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robertogreco : gatekeepers   11

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

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

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

Given all of this, I have two thoughts:

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

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

[via (great thread follows): ]
adelinekoh  2014  algorithms  facebook  twitter  education  curation  curators  gatekeepers  tastemakers  trendsetters  mooc  moocs  tastemaking  experts  authority  authorities  humanism  humanities  power  control  academia  highereducation  highered  feeds  filters 
august 2014 by robertogreco
The Deliberate Practice of Disruption
"This model is an accurate one in descriptive terms, but a terrible one in normative terms. So let me propose a highly prejudiced contrarian reading of what Csikszentmihalyi is describing.

What we have here is a closed boundary defined by a symbolic domain (rather than raw, unmediated reality), within which there are awestruck beginners and awe-inspiring experts. Expert performance is primarily a beautiful feeling that is derived not from the effects of the performance itself, but from the integration of metacognition and cognition into an internal superego. An inner [Tiger-] parental spectator that supervises performance according to an external standard of error-free perfection, and rewards you psychologically to the extent that you meet that standard. The performance is necessarily an incremental push beyond the edge, where received standards of performance and aesthetics can be reliably extrapolated. You cannot apply standards of violin performance if you suddenly decide to use your violin as a bat in an improvised game of softball (a profane use of a violin that is nevertheless physically possible).

In short, this is sustaining innovation driven by groupthink, divorced from reality by an internal language of symbols, and limited to what doesn’t violate sacred standards of quality or prevailing aesthetic sensibilities. As determined by honored retirees whose expertise is beyond doubt.

The reward for such metacognition is in fact the subjective state of flow: a regime of behavioral sacredness that is valued for its own sake rather than for its effects, and which is rewarded in social ways.

Disruptive Metacognition: Finding Ugly Awkwardness

It’s easy to get to the broader notion of deliberate practice. The base layer is still the same. You’re still practicing the skill for 10,000 hours.

It’s the metacognition that is different. Instead of finding creative flow, you seek out ugly awkwardness that nevertheless intrigues and tempts you. You figure out what feels uncomfortable and “wrong” in some sense, but also alluring, and figure out why. There are no judges to tell you if you’re right. There are no aesthetic standards to internalize. There are no performance standards other than what you’ve yourself done before or the behaviors of people you choose to imitate because you can’t think of anything yourself.

And most importantly, there is no clear understanding of whether variation from your own past behavior or others’ behaviors should be considered error or innovation."

"So disruptive metacognition is irreverent and transgressive. It does not respect received sacred/profane distinctions. It does not justify extended practice on the basis of “pay your dues” but as a means of exploration. It does not seek flow as an end in itself, divorced from the effects of performance. While sustaining metacognition can be whimsical in an approved way, it cannot be offensively playful in the sense of irreverently crossing the boundary separating sacred and profane. Only disruptive metacognition can do that.

If the reward for effective sustaining metacognition is a sense of your own inner sacredness, experienced as flow, the reward for effective disruptive metacognition is a sense of snowballing absurdity and paradox that miraculously does not unravel. Effective awkwardness that inspires irreverent laughter rather than reverent awe. Instead of approval from honored figures, you get the slightly vicious pleasures of desecration.

While it is possible to do this all this in closed worlds of performance, it takes a kind of sociopathy to ignore expert tastes (or refined customer/audience tastes) and willingness to suffer being punished for being genuinely innovative (customers of cultural products punish straying performers much more than other kinds of customers). This is why early rockers shocked classical musical purists by burning or smashing guitars. Of course, you can also shock aging rockers’ sense of the sacred by not being outrageous (“kids today, they have no rebellion in them!”)."

"The bad news is that success still depends on repeating some skilled behavior in roughly the 10,000 hour range, at “good enough” levels, before you’ll start stumbling across mutations that are both good and haven’t been spotted and explored before. This is why “good ideas” that beginners come up with, even if actually good, aren’t worth much. They lack the behavioral base to actually go down the bunny trail opened up by the idea. The have the idea, but not the idea maze. The genetic mutation without the protein synthesis machinery.

But if you do have the disruptive deliberate practice under your belt you can, well, be disruptive.

If you know the basics of disruption theory, you know it involves attacking a market from a marginal niche. I won’t rehash that. But I will state what might be a new point. What’s disruptive about disruption is that it violates a prevailing sense of the sacred with irreverent profanity.

A disruptor attacks a saintly mindset rather than a market. A mindset that holds certain performance standards and aesthetic considerations to be sacred, and is blind to the potential of what it considers profane. The disruptor wins by being mediocre where it is a sacred duty to be exceptional, and embracing profanity where saints are blinded by their own taboos."
venkateshrao  flow  disruption  2014  metacognition  conservatism  establishment  closedworlds  disciplines  practice  taboos  mindset  change  mutations  openworlds  gatekeepers  cv  aekwardness  mavericks  sociopathy  rewards  motivation  social  groupthink  sacredness  performance 
june 2014 by robertogreco
The Logic of Stupid Poor People | tressiemc
"Gatekeeping is a complex job of managing boundaries that do not just define others but that also define ourselves. Status symbols — silk shells, designer shoes, luxury handbags — become keys to unlock these gates. If I need a job that will save my lower back and move my baby from medicaid to an HMO, how much should I spend signaling to people like my former VP that I will not compromise her status by opening the door to me? That candidate maybe could not afford a proper shell. I will never know. But I do know that had she gone hungry for two days to pay for it or missed wages for a trip to the store to buy it, she may have been rewarded a job that could have lifted her above minimum wage. Shells aren’t designer handbags, perhaps. But a cosmetology school in a strip mall isn’t a job at Bank of America, either.

At the heart of these incredulous statements about the poor decisions poor people make is a belief that we would never be like them. We would know better. We would know to save our money, eschew status symbols, cut coupons, practice puritanical sacrifice to amass a million dollars. There is a regular news story of a lunch lady who, unbeknownst to all who knew her, died rich and leaves it all to a cat or a charity or some such. Books about the modest lives of the rich like to tell us how they drive Buicks instead of BMWs. What we forget, if we ever know, is that what we know now about status and wealth creation and sacrifice are predicated on who we are, i.e. not poor. If you change the conditions of your not-poor status, you change everything you know as a result of being a not-poor. You have no idea what you would do if you were poor until you are poor. And not intermittently poor or formerly not-poor, but born poor, expected to be poor and treated by bureaucracies, gatekeepers and well-meaning respectability authorities as inherently poor. Then, and only then, will you understand the relative value of a ridiculous status symbol to someone who intuits that they cannot afford to not have it."
class  culture  poverty  race  wealth  2013  tressiemcmillancottom  gatekeepers  signals  signaling  slothing  psychology  work  interviews  economics  statussymbols  status  mobility 
october 2013 by robertogreco
▶ Christina Xu, Breadpig - XOXO Festival (2013) - YouTube
"In many industries, publishers can sometimes hurt unknown artists more than they help. But a new model for publishing is emerging, and Breadpig is paving the way—helping independent artists find a wider audience without losing control over their work. In addition to her work running Breadpig, Christina Xu is co-founder of ROFLCon, the conference on Internet culture, and founding director of the Institute on Higher Awesome Studies, the nonprofit wing of the Awesome Foundation."

[Transcript: ]

See also Frank Chimero:

and Anil Dash: ]
christinaxu  breadpig  crowdfunding  xoxo  2013  trailblazing  support  creativity  logistics  supportservices  bootstrapping  independence  interdependence  supportstructures  kickstarter  structure  structurelessness  obsatacles  systemsthinking  darkmatter  norms  communities  meangirls  cliques  meritocracy  gatekeepers  disintermediation 
october 2013 by robertogreco
TED talks are lying to you -
"What our correspondent also understood, sitting there in his basement bathtub, was that the literature of creativity was a genre of surpassing banality. Every book he read seemed to boast the same shopworn anecdotes and the same canonical heroes. If the authors are presenting themselves as experts on innovation, they will tell us about Einstein, Gandhi, Picasso, Dylan, Warhol, the Beatles. If they are celebrating their own innovations, they will compare them to the oft-rejected masterpieces of Impressionism — that ultimate combination of rebellion and placid pastel bullshit that decorates the walls of hotel lobbies from Pittsburgh to Pyongyang.

Those who urge us to “think different,” in other words, almost never do so themselves. Year after year, new installments in this unchanging genre are produced and consumed. Creativity, they all tell us, is too important to be left to the creative. Our prosperity depends on it. And by dint of careful study and the hardest science — by, say, sliding a jazz pianist’s head into an MRI machine — we can crack the code of creativity and unleash its moneymaking power.

That was the ultimate lesson. That’s where the music, the theology, the physics and the ethereal water lilies were meant to direct us. Our correspondent could think of no books that tried to work the equation the other way around — holding up the invention of air conditioning or Velcro as a model for a jazz trumpeter trying to work out his solo.

And why was this worth noticing? Well, for one thing, because we’re talking about the literature of creativity, for Pete’s sake. If there is a non-fiction genre from which you have a right to expect clever prose and uncanny insight, it should be this one. So why is it so utterly consumed by formula and repetition?"

"Using Vincent van Gogh as an example, the author declares that the artist’s “creativity came into being when a sufficient number of art experts felt that his paintings had something important to contribute to the domain of art.” Innovation, that is, exists only when the correctly credentialed hivemind agrees that it does. And “without such a response,” the author continues, “van Gogh would have remained what he was, a disturbed man who painted strange canvases.” What determines “creativity,” in other words, is the very faction it’s supposedly rebelling against: established expertise.

Consider, then, the narrative daisy chain that makes up the literature of creativity. It is the story of brilliant people, often in the arts or humanities, who are studied by other brilliant people, often in the sciences, finance, or marketing. The readership is made up of us — members of the professional-managerial class — each of whom harbors a powerful suspicion that he or she is pretty brilliant as well. What your correspondent realized, relaxing there in his tub one day, was that the real subject of this literature was the professional-managerial audience itself, whose members hear clear, sweet reason when they listen to NPR and think they’re in the presence of something profound when they watch some billionaire give a TED talk. And what this complacent literature purrs into their ears is that creativity is their property, their competitive advantage, their class virtue. Creativity is what they bring to the national economic effort, these books reassure them — and it’s also the benevolent doctrine under which they rightly rule the world."

[Update: Alan Jacobs, in response to the first passage above: ]

"I’d like to suggest an answer to this question: the problem is that there’s actually no such thing as “creativity.” It’s a made-up concept bearing no relation to anything that exists. It’s a classic case of what the Marxists used to call “false reification.” Let’s never speak of it again."
creativity  class  ted  tedtalks  2013  elitism  gatekeepers  hypocrisy  alanjacobs  marxism  hivemind  innovation 
october 2013 by robertogreco
Webstock '13: Mike Monteiro - How Designers Destroyed the World on Vimeo
"You are directly responsible for what you put into the world. Yet every day designers all over the world work on projects without giving any thought or consideration to the impact that work has on the world around them. This needs to change."

[See also: ]

Victor Papanek quote:
There are professions more harmful than industrial design, but only a very few of them. And possibly only one profession is phonier. Advertising design, in persuading people to buy things they don’t need, with money they don’t have, in order to impress others who don’t care, is probably the phoniest field in existence today. Industrial design, by concocting the tawdry idiocies hawked by advertisers, comes a close second. Never before in history have grown men sat down and seriously designed electric hairbrushes, rhinestone-covered file boxes, and mink carpeting for bathrooms, and then drawn up elaborate plans to make and sell these gadgets to millions of people. Before (in the ‘good old days’), if a person liked killing people, he had to become a general, purchase a coal-mine, or else study nuclear physics. Today, industrial design has put murder on a mass-production basis. By designing criminally unsafe automobiles that kill or maim nearly one million people around the world each year, by creating whole new species of permanent garbage to clutter up the landscape, and by choosing materials and processes that pollute the air we breathe, designers have become a dangerous breed. And the skills needed in these activities are taught carefully to young people.

In an age of mass production when everything must be planned and designed, design has become the most powerful tool with which man shapes his tools and environments (and, by extension, society and himself). This demands high social and moral responsibility from the designer. It also demands greater understanding of the people by those who practise design and more insight into the design process by the public.

[See also: ]
mikemonteiro  victorpapanek  2013  design  ethics  responsibility  howwework  systemsthinking  destruction  harm  care  recklessness  gatekeepers  purpose  meaningmaking  reputation  integrity  cv  whatareyouwillingtobefiredfor  wheredoyoudrawtheline  self-respect  fear 
october 2013 by robertogreco
Patton Oswalt’s Letters to Both Sides: His keynote address at Montreal’s Just For Laughs 2012 | The Comic's Comic
"Instead of a straight speech, Oswalt wrote two open letters and read them aloud.

The first letter he addressed to "all of the comedians in the room"; the second, to "all of the gatekeepers" of the comedy business.

Here are those letters."

[To "all of the comedians in the room"]

"Remember what I said earlier about those bulletproof headliners who focused on their 5 minutes on the Tonight Show and when it ended they decided their opportunity was gone? They decided. Nobody decided that for them. They decided.

Now, look at my career up to this point. Luck, being given. Other people deciding for me."


"I need to decide more career stuff for myself and make it happen for myself, and I need to stop waiting to luck out and be given. I need to unlearn those muscles.

I’m seeing this notion take form in a lot of my friends. A lot of you out there. You, for instance, the person I’m writing to. Your podcast is amazing. Your videos on your YouTube channel are getting better and better every single one that you make, just like when we did open mics, better and better every week. Your Twitter feed is hilarious."

[To "all of the gatekeepers"]

"I don’t know if you’ve seen the stuff uploaded to Youtube. There are sitcoms now on the internet, some of them are brilliant, some of them are “meh,” some of them fuckin suck. At about the same ratio that things are brilliant and “meh” and suck on your network.

If you think that we’re somehow going to turn on you later if what we do falls on its face, and blame you because we can’t take criticism? Let me tell you one thing: We have gone through years of open mics to get where we need to get. Criticism is nothing to us, and comment threads are fucking electrons."
broadcasting  publishing  2012  pattonoswalt  comedy  comedians  creativity  creativefields  criticism  middlemen  gatekeepers  socialmedia  gamechanging 
july 2012 by robertogreco
How Iteration-itis Kills Good Ideas - Scott Anthony - Harvard Business Review
[All true, but I think iteration is the wrong word. He describes the problem with design by committee, too many cooks, gatekeepers, etc.]

"By the time idea generators had gone through this gauntlet of gate-keepers, their ideas became watered down and wafer thin — acceptable to everyone, exciting to no one."
ideas  committees  designbycommitte  design  creativity  innovation  2011  toomanychefs  gatekeepers  corporatism  feedback 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Leigh Blackall: Our epistemology, and entrepreneurial learning
"The sway that the subject of technology has over discussions about education and learning, is giving me increasing cause for concern. Absent from the explanations of new understandings of knowledge and learning, and their arguments for change, is some balance to the largely utopian ideals. The sub headings in the 'entrepreneurial learning' article for example, read like evangelical slogans, without a single word for caution or circumspect (that I could see by scanning). What would one include to strike a balance? Most obvious would be Postman, in particular his warnings in Technonopoly, but their could and should be many others. Surely we agree that technology gives potential to all traits of humanity, not just the bits we'd like to pick out."
leighblackall  comments  technology  howardrheingold  johnseelybrown  maxsengles  technolopoly  google  goldmansachs  allwathedoverbymachinesoflovinggrace  adamcurtis  florianschneider  gatekeepers  mihalycsikszentmihalyi  darkmatter  gregorysholette  institutions  education  learning  power  neo-colonialism  networkedlearning  networkculture  internet  connectivism  society  socialmedia  2011  2008  informallearning  informal  mentoring  mentorship  pedagogy  self-organization  self-directedlearning  unschooling  deschooling  fachidioten  humanism 
june 2011 by robertogreco
Dark Matter: Activist Art and the Counter-Public Sphere
"Like its astronomical cousin, creative dark matter also makes up the bulk of the artistic activity produced in our post-industrial society. However, this type of dark matter is invisible primarily to those who lay claim to the management and interpretation of culture - the critics, art historians, collectors, dealers, museums, curators and arts administrators. It includes makeshift, amateur, informal, unofficial, autonomous, activist, non-institutional, self-organized practices - all work made and circulated in the shadows of the formal art world. Yet, just as the astrophysical universe is dependent on its dark matter, so too is the art world dependent on its dark energy."

[Concept mentioned by Randall Szott here: ]

[See also other articles here: ]

[Update 2 June 2014: Link is dead. Here's the Wayback: ]
art  culture  politics  media  activism  activistart  vernacular  counter-publicsphere  josephbeuys  proletarian  oskarnegt  alexanderkluge  resistance  subversion  outsiders  artcriticism  tinkering  amateur  glvo  bourgeois  darkmatter  gregorysholette  collectives  culturalresistance  hierarchy  gatekeepers  cultureindustry  artworld  invisibility  economics  temporaryservices  lasagencias  publicspace  tacticalmedia  deschooling  unschooling  zines  diy  outsider  shrequest1 
may 2011 by robertogreco Fixing the Internet might break it worse than it's broken now.
"So, we might ask, who wants the story of the dangerous Internet spread? Who wants the Internet to be seen as a dangerous place? Whose business models are becoming obsolete as the generic generative Internet grows and pervades? Who is threatened by the absence of gatekeepers? Then look who continues to pursue the story ..."
internet  web  security  viruses  worms  2009  privacy  fear  business  gatekeepers  via:preoccupations 
february 2009 by robertogreco

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