recentpopularlog in

robertogreco : metrics   40

Sam Byers on Twitter: "Jack’s thread on Vipassana meditation is fascinating."
[referenced thread:
https://twitter.com/jack/status/1071575088695140353 ]

"Jack’s thread on Vipassana meditation is fascinating.

It’s significant, I think, that he sees it as a practice that is of value primarily when he returns to work. He likes it because it enables him to refresh and then return to doing more of what he did before.

There is no suggestion, in his thread, that he regards his personal practice as being part of any wider, more selfless contribution to life and the world. It’s simply a method of personal betterment, a hack.

He’s also, it seems, unable to let go of metrics. He wore his Apple Watch and thingummyjig ring throughout and regards the data he gleans from those devices as objectively significant - more significant, in fact, than any inner insight he might have achieved.

Throughout, there’s a distinctly macho emphasis on discomfort. He emphasises the pain of sitting, the mosquito bites, the tough guy willpower and endurance he had to summon.

He’s at pains to labour the point that this is not easy, or gentle, or something anyone can do. It’s tough, it’s gritty, it’s for the hard core.

And then he returns unchanged, determined to do even more work and, one presumes, keep getting richer.

I find this intriguing because I think it’s indicative of a very specific cultural and economic moment in which very old and very traditional belief systems are effectively ransacked for anything they can contribute to the modern cult of productivity.

No emphasis here on empathy or compassion, for example.

This doesn’t tell us a great deal about Vipassana meditation, but it tells us a huge amount about the belief system that is Silicon Valley tech-bro capitalism.

It is closed, highly individual, inward-looking, metric-driven, proud of itself.

It’s easy to see how the practice of meditation, which seems so solitary, even solipsistic, when poorly framed and understood, might be appealing as an adjunct to this world view, but the way these ideologies and practices intersect merits a lot of unpicking, in my view.

I would also say that the replies are pretty fascinating too. People are extraordinarily proud of their cynicism, and their ability to communicate that cynicism with wild hostility, as if this in itself is part of some kind of holistic world view.

When in fact those replies are just the *same* solipsistic, cynical, and very western mindset redoubled and reflected back.

So the whole exchange becomes a kind of pissing contest to see who can be most sure of themselves.

We’re right at the toxic intersection, here, of co-opted “eastern spirituality” and vapidly unquestioning capitalistic self-certainty and the result is frankly wild - just a total shitshow of confusion and anger.

Nothing new of course. Post sixties hippie capitalism is by now so entrenched as to be the norm, but the whole thing is hugely illustrative on all sides and merits a great deal more thought than, ironically, Jack’s medium will allow.

It’s also important to remember that Vipassana meditation doesn’t “belong” to Jack - it’s an ancient and significant tradition. Using that as a means to ridicule him actually just winds up ridiculing a whole big chunk of culture as an unintended consequence.

Short version: it *might not* be possible to interrogate spiritual materialism using... non-spiritual materialism."

[full text of referenced thread:

"For my birthday this year, I did a 10-day silent vipassana meditation, this time in Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar 🇲🇲. We went into silence on the night of my birthday, the 19th. Here’s what I know 👇🏼

Vipassana is a technique and practice to “know thyself.” Understanding the inner nature as a way to understand…everything. It was rediscovered by Gautama the Buddha 2,500 years ago through rigorous scientific self-experimentation to answer the question: how do I stop suffering?

Vipassana’s singular objective is to hack the deepest layer of the mind and reprogram it: instead of unconsciously reacting to feelings of pain or pleasure, consciously observe that all pain and pleasure aren’t permanent, and will ultimately pass and dissolve away.

Most meditation methods end with a goal of strengthening concentration: focus on the breath. This was not Gautama’s goal. He wanted to end his attachment to craving (of pleasure) and aversion (of pain) by experiencing it directly. His theory was ending attachment ends his misery.

Imagine sitting on a concrete floor cross-legged for an hour without moving. Pain arises in the legs in about 30-45 minutes. One’s natural reaction is to change posture to avoid the pain. What if, instead of moving, one observed the pain and decided to remain still through it?

Vipassana would likely be good for those suffering chronic pain to help manage it. That’s not the goal of course, but definitely a simple practice to help. Being able to sit without moving at all for over an hour through pain definitely teaches you a lot about your potential.

Meditation is often thought of as calming, relaxing, and a detox of all the noise in the world. That’s not vipassana. It’s extremely painful and demanding physical and mental work. I wasn’t expecting any of that my first time last year. Even tougher this year as I went deeper.

I did my meditation at Dhamma Mahimã in Pyin Oo Lwin. This is my room. Basic. During the 10 days: no devices, reading, writing, physical excercise, music, intoxicants, meat, talking, or even eye contact with others. It’s free: everything is given to meditators by charity.

I woke up at 4 am every day, and we meditated until 9 pm. There were breaks for breakfast, lunch, and walking. No dinner. Here’s the sidewalk I walked for 45 minutes every day.

The 2nd day was my best. I was able to focus entirely on my breath, without thoughts, for over an hour. The most I could do before that was 5 minutes. Day 6 was my worst as I caught a nasty cold going around the center. Couldn’t sleep from then on but pushed through til the end.

On day 11, all I wanted to do was listen to music, and I again turned to my favorite poet, @kendricklamar and his album DAMN. The greatest effect coming out of silence is the clarity one has in listening. Every note stands alone.

Myanmar is an absolutely beautiful country. The people are full of joy and the food is amazing. I visited the cities of Yangon, Mandalay, and Bagan. We visited and meditated at many monasteries around the country.

The highlight of my trip was serving monks and nuns food, and donating sandals and umbrellas. This group of young nuns in Mandalay and their chanting was breathtaking and chilling.

We also meditated in a cave in Mandalay one evening. In the first 10 minutes I got bit 117 times by mosquitoes 🦟 They left me alone when the light blew a fuse, which you can see in my heart rate lowering.

I also wore my Apple Watch and Oura ring, both in airplane mode. My best meditations always had the least variation in heart rate. When I wasn’t focused, it would jump around a lot. Here’s a night of sleep on the 10th night (my resting heart rate was consistently below 40).

Vipassana is not for everyone, but if any of this resonates with you even in the slightest, I’d encourage you to give it a try. If in the US, this center in Texas is a great start: https://siri.dhamma.org/

And if you’re willing to travel a bit, go to Myanmar: https://www.dhamma.org/en/schedules/schmahimar

Thanks for reading! Always happy to answer any questions about my experience. Will track responses to this thread. I’ll continue to do this every year, and hopefully do longer and longer each time. The time I take away to do this gives so much back to me and my work. 🇲🇲🙏🏼🧘🏻‍♂️

I’ve been meditating for 20 years, with the last 2 years focused on vipassana. After experiencing it in Texas last year, I wanted to go to the region that maintained the practice in its original form. That led me to Myanmar.

I took this time with a singular objective of working on myself. I shared my experience with the world with the singular objective of encouraging others to consider a similar practice. Simply because it’s the best thing I’ve found to help me every day.

I’m aware of the human rights atrocities and suffering in Myanmar. I don’t view visiting, practicing, or talking with the people, as endorsement. I didn’t intend to diminish by not raising the issue, but could have acknowledged that I don’t know enough and need to learn more.

This was a purely personal trip for me focused on only one dimension: meditation practice. That said, I know people are asking about what Twitter is doing around the situation, so I’ll share our current state.

Twitter is a way for people to share news and information about events in Myanmar as well as to bear witness to the plight of the Rohingya and other peoples and communities. We’re actively working to address emerging issues. This includes violent extremism and hateful conduct.

We know we can’t do this alone, and continue to welcome conversation with and help from civil society and NGOs within the region. I had no conversations with the government or NGOs during my trip. We’re always open to feedback on how to best improve.

Will keep following the conversation and sharing what I learn here. 🙏🏼"]
jackdorsey  buddhism  religion  meditation  compassion  empathy  metrics  gamification  spirituality  quantification  vipassana  sambyers  individualism  materialism  capitalism  us  self-certainty  solipsism  cynicism  siliconvalley  californianideology  ideology 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Alom Shaha on Twitter: "Have encountered a few people recently who’ve been enamoured with education research and how “science” can help us teach better. These people seem to confuse the explanatory and predictive powers of the physical sciences with
"Have encountered a few people recently who’ve been enamoured with education research and how “science” can help us teach better. These people seem to confuse the explanatory and predictive powers of the physical sciences with what social sciences can do.

This is not to disparage the social sciences - they are important and valuable. But it worries me that some in education seem to think “science” can help us teach in the same way “science” helps us build rockets.

There’s a lot going on with the current enthusiasm for research in education, and it’s great that it gives teachers a focus for discussion and sharing ideas, but it’s not the panacea some seem to think."
alomashaha  socialsciences  science  research  education  edtech  metrics  measurement  2018  misguided  unschooling  deschooling  scientism  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  learning 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Are.na / Blog – Alternate Digital Realities
"Writer David Zweig, who interviewed Grosser about the Demetricator for The New Yorker, describes a familiar sentiment when he writes, “I’ve evaluated people I don’t know on the basis of their follower counts, judged the merit of tweets according to how many likes and retweets they garnered, and felt the rush of being liked or retweeted by someone with a large following. These metrics, I know, are largely irrelevant; since when does popularity predict quality? Yet, almost against my will, they exert a pull on me.” Metrics can be a drug. They can also influence who we think deserves to be heard. By removing metrics entirely, Grosser’s extension allows us to focus on the content—to be free to write and post without worrying about what will get likes, and to decide for ourselves if someone is worth listening to. Additionally, it allows us to push back against a system designed not to cultivate a healthy relationship with social media but to prioritize user-engagement in order to sell ads."
digital  online  extensions  metrics  web  socialmedia  internet  omayeliarenyeka  2018  race  racism  activism  davidzeig  bejamingrosser  twitter  google  search  hangdothiduc  reginafloresmir  dexterthomas  whitesupremacy  tolulopeedionwe  patriarchy  daniellesucher  jennyldavis  mosaid  shannoncoulter  taeyoonchoi  rodrigotello  elishacohen  maxfowler  jamesbaldwin  algorithms  danielhowe  helennissenbaum  mushonzer-aviv  browsers  data  tracking  surveillance  ads  facebook  privacy  are.na 
april 2018 by robertogreco
The Misguided Drive to Measure ‘Learning Outcomes’ - The New York Times
"It seems that the pressure to assess student learning outcomes has grown most quickly at poorly funded regional universities that have absorbed a large proportion of financially disadvantaged students, where profound deficits in preparation and resources hamper achievement. Research indicates that the more selective a university, the less likely it is to embrace assessment. Learning outcomes assessment has become one way to answer the question, “If you get unprepared students in your class and they don’t do well, how does that get explained?” Mr. Eubanks at Furman University told me.

When Erik Gilbert, a professor of history at Arkansas State University, reached the end of his World Civilization course last fall, he dutifully imposed the required assessment: an extra question on the final exam that asked students to read a document about Samurai culture and answer questions using knowledge of Japanese history. Yet his course focused on “cross-cultural connections, trade, travel, empire, migration and bigger-scale questions, rather than area studies,” Mr. Gilbert told me. His students had not studied Japanese domestic history. “We do it this way because it satisfies what the assessment office wants, not because it addresses concerns that we as a department have.”

Mr. Gilbert became an outspoken assessment skeptic after years of watching the process fail to capture what happens in his classes — and seeing it miss the real reasons students struggle. “Maybe all your students have full-time jobs, but that’s something you can’t fix, even though that’s really the core problem,” he said. “Instead, you’re expected to find some small problem, like students don’t understand historical chronology, so you might add a reading to address that. You’re supposed to make something up every semester, then write up a narrative” explaining your solution to administrators.

Here is the second irony: Learning assessment has not spurred discussion of the deep structural problems that send so many students to college unprepared to succeed. Instead, it lets politicians and accreditors ignore these problems as long as bureaucratic mechanisms appear to be holding someone — usually a professor — accountable for student performance.

All professors could benefit from serious conversations about what is and is not working in their classes. But instead they end up preoccupied with feeding the bureaucratic beast. “It’s a bit like the old Soviet Union. You speak two languages,” said Frank Furedi, an emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Kent in Britain, which has a booming assessment culture. “You do a performance for the sake of the auditors, but in reality, you carry on.”

Yet bureaucratic jargon subtly shapes the expectations of students and teachers alike. On the first day of class, my colleagues and I — especially in the humanities, where professors are perpetually anxious about falling enrollment — find ourselves rattling off the skills our courses offer (“Critical thinking! Clear writing!”), hyping our products like Apple Store clerks.

I teach intellectual history. Of course that includes skills: learning to read a historical source, interpret evidence and build an argument. But cultivating historical consciousness is more than that: It means helping students immerse themselves in a body of knowledge, question assumptions about memory and orient themselves toward current events in a new way.

If we describe college courses as mainly delivery mechanisms for skills to please a future employer, if we imply that history, literature and linguistics are more or less interchangeable “content” that convey the same mental tools, we oversimplify the intellectual complexity that makes a university education worthwhile in the first place. We end up using the language of the capitalist marketplace and speak to our students as customers rather than fellow thinkers. They deserve better.

“When kids come from backgrounds where they’re the first in their families to go to college, we have to take them seriously, and not flatter them and give them third-rate ideas,” Mr. Furedi told me. “They need to be challenged and inspired by the idea of our disciplines.” Assessment culture is dumbing down universities, he said: “One of the horrible things is that many universities think that giving access to nontraditional students means turning a university into a high school. That’s not giving them access to higher education.”

Here is the third irony: The value of universities to a capitalist society depends on their ability to resist capitalism, to carve out space for intellectual endeavors that don’t have obvious metrics or market value.

Consider that holy grail of learning outcomes, critical thinking — what the philosopher John Dewey called the ability “to maintain the state of doubt and to carry on systematic and protracted inquiry.” Teaching it is not a cheap or efficient process. It does not come from trying to educate the most students at the lowest possible cost or from emphasizing short, quantifiable, standardized assignments at the expense of meandering, creative and difficult investigation.

Producing thoughtful, talented graduates is not a matter of focusing on market-ready skills. It’s about giving students an opportunity that most of them will never have again in their lives: the chance for serious exploration of complicated intellectual problems, the gift of time in an institution where curiosity and discovery are the source of meaning.

That’s how we produce the critical thinkers American employers want to hire. And there’s just no app for that."
learning  learningoutcomes  outcomes  academia  assessment  evaluation  quantification  measurement  accountability  highered  highereducation  2018  mollywhorthen  criticalthinking  johndewey  metrics  inquiry  efficiency  standardization  standardizedtesting  capitalism  content  complexity  howwelearn  howwethink  knowledge  education  lcproject  openstudioproject  unschooling  deschooling  schools  pedagogy  teaching  skepticism  bureaucracy  corporatism  corporatization  inequality 
february 2018 by robertogreco
It’s Time We Hold Accountability Accountable – Teachers Going Gradeless
"Author and writing professor John Warner points out how this kind of accountability, standardization, and routinization short-circuits students’ pursuit of forms “defined by the rhetorical situation” and values “rooted in audience needs.”

What we are measuring when we are accountable, then, is something other than the core values of writing. Ironically, the very act of accounting for student progress in writing almost guarantees that we will receive only a poor counterfeit, one emptied of its essence.

Some might say that accountability only makes a modest claim on teaching, that nothing prevents teachers from going beyond its measurable minimum toward higher values of critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity. Many seem to think that scoring high on lower-order assessments still serves as a proxy for higher-order skills.

More often than not, however, the test becomes the target. And as Goodhart’s law (phrased here by Mary Strathern) asserts, “When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.” What we end up aiming at, in other words, is something other than the thing we wanted to improve or demonstrate. When push comes to shove in public schools — and push almost always comes to shove — it’s the test, the measure, the moment of reckoning we attend to.

For most of my career, I’ve seen how a culture of accountability has caused the focus of administrators, teachers, and students to solidify around the narrow prescriptions and algorithmic thinking found on most tests. When that happens, the measure no longer represents anything higher order. Instead, we demonstrate our ability to fill the template, follow the algorithm, jump through the hoop. And unfortunately, as many students find out too late, success on the test does not guarantee that one has developed the skills or dispositions needed in any real field. In fact, students who succeed in this arena may be even more oblivious to the absence of these."
writing  howwewrite  teaching  accountability  2017  arthurchiaravalli  johnwarner  testing  tests  standardization  routinization  audience  measurement  metrics  rubrics  grades  grading  quantification 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Final Boss Form — Even though we are now free from the machines that...
"Even though we are now free from the machines that enslaved and exploited people during the industrial age, digital apparatuses are installing new constraints, new slavery. Because of their mobility, they make possible exploitation that proves even more efficient, by transforming every space into a workplace - and all time into working hours.

The freedom of movement is switching over into a fatal compulsion to work everywhere. During the machine age, working time could be held in check and separated from periods of not-working, if only because the machines could not move, or be moved. One had to go to work on one’s own: this space was distinct from where work did not occur.

Today, however, this distinction no longer holds in many professions. Digital devices have mobilized work itself. The workplace is turning into a portable labor camp, from which there is no escape.

The smartphone promises more freedom, but it radiates a fatal compulsion - the compulsion to communicate. Now an almost obsessive, compulsive relationship to digital devices prevails. Here, too, “freedom” is switching over into compulsion and constraint. Social networks magnify such compulsion to communicate, on a massive scale. More communication means more capital. In turn, the accelerated circulation of communication and information leads to the accelerated circulation of Capital.

The word “digital” points to the finger (digitus). Above all, the finger counts. Digital culture is based on the counting finger. In contrast, history means recounting. It is not a matter of counting, which represents a post-historical category. Neither information nor tweets yield a whole, an account. A timeline does not recount the story of a life, either; it provides no biography. Timelines are additive, not narrative.

Digital man “fingers” the world, in that he is always counting and calculating. The digital absolutizes numbers and counting. More than anything, friends on Facebook are counted, yet real friendship is an account, a narrative. The digital age is totalizing addition, counting, and the countable. Even affection and attachments get counted - as “likes.” The narrative dimension is losing meaning on a massive scale. Today, everything is rendered countable so that it can be transformed into the language of performance, and efficiency.

As such, whatever resists being counted ceases to “be.”"

—Byung-Chul Han, In The Swarm: Digital Prospects
digital  quantitative  quantification  byung-chulhan  machines  industrialization  narrative  relationships  scale  being  presence  numbers  counting  measurement  friendship  facebook  metrics  affection  attachments  likes  meaning  capitalism  information  exploitation  mobility  work  labor  freedom  movement  compulsion  communication  constraint  socialnetworking  socialnetworks  timelines 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Lindsay Holmwood on Twitter: "“People with targets […] will probably meet the targets - even if they have to destroy the enterprise to do it.” – Deming https://t.co/EJZLIZ50zT"
"“People with targets […] will probably meet the targets - even if they have to destroy the enterprise to do it.” – Deming [image]"

[reply:

""Tell me how you'll measure me and I'll tell you how I'll behave." - Goldratt"
https://twitter.com/evolvable/status/828330920578994176 ]
wedwardsdeming  targets  metrics  measurement  2017  assessment  destruction 
october 2017 by robertogreco
[Easy Chair] | The Habits of Highly Cynical People, by Rebecca Solnit | Harper's Magazine
"In April 24, 1916 — Easter Monday — Irish republicans in Dublin and a handful of other places staged an armed rebellion against British occupation. At the time, the British Empire was the strongest power on earth; Ireland was its first and nearest colony. That the puny colony might oust the giant seemed far-fetched, and by most measures the endeavor was a failure. The leaders were executed; the British occupation continued. But not for long: the Easter Uprising is now generally understood as a crucial step in a process that led, in 1937, to full independence for most of the island. A hundred years on, some view 1916 as the beginning of the end of the British Empire.

This year also marks the fifth anniversary of the Arab Spring. It seems to be taken for granted that these uprisings, too, were a failure, since many of the affected countries are now just different kinds of dire than they were before. But the public display of a passionate desire for participatory government, the demonstration of the strength of popular power and the weakness of despotic regimes, and the sheer (if short-lived) exhilaration that took place five years ago may have sown seeds that have not yet germinated.

I am not arguing for overlooking the violence and instability that are now plaguing North Africa and the Middle East. Nor am I optimistic about the near future of the region. I do not know what the long-term consequences of the Arab Spring will be — but neither does anyone else. We live in a time when the news media and other purveyors of conventional wisdom like to report on the future more than the past. They draw on polls and false analogies to announce what is going to happen next, and their frequent errors — about the unelectability of Barack Obama, say, or the inevitability of the Keystone XL pipeline — don’t seem to impede their habit of prophecy or our willingness to abide them. “We don’t actually know” is their least favorite thing to report.

Non-pundits, too, use bad data and worse analysis to pronounce with great certainty on future inevitabilities, present impossibilities, and past failures. The mind-set behind these statements is what I call naïve cynicism. It bleeds the sense of possibility and maybe the sense of responsibility out of people.

Cynicism is first of all a style of presenting oneself, and it takes pride more than anything in not being fooled and not being foolish. But in the forms in which I encounter it, cynicism is frequently both these things. That the attitude that prides itself on world-weary experience is often so naïve says much about the triumph of style over substance, attitude over analysis.

Maybe it also says something about the tendency to oversimplify. If simplification means reducing things to their essentials, oversimplification tosses aside the essential as well. It is a relentless pursuit of certainty and clarity in a world that generally offers neither, a desire to shove nuances and complexities into clear-cut binaries. Naïve cynicism concerns me because it flattens out the past and the future, and because it reduces the motivation to participate in public life, public discourse, and even intelligent conversation that distinguishes shades of gray, ambiguities and ambivalences, uncertainties, unknowns, and opportunities. Instead, we conduct our conversations like wars, and the heavy artillery of grim confidence is the weapon many reach for.

Naïve cynics shoot down possibilities, including the possibility of exploring the full complexity of any situation. They take aim at the less cynical, so that cynicism becomes a defensive posture and an avoidance of dissent. They recruit through brutality. If you set purity and perfection as your goals, you have an almost foolproof system according to which everything will necessarily fall short. But expecting perfection is naïve; failing to perceive value by using an impossible standard of measure is even more so. Cynics are often disappointed idealists and upholders of unrealistic standards. They are uncomfortable with victories, because victories are almost always temporary, incomplete, and compromised — but also because the openness of hope is dangerous, and in war, self-defense comes first. Naïve cynicism is absolutist; its practitioners assume that anything you don’t deplore you wholeheartedly endorse. But denouncing anything less than perfection as morally compromising means pursuing aggrandizement of the self, not engagement with a place or system or community, as the highest priority.

Different factions have different versions of naïve cynicism. There is, for example, the way the mainstream discounts political action that proceeds outside the usual corridors of power. When Occupy Wall Street began five years ago, the movement was mocked, dismissed, and willfully misunderstood before it was hastily pronounced dead. Its obituary has been written dozens of times over the years by people who’d prefer that the rabble who blur the lines between the homeless and the merely furious not have a political role to play.

But the fruits of OWS are too many to count. People who were involved with local encampments tell me that their thriving offshoots are still making a difference. California alone was said to have more than 100 Occupy groups; what each of them did is impossible to measure. There were results as direct as homeless advocacy, as indirect as a shift in the national debate about housing, medical and student debt, economic injustice, and inequality. There has also been effective concrete action — from debt strikes to state legislation — on these issues. Occupy helped to bring politicians such as Bernie Sanders, Bill de Blasio, and Elizabeth Warren into the mainstream.

The inability to assess what OWS accomplished comes in part from the assumption that historical events either produce straightforward, quantifiable, immediate results, or they fail to matter. It’s as though we’re talking about bowling: either that ball knocked over those pins in that lane or it didn’t. But historical forces are not bowling balls. If bowling had to be the metaphor, it would be some kind of metaphysical game shrouded in mists and unfolding over decades. The ball might knock over a pin and then another one in fifteen years and possibly have a strike in some other lane that most of us had forgotten even existed. That’s sort of what the Easter Rising did, and what Occupy and Black Lives Matter are doing now.

Then there is the naïve cynicism of those outside the mainstream who similarly doubt their own capacity to help bring about change, a view that conveniently spares them the hard work such change requires.

I recently posted on Facebook a passage from the February issue of Nature Climate Change in which a group of scientists outlined the impact of climate change over the next 10,000 years. Their portrait is terrifying, but it is not despairing: “This long-term view shows that the next few decades offer a brief window of opportunity to minimize large-scale and potentially catastrophic climate change that will extend longer than the entire history of human civilization thus far.” That’s a sentence about catastrophe but also about opportunity. Yet when I posted the article, the first comment I got was, “There’s nothing that’s going to stop the consequences of what we have already done/not done.” This was another way of saying, I’m pitting my own casual assessment over peer-reviewed science; I’m not reading carefully; I’m making a thwacking sound with my false omniscience.

Such comments represent a reflex response that can be used to meet wildly different stimuli. Naïve cynicism remains obdurate in the face of varied events, some of which are positive, some negative, some mixed, and quite a lot of them unfinished.

The climate movement has grown powerful and diverse. On this continent it is shutting down coal plants and preventing new ones from being built. It has blocked fracking, oil and gas leases on public land, drilling in the Arctic, pipelines, and oil trains that carry the stuff that would otherwise run through the thwarted pipelines. Cities, states, and regions are making stunning commitments — San Diego has committed to going 100 percent renewable by 2035.

Remarkable legislation has been introduced even on the national level, such as bills in both the House and the Senate to bar new fossil-fuel extraction on public lands. Those bills will almost certainly not pass in the present Congress, but they introduce to the mainstream a position that was inconceivable a few years ago. This is how epochal change often begins, with efforts that fail in their direct aims but succeed in shifting the conversation and opening space for further action.

These campaigns and achievements are far from enough; they need to scale up, and scaling up means drawing in people who recognize that there are indeed opportunities worth seizing.

Late last year, some key federal decisions to curtail drilling for oil in the Arctic and to prevent the construction of a tar-sands pipeline were announced. The naïvely cynical dismissed them as purely a consequence of the plummeting price of oil. Activism had nothing to do with it, I was repeatedly told. But had there been no activism, the Arctic would have been drilled, and the pipelines to get the dirty crude cheaply out of Alberta built, before the price drop. It wasn’t either-or; it was both.

David Roberts, a climate journalist for Vox, notes that the disparagement of the campaign to stop the Keystone XL pipeline assumed that the activists’ only goal was to prevent this one pipeline from being built, and that since this one pipeline’s cancellation wouldn’t save the world, the effort was futile. Roberts named these armchair quarterbacks of climate action the Doing It Wrong Brigade. He compared their critique to “criticizing the Montgomery bus boycott because it only affected a relative handful of blacks. The point of civil… [more]
rebeccasolnit  2016  cynicism  change  time  occupywallstreet  ows  hope  optimism  idealism  perfectionism  obstructionism  simplification  oversimplification  possibility  economics  justice  climatechange  keystonepipeline  patience  longview  blacklivesmatter  civilrightsmovement  politics  policy  conversation  easterrising  power  community  systemsthinking  standards  metrics  measurement  success  failure  dissent  discourse  uncertainty  opportunity 
may 2016 by robertogreco
Formal Schooling and the Death of Literacy — Medium
"My privilege is easily identified in my being white and male, but it is the story of my life that better reveals my enormous privilege established by my mother when I was a child.

I entered formal schooling with such a relatively high level of literacy and numeracy that from those first days I was labeled “smart” — a misnomer for that privilege.

From Green Eggs and Ham to Hop on Pop, from canasta to spades, from Chinese checkers to Scrabble — games with my mother and often my father were my schooling until I entered first grade. And none of that ever seemed to be a chore, and none of that involved worksheets, reading levels, or tests.

Formal schooling was always easy for me because of those roots, but formal schooling was also often tedious and so much that had to be tolerated to do the things I truly enjoyed — such as collecting, reading, and drawing from thousands of comic books throughout my middle and late teens. I was also voraciously reading science fiction and never once highlighting the literary techniques or identifying the themes or tone.

During my spring semester, I spend a great deal of time observing pre-service English/ELA teachers, and recently I had an exchange on Twitter about the dangers of grade retention, notably connected to third-grade high-stakes testing.

And from those, I have been musing more than usual about how formal school — how English/ELA teachers specifically — destroy literacy, even when we have the best of intentions.

From the first years of K-3 until the last years of high school, students have their experiences of literacy murdered by a blind faith in and complete abdication to labeling text by grade levels and narrow approaches to literary analysis grounded in New Criticism and what I call the “literary technique hunt.”

Misreading the Importance of Third-Grade Reading

As I have addressed often, reading legislation across the U.S. is trapped in a simplistic crisis mode connected to research identifying the strong correlation between so-called third-grade reading proficiency and later academic success.

Let’s unpack that by addressing the embedded claims that rarely see the light of day.

The first claim is that labeling a text as a grade level is as valid as assigning a number appears. While it is quite easy to identify a text by grade level (most simply calculate measurables such as syllables per word and words per sentence), those calculations entirely gloss over the relationship between counting word/ sentence elements and how a human draws meaning from text — key issues such as prior knowledge and literal versus figurative language.

A key question, then, is asking in whose interest is this cult of measuring reading levels — and the answer is definitely not the student.

This technocratic approach to literacy can facilitate a certain level of efficiency and veneer of objectivity for the work of a teacher; it is certainly less messy.

But the real reason the cult of measuring reading levels exists is the needs of textbook companies who both create and perpetuate the need for measuring students’ reading levels and matching that to the products they sell.

Reading levels are a market metric that are harmful to both students and teaching/learning. And they aren’t even very good metrics in terms of how well the levels match any semblance of reading or learning to read.

The fact is that all humans are at some level of literacy and can benefit from structured purposeful instruction to develop that level of literacy. In that respect, everyone is remedial and no one is proficient.

Those facts, however, do not match well the teaching and learning industry that is the textbook scam that drains our formal schools of funding better used elsewhere — almost anywhere else.

Remaining shackled to measuring and labeling text and students murders literacy among our students; it is inexcusable, and is a root cause of the punitive reading policies grounded in high-stakes testing and grade retention.

The Literary Technique Hunt

By middle and high school — although we continue to focus on whether or not students are reading at grade level — we gradually shift our approach to text away from labeling students/ texts and toward training students in the subtle allure of literary analysis: mining text for technique.

Like reading levels, New Criticism’s focus on text in isolation and authoritative meaning culled from calculating how techniques produce a fixed meaning benefits from the veneer of objectivity, lending itself to selected-response testing.

And thus, the great technique hunt, again, benefits not students, but teachers and the inseparable textbook and testing industries.

The literary technique hunt, however, slices the throat of everything that matters about text — best represented by Flannery O’Connor:
I prefer to talk about the meaning in a story rather than the theme of a story. People talk about the theme of a story as if the theme were like the string that a sack of chicken feed is tied with. They think that if you can pick out the theme, the way you pick the right thread in the chicken-feed sack, you can rip the story open and feed the chickens. But this is not the way meaning works in fiction.

When you can state the theme of a story, when you can separate it from the story itself, then you can be sure the story is not a very good one. The meaning of a story has to be embodied in it, has to be made concrete in it. A story is a way to say something that can’t be said any other way, and it takes every word in the story to say what the meaning is. You tell a story because a statement would be inadequate. When anybody asks what a story is about, the only proper thing is to tell him to read the story. The meaning of fiction is not abstract meaning but experienced meaning, and the purpose of making statements about the meaning of a story is only to help you experience that meaning more fully.

In other words, “A poem should not mean/But be,” as Archibald MacLeish explains.

Texts of all genres and forms are about human expression, about the aesthetic possibilities of creativity.

No writer, like no visual artist, writes in order to have the words or artwork replaced by the reductive act of a technocratic calculating of meaning through the algebra of New Criticism.

To continue the hokum that is “reading level” and to continue mining text for techniques — these are murderous practices that leave literacy moribund and students uninspired and verbally bankrupt.

The very best and most effective literacy instruction requires no textbooks, no programs, and no punitive reading policies.

Literacy is an ever-evolving human facility; it grows from reading, being read to, and writing — all by choice, with passion, and in the presence of others more dexterous than you are.

Access to authentic text, a community or readers and writers, and a literacy mentor — these are where our time and funds should be spent instead of the cult of efficiency being sold by textbook and testing companies."
paulthomas  liteacy  reading  education  technocracy  flanneryo'connor  archibaldmacleish  readinglevels  schools  schooling  schooliness  thirdgrade  textbooks  metrics  measurement  literaryanalysis  plthomas 
may 2016 by robertogreco
Is Anything Worth Maximizing?
"A talk about metrics and measurement: about how metrics lead to different organizations and societies; about how metrics change the economy; about how we’re doing them wrong; and how we could do them right."
towatch  metrics  measurement  joeedelman 
april 2016 by robertogreco
What Happened to the Great Urban Design Projects? - The New York Times
"— Dave Eggers, “This Bridge Will Not Be Gray”

This new book, a collaboration between Eggers and the artist Tucker Nichols, who created the deceptively simple paper cutout illustrations, is a love letter to infrastructure. Eggers’s proclamation that the Golden Gate is beloved because it’s outrageous and weird may fly in the face of just about everyone’s attitude about infrastructure, but it also gets at exactly what we should be feeling about bridges and tunnels.

Awe.

American infrastructure is deferred home maintenance on a massive scale. We just keep putting it off until something major — and often catastrophic — happens, and then it ends up costing twice as much as it would have had we taken care of it proactively. This is a bad strategy — yet it’s the strategy that seems to define United States infrastructure.

There is no awe. There are issues of structural integrity. There are mind-blowing cost overruns. Accidents. Sinkholes. Problems with bolts.

The first design proposed for the Golden Gate was, writes Eggers, “the strangest, most awkward and plain old ugly bridge anyone had every seen ... people compared it to an upside-down rat trap.” (Here is what it looked like.) The public demanded something better — and they got it.

A century later, we’ve lost our collective faith in the power of great projects like the Golden Gate, not to mention our trust in the government to fix a pothole on time and on budget, let alone create an inspiring bridge. How can we restore that faith in possibility?

Let’s take some inspiration from Atlanta — yes, Atlanta! — which is putting the finishing touches on the Atlanta BeltLine, one of the largest, most wide-ranging urban redevelopment programs currently underway in the United States.

The BeltLine is a 22-mile loop of old railroads encircling downtown Atlanta that connects 45 neighborhoods. The project repurposes this historic rail corridor as a new transit greenway, featuring streetcars that connect to existing rail and 11 miles and counting of trails for running, walking and biking. Mostly underutilized industrial properties surround it. These are now becoming perfect sites for new mixed-use, dense projects, including 5,600 units of affordable housing.

The Atlanta BeltLine began as a master’s thesis project. (I don’t know about you, but my master’s thesis project is in a cardboard box in the garage.)



"Yet engineers, planners and policy makers tend to focus on wonky stuff like percentage of parkland per person. They’re awash in acronyms like V.M.T. (vehicle miles traveled), too reliant on planning terms like modeshare that don’t resonate with the general public. These things may be useful in measuring the metrics of a city, but they sure don’t get to the reasons people want to live there. You don’t move to one city because it has 35 percent more parkland per person than another city. You move there because you fall in love with it, or with someone there, or you get a job there, or your family is from there. We need to address metrics, but the bigger goal is to make cities that we love.

Los Angeles, a seemingly even more unlikely candidate to bring awe to infrastructure, is nevertheless doing it, with a dazzlingly ambitious transportation plan (the city’s mayor, Eric Garcetti, has even publicly crooned for road improvements), and also by rediscovering the long-neglected (and abused, frankly) river it was built around. Now, the once largely paved-over 51-mile L.A. River, like the BeltLine, has taken on this mantle of the future again.

Elon Musk’s fanciful Hyperloop may never be built, but let’s give him credit for capturing our collective imaginations. (For a look at other examples of bold, courageous and unusual infrastructure that do, see the slide show.) We can take a lesson from Musk and from Gravel, too, that infrastructure shouldn’t be viewed as an obstacle or a headache but something to behold. That it’s part of something bigger. “People don’t love the physical thing of the BeltLine,” says Gravel. “They love that it’s changing the city. It allows us to look beyond the shortcomings of the city and look ahead to the future and be excited about that.”

In an age of cost overruns, project delays, safety risks and the other, seemingly infinite obstacles to infrastructure, this all might sound awfully reductive, even naïve. But keeping our eye on what’s possible is certainly as important as fixating on what isn’t."
2016  atlanta  planning  metrics  urbanplanning  allisonarieff  daveeggers  infrastructure  goldengatebridge  history  ryangravel  atlantabeltline  beltline  transportation  housing  funding  politics  policy  losangeles  elonmusk  hyperloop  lariver  losangelesriver 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Josephine | Home cooked food from your community.
"Our Values

Be more human.
We're building technology to cultivate meaningful human connections, not replace them, and to do that we need to be ruthlessly empathetic. Whether it's with our coworkers or the Josephine community, we strive to never lose sight of the people and lives our work touches.

Serve the many, the small.
The food industry has been defined by massive corporations. We believe the world would be better served by a more inclusive food system, where passionate individuals can more easily serve their communities. Civic service is a moral imperative that drives us both as a company and as individuals.

Give boldly, give first.
We believe in the power of altruism as a way of paying things forward and a foundation for building trust. For our mission to propagate we need to not only lead by example, but to do so in such a way that it inspires others to follow suit.

Measure feelings, not things.
Metrics are a core component of any successful business. But the emotions and relationships that validate our work are less easily measured. Creating more meaningful interactions will help us build not only a successful business, but a brighter world to live in.

Details are everything.
Our obsessive attention to detail is what differentiates our experience and delights our community. It's the source of pride in our work. For us, success is measured in pride, not in credit.

Cultivate self reliance.
Long term self-reliance requires time and effort, but it is the only sustainable way to improve and grow. We see our culture of transparency and education as an investment in ourselves and those we work with - be it our cooks, customers, partners, or employees. We’re here to teach ‘em how to fish.



Our Story

Our story started when Tal flew to LA for work. A friend who'd grown up there told him he had to meet two people: his college friend Charley, and his mom, a lovely woman by the name of Josephine.

Josephine kindly hosted Tal at the family home and when it came time for him to leave LA, he cooked a big thank-you dinner for Josephine, her family, and Charley.

Over dinner, Tal and Charley discussed how fortunate they were to have grown up in households where dinner was cooked every night. The conversation continued for months until they decided to try to find a way to bring home cooking back into people's lives. So they moved up to the Bay, rented a house in Oakland, and began cooking meals out of it and inviting everyone they knew.

A year later, Josephine has developed into a loving community of cooks, families, friends, and neighbors. But this is just the beginning of our story."

[via: http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/11/the-food-delivery-start-up-you-havent-heard-of/414540/ ]
josephine  food  values  feelings  lcproject  openstudioproject  self-reliance  decentralization  relationships  metrics  emotions  altruism  humanism  community  humanity 
november 2015 by robertogreco
Three Moments With WeChat | 八八吧 · 88 Bar
"Despite being only four years old, WeChat is more popular in China than Facebook is in the US: 72% of all Chinese people with mobile devices use it, versus the 67% penetration rate Facebook has among American internet users. Yet its Facebook-esque feature, Moments, manages to avoid feeling like the Walmart of social interaction. When my soon-to-be cousin-in-law posted that photo, he no doubt received both sincere congratulations from his professional contacts and older relatives as well as jokes from his closer friends. On Moments, however, each user can only see activity from their own contacts: not even a total count of Likes is available to anyone other than the original poster. This automated privacy curtain means that group social dynamics can remain hidden in plain sight without any moderation effort required from the original poster. In other words, my cousin-in-law could perform his groomal duties without worrying about messy (and potentially embarrassing) context collapse.

This decision to prioritize context separation over the ability to perform social popularity is an important concession to what sociologist Tricia Wang calls the Elastic Self. In a culture where connections are everything, many of WeChat’s features are subtly optimized for “saving face” in complicated situations. You can chat with people without adding them as contacts: someone you met on a chat-coordinated dinner doesn’t automatically become a Contact with access to details about your social life. Even while adding someone as a Contact, there is an option to secretly prevent them from seeing your Moments updates. There’s also a conspicuous lack of presence and typing status indicators as compared to iMessage and other apps, allowing the receiver some measure of plausible deniability about when each message is received.

These days, the buzz around WeChat centers on its impressive sprawl into an entire operating system of features: in certain regions, a user can hail a cab, shop, and even manage their bank accounts all in the app. But these features, introduced in late 2013, only work because they capitalize on WeChat’s already dizzying adoption rate. What lies at the core of WeChat’s success is a series of smart design decisions that reflect the culture they were created in and, together, generate a unique experience that is as functional as it is addictive."



"WeChat privileges another mode of communication equally to text: “Hold to Talk.” This featured, used by almost as many people as texting, allows the sender to record a short voice message which is then sent in the conversation. The receiver taps it when they want to hear it, and if there are multiple messages, each subsequent one autoplays. It’s a brilliant feature that marries the intimacy and simplicity of voice with the convenience of asynchronicity that makes texting so appealing.

“Hold to Talk” may have been created for its convenience, but it’s also a powerfully expressive feature with interesting affordances of its own. In the process of writing this piece, I was thinking about a Chinese phrase I only half-remembered. Forgetting a language is funny — there are some words I can read but not pronounce, and others that I can parse while listening but not recognize visually. I remembered the vague shape and meaning of the phrase, so I sent two voice clips to my mom, fumbling the words awkwardly. An hour later, she responded with a voice clip of her own. I listened to her laugh and rib me about my illiteracy, and chuckled alongside it as if she were next to me."



"Periodically, one of our hosts would pull out his phone (a Samsung Galaxy S4, possibly shanzhai) to shoot video clips of the gathering, documenting everyone who was there. Other relatives crowded around the phone afterwards, watching all of the videos on the phone. They were so interested in the videos taken of our hosts’ lives in Beijing, where they lived for most of the year as migrant workers, that they went to desperate measures to attempt to copy them.

WeChat natively supports a surprising number of media formats: images, custom animated stickers, uploaded videos, natively captured short videos called Sights, and even PowerPoint and Word documents. It also facilitates passing these files from one conversation to another through a prominent “forwarding” option for files.

Now that my 80 year old grandmother is on WeChat, the whole family forwards anything amusing they find to the group chat we share so that she can see it. Often, it’s jokes, articles, and photos of ourselves and our food."



"Scrolling through my WeChat today, I see pictures of my cousin and cousin-in-law surfing and glowing on their honeymoon, pictures of my parents from a friend’s graduation ceremony, at least five jokes I can’t quite grok, and even the occasional dispatch from Nanzhai village. Using a chat app to hail a cab with your phone is cool, but at the end of the day the killer feature of WeChat will always be its ability to shorten distances and navigate social situations as deftly as we need to."

[via: http://tumblr.iamdanw.com/post/119597750700/despite-being-only-four-years-old-wechat-is-more ]
christinaxu  socialmedia  facebook  2015  wechat  china  contextcollapse  privacy  metrics  socialdynamics  social  interaction  moderation  mobile  application  socialnetworks  communication  tumblr  vine 
may 2015 by robertogreco
No legal merit | A Working Library
"In happier news, The Verge reports on Amazon’s shameless enforcement of non-competes for low-wage temporary workers, and Amazon rapidly about-faces. Nevermind pageviews and reading time, let’s measure publishing success by the actual change we bring about. Metrics could include unjust laws repealed, despicable company policies reversed, social welfare improved, centimeters of sea level increase averted, pseudo-science rejected, reduction in atmospheric carbon, happy children, puppies with loving homes. I’m only half-kidding. Business metrics are critical, but they’re not why we pour our hearts into this work, and we can’t ever let the numbers obscure that."



"An interesting aside: media Twitter was understandably aghast at Facebook’s new initiative, while seemingly unmoved by similar patterns on YouTube. I suspect this is because we have feels about words that we don’t have with video. It’s worth noting that while the web has become the de facto distribution method for video, the internet—that is, the open network of hypertext documents—privileges words over images. HTML is words annotating words. Words are foundational to HTML; images and video are not. Even our relationship to images is driven by language: one can “read” a picture, and our interpretation of images is constrained by words. I’m tempted to think our angst about the economy of letters should be directed at the underlying economic concerns—of which publishing is only one victim—and away from the words themselves. The words will be fine."
2015  mandybrown  metrics  journalism  activism  justice  policy  politics  business  measurement  publishing  success  change  changemaking  socialwelfare  society  law  legal  progress  climatechange  science  education  happiness  ellenpao  gender  inequality  amazon  labor  exploitation  women  facebook  html  text  images  video  youtube 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Grading Teachers by the Test - NYTimes.com
"In 2004, the Chinese government decided there were too many accidental deaths. China’s safety record, it decreed, should be brought in line with those of other middle-income countries. The State Council set a target: a decline in accidental deaths of 2.5 percent per year.

Provincial authorities kicked into gear. Eventually, 20 out of a total of 31 provinces adopted “no safety, no promotion” policies, hitching bureaucrats’ fate to whether they met the death ceiling. The results rolled in: by 2012 recorded accidental deaths had almost halved.

It wasn’t, however, all about increased safety. For instance, officials could reduce traffic deaths by keeping victims of severe accidents alive for eight days. They counted as accidental deaths only if the victims died within seven.

In a study of China’s declining deadly accidents, Raymond Fisman of Columbia University and Yongxiang Wang of the University of Southern California concluded that “manipulation played a dominant role.” Bureaucrats — no surprise — cheated.

This is hardly unusual. It is certainly not exclusive to China. These days, in fact, it has acquired particular importance in the debate over how to improve American education.

The question is, what will happen when teachers are systematically rewarded, or punished, based to some extent on standardized tests? If we really want our children to learn more, the design of any system must be carefully thought through, to avoid sending incentives astray.

“When you put a lot of weight on one measure, people will try to do well on that measure,” Jonah Rockoff of Columbia said. “Some things they do will be good, in line with the objectives. Others will amount to cheating or gaming the system.”

The phenomenon is best known as Goodhart’s Law, after the British economist Charles Goodhart. Luis Garicano at the London School of Economics calls it the Heisenberg Principle of incentive design, after the defining uncertainty of quantum physics: A performance metric is only useful as a performance metric as long as it isn’t used as a performance metric.

It shows up all over the place. Some hospitals in the United States, for example, will often do whatever it takes to keep patients alive at least 31 days after an operation, to beat Medicare’s 30-day survival yardstick. Last year, Chicago magazine uncovered how the Chicago Police Department achieved declining crime rates, simply by reclassifying incidents as noncriminal.

“We don’t know how big a deal this is,” said Jesse Rothstein, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who has criticized evaluation metrics based on test scores. “It is one of the main concerns.”"



"Critics have questioned the Harvard scholars’ findings. Teachers argue there is no way they could isolate the impact of teaching itself from other factors affecting children’s learning, particularly such things as the family background of the students, the impact of poverty, racial segregation, even class size.

Professor Rothstein at Berkeley suggested that sorting plays a big role in their results: better-ranked teachers got better students. Other studies found teachers’ scores jump around a lot from year to year, putting their value into question. Professors Rockoff, Chetty and Friedman have defended their results.

In this heated debate, however, it is important not to lose sight of Goodhart’s Law. Most of these studies measured the impact of test scores when tests carried little weight for teachers’ future careers. But what happens when tests determine whether a teacher gets a bonus or keeps his or her job?

From Atlanta to El Paso, school officials have been accused of cheating to improve their standing on test scores.

Fraud is not the only concern. In one study, schools forced to improve grades by the No Child Left Behind law were found to have focused on helping children who were at the cusp of proficiency. They had no incentive to address those comfortably above the cut or those with little hope of gaining enough in the short term.

A survey of teachers at a school district in the Southwest that awarded bonuses based on test scores found that many tried to avoid both gifted students and those not yet proficient in English whose grades were tough to improve. Others employed “drill and kill” strategies to ensure their students nailed the tests.

Education reformers acknowledge the challenge but argue that should not stand in the way of rigorous assessments.

“Anytime you perform an evaluation you must worry about unintended side effects,” said Joel Klein, former chancellor of New York City schools, who famously battled the teachers’ union. “But the absence of evaluation is totally unacceptable.”

High-stakes tests can encourage bad behavior. But they encourage good behavior, too. A study of public schools in Florida found that schools did focus on low-performing students, lengthened the time devoted to teaching, gave teachers more resources and tried to improve the learning environment."
nclb  assessment  testing  standardizedtesting  teaching  education  schools  goodhart'slaw  2015  cheating  china  measurement  metrics  hesserothstein  atlanta  florida  elpaso  texas  policy  howweteach 
march 2015 by robertogreco
sevensixfive: Shaky Tripod
"From the inception of American architectural education, our discipline has always been an unstable hybrid. William Ware, the founder of MIT's program, observed in 1866, after studying architectural education in Europe, that: "the French courses of study are mainly artistic, and the German scientific, and the English practical." His program, one of the first in the nation, would represent an attempt at synthesis.

Today this uneasy balance of art, science, and practice is in more danger of collapsing than ever.

We've ceded speculation to designers from other disciplines, the best work about the future relationship between technology, design, and culture at large is now coming from the fields of product design and industrial design. Within architecture, the production of novel form is now almost instantly commodified in the global marketplaces, going wherever labor is cheap and politics are autocratic. We've lost the majority of the everyday built environment to dullness and risk-averse bad planning. Meanwhile, with the exception of too few responsible firms engaged in mentorship, we have a professional culture that privileges technical skill and low wages over critical thinking. And we have an academic culture that looks for hard, measurable, machine readable metrics to decide if education is taking place or not.

University cultures, now focused on quantitative assessment over narrative in annual reports, are asking how many faculty are licensed architects, and how many graduating students are going on to licensure, meanwhile our professional organizations are re-entering the academy in several ways. NAAB intends to merge with ACSA, and NCARB wants to retool curriculum so that students receive licensure upon graduation. This is against the backdrop of a university academic culture that's getting hollowed out from within, as administration expands while teachers are asked to do more with less. Never mind time for research and speculation about the future, the academy must produce students that serve the profession now, because offices want affordable labor in the seats at 9am Monday, and they'd best be proficient in the latest version of Revit.

What can American architectural education offer back to these challenges? We can re-emphasize the historical mandate of the M. Arch degree: sustained critique, sustained speculation, in parallel with practice, scholarship and service, as a complement to the profession-oriented pedagogy of the B. Arch, and the deep dive methodology of the PhD. We can advocate for a return to an attitude towards the study and practice of architecture that places it back alongside the liberal arts and the fine arts.

The most useful things that architectural education can offer students in regards to professional practice are being buried under a futile race to keep up with software. If we teach practical skills, then let us focus on methodology over technique, the "why" over the "what." The proliferation of job descriptions designated "X Architect", where "X" is "Software", "Experience", or "User Interface", shows that other disciplines are hungry for the rigorous systems-level design methodologies that architectural education offers. And if one of the things we do best is speculation about the future, then let us serve practice by speculating with our students about the future of practice. This way, they will be able to anticipate, not the new plugins for parametric modeling that come out next week, but the new paradigms that will change how the built environment is made over the next decade."
fredscharmen  2015  architecture  education  criticalthinking  highered  methodology  practice  software  design  architecturaleducation  measurement  algorithms  quantification  curriculum  culture  academia  metrics  howweteach  howwelearn  why  theywhy 
february 2015 by robertogreco
That Study Never Happened | ThinkThankThunk
"What I question is for how long we in education will continue on without control data. How long will a status quo, that was never studied, continue? Show me the study that proves an 8-period day of personality-disorder inducing frenzy is more effective than a fundamentally different approach to time, space, and assessment?

Don’t compare to a block schedule, don’t compare to 7-period days, or long lunches, those aren’t fundamentally different variable states. Those studies weren’t ever done, and it has to do with the trickle-down college modeling that has now permeated the social inertia of the American public school.

That said, you can’t ask a teenager what they like. That’s another data analysis error. I value student voice, but I also recognize that someone who has only been thinking abstractly for a time span on the order of months may not have the data set necessary to legitimately claim what will and won’t work for their education.

That said, they can, with reasonably veracity, report really valuable metrics.

Efficacy.

Joy.

Interest.

Curiosity.

The ever-present effervescent teenage blurted comment shows a lot about mental connections in a very Rorschach-ian way.

If you asked this student whether she likes attending physics class or her Iowa BIG project better, she’ll report that she loves her project. I could tout this as a glorious victory, but, given the previous argument, I don’t think that kind of data is actually meaningful or those claims are even possible.

Test scores then, right? Nope. In general, those are only a measure of the poorly understood genetic rate of the brain’s ability to abstract concepts. There are some fantastically written exams, but they’re few and far between in usual practice.

My thesis is that you have to define the metrics that you believe matter. I got this idea from a fantastic conference I attended in Ohio a few years ago, and it has never left me.

If we’ve let the fickleness of history and public policy describe the bizarre set of standards (looking at you, Math) and therefore the metrics that we’ll measure all students against, you’ll end up with a system designed for those metrics.

Instead, if you define your own measures, and actually study longitudinally their validity, we’ll end up in a place where perhaps we’ll value the emotional-intelligence development of a teenager above their ability to comply with outdated curricula. Maybe we’ll come to value the nuance of entrepreneurial thought opposed to attempting to cram a line of reasoning they stole wholesale from Reddit into five paragraphs 20 minutes before the paper is due.

I love working at Iowa BIG."
shawncornally  2015  learning  metrics  comparison  control  education  meaning  values  measurement  curriculum  projectbasedlearning  purpose  socialemotional  emotionalintelligence  teens  youth  policy  teaching  howwelearn  legitimacy  pbl  socialemotionallearning 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Changes | Snakes and Ladders
"These two environments, Twitter and Tumblr, have something important in common, which they share with most social media sites: they invite you to measure people’s response to you. For many people this probably means nothing, but on me it has always had an effect. Over the years I developed a sense of how many RTs a tweet was likely to earn, how many reblogs or likes a Tumblr post would receive – and I couldn’t help checking to see if my guesses were right. I never really cared anything about numbers of followers, and for a long time I think I covertly prided myself on that; but eventually I came to understand that I wanted my followers, however many there happened to be, to notice what I was saying and to acknowledge my wit or wisdom in the currency of RTs and faves. And over time I believe that desire shaped what I said, what I thought – what I noticed. I think it dulled my brain. I think it distracted me from the pursuit of more difficult, challenging ideas that don’t readily fit into the molds of social media."
2015  writing  howwewite  soicalmedia  metrics  twitter  tumblr  attention  audience  alanjacobs 
january 2015 by robertogreco
A mile wide, an inch deep — Medium
"If what you care about — or are trying to report on — is impact on the world, it all gets very slippery. You’re not measuring a rectangle, you’re measuring an multi-dimensional space. You have to accept that things are very imperfectly measured and just try to learn as much as you can from multiple metrics and anecdotes.

If you’re trying to measure the value of a company, it’s in theory a lot simpler. The value of a company, from a financial perspective, is its ability to make money over time. This is not easy, and growth trajectory matters a lot for new companies. But what’s amazing — despite the contrary examples of Google and Apple — is that Wall Street has seemed to buy into the users = value equation. That, of course, trickles down to the valuations of private companies and the obsessions of VCs and the tech press.

If you’re an entrepreneur (or public company employee), don’t get caught up in this.

Numbers are important. Number of users is important. So are lots of other things. Different services create value in different ways. Trust your gut as much (or more) than the numbers. Figure out what matters and build something good."
measurement  metrics  quantification  2015  evanwilliams  twitter  instagram  upworthy  facebook  apple  nytimes  google  time  attention  buzzfeed 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Medicalskeptic on Twitter: "On numbers being gamed, people can't keep their own score - @EdwardTufte http://t.co/Ps9j1NoBIP Read this carefully and often"
"On numbers being gamed, people can't keep their own score - @EdwardTufte Read this carefully and often":

"People and institutions cannot keep their own score accurately. Metrics soon become targets and then pitches, and are thereby gamed, corrupted, misreported, fudged.

Examples: premature revenue recognition, Libor rates, beating the quarterly forecast by a single penny, terrorist attacks prevented, Weapons of Mass Destruction, number of Twitter followers, all body counts (crowd sizes, civilians blown up).

Sometimes called the Principal of Lake Wobegone, where all children are above average."
edwardtufte  gamification  numbers  metrics  quantification  cheating  accuracy  scorekeeping  liborrates  2014 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Beautiful Bytes of Data | The Jose Vilson
"The word data slides easily off the tongue but has no personality and sounds as dry as a funeral drum. School administrators try to grace the word by telling parents that “data-driven school districts” will radically change public education, hoping that a staccato of words and a flare of alliteration will impress a captive audience. Some disingenuous school officials assert that “data-driven” is an essential tool for effectively managing a business, so why not a school system?

But it’s all a ruse. The sum of all the rhetoric about the importance of designing data-driven school districts is a shell game, a slight of hand practiced by illusionists to distract trusting parents who believe school administrators know what is best for their children. Anything “data-driven” must be beneficial for schools, parents are told, because data is information, and information is necessary to make sound decisions about curriculum, instruction and learning. And since even the best used car salesperson can no longer sell the faux elixir of Common Core now that this failed one-size-fits-all education policy has been exposed, school administrators need a new mantra to mystify parents.

Data has an ugly side, a face that frequently emerges when it is misinterpreted or convoluted to justify a faulty assumption or bad decision. The countless financial manipulations practiced by Wall Street brokers and bankers have repeatedly proven that data can be exploited and cause financial ruin for millions of people. Data may be defined as a set of values of quantitative and qualitative variables, and business savors at the trough of data, but schools should be people-driven rather than data-driven institutions.

The young man who stepped in front of the train was a beautiful byte of data, but he was more than the sum of the quantitative information collected by a data-driven school district. His social and emotional data fills less space on his school district’s list of quantifiable student data than math and science scores, and that is the shame of the present state of American public education.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, Suicide is the SECOND leading cause of death for ages 10-24, and more teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease … combined. Need quantitative data? Each day in our nation, there are an average of over 5,400 suicide attempts by young people grades 7-12, and four out of five teens who have attempted suicide give clear warning signs. Maybe its time to take off the blinders of a data-driven school district to see clearly that our students are suffering.

Data is not our generation’s penicillin. It is an ugly word used by school administrators, policy makers, and government officials to demean the greatest social institution ever designed by human hands – a public school. Data is being used to compare the United States with countries such as Finland because the Finns score higher on international math and science tests, but can someone – anyone – tell me what Finland produces with their wealth of science and math knowledge?

[crickets]
The United States may score lower on international math and science tests, but somehow we instill creativity in our students and produce amazing technologies.

I taught and helped mentor the young man who stepped in front of the train. I helped him get a scholarship to a vocational school after he earned a high school diploma. He wanted to be an electrician, but I also knew about the many demons that tormented his gentle soul. He endured a miserable childhood, never knew his father, drank too much, and could not leash his black dog of depression. I tried to place him on a road that could lead him to a better place, believing that terra firma would make him feel a clearer path to success and salvation, but he could not see nor feel the ground beneath his feet. I failed.

I believe the vast majority of classroom teachers are not opposed to collecting data that may enhance instructional strategies or improve learning, but do object to a school system trying to emulate a business model designed to increase production and profits rather than enhance social and emotional growth. The social and emotional learning needs of children are too often omitted when describing the purpose of a “data-driven school district” and this is a flawed education philosophy.

The young man was a beautiful byte of data. Now he is a cold dead statistic."
2014  data  depression  metrics  schools  publischools  comparison  standardization  standardizedtesting  politics  policy  pisa  finland  us  testing  commoncore  josévilson 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Three Cups of Fiction
[also here: http://carolblack.org/three-cups-of-fiction/ ]

[previously bookmarked here: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:8d8c57761fd4 ]

"The reality is that there are few better ways to condemn a child to a life of poverty than to confine her in a bad school, and a very high percentage of schools in low-income areas are and will remain bad schools.  Many NGO’s as well as international programs like “Education for All” are focused on the body count, on getting more and more children into classrooms.  What happens to those kids in those classrooms is harder to quantify or to track.  One thing that seems clear is that an awful lot of them learn very little. A Brookings Institution study of education in Pakistan by Rebecca Winthrop and Corinne Graff reports that “the education system produces many unemployable youths with few skills for economic survival…..In a recent survey of Pakistani youth, half the students say that they believe they lack the skills necessary to compete in today’s labor market.”  A World Bank Policy Research working paper indicates that, contrary to popular belief, money spent on education often increases inequality in a country. This is partly because those who already have substantial assets are better positioned to take advantage of educational resources than those who have their hands full trying to get food on the table.  But it’s also because from its inception school was designed as a sorting mechanism, a rigged competition where only one form of intelligence is valued, only one way of learning is permitted, and one child’s success means another child’s failure.  We forget that the structure of schools as we know them today was developed during a time when people believed in racist eugenics and Social Darwinism; modern schools were structurally designed to perpetuate a hierarchical class system, and – despite the best efforts of many dedicated teachers – that’s exactly what they still do, through the non-democratic, hierarchical ranking of children which is hard-wired into our entire system of grading, testing, and one-size-fits-all standards.  Until we change that – at home as well as abroad –  education will continue to perpetuate and justify poverty, not to ameliorate it.

Of course, even if everybody succeeded at school, you would just run into the fact that the current structure of the global economy does not provide enough good jobs for the growing number of graduates. As Winthrop and Graff say about Pakistan, “Many young people express fears about their ability to find employment, and they believe there are too few jobs available and that their prospects are getting worse, not better. One complains that ‘if you have an MA or an MBA you do not get a job. People are roaming around with degrees in their hands.’” Economists at the World Bank have a fanciful theory – a fairy tale much bigger than any of Greg Mortenson’s – that by schooling the world and expanding our “human resources” we will endlessly expand the growth economy to a point where we will all live in affluence. This is pure fantasy, of the “it’s-okay-to-buy-this-house-that-you-can’t-afford-because-the-housing-market-always-goes-up” variety. The planet doesn’t have the physical resources to sustain a middle-class lifestyle for a white-collar world, and in any case, who will mine the coal, collect the garbage, and work at Walmart when all seven billion of us have college degrees? China now has millions of unemployed college graduates, and it turns out they are as free to work in sweatshops as everybody else. As the New York Times reports, “While some recent graduates find success, many are worn down by a gauntlet of challenges and disappointments. Living conditions can be Dickensian, and grueling six-day work weeks leave little time for anything else but sleeping, eating and doing the laundry.” Zhang Ming, a political scientist and vocal critic of China’s education system says, “College essentially provided them with nothing…. For many young graduates, it’s all about survival. If there was ever an economic crisis, they could be a source of instability.”"



"The World Bank isn’t giving us any data on this. Girls’ education raises GDP, the development agencies all crow! Yes, but transitioning rural people from self-sufficient farming into sweatshops also raises GDP. Girls’ education lowers the infant mortality rate! Yes, but what if introducing school failure into rural areas also raises the sex trafficking rate? It’s commonly assumed that lack of education in developing areas is a risk factor for trafficking, but apparently the evidence suggests the opposite; according to the Strategic Information Response Network, vulnerability to human trafficking correlates with more schooling and the migration to urban areas in search of money that usually follows it. “Dream big,” Greg Mortenson exhorts girls from tiny villages in Pakistan. But what happens when those dreams don’t materialize, and a well-oiled international network that trades in girls not just for sex but for domestic servitude and sweatshop labor is ready to fill the breach? A multitude of pathologies, including suicide, drug and alcohol addiction, mental illness, obesity, and diabetes go up when traditional cultures are disrupted and people transition rapidly from a land-based non-cash economy into the modern global economy, but news like this doesn’t get you on the bestseller list. The aid agencies cherry-pick statistics to prove that the impact of their programs is good, and the popular press repeats their conclusions without question the way they repeat much official propaganda."



"Most importantly, solutions begin with the truth. We can’t start working toward real answers until we stop lying to ourselves about what schools do to children – in the real world, not in our dreams. We need to acknowledge that no system that discards millions of normal, healthy kids as failures – many of them extremely smart, by the way – will ever provide a lasting or universal solution to anything. We need to innovate with learning here at home and abroad, to put our resources into developing the many promising models that already exist for sharing knowledge, skills and ideas without humiliating children or branding them as failures. We need to recognize the real value of the intellectual traditions of other cultures – including non-literate cultures – and look for ways to share useful information in both directions which does not completely disrupt or undermine the social structures, traditional livelihoods, and knowledge systems of those cultures.

And most of all, we need to stop falling for the popular fiction of schooling as a cure for everything and recognize that a romanticized idea of education is being used as a PR device and a smokescreen to obscure the real economic issues at play for powerful nations and corporations – who extract natural resources and cheap labor from weaker nations, and then turn around and tax their own citizens to provide “aid” and “education” to help “end poverty.” It’s an elaborate shell game, a twisted road to nowhere. It should be clear by now that the “rising tide” does not “float all boats” – that’s another fairy tale – and it’s time to start talking seriously about the underlying global economic structures which are creating poverty, so that people everywhere can educate their own children in the way they think best –– without charity.

Greg Mortenson’s second book, Stones Into Schools, revolves around his efforts to build a school for Kyrgyz nomads in Afghanistan. He built the school, and it stands empty, never having been used. Many development people, including Mortenson, would tut about this, and try to find ways to convince the Kyrgyz people of the importance of education for their children’s futures. But to me, this empty school is a small sign of hope. I mean, Greg. Hello. They’re nomads. Should they give up their horses and their high mountain valleys and their yurts and sit in a classroom for years so at the end they can look for work hauling bricks or driving trucks in Kandahar or Kabul? As it turns out, the New York Times reports that Kyrgyz parents want their children to learn to read and write; it’s just that they also want them to herd sheep. Mortenson’s representative in the region was frustrated by this: “The Kyrgyz only care about sheep and yaks…They say if we have sheep and yaks, we have success in life.” Hmm. Perhaps the Kyrgyz don’t understand the value of education. Or perhaps they still have a sense of what’s real and what’s not in this world. Sheep are definitely real; “big dreams” may not be. The Afghan government, to its credit, seemed to recognize this, and sent teachers to teach the children at home in their yurts. Apparently it’s working out quite well. I just hope the Kyrgyz remain unschooled enough to continue to be able to tell fact from fiction."
metrics  quantification  education  schooling  gregmortenson  children  schools  carolblack  unschooling  deschooling  nomadism  nomads  trafficking  failure  girls  worldbank  development  economics  competition  society  poverty  colonization  colonialism 
august 2014 by robertogreco
academic influence on Twitter: the findings | the theoryblog
[via: http://tinyletter.com/audreywatters/letters/hack-education-weekly-newsletter-no-70 ]

"The central theme that ran through participant data was that scholars do employ complex logics of influence which guide their perceptions of open networked behaviours, and by which they assess peers and unknown entities within scholarly networked publics. More specifically, all scholars interviewed articulated concepts of network influence that departed significantly from the codified terms of peer review publication and academic hiring hierarchies on which conventional academic influence is judged.



A primary finding of the research was that metrics –the visible numbers attached to social media profiles and blogs – are seldom taken up in isolation. Participants showed a nuanced and relatively consistent understanding of metrics: the higher the number of tweets, the longer a profile was assumed to have been active, and the higher the ratio of followers to following (Twitter does not require reciprocal ‘friending’ in the way Facebook does), the more likely the person was to be perceived as influential. Yet equally consistent across the data were caveats of context, in which participants made clear they seldom interpret the metrics of public Twitter profiles as a final indicator of a scholar’s influence or potential value to their own network.



While size or scale of account was not taken up as a direct indicator of influence or value, there did appear to be a critical mass at which those who are visible in open networks to become ever more visible. A number of interviews – with participants of varying scale – noted that for large accounts identity and reputation can become “a thing,” and the reciprocal communications upon which many participants build their networks becomes difficult to sustain.



Participants who had reached significant scale with their own Twitter accounts, blogs, and digital identities tended not to speak about size of account as a benefit or goal, but more as an identity shift; one that involves challenges, adjustments, and responsibilities, as well as privileges.



The intersection of high network status with lower or unclear institutional academic status was a recurring topic in interviews, in reflections, and in public Twitter conversations. Participants indicated that the opportunities sometimes afforded junior scholars with network influence can create confusion and even discord within the highly-codified prestige arena of academia, because the hallmarks of network influence can’t be ‘read’ on institutional terms. Networked scholars were acutely aware both of network and academic terms of influence and appeared to codeswitch between the two even on Twitter and in other network environments. However, they noted that colleagues and supervisors tended to treat networked engagement as illegitimate and, in some cases, a signal of “not knowing your place.” Of the alternate prestige economies that intersect with academia, participants reported media exposure as the most coherent to their less-networked academic peers.



The value placed on shared peers reflects a broader pattern observed within the research: recognizable signals have a powerful impact on perceived influence and perceived credibility. In the same way that recognizable journal titles or schools or supervisors serve as signals of conventional academic influence, so do both conventional and network factors of recognizability carry weight in assessments of network influence. Thus, shared peer networks matter, as do visible acknowledgements such as mentions and retweets; additionally, familiar academic prestige structures such as rank and institution can add to impressions even of network influence.



One clear indicator of a lack of network influence was automated engagement. Three exemplar identities had automated paper.li or Storify notifications in the screen-captured timelines that were shared with participants; one exemplar’s visible tweets were all paper.li links, or automated daily collections of links. Responses to the paper.li were universally negative, even where the exemplar was otherwise deemed of interest. “Potential value to my network – she tweets relevant stuff so probably I should follow her! On second thought, she has a Paper.li, and by definition I unfollow anyone who uses that tool.” Other participants were equally direct: “The only negative for me was the link to a daily paper.li. I tend to find those annoying (almost never click them!)”

Storify was not interpreted to indicate the same level of low influence or awareness, but its automated tag feature was still a flag that participants mentioned: “This is on the fence for me since Storify takes some effort to be engaged with things and maybe she didn’t get that she can opt out of those tweets informing people that they’ve been “quoted.”"
bonniestewart  2014  twitter  networks  academia  infuence  filterbubbles  metrics  paper.li  storify  authority  via:audreywatters 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Toward a Poetics of Skateboarding | The American Reader
"But for all of its private jargon, skateboarding’s poetry has never been linguistic. It is forever embodied and also, though this is difficult to speak of seriously, spiritual. How else to explain its appearance in Uganda without even a single retail outlet to support it? In fact, the only conveyable language of skateboarding, outside of participation and socialization in the activity itself, has always been spoken through film.

In broad terms, skate media splits time between documentation and advertisement, and their commercial evolution has skewed ever more crass and spectacular. Recent work from select video artists, however, attempts to confront the activity’s basic mystery and meaningful meaninglessness. Non-skateboarders have tended not to look very closely at these films. They mostly do not care. Skateboarders meanwhile care far too much to care exactly why. In any case, it’s here that an attempt toward a poetics of skateboarding must begin."



"Nor can we call such an effort unselfish. My own struggle with the mystery of skateboarding began five years ago, fifteen after I first stepped onto a board, when I began work on my second novel. The problem I encountered was that none of skateboarding’s confectionary can or should be dismissed. Speaking technically and contra Ian Mackaye, skateboarding today is a sport and a hobby both, along with countless other things: a therapy, an obsession, a conservative anti-drug. In its basic meaninglessness, skateboarding has become the tool that takes the shape of whoever’s hand it’s in."



"What in those first years had fit awkwardly into a de facto rubric of athletics—a sport to be timed and judged for athletic merit—became in the 1970s something more rhetorical. The ethos was the punk scavenging of revolution by way of repurposing. Whatever prefigurations of the object we had seen, never before had they been deployed creatively. To speak in China Mieville’s terms, what emerged was something counterposed to the comfort of the uncanny. The activity, new, unrecognized, and bounded only by imagination, was abcanny."



"While the basic spirit of skateboarding might have remained constant since the addition of polyurethane, the marketplace around it quite obviously has not. Now and once again the importance of skateboarding in our time is on the increase. Today, it is on Fox. It is on ESPN with real-time algorithms for evaluating tricks. Once more the marketplace would have us comprehend skateboarding as a sport.

We know on first glance that skateboarding, in its dominant form of street activity, stands apart from ball and net athletics. It seems uninterested, too, in velocity and stopwatch performances. But the first challenge to the rubric of sport begins even lower, at a semiotic level. You and I could, if we wanted, go and shoot lazy jumpshots on a netless schoolyard hoop, or go to the driving range and smack buckets of balls into the green void. We can take our gloves to the park and throw grounders and pop flies and apply tags to invisible runners. But for any of these to qualify as “basketball,” “golf,” or “baseball,” we would require the structure of competition and order of rules.

Systems such as these have no bearing on skateboarding, of which even the most negligible acts, no matter how brief or private, simply are skateboarding. Consider: between my home and the nearest skatepark is a well-paved boulevard with sewer caps embedded into the blacktop every half block or so. A source of joy for me is to push down this boulevard and pop tiny ollies over these sewer caps, sometimes barely scraping my tail, other times popping hard and pulling my knees up to my chest. These are not tricks proper, just ways to see and engage with the street’s reality. This is not, as athletes might call it, practice; I am not training for a future event. It is travel, yes, but the joy has little to do with the scenery or distance covered. In the purview of skate competition, this pushing down the boulevard, the single most fun I have in any given day, is not a scorable act of skateboarding. It is worth zero and it is worth everything.

In a world increasingly data-driven and surveilled, skateboarding lives beneath scoring and resists all datazation by establishing everything as a performance. It deflects the surveillance state by its primal devotion to documenting and sharing itself, monitoring every possible development, repetition, and failure. It pre-empts the onslaught of observation by embracing it. To pre-empt is to deflect, but also to admit defeat. Luckily, skateboarders are shameless—in this way, they’re the perfect actors to play the role of themselves.

Our potential heuristic now approaches what literary and cultural theorists today speak of, with a smirk, as the so-called authentic self. But a skater, whether standing on his stage, behind a camera, or at a keyboard, sees and thinks and performs precisely as what and who he is. What other memberships function in this or a similar manner? Parenthood. Romantic partnership. Citizenship. Does artistry?

***

To date, the most complete attempt to theorize skateboarding has been Iain Borden’s Skateboarding, Space and the City: Architecture and the Body (Berg, 2001). Borden, a Professor of Architecture and Urban Culture at The Bartlett, University College London, treats the activity of skateboarding as a Lefebvrian practice with a potential to become its own sort of architecture: not of construction, but by the “production of space, time, and social being.” He traces the history of skateboarding into the 1990s’ street skating movement, and speaks of the way this “oppositional subculture” rethinks architecture “as a set of discrete features and elements…recomposing it through new speeds, spaces and times.” The gears of capitalism create spaces in which behavior is prescribed and easily accounted for. Skateboarding’s opposition is thus a compositional process, partially of the individual body, which is recomposed against the “intense scopic determinations of modernist space,” and partially of a deeper critique of urban life: “production not as the production of things but of play, desires and actions.”"



"By contrast, today’s most compelling skateboarding films aim to capture not only the play of skateboarding, but enact what Borden calls the “positive dialectic that restlessly searches for new possibilities of representing, imagining and living our lives.” The “Panoramic Series” from Philip Evans, for example, relieves the actor from the full burden of attention. Here Evans follows Phil Zwijsen through his hometown of Antwerp:"



"The skater, Austyn Gillette, appears only after the environmental context, resulting in a portrait not of one or the other, but both. The subject is, as skateboarding’s always has been in practice, the interactions between city and individual body. Alongside recent work by Mike Manzoori, Evan Schiefelbine and select others, these films find energy beyond the progressive trickery of athletics, or the documentation of extant geographies. They combine the skateboarder’s practice—creative, productive—with a distinctly non-skateboarding meta-awareness of the activity’s potential for meaning. Their grounding within the geist of skateboarding is obvious: there is nothing a skater spots more quickly than the fraud, or tourist. These are films made by skateboarders who have lived within the activity’s world, and who choose to leverage the activity as a tool to understand itself. How long, they ask, must a toy endure before it becomes something else? What does it become, and does this mean it has ceased to be a toy?"



"Roberto Bolaño called surrealism “something convulsive and vague, that familiar amorphous thing.” If indeed there is ever to be a poetics of skateboarding, familiarity will have to play a role. Suvin argued that science fiction’s value lay in its ability to effect cognitive estrangement. Campbell’s film documents and creates ostranenie by the re-presentation of a familiar world as captured by, and portrayed through, the glance of the radical dreamer. In fact, what Cuatros does better than any film I’ve seen is remind us that skateboarding’s heuristic usefulness is ontological. Its topos is not that there is a world inside the world, but rather: there is a world the exact shape and texture of the world that you know laid seamlessly over top of it, and you, for some reason, fail to see how beautiful it can be.

Convulsive, vague, and conveyed by slidy looks. Campbell’s subject is our ineffable, binding thing, that lurking, trembling essence that he can only render by images and motions of the surreal. The artist whose art was born from skateboarding has made an object about skateboarding that conveys this birth and mode of being. Skateboarding infects the filmmaker infects the musicians infects the viewer. Viewer goes out skating. Skateboarding is self-perpetuating in this way. It is always itself and something else, it is infectious, it is comprehensive and sublatable to the core. This is how the infinite comes to be—once born, skateboarding can never now die.

But the dreamscape of Cuatros Sueños Pequeños is not an expression of this infinity. Rather, it is mimetic. What world is this?, asks the skateboarder. A familiar one we have seen so many times that it’s rendered unseeable. More importantly, what is to be done in it? The answer, like Campbell’s film, is incoherent, and thank goodness. The answer is anything at all."
skating  skateboarding  skateboards  quantification  measurement  urban  urbanism  surveillance  iainborden  meaning  film  video  robertobolaño  thomascampbell  cuatrosueñospequeños  performance  datazation  repetition  monitoring  failure  documentation  process  capitalism  henrilefebvre  space  place  play  culture  movement  infectiousness  inspiration  feral  ecosystems  socialbeing  time  architecture  landscape  kylebeachy  understanding  experience  robertzemeckis  pontusalv  punk  metrics  schematics  markets  poetics  filmmaking  darkosuvin  sciencefiction  ianmackaye  technology  history  circumstance  california  socal  sports  chinamieville  abcanny  zines  creativity  competition  commercialization  commercialism  commoditization  diy  systems  rules  revolution  resistance  practice  authenticity  artistry  philipevans  philzwijsen  colinkennedy  stasis  motion  austyngillette  mikemanzoori  evanschiefelbine  javiermendizabal  madarsapse  dondelillo  cities  meaninglessness  participation  participatory  democracy  tribes  belonging  identity  spirituality  social  socializati 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Correlation does not imply causation | re-educate seattle
"Everyone wants to prove their program works, and the way we do that is through cold hard data. Figuring out what to measure, however, is not simple. The Gates Foundation used to measure how many kids were getting into college, until it realized that it was measuring the wrong thing. Now, getting kids through college with a degree is the primary focus.

I suspect that, over time, the Gates Foundation will realize that it’s still measuring the wrong thing.

* * *

The cold hard data on the matter of education and income is clear: the more you learn, the more you earn. At least, that’s what we’ve convinced ourselves. I suspect that the relationship between the two is one in which correlation does not prove causation. In other words, it’s not clear that college graduates earn more because of what they learned in college.

Just off the top of my head, I can think of three friends who never finished college.

[stories]

This is why I suspect the relationship between a college degree and success is merely correlation and not causation. What you learn in college often has very little to do with the work you do at your job. Would Allan be a better project manager or a better father if he’d spent more time analyzing Hemingway’s prose? Would Terry deliver better customer service if he’d passed Oceanography 101?

* * *

I know, I know. To suggest that kids don’t necessarily need to go to college is heresy in our society. But the relationship between academic learning and life satisfaction is not clear.

The thing that kids get out of college—the reason they’re able to earn more money after graduation— is they’ve completed a process in which they had to set a goal that’s achievable over time, in which they had to develop the self-discipline to overcome obstacles and see it through to the end. That’s a valuable process that some people learn in college. Allan, Dan, and Terry learned it some other way.

* * *

In the end, the whole point of this stuff is to figure out how we can maximize our happiness, right? We want to figure out how to be successful, contributing members of society because we want to be happy.

Well, consider this quotation from Martin Seligman, past president of the American Psychological Association and the father of the Positive Psychology movement. He’s a scientist, which means he makes his living analyzing cold hard data. “As a professor, I don’t like this, but the cerebral virtues—curiosity, love of learning—are less strongly tied to happiness than interpersonal virtues like kindness, gratitude and capacity for love.”

So, what exactly should we be measuring?"
measurement  quantification  stevemiranda  2014  college  colleges  universities  unschooling  deschooling  life  living  learning  schooliness  correlation  metrics  graduationrates 
january 2014 by robertogreco
tim wright: digital writer: Some Thoughts About Innovation and Failure
"The trick, apparently, is to *learn* from failure. Only then is failure worth risking. That way the 'innovation' has a point even if it doesn't deliver immediate value. I'd argue, however, that we don't always have to learn from failure, and that sometimes making the same mistakes over and over again might even be part of the innovation (or rather the *invention*) process.

I've worked on lots of failed projects. I'm quite proud of it (in a way). I worked on a project recently, in fact, that was pretty much a failure. (Such a failure that it recently came *second* in an innovation contest - LOL.)"



"So for my money, this leaves 'innovation' as the poor second-cousin of genuine 'invention'. I'd also like to claim that invention can and does often happen in a bubble, and doesn't have to relate to anything that came before. *And* I'd also want to suggest that failure doesn't necessarily need to have a learning point or any value.

We can just noodle about and experiment and repeat and fail again and again and again without any obvious point. Many great artists have done this. It is allowed - and may even be a more natural way to get to truly great new things than enforcing a programme of 'innovation'.

Two cheers, then, for Tom Uglow for being brave enough to face the consequences of our failure and admit that the benefits and value of the #dream40 experiment are to a large extent 'unknown'. As he writes:
"Artistic projects like this do not fit one-size-fits all metrics; and I’m not sure what those metrics are anyway – though I do know that targets breed strategies to hit targets, so you’ll forgive us for ignoring them. Hitting targets reward organizations not audiences, or artists, or culture. This was a disruptive experiment and a hugely successful one if judged simply on what we learnt and where we now move forward from. We hope you understand why we did this and that you enjoyed and continue to enjoy it."
"

[via: http://proboscis.org.uk/5383/thoughts-on-failure/ ]
tomuglow  timwright  rewards  kickstarter  failure  innovation  strategies  targets  funding  fundraising  art  metrics  audiences  organizations  culture  learning  2013 
november 2013 by robertogreco
thoughts on failure | Proboscis
"As I’m sure others who’ve launched kickstarter projects have experienced, I received a number of messages offering me advice and professional services to enhance the campaign. Essentially all the advice boiled down to a simple nugget, that the only way to succeed was to already have a significant “fanbase” who could be “activated” or motivated to pledge support and then amplify it by sharing the fact they’d supported the project to their friends and social circles. If I’ve learnt anything then its probably that Proboscis doesn’t have a fanbase as such to activate.

The irony, too, was not lost on me of trying to raise funding for a project about free play and improvisation without rules, winners or rewards on a crowdfunding platform entirely structured around rewards and goals – where there are only winners (those who reach or surpass their goal) and losers. Could there be more to this than just irony? Could it be that the conceptual nature of the PlayCubes (indeed of my whole practice) is just so diametrically opposite to the way in which kickstarter and the communities which form around it operate that it was always unlikely to succeed? Tim’s post also quotes Tom Uglow writing about a project they collaborated on, #dream40"

[See also (linked within): http://timwright.typepad.com/main/2013/10/some-thoughts-about-innovation-and-failure.html ]
kickstarter  crowdsourcing  art  2013  gileslane  rewards  goals  funding  fundraising  learning  innovation  metrics  audiences  organizations 
november 2013 by robertogreco
What #isamuseum | Sam Durant
"Is a museum a school?
Is a museum political?
Is a museum truthful?
Is a museum fun?
Is a museum for everyone?

Sam Durant, the 2013 Getty Artists Program invitee, is a multimedia artist whose work explores the relationships between politics and culture. His socially engaged practice addresses subjects as diverse as the civil rights movement, Southern rock music, and modernism.

For his project, What #isamuseum?, Durant continues to investigate these ideas by engaging Museum visitors and staff in an exploration of the roles and functions of a museum. Through a call-and-response format, visitors discover a series of artist-designed questions placed in unexpected locations throughout the Getty Center. With these questions, Durant invites reflections on and responses to the expectations and preconceptions of what a museum is. Individual responses can be shared on www.isamuseum.org, and visitors can input their answers at an iPad hub site located in the Museum Entrance Hall. Social-media outlets, such as Twitter, Facebook, and the Getty Voices project, also serve as channels to discuss the questions and broaden the discourse.

According to Durant, "By expanding the conversation and encouraging different forms of response, participants can become active within the project and even change the debate around the initial issue.”"

[See also (tags here are for that too): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQoEP3pPPjg ]
[Via: http://nomadicity.tumblr.com/post/52793583244/http-isamuseum-org-what-isamuseum-hes-asked ]

[Mentioned in the video: Caroline Woolard's Exchange Cafe at MoMA http://www.moma.org/visit/calendar/exhibitions/1364

here too
http://www.kcet.org/arts/artbound/counties/los-angeles/sam-durant-social-media-getty-what-isamuseum.html ]
museums  samdurant  art  politics  culture  education  #isamuseum  getty  purpose  2013  googleartproject  pablohelguera  robertsain  lacmalab  sandiego  google  ncm  gettyartistsprogram  tobytannenbaum  jessicacusick  moma  centerforlivingarts  glvo  cv  why  learning  artists  chrisburden  engagement  community  children  children'smuseums  public  exchangecafe  institutions  openstudioproject  lcproject  participation  cocreation  collaboration  participatory  metrics  outcomes  success  civics  schools  future  candychang  civicengagement  law  legal  carolinewoolard  cafes  ncmideas  participatoryart 
june 2013 by robertogreco
In Lead-Up to Launch, Obvious-Backed Lift Leaves Gamification Behind - Liz Gannes - Product News - AllThingsD
"Everything in Lift is public to the community, so the goals tend not to be terribly personal — some popular ones are “eat breakfast,” “talk to a stranger,” “exercise,” “drink more water,” “do pushups” and “read.”
In recent testing, dropping gamification increased retention to 50 percent from 5 percent, Stubblebine said…

Originally, … Lift naturally gravitated toward gamification in the hopes that it could create a sort of “Zynga for good,” according to Stubblebine. But designing around gamification presented a few problems: It tempted complication in the product design, and it set up a rigid structure for people to succeed on preset terms, rather than allowing them to find their own motivation.

“If you build a game, you’re providing a fantasy,” Stubblebine said. “We basically replaced a fantasy with reality.”"

[See comment from Tony Stubblebine too.]
nakedgamification  quantifiedself  tonystubblebine  habits  2012  tracking  metrics  gamification  applications  iphone  lift  ios 
june 2012 by robertogreco
Making Sense of the Data — Imprint-The Online Community for Graphic Designers
"Dysfunctional measurement has the following characteristics:

1. It's outsourced. You're paying someone else to do it for you because, for whatever reason, you believe you can't do it for yourself. As a result...

2. It's irregular. When you rely upon someone to do something else for you, it typically doesn't get done the way it should. And when you're paying for it, it probably isn't getting done as often as it should. But when it does get done...

3. It's too quantitative. Think about it. A third party cannot know enough about your business to ask the right questions—the questions you probably already are asking. They can give you stats, but stats aren't always answers."

"Functional measurement isn't occasionally paying someone else to gather numbers for you. It's regularly gathering data that provides enlightening, qualitative insights."

"Thing #1: There are no independently meaningful metrics. It's about combining them to answer questions.
Thing #2: Anything can be a source of data."
data  waggledance  publishing  web  measurement  metrics  dataanalysis  graphicdesign  via:tealtan 
january 2012 by robertogreco
Teaching Social Innovation | Austin Center for Design
"“We [need to] teach decidedly unglamorous, small scale tools that allow people to make meaning in as significant ways possible, not only in terms of outcomes, but in terms of process.” That’s precisely the right message for design educators – to emphasize significance in process, rather than object, and focus on small-scale, deep impact. It’s a rejection of an exhausted focus on metrics, scale, and artifacts, and for many of us, it means ignoring the hype of design tourism. I’m positioning the program at AC4D on creating founders who have a sensitive, passionate, and intellectual approach to their work. And I’m thrilled to see more and more programs embracing social innovation, and re-evaluating – and in many cases, massively overhauling – tired design curricula."
jonkolko  design  education  learning  socialinnovation  designeducation  projectbasedlearning  2011  metrics  measurement  success  humanitariandesign  depthoverbreadth  timelines  time  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  ac4d  meaning  meaningfulness  eziomazini  commitment  relationships  tcsnmy  communityengagement  krissdeiglmeier  socialimpact  assessment  tracking  accreditation  credentials  convenience  responsibility  designtourism  entrepreneurship  helenwalters  shrequest1  pbl 
august 2011 by robertogreco
The Great Ephemeralization | Bottom-up
"Paul Graham & Reihan Salam have been popularizing term “ephemeralization”, originally coined by Bucky Fuller, to describe process whereby special-purpose products are replaced by software running on general-purpose computing devices. As list above suggests, ephemeralization is affecting a growing fraction of the economy. & w/ technologies like self-driving cars on the horizon, its importance will only grow in the coming decades.

Ephemeralization offers an alternative explanation for the puzzling growth slowdown of the last decade. Every time the software industry displaces a special purpose device, our standard of living improves but measured GDP falls. If what you care about is government revenue, this point might not matter much—it’s hard to tax something if no one’s paying for it. But the real lesson here may not be that the US economy is stagnating, but rather that the government is bad at measuring improvements in our standard of living that come from software industry."
technology  internet  politics  history  economics  gdp  productivity  growth  2011  ephemeralization  buckminsterfuller  paulgraham  tylercowen  reihansalam  books  timothylee  taxation  taxes  govenment  metrics  measurement  via:jeeves 
june 2011 by robertogreco
Education reform: Seeing like a superintendent | The Economist
"What goes on in a classroom is a social phenomenon that can't be effectively captured through standardised measurements. But they need a number. So they're creating standardised measurements to get one. But immediately, the application of the measurement and its incentives changes the way the phenomenon is organised. A complex, creative process is stripped down to a mechanical one designed to produce high test scores. The old-growth forest is replaced with rows of Norway spruce." Ms Goldstein writes: "In the social sciences, there is an oft-repeated aphorism called Campbell's Law, named after Donald Campbell, the psychologist who pioneered the study of human creativity: "The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor." In short, incentives corrupt…"
education  reform  via:preoccupations  standardizedtesting  valueadded  teaching  tcsnmy  learning  2011  corruption  standardization  policy  politics  decisionmaking  government  us  publicschools  unschooling  deschooling  metrics  measurement  campbellslaw  quantitativetesting  improvement  finland  southkorea  korea  peerreview  masterteachers  planning  lessonplans 
april 2011 by robertogreco
"the more you focus on control, the more likely you’re working on a project that’s striving to deliver something of relatively minor value" [.pdf]
"The book’s most quoted line is its first sentence: “You can’t control what you can’t measure.” This line contains a real truth, but I’ve become increasingly uncomfortable with my use of it. Implicit in the quote (and indeed in the book’s title) is that control is an important aspect, maybe the most important, of any software project. But it isn’t. Many projects have proceeded without much control but managed to produce wonderful products such as GoogleEarth or Wikipedia…

This leads us to the odd conclusion that strict control is something that matters a lot on relatively useless projects and much less on useful projects. It suggests that the more you focus on control, the more likely you’re working on a project that’s striving to deliver something of relatively minor value."
management  administration  control  value  whatmatters  work  leadership  measurement  software  metrics  development  programming  tcsnmy  via:migurski  filetype:pdf  media:document 
april 2011 by robertogreco
Rethinking Evaluation Metrics in Light of Flickr Commons | conference.archimuse.com
"cultural heritage institutions, including archives, libraries, and museums, have been placing their collections in Web spaces designed for collaboration and communication. Flickr Commons is one example of a highly visible space where cultural heritage institutions have partnered w/ a popular social networking site to provide greater discovery to, access of, & opportunities to interact w/ image collections on a large scale. It is important to understand how to measure the impact of these kinds of projects. Traditional metrics, including visit counts, tell only part of the story: much more nuanced information is often found in comments, notes, tags, & other info contributed by the user community. This paper will examine how several institutions on Flickr Commons - LoC, Powerhouse Museum, Smithsonian, NYPL, & Cornell U Library - are navigating the concept of evaluation in an emerging arena where compelling statistics are often qualitative, difficult to gather, & ever-changing."
flickr  metrics  socialmedia  statistics  museums  flickrcommons  commons 
april 2011 by robertogreco
Apt. 11D: Governor Christie Pushes For Merit Pay and Tenure Reform
[via: http://ayjay.tumblr.com/post/1216615980/quantification-in-most-professions-is-being-used ]

A comment: "Quantification in most professions is being used to keep us from having to shoulder the messy burden of making human, intimate judgments, or explaining why we value what we value. They usually end up being the architectural equivalent of trying to build a cathedral without arches, stained glass, multiple sizes of stone, gargoyles or any other idiosyncratic part that deviates from the standard stone block used in a standard stone wall. …

A school that’s all about rewarding people who teach to the tests or who look good even on a robust, multivariable scale, is almost certainly going to overlook good teaching that misses the metric, teaching which a humane, sensitive supervisor might notice and reward.

Because we know that humane, sensitive supervisors are relatively rare, we look to the numbers as insurance against that rarity. I’d rather figure out how to make humane sensitivity the first requirement of institutional leadership."
education  quanitifcation  measurement  tcsnmy  learning  schools  teaching  human  humanity  sensitivity  leadership  deschooling  unschooling  administration  management  judgement  accountability  values  rewards  testing  standards  standardization  standardizedtesting  metrics  toshare  topost  shrequest1 
october 2010 by robertogreco
Nic Marks: The Happy Planet Index | Video on TED.com
"Statistician Nic Marks asks why we measure a nation's success by its productivity -- instead of by the happiness and well-being of its people. He introduces the Happy Planet Index, which tracks national well-being against resource use (because a happy life doesn't have to cost the earth). Which countries rank highest in the HPI? You might be surprised."
economics  environment  happiness  statistics  sustainability  ted  nicmarks  fear  well-being  productivity  latinamerica  future  progress  finance  growth  metrics  gdp  measurement  greed  robertfkennedy  shrequest1 
september 2010 by robertogreco
Frank Chimero - More Happiness ["Certain things die when you count them" — like learning. See the standardization and high-stakes testing crusade for evidence…]
[Wayback: http://web.archive.org/web/20101010180055/http://blog.frankchimero.com/post/1197416672/more-happiness? ]

[…But, of course, if you want to sell something, you need to measure it, so in a society driven by capitalism above all else, prepare for the important things to be killed.]

"Certain things die when you count them. I don’t want metrics on my joy. But, I can understand the appeal of the idea: lots of us seem to think that if you force data through logic, you get control. But, it doesn’t always work that way because people are emotional and not always logical. Pancakes for dinner tonight made me happy. Pancakes for dinner tomorrow night will make me sad. And the logic machine smokes and overheats."

[Anecdote about hide-and-seek with a young niece]…maybe happiness is a bit paradoxical like that: if you stop pursuing it, there are fewer places for it to hide. You just have to be listening when it says “I’m over here!”"
happiness  metrics  measurement  tcsnmy  testing  education  learning  standards  standardizedtesting  schools  unschooling  deschooling  us  society  culture  capitalism  shrequest1 
september 2010 by robertogreco
Newmark's Door: Goodhart's Law
"Goodhart's Law: "…when you attempt to pick a few easily defined metrics as proxy measures for the success of any plan or policy, you immediately distract or bait people into pursuing the metrics, rather than pursuing the success of the policy itself."

Better: Andy Grove supposedly…"For every goal you put in front of someone, you should also put in place a counter-goal to restrict gaming of the first goal."

Even better: economist Glen Whitman wrote: "With just an iota of economics training, most people catch on to importance of incentives. "Aha! To get people to do what we want, all we have to do is reward good stuff & punish bad stuff!" Alas, the world is not so simple. People don't always respond to incentives in the ways you might predict. What distinguishes good economic thinking from bad is recognition of the subtle, creative, & often unforeseen ways that people respond to incentives. Ignoring the complex operation of incentives is recipe for unintended consequences."
goodhartslaw  incentives  andygrove  glenwhitman  craignewmark  motivation  tcsnmy  economics  success  metrics  policy  goals  assessment  measurement  via:lukeneff 
august 2010 by robertogreco

Copy this bookmark:





to read