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The Minecraft Generation - The New York Times
"Seth Frey, a postdoctoral fellow in computational social science at Dartmouth College, has studied the behavior of thousands of youths on Minecraft servers, and he argues that their interactions are, essentially, teaching civic literacy. “You’ve got these kids, and they’re creating these worlds, and they think they’re just playing a game, but they have to solve some of the hardest problems facing humanity,” Frey says. “They have to solve the tragedy of the commons.” What’s more, they’re often anonymous teenagers who, studies suggest, are almost 90 percent male (online play attracts far fewer girls and women than single-­player mode). That makes them “what I like to think of as possibly the worst human beings around,” Frey adds, only half-­jokingly. “So this shouldn’t work. And the fact that this works is astonishing.”

Frey is an admirer of Elinor Ostrom, the Nobel Prize-­winning political economist who analyzed the often-­unexpected ways that everyday people govern themselves and manage resources. He sees a reflection of her work in Minecraft: Running a server becomes a crash course in how to compromise, balance one another’s demands and resolve conflict.

Three years ago, the public library in Darien, Conn., decided to host its own Minecraft server. To play, kids must acquire a library card. More than 900 kids have signed up, according to John Blyberg, the library’s assistant director for innovation and user experience. “The kids are really a community,” he told me. To prevent conflict, the library installed plug-ins that give players a chunk of land in the game that only they can access, unless they explicitly allow someone else to do so. Even so, conflict arises. “I’ll get a call saying, ‘This is Dasher80, and someone has come in and destroyed my house,’ ” Blyberg says. Sometimes library administrators will step in to adjudicate the dispute. But this is increasingly rare, Blyberg says. “Generally, the self-­governing takes over. I’ll log in, and there’ll be 10 or 15 messages, and it’ll start with, ‘So-and-so stole this,’ and each message is more of this,” he says. “And at the end, it’ll be: ‘It’s O.K., we worked it out! Disregard this message!’ ”

Several parents and academics I interviewed think Minecraft servers offer children a crucial “third place” to mature, where they can gather together outside the scrutiny and authority at home and school. Kids have been using social networks like Instagram or Snapchat as a digital third place for some time, but Minecraft imposes different social demands, because kids have to figure out how to respect one another’s virtual space and how to collaborate on real projects.

“We’re increasingly constraining youth’s ability to move through the world around them,” says Barry Joseph, the associate director for digital learning at the American Museum of Natural History. Joseph is in his 40s. When he was young, he and his friends roamed the neighborhood unattended, where they learned to manage themselves socially. Today’s fearful parents often restrict their children’s wanderings, Joseph notes (himself included, he adds). Minecraft serves as a new free-­ranging realm.

Joseph’s son, Akiva, is 9, and before and after school he and his school friend Eliana will meet on a Minecraft server to talk and play. His son, Joseph says, is “at home but still getting to be with a friend using technology, going to a place where they get to use pickaxes and they get to use shovels and they get to do that kind of building. I wonder how much Minecraft is meeting that need — that need that all children have.” In some respects, Minecraft can be as much social network as game.

Just as Minecraft propels kids to master Photoshop or video-­editing, server life often requires kids to acquire complex technical skills. One 13-year-old girl I interviewed, Lea, was a regular on a server called Total Freedom but became annoyed that its administrators weren’t clamping down on griefing. So she asked if she could become an administrator, and the owners said yes.

For a few months, Lea worked as a kind of cop on that beat. A software tool called “command spy” let her observe records of what players had done in the game; she teleported miscreants to a sort of virtual “time out” zone. She was eventually promoted to the next rank — “telnet admin,” which allowed her to log directly into the server via telnet, a command-­line tool often used by professionals to manage servers. Being deeply involved in the social world of Minecraft turned Lea into something rather like a professional systems administrator. “I’m supposed to take charge of anybody who’s breaking the rules,” she told me at the time.

Not everyone has found the online world of Minecraft so hospitable. One afternoon while visiting the offices of Mouse, a nonprofit organization in Manhattan that runs high-tech programs for kids, I spoke with Tori. She’s a quiet, dry-­witted 17-year-old who has been playing Minecraft for two years, mostly in single-­player mode; a recent castle-­building competition with her younger sister prompted some bickering after Tori won. But when she decided to try an online server one day, other players — after discovering she was a girl — spelled out “BITCH” in blocks.

She hasn’t gone back. A group of friends sitting with her in the Mouse offices, all boys, shook their heads in sympathy; they’ve seen this behavior “everywhere,” one said. I have been unable to find solid statistics on how frequently harassment happens in Minecraft. In the broader world of online games, though, there is more evidence: An academic study of online players of Halo, a shoot-’em-up game, found that women were harassed twice as often as men, and in an unscientific poll of 874 self-­described online gamers, 63 percent of women reported “sex-­based taunting, harassment or threats.” Parents are sometimes more fretful than the players; a few told me they didn’t let their daughters play online. Not all girls experience harassment in Minecraft, of course — Lea, for one, told me it has never happened to her — and it is easy to play online without disclosing your gender, age or name. In-game avatars can even be animals.

How long will Minecraft’s popularity endure? It depends very much on Microsoft’s stewardship of the game. Company executives have thus far kept a reasonably light hand on the game; they have left major decisions about the game’s development to Mojang and let the team remain in Sweden. But you can imagine how the game’s rich grass-roots culture might fray. Microsoft could, for example, try to broaden the game’s appeal by making it more user-­friendly — which might attenuate its rich tradition of information-­sharing among fans, who enjoy the opacity and mystery. Or a future update could tilt the game in a direction kids don’t like. (The introduction of a new style of combat this spring led to lively debate on forums — some enjoyed the new layer of strategy; others thought it made Minecraft too much like a typical hack-and-slash game.) Or an altogether new game could emerge, out-­Minecrafting Minecraft.

But for now, its grip is strong. And some are trying to strengthen it further by making it more accessible to lower-­income children. Mimi Ito has found that the kids who acquire real-world skills from the game — learning logic, administering servers, making YouTube channels — tend to be upper middle class. Their parents and after-­school programs help them shift from playing with virtual blocks to, say, writing code. So educators have begun trying to do something similar, bringing Minecraft into the classroom to create lessons on everything from math to history. Many libraries are installing Minecraft on their computers."
2016  clivethompson  education  videogames  games  minecraft  digitalculture  gaming  mimiito  robinsloan  coding  computationalthinking  stem  programming  commandline  ianbogost  walterbenjamin  children  learning  resilience  colinfanning  toys  lego  wood  friedrichfroebel  johnlocke  rebeccamir  mariamontessori  montessori  carltheodorsorensen  guilds  mentoring  mentorship  sloyd  denmark  construction  building  woodcrafting  woodcraft  adventureplaygrounds  material  logic  basic  mojang  microsoft  markuspersson  notch  modding  photoshop  texturepacks  elinorostrom  collaboration  sethfrey  civics  youtube  networkedlearning  digitalliteracy  hacking  computers  screentime  creativity  howwelearn  computing  froebel 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Rent-seeking - Wikipedia
"In economics, rent-seeking is an attempt to obtain economic rent by manipulating the social or political environment in which economic activities occur, rather than by creating new wealth, for example, spending money on political lobbying in order to be given a share of wealth that has already been created. A famous example of rent-seeking is the limiting of access to lucrative occupations, as by medieval guilds or modern state certifications and licensures. People accused of rent seeking typically argue that they are indeed creating new wealth (or preventing the reduction of old wealth) by improving quality controls, guaranteeing that charlatans do not prey on a gullible public, and preventing bubbles."

"A simple definition of rent seeking is spending resources in order to gain by increasing one's share of existing wealth, instead of trying to create wealth. The net effect of rent-seeking is to reduce total social wealth, because resources are spent and no new wealth is created. It is important to distinguish rent-seeking from profit-seeking. Profit-seeking is the creation of wealth, while rent-seeking is the use of social institutions such as the power of government to redistribute wealth among different groups without creating new wealth.

Rent-seeking implies extraction of uncompensated value from others without making any contribution to productivity. The origin of the term refers to gaining control of land or other natural resources. An example of rent-seeking in a modern economy is political lobbying for government benefits or subsidies, or to impose regulations on competitors, in order to increase market share.
Studies of rent-seeking focus on efforts to capture special monopoly privileges such as manipulating government regulation of free enterprise competition.[2] The term monopoly privilege rent-seeking is an often-used label for this particular type of rent-seeking. Often-cited examples include a lobby that seeks tariff protection, quotas, subsidies[3], or extension of copyright law.[4]"
motive  finance  community  greedheads  rent-seeking  wealth  access  economics  manipulation  politics  leeches  selfishness  greed  guilds  certification  licenses  via:straup  resources  capitalgoods  economicgrowth  growth  allocationofresources  efficiency  monopolies  monopolyprivileges  competition  regulation  ownership  productivity  subsidies 
august 2012 by robertogreco
Scope, not scale - Opinion - Al Jazeera English
"Indeed, economies of scale work well in periods of energy "ascent", when the supply of energy increases, but work less well in periods of energy "descent". In these circumstances, economies of scope are needed. These types of economies are exactly what peer production (which encompasses open knowledge, free culture, free software, open and shared designs, open hardware and distributed manufacturing) is all about…

So what are the economies of scope of this new age? They come in two flavours: the mutualising of knowledge and the mutualising of tangible resources…

What will the new system look like if economies of scope become the norm, replacing economies of scale as the primary driver of the economy?

Global open design communities could be accompanied by a global network of micro-factories producing locally, such as the ones that open-source car companies like Local Motors and Wikispeed are proposing."
capitalism  ip  acta  pipa  sopa  medieval  guilds  democracy  carsharing  microfactories  resources  distributedmanufacturing  openhardware  peerproduction  shareddesigns  opendesigns  openknowledge  freesoftware  freeculture  opensource  wikipedia  cuba  michelbauwens  policy  production  2012  local  peakoil  scope  scale  rome  ancientrome  history 
may 2012 by robertogreco
Community as Curriculum – vol 2. The Guild/Distributed Continuum » Dave's Educational Blog
"The answer is to stop trying so hard, to stop looking for a systemic solution, and to return to a human-based knowledge plan. We need to return to community as a valid repository for knowledge, and away from a packaged view of knowledge and expertise. Knowledge can be fluid; it can be in transition, and we can still use it. We need to tap into the strength provided by communities and see the various forms of community literacy as the skills we need to acquire in order to be effective members of those communities."
davecormier  rhizomaticlearning  learning  knowledge  communities  education  guilds  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  learningnetworks  2011  inquiry  relationships  conversation  networks 
november 2011 by robertogreco
Is Italy Too Italian?: From Taxis to Textiles, Italy Chooses Tradition Over Growth - ["Roughly one-quarter of Italy’s G.D.P. is off the books."]
"Economists...see a country w/ a service sector dominated by guilds..., a timid entrepreneur class...a political system in thrall of older voters who want to keep what they have, even if it dooms the nation to years of stasis.

They see a society whose best & brightest are leaving & not being replaced by immigrants, because Italy has so little upward mobility to offer.

To Professor Giavazzi, the future here doesn’t look like Greece. It looks like Argentina.

“Before World War II, Argentina was rich. Even in 1960, the country was twice as rich as Italy.” can compare the per capita income of Argentina to that of Romania. “Because it didn’t grow. A country could get rich in 1900 just by producing corn & meat, but that is not true today. But it took them 100 years to realize they were becoming poor. & that is what worries me about Italy. We’re not going to starve next week. We are just going to decline, slowly, slowly, & I’m not sure what will turn that around.”
italy  argentina  guilds  economics  growth  politics  aging  age  policy  immigration  2010  stagnation  markets  china  globalization  local  slow  manufacturing  crisis  deficits  savings  society  decline  blackmarkets  offthebooks  protectionism  jobs  craftsmanship 
august 2010 by robertogreco
David Byrne's Journal: 05.29.10: Arts ’n’ Crafts
"artists who work in certain materials have, for decades, usually had trouble being taken seriously as fine artists. Glassblowers, ceramicists, textile workers, furniture makers &, until a few decades ago, photographers were all not usually welcome in fine art galleries or the museums that show fine art… unless it was a show dedicated to only ceramics, for example.

There were exceptions, but until quite recently those were rare. If we ignore Duchamp, whose work implied that anything could be art if he said it was, the restrictions have held firm, though photography broke the barrier first in a big way.


Part of this snobbish attitude goes back to the Renaissance. In order for painters to separate themselves from the various craft guilds, & establish their own worth, they had to form the idea that expression, concept and idea were worth at least (and maybe more, in their opinion) as much as skilled craftsmanship..."
crafts  davidbyrne  photography  art  glvo  ceramics  textiles  cv  snobbery  artworld  glass  furniture  renaissance  history  guilds  galleries  apprenticeships 
june 2010 by robertogreco
The World Question Center: The Edge Annual Question — 2010: How is the internet changing the way you think?: Stewart Brand: The Guild [see also:]
"I couldn't function without them, & I suspect the same is true for nearly all effective people. By "them" I mean my closest intellectual collaborators. They are the major players in my social extended mind. How I think is shaped to a large degree by how they think. Our association is looser than a team but closer than a cohort, & it's not a club or a workgroup or an elite. I'll call it a guild. Everyone in my guild runs their own operation, & none of us report to each other. All we do is keep close track of what each other is thinking & doing. Often we collaborate directly, but most of the time we don't. Everyone in my guild has their own guild-largely different from mine...One's guild is a conversation extending over years & decades. I hearken to my gang because we have overlapping interests, & they keep surprising me. Familiar as I am with them, I can't finish their sentences. Their constant creativity feeds my creativity, & I try to do the same for them."
stewartbrand  2010  guilds  collaboration  creativity  internet  edge  thinking  web  networks  cv  intellectualpursuit  tcsnmy  identity 
january 2010 by robertogreco
Seth's Blog: Beware of trade guilds maintaining the status quo
"Whenever a trade association raises the barricades and tries to lobby their way into maintaining the status quo, they are doing their members a disservice. Instead of spending time and insight and effort reinventing what they do and organizing for a better future, the members are lulled into a sense of security that somehow, somehow, the future will be just like today."
progress  sethgodin  kindle  regulation  lobbying  marketing  politics  business  change  innovation  reinvention  future  publishing  guilds  tradeguilds  unions  reform 
march 2009 by robertogreco

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