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robertogreco : nicholascarr   35

Lingua Franca - February 2001 | Cover Story: The Ex-Cons
"The only thing that arouses Luttwak's ire more than untrammeled capitalism is its elite enthusiasts—the intellectuals, politicians, policy makers, and businessmen who claim that "just because the market is always more efficient, the market should always rule." Alan Greenspan earns Luttwak's special contempt: "Alan Greenspan is a Spencerian. That makes him an economic fascist." Spencerians like Greenspan believe that "the harshest economic pressures" will "stimulate some people to...economically heroic deeds. They will become great entrepreneurs or whatever else, and as for the ones who fail, let them fail." Luttwak's other b'te noire is "Chainsaw Al" Dunlap, the peripatetic CEO who reaps unimaginable returns for corporate shareholders by firing substantial numbers of employees from companies. "Chainsaw does it," says Luttwak, referring to Dunlap's downsizing measures, "because he's simpleminded, harsh, and cruel." It's just "economic sadism." Against Greenspan and Dunlap, Luttwak affirms, "I believe that one ought to have only as much market efficiency as one needs, because everything that we value in human life is within the realm of inefficiency—love, family, attachment, community, culture, old habits, comfortable old shoes.""



"Although Luttwak writes in his 1999 book Turbo-Capitalism, "I deeply believe...in the virtues of capitalism," his opposition to the spread of market values is so acute that it puts him on the far end of today's political spectrum—a position that Luttwak congenitally enjoys. "Edward is a very perverse guy, intellectually and in many other ways," says former Commentary editor Norman Podhoretz, one of Luttwak's early champions during the 1970s. "He's a contrarian. He enjoys confounding expectations. But I frankly don't even know how serious he is in this latest incarnation." Luttwak insists that he is quite serious. He calls for socialized medicine. He advocates a strong welfare state, claiming, "If I had my druthers, I would prohibit any form of domestic charity." Charity is a "cop-out," he says: It takes dignity away from the poor."

[via: https://twitter.com/jonathanshainin/status/907983419413381120
via: https://twitter.com/camerontw/status/908176042182950914 ]

[from the responses to the tweet above:

"reminds me of kurt vonnegut on buying an envelope"
https://twitter.com/okay_dc/status/907991703184912386

"[When Vonnegut tells his wife he's going out to buy an envelope] Oh, she says, well, you're not a poor man. You know, why don't you go online and buy a hundred envelopes and put them in the closet? And so I pretend not to hear her. And go out to get an envelope because I'm going to have a hell of a good time in the process of buying one envelope. I meet a lot of people. And, see some great looking babes. And a fire engine goes by. And I give them the thumbs up. And, and ask a woman what kind of dog that is. And, and I don't know. The moral of the story is, is we're here on Earth to fart around. And, of course, the computers will do us out of that. And, what the computer people don't realize, or they don't care, is we're dancing animals. You know, we love to move around. And, we're not supposed to dance at all anymore."

http://blog.garrytan.com/kurt-vonnegut-goes-to-buy-an-envelope-profund
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9299135 ]

[also from the responses:

"Excellent. Nicholas Carr http://www.roughtype.com/?p=4708 "
https://twitter.com/BrianSJ3/status/908022365128462337

"Pichai doesn’t seem able to comprehend that the essence, and the joy, of parenting may actually lie in all the small, trivial gestures that parents make on behalf of or in concert with their kids — like picking out a song to play in the car. Intimacy is redefined as inefficiency."
http://www.roughtype.com/?p=4708 ]

[Cf: "The automated island"
http://crapfutures.tumblr.com/post/161539196134/the-automated-island

"In his frankly curmudgeonly but still insightful essay ‘Why I am Not Going to Buy a Computer’ (1987), Wendell Berry lays out his ‘standards for technological innovation’. There are nine points, and in the third point Berry states that the new device or system ‘should do work that is clearly and demonstrably better’ than the old one. This seems obvious and not too much to ask of a technology, but how well does the automated entrance at Ponta Gorda fulfill that claim?

Berry also has a point, the last in his list, about not replacing or disrupting ‘anything good that already exists’. This includes relationships between people. In other words, solve actual problems - rather than finding just any old place to put a piece of technology you want to sell. Even if the scanners at Ponta Gorda did work, how would eliminating the one human being who is employed to welcome visitors and answer questions improve the system? In Berry’s words, ‘what would be superseded would be not only something, but somebody’. The person who works there is a ‘good that already exists’, a human relationship that should be preserved, especially when her removal from a job would be bought at so little gain."]
2001  efficiency  capitalism  policy  politics  alangreenspan  edwardluttwak  freemarkets  humans  humanism  love  family  attachment  community  culture  canon  inefficiency  economics  slow  small  coreyrobin  charity  poverty  markets  welfarestate  dignity  normanpodhoretz  karlmarx  marxism  johngray  conservatism  thatcherism  ronaldreagan  elitism  kurtvonnegut  nicholascarr  parenting 
september 2017 by robertogreco
I'm Nowhere In-between: Why we need 'seriously uncool' criticism in education - Long View on Education
"You know those t-charts that divide approaches to education into the old and the new? Of course you do. And I bet that were we both to take five minutes to reproduce one from memory, we would come up with roughly the same list. All we’d need to do then is choose a side. Or perhaps stake out a position somewhere in the middle, a blend of the two. Nothing too extreme.

Let me show you one from nearly 100 years ago. In 1925, May R. Pringle experimented with ‘the project method’, which we would now call ‘Project Based Learning’.1

[image]

I spend a lot of time thinking and writing about how we need to be critical of the list of ‘the new and modern’ because it’s always backed by a corporate push. But that’s not why progressive educators find the list seductive. The very terms themselves act as a siren call to anyone who wants a more humane education for children: creative, student-centered, open, flexible, collaboration, choice. We are told that these are the qualities that schools kill and that CEOs would kill for.

But here is the problem. What if CEOs started to call for qualities that ran against our progressive values? In a report by The Economist (and sponsored by Google), Emiliana Vega, “chief of the Education Division, Inter- American Development Bank”, describes the kind of skills that he wishes schools would instill:
“In Latin America, socio- emotional skills are a big part of the gap between what employers need and what young people have. For example, tourism companies need people who will smile and be polite to guests, and often graduates just don’t possess those public- facing techniques.”

Think about that for a minute.

But opposing this new ‘skills agenda’ doesn’t mean that I’m a traditionalist or trying to cut a middle ground. My teaching is most certainly not some kind of ‘back to basics’ or mindless self-medicating prescribed by the ‘what works’ gurus.

The ‘what works’ agenda holds it’s own kind of seduction for self-fashioned rationalists in the vein of Richard Dawkins or Daniel Dennett, who somehow manage to hold onto the Modern faith in science as if most of the 20th century never happened. Geert Lovink sums up that limited critical terrain by looking at the work of Nick Carr, who often criticizes technology because of the effect it has on our cognition:
“Carr and others cleverly exploit the Anglo-American obsession with anything related to the mind, brain and consciousness – mainstream science reporting cannot get enough of it. A thorough economic (let alone Marxist) analysis of Google and the free and open complex is seriously uncool. It seems that the cultural critics will have to sing along with the Daniel Dennetts of this world (loosely gathered on edge.org) in order to communicate their concerns.”

Most of the ‘seriously uncool’ criticism of the project of Modernity has exploded the dichotomies that the destructive myth of ‘rational’ and ‘objective’ scientific ‘progress’ rested on. While we might lament that teachers do not read enough research, we can’t mistake that research for a neutral, apolitical body of knowledge.

Allow me to use a famous study to illustrate my point. Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer’s ‘The Pen Is Mightier than the Keyboard’ (2014) seems to show that writing notes with pen and paper boosts retention and understanding of information compared to typing notes on a computer. In their study, the participants watched TED talks and took notes, completed distractor tasks, and about 30 minutes later answered questions. In one condition, the test was delayed by a week and some participants were allowed to study their notes for 10 minutes before taking the test. The TED talks were intentionally disconnected from any larger project they were learning about.

So rationally and scientifically speaking, we should have students take notes with pen and paper, right?

Yet, the study itself is not neutral with respect to pedagogy since it contains many in-built assumptions about how we should teach: we can say that the pen is mightier than the keyboard under the controlled conditions when students watch a short lecture once, about a topic they are not in the course of studying, when they are not permitted to take the notes home and perform more work with them, and when the assessment of knowledge uses short answer questions divorced from a meaningful purpose or complex project.

Is that how we want to teach? Would a democratic conversation about schools endorse that pedagogy?

In the lab, scientists try to reduce the complexity and heterogeneity in networks – to purify them – so as to create controlled conditions. Subjects and treatments are standardized so they become comparable. Drawing on systems theory, Gert Biesta argues that schools – like all institutions and our social life more broadly – engage in a kind of complexity reduction. We group children into grades and classes, start and end the day at the same time, in order to reduce “the number of available options for action for the elements of a system” which can “make a quick and smooth operation possible”.

Reducing options for action is neither good nor bad in itself, but it is always an issue of politics and power. So, cognitive science is no more a neutral guide than CEOs. As Biesta writes, “The issue, after all is, who has the power to reduce options for action for whom.”

Reliance on only ‘what works’ is a kind of complexity reduction that would eliminate the need for professional judgement. Biesta worries about the “democratic deficit” that results from “the uptake of the idea of evidence-based practice in education”. It’s a conversation stopper, much like relying on CEOs to provide us with the ‘skills of the future’ also raises the issue of a ‘democratic deficit’ and questions about who has power.

I’m not writing this because I feel like what I have to say is completely new, but because I feel like I need to affirm a commitment to the project of critical pedagogy, which does not rest somewhere in the middle of a t-chart. Critical pedagogy embraces hybridity over purification. Our classrooms should emphasize the very heterogeneity in networks in all their variation and glory that experiments – and corporations – seek to eliminate.2

If I’m nowhere in-between, I’m certainly not the first nor alone.

In Teaching to Transgress (1994), bell hooks tells us that “talking about pedagogy, thinking about it critically, is not the intellectual work that most folks think is hip and cool.” Yes, we still need more of that ‘seriously uncool’ critical work if education is to work in the service of freedom. hooks writes, “Ideally, education should be a place where the need for diverse teaching methods and styles would be valued, encouraged, seen as essential to learning.”

There’s lots of reason to think that the social media discussion of education is not a kind of paradise. But as hooks reminds us,
“…learning is a place where paradise can be created. The classroom, with all its limitations, remains a location of possibility. In that field of possibility we have the opportunity to labor for freedom, to demand of ourselves and our comrades, an openness of mind and heart that allows us to face reality even as we collectively imagine ways to move beyond boundaries, to transgress. This is education as the practice of freedom.”3
"
benjamindoxtdator  2017  dichotomies  dichotomy  spectrums  projectbasedlearning  bellhooks  criticalpedagogy  education  lcproject  openstudioproject  sfsh  hybridity  purity  teaching  leaning  unschooling  deschooling  progressive  schools  freedom  homogeneity  heterogeneity  mayrpringle  history  modernity  emilianavega  richarddawkins  danieldennett  faith  geertlovink  criticism  criticalthinking  technology  pammueller  danieloppenheimer  tedtalks  democracy  democratic  gertbiesta  systemstheory  diversity  complexity  simplicity  agesegregation  efficiency  politics  power  authority  networks  possibility  nicholascarr 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Uber’s ghost map and the meaning of greyballing | ROUGH TYPE
"The Uber map is a media production. It presents a little, animated entertainment in which you, the user, play the starring role. You are placed at the very center of things, wherever you happen to be, and you are surrounded by a pantomime of oversized automobiles poised to fulfill your desires, to respond immediately to your beckoning. It’s hard not to feel flattered by the illusion of power that the Uber map grants you. Every time you open the app, you become a miniature superhero on a city street. You send out a bat signal, and the batmobile speeds your way. By comparison, taking a bus or a subway, or just hoofing it, feels almost insulting.

In a similar way, a Google map also sets you in a fictionalized story about a place, whether you use the map for navigation or for searching. You are given a prominent position on the map, usually, again, at its very center, and around you a city personalized to your desires takes shape. Certain business establishments and landmarks are highlighted, while other ones are not. Certain blocks are highlighted as “areas of interest“; others are not. Sometimes the highlights are paid for, as advertising; other times they reflect Google’s assessment of you and your preferences. You’re not allowed to know precisely why your map looks the way it does. The script is written in secret.

It’s not only maps. The news and message feeds presented to you by Facebook, or Apple or Google or Twitter, are also stories about the world, fictional representations manufactured both to appeal to your desires and biases and to provide a compelling context for advertising. Mark Zuckerberg may wring his hands over “fake news,” but fake news is to the usual Facebook feed what the Greyball map is to the usual Uber map: an extreme example of the norm.

When I talk about “you,” I don’t really mean you. The “you” around which the map or the news feed or any other digitized representation of the world coalesces is itself a representation. As John Cheney-Lippold explains in his forthcoming book We Are Data, companies like Facebook and Google create digital versions of their users derived through an algorithmic analysis of the data they collect about their users. The companies rely on these necessarily fictionalized representations for both technical reasons (human beings can’t be computed; to be rendered computable, you have to be turned into a digital representation) and commercial reasons (a digital representation of a person can be bought and sold). The “you” on the Uber map or in the Facebook feed is a fake — a character in a story — but it’s a useful and a flattering fake, so you accept it as an accurate portrayal of yourself: an “I” for an I.

Greyballing is not an aberration of the virtual world. Greyballing is the essence of virtuality."

[via: https://tinyletter.com/audreywatters/letters/hewn-no-204 ]
mapping  maps  technology  self  simulacra  nicholascarr  via:audreywatters  greyballing  uber  ideology  fictions  data  algorithms  representation  news  facebooks  fakenews  cartography  business  capitalism  place  google 
march 2017 by robertogreco
Do You Read Differently Online and in Print?
"The Internet may cause our minds to wander off, and yet a quick look at the history of books suggests that we have been wandering off all along. When we read, the eye does not progress steadily along the line of text; it alternates between saccades—little jumps—and brief stops, not unlike the movement of the mouse’s cursor across a screen of hypertext. From the invention of papyrus around 3000 B.C., until about 300 A.D., most written documents were scrolls, which had to be rolled up by one hand as they were unrolled by the other: a truly linear presentation. Since then, though, most reading has involved codices, bound books or pamphlets, a major advantage of which (at least compared to the scroll) is that you can jump around in them, from chapter to chapter (the table of contents had been around since roughly the first century B.C.); from text to marginal gloss, and, later, to footnote."



"Comprehension matters, but so does pleasure. In Proust and the Squid, Wolf, director of the Center for Reading and Language Research at Tufts University, observes that the brain’s limbic system, the seat of our emotions, comes into play as we learn to read fluently; our feelings of pleasure, disgust, horror and excitement guide our attention to the stories we can’t put down. Novelists have known this for a long time, and digital writers know it, too. It’s no coincidence that many of the best early digital narratives took the form of games, in which the reader traverses an imaginary world while solving puzzles, sometimes fiendishly difficult ones. Considered in terms of cognitive load, these texts are head-bangingly difficult; considered in terms of pleasure, they’re hard to beat.

A new generation of digital writers is building on video games, incorporating their interactive features—and cognitive sparks—into novelistic narratives that embrace the capabilities of our screens and tablets. Samantha Gorman and Danny Cannizzaro’s 2014 iPad novella, Pry, tells the story of a demolitions expert returned home from the first Gulf War, whose past and present collide, as his vision fails. The story is told in text, photographs, video clips, and audio. It uses an interface that allows you to follow the action and shift between levels of awareness. As you read text on the screen, describing characters and plot, you draw your fingers apart and see a photograph of the protagonist, his eyes opening on the world. Pinch your fingers shut and you visit his troubled unconscious; words and images race by, as if you are inside his memory. Pry is the opposite of a shallow work; its whole play is between the surface and the depths of the human mind. Reading it is exhilarating.

There’s no question when you read (or play) Pry that you’re doing something your brain isn’t quite wired for. The interface creates a feeling of simultaneity, and also of having to make choices in real time, that no book could reproduce. It asks you to use your fingers to do more than just turn the page. It communicates the experience of slipping in and out of a story, in and out of a dream, or nightmare. It uses the affordances of your phone or tablet to do what literature is always trying to do: give you new things to think about, to expand the world behind your eyes. It’s stressful, at first. How are you supposed to know if you’re reading it right? What if you miss something? But if you play (or read) it long enough, you can almost feel your brain begin to adapt.

Most of the Web is not like Pry—not yet, anyway. But the history of reading suggests that what we’re presently experiencing is probably not the end times of human thought. It’s more like an interregnum, or the crouch before a leap. Wolf points out that when it comes to reading, what we get out is largely what we put in. “The reading brain circuit reflects the affordances of what it reads,” she notes: affordances being the built-in opportunities for interaction. The more we skim, the more we’re likely to keep skimming; on the other hand, the more we plunge into a text, the more we’re likely to keep plunging. “We’re in a digital culture,” Wolf says. “It’s not a question of making peace. We have to be discerning, vigilant, developmentally savvy.” And of course we have to be surprised, delighted, puzzled, even disturbed. We have to enjoy ourselves. If we can do that, digital reading will expand the already vast interior space of our humanity."
howweread  readin  albertomanguel  technology  reading  digital  internet  paullafarge  maryannewolf  web  online  staugustine  ambrose  nicholascarr  socrates  brain  agostinoramelli  history  attention  digitalmedia  rolfengelsing  rakefetackerman  morrisgoldsmith  johannesnaumann  dianadestefano  jo-annelefevre  hypertext  michaelwenger  davidpayne  comprehension  engagement  enjoyment  talyarkoni  nicolespeer  jeffreyzacks  psychology  memory  linearity  footnotes  marginalia  bookfuturism  information  wandering  cognitiveload  games  gaming  videogames  samanthagorman  dannycannizzaro  ipad  pry  interiority  affordances  interface  linear  awareness  immersion  skimming  cv  humanity  interregnum  interactivity  interaction 
january 2016 by robertogreco
art as industrial lubricant - Text Patterns - The New Atlantis
"Holy cow, does Nick Carr pin this one to the wall. Google says, "At any moment in your day, Google Play Music has whatever you need music for — from working, to working out, to working it on the dance floor — and gives you curated radio stations to make whatever you’re doing better. Our team of music experts, including the folks who created Songza, crafts each station song by song so you don’t have to."

Nick replies:
This is the democratization of the Muzak philosophy. Music becomes an input, a factor of production. Listening to music is not itself an “activity” — music isn’t an end in itself — but rather an enhancer of other activities, each of which must be clearly demarcated....  

Once you accept that music is an input, a factor of production, you’ll naturally seek to minimize the cost and effort required to acquire the input. And since music is “context” rather than “core,” to borrow Geoff Moore’s famous categorization of business inputs, simple economics would dictate that you outsource the supply of music rather than invest personal resources — time, money, attention, passion — in supplying it yourself. You should, as Google suggests, look to a “team of music experts” to “craft” your musical inputs, “song by song,” so “you don’t have to.” To choose one’s own songs, or even to develop the personal taste in music required to choose one’s own songs, would be wasted labor, a distraction from the series of essential jobs that give structure and value to your days. 

Art is an industrial lubricant that, by reducing the friction from activities, makes for more productive lives.

If music be the lube of work, play on — and we'll be Getting Things Done."
nicholascarr  2015  alanjacobs  music  google  muzak  geoffmoore  productivity  latecapitalism 
june 2015 by robertogreco
The internet isn't harming our love of 'deep reading', it's cultivating it | Steven Poole | Comment is free | theguardian.com
"In our culture of excitable neuroscientism a lot of such arguments employ the sexy word "brain" and so sound scientifically objective, but they are really socio-cultural arguments. No doubt there are many kinds of task-specific neural developments (ie "brain" types) that have been lost in the mists of evolutionary time, and whose absence we have no reason to regret. Not many people in advanced industrial societies today, for example, grow up developing the mental skills required to kill tasty large mammals with a well-hurled spear. But we don't read hand-wringing stories about how we have lost the antelope-hunting brain. So there needs to be a further demonstration that the "deep-reading brain" is something worth valuing. And this is never going to be a (neuro)scientific argument; it's a cultural argument."



"And yet the assumption in such doomy pronouncements that we might all be slaves to skimming and thus be allowing our brains to atrophy sounds fantastically condescending, just as it did when expressed in Nicholas Carr's book The Shallows. This kind of paternalistic fatalism seems ably refuted by sales of Young Adult blockbusters, as well as by researchers who bother to find out what young people actually do.

According to John Palfrey and Urs Gasser's Born Digital, for example, a teenager's "news-gathering process" alternated skimming or "grazing" with a "deep dive" when she found something she could really get her teeth into.

And such nutritious, dense, lengthy pieces of writing are, of course, becoming ever more popular on the very same internet that pessimists blame for destroying our attention spans. More and more online magazine startups are devoted to in-depth reportage or cheerfully non-topical discussions of ideas over many thousands of beautifully typeset words. Ideal, you might even say, for slow reading.

For me, the only fly in the ointment is my insuperable allergy to the kitschy, infantilising generic term for such pieces, "long reads". (We don't call albums "long listens" or epic dinners "long eats".) The alternative, "longform", is simply oxymoronic – sheer length is not a form. What was wrong with "essays" again? Presumably the old-school littérateurs of the Slow Reading Movement could approve of that one."
reading  neuroscience  society  culture  attention  2014  stevenpoole  slowreading  distraction  nicholascarr  longreads  howweread  listening  grazing  johnpalfrey  ursgasser  skimming 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Aesthetics of Dispersed Attention: Interview with German Media Theorist Petra Löffler :: net critique by Geert Lovink
"GL: You got a fascinating chapter in your habilitation about early cinema and the scattering of attention it would be responsible for. The figure of the nosy parker that gawks interests you and you contrast it to the street roaming flaneur.

PL: Yes, the gawker is a fascinating figure, because according to my research results it is the corporation of the modern spectator who is also a member of a mass audience––the flaneur never was part of it. The gawker or gazer, like the flaneur, appeared at first in the modern metropolis with its multi-sensorial sensations and attractions. According to Walter Benjamin the flaneur disappeared at the moment, when the famous passages were broken down. They had to make room for greater boulevards that were able to steer the advanced traffic in the French metropolis. Always being part of the mass of passers-by the gawker looks at the same time for diversions, for accidents and incidents in the streets. This is to say his attention is always distracted between an awareness of what happens on the streets and navigating between people and vehicles. No wonder movie theatres were often opened at locations with a high level of traffic inviting passers-by to go inside and, for a certain period of time, becoming part of an audience. Furthermore many films of the period of Early Cinema were actualities showing the modern city-life. In these films the movie-camera was positioned at busy streets or corners in order to record movements of human and non-human agents. Gawkers often went into the view of the camera gesticulating or grimacing in front of it. That’s why the gawker has become a very popular figure mirroring the modern mass audience on the screen.

Today to view one’s own face on a screen is an everyday experience. Not only CCTV-cameras at public spaces record passers-by, often without their notice. Also popular TV-shows that require life-participation such as casting shows once more offer members of the audience the opportunity to see themselves on a screen. At the same time many people post their portraits on websites of social networks. They want to be seen by others because they want to be part of a greater audience––the network community. This is what Jean Baudrillard has called connectivity. The alliance between the drive to see and to being seen establishes a new order of seeing which differs significantly from Foucault’s panoptical vision: Today no more the few see the many (panopticon) or the many see the few (popular stars)––today, because of the multiplication and connectivity of screens in public and private spaces, the many see the many. Insofar, one can conclude, the gawker or gazer is an overall-phenomenon, a non-specific subjectivity of a distributed publicity."



"GL: I can imagine that debates during the rise of mass education, the invention of film are different from ours. But is that the case? It is all pedagogy, so it seems. We never seem to leave the classroom.

PL: The question is, leaving where? Entering the other side (likewise amusement sites or absorbing fantasies)? Why not? Changing perspectives? Yes, that’s what we have to do. But for that purpose we don’t have to leave the classroom necessarily. Rather, we should rebuilt it as a room of testing modes of thinking in very concrete ways. I’m thinking of Jacques Rancière’s suggestions, in his essay Le partage du sensible, about the power relation between teachers and pupils. Maybe today teachers can learn more (for instance soft skills) from their pupils than the other way around. We need other regimes of distribution of power, also in the classroom, a differentiation of tasks, of velocities and singularities—in short: we need micropolitics.

More seriously, your question indicates a strong relationship between pedagogy and media. There’s a reason why media theorists like Friedrich Kittler had pointed to media’s affinity to propaganda and institutions of power. I think of his important book Discourse Networks, where he has revealed the relevance of mediated writing techniques for the formation of educational institutions and for subjectivation. That’s why the question is, what are the tasks we have to learn in order to exist in the world of electronic mass media? What means ‘Bildung’ for us nowadays?

GL: There is an ‘attention war’ going on, with debates across traditional print and broadcast media about the rise in distraction, in schools, at home. On the street we see people hooked on their smart phones, multitasking, everywhere they go. What do you make of this? This is just a heightened sensibility, a fashion, or is there really something at stake? Would you classify it as petit-bourgeois anxieties? Loss of attention as a metaphor for threatening poverty and status loss of the traditional middle class in the West? How do you read the use of brain research by Nicholas Carr, Frank Schirrmacher and more recently also the German psychiatrist Manfred Spitzer who came up with a few bold statement concerning the devastating consequences of computer use for the (young) human brain. Having read your study one could say: don’t worry, nothing new under the sun. But is this the right answer?

PL: Your description addresses severe debates. Nothing less than the future of our Western culture seems to be at stake. Institutions like the educational systems are under permanent critique, concerning all levels from primary schools to universities. That’s why the Pisa studies have revealed a lot of deficits and have provoked debates on what kind of education is necessary for our children. On the one hand it’s a debate on cultural values, but on the other it’s a struggle on power relations. We are living in a society of control, and how to become a subject and how this subject is related to other subjects in mediated environments are important questions.

A great uncertainty is emerged. That’s why formulas that promise easy solutions are highly welcomed. Neurological concepts are often based on one-sided models concerning the relationship between body and mind, and they often leave out the role of social and environmental factors. From historians of science such as Canguilhem and Foucault one can learn that psychiatrist models of brain defects and mental anomalies not only mirror social anxieties, but also produce knowledge about what is defined as normal. And it is up to us as observers of such discourses to name those anxieties today. Nonetheless, I would not signify distraction as a metaphor. It is in fact a concrete phase of the body, a state of the mind. It’s real. You cannot deal with it when you call it a disability or a disease and just pop pills or switch off your electronic devices."
via:litherland  attention  distraction  2013  petralöffer  geertlovink  walterbenjamin  flaneur  gawkers  cities  internet  audience  diaphanesverlag  montaigne  albertkümmel  siegfriedkracauer  frankfurterschule  kant  tibot  psychology  daydreaming  media  mediaarchaeology  richardshusterman  film  micropolitics  friederichkittler  education  subjectivation  massmedia  bildung  nicholascarr  sherryturkle  frankschirrmacher  culture  values  culturalvalues  brain  bernardstiegler  socialmedia  marketing  entertainment  propaganda  deepreading  petersloterdijk  mindfulness  self-control  mediatheory  theory  theodoradorno  weimar  history  philosophy  reading  writing  data  perception  siegfriedzielinski  wolfgangernst  bernhardsiegert  erhardschüttpelz  francoberardi  andrewkeen  jaronlanier  howardrheingold  foucault  micheldemontaigne  michelfoucault 
october 2013 by robertogreco
We Can't Teach Students to Love Reading - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education [Too much to quote]
"I don't think of the distinction btwn readers & nonreaders—better, those who love reading & those who don't so much—in terms of class, which may be a function of my being a teacher of literature rather than a sociologist, but may also be a function of my knowledge that readers can be found at all social stations…much of the anxiety about American reading habits…arises from frustration at not being able to sustain a permanent expansion of "the reading class" beyond what may be its natural limits…

American universities are largely populated by people who don't fit either category [readers & extreme readers]—often really smart people for whom the prospect of several hours attending to words on pages (pages of a single text) is not attractive…

All this is to say that the idea that many teachers hold today, that one of the purposes of education is to teach students to love reading—or at least to appreciate & enjoy whole books—is largely alien to the history of education."
teaching  reading  learning  attention  alanjacobs  nicholascarr  books  academia  extremereaders  autodidacts  concentration  joyofreading  unschooling  deschooling  allsorts  allkindsofminds  2011  clayshirky  stevenpinker  staugustine  virgil  cicero  georgesteiner  annblair  studying  children  sirfrancisbacon  francisbacon  infooverload  filterfailure  text  texts  mariccasaubon  peternorvig  jonathanrose  homer  dante  shakespeare  attentiveness  kindle  hyperattention 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Open the Future: Not Giving Up
"Our technologies are not going to rob us (or relieve us) of our humanity…are part of what makes us human…are the clear expression of our uniquely human minds…both manifest & enable human culture; we co-evolve w/ them, & have done so for hundreds of thousands of years. The technologies of the future will make us neither inhuman nor posthuman, no matter how much they change our sense of place & identity…

Technology is part of who we are. What both critics & cheerleaders of technological evolution miss is something both subtle & important: our technologies will, as they always have, make us who we are—make us human. The definition of Human is no more fixed by our ancestors’ first use of tools, than it is by using a mouse to control a computer. What it means to be Human is flexible, & we change it every day by changing our technology…it is this, more than the demands for abandonment or invocations of a secular nirvana, that will give us enormous challenges in the years to come."
jamaiscascio  technology  billjoy  2011  2000  nihilism  human  humans  humanism  singularity  nicholascarr  rejectionists  sherryturkle  society  democracy  freedom  peterthiel  posthuman  posthumanism  raykurzweil  identity  evolution  change  classideas  civilization 
june 2011 by robertogreco
Wikipedia And The Death Of The Expert | The Awl
"It's high time people stopped kvetching about Wikipedia, which has long been the best encyclopedia available in English, and started figuring out what it portends instead. For one thing, Wikipedia is forcing us to confront the paradox inherent in the idea of learners as "doers, not recipients." If learners are indeed doers and not recipients, from whom are they learning? From one another, it appears; same as it ever was.

It's been over five years since the landmark study in Nature that showed "few differences in accuracy" between Wikipedia and the Encyclopedia Britannica. Though the honchos at Britannica threw a big hissy at the surprising results of that study, Nature stood by its methods and results, and a number of subsequent studies have confirmed its findings; so far as general accuracy of content is concerned, Wikipedia is comparable to conventionally compiled encyclopedias, including Britannica."
culture  internet  history  wikipedia  2011  mariabustillos  science  web  jaronlanier  nicholascarr  sherryturkle  bobstein  marshallmcluhan 
may 2011 by robertogreco
Network Society as ‘high decadence’ | Beyond The Beyond
"*Now that we’ve actually got a network society, we’re gonna see a lot of harrowing-critical-reassessment material of this kind. Mostly because we’re not happier for it and the general situation stinks.

*Nicholas Carr, Jaron Lanier, Andrew Keen, these guys were like the first robins in spring. Note that this kind of criticism is NOT the same as those who opposed digitalization in the first place; this isn’t Luddism, it’s retrospective in tone. “Look what has been lost. We don’t think the same, our capacity to act is diminished, we are reduced to components and gadgets, those in power over us lack accountability,” etc etc. In Gothic High-Tech, awe at the sublime power of Moore’s Law machinery is replaced by a perception that public life is febrile, rotten, fraudulent and decadent."
networksociety  web  brucesterling  internet  adamcurtis  allwathedoverbymachinesoflovinggrace  documentary  jaronlanier  nicholascarr  andrewkeen  luddism  gothichightech  society  technology  culture  politics  hierarchy  networks  networkculture  well-being  machineslavery  machines  ideology  systems  systemsthinking  social 
may 2011 by robertogreco
Rough Type: Nicholas Carr's Blog: Situational overload and ambient overload
"The real source of information overload, at least of the ambient sort, is the stuff we like, the stuff we want. And as filters get better, that’s exactly the stuff we get more of. It’s a mistake, in short, to assume that as filters improve they have the effect of reducing the information we have to look at. As today’s filters improve, they expand the information we feel compelled to take notice of. Yes, they winnow out the uninteresting stuff (imperfectly), but they deliver a vastly greater supply of interesting stuff. And precisely because the information is of interest to us, we feel pressure to attend to it. As a result, our sense of overload increases."
internet  information  nicholascarr  infooverload  cv  pressure  filters 
march 2011 by robertogreco
How the Internet Gets Inside Us : The New Yorker
"The odd thing is that this complaint, though deeply felt by our contemporary Better-Nevers, is identical to Baudelaire’s perception about modern Paris in 1855, or Walter Benjamin’s about Berlin in 1930, or Marshall McLuhan’s in the face of three-channel television (and Canadian television, at that) in 1965. When department stores had Christmas windows with clockwork puppets, the world was going to pieces; when the city streets were filled with horse-drawn carriages running by bright-colored posters, you could no longer tell the real from the simulated; when people were listening to shellac 78s and looking at color newspaper supplements, the world had become a kaleidoscope of disassociated imagery; and when the broadcast air was filled with droning black-and-white images of men in suits reading news, all of life had become indistinguishable from your fantasies of it. It was Marx, not Steve Jobs, who said that the character of modern life is that everything falls apart."
internet  media  history  information  technology  adamgopnik  web  online  attention  absolutes  nicholascarr  infooverload  clayshirky  change  sherryturkle 
february 2011 by robertogreco
A Bookfuturist Manifesto - Science and Tech - The Atlantic
"Bookfuturists refuse to endorse either fantasy of "the end of the book" [bookservativism and technofuturism] -- "the end as destruction" or "the end as telos or achievement" as Jacques Derrida would have it. We are trying to map an alternative position that is both more self-critical and more engaged with how technological change is actively affecting our culture.

We're usually more interested in figuring out a piece of technology than either denouncing or promoting it. And we want to make every piece of tech work better. We're tinkerers. We look to history for analogies and counter-analogies, but we know that analogies aren't destiny. We try to look for the technological sophistication of traditional humanism and the humanist possibilities of new tech."
bookfuturism  timcarmody  future  futures  ebooks  fiction  books  publishing  manifesto  futurism  bookservatives  technofuturism  clayshirky  nicholascarr  reading  technology  tinkering  thinking  humanism  complexity  manifestos 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Medieval Multitasking: Did We Ever Focus? | Culture | Religion Dispatches [via: http://kottke.org/10/07/medieval-multitasking]
"The function of these images in illuminated manuscripts has no small bearing on the hypertext analogy. These “miniatures” (so named not because they were small—often they were not—but because they used red ink, or vermillion, the Latin word for which is minium) did not generally function as illustrations of something in the written text, but in reference to something beyond it. The patron of the volume might be shown receiving the completed book or supervising its writing. Or, a scene related to a saint might accompany a biblical text read on that saint’s day in the liturgical calendar without otherwise having anything to do with the scripture passage. Of particular delight to us today, much of the marginalia in illuminated books expressed the opinions and feelings of the illuminator about all manner of things—his demanding wife, the debauched monks in his neighborhood, or his own bacchanalian exploits."
attention  manuscripts  medieval  nicholascarr  internet  hypertext  history  distraction  books  literacy  reading  technology  text  writing  multitasking  literature  communication  clayshirky  elizabethdrescher 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Medieval Multitasking: Did We Ever Focus? | Culture | Religion Dispatches
"Engaged by brilliant illuminations; challenged by reading in Latin, without spacing btwn words, capitalization, or punctuation; & invited into the commentary of past readers of the text, medieval readers of Augustine, Dante, Virgil, or the Bible would surely be able to give today’s digitally-distracted multitaskers a run for our money. The physical form of the bound book brought together all of these various “links” into one “platform” so that the diverse perspectives of a blended contemporary & historical community of thinkers could be more easily accessed."
multitasking  history  technology  hypertext  communication  distraction  medieval  literacy  internet  books  writing  reading  davidbrooks  nicholascarr  focus 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Stowe Boyd — The War On Flow
"So, it’s a culture war, and Brooks joins Nick Carr, Andrew Keen, and a long list of others who say that what we are doing on the web is immoral, illegitimate, and immature. They are threatened by the change in values that seems to accompany deep involvement in web culture, a change that diminishes much of what Brooks holds up for our regard in his piece. I don’t mean the specific authors he may have been alluding to — although he names none but Carr — but rather a supposed hierarchical structure of western culture, which is reflected in the literary niche is supports.
books  culture  flow  literacy  reading  web  internet  elitism  hierarchy  davidbrooks  stoweboyd  nicholascarr  andrewkeen  multitasking  online 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Reading isn’t just a monkish pursuit: Matthew Battles on “The Shallows” » Nieman Journalism Lab
"In ecosystems like the Gulf of Mexico, the shallows are crucial. They’re the nurseries, where larval creatures feed and grow in relative safety, liminal zones where salt and sweet water mix, where light meets muck, where life learns to contend with extremes. The Internet, in this somewhat dubious metaphor, is no blowout — it’s a flourishing new zone in the ecosystem of reading and writing. And with the petrochemical horror in the Gulf growing daily, we’re learning that the shallows, too, need their champions." [via: http://snarkmarket.com/2010/5790]
matthewbattles  books  culture  internet  reading  thought  nicholascarr  clayshirky  social  writing  cv  howwework  howwelearn  learning  conversation  gutenberg  complexity  history  journalism  philosophy  ideas 
july 2010 by robertogreco
shirky's surplus - library ad infinitum
"Cognitive Surplus is about a specific kind of free time: not the Hundred-Acre-Wood or the endless summer, but the stock of leisure hours produced by modernity, and the rise of technologies that make it possible to spend that time in engaging ways. And yet the notion of free time itself should be suspicious to us, shouldn't it? "Free time" is something born of an industrial economics of time, a commoditized temporality. Leisure is a boon granted by the system—a perk, a benny. Compensation. And as long as it helps us recharge our batteries and never keeps us from being productive, high-performance workers, free time isn't free... I'm still excited by Shirky's idea. But I want to bring Carr's highbrow concern for the vital uses of cognition, contemplation, and communication to bear upon it. The technologies Shirky celebrates present us with a choice: do we use them as the means of liberation, or as Skinner boxes to while away the off-hours?"

[Also available here: http://www.niemanlab.org/2010/06/not-all-free-time-is-created-equal-battles-on-cognitive-surplus/ ]
cognitivesurplus  clayshirky  via:preoccupations  matthewbattles  nicholascarr  herbertmarcuse  leisure  modernity  technology  recharging  productivity  freedom  cognition  contemplation  communication  2010 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Google Is Making Me Stupid - The Daily Dish [The thing is, before the Internet came along & now too, I read books (mostly non-fiction, but also fiction) like I now read blogs & other online material—several at a time, flitting back & forth.]
"In other words, your brain is forced to distinguish between fluffy prose and nuggets of wisdom within the same broad argument (as opposed to the scattered arguments of the web). Even the seemingly nonessential details you absorb from a book may fuse into new insights after bouncing around your head for a while. I, for one, come to the most interesting insights during what Julian Jaynes calls the three Bs (bed, bath, and bus), or any moment of passive contemplation after reading a long piece of writing. The condensed chunks of information on blogs, however, often remove those spaces of ambiguity - and thus opportunity for unique thought." [For me it used to be bed, bath, and bike. Now it's bed, bath, and car. :( Bath (shower) has always been the best.]
books  technology  creativity  google  reading  cv  infooverload  contemplation  thinking  via:lukeneff  chrisbodenner  nicholascarr  julianjaynes  learning  information  learningernet 
june 2010 by robertogreco
Why link out? Four journalistic purposes of the noble hyperlink » Nieman Journalism Lab
"Links are good for storytelling. Links give journalists a way to tell complex stories concisely... Links keep the audience informed. Professional journalists are paid to know what is going on in their beat. Writing stories isn’t the only way they can pass this knowledge to their audience... Links are a currency of collaboration. When journalists use links to “pay” people for their useful contributions to a story, they encourage and coordinate the production of journalism... Links enable transparency. In theory, every statement in news writing needs to be attributed. “According to documents” or “as reported by” may have been as far as print could go, but that’s not good enough when the sources are online."
storytelling  web  writing  hypertext  links  journalism  transparency  collaboration  jonathanstray  nicholascarr  sharing  references  connections  information  internet  stories 
june 2010 by robertogreco
Author Nicholas Carr: The Web Shatters Focus, Rewires Brains | Magazine
"There’s nothing wrong w/ absorbing info quickly & in bits & pieces. We’ve always skimmed newspapers more than read them, & we routinely run our eyes over books & magazines to get the gist of a piece of writing & decide whether it warrants more thorough reading. The ability to scan & browse is as important as the ability to read deeply & think attentively. The problem is that skimming is becoming our dominant mode of thought. Once a means to an end, a way to identify info for further study, it’s becoming an end in itself—our preferred method of both learning & analysis. Dazzled by Net’s treasures, we are blind to damage we may be doing to our intellectual lives & even our culture. What we’re experiencing is, in a metaphorical sense, a reversal of the early trajectory of civilization: We are evolving from cultivators of personal knowledge into hunters 7 gatherers in the electronic data forest. In the process, we seem fated to sacrifice much of what makes our minds so interesting."
neuroscience  productivity  reading  psychology  distraction  attention  hypertext  brain  health  change  cognition  learning  education  neurology  technology  future  focus  science  nicholascarr  clayshirky  tcsnmy  elearning  media  internet 
may 2010 by robertogreco
Do School Libraries Need Books? - Room for Debate Blog - NYTimes.com
"Keeping traditional school libraries up to date is costly, with the constant need to acquire new books and to find space to store them. Yet for all that trouble, students roam the stacks less and less because they find it so much more efficient to work online. One school, Cushing Academy, made news last fall when it announced that it would give away most of its 20,000 books and transform its library into a digital center.
education  learning  technology  schools  internet  future  online  books  research  libraries  digital  digitization  reading  ebooks  advocacy  debate  library2.0  nicholascarr  lizgray  williampowers  jamestracy  cushingacademy  matthewkirschenbaum 
february 2010 by robertogreco
Rough Type: Nicholas Carr's Blog: Hypermultitasking
"There’s evidence that, as Howard Rheingold suggests, we can train ourselves to be better multitaskers, to shift our attention even more swiftly and fluidly among contending chores and stimuli. And that will surely help us navigate the fast-moving stream of modern life. But improving our ability to multitask, neuroscience tells us in no uncertain terms, will never return to us the depth of understanding that comes with attentive, singleminded thought. You can improve your agility at multitasking, but you will never be able to multitask and engage in deep thought at the same time."
multitasking  attention  singletasking  howardrheingold  nicholascarr  monotasking 
december 2009 by robertogreco
Kevin Kelly -- The Technium - Will We Let Google Makes Us Smarter?
"I think that even if the penalty is that you loose 20 points of your natural IQ when you get off Google AI, most of us will choose to keep the 40 IQ points we gain by jacking in all the time."
nicholascarr  google  intelligence  attention  memory  continuouspartialattention  learning  online  internet  web 
june 2008 by robertogreco
Google: Making Nick Carr Stupid, But It's Made This Guy Smarter - John Battelle's Searchblog - "deep in search for knowledge on web, jumping from link to link, reading deeply...skimming 100s of links, pulling back to formulate & reformulate queries..
"devouring new connections as quickly as Google can serve them up, when I am performing bricolage in real time over the course of hours, I am "feeling" my brain light up, I & "feeling" like I'm getting smarter. A lot smarter, in a way that only a human ca
attention  brain  nicholascarr  google  internet  intelligence  society  continuouspartialattention  literacy  media 
june 2008 by robertogreco
A quiet retreat from the busy information commons « Jon Udell
"[need] to develop strategies that enable us to graze on info in most effective ways...experience sustained attention, deep reading, quiet contemplation...technology sometimes gives back with one hand what it takes away with the other"
attention  internet  continuouspartialattention  via:preoccupations  nicholascarr  technology  overload  concentration 
june 2008 by robertogreco
Mind Hacks: Web making us worried, but probably not stupid [regarding Nicholas Carr's Is Google Making Us Stupid"]
"While the Atlantic article warns against conclusions drawn from anecdotes, it is almost entirely anecdotal. Tellingly, it quotes not a single study that has measured any of the things mentioned as a concern by the author or anyone else."
psychology  videogames  attention  technology  fear  add  adhd  computers  internet  nicholascarr  continuouspartialattention  reading  google  concentration  focus  brain  web  online  productivity  research  information  overload  flow  neuroscience  writing  cognition  cognitive  memory 
june 2008 by robertogreco
Is Google Making Us Stupid? - What the Internet is doing to our brains
"When I mention my troubles with reading to friends and acquaintances—literary types, most of them—many say they’re having similar experiences. The more they use the Web, the more they have to fight to stay focused on long pieces of writing."
google  concentration  attention  focus  brain  nicholascarr  technology  web  internet  online  productivity  continuouspartialattention  research  information  overload  flow  neuroscience  psychology  reading  writing  cognition  cognitive  memory 
june 2008 by robertogreco
Edge: ELIZA'S WORLD by Nicholas Carr -"...machine's influence shapes not only society's structures but more intimate structures of the self..."
Under sway of ubicomp we begin to take on its characteristics, see world, & ourselves, in its terms. We become further removed from "direct experience" of nature, signals sent by our senses, ever more encased in self-contained world delineated & mediated
technology  computers  future  history  ubicomp  nicholascarr  machines  society  trends  self  identity  control  nature  senses 
april 2008 by robertogreco
Conceptual Trends and Current Topics: Downtailing and Uptailing
"downtailing = perfect word to indicate slide away from relevance...captures shift in flavor of moving not from A to B list, but C to Z...Ever the optimist & pollyanna, I claim term uptailing...crawl from outer limits of long tail up towards fatter end"
words  trends  kevinkelly  nicholascarr  longtail  influence  relevance 
february 2008 by robertogreco
The big switch may turn off jobs | Technology | The Guardian
"The displacement of workers by machines is nothing new. But whereas industrialisation created far more jobs than it destroyed, computerisation is taking a very different course."
cloud  computing  economics  internet  technology  work  jobs  nicholascarr 
january 2008 by robertogreco
Q&A: Author Nicholas Carr on the Terrifying Future of Computing
"What's amazing is that this shift from private to public software has happened without us even noticing it." "We're transferring our intelligence into the machine, and the machine is transferring its way of thinking into us."
interviews  nicholascarr  cloud  computing  internet  futurism  future  newmedia  networks  convergence  computers  cloudcomputing  privacy  technology  predictions 
january 2008 by robertogreco
Rough Type: Nicholas Carr's Blog: Look, ma, no servers
"Think of how much more efficiently computing assets are used in this model - and, equally important, the way it renders IT essentially invisible to the users."
cloud  servers  internet  web  business  computing  entrepreneurship  nicholascarr 
november 2007 by robertogreco
Rough Type: Nicholas Carr's Blog: Google, Apple and the future of personal computing
advantages that a Google-Apple Cloud Computer offers: cheap ($99-199 for device + free storage and apps), energy efficient (no motors, LED screen), low-maintenance (no moving parts), flexible (mobile, auto-backup, files not tied to machine)
cloudbook  apple  google  computers  computing  future  mac  mobile  phones  technology  trends  networking  networks  cloud  collaboration  collaborative  gamechanging  online  internet  technium  nicholascarr  nearfuture  applications 
november 2007 by robertogreco

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