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Opinion | I’m a Black Feminist. I Think Call-Out Culture Is Toxic. - The New York Times
"Today’s call-out culture is so seductive, I often have to resist the overwhelming temptation to clap back at people on social media who get on my nerves. Call-outs happen when people publicly shame each other online, at the office, in classrooms or anywhere humans have beef with one another. But I believe there are better ways of doing social justice work.

Recently, someone lied about me on social media and I decided not to reply. “Never wrestle with a pig,” as George Bernard Shaw said. “You both get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.” And one of the best ways to make a point is to ignore someone begging for attention. Thanks, Michelle Obama, for this timely lesson; most people who read her book “Becoming” probably missed that she subtly threw shade this way.

Call-outs are often louder and more vicious on the internet, amplified by the “clicktivist” culture that provides anonymity for awful behavior. Even incidents that occur in real life, like Barbeque Becky or Permit Patty, can end up as an admonitory meme on social media. Social media offers new ways to be the same old humans by virally exposing what has always been in our hearts, good or bad.

My experiences with call-outs began in the 1970s as a young black feminist activist. I sharply criticized white women for not understanding women of color. I called them out while trying to explain intersectionality and white supremacy. I rarely questioned whether the way I addressed their white privilege was actually counterproductive. They barely understood what it meant to be white women in the system of white supremacy. Was it realistic to expect them to comprehend the experiences of black women?

Fifty years ago, black activists didn’t have the internet, but rather gossip, stubbornness and youthful hubris. We believed we could change the world and that the most powerful people were afraid of us. Efforts like the F.B.I.’s COINTELPRO projects created a lot of discord. Often, the most effective activists were killed or imprisoned, but it nearly always started with discrediting them through a call-out attack.

I, too, have been called out, usually for a prejudice I had against someone, or for using insensitive language that didn’t keep up with rapidly changing conventions. That’s part of everyone’s learning curve but I still felt hurt, embarrassed and defensive. Fortunately, patient elders helped me grow through my discomfort and appreciate that context, intentions and nuances matter. Colleagues helped me understand that I experienced things through my trauma. There was a difference between what I felt was true and what were facts. This ain’t easy and it ain’t over — even as an elder now myself.

But I wonder if contemporary social movements have absorbed the most useful lessons from the past about how to hold each other accountable while doing extremely difficult and risky social justice work. Can we avoid individualizing oppression and not use the movement as our personal therapy space? Thus, even as an incest and hate crime survivor, I have to recognize that not every flirtatious man is a potential rapist, nor every racially challenged white person is a Trump supporter.

We’re a polarized country, divided by white supremacy, patriarchy, racism against immigrants and increasingly vitriolic ways to disrespect one another. Are we evolving or devolving in our ability to handle conflicts? Frankly, I expect people of all political persuasions to call me out — productively and unproductively — for my critique of this culture. It’s not a partisan issue.

The heart of the matter is, there is a much more effective way to build social justice movements. They happen in person, in real life. Of course so many brilliant and effective social justice activists know this already. “People don’t understand that organizing isn’t going online and cussing people out or going to a protest and calling something out,” Patrisse Khan-Cullors, a founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, wrote in “How We Fight White Supremacy,”

For example, when I worked to deprogram incarcerated rapists in the 1970s, I told the story of my own sexual assaults. It opened the floodgates for theirs. They were candid about having raped women, admitted having done it to men or revealed being raped themselves. As part of our work together, they formed Prisoners Against Rape, the country’s first anti-sexual assault program led by men.

I believe #MeToo survivors can more effectively address sexual abuse without resorting to the punishment and exile that mirror the prison industrial complex. Nor should we use social media to rush to judgment in a courtroom composed of clicks. If we do, we run into the paradox Audre Lorde warned us about when she said that “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.”

We can build restorative justice processes to hold the stories of the accusers and the accused, and work together to ascertain harm and achieve justice without seeing anyone as disposable people and violating their human rights or right to due process. And if feminists were able to listen to convicted rapists in the 1970s, we can seek innovative and restorative methods for accused people today. That also applies to people fighting white supremacy.

On a mountaintop in rural Tennessee in 1992, a group of women whose partners were in the Ku Klux Klan asked me to provide anti-racist training to help keep their children out of the group. All day they called me a “well-spoken colored girl” and inappropriately asked that I sing Negro spirituals. I naïvely thought at the time that all white people were way beyond those types of insulting anachronisms.

Instead of reacting, I responded. I couldn’t let my hurt feelings sabotage my agenda. I listened to how they joined the white supremacist movement. I told them how I felt when I was 8 and my best friend called me “nigger,” the first time I had heard that word. The women and I made progress. I did not receive reports about further outbreaks of racist violence from that area for my remaining years monitoring hate groups.

These types of experiences cause me to wonder whether today’s call-out culture unifies or splinters social justice work, because it’s not advancing us, either with allies or opponents. Similarly problematic is the “cancel culture,” where people attempt to expunge anyone with whom they do not perfectly agree, rather than remain focused on those who profit from discrimination and injustice.

Call-outs are justified to challenge provocateurs who deliberately hurt others, or for powerful people beyond our reach. Effectively criticizing such people is an important tactic for achieving justice. But most public shaming is horizontal and done by those who believe they have greater integrity or more sophisticated analyses. They become the self-appointed guardians of political purity.

Call-outs make people fearful of being targeted. People avoid meaningful conversations when hypervigilant perfectionists point out apparent mistakes, feeding the cannibalistic maw of the cancel culture. Shaming people for when they “woke up” presupposes rigid political standards for acceptable discourse and enlists others to pile on. Sometimes it’s just ruthless hazing.

We can change this culture. Calling-in is simply a call-out done with love. Some corrections can be made privately. Others will necessarily be public, but done with respect. It is not tone policing, protecting white fragility or covering up abuse. It helps avoid the weaponization of suffering that prevents constructive healing.

Calling-in engages in debates with words and actions of healing and restoration, and without the self-indulgence of drama. And we can make productive choices about the terms of the debate: Conflicts about coalition-building, supporting candidates or policies are a routine and desirable feature of a pluralistic democracy.

You may never meet a member of the Klan or actively teach incarcerated people, but everyone can sit down with people they don’t agree with to work toward solutions to common problems.

In 2017, as a college professor in Massachusetts, I accidentally misgendered a student of mine during a lecture. I froze in shame, expecting to be blasted. Instead, my student said, “That’s all right; I misgender myself sometimes.” We need more of this kind of grace."
call-outculture  shame  lorettaross  politics  society  grace  healing  attention  socialmedia  online  conversation  michelleobama  georgebernardshaw  clicktivism  activism  race  gender  feminism  cointelpro  history  prejudice  kkk  accountability  oppression  whitesupremacy  patriarchy  dialogue  culture  socialjustice  violence  restorativejustice  transformativejustice  organizing  punishment  disposability  cancelculture  2019  discrimination  injustice  publicshaming  purity  hazing  policing  tonepolicing  whitefragility  democracy  pluralism 
august 2019 by robertogreco
Nick Kapur on Twitter: "Today we speak of "BBC English" as a standard form of the language, but this form had to be invented by a small team in the 1920s & 30s. 1/"
"Today we speak of "BBC English" as a standard form of the language, but this form had to be invented by a small team in the 1920s & 30s. 1/

It turned out even within the upper-class London accent that became the basis for BBC English, many words had competing pronunciations. 2/

Thus in 1926, the BBC's first managing director John Reith established an "Advisory Committee on Spoken English" to sort things out. 3/

The committee was chaired by Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, and also included American essayist Logan Pearsall Smith, 4/

novelist Rose Macaulay, lexicographer (and 4th OED editor) C.T. Onions, art critic Kenneth Clark, journalist Alistair Cooke, 5/

ghost story writer Lady Cynthia Asquith, and evolutionary biologist and eugenicist Julian Huxley. 6/

The 20-person committee held fierce debates, and pronunciations now considered standard were often decided by just a few votes. 7/

Examples included deciding "garage" would rhyme with "carriage" rather than "barrage" and "canine" (the tooth) sounding like cay-nine. 8/

In 1935, there was a crisis over what word BBC radio should use for "users of a television apparatus" (whom we now call "viewers"). 9/

To solve this conundrum, a 10-member "Sub-Committee on Words" was set up, chaired by the American, Logan Pearsall Smith. 10/

The Sub-Committee came up with the following list of possible new words for the users of the television apparatus: 11/ [contains screenshot of text: "auralooker glancer, looker, looker-in, optavuist, optovisor, seer, sighter, teleseer, teleserver, televist, teleobservist, televor, viewer-in, visionnaire, visionist, visor, vizior, vizzior"]

The Sub-Committee ultimately chose none of these, settling on "televiewer," which was shortened by the main committee to just "viewer." 12/

Emboldened by this early "success," the Sub-Committee on Words began to run amuck, inventing new words willy-nilly out of whole cloth. 13/

In particular, Sub-Committee chair Logan Pearsall Smith wanted to beautify English and "purify" it of foreign influences. 14/

He also disliked words with too many syllables and preferred English plurals to foreign plurals (eg. hippopotamuses over hippopotami). 15/

Some of the new coinages were reasonable and have survived. For example, "airplane" replaced "aeroplane" and "roundabout" was invented 16/

to replace the then-common "gyratory circus." Similarly the word "servicemen" was invented to describe members of the armed forces, and 17/

BBC radio was instructed to stop saying "kunstforscher" and instead say "art researcher," which has since become "art historian." 18/

Other ideas were...less successful. E.g. Smith proposed the BBC call televisions "view-boxes," call traffic lights "stop-and-goes," and 19/

call brainwaves "mindfalls." Other members of the Sub-Committee also came up with bizarre new words. 20/

Edward Marsh devised "inflex" to replace "inferiority complex," and Rose Macaulay wanted "yulery" to replace "Christmas festivities." 21/

By June of 1936, things were getting out of hand, and the BBC's Director of Program Planning Lindsay Wellington urged: 22/ [contains screenshot of text: "[H]aving read the minutes of the Sub-Committee's meeting, at which all kinds of suggestions had been made with regard to new words, some sort of restraint should be placed upon the Sub-Committee. It was not the Corporation's policy to initiate proposals of this kind, which were rather the function of some outside body… [S]ome of the suggestions — e.g. 'halcyon' in place of 'anti-cyclone' or 'view-box' for television set — were so ludicrous that irreparable harm to the main Committee's prestige might be done should any of these suggestions be broadcast."]"

Finally in January 1937, Chairman of the Governors R.C. Norman shut down the Sub-Committee on Words for good, arguing that: 23/ [contains screenshot of text: "The Corporation has read with interest the minutes of the Sub-Committee appointed to make recommendations as to the framing of new words. It feels that it must define more closely the extent to which it can accept the advice of the Sub-Committee. Such advice will be sought by the Corporation when new words have to be found for its own purposes — as in the creation of vocabulary of television terms. The Sub-Committee, however, has recommended the introduction to the public of new words for general use (e.g. 'halcyon', 'stop-and-go'). This responsibility is one which the Corporation feels it cannot accept."]
bbc  english  history  language  words  classideas  sfsh  structuredwordinquiry  radio  television  johnreith  standardization  georgebernardshaw  loganpearsallsmith  ctonions  kennethclark  alistaircooke  cynthiaasquith  julianhuxley  pronunciation  tv  edwardmarsh  rosemacaulay  rxnorman  1937  1926  nickkapur  invention 
june 2017 by robertogreco
79 Theses on Technology. For Disputation. | The Infernal Machine
"Alan Jacobs has written seventy-nine theses on technology for disputation. A disputation is an old technology, a formal technique of debate and argument that took shape in medieval universities in Paris, Bologna, and Oxford in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. In its most general form, a disputation consisted of a thesis, a counter-thesis, and a string of arguments, usually buttressed by citations of Aristotle, Augustine, or the Bible.

But disputations were not just formal arguments. They were public performances that trained university students in how to seek and argue for the truth. They made demands on students and masters alike. Truth was hard won; it was to be found in multiple, sometimes conflicting traditions; it required one to give and recognize arguments; and, perhaps above all, it demanded an epistemic humility, an acknowledgment that truth was something sought, not something produced.

It is, then, in this spirit that Jacobs offers, tongue firmly in cheek, his seventy-nine theses on technology and what it means to inhabit a world formed by it. They are pithy, witty, ponderous, and full of life. And over the following weeks, we at the Infernal Machine will take Jacobs’ theses at his provocative best and dispute them. We’ll take three or four at a time and offer our own counter-theses in a spirit of generosity.

So here they are:

1. Everything begins with attention.

2. It is vital to ask, “What must I pay attention to?”

3. It is vital to ask, “What may I pay attention to?”

4. It is vital to ask, “What must I refuse attention to?”

5. To “pay” attention is not a metaphor: Attending to something is an economic exercise, an exchange with uncertain returns.

6. Attention is not an infinitely renewable resource; but it is partially renewable, if well-invested and properly cared for.

7. We should evaluate our investments of attention at least as carefully and critically as our investments of money.

8. Sir Francis Bacon provides a narrow and stringent model for what counts as attentiveness: “Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.”

9. An essential question is, “What form of attention does this phenomenon require? That of reading or seeing? That of writing also? Or silence?”

10. Attentiveness must never be confused with the desire to mark or announce attentiveness. (“Can I learn to suffer/Without saying something ironic or funny/On suffering?”—Prospero, in Auden’s The Sea and the Mirror)

11. “Mindfulness” seems to many a valid response to the perils of incessant connectivity because it confines its recommendation to the cultivation of a mental stance without objects.

12. That is, mindfulness reduces mental health to a single, simple technique that delivers its user from the obligation to ask any awkward questions about what his or her mind is and is not attending to.

13. The only mindfulness worth cultivating will be teleological through and through.

14. Such mindfulness, and all other healthy forms of attention—healthy for oneself and for others—can only happen with the creation of and care for an attentional commons.

15. This will not be easy to do in a culture for which surveillance has become the normative form of care.

16. Simone Weil wrote that ‘Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity’; if so, then surveillance is the opposite of attention.

17. The primary battles on social media today are fought by two mutually surveilling armies: code fetishists and antinomians.

18. The intensity of those battles is increased by a failure by any of the parties to consider the importance of intimacy gradients.

19. “And weeping arises from sorrow, but sorrow also arises from weeping.”—Bertolt Brecht, writing about Twitter

20. We cannot understand the internet without perceiving its true status: The Internet is a failed state.

21. We cannot respond properly to that failed-state condition without realizing and avoiding the perils of seeing like a state.

22. If instead of thinking of the internet in statist terms we apply the logic of subsidiarity, we might be able to imagine the digital equivalent of a Mondragon cooperative.

23. The internet groans in travail as it awaits its José María Arizmendiarrieta."

[continues on]

[A collection of follow-ups and responses is accummulating here:
http://iasc-culture.org/THR/channels/Infernal_Machine/tag/79-theses-on-technology/

For example: “79 Theses on Technology: On Attention”
http://iasc-culture.org/THR/channels/Infernal_Machine/2015/03/79-theses-on-technology-on-attention/

And another round-up of responses:
http://text-patterns.thenewatlantis.com/2015/04/more-on-theses.html ]
alanjacobs  anthropology  culture  digital  history  technology  attention  dunning-krugereffect  anosognosia  pleasure  ethics  writing  howwewrite  jaronlanier  alextabattok  stupidity  logic  loki  cslewis  algorithms  akrasia  physical  patheticfallacy  hacking  hackers  kevinkelly  georgebernardshaw  agency  philosophy  tommccarthy  commenting  frankkermode  text  texts  community  communication  resistance  mindfulness  internet  online  web  josémaríaarizmendiarrieta  simonwiel  society  whauden  silence  attentiveness  textualist  chadwellmon  surveillance  2015 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Russell Davies: Conspiracies against the laity
"George Bernard Shaw said this:

"All professions are conspiracies against the laity."

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

I always think about this when people discuss professionalisation.

This and Adam Smith:

"People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.""
professionalization  experts  2015  cv  confidence  bureaucracy  entrenchment  economics  adamsmith  professionals  domains  artleisure  leisurearts  amateurs  impostors  georgebernardshaw 
march 2015 by robertogreco
The Charisma of Steve Jobs - Meta is Murder - Quora
[Cross-posted here: http://metaismurder.com/post/44155254813/the-charisma-of-leaders ]

"William James identifies the union of "conscience" and "will" in leaders as one of their defining attributes in The Varieties of Religious Experience. To say that their conscience and their will are identical is to say that their values, their morality, their meaning-systems are in harmony with their their daily volition, their constant intentionality.

For most of us, this is not so: there is a frustrating gap between them, such that we're not in accord with our own values, no matter how badly we wish to be; our moral commitments are overwhelmed routinely, and our behavior subverts, distracts, and disappoints us. Perhaps we accept a remunerative job rather than dedicating our lives to what we feel is most important; or we pursue the important, but we get sleepy and head home from the office earlier than we suspect we should; we call in sick when we're perfectly well. We are not as dedicated in friendship as we aspire to be; we grow irritated by what we know is superficial, meaningless; and so on ad nauseum. Because this is one of the defining qualities of human life, examples abound and more are likely unneeded."

"In an age in which religious values are, even by the religious, not considered sufficient for a turn from society —an age of "the cross in the ballpark," as Paul Simon says, of churches that promise "the rich life," of believers who look in disgust at the instantiation of their religions' values— the leader emerges as our most prominent solution to the problem of meaning. She is the embodiment of values and an agent of their transformative influence on the world. She has the energy of purpose, the dedication of the saint but remains within the world, and often improves it."

"The toll leaders take is fearsome, but we admire them for using us up: better to be used, after all, than useless. This is why those who worked for Jobs so often cannot even begin to justify how he reduced so-and-so to tears, how he stole this or that bit of credit, how he crushed a former friend whom in his paranoia he suspected of disloyalty, and they scarcely care. What we admire about saints and leaders is not solely the values they exemplify but the totality with which they exemplify them, a totality alien to all of us whose lives are balanced between poles of conformity and dedication, commitment and restlessness."
georgebernardshaw  stevejobs  millsbaker  2013  paulsimon  vision  values  purpose  williamjames  will  work  conformity  dedication  commitment  restlessness 
january 2013 by robertogreco
SpeEdChange: Pygmalion
"There has always been a tension in the US between expressed ideal of multi-ethnic, multi-cultural society - you know…and the reality on the political ground, which is that "our leadership" would find things "much easier" if we were all "white, protestant, straight, northern Europeans."

Actually not.

They don't want that. If everyone were "the same" the "leadership class" would not know at-a-glance who belonged and who did not. So, what they want is for everyone "else" to waste enormous effort trying to be like them, while they race comfortably ahead…

You know, there's a reason great universities crave diversity in their student bodies (exclude Harvard, Princeton, & Penn from that group because…social class finishing schools): It is because, education, like societies, work best - makes the greatest strides - when there is neither "Common Core Knowledge" nor "Common Culture."…

We don't need E.D. Hirsch, Jr, Bill Gates, and Arne Duncan making Eliza Doolittle's out of us."
commoncore  irasocol  pygmalion  2011  diversity  edhirsch  kipp  colonialism  deschooling  unschooling  schooliness  properness  identity  whiteness  history  literature  universities  colleges  learning  education  instruction  decolonization  billgates  arneduncan  elizadoolittle  georgebernardshaw  class  wealth  power  control  cities  homogeneity  language  speech  fordenglishschool 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Network | better taste than sorry.
"One of my most favorite quotes is by George Bernard Shaw. It displays my motivation why I contribute to the web.

“If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.”

And just imagine what could happen if we all share our ideas with each other…Exchange and sharing are two of the most important aspects within blogs. And there are several people who are constantly giving me inspiration. Basically better taste than sorry would not be the same without these people. And I want to take the chance to feature them right here. (the listening doesn’t follow any rule or special order, just like it came into my mind)"
georgebernardshaw  learning  networks  networkedlearning  design  community  twitter  howwelearn  sharing  ideas  markusreuter  manyminds  inspiration  web  online  attribution  listening  conversation  blogs  blogging  exchange 
april 2011 by robertogreco

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