: “Turtle,” “Stream Channelization,” “Weasel.” Down the side of the chart it said, simply, “ATLANTA.” An arrow next to the words “Rattlesnake, Muskrat, etc.” suggested that the swirl was meant to be read counterclockwise."



"John McPhee lives, and has almost always lived, in Princeton. I met him there in a large parking lot on the edge of campus, next to a lacrosse field, where he stood waiting next to his blue minivan. He wore an L.L. Bean button-down shirt with khaki pants and New Balance sneakers. The top half of his face held glasses, the bottom a short white beard that McPhee first grew, unintentionally, during a canoe trip in the 1970s and has not shaved off since. He is soft-spoken, easy and reserved. Although McPhee possesses intimidating stores of knowledge — he told me, as we walked around campus, the various geological formations that produced the stone used in the buildings — he seems to go out of his way to be unintimidating. Whenever we stepped outside, he put on a floppy hat.

McPhee proceeded to show me every inch of Princeton, campus and city, narrating as we went. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anyone so thoroughly identified with a place. His memories are archaeological, many layers deep. Not 30 seconds into our orienting drive, we passed the empty lot where he used to play tackle football as a child, and where, at age 10, he first tasted alcohol. (“One thing it wasn’t was unpleasant,” he wrote recently.) The lot is no longer empty; it is occupied by a new house, boxy and modern. I asked McPhee if he felt any animosity toward the structure for stomping out his memories.

“No,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of stomping grounds stomped out.”

McPhee was born in 1931. His father was the university’s sports doctor, and as a boy McPhee galloped after him to practices and games. By age 8, he was running onto the field alongside Princeton’s football team, wearing a custom-made miniature jersey. He played basketball in the old university gym, down the hall from his father’s office; when the building was locked, he knew which windows to climb in. McPhee was small and scrappy, and he played just about every sport that involved a ball. To this day, he serves as a faculty fellow of men’s lacrosse, observing Princeton’s practices and standing on the sidelines during games.

Every summer growing up, McPhee went to a camp in Vermont called Keewaydin, where his father was the camp doctor. One of his grandsons goes there today. (“I have 200 grandchildren,” McPhee told me; the number is actually 10.) McPhee speaks of Keewaydin as paradise, and his time there established many of the preoccupations of his life and work: canoeing, fishing, hiking. “I once made a list of all the pieces I had written in maybe 20 or 30 years, and then put a check mark beside each one whose subject related to things I had been interested in before I went to college,” he writes in “Draft No 4.” “I checked off more than 90 percent.” Keewaydin put McPhee into deep contact with the American land, and introduced him to the challenge of navigation — how the idealized abstractions of plans and maps relate to the fertile mess of the actual world. The camp’s infirmary is now officially named after McPhee’s father. McPhee’s own name still sits in the rafters, an honor for having been the second-most-accomplished camper in 1940, when he was 9."



"McPhee is a homebody who incessantly roams. He inherited Princeton and its Ivy League resources as a kind of birthright, but he comes at the place from an odd angle: He was not the son of a banker or a politician or some glamorous alumnus but of the sports doctor. His view of the university is practical, hands-on — it is, to him, like a big intellectual hardware store from which he can pull geologists and historians and aviators and basketball players, as needed, to teach him something. He is able to run off to Alaska or Maine or Switzerland or Keewaydin because he always knows where he is coming back to.

“I grew up in the middle of town,” McPhee said. “It’s all here.”

McPhee took me to his office in the geology building, in a fake medieval turret that, before he moved in, was crowded with paint cans. Now its walls are full of maps: the Pacific Ocean floor, United States drainage, all the world’s volcanoes. On the carpet in the corner of the room, a box sat stuffed with dozens more, from the center of which protruded, almost shyly, a folded map of Guayaquil, Ecuador. His enormous dictionary, open to the letter P, sat on top of a minifridge. Multiple shelves were loaded with books published by former students, above which stood framed photos of McPhee’s wife, Yolanda, and his four daughters.

McPhee sat down at his computer and clicked around. Green text appeared on a black screen. That was all: green text. No icons, rulers, or scrollbars.

McPhee began to type in command lines.

x coded.*

dir coded.*

x coded-10.tff

x coded-16.tff

Up came portions of his book “The Founding Fish.” He typed in further commands, and hunks of green text went blinking around: a complete inventory of his published articles; his 1990 book, “Looking for a Ship.”

I felt as if I were in a computer museum, watching the curator take his favorite oddity for a spin. McPhee has never used a traditional word processor in his life. He is one of the world’s few remaining users of a program called Kedit, which he writes about, at great length, in “Draft No. 4.” Kedit was created in the 1980s and then tailored, by a friendly Princeton programmer, to fit McPhee’s elaborate writing process.

The process is hellacious. McPhee gathers every single scrap of reporting on a given project — every interview, description, stray thought and research tidbit — and types all of it into his computer. He studies that data and comes up with organizing categories: themes, set pieces, characters and so on. Each category is assigned a code. To find the structure of a piece, McPhee makes an index card for each of his codes, sets them on a large table and arranges and rearranges the cards until the sequence seems right. Then he works back through his mass of assembled data, labeling each piece with the relevant code. On the computer, a program called “Structur” arranges these scraps into organized batches, and McPhee then works sequentially, batch by batch, converting all of it into prose. (In the old days, McPhee would manually type out his notes, photocopy them, cut up everything with scissors, and sort it all into coded envelopes. His first computer, he says, was “a five-thousand-dollar pair of scissors.”)

Every writer does some version of this: gathering, assessing, sorting, writing. But McPhee takes it to an almost-superhuman extreme. “If this sounds mechanical,” McPhee writes of his method, “its effect was absolutely the reverse. If the contents of the seventh folder were before me, the contents of twenty-nine other folders were out of sight. Every organizational aspect was behind me. The procedure eliminated nearly all distraction and concentrated just the material I had to deal with in a given day or week. It painted me into a corner, yes, but in doing so it freed me to write.”"



"McPhee’s great theme has always been conservation, in the widest possible sense of the word: the endless tension between presence and absence, staying and leaving, existence … [more]
johmcphee  writing  howwewrite  structure  2017  conservation  princeton  place  humility  process  kedit  organization  belonging  local  gaps  shyness  celebration  nature  geology  time  editing  outlining  naturalhistory  history  maps  mapping  writingprocess  focus  attention  awareness  legacy 
october 2017 by robertogreco
Wasted Energy on the Battles Against Appropriation and Racism: Indigenous Systems are Resistance – indigenous motherhood
"“Let’s raise our children to fall in love with indigenous systems rather than attempting to destroy colonial systems from within.”

I say this because our babies need to know what is important. They need to know what will truthfully keep us alive in the long run. I say this because everything we are fighting in colonial systems rather than building up in our own systems is an example of us wasting our own resources. I say this because I do not want my grandchildren to think that a “dream job” at the UN is worth more than knowing how to fend for themselves on their homelands.

We spend more time & energy fighting appropriation, oppression, and racism in the colonial structures that they are built and thrive upon than we do re-learning and rebuilding Indigenous systems.

Imagine if we put the energy that we use in trying to convince, change, challenge, and confront colonial systems and instead used that very same energy on reestablishing, restoring, revitalizing, and regenerating indigenous systems.

The battle against things like appropriation, racism, what the government is, or is not, doing in regards to mmiw, residential school documents/stories, and notions of having indigenous pre-requisites in universities, what a government official said about indigenous peoples, and girls wearing headdresses at music festivals are all things that can be deemed as injustices, offensive in nature, forms of inequality, and downright discrimination.

However, we fight and battle these things with all of our energy, some of us even becoming emotionally exhausted because of it. We even allow it to impact our mental health to the point of anxiety, depression, and even suicide. We fully drain ourselves all in the name of justice and equality.

The truth is: this energy that we are utilizing for these injustices could be used for so much more for our people.

Yes, it is important to stand up against something wrong, to make ourselves heard, to be present to the realities of what colonialism is attempting to do around us. But we must spend more energy on our own systems.

Because truthfully, we cannot and will not change colonialism. Colonialism will always act like, operate as, thrive upon, and respond as exactly that. Colonialism. So why do we expect any different or act surprised, infuriated, or dismayed when colonizers act like Sir John A Macdonald and Christopher Columbus? Anything that originates or was created by colonizers, will carry all the same characteristics as said colonizer. Colonialism will always be colonialism

There should only be two exceptions as to why one fights this hard against any of these aforementioned injustices.

1. When it defies or undermines treaty in any way, shape or form, or

2. When it leads to an unjust death.

Otherwise, we must begin to think about conserving and preserving and utilizing our energy and resources into indigenous systems. Whether that be indigenous education, natural law, land based learning and loving, traditional kinship and parenting, language revitalization, and medicinal health.

If we cared as much about any one of these areas as we do when a settler commits a social and political injustice on our people, oh my how we would flourish.

If a Twitterstorm that lasted days on end based on “practices healthy indigenous families follow” or “what a land based school can do for our children,” rather than “how the colonizer fucked up again, and I am so shocked, and here’s what I have to say about it,” our systems would make a comeback so prominent, that our grandchildren would never have known the colonized lives we are living today.

If indigenous activists practiced land-based relationship building and deconstructing nepotism in communities rather than placing all their energy in a rally against a new and improved “founding father” and their legislation, then our babies would grow up knowing that the best way to grow up is with mud on their boots from the knowledge of how to grow their own food and valuing the sanctity of kinship.

The peculiar thing about indigenous peoples fighting with all their life force in order to gain some form of respect or a place in colonial systems such as with a case of appropriation, or even mandatory indigenous studies classes in academia. The very things we are battling are also what we are fighting so hard to be a fair and equal part of.

It’s like we are saying “hey! we hate colonialism…..but we want equal and fair participation with colonialism and all the systems colonialism has created. And we also want to be recognized by the colonizer as an Indigenous person in their spaces. Because that means that I am respected. And therefore makes me feel worthy.”

Holy shit!

Let’s change this rhetoric to “hey! colonialism is destroying our lives. Let’s no longer be a part of it. We need to rebuild our relationship with our lands and families and all the systems our people and lands created. And we only need to be recognized by our own. Because that means I’m part of a sovereign nation.”

Now, when an action of the colonizer completely disrespects treaty or takes the life of our own, that is when knowing how and when our systems as indigenous peoples operates would be the most effective response.

For example, if they attempt to take away our right to education (in Treaty it is described as the “power of the pen”) which, let us clarify here, is not academia. It is simply, education. Academia is the colonizers watered down, ego-induced version of education. Education is what our right is.

So the colonizer attempts to control how we choose to educate our people and says “you can’t do that. That’s not academics. It’s against our academic system. You will not graduate from the education system. You also owe us 1500 dollars for attending our classes. Because you can’t afford it, you are kicked out.” If we knew our systems thoroughly, and practiced them as such, we could reply with “we are our own people. Your laws are irrelevant to us. And we will educate our own as stated in treaty, as long as the sun shines, grass grows, and water flows. Without what the colonizers created: academia. We will learn based on the land and based on the knowledge of the ones from long ago. Indigenous Education is free. Colonial academia is not.” Our children and young people would then begin relearning, reestablishing, restoring, revitalizing, and regenerating indigenous systems rather than losing self-esteem and self-worth due to being on the front lines of colonial academia.

The reality is there has been thousands of little white girls dressing up as Indian “chiefs” for over a hundred years.
There has been an insurmountable amount of teachers and professors stating that these lands were “found,” and the cowboys never murdered the Indians and their babies.
There has been a multitude of cases of indigenous appropriation from Victoria’s Secret, to Boyden, to boutique moccasins made in China.
And because of this…
There has been hundreds of rallies and protests and runs across these lands to fight colonial legislation.

There have been countless petitions and speeches in parliament and meetings with prime ministers all in the name of equality for indigenous peoples on their own lands.
And there have been an array of articles on how and why we can become equal and gain justice in these colonial systems.

Yes. These things are great for awareness. But that’s where it ends. There is no real change when one befriends/battles colonial systems in order to attempt to achieve indigenous equality and greatness. An indigenous person battling in a colonial system simply becomes an indigenous person serving in a colonial system.

Rather than servants to the cause they become servants to colonialism.

There was a moment in my life where I knew I no longer wanted to fight for equality and justice in colonial systems. It was when I knew I was lying to my ancestors and my grandchildren concurrently, and I felt it in the pit of my stomach. I was lying to them by thinking I could create change in colonial systems, I was lying to them by shaking hands with Stephen Harper and envisioning a better future. I was lying to them when I sat in a national office as a program officer, streamlining federal dollars to hundreds of organizations who desperately needed it for their young people, and concluded that this, right here, was what positive change looked and felt like. I was lying to them when I drilled and questioned government officials at the UN, with tears in my eyes and fear in my throat, imagining that my pleas and words would be strong enough to get these officials to deliver the equality thousands of indigenous young women needed in their communities.

My body told me. I was lying to my ancestors and my future grandchildren. By believing. Believing that I could kill colonialism inside a colonial system.

Colonial systems continues the pattern of colonial cycles.

Colonialism will always act like, operate as, thrive upon, and respond as exactly that. Colonialism. Colonialism will always be colonialism.

It’s time to tell truths to our ancestors and future grandbabies.

Tell them the truth. The truth being that rather than placing all of our energy in appropriation scandals, academic racism and university elitism, what MLAs and MPs said and what they did and did not do, a headdress being worn by a blond head and made in China moccasins, we must put our energy into our own systems.

Grow a garden, plant some wildflowers, and put your body on the land to maintain indigenous land based education and to begin to understand the basics of natural law.
Learn a word or phrase a day. To rekindle your relationship with your language. To remember what it’s like to live mino bimaadiziwin.
Spend time with an aunty, a kokum, or in another community, and learn one ailment that one plant can cure. It may be useful down the line.

And… [more]
colonialism  resistance  decolonoization  appropriation  indigenous  racism  2017  via:carolblack  purpose  focus  awareness 
may 2017 by robertogreco
BBC Four - John Berger: The Art of Looking
[video currently available on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3VhbsXk9Ds ]

"Art, politics and motorcycles - on the occasion of his 90th birthday John Berger or the Art of Looking is an intimate portrait of the writer and art critic whose ground-breaking work on seeing has shaped our understanding of the concept for over five decades. The film explores how paintings become narratives and stories turn into images, and rarely does anybody demonstrate this as poignantly as Berger.

Berger lived and worked for decades in a small mountain village in the French Alps, where the nearness to nature, the world of the peasants and his motorcycle, which for him deals so much with presence, inspired his drawing and writing.

The film introduces Berger's art of looking with theatre wizard Simon McBurney, film-director Michael Dibb, visual artist John Christie, cartoonist Selçuk Demiral, photographer Jean Mohr as well as two of his children, film-critic Katya Berger and the painter Yves Berger.

The prelude and starting point is Berger's mind-boggling experience of restored vision following a successful cataract removal surgery. There, in the cusp of his clouding eyesight, Berger re-discovers the irredeemable wonder of seeing.

Realised as a portrait in works and collaborations, this creative documentary takes a different approach to biography, with John Berger leading in his favourite role of the storyteller."
2016  johnberger  documentary  towatch  simonmcburney  michaeldibb  johnchristie  selçukdemiral  jeanmohr  katyaberger  yvesberger  waysofseeing  seeing  looking  noticing  biography  storytelling  skepticism  photography  rebellion  writing  howwewrite  collaboration  canon  conspirators  rebels  friendship  community  migration  motorcycles  presence  being  living  life  interestedness  interested  painting  art  history  france  belonging  place  labor  home  identity  work  peasants  craft  craftsmanship  aesthetics  design  vision  cataracts  sight  teaching  howweteach  attention  focus  agriculture  memory  memories  shit  pigs  humans  animals  childhood  perception  freedom  independence  storytellers  travelers  nomads  trickster  dead  death  meaning  meaningmaking  companionship  listening  discovery  understanding  sfsh  srg  books  publishing  television  tv  communication  engagement  certainly  uncertainty 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Want to Create Things That Matter? Be Lazy. - 99U
"The late Nobel-prize winning physicist Richard Feynman, was one the most brilliant minds of twentieth century science. To his colleagues at Cornell, however, he seemed lazy. As Feynman admitted in a 1981 interview: “I’m actively irresponsible; I tell everybody I don’t do anything; if anyone asks me to be on a committee…’no’ I tell them.”

The acclaimed post-modern science fiction author Neal Stephenson also comes across as lazy. In an essay titled “Why I am a Bad Correspondent,” Stephenson explains that he’s not that interested in spending time interacting with readers. Stephenson has no public e-mail address and asks that you don’t invite him to attend conferences or attempt to engage him in social media conversation. If you insist on trying to book him for an appearance, he warns “I almost never accept these and when I do, I charge a lot of money, I demand expensive travel arrangements, and I perform no prep work—I just show up and wing it.”

I’ve spent the past decade researching and writing about elite performers in creative fields. In this time, I’ve noticed that examples like Feynman and Stephenson are common. That is, many people who excel in producing things that matter have work habits that seem downright lazy by the standards in their field.

At first, this may just seem to be just another quirk of the high-performing set, but I argue that it’s worth diving deeper into this paradox as the underlying explanation provides useful insight for anyone looking to spend less time spinning their wheels and more time producing results the world cares about.

***

The key to explaining this lazy producer paradox is to introduce a more refined understanding of “work.” For many ambitious people, work is defined to be any activity that can potentially benefit you professionally. For most fields, of course, there are an endless number of things that satisfy this definition—from professors joining endless committees to writers maintaining exhausting social media presences. It’s due in large part to this generic notion of work that we spawned the culture of busyness that afflicts us today, where the measure of your success becomes synonymous with the measure of your exhaustion. This understanding of “work,” however, is flawed. It’s more useful to divide this activity into two distinct types of effort, deep and shallow:

1. Deep Work: Cognitively demanding tasks that require you to focus without distraction and apply hard to replicate skills.

2. Shallow Work: Logistical style tasks that do not require intense focus or the application of hard to replicate skills.

For example: solving a hard theorem is deep work, while chiming in on the latest departmental e-mail chain is shallow; writing a chapter of your novel is deep work, while tweeting about a novel you like is shallow. The shallow activities are not intrinsically bad, but they’re not skilled labor, and therefore offer (at best) a small positive contribution to your efforts to produce value.

If we rethink the laziness shown in our above examples through this lens, we realize what Feynman and Stephenson are really doing is eliminating large amounts of shallow work from their schedule to maintain a priority on deep work. By doing so, they’re taking advantage of the following crucial but overlooked reality: deep work is what produces things that matter in the world.

Richard Feynman, for example, could be lazy about many of the standard obligations of academics because he used that time to instead focus deeply on the ground-breaking ideas that made him famous. As he clarified in the interview mentioned above, “to do real good physics work, you do need absolute solid lengths of time…it needs lots of concentration.”

Neal Stephenson justifies his snubbing of his readers for similar reasons. As he explained in his Bad Correspondent essay:

“If I organize my life in such a way that I get lots of long, consecutive, uninterrupted time-chunks, I can write novels. But as those chunks get separated and fragmented, my productivity as a novelist drops spectacularly. What replaces it? Instead of a novel that will be around for a long time there is a bunch of e-mail messages that I have sent out to individual persons, and a few speeches given at various conferences.”

Both Feynman and Stephenson are making a case for prioritizing depth over shallowness. They recognize that deep work is what produces things that “will be around for a long time.” Whereas shallow work is an activity that can impede more important deep efforts and therefore cause more net harm than good. It might slightly help your writing career in the moment to be retweeted, but the long term impact of a distracting Twitter habit could be the difference between a struggling novelist and an award-winning star like Stephenson.

***

What’s the lesson to take away here? If you’re driven to produce things that matter, then you need to put deep work at the center of your professional life. To do so will probably require that you become lazier in the Feynman and Stephenson sense of the term: that is, you must treat with sluggish wariness efforts that keep you away from depth, regardless of how many small benefits they promise. Few people, of course, can completely eliminate shallow work from their professional lives, nor would they want to if they could. But shifting your general mindset toward one that embraces depth and shuns shallowness can make a big difference in the amount of value you produce.

To put it another way: become hard to reach, avoid new tech tools, be slow to answer e-mails, become blissfully ignorant of memes, turn down coffee requests, refuse to “hop on” calls, and spend whole days outside working in a single idea—these are exactly the type of lazy behaviors that can change the world."
creativity  productivity  focus  depth  2016  calnewport  via:austinkleon  richardfeynman  nealstephenson  howwework  work 
september 2016 by robertogreco
The Bliss Station
"It’s felt impossible lately not to be distracted and despondent. I’m trying to spend as much time at my bliss station as I can.

What’s a bliss station? Here’s Joseph Campbell in The Power of Myth:
You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.

My wife pointed out to me that Campbell says you must have a room OR a certain hour — whether Campbell really meant this or not, she suggested that maybe it’s possible that a bliss station can be not just a where, but a when. Not just a sacred space, but also a sacred time.

The deluxe package would be having both a special room and a special hour that you go to it, but we started wondering whether one would make up for not having the other.

For example, say you have a tiny apartment that you share with small children. There’s no room for your bliss station, there’s only time: When the kids are asleep or at school or day care, even a kitchen table can be turned into a bliss station.

Or, say your schedule is totally unpredictable, and a certain time of day can’t be relied upon — that’s when a dedicated space that’s ready for you at any time will come in handy.

What’s clear is that it’s healthiest if we make a daily appointment to disconnect from the world so that we can connect with ourselves.

“Choose the time that’s good for you,” says Francis Ford Coppola. “For me, it’s early morning because I wake up, and I’m fresh, and I sit in my place. I look out the window, and I have coffee, and no one’s gotten up yet or called me or hurt my feelings.”

The easiest way I get my feelings hurt by turning on my phone first thing in the morning. And even on the rare occasion I don’t get my feelings hurt, my time is gone and my brains are scrambled.

“Do not start your day with addictive time vampires such as The New York Times, email, Twitter,” says Edward Tufte. “All scatter eye and mind, produce diverting vague anxiety, clutter short term memory.”

Every morning I try to fight the urge, but every morning my addiction compels me.

“The new heroin addiction is connectivity,” says V. Vale. “The only solution is not one that most people want to face, which is to become lovers of solitude and silence… I love to spend time alone in my room, and in my ideal world the first hour of every day would be in bed, writing down thoughts, harvesting dreams, before anyone phones or you have any internet access.”

Kids, jobs, sleep, and a thousand other things will get in the way, but we have to find our own sacred space, our own sacred time.

“Where is your bliss station?” Campbell asked. “You have to try to find it.”"
2016  austinkleon  josephcampbell  time  space  solitude  aloneness  francisfordcoppola  vvale  attention  socialmedia  howweowork  connectivity  internet  web  online  addiction  silence  mobile  phones  focus  workspaces  distraction 
july 2016 by robertogreco
My Writing Education: A Time Line - The New Yorker
"One day I walk up to campus. I stand outside the door of Doug’s office, ogling his nameplate, thinking: “Man, he sometimes sits in there, the guy who wrote Leaving the Land.” At this point in my life, I’ve never actually set eyes on a person who has published a book. It is somehow mind-blowing, this notion that the people who write books also, you know, *live*: go to the store and walk around campus and sit in a particular office and so on. Doug shows up and invites me in. We chat awhile, as if we are peers, as if I am a real writer too. I suddenly feel like a real writer. I’m talking to a guy who’s been in People magazine. And he’s asking me about my process. Heck, I *must be* a real writer."



"For me, a light goes on: we are supposed to be—are required to be—interesting. We’re not only *allowed* to think about audience, we’d *better*. What we’re doing in writing is not all that different from what we’ve been doing all our lives, i.e., using our personalities as a way of coping with life. Writing is about charm, about finding and accessing and honing ones’ particular charms. To say that “a light goes on” is not quite right—it’s more like: a fixture gets installed. Only many years later (see below) will the light go on."



"Doug gets an unkind review. We are worried. Will one of us dopily bring it up in workshop? We don’t. Doug does. Right off the bat. He wants to talk about it, because he feels there might be something in it for us. The talk he gives us is beautiful, honest, courageous, totally generous. He shows us where the reviewer was wrong—but also where the reviewer might have gotten it right. Doug talks about the importance of being able to extract the useful bits from even a hurtful review: this is important, because it will make the next book better. He talks about the fact that it was hard for him to get up this morning after that review and write, but that he did it anyway. He’s in it for the long haul, we can see. He’s a fighter, and that’s what we must become too: we have to learn to honor our craft by refusing to be beaten, by remaining open, by treating every single thing that happens to us, good or bad, as one more lesson on the longer path.

We liked Doug before this. Now we love him.

Toby has the grad students over to watch A Night at the Opera. Mostly I watch Toby, with his family. He clearly adores them, takes visible pleasure in them, dotes on them. I have always thought great writers had to be dysfunctional and difficult, incapable of truly loving anything, too insane and unpredictable and tortured to cherish anyone, or honor them, or find them beloved.

Wow, I think, huh."



"I notice that Doug has an incredible natural enthusiasm for anything we happen to get right. Even a single good line is worthy of praise. When he comes across a beautiful story in a magazine, he shares it with us. If someone else experiences a success, he celebrates it. He can find, in even the most dismal student story, something to praise. Often, hearing him talk about a story you didn’t like, you start to like it too—you see, as he is seeing, the seed of something good within it. He accepts you and your work just as he finds it, and is willing to work with you wherever you are. This has the effect of emboldening you, and making you more courageous in your work, and less defeatist about it."



"End of our first semester. We flock to hear Toby read at the Syracuse Stage. He has a terrible flu. He reads not his own work but Chekhov’s “About Love” trilogy. The snow falls softly, visible behind us through a huge window. It’s a beautiful, deeply enjoyable, reading. Suddenly we get Chekhov: Chekhov is funny. It is possible to be funny and profound at the same time. The story is not some ossified, cerebral thing: it is entertainment, active entertainment, of the highest variety. All of those things I’ve been learning about in class, those bone-chilling abstractions theme, plot, and symbol are de-abstracted by hearing Toby read Chekhov aloud: they are simply tools with which to make your audience feel more deeply—methods of creating higher-order meaning. The stories and Toby’s reading of them convey a notion new to me, or one which, in the somber cathedral of academia, I’d forgotten: literature is a form of fondness-for-life. It is love for life taking verbal form."



"Toby is a generous reader and a Zen-like teacher. The virtues I feel being modeled—in his in-class comments and demeanor, in his notes, and during our after-workshop meetings—are subtle and profound. A story’s positive virtues are not different from the positive virtues of its writer. A story should be honest, direct, loving, restrained. It can, by being worked and reworked, come to have more power than its length should allow. A story can be a compressed bundle of energy, and, in fact, the more it is thoughtfully compressed, the more power it will have.

His brilliant story “The Other Miller” appears in The Atlantic. I read it, love it. I can’t believe I know the person who wrote it, and that he knows me. I walk over to the Hall of Languages and there he is, the guy who wrote that story. What’s he doing? Talking to a student? Photocopying a story for next day’s class? I don’t remember. But there he is: both writer and citizen. I don’t know why this makes such an impression on me–maybe because I somehow have the idea that a writer walks around in a trance, being rude, moved to misbehavior by the power of his own words. But here is the author of this great story, walking around, being nice. It makes me think of the Flaubert quote, “live like a bourgeoisie and think like a demigod.” At the time, I am not sure what a bourgeoisie is, exactly, or a demigod, but I understand this to mean: “live like a normal person, write like a maniac.” Toby manifests as an example of suppressed power, or, rather: *directed* power. No silliness necessary, no dramatics, all of his considerable personal power directed, at the appropriate time, to a worthy goal."



"What Doug does for me in this meeting is respect me, by declining to hyperbolize my crap thesis. I don’t remember what he said about it, but what he did not say was, you know: “Amazing, you did a great job, this is publishable, you rocked our world with this! Loved the elephant.” There’s this theory that self-esteem has to do with getting confirmation from the outside world that our perceptions are fundamentally accurate. What Doug does at this meeting is increase my self-esteem by confirming that my perception of the work I’d been doing is fundamentally accurate. The work I’ve been doing is bad. Or, worse: it’s blah. This is uplifting–liberating, even—to have my unspoken opinion of my work confirmed. I don’t have to pretend bad is good. This frees me to leave it behind and move on and try to do something better. The main thing I feel: respected. Doug conveys a sense that I am a good-enough writer and person to take this not-great news in stride and move on. One bad set of pages isn’t the end of the world."



"On a visit to Syracuse, I hear Toby saying goodbye to one of his sons. “Goodbye, dear,” he says.

I never forget this powerful man calling his son “dear.”

All kinds of windows fly open in my mind. It is powerful to call your son “dear,” it is powerful to feel that the world is dear, it is powerful to always strive to see everything as dear. Toby is a powerful man: in his physicality, in his experiences, in his charisma. But all that power has culminated in gentleness. It is as if that is the point of power: to allow one to access the higher registers of gentleness."



"I am teaching at Syracuse myself now. Toby, Arthur Flowers, and I are reading that year’s admissions materials. Toby reads every page of every story in every application, even the ones we are almost certainly rejecting, and never fails to find a nice moment, even when it occurs on the last page of the last story of a doomed application. “Remember that beautiful description of a sailboat on around page 29 of the third piece?” he’ll say. And Arthur and I will say: “Uh, yeah … that was … a really cool sailboat.” Toby has a kind of photographic memory re stories, and such a love for the form that goodness, no matter where it’s found or what it’s surrounded by, seems to excite his enthusiasm. Again, that same lesson: good teaching is grounded in generosity of spirit."



"One night I’m sitting on the darkened front porch of our new house. A couple walks by. They don’t see me sitting there in the shadows.

“Oh, Toby,” the woman says. “Such a wonderful man.”

Note to self, I think: Live in such a way that, when neighbors walk by your house months after you’re gone, they can’t help but blurt out something affectionate."



"I do a reading at the university where Doug now teaches. During the after-reading party, I notice one of the grad writers sort of hovering, looking like she wants to say something to me. Finally, as I’m leaving, she comes forward and says she wants to tell me about something that happened to her. What happened is horrible and violent and recent and it’s clear she’s still in shock from it. I don’t know how to respond. As the details mount, I find myself looking to Doug, sort of like: Can you get me out of this? What I see Doug doing gets inside my head and heart and has stayed there ever since, as a lesson and an admonition: what Doug is doing, is staring at his student with complete attention, affection, focus, love—whatever you want to call it. He is, with his attention, making a place for her to tell her story—giving her permission to tell it, blessing her telling of it. What do I do? I do what I have done so many times and so profitably during my writing apprenticeship: I do my best to emulate Doug. I turn to her and try to put aside my discomfort and do my best to listen as intently as Doug is listening. I … [more]
georgesaunders  2015  teaching  teachers  writing  kindness  listening  tobiaswolff  dougunger  audience  voice  criticism  love  attention  family  adoration  howweteach  confidence  howwelearn  pedagogy  praise  self-esteem  literature  chekhov  storytelling  stories  humility  power  understanding  critique  gentleness  affection  toaspireto  aspirations  generosity  focus  education  howelearn 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Instagramming Dinosaurs: Clive Thompson on Mindfulness as a Defense Against Digital Distraction (3 of 4) | Moosha Moosha Mooshme
"Yeah, get into conversation with people about these experiences and then reflect on it. She might find someone who she didn’t really know respond, “I was there last year and here is my thoughts on it.” Scientist call this “multiples,” which is the fact that people are often thinking of the same thing you are thinking about. They discovered earlier on that frequently someone would start working on a scientific problem and they would spend four years on it only to discover that someone around the world was working on the same exact thing. It’s because, you know, great minds think alike. So scientist realized a long time ago they should be thinking public because then they will be able to find each other.

But the point you raise is about relatives that worry about someone being overly mediated, not paying attention, to the world around them. I do think those fears are a little bit over-blown because we have actually done studies of people’s behavior in public places. It turns out that there is only quite a small minority of people resorting to their phones. A recent Canadian scientist gathered dozens and dozens of hours people outside in a park. And only 3% to 10% of the people were actually on the phones. I would go, “Wait a minute? Seems like there is a lot more.” Well, that’s because I’m sort of noticing the kind of annoying people who will stare at their phones and I’m not noticing the people that are just walking around looking with their eyes.

I will say one thing that I think some of your relatives might be on to, which I agree with, are the danger of our connective thinking, with connection to other people, with the fact that we have devises with us all the time. It can be a distraction. When we have all these different ways to reach and contact each other, we are social beings, so we start to build up too much of a habit of yanking our phone out all the time, just to see what people are saying. And distraction is a real issue if you want to absorb something. Now, I think that actually recording it, talking about it via your phone, is actually a way of paying attention to it. But if you are sitting here looking at the dinosaur and suddenly feel a buzz and you pull out your phone and then see someone in Facebook talking about the party that they are going to have on Friday and you start talking about that, well, now you are in what they a call a completely different domain. You are no longer at all thinking about dinosaurs. And that is a distraction. I think that is a genuine bad thing for your cognition.

But how do you cultivate practices to distinguish between using media to augment the way that you are looking at the world and using it in away that distracts you?

Well, this has to do with mindfulness. Our brains are very flighty, self-distracting things. Half the time when we are distracted it’s not because a phone rings but because our brains just go, “Oh, I wonder about that.” And we stop what we are doing. Monks noticed this a thousand years ago and they started developing mindfulness, which is paying attention to your attention, noticing what you are paying attention to, so that when your brain wants to go and check Twitter “just because” you notice your brain doing that. And when you start paying attention to attention, we become much better at resisting non-productive distractions, like when I will be sitting here, looking at the dinosaur, and part of my brain will go, “Huh! I wonder if anything interesting is happening on Instagram.” If I gave into that temptation and pull it out I will be distracting myself. But if I’m paying attention to my attention, I will sort of notice where this is going and I can decide to check it in a hour when I’m having a coffee.

I have talked to a lot teachers who train their kids, saying, “Hey, you have a brain. Don’t be a slave to where your attention goes. Just pay attention to it.” If you just spent 10 minutes a day practicing it, it starts to become a habit and a really good habit. So it’s something that can be taught.

I’m not even vaguely a meditation person. I joke I’m the least centered person I know. But the truth is, even when I started learning about this, I started paying attention. And it really worked. If I’m out at a museum and looking at the exhibit here, looking at this fossilized head of a T-Rex in front of us, and part of my brain goes, “There is an email coming in!” instead of just being a slave to that I’m like, “I’m aware that my brain is trying to do that to me.”

So mindfulness is the key to using media in a way that augments and enriches your thinking in a way that doesn’t distracts your thinking.

The funny thing is, when I started researching my book, the more I looked at it the more I realized there is no magic bullet here. There really is a human problem here we’ve being dealing with for a long time. Every new technology that offers us new media has always sort of freaked us out; we’ve had to make our peace with them. When glass became cheap in the 19th century and windows suddenly emerged, writers like Virginia Woolf sort of panicked because it was actually distracting to have this window next to you while you worked. I mean it sounds funny but it’s true. I like to joke, We have lot of windows on our computers and on our phones, but those are the original windows."

[The full set: http://www.mooshme.org/?s=clive+thompson ]
clivethompson  amnh  2014  barryjoseph  attention  socialmedia  focus  scrivener  timeout  mindfulness  reflection  publicthinking  writing  behavior  distraction  teaching  howwelearn  howweteach  habits  habitforming 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Literacy Through Photography for English-Language Learners | Edutopia
"Enter most schools and you will hear about literacy instruction or the "literacy block." However, literacy is not a subject -- it is something much bigger. Paulo Freire encouraged a broader definition of literacy to include the ability to understand both "the word and the world." Literacy includes reading, writing, listening, speaking, and analyzing a wide range of texts that include both print and non-print texts.

Imagery and Language
This post will describe some ways in which teachers can use photography to support literacy standards. Photography supports literacy in several ways:

1. It is an excellent way to provide differentiation for English-language learners.

2. It relieves pressure from reluctant students or striving readers and writers by providing the opportunity to read and analyze photographs instead of traditional print texts.

3. It represents a culturally responsive teaching method as it demonstrates a way to welcome all voices in the classroom to be heard and valued.

This methodology is based on the work of Wendy Ewald, who writes extensively about literacy through photography.

The use of photographs provides a novel way to engage in analyzing text. Students can verbally describe their observations, ideas, and analysis in addition to listening to the ideas of their classmates. The use of photographs allows students to reflect and organize their thoughts in a creative way that cannot be achieved simply through writing. And for many students, this practice provides needed scaffolding for processing and organizing their thoughts in order to be ready to write about them."
photography  education  lcproject  openstudioproject  2014  english  ell  esl  tabethadell'angelo  imageary  literacy  literacies  visual  wendyewald  iwannatellmeastory  storytelling  focus  portraits  vocabulary  perspective  stories  imagery  language  paulofreire  multiliteracies 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Education’s war on millennials: Why everyone is failing the “digital generation” - Salon.com
"Both reformers and traditionalists view technology as a way to control students — and they're getting it very wrong"



"In addressing the hundreds of thousands who watch such videos, students aren’t the only ones in the implied audience. These videos appeal to many nonacademic viewers who enjoy watching, from a remove, the hacking of obstreperous or powerful systems as demonstrated in videos about, for instance, fooling electronic voting booths, hacking vending machines, opening locked cars with tennis balls, or smuggling contraband goods through airport x-ray devices. These cheating videos also belonged to a broader category of YouTube videos for do-it-yourself (DIY) enthusiasts— those who liked to see step-by-step execution of a project from start to finish. YouTube videos about crafts, cooking, carpentry, decorating, computer programming, and installing consumer technologies all follow this same basic format, and popular magazines like Make have capitalized on this sub-culture of avid project-based participants. Although these cultural practices may seem like a relatively new trend, one could look at DIY culture as part of a longer tradition of exercises devoted to imitatio, or the art of copying master works, which have been central to instruction for centuries."



"Prior to the release of this report, Mia Consalvo had argued that cheating in video games is expected behavior among players and that cheaters perform important epistemological work by sharing information about easy solutions on message boards, forums, and other venues for collaborations.

Consalvo also builds on the work of literacy theorist James Paul Gee, who asserts that video game narratives often require transgression to gain knowledge and that, just as passive obedience rarely produces insight in real classrooms, testing boundaries by disobeying the instructions of authority figures can be the best way to learn. Because procedural culture is ubiquitous, however, Ian Bogost has insisted that defying rules and confronting the persuasive powers of certain architectures of control only brings other kinds of rules into play, since we can never really get outside of ideology and act as truly free agents, even when supposedly gaming the system.

Ironically, more traditional ideas about fair play might block key paths to upward mobility and success in certain high-tech careers. For example, Betsy DiSalvo and Amy Bruckman, who have studied Atlanta-area African-American teens involved in service learning projects with game companies, argue that the conflict between the students’ own beliefs in straightforward behavior and the ideologies of hacker culture makes participation in the informal gateway activities for computer science less likely. Thus, urban youth who believe in tests of physical prowess, basketball-court egalitarianism, and a certain paradigm of conventional black masculinity that is coded as no-nonsense or—as Fox Harrell says—“solid” might be less likely to take part in forms of “geeking out” that involve subverting a given set of rules. Similarly, Tracy Fullerton has argued that teenagers from families unfamiliar with the norms of higher education may also be hobbled by their reluctance to “strategize” more opportunistically about college admissions. Fullerton’s game “Pathfinder” is intended to help such students learn to game the system by literally learning to play a game about how listing the right kinds of high-status courses and extracurricular activities will gain them social capital with colleges."



"However, Gee would later argue in “The Anti-Education Era” that gamesmanship that enables universal access and personal privilege may actually be extremely counterproductive. Hacks that “make the game easier or advantage the player” can “undermine the game’s design and even ruin the game by making it too easy.” Furthermore, “perfecting the human urge to optimize” can go too far and lead to fatal consequences on a planet where resources can be exhausted too quickly and weaknesses can be exploited too frequently. Furthermore, Gee warns that educational systems that focus on individual optimization create cultures of “impoverished humans” in which learners never “confront challenge and frustration,” “acquire new styles of learning,” or “face failure squarely.”"



"What’s striking about the ABC coverage is that it lacked any of the criticism of the educational status quo that became so central for a number of readers of the earlier Chronicle of Higher Education story—those who were asking as educators either (1) what’s wrong with the higher education system that students can subvert conventional tests so easily, or (2) what’s right with YouTube culture that encourages participation, creativity, institutional subversion, and satire."



"This attitude reflects current research on so-called distributed cognition and how external markers can help humans to problem solve by both making solutions clearer and freeing up working memory that would otherwise be tied up in reciting basic reminders. Many of those commenting on the article also argued that secrecy did little to promote learning, a philosophy shared by Benjamin Bratton, head of the Center for Design and Geopolitics, who actually hands out the full text of his final examination on the first day of class so that students know exactly what they will be tested on."



"This book explores the assumption that digital media deeply divide students and teachers and that a once covert war between “us” and “them” has turned into an open battle between “our” technologies and “their” technologies. On one side, we—the faculty—seem to control course management systems, online quizzes, wireless clickers, Internet access to PowerPoint slides and podcasts, and plagiarism-detection software. On the student side, they are armed with smart phones, laptops, music players, digital cameras, and social network sites. They seem to be the masters of these ubiquitous computing and recording technologies that can serve as advanced weapons allowing either escape to virtual or social realities far away from the lecture hall or—should they choose to document and broadcast the foibles of their faculty—exposure of that lecture hall to the outside world.

Each side is not really fighting the other, I argue, because both appear to be conducting an incredibly destructive war on learning itself by emphasizing competition and conflict rather than cooperation. I see problems both with using technologies to command and control young people into submission and with the utopian claims of advocates for DIY education, or “unschooling,” who embrace a libertarian politics of each-one-for-himself or herself pedagogy and who, in the interest of promoting totally autonomous learning in individual private homes, seek to defund public institutions devoted to traditional learning collectives. Effective educators should be noncombatants, I am claiming, neither champions of the reactionary past nor of the radical future. In making the argument for becoming a conscientious objector in this war on learning, I am focusing on the present moment.

Both sides in the war on learning are also promoting a particular causal argument about technology of which I am deeply suspicious. Both groups believe that the present rupture between student and professor is caused by the advent of a unique digital generation that is assumed to be quite technically proficient at navigating computational media without formal instruction and that is likely to prefer digital activities to the reading of print texts. I’ve been a public opponent of casting students too easily as “digital natives” for a number of reasons. Of course, anthropology and sociology already supply a host of arguments against assuming preconceived ideas about what it means to be a native when studying group behavior.

I am particularly suspicious of this type of language about so-called digital natives because it could naturalize cultural practices, further a colonial othering of the young, and oversimplify complicated questions about membership in a group. Furthermore, as someone who has been involved with digital literacy (and now digital fluency) for most of my academic career, I have seen firsthand how many students have serious problems with writing computer programs and how difficult it can be to establish priorities among educators—particularly educators from different disciplines or research tracks—when diverse populations of learners need to be served."



"Notice not only how engagement and interactivity are praised and conflated, but also how the rhetoric of novelty in consumer electronics and of short attention spans also comes into play."
education  technology  edtech  control  reform  policy  power  2014  traditionalism  traditionalists  plagiarism  pedagogy  learning  schools  cheating  multitasking  highered  highereducation  politics  elizabethlosh  mimiito  ianbogost  jamespaulgee  homago  betsydisalvo  amybruckman  foxharrell  geekingout  culture  play  constraints  games  gaming  videogames  mckenziewark  janemcgonigal  gamesmanship  internet  youtube  secrecy  benjaminbratton  unschooling  deschooling  collaboration  cooperation  agesegregation  youth  teens  digitalnatives  marshallmcluhan  othering  sivavaidhyanathan  digital  digitalliteracy  attention  engagement  entertainment  focus  cathydavidson 
june 2014 by robertogreco
miscellany - "The more we persist in misunderstanding the...
"
The more we persist in misunderstanding the phenomena of life…the more we involve ourselves in sadness, absurdity, and despair. But it does not matter much, because no despair of ours can alter the reality of things, or stain the joy of the cosmic dance which is always there. Indeed, we are in the midst of it, and it is in the midst of us, for it beats in our very blood, whether we want it to or not. Yet the fact remains that we are invited to forget ourselves on purpose, cast our awful solemnity to the winds, and join in the general dance.


—Thomas Merton, from New Seeds of Contemplation

Dear Self: so yeah, today’s a birthday. You’re doing the smart thing, paying down on the sleep debt you’ve accrued for the past week or so (20 hours of shut-eye over six nights? Seriously?), reflecting on the time that’s passed since the last time you were here, thinking on how you might invest the next 365 days. Time to remember all the steps you take towards your better self. Today’s theme is rededication. But don’t spend all afternoon. The sun’s shining, and the skies are blue— invitation to get outside and soak it all in. Or, as Merton says, join the general dance."
thomasmerton  contemplation  life  living  purpose  focus  mindfulness  presence  sadness  absurdity  despair 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Why You Hate Work - NYTimes.com
"Employees are vastly more satisfied and productive, it turns out, when four of their core needs are met: physical, through opportunities to regularly renew and recharge at work; emotional, by feeling valued and appreciated for their contributions; mental, when they have the opportunity to focus in an absorbed way on their most important tasks and define when and where they get their work done; and spiritual, by doing more of what they do best and enjoy most, and by feeling connected to a higher purpose at work."



"Put simply, the way people feel at work profoundly influences how they perform. What our study revealed is just how much impact companies can have when they meet each of the four core needs of their employees.

Renewal: Employees who take a break every 90 minutes report a 30 percent higher level of focus than those who take no breaks or just one during the day. They also report a nearly 50 percent greater capacity to think creatively and a 46 percent higher level of health and well-being. The more hours people work beyond 40 — and the more continuously they work — the worse they feel, and the less engaged they become. By contrast, feeling encouraged by one’s supervisor to take breaks increases by nearly 100 percent people’s likelihood to stay with any given company, and also doubles their sense of health and well-being.

Value: Feeling cared for by one’s supervisor has a more significant impact on people’s sense of trust and safety than any other behavior by a leader. Employees who say they have more supportive supervisors are 1.3 times as likely to stay with the organization and are 67 percent more engaged.

Focus: Only 20 percent of respondents said they were able to focus on one task at a time at work, but those who could were 50 percent more engaged. Similarly, only one-third of respondents said they were able to effectively prioritize their tasks, but those who did were 1.6 times better able to focus on one thing at a time.

Purpose: Employees who derive meaning and significance from their work were more than three times as likely to stay with their organizations — the highest single impact of any variable in our survey. These employees also reported 1.7 times higher job satisfaction and they were 1.4 times more engaged at work.

We often ask senior leaders a simple question: If your employees feel more energized, valued, focused and purposeful, do they perform better? Not surprisingly, the answer is almost always “Yes.” Next we ask, “So how much do you invest in meeting those needs?” An uncomfortable silence typically ensues.

How to explain this odd disconnect?

The most obvious answer is that systematically investing in employees, beyond paying them a salary, didn’t seem necessary until recently. So long as employees were able to meet work demands, employers were under no pressure to address their more complex needs. Increasingly, however, employers are recognizing that the relentless stress of increased demand — caused in large part by digital technology — simply must be addressed."
leadership  administration  management  tcsnmy  work  purpose  focus  schedules  employment  care  rest  renewal  productivity  2014  tonyschwartz  christineporath 
june 2014 by robertogreco
STET | Attention, rhythm & weight
"For better or worse, we live in a world of media invention. Instead of reusing a stable of forms over and over, it’s not much harder for us to create new ones. Our inventions make it possible to explore the secret shape of our subject material, to coax it into saying more.

These new forms won’t follow the rules of the scroll, the codex, or anything else that came before, but we can certainly learn from them. We can ask questions from a wide range of influences — film, animation, video games, and more. We can harvest what’s still ripe today, and break new ground when necessary.

Let’s begin."

[See also: http://publishingperspectives.com/2013/10/books-in-browsers-iv-why-we-should-not-imitate-snowfall/ and video of Allen's talk at Books in Browsers 2013 (Day 2 Session 1) http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/40164570 ]
allentan  publishing  writing  internet  web  timcarmody  2013  papermodernism  literacy  fluency  intuitiveness  legibility  metaphor  interaction  howweread  howwewrite  communication  multiliteracies  skills  touch  scrolling  snowfall  immersive  focus  distraction  attention  cinema  cinematic  film  flickr  usability  information  historiasextraordinarias  narrative  storytelling  jose-luismoctezuma  text  reading  multimedia  rhythm  pacing  purpose  weight  animation  gamedesign  design  games  gaming  mediainvention  media 
december 2013 by robertogreco
russell davies: activities not audiences
"An 'audience' is an organisational convenience from a broadcast age. It's a reasonable way of segmenting the world so you can buy media but as a way of actually talking to people it doesn't work. Most good advertising gets round it the same way good art does - by using the specific to illuminate the general, but most advertising isn't good. So you end up with crude panderings like appealing to women by making all men seem like feckless idiots. Or by saying everyone born in a particular decade has a particular way of looking at the world.

People, markets, customer bases, aren't this simple. Mothers are also small business owners, students and firefighters. Segmenting your users into audiences is always reductionist and rarely helpful. Resisting the obvious segmentations gets you briliant thinking like this.

The whole point of 'digital', the very opportunity of it, is that you don't have to segment people like this. They segement themselves by looking for the thing they want to do. 

If your primary focus is on user needs then your task is simple - work out the specific thing people are trying to do and then make it as simple and quick for them as possible. Your design, your engineering, your research, your testing are all then focused on making that one thing work.

It becomes very easy to define success and failure, it's easy to iterate and improve and your research and testing goals are clear. You talk to and work with users in order to help them do something. You only need to understand 'who they are' in as much as it provides a context and background to help them do things."
audiences  audience  2013  russelldavies  organizations  marketing  focus  purpose 
october 2013 by robertogreco
A list of writing tools is a displacement activity - rodcorp
"Writing, focussing, assembling, editing, collaborating, feeding back, researching, structuring, outputting and publishing.

Focus through constraint:

• iaWriter - "Keep your hands on the keyboard and your mind in the text". Has good reviews.
• Byword - "Simple and efficient text editing". Also has good reviews.
• Writeroom - appears a generation older than iaWriter and Byword.
• Textmate - does text , html and a zillion other developer's things.

Research speed and convenience:

• nvALT - Speeds up that did-I-already-write-about-this? moment, auto-saves, does text files, Markdown. Nice. I'm writing this post in it.
• Pinboard - elegantly executed webpage bookmarking.

Collaborating and community feedback:

• Draft - its drafts are neat version control, has premium "ask a pro".
• Poetica - "Get feedback about your writing from people you trust, wherever they are" - not released yet.
• Google Docs - good at collaboration and export, auto-saves. Has automated versioning but without actual version *control*.

Assembling, structuring, editing and eBook workflow:

• Ulysses 3 - "All your texts. In one place. Always." Not tried, but this review says "the app reimagines the text editor in a way that visually resembles Mail and conceptually sits somewhere between iA Writer and the project-based Scrivener". Which sounds like quite a thing.
• Scrivener - looks a bit of a mess to be honest. They also have Scapple, a mind map/words-on-sticks app.
• LeanPub - "Publish Early, Publish Often - Authors and publishers use Leanpub to publish amazing in-progress and completed books". Costs $0.50 plus 10%.
• Lacuna books - "the best way to write and publish a book". Big on structuring, rendering chapters and ebooks easily.

Formats and outputs:

• Marked, Mou - because between text and html, Markdown is the popular "intermediary" format, and these (and nvALT) are good at simultaneous preview.
• And a simple Google Apps script to convert a Google Drive Document to markdown

Online publishing and attention:

• Medium - "A better place to read and write things that matter" - becoming a centre of gravity for serious writing, per-para commenting interesting
• Wattpad - an ebook platform/store/agora that isn't Kindleland.

Back to it now."
writing  tools  onlinetoolkit  rodmclaren  2013  jawriter  byword  writeroom  textmate  nvalt  pinboard  draft  poetica  googledocs  ulysses3  scrivener  leanpub  lacunabooks  marked  mou  markdown  googleapps  googledrive  medium  wattpad  howwework  howwewrite  webapps  publishing  formatting  ebooks  epub  collaboration  editing  focusing  focus  feedback  researching  epublishing  collaborativewriting  digitalpublishing  epubs 
august 2013 by robertogreco
Interrupt the program — Medium
"Spoiler alert: I am about to tell you what to do.

1. Talk to a stranger

It’s simple, and harmless, and generous, a beautiful interruption. You can do it without even slowing down your pace. Catch someone’s eye, smile in passing, say “have a good day,” or “how’re you doing.” These are mundane utterances that are also deeply profound. They say to someone: I see you there, we are both people walking down this street or through this lobby, we are both real and it’s worth a nod to that. If you are still smiling for two seconds after you pass by, you are doing this right. You have created a moment of street intimacy.

2. Fall down a rabbit hole

Ignore the kerfuffle about what the internet is doing to your attention span. There are kinds of distraction that are deeply focused. There are many clicks involved in this. Someone, somewhere on your internet has posted something that intrigues you, that you want to know more about. Read it, watch it, wonder about it. What questions does it leave you with? Dig deeper into it. Or, what does it remind you of? Follow unexpected tangents. You are not scattered, you are on a quest. You are looking for answers. If what you find are more questions, you are doing this right. You have been distracted from what you were doing when you started all this. You have been curious.

3. Do nothing

Sit by yourself somewhere in public for 7 minutes without looking at your phone. It has to be somewhere without a TV. Neither of these are bad, I like them too. Do it anyway. This may make you uncomfortable. Do it anyway. Unless you choose to sleep, you will find that you are forced to look at something. What is it? Are you reading signs or looking at things in store windows? Are you looking at other people? Are you looking at trees? Water? Sand? Cement? If you start talking to yourself in your head, you are doing this right. I should have said at the beginning, take a pen in case you want to write something down. You can write on your hand, it’ll wash off. You have been awake."
kiostark  strangers  2013  intimacy  conversation  idleness  stillness  distraction  internet  attention  focus  depth  messiness  curiosity  advice  solitude  awakeness  slow  time  noticing  mindfulness  observation  engagement  people  life  living  interruption 
august 2013 by robertogreco
Technology, love, and paying attention | A Thinking Reed
"Being attentive to another person, however, does require an act of the will. It does not come naturally. It involves deliberate effort and sometimes the setting aside of our own desires. It may even be a kind of sacrifice to give our attention to another and to be kind an act of heroism."

"[G]iving someone our attention requires an act of will or a kind of discipline. Maybe this is partly why so many spiritual traditions have cultivated practices that require people to focus their attention. I’m thinking especially of various forms of meditation and contemplative prayer. What these practices seem to have in common is an effort to focus on a reality beyond the self–to the extent that the ego recedes into the background."

[via: http://plsj.tumblr.com/post/46444396743/technology-love-and-paying-attention ]
attention  love  relationships  technology  discipline  focus  listening  meditation  religion  contemplation  prayer  selflessness  presence  singletasking  monotasking 
march 2013 by robertogreco
Sol LeWitt’s Advice to Eva Hesse: Don’t Worry About Cool, Make Your Own Uncool | gwarlingo
"The unromantic truth is that being an artist in any field is hard work. Because artists need a lot of time alone in order to create, they wrestle with loneliness and insecurity. They face continual self-doubt, as well as the criticism of others. Many artists work with no financial safety net or healthcare. Those who do have some financial stability often work day jobs that drain precious time and energy from their creative work."

"Making space and time to create without interruption is difficult but essential. Our competitive culture rarely rewards stillness and imagination. From childhood, we are programmed to stop day dreaming and told to be constructive and busy instead."

"Artist Sol LeWitt understood fear and the importance of doing better than anyone.

In 1960 he met Eva Hesse, and the two artists formed a decade-long friendship. As Stephanie Buhmann details, “despite superficial disparities (LeWitt’s oeuvre is usually thought of as idea-driven while Hesse’s works reflect the opposite: intimacy, personal gesture, and physical sensuality),” the two artists shared a lot in common. “While Hesse drew inspiration from Minimalist aesthetics and the conceptual clarity that characterized LeWitt’s work, LeWitt respected Hesse’s devotion to the trace of the human hand in art.”"

The letter:
Dear Eva,

It will be almost a month since you wrote to me and you have possibly forgotten your state of mind (I doubt it though). You seem the same as always, and being you, hate every minute of it. Don’t! Learn to say “Fuck You” to the world once in a while. You have every right to. Just stop thinking, worrying, looking over your shoulder wondering, doubting, fearing, hurting, hoping for some easy way out, struggling, grasping, confusing, itching, scratching, mumbling, bumbling, grumbling, humbling, stumbling, numbling, rumbling, gambling, tumbling, scumbling, scrambling, hitching, hatching, bitching, moaning, groaning, honing, boning, horse-shitting, hair-splitting, nit-picking, piss-trickling, nose sticking, ass-gouging, eyeball-poking, finger-pointing, alleyway-sneaking, long waiting, small stepping, evil-eyeing, back-scratching, searching, perching, besmirching, grinding, grinding, grinding away at yourself. Stop it and just DO!

From your description, and from what I know of your previous work and you [sic] ability; the work you are doing sounds very good “Drawing-clean-clear but crazy like machines, larger and bolder… real nonsense.” That sounds fine, wonderful – real nonsense. Do more. More nonsensical, more crazy, more machines, more breasts, penises, cunts, whatever – make them abound with nonsense. Try and tickle something inside you, your “weird humor.” You belong in the most secret part of you. Don’t worry about cool, make your own uncool. Make your own, your own world. If you fear, make it work for you – draw & paint your fear and anxiety. And stop worrying about big, deep things such as “to decide on a purpose and way of life, a consistant [sic] approach to even some impossible end or even an imagined end” You must practice being stupid, dumb, unthinking, empty. Then you will be able to DO!

I have much confidence in you and even though you are tormenting yourself, the work you do is very good. Try to do some BAD work – the worst you can think of and see what happens but mainly relax and let everything go to hell – you are not responsible for the world – you are only responsible for your work – so DO IT. And don’t think that your work has to conform to any preconceived form, idea or flavor. It can be anything you want it to be. But if life would be easier for you if you stopped working – then stop. Don’t punish yourself. However, I think that it is so deeply engrained in you that it would be easier to DO!

It seems I do understand your attitude somewhat, anyway, because I go through a similar process every so often. I have an “Agonizing Reappraisal” of my work and change everything as much as possible = and hate everything I’ve done, and try to do something entirely different and better. Maybe that kind of process is necessary to me, pushing me on and on. The feeling that I can do better than that shit I just did. Maybe you need your agony to accomplish what you do. And maybe it goads you on to do better. But it is very painful I know. It would be better if you had the confidence just to do the stuff and not even think about it. Can’t you leave the “world” and “ART” alone and also quit fondling your ego. I know that you (or anyone) can only work so much and the rest of the time you are left with your thoughts. But when you work or before your work you have to empty you [sic] mind and concentrate on what you are doing. After you do something it is done and that’s that. After a while you can see some are better than others but also you can see what direction you are going. I’m sure you know all that.

You also must know that you don’t have to justify your work – not even to yourself. Well, you know I admire your work greatly and can’t understand why you are so bothered by it. But you can see the next ones and I can’t. You also must believe in your ability. I think you do. So try the most outrageous things you can – shock yourself. You have at your power the ability to do anything.

I would like to see your work and will have to be content to wait until Aug or Sept. I have seen photos of some of Tom’s new things at Lucy’s. They are impressive – especially the ones with the more rigorous form: the simpler ones. I guess he’ll send some more later on. Let me know how the shows are going and that kind of stuff.

My work had changed since you left and it is much better. I will be having a show May 4 -9 at the Daniels Gallery 17 E 64th St (where Emmerich was), I wish you could be there.

Much love to you both.

Sol
sollewitt  evahasse  chuckclose  gwarlingo  michellealdredge  2011  art  artists  glvo  work  doing  making  makersschedule  childhood  creativity  time  focus  iraglass  stephaniebuhmann  insecutiry  loneliness  self-doubt  howwework  criticism  miltonglaser  canon  1965  inspiration  letters  correspondence  motivation  psychology 
february 2013 by robertogreco
Attention Surplus? Re-examining a Disorder - New York Times
"But attention disorder cases, up to 5 to 15 percent of the population, are at a distinct disadvantage. What once conferred certain advantages in a hunter-gatherer era, in an agrarian age or even in an industrial age is now a potentially horrific character flaw, making people feel stupid or lazy and irresponsible, when in fact neither description is apt.

The term attention-deficit disorder turns out to be a misnomer. Most people who have it actually have remarkably good attention spans as long as they are doing activities that they enjoy or find stimulating…

Essentially, A.D.H.D. is a problem dealing with the menial work of daily life, the tedium involved in many school situations and 9-to-5 jobs.

Another hallmark, impulsivity, or its more positive variant, spontaneity, appears to be a vestige from lower animals forced to survive in the wild. Wild animals cannot survive without an extraordinary ability to react. If predators lurk, they need to act quickly…"
paulsteinberg  medicine  medication  survival  instinct  spontaneity  environment  mentalhealth  context  schooliness  schools  school  disadvantages  badfits  dailylife  menialtasks  cv  impulsivity  focus  attentionsurplus  add  adhd  unschooling  deschooling  via:litherland  2006  attention 
november 2012 by robertogreco
Open university: Joi Ito plans a radical reinvention of MIT's Media Lab (Wired UK)
"Welcome to Ito's vision for opening up the 27-year-old Media Lab, one in which — for example — urban agriculture might be researched in Detroit; the arts in Chicago; coding in London; and in which any bright talent anywhere, academically qualified or not, can be part of the world's leading "antidisciplinary" research lab. "Opening up the lab is more about expanding our reach and creating our network," explains Ito…

"Openness is a survival trait." …

By opening up the Media Lab, Ito hopes to move closer towards his goal of "a world with seven billion teachers", where smart crowds, adopting a resilient approach and a rebellious spirit, solve some of the world's great problems. His is a world of networks and ecosystems, in which unconstrained creativity can tackle everything from infant mortality to climate change. …"
christopherbevans  networks  hughherr  nerioxman  edboydens  syntheticbiology  academictenure  academia  tenure  highered  highereducation  poverty  small  ayahbdeir  littlebits  dropouts  walterbender  frankmoss  nicholasnegroponte  communitydevelopment  macarthurfoundation  grey-lock  petergabriel  caafoundation  michellekyddlee  knightfoundation  albertoibargüen  sethgodin  reidhoffman  junecohen  constructivism  connectivism  focus  polymaths  self-directedlearning  networkedlearning  periphery  openstudioproject  deschooling  unschooling  adaptability  disobedience  education  learning  practice  compliance  rebellion  globalvoices  creativecommons  mozilla  innovation  sustainability  consumerism  resilience  london  chicago  detroit  medialab  mit  antidisciplinary  lcproject  openness  open  joiito  mitmedialab 
november 2012 by robertogreco
Tranquil Windows « Scrawled in Wax
"Rather than flitting back and forth between ten different things, even I, hyperactive and attention-deficient, tend to focus for just a little bit longer. Rather than just the frame of the screen, it’s the aesthetics that also hold my attention because it feels like that’s what they’re designed to do.

This isn’t really that different from a tablet. But it’s been interesting the past couple of years to notice this radical different between desktop and mobile–that strange feeling of freedom when you return to a PC that you can do nine things at once, a feeling that, for me anyway, is a bit like putting an alcoholic in front of an open bar. When I can open twenty tabs at once, my brain seems to cry “Moar information!”"

"It is thus intriguing to think about ‘deliberately deficient design’.… I believe the Law of the Father is still a very useful way to think about how we relate to Cupertino’s stuff."
infooverload  tranquility  focus  attention  design  microsoft  2012  navneetalang  windows8 
november 2012 by robertogreco
The best general advice on earth « the jsomers.net blog
"These are excerpts (emphasis mine) from William James’s 1890 classic, Principles of Psychology, Chapter IV, “Habit”:

1. The great thing, then, in all education, is to make our nervous system our ally instead of our enemy. It is to fund and capitalize our acquisitions, and live at ease upon the interest of the fund.

2. … The more of the details of our daily life we can hand over to the effortless custody of automatism, the more our higher powers of mind will be set free for their own proper work.



4. No matter how full a reservoir of maxims one may possess, and no matter how good one’s sentiments may be, if one have not taken advantage of every concrete opportunity to act, one’s character may remain entirely unaffected for the better.

5. … be systematically ascetic or heroic in little unnecessary points, do every day or two something for no other reason than that you would rather not do it."
wisdom  advice  asceticism  education  focus  automatism  automation  efficiency  1890  williamjames  via:maxfenton 
october 2012 by robertogreco
One on One: Robin Sloan, Author and 'Media Inventor' - NYTimes.com
"Q. In your book you talk about content overload. How do we solve that?

A. The problem is, all of this content is good. The vision of the Internet as a vast digital wasteland isn’t correct. Everything is awesome and we have more stuff to read than we ever have in history. I think part of the answer comes with devices and interfaces: we need to create more devices without distractions, like Kindles.

…A. I think there is a tradeoff inherent in contemporary references. The cost is that the book becomes dated very quickly. The benefit is that people reading it right now feel a dizzying present.

"Q. So I notice you have an old Nokia phone. Why?
A. I realized that for me, the iPhone had gone beyond just being a habit. I decided that with the job I have now, which is a full-time writer, it’s actually more important and more productive for me to be daydreaming and jotting down notes than it is for me to e-mail or read all my tweets."
distraction  writing  focus  reading  attention  mrpenumbra  penumbra  nickbilton  interviews  kindle  infooverload  dumbphones  books  technology  robinsloan  2012 
october 2012 by robertogreco
The Power of the Particular - NYTimes.com
"It makes you appreciate the tremendous power of particularity. If your identity is formed by hard boundaries, if you come from a specific place, if you embody a distinct musical tradition, if your concerns are expressed through a specific paracosm, you are going to have more depth and definition than you are if you grew up in the far-flung networks of pluralism and eclecticism, surfing from one spot to the next, sampling one style then the next, your identity formed by soft boundaries, or none at all.

The whole experience makes me want to pull aside politicians and business leaders and maybe everyone else and offer some pious advice: Don’t try to be everyman. Don’t pretend you’re a member of every community you visit. Don’t try to be citizens of some artificial globalized community. Go deeper into your own tradition. Call more upon the geography of your own past. Be distinct and credible. People will come."

[via: http://kottke.org/12/09/some-thoughts-about-xoxo ]
authenticity  honesty  focus  cv  local  place  credibility  distinctiveness  particularity  everyman  identity  niche  psychology  paracosms  particular  davidbrooks  culture 
september 2012 by robertogreco
The abundance of slowness | Metagramme
"At Metagramme, the problem wasn’t cruel or unreasonable clients. They were actually kind and generous, for the most part. I had no one to blame but myself. It was time to man up in a major way. One of the glaring issues I faced was a total lack of boundaries. No phone call was too late to answer, no email too early. My lack of boundaries came from fear. Fear of what would happen if I said no more often. Fear of missing deadlines or disappointing customers. I was also afraid of allowing quiet reflection and creative diversions into the work day. I was punching the clock like any hourly employee. The story I told myself was that slowness and emptiness were the same thing. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I’ve found recently that when the time is used well, slowness can actually be one of the most profound sources of abundance."
adminstration  management  leadership  workculture  business  busyness  sayingno  singletasking  multitasking  seattime  meetings  focus  boundaries  falseheroism  workslavery  balancemburnout  attention  time  davidheinemeier  jasonfried  workaholics  work  slowness  slow  via:nicolefenton  monotasking 
september 2012 by robertogreco
How to Join the Ranks of the Digital “Supercreatives:” An Interview with Leslie Bradshaw | Business 2 Community
"of course we could make the infographic, but we need to keep pushing ourselves as an agency to do larger, more programmatic engagements…

Infographics are a high-level tactic that is good for educated audiences; they are not actually good for consumer audiences…

We look for a clearly demarcated point of contact; someone who is either empowered with decision-making abilities themselves or who can internally “socialize” ideas and come back to us…

We also look for focus…

I rely on three pillars for inspiration. Pillar No. 1 is entrepreneurship & leadership. I look for entrepreneurial leaders that have been in my shoes at some point building a company, people like Sheryl Sandberg [COO of Facebook]. Seeing how other people are thriving and surviving inspires me.

The second pillar would be social sciences. I have a background in gender studies, anthropology, political science and economics, & they all frame how I think about approaching client problems.

The last pillar is agriculture."
infographics  2012  howwework  challenge  genderstudies  anthropology  politicalscience  digitalhumanities  socialsciences  economics  agriculture  committees  focus  clientwork  interviews  lesliebradshaw  datavisualization  clients 
august 2012 by robertogreco
Study Hacks » You Probably (Really) Work Way Less Than You Assume
"The general conclusion: I think most knowledge workers probably way overestimate how much time they actually spend improving and applying the core skills that make them valuable. Keep a similar tally for a week, you’ll be surprised by what you find. This underscores the importance of the type of project I’m running here: if we don’t apply deliberate efforts in our quest to become craftsmen, our progress will be glacial. On the flip side, if we do apply these efforts, we have an opportunity to jump far ahead in our value."
concentration  howwework  quantifiedself  work  focus 
august 2012 by robertogreco
The Disciplined Pursuit of Less - Greg McKeown - Harvard Business Review
"Why don't successful people and organizations automatically become very successful? One important explanation is due to what I call "the clarity paradox," which can be summed up in four predictable phases:

Phase 1: When we really have clarity of purpose, it leads to success.
Phase 2: When we have success, it leads to more options and opportunities.
Phase 3: When we have increased options and opportunities, it leads to diffused efforts.
Phase 4: Diffused efforts undermine the very clarity that led to our success in the first place.

Curiously, and overstating the point in order to make it, success is a catalyst for failure. …"
glvo  diffusion  opportunity  attention  effort  2012  clarityofpurpose  clarity  enricsala  gregmckeowen  purpose  psychology  endowmenteffect  focus  simplicity  strategy  business  work  careeradvice  careers  success  discipline 
august 2012 by robertogreco
In Memoriam: Chris Marker : The New Yorker
Marker’s modesty is that of a devoted craftsman and an exquisite aesthete: a nonperformer, a nonsinger, a nonathlete, a former writer who didn’t continue—he did the one thing that he cultivated with an unyielding devotion.
thinking  culture  cinema  chrismarker  modesty  focus  film  filmmaking  devotion  via:litherland 
august 2012 by robertogreco
The labels change, the game remains the same « Mind Hacks
"Today’s New York Times has a huge feature on the illicit use of stimulant drugs like Ritalin and pharmaceutical amphetamines in colleges and schools by kids ‘seeking an academic edge’.

The piece is written like an exposé but if you know a little about the history of amphetamines, it is also incredibly ironic.

The ‘illicit stimulants for study’ situation is a complete replay of what happened with the branded amphetamine benzedrine in the 1930s, as recounted in Nicolas Rasmussen’s brilliant book On Speed: The Many Lives of Amphetamine…

…In 1937, none other than the The New York Times ran a story about benzedrine calling it a ‘high octane brain fuel’ and noting that without it the brain ‘does not run on all cylinders’. It was clearly pitched as a cognitive enhancer…

So the story isn’t really new but it’s ironic that the New York Times has inadvertently promoted the activity. Again."
speed  brainenhancingdrugs  focus  learning  schools  academics  ritalin  2012  mindhacks  attention  drugs  benzedrine  amphetamines 
june 2012 by robertogreco
Rands In Repose: A Precious Hour
There is a time and place for the purposeful noisiness of busy. The work surrounding a group of people building an impressive thing contains essential and unavoidable busy and you will be rewarded for consistently performing this work well. This positive feedback can feed the erroneous assumption, “Well, the more busy I am, the more rewards forthcoming.” This is compounded by the insidious fact that part of being busy is you aren’t actually aware that you’re busy because you’re too busy being busy. You have no internal measurement of the amount of time you’ve actually spent being busy.

In my precious hour, I am aware that it is quiet. During this silence, maybe nothing at all is built other than the room I’ve given myself to think. I break the flow of enticing small things to do, I separate myself from the bright people on similarly impressive busy quests, and I listen to what I’m thinking.

Every day, for an hour, no matter what.
creativity  process  productivity  focus  inspiration  via:coldbrain 
march 2012 by robertogreco
Taming the Wandering Mind | The Moral Sciences Club | Big Think
"Reconciling oneself to the fact that projects "take the time they take" can be a necessary step in finishing projects at all. My mind is not simply prone to distraction, it is prone to rebellion. The wrong kind of pressure makes it resist its own commands, sends it spinning out of its own control. Bearing down, reining in, whipping harder doesn't get "me" back on track so much as set me against myself in a showdown I always lose winning. Better to just glide on the thermal of whim until the destination once again comes into sight and a smooth approach becomes finally possible.

Not to say that one can drift one's way to success. Aims must be fixed and kept in mind, even if one knows it's worse than useless to charge right at them. One must develop a sense of one's attention as one develops a sense of a powerful but skittish horse, calmly riding wide of known dangers…

We need to reconcile ourselves to our own temperaments, stop trying to fight or drug ourselves into submission…"
medicine  drugs  howwework  howwewrite  allsorts  productivity  focus  willpower  self-mastery  self-improvement  self-accommodation  gtd  effort  adhd  2012  hanifkureishi  attention  distraction  willwilkinson 
february 2012 by robertogreco
Lists of Note: Henry Miller's 11 Commandments
"COMMANDMENTS

1. Work on one thing at a time until finished.
2. Start no more new books, add no more new material to "Black Spring."
3. Don't be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
4. Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!
5. When you can't create you can work.
6. Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers.
7. Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.
8. Don't be a draught-horse! Work with pleasure only.
9. Discard the Program when you feel like it—but go back to it next day. Concentrate. Narrow down. Exclude.
10. Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.
11. Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards."

[via @robinsloan: "1, 3, 7, 9, & 10 on Henry Miller's list here are so simple & powerful, & not just for writers:" http://twitter.com/robinsloan/status/168794527241482240 ]
purpose  concentration  focus  attention  making  writing  glvo  henrymiller 
february 2012 by robertogreco
Twitter / @millsbaker: Information is ineffectual ...
"Information is ineffectual; news of all sorts is noise. Focus, attention, discretion: these are radical."
2012  discretion  distraction  millsbaker  attention  focus  noise  news  information 
february 2012 by robertogreco
nickd: Whatever's next; whatever's good.
"I like dabbling in small projects with good people, and I like making tiny amounts of money so I can eat burritos in a city with a comically low cost of living."

"I always keep an open mind about any sort of projects that involve some degree of research, play, and curiosity. So if you want to plan anything off-the-wall funny or pranksterish, then get at me. I love outlandish, ridiculous projects. Let’s scheme together."

"I would like to make cool things with good people. Maybe you’re one of these good people. And maybe you know other good people, too. I’m in a rare inflection point in my life where I don’t have to juggle competing priorities to take on new stuff. I would love if you got in touch (nickd//nickd/org or @nickd), and spread this far and wide. I am a little scared these days, but things are really only worth doing if they’re scary, so I figure I must be at least a little right."
focus  makingtime  projects  projectideas  curiosity  risktaking  time  leapsoffaith  design  yearoff  glvo  freelance  doing  making  play  quitting  2012  nickdisabato 
january 2012 by robertogreco
Culture Eats Strategy For Lunch | Fast Company
'Culture is a balanced blend of human psychology, attitudes, actions, and beliefs that combined create either pleasure or pain, serious momentum or miserable stagnation. A strong culture flourishes with a clear set of values and norms that actively guide the way a company operates. Employees are actively and passionately engaged in the business, operating from a sense of confidence and empowerment rather than navigating their days through miserably extensive procedures and mind-numbing bureaucracy. Performance-oriented cultures possess statistically better financial growth, with high employee involvement, strong internal communication, and an acceptance of a healthy level of risk-taking in order to achieve new levels of innovation."
failure  success  accountability  responsibility  administration  leadership  spirit  cohesion  connection  agency  motivation  focus  lcproject  tcsnmy  business  innovation  strategy  management  culture 
january 2012 by robertogreco
Focused dabbling - Neven Mrgan's tumbl
"The hardest thing for humans to persuade each other of is priorities. Should you be an exercise freak? A computer wiz? A classical-literature buff? A badass hiker? A game maker? A dedicated volunteer? A great cook? These are all worthy activities, each enriching your life and likely the lives of others. Our pasts lead us to a mix of a few obsessions, and hopefully we keep our minds open to many more. Those of us who commit to honing that one art may index excel at it. But for my doomed attempt at convincing you of how to arrange your life, I suggest a solid interest in, oh, three or five Big Things. They will compete for your attention, and the vagaries of fate will lead you toward one, then another. Things you learn in the first will improve you in the second, then bring you to a whole new third. You will be a happier and better person for branching out a bit."
howwework  work  attention  meaning  creativegeneralists  generalists  interdisciplinary  learning  hobbies  dabbling  focus  2011  nevenmrgan 
december 2011 by robertogreco
Neven Mrgan at re:build 2011 on Vimeo
"Bit Depth, by Neven Mrgan: At my dayjob, I design Mac software UI/UX, websites, T-shirts, and office signage. In my spare time, I’ve designed 8-bit games. I think every creative professional would benefit from fully executing projects of different complexity, history, and purpose."

[All great stuff. Totally agree with him about the gamification bit.]

[See also: http://mrgan.tumblr.com/post/14868098046/focused-dabbling ]
sideprojects  videogames  specialists  generalists  interdisciplinary  interdisciplinarity  dabbling  software  applications  transmit  panic  8-bit  bitdepth  depth  gaming  games  purpose  focus  darwin  work  design  polish  re:build  2011  appification  gamification  nevenmrgan  specialization  charlesdarwin 
december 2011 by robertogreco
Startup School 2011- Ashton Kutcher - YouTube
"People who genuinely want to solve a problem, a real problem, a problem that exists not just for themselves, but sometimes just for themselves and then it turns into a wave effect that solves other people's problems. Sometimes by solving your own problems. Generally, if you want to affect the world, you have to change yourself first…making uncomfortable choices…taking that risk…doing this thing that nobody else is doing."

"It's not about being like somebody else. It's not about the billion dollars. It's about how you can affect other people's lives — enrich them, improve them — how you can eliminate the space between people, how you can eliminate pain and friction."

"If you want to be a real entrepreneur, you have to be the cause, you have to be the creator of someone else's new reality, which eliminates time, space, motion, friction…"

Tells story about Carl Fisher: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_G._Fisher ]
ashtonkutcher  purpose  vision  problemsolving  dropouts  entrepreneurship  2011  startupschool2011  via:monikahardy  risktaking  lcproject  carlfisher  marketing  change  passion  focus 
october 2011 by robertogreco
The Isolator, A Bizarre Helmet For Encouraging Concentration (1925)
"The Isolator is a bizarre helmet invented in 1925 that encourages focus and concentration by rendering the wearer deaf, piping them full of oxygen, and limiting their vision to a tiny horizontal slit. The Isolator was invented by Hugo Gernsback, editor of Science and Invention magazine, member of “The American Physical Society,” and one of the pioneers of science fiction."
1925  focus  inventions  concentration  technology  history  hugogernsback 
october 2011 by robertogreco
I would have clapped, but then she would have seen the camera - sippey.com
"There's something wonderful about watching someone do something they're good at, when they're not performing, or even deliberately practicing. Just doing it, because it's what they love to do.

Especially when they have no idea they're being recorded."
passion  practice  michaelsippey  2011  rubikscube  focus  love  pleasure  doing 
october 2011 by robertogreco
Creativity Is Hustle: Make Something Every Day - Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg - Video - The Atlantic
"I think doing something start to finish each day not only helps you get over the fear of starting a project, but also the fear of finishing one. I know it can be hard to let stuff go when you know you could make it better, but at some point in every project, at some level you need to be like, "fine, good enough." That's really hard for some people, but this can definitely help.

I've think a project like this also helps with the notion that you need to be in some totally inspired state of zen to create art. Art is like taking a dump, it's not always fun or convenient but it's something you gotta do everyday and you shouldn't get to hung up if the product looks like pile of crap. Yer not gonna make a masterpiece everyday or even 95% of the time, but it's a numbers game and the you've got to get rid of all those crappy ideas before you can get to the good ones. Just showing up is 90% of the battle."
faketv  mikewinkelman  glvo  making  doing  howwework  ideas  creativity  cv  projects  plp  focus  2011  kasiacieplak-mayrvonbaldegg  interviews  animation  art 
october 2011 by robertogreco
Steve Jobs Insult Response - YouTube
"guy: "Mr. Jobs, you're a bright and influential man."

steve: "Here it comes."

guy: "It's sad and clear that add several counts you've discussed that you don't know what you're talking about.

(pause)

guy: "I would like, for example, for you to express in clear terms how say Java and any of its incarnations addresses the ideas embodied in OpenDOC. And when you're finished with that, perhaps you can tell us what you personally have been doing for the past 7 years""
stevejobs  change  gamechanging  business  decisionmaking  decisions  1997  risktaking  mistakes  customerexperience  backwards  apple  insults  humility  cohesion  bigpicture  focus 
september 2011 by robertogreco
Steve's Seven Insights for 21st Century Capitalists - Umair Haque - Harvard Business Review
"Matter. "Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugar water—or do you want to change the world?"

Master. "Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it's really how it works."

Do the insanely great. "When you're a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you're not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall & nobody will ever see it."

Have taste. "The only problem with Microsoft is they just have no taste…absolutely no taste."

Build a temple. "Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, & the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. & the only way to do great work is to love what you do."

Don't build a casino. "The cure for Apple is not cost-cutting. The cure for Apple is to innovate its way out of its current predicament."

Don't pander — better. "We didn't build the Mac for anybody else. We built it for ourselves.""
business  innovation  umairhaque  stevejobs  meaning  purpose  tcsnmy  work  focus  values  management  leadership  2011  lcproject  design  gamechanging 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Haruki Murakami: Talent Is Nothing Without Focus and Endurance :: Articles :: The 99 Percent
"It's not surprising then that, for Murakami, the act of running and the act of creating are inextricably linked, like the two sides of a Möbius strip. As he writes about the evolution of his running career — from his first marathon to his first ultramarathon (62 miles) to his first triathlon — he constantly circles back to how his athletic experiences have impacted his writing practice, and vice versa. For Murakami, the creative process is a sport.<br />
 <br />
Here's what he has to say about talent, focus, and endurance: [long quote]"
harukimurakami  writing  endurance  workethic  running  focus  training  practice  talent 
august 2011 by robertogreco
» A Focus on Founders: The Anatomy of a New Design Education Johnny Holland – It's all about interaction » Blog Archive
"In a word, the intent of our educational model is disruption. At AC4D, we intend to empower our alumni to make a difference in the world, using the persuasive, thoughtful, and provocative ualities of design (or “design thinking” combined with “design doing”) as the mechanism

But there’s another question that we ask, and strive to answer, and this question is more important: what should we design, in the first place?…

…our initial question – what should we design, in the first place – alters the conversation about “career.” When we start to question the fundamentals of our industry and the economic system that contains it, we arrive quickly at a rejection of “corporate vs. consultancy”, “job titles”, and the other baggage of our jobs…

And this poses a problem for designers acting as entrepreneurs: how can they remain focused, passionate, and excited during the process of packaging, refining, detailing, and producing the actual offering?"
ac4d  jonkolko  education  socialentrepreneurship  designeducation  independence  meaning  disruption  2011  focus  passion  creativity  designthinking  altgdp  entrepreneurship  empowerment 
july 2011 by robertogreco
» A Focus on Founders: The Anatomy of a New Design Education Johnny Holland – It's all about interaction » Blog Archive
"In a word, the intent of our educational model is disruption. At AC4D, we intend to empower our alumni to make a difference in the world, using the persuasive, thoughtful, and provocative ualities of design (or “design thinking” combined with “design doing”) as the mechanism.

But there’s another question that we ask, and strive to answer, and this question is more important: what should we design, in the first place?…
…our initial question – what should we design, in the first place – alters the conversation about “career.” When we start to question the fundamentals of our industry and the economic system that contains it, we arrive quickly at a rejection of “corporate vs. consultancy”, “job titles”, and the other baggage of our jobs…

And this poses a problem for designers acting as entrepreneurs: how can they remain focused, passionate, and excited during the process of packaging, refining, detailing, and producing the actual offering?"
ac4d  jonkolko  education  socialentrepreneurship  designeducation  independence  meaning  disruption  2011  focus  passion  creativity  designthinking  altgdp  entrepreneurship  empowerment 
july 2011 by robertogreco
iA Writer for Mac on Vimeo
"iA Writer for Mac is a digital writing tool that will turn you into a shark following a blood trail. We tried our best to create an interface that works so seamlessly that all your thoughts go into the text instead of the program. It is built on three principles:<br />
<br />
1. Form = Idea: iA Writer is a writing tool as hard and as uncustomizable as a mechanical type writer. It has no preferences. It is how it is. It works like it works. Love it or hate it.<br />
2. Thought goes into writing, not using: Focus mode allows me to think, spell and write at one sentence at a time.<br />
3. Minimal input, maximum output: It automatically formats semantical entities such as headlines, lists, bold, strong, block quotes. Writer works without mouse.<br />
<br />
Visit itunes.apple.com/​us/​app/​ia-writer/​id439623248?mt=12# for more information "
writing  software  mac  text  minimalism  texteditor  simplicity  focus  applications  osx  iawriter 
june 2011 by robertogreco
Start-Up Lytro Aims to Sharpen Focus of Entire Camera Industry - Ina Fried - News - AllThingsD
"A Mountain View start-up is promising that its camera, due later this year, will bring the biggest change to photography since the transition from film to digital…

The breakthrough is a different type of sensor that captures what are known as light fields — basically, all the light that is moving in all directions in the view of the camera. That offers several advantages over traditional photography, the most revolutionary of which is that photos no longer need to be focused before they are taken.

This means capturing that perfect shot of your fast-moving pet or squirming child could soon get a whole lot easier. Instead of having to manually focus or wait for autofocus to kick in and hopefully center on the right thing, pictures can be taken immediately and in rapid succession. Once the picture is on a computer or phone, the focus can be adjusted to center on any object in the image…"
photography  digital  lytro  cameras  focus 
june 2011 by robertogreco
Nothing « aronsolomon dot com
"Years ago, when I was a teacher and coach, I’d often finish my early-morning workouts on the basketball court. It was a simple routine of taking a foul shot, running a sprint, taking another foul shot, and so on and so forth.

I made the kids do it because they were going to be tired when they shot their throws in a game. Good practice replicates game conditions.

But I did it in the mornings to fall into a nothingness, as pure and black as the pre-dawn fields I’d look out upon through the gym windows. In thinking of nothing I was open to taking in everything.

The day would progress with classes and meetings and practice and dorm duty and every “thing” would make a light mark on the darkness. I could reset in the morning.

We make too little of nothing. We fear it by filling our nothing with meaningless marks. We chip at it with noise and let our technology create an illusion of full.

I crave nothing."
aronsolomon  simplicity  nothing  nothingness  teaching  thinking  clarity  noise  focus  technology  attention 
may 2011 by robertogreco
Jonah Lehrer on Buildings, Health and Creativity | Head Case - WSJ.com
"Although we're only starting to grasp how the insides of buildings influence the insides of the mind, it's possible to begin prescribing different kinds of spaces for different tasks. If we're performing a job that requires accuracy and focus (say, copy editing a manuscript), we should seek out confined spaces with a red color scheme. But for tasks that require a little bit of creativity, we seem to benefit from high ceilings, lots of windows and bright blue walls that match the sky."
learning  design  architecture  science  psychology  jonahlehrer  2011  ceilings  schooldesign  creativity  focus  thinking  neuroscience 
may 2011 by robertogreco
Hot Stuff: Is the Kool-Aid wearing off? - Smiley & West
"The administration has to straighten its back up and say: “This is what we believe. This is our vision.”"
barackobama  tcsnmy  administration  vision  belief  purpose  clarity  management  focus  cv  tavissmiley  cornelwest  2011  policy  decisionmaking 
april 2011 by robertogreco
The power of lonely - The Boston Globe
"But an emerging body of research is suggesting that spending time alone, if done right, can be good for us — that certain tasks and thought processes are best carried out without anyone else around, and that even the most socially motivated among us should regularly be taking time to ourselves if we want to have fully developed personalities, and be capable of focus and creative thinking. There is even research to suggest that blocking off enough alone time is an important component of a well-functioning social life — that if we want to get the most out of the time we spend with people, we should make sure we’re spending enough of it away from them. Just as regular exercise and healthy eating make our minds and bodies work better, solitude experts say, so can being alone."

[via: http://ayjay.tumblr.com/post/3876384185/but-an-emerging-body-of-research-is-suggesting ]
psychology  solitude  loneliness  culture  social  society  2011  creativity  focus  health 
march 2011 by robertogreco
Stop Wasting Time and Effort Developing Fragile Capabilities | OnTheSpiral
"Fragile capabilities have two characteristics: You have no current use for them; Your skill level diminishes quickly without practice or reinforcement; If your resolution fits both of the above criteria then you might as well not bother.  I can almost guarantee you won’t stick with it for the long term. These are not vague criteria either, “current use” does not mean “potential use”. If you won’t use it today w/out an act of willpower then you are probably wasting your time."

"Why do you want to learn a foreign language? If you plan to live or work abroad then make concrete plans & start the immersion now or stop wasting your time until you get there…"

"The most successful goals are those that create self-reinforcing capabilities. In other words, they build their own context. Self-reinforcing capabilities send you spiraling outward as each new accomplishment is also the stimulus for new growth. They are the compliment to what Venkat Rao recently called Leveraged Resolutions."
fragilecapabilities  gregoryrader  immediacy  justintime  learning  efficiency  focus  unschooling  deschooling  education  yearoff  life 
february 2011 by robertogreco
Evan Williams | evhead: Ten Rules for Web Startups
"#1 Be Narrow: Focus on the smallest possible problem you could solve that would potentially be useful. Most companies start out trying to do too many things, which makes life difficult and turns you into a me-too…#2 Be Different #3 Be Casual #4 Be Picky: Another perennial business rule, and it applies to everything you do: features, employees, investors, partners, press opportunities. Startups are often too eager to accept people or ideas into their world. You can almost always afford to wait if something doesn't feel just right, and false negatives are usually better than false positives. One of Google's biggest strengths—and sources of frustration for outsiders—was their willingness to say no to opportunities, easy money, potential employees, and deals. #5 Be User-Centric #6 Be Self-Centred: Make it better based on your own desires. #7 Be Greedy #8 Be Tiny #9 Be Agile #10 Be Balanced #11 Be Wary"

[via: http://interconnected.org/home/2011/01/18/ten_rules_for_web_startups ]
business  startup  entrepreneurship  tips  tcsnmy  lcproject  small  agility  evanwilliams  focus  startups  2005 
january 2011 by robertogreco
YouTube - Yelp (With Apologies to Allen Ginsberg) narrated by Peter Coyote
"Shabbat is a very old idea -- 5000 years old. Just take a break one day a week. I desperately needed a "technology shabbat." Recently addicted to tweeting, I became that person I hated who pulled out her iPhone while actually talking to someone -- sneaking email fixes in bathroom stalls. It was getting ugly.

Sophocles once said, "nothing vast enters the life of mortals without a curse," and this couldn't be more true of technology.

My husband (artist & robotics professor Ken Goldberg) and I were thinking about the "curse" part. We both love technology and have devoted our careers to experimenting with it, but could we unplug for one day a week? So Ken and I decided to try to truly power down one day a week. Inspired by this concept, we reworked Ginsberg's "Howl," into "Yelp." Then I made a little film about it and Peter Coyote lent his great voice."
technology  culture  internet  addiction  email  google  twitter  allenginsberg  howl  im  attention  present  beingpresent  focus  unplug  unplugging  rss  facebook  internetsabbaticals  web  online 
january 2011 by robertogreco
Film History 101 (via Netflix Watch Instantly) « Snarkmarket
"Robin is absolutely right: I like lists, I remember everything I’ve ever seen or read, and I’ve been making course syllabi for over a decade, so I’m often finding myself saying “If you really want to understand [topic], these are the [number of objects] you need to check out.” Half the fun is the constraint of it, especially since we all now know (or should know) that constraints = creativity."

[See also Matt Penniman's "Sci-fi Film History 101" list: http://snarkmarket.com/2010/6492 ]
film  netflix  history  cinema  movies  timcarmody  snarkmarket  teaching  curation  curating  constraints  lists  creativity  forbeginners  thecanon  pairing  sharing  expertise  experience  education  learning  online  2010  frankchimero  surveycourses  surveys  web  internet  perspective  organization  succinct  focus  design  the101  robinsloan  classes  classideas  format  delivery  guidance  beginner  reference  pacing  goldcoins  surveycasts 
december 2010 by robertogreco
The 101 « Snarkmarket
"Some of the teachers I remember most from college are the ones who would say something like: “Listen. There are only two movies you need to understand to understand [whole giant big cinematic movement X]. Those two movies are [A] and [B]. And we’re gonna watch ‘em.” (I feel like this is something Tim is extremely good at, actually.) It’s a step above curation, right? Context matters here; so does sequence. So we’re talking about some sort of super-sharp, web-powered, media-rich syllabus. I always liked syllabi, actually. They seem to make such an alluring promise, you know? Something like:

Go through this with me, and you will be a novice no more."
curation  curating  robinsloan  frankchimero  lists  organization  experience  expertise  teaching  learning  online  web  classes  classideas  format  delivery  guidance  beginner  forbeginners  reference  2010  pacing  goldcoins  surveys  surveycourses  the101  education  internet  perspective  succinct  focus  design  history  constraints  creativity  thecanon  pairing  sharing  surveycasts 
december 2010 by robertogreco
Frank Chimero - The Two Best Things on the Web 2010
"My top two choices, however, stood tall as perhaps the best stock I’ve had the pleasure of reading on the web, both in terms of their scope, but more interestingly about how they treated their content and audience. There’s a pattern here that I enjoy. I’d like to introduce you to them, and hopefully in the process make a bit of a point about the direction I want the web to take in the next year."

"I suppose I’m hungry for curated educational materials online. These are more than lists of books to read: they’re organized, edited, and have a clear point of view about the content they are presenting, and subvert the typical scatter-shot approach of half the web (like Wikipedia), or the hyper-linear, storyless other half that obsesses over lists. And that’s the frustrating thing about trying to teach yourself things online: you’re new, so you don’t know what’s important, but everything is spread so thin and all over the place, so it’s difficult to make meaningful connections."
education  learning  online  lists  2010  frankchimero  surveycourses  surveys  teaching  forbeginners  web  internet  curating  curation  perspective  organization  succinct  focus  design  history  constraints  creativity  thecanon  pairing  sharing  expertise  experience  the101  robinsloan  classes  classideas  format  delivery  guidance  beginner  reference  pacing  goldcoins  surveycasts 
december 2010 by robertogreco
Freedom - Windows and Mac Internet Blocking Software
"Freedom is a simple productivity application that locks you away from the internet on Mac or Windows computers for up to eight hours at a time. Freedom frees you from distractions, allowing you time to write, analyze, code, or create. At the end of your offline period, Freedom allows you back on the internet. You can download Freedom immediately for 10 dollars through either PayPal or Google Checkout."
productivity  software  mac  windows  distraction  attention  focus  applications  via:robinsloan 
december 2010 by robertogreco
Lessons Learned in Stockholm: Thoughts from Head of School — THINK Global School
"Humans balk at a completely unstructured day…we can build a good compromise between unstructured classes & traditional timetable. Ideally, we will be able to sit down w/ students at weekly Sunday meetings & map out week ahead.

…schools will do better managing tech if admin sets clear objectives for tech program but then creates conditions for healthy, intelligent experimenting by faculty & students…internal crowd-sourcing is fastest way to develop set of best practices to fit school’s mission…iPhone = single most important tool we’ve used this term…

Less is more. We overbooked museum tours, lectures & adventures at start of term. Better–much better–to go to same gallery 3 times & work closely w/ docent than go to 3 different exhibits. Better–much better–to study 3 paintings closely than whole galleries worth superficially. In future, we want to collaborate w/ museums, galleries, universities, exhibitions & so on that are willing to develop deep & tightly focused projects."
iphone  ipad  teaching  learning  technology  simplicity  slow  slowness  lessismore  tgs  thinkglobalschool  bradovenell-carter  lcproject  blockschedules  scheduling  tcsnmy  schools  travel  structure  textbooks  textbookfree  meaning  focus  depthoverbreadth  cv 
december 2010 by robertogreco
Good and Bad Procrastination
"If you want to work on big things, you seem to have to trick yourself into doing it. You have to work on small things that could grow into big things, or work on successively larger things, or split the moral load with collaborators. It's not a sign of weakness to depend on such tricks. The very best work has been done this way.

When I talk to people who've managed to make themselves work on big things, I find that all blow off errands, and all feel guilty about it. I don't think they should feel guilty. There's more to do than anyone could. So someone doing the best work they can is inevitably going to leave a lot of errands undone. It seems a mistake to feel bad about that."
procrastination  gtd  paulgraham  productivity  2005  distraction  attention  interruptions  focus  creativity  innovation  work  cv  efficiency  errands  priorities  lifehacks 
december 2010 by robertogreco
Getting Creative Things Done: How To Fit Hard Thinking Into a Busy Schedule :: Tips :: The 99 Percent
"At first glance, the GCTD system seems obvious. “Block out time on my calendar for big projects,” you might think. “I've tried that.”

Creative work, however, is a subtle affair. If your mind is not in the exact right state, it’s difficult to produce high-quality results. Because of this, details matter. This is what’s important about GCTD, not the general idea of blocking out time, but the carefully-calibrated details that accompany it: the blocks are treated like real appointments and are dedicated to only one (or, at most, two) projects in a week; absolutely zero interruptions are allowed during the blocks; and the focus is on process, not goals.

These little things add up to a system that consistently produces the types of ambitious results that, as Graham puts it, are “at the limits of your capacity.” The type of results that can make you a star."
creativity  time  scheduling  gtd  gctd  arts  business  advice  work  focus  goals 
december 2010 by robertogreco
Attention versus distraction? What that big NY Times story leaves out » Nieman Journalism Lab
"question, though, is: distraction from what? & also: What’s inherently wrong with distraction?…What that framing forgets, though, is that the other side of fragmentation can be focus: the kind of deep-dive, myopic-in-a-good-way, almost Zen-like concentration that sparks to life when intellectual engagement couples with emotional affinity…Formal education, as we’ve framed it, is not only about finding ways to learn more about the things we love, but also, equally, about squelching our aversion to the things we don’t — all in the ecumenical spirit of generalized knowledge…The web inculcates a follow your bliss approach to learning that seeps, slowly, into the broader realm of information; under its influence, our notion of knowledge is slowly shedding its normative layers…Community, after all, needs the normative to function; the question is where we draw the line between the interest and the imperative…what we really want from digital world = permission to be impulsive."
attention  distraction  unschooling  deschooling  control  impulsivity  impulse-control  apathy  focus  learning  education  culture  information  socialmedia  technology  digitalnatives  constructivism  psychology  21stcenturyskills  criticism  lcproject  schools  formaleducation  informallearning  motivation 
november 2010 by robertogreco
Your Word Processor Is Distracting You (Global Moxie)
"When author Jonathan Franzen wrote The Corrections, he went so far as to blindfold himself in order to give complete concentration to his prose. In a 2001 profile of Franzen, The Guardian wrote:

"He locked himself away in his spartan studio on 125th Street in East Harlem to write. Some days, in order to keep his mind “free of all clichés,” he wrote in the dark, with the blinds drawn and the lights off. And he wore earplugs, earmuffs and a blindfold. “You can always find the ‘home’ keys on your computer,” he says in an embarrassed whisper. “They have little raised bumps.”"

Here’s a guy who won the National Book Award for his novel, and he couldn’t even see his screen, let alone diddle with his word processor’s line spacing. “What you see is what you get?” When your task is building ideas, WYSIWYG just isn’t all that relevant."
jonathanfranzen  writing  wordprocessing  text  markdown  johngruber  distraction  attention  editing  focus  bbedit  textmate  via:cervus  wysiwyg  editplus  textwrangler  notepad 
november 2010 by robertogreco
John Sculley On Steve Jobs, The Full Interview Transcript | Cult of Mac
"He felt that the computer was going to change the world & it it was going to become what he called “the bicycle for the mind.” It would enable individuals to have this incredible capability that they never dreamed of before…

What makes Steve’s methodology different from everyone else’s is that he always believed the most important decisions you make are not the things you do – but the things that you decide not to do. He’s a minimalist.…

Normally you will only see a handful of software engineers who are building an operating system. People think that it must be hundreds and hundreds working on an operating system. It really isn't. It's really just a small team of people. Think of it like the atelier of an artist…

[Japanese standards are just different than ours. If you look at Apple and the attention to detail. The “open me first,” the way the box is designed, the fold lines, the quality of paper, the printing — Apple just goes to extraordinary lengths."
apple  business  stevejobs  mac  design  interview  size  groupsize  teams  managment  focus  minimalism  johnsculley  organizations  tcsnmy  computers  efficiency  via:kottke  japan  muji  experience  packaging  management  administration  lcproject 
october 2010 by robertogreco
Are Distractible People More Creative? | Wired Science | Wired.com
"not enough to simply pay attention to everything—such a deluge of sensation can quickly get confusing. (Kierkegaard referred to this mental state as “drowning in possibility”. Some scientists believe that schizophrenia is characterized by extremely low latent inhibition coupled w/ severe working memory deficits…leads to a mind constantly hijacked by minor distractions.)…We need to let more info in, but we also need to be ruthless about throwing out useless stuff.

People bemoan infinite distractions of web, way we’re constantly being seduced by hyperlinks, unexpected search results, arcane Wikipedia entries. & yes, that’s all true—I just wasted 30 minutes searching for that Kierkegaard quote. (I ended up on a Danish culture website, which led me to a photography collection of Danish modern furniture…) But the problem isn’t distractibility per se—it's distractibility coupled w/ failure to curate our thoughts, to monitor relevancy of whatever is loitering in working memory."
jonahlehrer  neuroscience  attention  distraction  psychology  creativity  research  brain  behavior  intelligence  imaginzation  schizophrenia  memory  internet  online  cv  curation  curating  filtering  forgetting  focus 
september 2010 by robertogreco
Spencer's Scratch Pad: educational hoarding
"My problem is not that I need professional development. It's not that I need more nifty strategies to lead me on the way toward becoming a better teacher. I don't need another conference or seminar or workshop or TEN TOP WAYS TO USE TWITTER in my classroom. I don't need more hyperbole. I need more simplicity. I don't need more, I need to learn to do less. I don't need another binder. I need an anti-binder crusader who will help remind me of the essential questions that really are essential - someone to nudge me back toward the question, "Does this help us to live well?""
johnspencer  simplicity  professionaldevelopment  planning  teaching  education  schools  curriculum  less  slowessentials  minimalism  featurecreep  features  featuritis  moreisnotbetter  experience  empowerment  technology  unschooling  deschooling  learning  innovation  focus  lcproject 
september 2010 by robertogreco
Fishing with Strawberries - O'Reilly Media [via: http://twitter.com/lmoberglavoie/status/21289227189[
"On one level, the difference between the two points of view is simply the difference between selling one on one to a very targeted prospect and selling to a mass market, where you are casting a wide net, and some set of potential customers will match your own "strawberry" profile.<br />
<br />
But there's perhaps a deeper level on which this difference is one on which a great deal that is special about this company hinges. We seek to find what is true in ourselves, and use it to resonate with whatever subject we explore, trusting that resonance to lead us to kindred spirits out in the world, and them to us.<br />
<br />
I like to think that we have the capability to fish with worms when necessary, but that in general, we're farmers, not fishermen, and strawberries go over just fine."<br />
<br />
[Related: http://brendandawes.posterous.com/being-selfish-making-things-for-yourself-to-m]
entrepreneurship  tcsnmy  creativity  creation  making  doing  sales  customers  massmarket  business  fulfillment  greatness  focus  distraction  lcproject  devotion  purpose  visions  timoreilly 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Near Future Laboratory » Features Aren’t A Measure Of Innovation
"For some reason lists of features are legible to accountants & engineers who often have the keys to the car & decide what gets done."'

"Innovating, only not by stacking lists of features & parts & stuff — but at least by starting with ways of creating opportunities & experiences that lead people in new, unexpected directions. That make space for experiences that go beyond expectation. Basically creating new user experiences. I don’t think you do that just by creating new features & bolting on new technologies."

[Some quick thoughts below, but more here: http://robertogreco.tumblr.com/post/916738627/more-opportunities-not-more-features ]

[Love this. It speaks to what we do at schools that empower learners by creating a flexible learning environment, not adding more classes, more programs. We do "less" in terms of numbers, but more in terms of freedom & self-direction, helping them give themselves more options. One point missing: it's not only accountant & engineer decision-making people that need help seeing the benefit of fewer features, but also number-comparing users (parents in our case).]
tcsnmy  julianbleecker  features  featurecreep  featuritis  moreisnotbetter  less  simplicity  experience  empowerment  design  designthinking  engineers  accountants  numbers  technology  unschooling  deschooling  education  learning  innovation  focus  lcproject  cv 
august 2010 by robertogreco
SpeEdChange: The Question of Attention
"Is your ability to attend to random flashing red rectangles a fair measuring system? Well, that's what always makes research funny. In order to quantify the human experience in a "valid" way you have to strip it down to a point where the experience itself is completely out of context and thus meaningless.

This "out of context research" is why, for example, I see so many high school graduates these days who can read perfectly fluently (which "research" says is important) while not comprehending one word. And, in the case of "attention," it is why we have so many smart people suddenly declaring that they are unable to "walk and chew gum at the same time.""

[One of several insightful posts about multitasking lately that move beyond the blanket good or bad.]
multitasking  attention  irasocol  learning  focus  research  bias  subtlety  singletasking  monotasking 
july 2010 by robertogreco
The Top Idea in Your Mind
"I realized recently that what one thinks about in the shower in the morning is more important than I'd thought. I knew it was a good time to have ideas. Now I'd go further: now I'd say it's hard to do a really good job on anything you don't think about in the shower.

Everyone who's worked on difficult problems is probably familiar with the phenomenon of working hard to figure something out, failing, and then suddenly seeing the answer a bit later while doing something else. There's a kind of thinking you do without trying to. I'm increasingly convinced this type of thinking is not merely helpful in solving hard problems, but necessary. The tricky part is, you can only control it indirectly..."
business  creativity  distraction  mind  lifehacks  productivity  psychology  thinking  startups  paulgraham  entrepreneurship  motivation  innovation  philosophy  politics  ideas  cv  attention  focus  tcsnmy  showers 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Medieval Multitasking: Did We Ever Focus? | Culture | Religion Dispatches
"Engaged by brilliant illuminations; challenged by reading in Latin, without spacing btwn words, capitalization, or punctuation; & invited into the commentary of past readers of the text, medieval readers of Augustine, Dante, Virgil, or the Bible would surely be able to give today’s digitally-distracted multitaskers a run for our money. The physical form of the bound book brought together all of these various “links” into one “platform” so that the diverse perspectives of a blended contemporary & historical community of thinkers could be more easily accessed."
multitasking  history  technology  hypertext  communication  distraction  medieval  literacy  internet  books  writing  reading  davidbrooks  nicholascarr  focus 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Twitter / Howard Rheingold: Neither Internet nor Google ...
"Neither Internet nor Google makes anybody smarter or dumber - that wording is necessitated by rhetoric of headlines. Human agency is key. The way we USE the Internet - or books, or classrooms - influences whether we gain or lose insight or capability from the experience. I'm careful about technological deterministic language because language is a mind-tool, and how one uses it matters. Information-handling competencies (like knowing how to use RSS) must combine w/ attention skills to benefit from web. Hence, "infotention.""

[also http://twitter.com/hrheingold/status/15509066703 AND http://twitter.com/hrheingold/status/15509092161 AND http://twitter.com/hrheingold/status/15509346793 ]
attention  internet  web  online  howardrheingold  focus  learning  intelligence  rss  technology  experience  humanagency  books  classrooms  classroom 
june 2010 by robertogreco
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