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

[thread contains many images]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next steps here: I want to write an article about the "usable past" concept for #civictech. So if your brigade is engaged with history I wanna talk to you. @JBStephens1 was it you talking about the rotary club model on slack? @CodeForPhilly didnt you make a history timeline?"
nickkaufmann  urbanism  urban  cities  jenniferlight  children  lcproject  openstudioproject  sfsh  tcsnmy  civics  civictech  technology  history  codeforamerica  smartcities  boston  cleveland  philadelphia  williamgeorge  modelrepublics  simulations  simulation  gregorybateson  play  seriousplay  seriousness  education  johndewey  milaukee  labor  work  colinward  thechildinthecity  housing  governance  policy  activism  participatory  participation  experimentation  experience  experientiallearning  volunteerism  makerspaces  openmaine  maine  learning  howwelearn  ervinggoffman 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Thread by @ecomentario: "p.31 ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A… ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A… p.49 ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A… ecoed.wikispaces.co […]"
[on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ecomentario/status/1007269183317512192 ]

[many of the captures come from: "From A Pedagogy for Liberation to Liberation from Pedagogy" by Gustavo Esteva, Madhu S. Prakash, and Dana L. Stuchul, which is no longer available online as a standalone PDF (thus the UTexas broken link), but is inside the following document, also linked to in the thread.]

[“Rethinking Freire: Globalization and the Environmental Crisis" edited by C.A.Bowers and Frédérique Apffel-Marglin
https://ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A.+Bowers,+Frdrique+Apffel-Marglin,+Frederique+Apffel-Marglin,+Chet+A.+Bowers+Re-Thinking+Freire+Globalization+and+the+Environmental+Crisis+Sociocultural,+Political,+and+Historical+Studies+in+Educatio+2004.pdf ]
isabelrodíguez  paulofreire  ivanillich  wendellberry  subcomandantemarcos  gandhi  2018  gustavoesteva  madhuprakash  danastuchul  deschooling  colonialism  future  environment  sustainability  cabowers  frédériqueapffel-marglin  education  campesinos  bolivia  perú  pedagogyoftheoppressed  globalization  marinaarratia  power  authority  hierarchy  horizontality  socialjustice  justice  economics  society  community  cooperation  collaboration  politics  progress  growth  rural  urban  altruism  oppression  participation  marginality  marginalization  karlmarx  socialism  autonomy  local  slow  small  capitalism  consumerism  life  living  well-being  consumption  production  productivity  gustavoterán  indigeneity  work  labor  knowledge  experience  culture  joannamacy  spirituality  buddhism  entanglement  interdependence  interbeing  interexistence  philosophy  being  individualism  chiefseattle  lutherstandingbear  johngrim  ethics  morethanhuman  multispecies  humans  human  posthumnism  transhumanism  competition  marxism  liberation  simplicity  poverty  civilization  greed  p 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Doug Engelbart, transcontextualist | Gardner Writes
"I’ve been mulling over this next post for far too long, and the results will be brief and rushed (such bad food, and such small portions!). You have been warned.

The three strands, or claims I’m engaging with (EDIT: I’ve tried to make things clearer and more parallel in the list below):

1. The computer is “just a tool.” This part’s in partial response to the comments on my previous post. [http://www.gardnercampbell.net/blog1/?p=2158 ]

2. Doug Engelbart’s “Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework” [http://www.dougengelbart.org/pubs/augment-3906.html ] is “difficult to understand” or “poorly written.” This one’s a perpetual reply. 🙂 It was most recently triggered by an especially perplexing Twitter exchange shared with me by Jon Becker.

3. Engelbart’s ideas regarding the augmentation of human intellect aim for an inhuman and inhumane parsing of thought and imagination, an “efficiency expert” reduction of the richness of human cognition. This one tries to think about some points raised in the VCU New Media Seminar this fall.

These are the strands. The weave will be loose. (Food, textiles, textures, text.)

1. There is no such thing as “just a tool.” McLuhan wisely notes that tools are not inert things to be used by human beings, but extensions of human capabilities that redefine both the tool and the user. A “tooler” results, or perhaps a “tuser” (pronounced “TOO-zer”). I believe those two words are neologisms but I’ll leave the googling as an exercise for the tuser. The way I used to explain this is my new media classes was to ask students to imagine a hammer lying on the ground and a person standing above the hammer. The person picks up the hammer. What results? The usual answers are something like “a person with a hammer in his or her hand.” I don’t hold much with the elicit-a-wrong-answer-then-spring-the-right-one-on-them school of “Socratic” instruction, but in this case it was irresistible and I tried to make a game of it so folks would feel excited, not tricked. “No!” I would cry. “The result is a HammerHand!” This answer was particularly easy to imagine inside Second Life, where metaphors become real within the irreality of a virtual landscape. In fact, I first came up with the game while leading a class in Second Life–but that’s for another time.

So no “just a tool,” since a HammerHand is something quite different from a hammer or a hand, or a hammer in a hand. It’s one of those small but powerful points that can make one see the designed built world, a world full of builders and designers (i.e., human beings), as something much less inert and “external” than it might otherwise appear. It can also make one feel slightly deranged, perhaps usefully so, when one proceeds through the quotidian details (so-called) of a life full of tasks and taskings.

To complicate matters further, the computer is an unusual tool, a meta-tool, a machine that simulates any other machine, a universal machine with properties unlike any other machine. Earlier in the seminar this semester a sentence popped out of my mouth as we talked about one of the essays–“As We May Think”? I can’t remember now: “This is your brain on brain.” What Papert and Turkle refer to as computers’ “holding power” is not just the addictive cat videos (not that there’s anything wrong with that, I imagine), but something weirdly mindlike and reflective about the computer-human symbiosis. One of my goals continues to be to raise that uncanny holding power into a fuller (and freer) (and more metaphorical) (and more practical in the sense of able-to-be-practiced) mode of awareness so that we can be more mindful of the environment’s potential for good and, yes, for ill. (Some days, it seems to me that the “for ill” part is almost as poorly understood as the “for good” part, pace Morozov.)

George Dyson writes, “The stored-program computer, as conceived by Alan Turing and delivered by John von Neumann, broke the distinction between numbers that mean things and numbers that do things. Our universe would never be the same” (Turing’s Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe). This is a very bold statement. I’ve connected it with everything from the myth of Orpheus to synaesthetic environments like the one @rovinglibrarian shared with me in which one can listen to, and visualize, Wikipedia being edited. Thought vectors in concept space, indeed. The closest analogies I can find are with language itself, particularly the phonetic alphabet.

The larger point is now at the ready: in fullest practice and perhaps even for best results, particularly when it comes to deeper learning, it may well be that nothing is just anything. Bateson describes the moment in which “just a” thing becomes far more than “just a” thing as a “double take.” For Bateson, the double take bears a thrilling and uneasy relationship to the double bind, as well as to some kinds of derangement that are not at all beneficial. (This is the double-edged sword of human intellect, a sword that sometimes has ten edges or more–but I digress.) This double take (the kids call it, or used to call it, “wait what?”) indicates a moment of what Bateson calls “transcontextualism,” a paradoxical level-crossing moment (micro to macro, instance to meta, territory to map, or vice-versa) that initiates or indicates (hard to tell) deeper learning.
It seems that both those whose life is enriched by transcontextual gifts and those who are impoverished by transcontextual confusions are alike in one respect: for them there is always or often a “double take.” A falling leaf, the greeting of a friend, or a “primrose by the river’s brim” is not “just that and nothing more.” Exogenous experience may be framed in the contexts of dream, and internal thought may be projected into the contexts of the external world. And so on. For all this, we seek a partial explanation in learning and experience. (“Double Bind, 1969,” in Steps to an Ecology of Mind, U Chicago Press, 2000, p. 272). (EDIT: I had originally typed “eternal world,” but Bateson writes “external.” It’s an interesting typo, though, so I remember it here.)


It does seem to me, very often, that we do our best to purge our learning environments of opportunities for transcontextual gifts to emerge. This is understandable, given how bad and indeed “unproductive” (by certain lights) the transcontextual confusions can be. No one enjoys the feeling of falling, unless there are environments and guides that can make the falling feel like flying–more matter for another conversation, and a difficult art indeed, and one that like all art has no guarantees (pace Madame Tussaud).

2. So now the second strand, regarding Engelbart’s “Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework.” Much of this essay, it seems to me, is about identifying and fostering transcontextualism (transcontextualization?) as a networked activity in which both the individual and the networked community recognize the potential for “bootstrapping” themselves into greater learning through the kind of level-crossing Bateson imagines (Douglas Hofstadter explores these ideas too, particularly in I Am A Strange Loop and, it appears, in a book Tom Woodward is exploring and brought to my attention yesterday, Surfaces and Essences: Analogy as the Fuel and Fire of Thinking. That title alone makes the recursive point very neatly). So when Engelbart switches modes from engineering-style-specification to the story of bricks-on-pens to the dialogue with “Joe,” he seems to me not to be willful or even prohibitively difficult (though some of the ideas are undeniably complex). He seems to me to be experimenting with transcontextualism as an expressive device, an analytical strategy, and a kind of self-directed learning, a true essay: an attempt:

And by “complex situations” we include the professional problems of diplomats, executives, social scientists, life scientists, physical scientists, attorneys, designers–whether the problem situation exists for twenty minutes or twenty years.

A list worthy of Walt Whitman, and one that explicitly (and for me, thrillingly) crosses levels and enacts transcontextualism.

Here’s another list, one in which Engelbart tallies the range of “thought kernels” he wants to track in his formulative thinking (one might also say, his “research”):

The “unit records” here, unlike those in the Memex example, are generally scraps of typed or handwritten text on IBM-card-sized edge-notchable cards. These represent little “kernels” of data, thought, fact, consideration, concepts, ideas, worries, etc. That are relevant to a given problem area in my professional life.

Again, the listing enacts a principle: we map a problem space, a sphere of inquiry, along many dimensions–or we should. Those dimensions cross contexts–or they should. To think about this in terms of language for a moment, Engelbart’s idea seems to be that we should track our “kernels” across the indicative, the imperative, the subjunctive, the interrogative. To put it another way, we should be mindful of, and somehow make available for mindful building, many varieties of cognitive activity, including affect (which can be distinguished but not divided from cognition).

3. I don’t think this activity increases efficiency, if efficiency means “getting more done in less time.” (A “cognitive Taylorism,” as one seminarian put it.) More what is always the question. For me, Engelbart’s transcontextual gifts (and I’ll concede that there are likely transcontextual confusions in there too–it’s the price of trancontextualism, clearly) are such that the emphasis lands squarely on effectiveness, which in his essay means more work with positive potential (understanding there’s some disagreement but not total disagreement about… [more]
dougengelbart  transcontextualism  gardnercampbell  2013  gregorybateson  marshallmcluhan  socraticmethod  education  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  learning  hammerhand  technology  computers  computing  georgedyson  food  textiles  texture  text  understanding  tools  secondlife  seymourpapert  sherryturkle  alanturing  johnvonneumann  doublebind  waltwhitman  memex  taylorism  efficiency  cognition  transcontextualization 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Monstrous, Duplicated, Potent | Issue 28 | n+1
"On first read, I was dazzled and bewildered. Desperate to impress the organizer, who I thought brilliant, I strained over it line by line in hopes of insight. In the end, I mumbled through our meeting. I didn’t understand the Manifesto until I’d read it three more times. In truth, I probably still don’t. But for a young woman struggling to understand the world after Hurricane Katrina and a global financial crisis, Haraway beckoned. She offered a way to make sense of the things that seemed absent from politics as I knew it: science, nature, feminism.

The Manifesto proclaims itself to be against origin stories, but its own is hard to resist. In 1982, the Marxist journal Socialist Review — a bicoastal publication originally titled Socialist Revolution, whose insurrectionary name was moderated in the late 1970s as politics soured — asked Haraway to write five pages on the priorities of socialist feminism in the Reagan era. Haraway responded with thirty. It was the first piece, she claimed, she had ever written on a computer (a Hewlett-Packard-86). The submission caused controversy at the journal, with disagreement breaking down along geographic lines. As Haraway later recalled in an interview, “The East Coast Collective truly disapproved of it politically and did not want it published.” The more catholic West Coast won out, and the Manifesto was published in 1985 as “A Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the 1980s,” though it has been known colloquially as the Cyborg Manifesto ever since.

In one sense, Haraway did what she was asked: she outlined the contemporary state of political economy from a socialist-feminist perspective. Her reading of the shift to post-Fordism was loose but lucid. The rise of communications technologies made it possible to disperse labor globally while still controlling it, she noted, scattering once-unionized factory jobs across the continents. The gender of industrial work was changing too: there were more women assembling computer chips in East Asia than men slapping together cars in the American Midwest. Automation was lighter and brighter: in place of hulking industrial machinery, our “machines are made of sunshine” — but this light, invisible power nevertheless caused “immense human pain in Detroit and Singapore.” Family structures were changing: mothers increasingly worked outside the home and headed up the household. The result was what Haraway, drawing on Richard Gordon, called the homework economy — a pointed term for what’s euphemistically and blandly called the service economy.

The Manifesto offered a new politics for this new economy. Prescient about the need to organize the feminized, if not always female, sectors, Haraway explicitly called leftists to support SEIU District 925, a prominent campaign to unionize office workers. She also criticized the idea of a universal subject, whether held up by Marxists (the proletarian) or radical feminists (the woman). A new politics had to be constructed not around a singular agent but on the basis of a patchwork of identities and affinities. How, then, to find unity across difference, make political subjects in a postmodern era, and build power without presuming consensus? “One is too few, but two are too many,” she wrote cryptically. “One is too few, and two is only one possibility.” Acting as isolated individuals leads nowhere, but the effort to act collectively cannot leave difference aside. Women of color, Haraway suggested, following Chela Sandoval, could not rely on the stability of either category; they might lead the way in forging a new, nonessentialist unity based on affinity rather than identity.

This is where the metaphor of the cyborg comes in. For Haraway, the cyborg is a hybrid figure that crosses boundaries: between human and machine, human and animal, organism and machine, reality and fiction. As a political subject, it is expansive enough to encompass the range of human experience in all its permutations. A hybrid, it is more than one, but less than two.

In place of old political formations, Haraway imagined new cyborgian ones. She hoped that “the unnatural cyborg women making chips in Asia and spiral dancing in Santa Rita Jail” would together “guide effective oppositional strategies.” Her paradigmatic “cyborg society” was the Livermore Action Group, an antinuclear activist group targeting the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a nuclear-weapons-research facility in Northern California. The group, she thought, was “committed to building a political form that actually manages to hold together witches, engineers, elders, perverts, Christians, mothers, and Leninists long enough to disarm the state.”

What set the Manifesto apart from other reconceptions of feminism was its embrace of science. The cyborg was a figure that only a feminist biologist — herself an unlikely figure — could imagine. While by the 1980s many feminists were wary of biological claims about sexual difference, evading charges of essentialism by separating sex from gender (biology might give you a certain body, but society conditioned how you lived in it), Haraway argued that failing to take a position on biology was to “lose too much” — to surrender the notion of the body itself as anything more than a “blank page for social inscriptions.” Distinguishing her attachment to the body from the usual Earth Mother connotations was its famous closing line: “I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess.”

Who wouldn’t? The cyborg’s popularity was no doubt fueled in part by the vision of a bionic babe it suggested — a Furiosa or the Terminator — though it couldn’t be further from her meaning. Asked what she considered a true moment of cyborgness in 1999, Haraway responded, “the sense of the intricacy, interest, and pleasure — as well as the intensity — of how I have imagined how like a leaf I am.” The point was not that she shared some biological commonality with a leaf, or that she felt leaves to be kindred spirits (though she very well might have). What made her giddy was the thought of all the work that had gone into producing the knowledge that she was like a leaf — how incredible it was to be able to know such a thing — and the kinds of relationship to a leaf that such knowledge made possible.

Despite her frequent reminders that it was written as a “mostly sober” intervention into socialist-feminist politics rather than “the ramblings of a blissed-out, techno-bunny fembot,” many still read it as the latter. Wired profiled her enthusiastically in 1997. “To boho twentysomethings,” they wrote, “her name has the kind of cachet usually reserved for techno acts or new phenethylamines.” (More recently, the entrepreneurial synthetic biologist Drew Endy deployed the Manifesto in support of his bid to label synthetic biological products as “natural” under federal guidelines to increase their appeal to cautious consumers.)

Its Reagan-era coordinates may have changed, but the Manifesto remains Haraway’s most widely read work. The cyborg became a celebrity, as did Haraway herself, both serving as signifiers of a queer, savvy, self-aware feminism. Yet she has grown weary of its success, admonishing readers that “cyborgs are critters in a queer litter, not the Chief Figure of Our Times.”

Somewhat counterintuitively, it’s Haraway herself who sometimes seems the Chief Figure. There’s no Harawavian school, though she has many acolytes. She does not belong to any particular school herself, though many have attempted to place her. You can’t really do a Harawavian analysis of the economy or the laboratory; other than the cyborg, she’s produced few portable concepts or frameworks. Her own individual prominence runs counter to her view of intellectual work as collectively produced. Yet for thirty years she’s been ahead of intellectual trends, not by virtue of building foundational frameworks but by inspiring others to spawn and spur entire fields, from feminist science studies to multispecies ethics. Her work tends to emerge from problems she sees in the world rather than from engagement with literatures, thinkers, or trends, yet it manages to transcend mere timeliness.

Her new book, Staying with the Trouble, is a commentary on the most pressing threat of our era: catastrophic climate change. It’s hard to think of someone better suited to the task. Climate change requires ways of thinking capable of confronting the closely bound future of countless humans and nonhumans, the basis for certainty in scientific findings, the political consequences of such knowledge, and the kinds of political action that such consequences call for. If Haraway has long practiced such hybrid thinking, that also means the problem best suited to challenging her thought — to testing its mettle, and its usefulness to our political future — has decisively arrived."



"Under Hutchinson’s supervision, she wrote a dissertation heavily influenced by Thomas Kuhn’s 1962 landmark The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Kuhn had caused an uproar with his argument that rather than steadily progressing toward truth, the production of scientific knowledge was marked by conflict and upheaval. What scientists had once been certain was true would eventually be considered wrong. Each emerging framework was often incommensurable with what had come before. Kuhn called this phenomenon a “paradigm shift.” A classic example was the transition from Newtonian physics to Einsteinian relativity."

[See also: "Cthulhu plays no role for me"
https://www.viewpointmag.com/2017/05/08/cthulhu-plays-no-role-for-me/ ]
donnaharaway  2017  science  scientism  feminism  cyborgs  serviceeconomy  economics  academia  philosophy  1982  1985  california  ucsantacruz  queerness  biology  nancyhartstock  marxism  fredericjameson  hueynewton  angeladavis  historyofconsciousness  teresadelauretis  climatechange  anthropocene  naomiklein  blockadia  rustenhogness  kinstanleyrobinson  cyborgmanifesto  jamesclifford  histcon  alyssabattistoni  blackpantherparty  bobbyseale  jayemiller  historyofscience  radicalism  radicalscience  multispecies  animals  praxis  gregorybateson  systemsthinking  language  storytelling  politics  intersectionality  situatedknowledge  solidarity  perspective  thomaskuhn  epistemology  reality  consciousness  primatology  theory  empiricism  octaviabutler  sciencefiction  scifi  patriarchy  colonialism  racism  ignorance  objectivity  curiosity  technology  biotechnology  technofuturism  companionspecies  dogs  ethics  chthulucene  capitalocene  ursulaleguin  utopia  mundane  kinship  families  unity  friendship  work  labor  hope  sophielewis  blackpanthers 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Metalogue: Why Do Things Get in a Muddle? | Gregory Bateson
"Metalogue: Why Do Things Get in a Muddle? | Gregory Bateson

Daughter: Daddy, why do things get in a muddle?

Father: What do you mean? Things? Muddle?

D: Well, people spend a lot of time tidying things, but they never seem to spend time muddling them. Things just seem to get in a muddle by themselves. And then people have to tidy them up again.

F: But do your things get in a muddle if you don’t touch them?

D: No — not if nobody touches them. But if you touch them — or if anybody touches them — they get in a muddle and it’s a worse muddle if it isn’t me.

F: Yes — that’s why I try to keep you from touching the things on my desk. Because my things get in a worse muddle if they are touched by somebody who isn’t me.

D: But do people always muddle other people’s things? Why do they, Daddy?

F: Now, wait a minute. It’s not so simple. First of all, what do you mean by a muddle?

D: I mean — so I can’t find things, and so it looks all muddled up. The way it is when nothing is straight.

F: Well, but are you sure you mean the same thing by muddle that anybody else would mean?

D: But, Daddy, I’m sure I do — because I’m not a very tidy person and if I say things are in a muddle, then I’m sure everybody else would agree with me.

F: All right — but do you think you mean the same thing by “tidy” that. other people would? If your mummy makes your things tidy, do you know where to find them?

D: Hmm . . . sometimes — because, you see, I know where she puts things when she tidies up.

F: Yes, I try to keep her away from tidying my desk, too. I’m sure that she and I don’t mean the same thing by “tidy.”

D: Daddy, do you and I mean the same thing by “tidy?”

F: I doubt it, my dear — I doubt it.

D: But, Daddy, isn’t that a funny thing — that everybody means the same when they say “muddled” but everybody means something different by “tidy.” But “tidy” is the opposite of “muddled,” isn’t it?

F: Now we begin to get into more difficult questions. Let’s start again from the beginning. You said “Why do things always get in a muddle?” Now we have made a step or two — and let’s change the question to “Why do things get in a state which Cathy calls ‘not tidy?’ “ Do you see why I want to make that change?

D: ... Yes, I think so — because if I have a special meaning for “tidy” then some of other people’s “tidies” will look like muddles to me — even if we do agree about most of what we call muddles.

F: That’s right. Now — let’s look at what you call tidy. When your paint box is put in a tidy place, where is it?

D: Here on the end of this shelf.

F: Okay — now if it were anywhere else?

D: No, that would not be tidy.

F: What about the other end of the shelf, here? Like this?

D: No, that’s not where it belongs, and anyhow it would have to be straight, not all crooked the way you put it.

F: Oh — in the right place and straight.

D: Yes.

F: Well, that means that there are only very few places which are “tidy” for your paint box.

D: Only one place —

F: No — very few places, because if I move it a little bit, like this, it is still tidy.

D: All right — but very, very few places.

F: All right, very, very few places. Now what about the teddy bear and your doll, and the Wizard of Oz and your sweater, and your shoes? It’s the same for all the things, isn’t it, that each thing has only a very, very few places which are “tidy” for that thing?

D: Yes, Daddy — but the Wizard of Oz could be anywhere on that shelf. And Daddy — do you know what? I hate, hate it when my books get all mixed up with your books and Mummy’s books.

F : Yes, I know. (Pause)

D: Daddy, you didn’t finish. Why do my things get the way I say isn’t tidy?

F: But I have finished — it’s just because there are more ways which you call “untidy” than there are ways which you call “tidy.”

D: But that isn’t a reason why.

F: But, yes, it is. And it is the real and only and very important reason.

D: Oh, Daddy! Stop it.

F: No, I’m not fooling. That is the reason, and all of science is hooked up with that reason. Let’s take another example. If I put some sand in the bottom of this cup and put some sugar on the top of it, and now stir it with a teaspoon, the sand and the sugar will get mixed up, won’t they?

D: Yes, but, Daddy, is it fair to shift over to talking about “mixed up” when we started with “muddled up?”

F: Hmm . . . I wonder . .. but I think so — Yes — because let’s say we can find somebody who thinks it is more tidy to have all the sand underneath all the sugar. And if you like I’ll say I want it that way.

D: Hmm...

F: All right — take another example. Sometimes in the movies you will see a lot of letters of the alphabet all scattered over the screen, all higgledy-piggledy and some even upside down. And then something shakes the table so that the letters start to move, and then as the shaking goes on, the letters all come together to spell the title of the film.

D: Yes, I’ve seen that — they spelled DONALD.

F: It doesn’t matter what they spelled. The point is that you saw something being shaken and stirred up and instead of getting more mixed up than before, the letters came together into an order, all right way up, and spelled a word — they made up something which a lot of people would agree is sense.

D: Yes, Daddy, but you know .. .

F: No, I don’t know; what I am trying to say is that in the real world things never happen that way. It’s only in the movies.

D: But, Daddy .. .

F: I tell you it’s only in the movies that you can shake things and they seem to take on more order and sense than they had before .. .

D: But, Daddy .. .

F: Wait till I’ve finished this time . . . And they make it look like that in the movies by doing the whole thing backwards. They put the letters all in order to spell DONALD and then they start the camera and then they start shaking the table.

D: Oh, Daddy — I knew that and I did so want to tell you that — and then when they run the film, they run it backwards so that it looks as though things had happened forwards. But really the shaking happened backwards. And they have to photograph it upside down ... Why do they, Daddy?

F: Oh God.

D: Why do they have to fix the camera upside down, Daddy?

F: No, I won’t answer that question now because we’re in the middle of the question about muddles.

D: Oh — all right, but don’t forget, Daddy, you’ve got to answer that question about the camera another day. Don’t forget! You won’t forget, will you, Daddy? Because I may not remember. Please, Daddy.

F: Okay — but another day. Now, where were we? Yes, about things never happening backwards. And I was trying to tell you why it is a reason for things to happen in a certain way if we can show that that way has more ways of happening than some other way.

D: Daddy — don’t begin talking nonsense.

F: I’m not talking nonsense. Let’s start again. There’s only one way of spelling DONALD. Agreed?

D: Yes.

F: All right. And there are millions and millions and millions of ways of scattering six letters on the table. Agreed?

D: Yes. I suppose so. Can some of these be upside down?

F: Yes — just in the sort of higgledy-piggledy muddle they were in in the film. But there could be millions and millions and millions of muddles like that, couldn’t there? And only one DONALD?

D: All right — yes. But, Daddy, the same letters might spell OLD DAN.

F: Never mind. The movie people don’t want them to spell OLD DAN. They only want DONALD.

D: Why do they?

F: Damn the movie people.

D: But you mentioned them first, Daddy.

F: Yes — but that was to try to tell you why things happen that way in which there are most ways of their happening. And now it’s your bedtime.

D: But, Daddy, you never did finish telling me why things happen that way — the way that has most ways.

F: All right. But don’t start any more hares running — one is quite enough. Anyhow, I am tired of DONALD, let’s take another example. Let’s take tossing pennies.

D: Daddy? Are you still talking about the same question we started with? “Why do things get in a muddle?”

F: Yes.

D: Then, Daddy, is what you are trying to say true about pennies, and about DONALD, and about sugar and sand, and about my paint box, and about pennies?

F: Yes — that’s right.

D: Oh — I was just wondering, that’s all.

F: Now, let’s see if I can get it said this time. Let’s go back to the sand and the sugar, and let’s suppose that somebody says that having the sand at the bottom is “tidy” or “orderly.”

D: Daddy, does somebody have to say something like that before you can go on to talk about how things are going to get mixed up when you stir them?

F: Yes — that’s just the point. They say what they hope will happen and then I tell them it won’t happen because there are so many other things that might happen. And I know that it is more likely that one of the many things will happen and not one of the few.

D: Daddy, you’re just an old bookmaker, backing all the other horses against the one horse that I want to bet on.

F: That’s right, my dear. I get them to bet on what they call the “tidy” way — I know that there are infinitely many muddled ways — so things will always go toward muddle and mixedness.

D: But why didn’t you say that at the beginning, Daddy? I could have understood that all right.

F: Yes, I suppose so. Anyhow, it’s now bedtime.

D: Daddy, why do grownups have wars, instead of just fighting the way children do?

F: No — bedtime. Be off with you. We’ll talk about wars another time."

Written in 1948, published in Steps to an Ecology of Mind (1972… [more]
gregorybateson  thinking  1948  messiness  order  tidiness  orderliness  tidying  organization  understanding  taxonomy  language 
december 2015 by robertogreco
SF: Science Fiction, Speculative Fabulation, String Figures, So Far - Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology
"The British social anthropologist Marilyn Strathern, who wrote The Gender of the Gift based on her ethnographic work in highland Papua New Guinea (Mt. Hagen), taught me that “It matters what ideas we use to think other ideas (with)” (Reproducing the Future 10). Marilyn embodies for me the practice of feminist speculative fabulation in the scholarly mode. It matters what matters we use to think other matters with; it matters what stories we tell to tell other stories with; it matters what knots knot knots, what thoughts think thoughts, what ties tie ties. It matters what stories make worlds, what worlds make stories. Marilyn wrote about accepting the risk of relentless contingency; she thinks about anthropology as the knowledge practice that studies relations with relations, that puts relations at risk with other relations, from unexpected other worlds. In 1933 Alfred North Whitehead, the American mathematician and process philosopher who infuses my sense of worlding, wrote The Adventures of Ideas. SF is precisely full of such adventures. Isabelle Stengers, a chemist, scholar of Whitehead, and a seriously quirky Belgian feminist philosopher, gives me “speculative thinking” in spades. Isabelle insists we cannot denounce the world in the name of an ideal world. In the spirit of feminist communitarian anarchism and the idiom of Whitehead’s philosophy, she maintains that decisions must take place somehow in the presence of those who will bear their consequences.[2] In this same virtual sibling set, Marleen Barr morphed Heinlein’s speculative fiction into feminist fabulation for me. In relay and return, SF morphs in my writing and research into speculative fabulation and string figures. Relays, cat’s cradle, passing patterns back and forth, giving and receiving, patterning, holding the unasked-for pattern in one’s hands, response-ability, Octavia Butler’s Patternmaster series. My debts mount. Again and again, SF has given me the ideas, the stories, and the shapes with which I think ideas, shapes, and stories in feminist theory and science studies. There is no way I can name all of my debts to SF’s critters and worlds, human and not, and so I will record only a few and hope for a credit extension for years yet to come. I will enter these debts in a short ledger of my teaching and publishing. I start with Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time, a typescript of my curriculum vitae that was part of a file for consideration for promotion in the History of Science Department at Johns Hopkins in 1979-80, and a bottle of chalky white out. I had written an essay review of Woman on the Edge of Time for the activist publication, Women, a Journal of Liberation and duly recorded this little publication on the CV. “The past is the contested zone”—the past that is our thick, not-yet-fixed, present, wherewhen what is yet-to-come is now at stake—is the meme that drew me into Piercy’s story, and I was proud of the review. A senior colleague in History of Science, a supporter of my promotion, came to me with a too-friendly smile and that betraying bottle of white-out, asking me to blot out this publication from the scholarly record, “for my own good.”[3] He also wanted me to expunge “Signs of Dominance,” a long, research-dense essay about the semiotics and sociograms developed in mid-20th-century primate field studies of monkeys and apes.[4] To my shame to this day, I obeyed; to my relief to this day, no one was fooled. Piercy’s temporalities and my growing sense of the SF-structure of primate field work made me write two essays for the brave, new, hyper-footnoted, University of Chicago feminist theory publication, Signs, and to title the essays in recognition of Piercy’s priority and patterned relay to me.[5] I could not forget—or disavow—Piercy’s research for Woman on the Edge of Time, which led her to psychiatrist José Delgado’s Rockland State Hospital experiments with remote-controlled telemetric implants, and my finding in my own archival research Delgado’s National Institutes of Mental Health-funded work applied to gibbon studies in the ape colony on Hall’s Island. The colonial and imperial roots & routes of SF are relentlessly real and inescapably fabulated. Later, living (non-optionally, in really real SF histories) with and as cyborgs, Piercy and I played cat’s cradle again, this time with my “Cyborg Manifesto” and then her He, She, and It. Cyborgs were never just about the interdigitations of humans and information machines; cyborgs were from the get-go the materialization of imploded (not hybridized) human beings-information machines-multispecies organisms. Cyborgs were always simultaneously relentlessly real and inescapably fabulated. Like all good SF, they redid what counts as—what is—real. The obligatory multispecies story-telling script was written in 1960 United States space research, when Manfred Clynes and Nathan Kline coined the word “cyborg” in an article about their implanted rats and the advantages of self-regulating human-machine systems in outer space."
speculativefiction  scifi  sciencefiction  donnaharaway  toread  speculativefabrication  isabellestrengers  alfrednorthwhitehead  knowledge  ideas  philosophy  anarchism  marilynstrathern  octaviabutler  manfredclynes  nathankline  cyborgs  joannaruss  samueldelany  evahayward  katieking  gregorybateson  historyofconsciousness  hiscon  herscam  jamestiptree  suzettehadenelgin  linguists  linguistics  johnvarley  fredjameson  suzymckeecharnass  ursulaleguin  worlding  cat'scradle  anthropology  ethnography  gwynethjones  heidegger  kant  multispecies  sheritepper  laurenoyaolamina  helenmerrick  margaretgrebowicz  dogs  animals  marleenbarr  marilynhacker  sarahlefanu  pamelasargent  viviansobchack  margaretatwood  vondamcintyre  ericrabkin  laurachernaik  sherrylvint  joshualebare  istvancsicsery-ronay  shulamithfirestone  judithmerril  franbartkowsky  2013 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Learning how to learn
"Bateson himself uses the analogy of movement:

• Learning 0 is direct experience: I put my hand in the fire – it gets burned

Learning 0 is like the position of an object

• Learning I is what we routinely refer to as "learning": generalisation from basic experiences. I have experienced "hand in fire" and "being burned", and I won't do it again. This is straightforward and compatible even with behavioural views, as well as the cycle of experiential learning.

Learning I is its speed when it moves

• Learning II (which he sometimes called "Deutero-Learning") contextualises Learning I experiences. It is about developing strategies for maximising Learning I through the extraction of implicit rules, and also putting specific bits of Learning I in context: I don't generally risk getting burned, but I might do so to save someone else from a fire.

Learning II is acceleration (or deceleration)—a change in speed

• Learning III contextualises Learning II, and is not understood, but it may be the existential (or spiritual) level: What does it say about me that I would risk getting burned in order to ...?

Learning III is a change in the rate of acceleration — a change in the change of the change of position... The higher the level, the less we understand about the process, and although such higher level learning undoubtedly takes place, the more difficult it is deliberately to manage it.

Note that levels of learning are different from levels of understanding, as exemplified in Bloom's taxonomy of educational objectives, and also to be distinguished from the similar terminology of Gagné.

This account does not do justice to Bateson's very complex thinking, which starts from posing the question why people get better with practice at doing fairly meaningless tasks such as remembering nonsense syllables.
The interesting question for academic practice is the qualitative shift required to move from Learning 1 to Learning II, which some people find more difficult than others, perhaps in specific subject areas. How do we help them to achieve it? This may be the biggest remaining problem in in pedagogic/andragogic practice.

Some clues are contained in

• reflection, in
• problem-based learning and action learning,
• situated learning,
• and even in intelligence,

but we still don't have reliable answers.

Rant

This is more properly located on my personal site, but I can't contain myself. In the UK, we have this misbegotten, patronising, arrogant, (insert whatever other insulting adjectives you favour) idea of "teaching" "key skills" at college level.

"Key skills"—derived from the generic skills employers say that they want—include "Communication" and "Application of Number" [the comparative of "numb"—sorry, but I am ranting] (what are the schools supposed to have been teaching for eleven years before students reach further education?) and "teamworking" and "improving own learning" etc.

Note that I refer above to "the generic skills employers say that they want"; there is some evidence, which I can't presently be bothered to look up, which suggests that there is a mismatch between what employers actually go for when appointing their staff, and what they say they go for when asked by trade and official bodies.
What is more, it is routine for universities to require the specification of key skills outcomes on the templates even for post-graduate courses. How patronising and infantilising can you get? Fortunately, most academics treat such requirements with the contempt they deserve.

It has been my misfortune for several years to have to observe some very gifted student teachers wrestling with the thankless task of getting learners to provide evidence of "key skills" competence. They have stopped an animated discussion in class, for example, to get students to "discuss"—in a very desultory fashion—some topic in which they have no interest whatever, in order to be able to tick a box on a competence check-list. It is even more stupid than the idea of "Liberal Studies", which is where I started my teaching career: at least that was "high-minded" in its conception.

What the education control-freaks fail to realise is that some things are only learned by experience and practice. You can't short-circuit the process by teaching them.

Rant over! The relevance of this to the present topic is that the "soft" key skills project confuses Learning I and Learning II: you cannot address the key skills (which are Learning II) by simply adding on more Learning I competences: this is precisely the "category error" against which Bateson inveighs But the key skills advocates (and here I risk alienating my closest colleague and friend) seem to believe that all skills are at the same level. "Application of Number", and IT skills may be Learning I, but the "wider" key skills ("Working with Others", "Problem Solving", "Improving Own Learning and Performance") and even the central key skill of "Communication"—which includes the "discussion" requirement—are clearly Learning II, and although we know they can be learned, we do not know how to teach them in any meaningful way."
gregorybateson  learning  howwlearn  jamesatherton  2013  problemsolving  actionlearning  situatedlearning  reflection  intelligence  context  transcontextualism  bloomstaxonomy  education  experientiallearning  behavior  transcontextualization 
september 2015 by robertogreco
the blind man's stick - Text Patterns - The New Atlantis
"How Things Shape the Mind: A Theory of Material Engagement, by Lambros Malafouris, is a maddening but also fascinating book that is seriously helping me to think through some of the issues that concern me. Malafouris wants to argue that the human mind is “embodied, extended, enacted, and distributed” — extensive rather than intensive in its fundamental character.

He starts his exploration wonderfully: by considering a thought-experiment that Maurice Merleau-Ponty first posited in his Phenomenology of Perception. Merleau-Ponty asks us to imagine a blind man navigating a city street with a cane. What is the relationship between that cane and the man’s perceptual apparatus? Or, as Gregory Bateson put it in Steps to an Ecology of Mind,
Consider a blind man with a stick. Where does the blind man's self begin? At the tip of the stick? At the handle of the stick? Or at some point halfway up the stick? These questions are nonsense, because the stick is a pathway along which differences are transmitted under transformation, so that to draw a delimiting line across this pathway is to cut off a part of the systemic circuit which determines the blind man's locomotion.

(Bateson does not mention and probably was not aware of Merleau-Ponty.) For Malafouris the example of the blind man’s cane suggests that “what is outside the head may not necessarily be outside the mind.... I see no compelling reason why the study of the mind should stop at the skin or at the skull. It would, I suggest, be more productive to explore the hypothesis that human intelligence ‘spreads out’ beyond the skin into culture and the material world.” Moreover, things in the material world embody intentions and purposes — Malafouris thinks they actually have intentions and purposes, a view I think is misleading and sloppy — and these come to be part of the mind: they don't just influence it, they help constitute it.
I believe this example provides one of the best diachronic exemplars of what I call the gray zone of material engagement, i.e., the zone in which brains, bodies, and things conflate, mutually catalyzing and constituting one another. Mind, as the anthropologist Gregory Bateson pointed out, “is not limited by the skin,” and that is why Bateson was able to recognize the stick as a “pathway” instead of a boundary. Differentiating between “inside” and “outside” makes no real sense for the blind man. As Bateson notes, “the mental characteristics of the system are immanent, not in some part, but in the system as a whole.”

If we were to take this model seriously, then we would need to narrate the rise of modernity differently than we’ve been narrating it — proceeding in a wholly different manner than the three major stories I mentioned in my previous post. Among other things, we’d need to be ready to see the Oppenheimer Principle as having a far stronger motive role in history than is typical.

When I talk this way, some people tell me that they think I'm falling into technological determinism. Not so. Rather, it's a matter of taking with proper seriousness the power that some technologies have to shape culture. And that's not because they think or want, nor because we are their slaves. Rather, people make them for certain purposes, and either those makers themselves have socio-political power or the technologies fall into the hands of people who have socio-political power, so that the technologies are put to work in society. We then have the option to accept the defaults or undertake the difficult challenge of hacking the inherited tools — bending them in a direction unanticipated and unwanted by those who deployed them.

To write the technological history of modernity is to investigate how our predecessors have received the technologies handed to them, or used upon them, by the powerful; and also, perhaps, to investigate how countercultural tech has risen up from below to break up the one-way flow of power. These are things worth knowing for anyone who is uncomfortable with the dominant paradigm we live under now."
alanjacobs  2015  technology  modernity  blind  blindness  lambrosmalafouris  mauricemerleau-ponty  gregorybateson  oppenheimerprinciple  culture  assistivetechnology  disability  mind  materiality  bodies  body  disabilities 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Anthropology is so important, all children should learn it - The Ecologist
"Anthropology, the study of humankind, should be the first of all the sciences our children encounter, writes Marc Brightman, with its singular capacity to inspire the imagination, broaden the mind and open the heart. Moves to downgrade it in the education system by those who know the price of everything, and the value of nothing, must be fought off.

Anthropology has been in the news because its A-level, only introduced in 2010, is under threat.

This discipline has never been more important at a time of troubling intolerance in society, but it does far more than merely help understand ethnic diversity.

Anthropology includes biological, linguistic and medical fields as well as social and cultural ones, and is as much about human ecology as it is about the 'ecology of mind', to recall the title of Gregory Bateson's classic work. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steps_to_an_Ecology_of_Mind ]

I can remember when I was choosing what to study at University. I loved languages, literature, history and art, and I yearned to travel. But I had never heard of anthropology.

It was only later, as a student of English literature, that I read Lévi-Strauss's Tristes Tropiques and was spellbound by the story he told of his experience of the degradation of the environment by colonialism, and of the mental worlds of the Bororo and Nambikwara people, which were so close to having been obliterated.

Many of my students tell me similar stories of how they discovered anthropology by accident, and when I tell them about the anthropology A-level they say they wish they could have taken it at their school.

Anthropology is a key to ecology as well as culture

Lévi-Strauss's melancholy tone, expressed in the title of his book, comes from witnessing the erosion of both cultural and biological diversity. Rooted in older disciplines closer to the natural sciences, such as geography and biology, as well as in humanities and social sciences, anthropology is about human ecology, different ways of being in the physical world, and about sustainability - not just culture and identity.

It is good that the press has recently covered the well justified protests against the axing of the anthropology A-level before it has even been given a chance to take root (most schools still do not have the capacity to offer it). But the reports emphasise only the value of anthropology for understanding cultural difference.

Yes, it is true that anthropology can help us to understand and relate to different cultures, different ways of being in the world. It can certainly offer ways to educate people to become more tolerant of diversity. But anthropology is much more than this.

In the face of a global ecological crisis which most of the press fails to take seriously, the discipline also has much to offer. Anthropologists are well known for documenting traditional livelihoods, which are often sustainable adaptations to environments which would be difficult to live in without rich bodies of traditional knowledge and practice to draw upon.

As The Ecologist frequently reports, many indigenous peoples have a wealth of traditional knowledge, which is embedded in complex sets of practices that are compatible with, and indeed founded upon, long term ecological relations.

Anthropologists have been at the forefront of efforts to understand these practices and to bring them to the attention of the wider world. We show how people manipulate their environments to make them more productive, rather than depleting the resources that they find - examples of anthropogenic forest islands or dark earths are cases in point.

The myth of 'wilderness'

Land that is not intensively farmed is often all too easily labelled as 'wilderness', and incorporated into the economist's category of 'natural capital', inviting the naïve conclusion that by subjecting it to the laws of supply and demand it will find its true value.

But the value of land, as my work on REDD+ has shown, alongside many other anthropological studies, cannot be simply reduced to exchange value on the market, and attempts to do so can be severely harmful to people and to the environment.

My colleague at UCL, Jerome Lewis, has shown how the sharing economy of Mbendjele hunter gatherers in Congo-Brazzaville, and their intimate relationship with the forest, are invisible to neighbouring farmers, logging companies and conservation organisations, often leading to dispossession and abuse, as others have shown in this magazine.

In my own work, in collaboration with Brazilian scholars, I have shown how ownership plays a fundamental role in structuring social relations among native Amazonian peoples.

When states and extractive industrial actors make claims to land on the basis that it is not used - that it is terra nullius - they often do so in profound ignorance of both indigenous practices and indigenous property regimes. Anthropologists are often well placed to mediate in such cases.

Is the real problem that it's seen as 'subversive'?

The noises made by the Education Secretary about academic 'rigour' ring false as an excuse for axing anthropology, a discipline which at its best combines scientific precision with the critical awareness of the humanities.

Anthropologists also provide robust, evidence based critiques of the assumptions of policy makers and technocrats who offer tempting 'win-win' solutions to problems of sustainable development. Far too many well-meaning development projects do not take detailed account of situations on the ground, and fail in their objectives, with unintended and sometimes destructive consequences, both for the environment and for native inhabitants.

Perhaps for this reason anthropology is perceived as too subversive - it does indeed foster critical thinking that can be uncomfortable for those in power, especially in the hands of incisive and influential critics of the establishment such as David Graeber.

Successive governments have made claims to basing their policies on scientific knowledge. But the fact is that they usually only do so when it suits them, and scientific arguments are taken piecemeal to justify preconceived policy objectives.

The idea of natural capital has been enthusiastically taken up by policymakers from economists such as Partha Dasgupta, because it can be used to bolster a bold new rhetoric about launching a 'green economy', while in reality making few fundamental changes to business as usual.

The natural capital paradigm is not necessarily something to be rejected wholesale, but it must be recognised for what it is: a universalising discourse which has very particular historical origins in Western capitalism.

'Nature' is not an object, and is not separate from culture, for many peoples of the world. Indeed many of the 'natural' landscapes that conservation organisations try to preserve are the product of efforts over the centuries of indigenous peoples - the very peoples who are all too often evicted to make way for hunting lodges, plantations or 'carbon sinks' that only benefit the wealthy.

We should all study anthropology - beginning at primary school!

There is an increasing consensus among those involved in addressing the global ecological crisis that the natural sciences and economics cannot succeed without input from the arts, humanities and social sciences, as a recent conference at UCL resoundingly showed.

Anthropologists routinely deal with local and global phenomena, working at the interface of the arts and the sciences. We have something very important to contribute, and sometimes we are given this opportunity.

The director of the UCL Institute for Global Prosperity is an anthropologist (Henrietta Moore); an anthropologist, Steven Rayner, has served on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Royal Society's Working Group on Climate Geoengineering; and an anthropologist, Manuela Carneiro da Cunha, serves on the Intergovernmental Panel for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.

So anthropological knowledge is in demand, and not merely in the field of cultural identity. To limit the argument about the value of the anthropology A-level to identity politics does a disservice to the discipline.

Anthropology provides students at any level with the critical awareness need for key issues of our times, which are not just religion and ethnicity, but also global sustainability, biocultural diversity and environmental governance. It also gives an excellent preparation for the study of other, more established disciplines such as history, English literature or geography.

More anthropologists are needed in public life, and then the discipline will really influence society and the environment - and very much for the better.

Far from axing the anthropology A-level, the government should support its expansion into the school system at all levels. When I arranged for Nixiwaka Yawanawá of Survival to speak to my son's primary school in Oxford, he gave a basic anthropology lesson to a packed assembly of children aged from four years old upwards, and created a real sensation.

Parents and teachers, as well as children themselves, came to me for weeks afterwards to comment on what a powerful and inspiring experience it had been.

Opening children's eyes, from the earliest ages, to the wonders of cultural diversity, and the different ways of living sustainably in the world, ought surely to be a core aim of our education system."
anthropology  education  gregorybateson  claudelevi-strauss  2015  marcbrightman  children  learning  curriculum  via:anne  k12  tcsnmy  lcproject  openstudioproject  howwelearn  culture  religion  ethnicity  sustainability  diversity  environment  identity  henriettamoore  anthropologists  davidgraeber  parthadasgupta  jeromelewis  wildreness  ecology  anthropocene  howweteach  global  cv 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Squishy Not Slick - squishy not slick, the edtech futurist version / #thoughtvectors not call centers
"lots of rumblings lately, lots of connections

[most of this will just serve as placeholders until I have more time to fill in the missing pieces]

Is the future of educational technology going to look like a call center? (https://twitter.com/tressiemcphd/status/467867731254333441 )

Rob led me to Gardner Campbell’s talk (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kIzA4ItynYw ) [who I just realized is a colleague of some of my favorite people on the internet, @jonbecker and @twoodwar who are working on the #thoughtvectors thing at VCU], in which he explains the point of all this as ”networked transcontextualism,” which is the way to escape “the double bind,” a term from Gregory Bateson. (https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&q=gregory+bateson&btnG=&as_sdt=1%2C38&as_sdtp= )

In the same vein, Audrey Watters says all the right things (https://storify.com/rogre/more-audrey-watters-in-your-stream-please ) [and thanks to Rob for storifying it]

Seymour Papert (https://scholar.google.com/scholar?as_vis=1&q=seymour+papert&hl=en&as_sdt=1,38 ) keeps coming up [Campbell and Watters mention him]

Campbell’s “networked transcontextualism” especially reminded me of what Richard Elmore had to say about all this (http://www.c-span.org/video/?c4088865/richard-elmore-futures-school-reform ), that we’re moving from “nested hierarchy” to “networked relationships.”

Then Dan Meyer joined in, saying it with a Neil Diamond analogy. (http://blog.mrmeyer.com/2014/adaptive-learning-is-an-infinite-ipod-that-only-plays-neil-diamond/ )

This is all happens while I’m trying to make Sugata Mitra’s SOLE idea (http://www.ted.com/participate/ted-prize/prize-winning-wishes/school-in-the-cloud ), or something similar, happen in more traditional classrooms, an attempt at finding an alternate path, an escape from the call center version of our edtech future."
lukeneff  audreywatters  2014  gardnercampbell  jonbecker  tomwoodward  gregorybateson  danmeyer  seymourpapert  sugatamitra  sole  transcontextualism  edtech  education  learning  teaching  connections  networks  doublebind  richardelmore  transcontextualization 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Open Ed 12 - Gardner Campbell Keynote - Ecologies of Yearning - YouTube
[See also: https://storify.com/audreywatters/ecologies-of-yearning-and-the-future-of-open-educa ]

[See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steps_to_an_Ecology_of_Mind and
PDF http://www.edtechpost.ca/readings/Gregory%20Bateson%20-%20Ecology%20of%20Mind.pdf ]

[References these videos by a student: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmFL4Khu2yJoR0Oq5dcY5pw ]

[via: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:e91b15f323b8

"In his keynote at the 2012 OpenEd conference, Gardner Campbell, an Associate Professor of English at Virginia Tech, talked about the “Ecologies of Yearning.” (Seriously: watch the video.) Campbell offered a powerful and poetic vision about the future of open learning, but noted too that there are competing visions for that future, particularly from the business and technology sectors. There are competing definitions of “open” as well, and pointing to the way in which “open” is used (and arguably misused) by education technology companies, Campbell’s keynote had a refrain, borrowed from “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”: “That is not it at all. That is not what I meant, at all.”"]

"30:29 Bateson's Hierarchy of learning

30:52 Zero Learning:"receipt of signal". No error possible

31:37 Learning I: "change in specificity of response by correction of errors of choice within a set of alternatives". Palov, etc. Habituation, adaptation.

32:16 Learning II: Learning-to-learn, context recognition, "corrective change in the set of alternatives from which choice is made, or.. in how the sequence of experience is punctuated". Premises are self-validating.

34:23 Learning III: Meta-contextual perspective, imagining and shifting contexts of understanding. "a corrective change in the system of sets of alternatives from which choice is made" Puts self at risk. Questions become explosive.

36:22 Learning IV: change to level III, "probably does not occur in any adult living organisms on this earth"

38:59 "Double bind"

44:49 Habits of being that might be counter-intuitive

51:49 Participant observers constructed Wordles of students' blogs"

[Comment from Céline Keller:

"This is my favorite talk online: Open Ed 12 - Gardner Campbell Keynote - Ecologies of Yearning +Gardner Campbell

This is what I wrote about it 7 month ago:

"Academia is to knowledge what prostitution is to love; close enough on the surface but, to the nonsucker, not exactly the same thing." Nassim Nicholas Taleb

If you care about education and learning don't miss listening to Gardner Campbell!

As described on the #edcmooc resource page:

"(This lecture)...serves as a warning that what we really want - our utopia - is not necessarily to be found in the structures we are putting in place (or finding ourselves within)."
Love it."

I still mean it. This is great, listen."]

[More here: http://krustelkrammoocs.blogspot.com/2013/02/gardner-campbell-sense-of-wonder-how-to.html ]
2012  gardnercampbell  nassimtaleb  academia  web  participatory  learning  howwelearn  hierarchyoflearning  love  habituation  adaption  open  openeducation  coursera  gregorybateson  udacity  sebastianthrun  mooc  moocs  georgesiemens  stephendownes  davecormier  carolyeager  aleccouros  jimgroom  audreywatters  edupunk  jalfredprufrock  missingthepoint  highered  edx  highereducation  tseliot  rubrics  control  assessment  quantification  canon  administration  hierarchy  hierarchies  pedagogy  philosophy  doublebind  paranoia  hepephrenia  catatonia  mentalhealth  schizophrenia  life  grades  grading  seymourpapert  ecologiesofyearning  systems  systemsthinking  suppression  context  education  conditioning  pavlov  gamification  freedom  liberation  alankay  human  humans  humanism  agency  moreofthesame  metacontexts  unfinished  ongoing  lifelonglearning  cognition  communication  networkedtranscontextualism  transcontextualism  transcontextualsyndromes  apgartest  virginiaapgar  howweteach  scottmccloud  michaelchorost  georgedyson  opening  openness  orpheus  experience  consciousness  pur 
may 2014 by robertogreco

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