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robertogreco : nuance   38

Finding the Future in Radical Rural America | Boston Review
"It's time to rewrite the narrative of “Trump Country.” Rural places weren't always red, and many are turning increasingly blue."



"Rural spaces are often thought of as places absent of things, from people of color to modern amenities to radical politics. The truth, as usual, is more complicated."



"In West Virginia, what is old is new again: the revival of a labor movement, the fight against extractive capitalism, and the continuation of women’s grassroots leadership."



"Appalachia should not be seen as a liability to the left, a place that time and progress forgot. The past itself is not a negative asset."



"To create solidarity in the present, to make change for the future, West Virginians needed to remember their radical past."



"West Virginia’s workers, whether coal miners or teachers, have never benefitted from the state’s natural wealth due to greedy corporations and the politicians they buy."



"It matters that workers are rising up, and it matters that women are leading. It matters that the fight against extractive capitalism is fiercer than ever."



"The 2016 election still looms over us. But if all you know—or care to know—about Appalachia are election results, then you miss the potential for change. It might feel natural to assume, for example, that the region is doomed to elect conservative leadership. It might seem smart to point at the “D” beside Joe Manchin’s name and think, “It’s better than nothing.” There might be some fleeting concession to political diversity, but in a way that makes it the exception rather than the rule—a spot of blue in Trump Country.

If you believe this, then you might find these examples thin: worthy of individual commendation, but not indicative of the potential for radical change. But where you might look for change, I look for continuity, and it is there that I find the future of the left.

It matters that workers are rising up, and it matters that women are leading. It matters that the fight against extractive capitalism is fiercer than ever. And for all of these actions, it matters that the reasoning is not simply, “this is what is right,” but also, “this is what we do.” That reclamation of identity is powerful. Here, the greatest possible rebuke to the forces that gave us Trump will not be people outside of the region writing sneering columns, and it likely will not start with electoral politics. It will come from ordinary people who turn to their neighbors, relatives, and friends and ask, through their actions, “Which side are you on?”

“Listen to today’s socialists,” political scientist Corey Robin writes,

and you’ll hear less the language of poverty than of power. Mr. Sanders invokes the 1 percent. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez speaks to and for the ‘working class’—not ‘working people’ or ‘working families,’ homey phrases meant to soften and soothe. The 1 percent and the working class are not economic descriptors. They’re political accusations. They split society in two, declaring one side the illegitimate ruler of the other; one side the taker of the other’s freedom, power and promise.

This is a language the left knows well in Appalachia and many other rural communities. “The socialist argument against capitalism,” Robin says, “isn’t that it makes us poor. It’s that it makes us unfree.” Indeed, the state motto of West Virginia is montani semper liberi: mountaineers are always free. It was adopted in 1863 to mark West Virginia’s secession from Virginia, a victory that meant these new citizens would not fight a rich man’s war.

There are moments when that freedom feels, to me, unearned. How can one look at our economic conditions and who we have helped elect and claim freedom? But then I imagine the power of people who face their suffering head on and still say, “I am free.” There is no need to visit the future to see the truth in that. There is freedom in fighting old battles because it means that the other side has not won."
rural  westvirginia  politics  policy  us  economics  future  history  democrats  republicans  progressive  race  class  racism  classism  elizabethcatte  aaronbady  nuance  radicalism  socialism  unions  organizing  environment  labor  work  capitalism  inequality  appalachia  coalmining  coal  mining  coreyrobin  grassroots  alexandriaocasio-cortez  workingclass  classwars  poverty  identity  power  change  changemaking  josemanchin  2019 
february 2019 by robertogreco
John McWhorter: How Texting ‘LOL’ Changed Communication - The Atlantic
[on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hA6V_th9rQw ]

"“Today, communication is much more fluid, much more varied, much subtler—it's better,” says John McWhorter, professor of linguistics at Columbia University, author, and frequent contributor to The Atlantic, in a new video from the 2018 Aspen Ideas Festival. A big reason for this advancement in communication is, McWorther argues, the advent of texting—and even more specifically, the proliferation of the acronym “LOL.”

In the video, McWorther explains how LOL “ended up creeping in and replacing involuntary laughter,” and what meant for the new era of informal, nuanced communication. “It used to be that if you were going to write in any real way beyond the personal letter, there were all these rules you were afraid you were breaking—and you probably were,” he says. “It wasn't a comfortable form. You can write comfortably now.”"
johnmcwhorter  texting  texts  lol  2018  communication  language  linguistics  mobile  phones  change  flirting  fluidity  informal  informality  comfort  nuance  optimism 
september 2018 by robertogreco
M.I.A. and the Defense of Nuance | Affidavit
"Cancelling people is exhilarating, especially when it’s done by marginalized folks, those who so often experience the world through white supremacy—sometimes as a soft and subtle barrage, other times through vicious and terrifying means. The ability to dictate someone’s fate, when you’ve long been in the shadows, is a kind of victory. Like saying “Fuck You” from underneath the very heavy sole of a very old shoe. But while outrage culture has its merits, nuance has evaporated. So often it involves reducing someone to their mistakes, their greatest hits collection of fuck-ups.

In her song “Best Life,” Cardi B raps:

“That’s when they came for me on Twitter with the backlash/ "#CardiBIsSoProblematic" is the hashtag/ I can't believe they wanna see me lose that bad...”

This is her response to being cancelled for a now-infamous Twitter thread detailing her colorism, orientalism, and transphobia. Most recently, after her song “Girls” with Rita Ora was also deemed problematic, she made a statement: “I know I have use words before that I wasn’t aware that they are offensive to the LGBT community. I apologize for that. Not everybody knows the correct ‘terms’ to use. I learned and I stopped using it.”

Cardi brings up something that I keep coming back to: How accessibility to political language is a certain kind of privilege. What I believe Maya is trying to say is that American issues have become global. What she lacks the language to say is: how do we also care about the many millions of people around the world who are dying, right now? Why does American news, American trauma, American death, always take center-stage?

There are things we need to agree on, like the permutations of white supremacy, but are we, societally, equipped for social media being our judge, jury and executioner? I started to realize that the schadenfreude of cancelling was its own beast. It erases people of their humanity, of their ability to learn from experience.

This brings up the politics of disposability. How helpful is distilling someone into an immovable misstep, seeing them not as a person but as interloper who fucked up, and therefore deserves no redemption? How helpful is to interrogate a conversation, but not continue it? Is telling someone to die, and sending them death threats, or telling them they’re stupid or cancelled the way to do it? Who, and what, are we willing to lose in the fire?

M.I.A. and Cardi are similarly unwilling to conform to polite expectation. They both know that relatability is part of their charm. They are attractive women who speak their mind. This, in essence, is privilege, too—which then requires responsibility. The difference is that Cardi apologized."



"“Is Beyoncé or Kendrick Lamar going to say Muslim Lives Matter? Or Syrian Lives Matter? Or this kid in Pakistan matters?”

In 2016, when Maya made these comments in an ES Magazine interview, I remember being frustrated that she only accentuated the divide between non-black people of color and black folks, partially because so often we (Asians) say dumb shit.

The dumb shit I’m referring to w/r/t Maya is not only her tunnel vision when it comes to the complexity of race (plus the void and difference between black and brown folks’ experience) but also the incapacity—or stunted unwillingness—to further self-reflect on her positioning.

Because of her insolence, I had considered Maya undeserving of my alliance. Her lack of inclusivity and disregard of the complexity of political identity, especially in North America, was abominable. As a woman who had found success within the black mediums of rap and hip-hop, her smug disregard felt brash. It felt lazy.

But, as I watched the documentary on her life, I also began to see her complexity. One thing that strikes me about Maya is her personal perseverance. Her family went through hell to get the U.K. Her father’s political affiliations forced them to flee Sri Lanka. Arular was a revolutionary, and thus deemed a terrorist. He was absent her whole childhood. At one point in the film she describes riding on a bus in Sri Lanka with her mom. When the bus jerks forward, the policemen standing alongside casually sexually assault them in broad daylight. Her mother, Mala, warns Maya to stay silent, lest they both be killed. Her reality—of physical threats, of early loss—is stark. As she recalls the details in her candid, detached drawl, you imagine her grappling with the past like a lucid dream.

Herein lies Maya’s dissonance. She is the first refugee popstar, which allows her to subsume a state of Du Bois’ double consciousness. She is neither this nor that, she is a mixture of both East and West. Her experience seeps into her music like a trance, and these definitions are vital to understanding her.

She is agonized by the realities of war, of being an unwanted immigrant who fled from genocide into the frenzied hells of London, only to be pushed into a mostly-white housing estate system, replete with Nazi skinheads. “A tough life needs a tough language,” Jeanette Winterson writes in Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal?, her memoir about her abusive stepmother. As I watch the documentary, I wonder, again, if what Maya lacks most is language.

In the current political climate, where Syrian refugees are denied entry into the U.S., and the Muslim Ban, or “Travel Ban,” is an attack on the very notion of being different in America, I began to understand this other part of Maya. How angry she might be for the lack of articulation when it came to refugees, when it’s still very much an issue. She came to music to survive. Art was a way to dislocate from the trauma, to inoculate herself from the past, and provide a new, vivid reality that was both about transcending where she came from, whilst also creating a platform to speak to her roots, to her lineage, to her people.

Tamil is one of the oldest languages in the world. The people that speak it are, right now, being wiped out.

Her understanding of race comes from the victim’s perspective. She not only experienced white supremacy in her work, but was forced out of the country where she was born. Someone like her was never supposed to succeed. But, whether it’s Bill Maher mocking her “cockney accent” as she talks about the Tamil genocide, or the New York Times’ Lynn Hirschberg claiming her agitprop is fake because she dare munch on truffle fries (which were ordered by Hirschberg), Maya has been torn apart by (white) cultural institutions and commentators. You can see how these experiences have made her suspicious in general, but also particularly suspicious of me, a journalist.

Thing is, she’s been burnt by us too—by South Asians. So many of us walked away, attacking her instead of building a dialogue. Her compassion, therefore, is partially suspended. It’s as if she’s decided, vehemently—because she’s deemed herself to not be racist, or anti-black—that the conversation ends. She feels misheard, misrepresented. For her, it’s not about black life mattering or not mattering. It’s about prioritizing human life, about acknowledging human death. But, in America, that gets lost.

You can understand Maya’s perspective without agreeing with her, but I had another question. How do you hold someone you love accountable?

*

The talk itself was many things: awkward, eye-opening, disarming. When I asked about her alleged anti-blackness, she brought up Mark Zuckerberg as evidence that she was set up... by the internet. That her online fans should know that she’s not racist, so that perhaps her one-time friendship with Julian Assange was why she was being attacked online. Her incomprehension that people could be upset by her remarks reflected her naivety about how the internet kills its darlings. Two weeks prior to our meeting, Stephon Clark was murdered, shot twenty times in the back by two police officers. To this she responded: “Yeah, well no-one remembers the kid in Syria who is being shot right now either. Or the kid that’s dying in Somalia.” It made me wonder if she was unwell, not on a Kanye level, but just enough to lack the mechanisms it takes to understand perspective.

Backstage after the talk, she said, “I don’t know why you asked me those questions.” I told her that I thought critique, when done with care, was an empowering act of love. I needed clarity for our community’s sake—many of whom felt isolated by her, a cherished South Asian icon. We need answers from her because we are all trying to grapple with our love and frustration with her.

I don’t want to absolve Maya. What I’m more interested in is how we can say “problematic fave” while acknowledging that we are all problematic to someone. Is there compassion here? Is there space to grow?

*

In They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us, Hanif Abdurraqib writes, “There are people we need so much we can’t imagine turning away from them. People we’ve built entire homes inside of ourselves for, that cannot stand empty. People we still find a way to make magic with, even when the lights flicker, and the love runs entirely out.”

In the recent months, I’ve re-examined Maya with sad enthusiasm. The beginning riff of “Bad Girls”: a women in full niqab racing a car through side swept dunes. Without question, it’s an aching kind of visibility, but the tenor is different. Listening to her now it feels weighted, changed.

Laconic and aloof, I remind Maya on stage that anti-blackness is not an American issue, it’s universal. Perhaps it’s ego, or shameful anger, but I know she cares. Before she begins to speak I realize that you have to build empathy when someone fails you. That they’re not yours to own. You have to try your best to talk to them, and that it’s never helpful to reduce them to a punchline. I believe in Maya’s possibility to grow. I believe in the possibility of change. Maybe that’s my own naivety, but it’s also my political stance. It’s not about … [more]
mia  fariharóisín  2018  privilege  language  cancelling  marginalization  colorism  transphobia  orientlism  cardib  socialmedia  disposability  whitesupremacy  race  racism  apologies  learning  power  islamophobia  islam  socialjustice  noamchomsky  modelminorities  modelminority  nuance  complexity  perseverance  srilanka  silence  refugees  politics  tamil  victims  compassion  blacklivesmatter  julianassange  yourfaveisproblematic  us  australia  anti-blackness  growth  care  caring  dialog  conversation  listening  ego  shame  anger  change  naivety  howwechange  howwelearn  hanifabdurraqib  visibility  internet  problemematicfaves 
july 2018 by robertogreco
OCCULTURE: 67. Carl Abrahamsson & Mitch Horowitz in “Occulture (Meta)” // Anton LaVey, Real Magic & the Nature of the Mind
"Look, I’m not gonna lie to you - we have a pretty badass show this time around. Carl Abrahamsson and Mitch Horowitz are in the house.

Carl Abrahamsson is a Swedish freelance writer, lecturer, filmmaker and photographer specializing in material about the arts & entertainment, esoteric history and occulture. Carl is the author of several books, including a forthcoming title from Inner Traditions called Occulture: The Unseen Forces That Drive Culture Forward.

Mitch Horowitz is the author of One Simple Idea: How Positive Thinking Reshaped Modern Life; Occult America, which received the 2010 PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award for literary excellence; and Mind As Builder: The Positive-Mind Metaphysics of Edgar Cayce. Mitch has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Salon, Time.com, and Politico. Mitch is currently in the midst of publishing a series of articles on Medium called "Real Magic".

And it is that series paired with Carl’s book that lays the foundation for our conversation here."
carlabrahamsson  mitchhorowitz  occult  culture  occulture  magic  belief  mind  ouijaboard  astrology  mindfulness  buddhism  religion  academia  antonlavey  materialism  mainstream  intellectualism  elitism  mindbodyspirit  2018  esotericism  authority  norms  nuance  change  enlightenment  popculture  science  humanities  socialsciences  medicine  conservatism  churches  newage  cosmology  migration  california  hippies  meaning  psychology  siliconvalley  ingenuity  human  humans  humannature  spirituality  openmindedness  nature  urbanization  urban  nyc  us  society  santería  vodou  voodoo  voudoun  climate  light  davidlynch  innovation  population  environment  meaningmaking  mikenesmith  californianideology  thought  thinking  philosophy  hoodoo  blackmetal  norway  beauty  survival  wholeperson  churchofsatan  satanism  agency  ambition  mysticism  self  stories  storytelling  mythology  humanism  beinghuman  surrealism  cv  repetition  radicalism  myths  history  renaissance  fiction  fantasy  reenchantment  counterculture  consciousness  highered  highereducation  cynicism  inquiry  realitytele 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Christopher Emdin SXSWedu 2017 Keynote - YouTube
"Merging theory and practice, connecting contemporary issues to historical ones, and providing a deep analysis on the current state of education, Dr. Emdin ushers in a new way of looking at improving schools and schooling. Drawing from themes in his New York Times Bestselling book, and the latest album from rap group A Tribe Called Quest, Emdin offers insight into the structures of contemporary schools, and highlights major issues like the absence of diversity among teachers, the ways educators of color are silenced in schools, the absence of student voice in designing teaching and learning, and a way forward in addressing these issues."
christopheremdin  education  2017  sxswedu2017  schools  diversity  teaching  learning  howweteach  howwelearn  studentvoice  listening  socialjustice  service  atribecalledquest  dinka  culture  adjustment  maladjustment  ptsd  psychology  voice  transcontextualism  johndewey  doctorseuss  traditions  children  race  racism  trauma  trayvonmartin  violence  schooling  schooltoprisonpipeline  technology  edtech  pedagogy  disenfranchisement  technosolutionism  commoncore  soul  liberation  conversation  paulofreire  credentialism  stem  coding  economics  expectations  engagement  neweconomy  equity  justice  humility  quantification  oppression  whitesupremacy  cosmopolitanism  hiphoped  youthculture  hiphop  youth  teens  appropriation  monetization  servicelearning  purpose  context  decontextualization  tfa  courage  inequality  inequity  normalization  community  curriculum  canon  complexity  chaos  nuance  teachforamerica  transcontextualization 
march 2017 by robertogreco
Joamette Kills on Twitter: "Fidel Castro is dead and I am full of emotions."
"Fidel Castro is dead and I am full of emotions.

Disclaimer before I even talk: if you're not Cuban, I don't give a fuck what you think about what I'm about to say.

I found out he was dead when I woke up this morning. I have no comparison for everything I felt at that moment. It was too much.

Fidel is a man who lived 90 miles away from me, who everyone in my family wished was dead, vocally, for as long as I can remember.

Fidel was a man who unwittingly lead to my existence: my parents met as teens in the Miami exile community.

It's a strange feeling when a man you've never known played a pivotal role in your conception - then he dies. Mirrors my actual father.

This moment is also strange for me as a bi-racial Cuban. There are very few Afro-Cubans in Miami. There's a reason.

Cuba became a much Blacker nation after several waves of exiles left. Most exiles were white and white-ish Cubans. They could afford to go.

The first wave of exiles where the wealthiest. Many already had property in Miami they could move into.

That was slightly before the revolution was won. A little after, people began to deport their children en masse to avoid indoctrination.

My family arrived in the last of the great waves of Cuban immigration to the US, broke into Peru's embassy, claimed asylum.

My skinny little mother, 12 years old in 1980, crushed in a tiny boat sent over from Florida, made her way with abuela and 2 brothers to US.

Ultimately, America's promise of capitalist mobility did not pay off for us. Do not scoff at free healthcare and education. Don't scoff -

- at my family's suffering under US capitalism.

The US education system failed my Black immigrant mother. The healthcare system has failed her sick body and ailing mind.

No, Cuba is not a utopia. Yes, it is a dictatorship, with or without Fidel. Yes, the US kills dissidents, too, abroad moreso than at home.

No, it's not justified to limit the freedom of speech and association of your people. No, it's not justified to claim absolute power.

Yet my stomach rolls over looking at the photos from Miami right now. Light-skinned Cubans mourning the privilege that was ripped from them.

Light-skinned Cubans celebrating in the streets because the man that stole their mansions to create housing for the poor is DEAD.

I can oppose so much of what Castro did without feeling glee over his death nor solidarity with the white Cuban elite who ALSO voted Trump.

Being a Cuban right now is way more complicated if you would have been just as poor before Castro as you would have been after.

The popular opinion right now in Cuba is torn. Younger folks don't really a give a shit that he's dead. Folks in their 50s mourning the -

- person that fed them, housed them, when elite ran away and took all their money with them.

My greatest wish for Cuba is greater personal liberties, civil rights, mainly freedom of speech and the press.

I want democracy in Cuba. What I fear now is corporate oligarchy gaining a foothold on the island. No matter what you think about all -

- this, one thing is 100% fucking true: capitalism is a poison."
joamettekills  fidelcastro  cuba  2016  history  race  racism  capitalism  dictatorships  nuance  housing  inequality  oligarchy  healthcare  education  afro-cubans 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Alex Blandford — Government and the cargo cult
"As part of work with Parliament User Group recently, we’ve been trying to think about the institutional blockers to reform and “progress” (without the Soviet, vanguardist associations).

One of the ones that came up a few times was the issue of “we’ve always done it like this, so we shall continue to do it like this”. Inertia is a powerful force in large organisations, especially ones with an aversion to being seen to fuck up.

There is an obverse to this, especially in the case of Parliament and a lot of Local Authorities: “We’re not GDS, so we won’t do anything that they do”. Wishing to have a sense of individuality is not uncommon. We’ll do this thing - we’ll succeed. We’ll show them.

Both of these behaviours come from a lack of strategic understanding. Simon Wardley has put it around 1000x better than I could: “why does a general bombard a hill? It isn’t because 95% of other generals did the same thing”.

[video]

Understanding where your business/organisation is going is absolutely vital. Merely saying (in government especially) that you will do open source because GDS did it (but did they really) or that you won’t be focusing on user needs as you are internal only (no word of a lie, have had this chat) is doomed to failure, and likely an expensive and public failure.

Mimicry in this space is often called Cargo Culting; an allusion to a particular fascination of anthropologists in the post-war period (although it goes back a lot further).

You can read up on it at wikipedia including how it came to be used in this context. But my problem with this is that cargo cults and their formation have very little to do with the way that we use the phrase, and I am hugely uncomfortable with the ethnocentrism involved in using the phrase. It relies on an implicit assumption that people in “tribes” are somehow dumb and that they see an airplane and thus mimic it like children. There is a huge long list of reading on how we treat people in tribes like children, and rob them of a claim to complex thought. I’d like to think we can do better in our metaphors.

So I thought I’d try and reverse this a little bit. Taking the same broad brush strokes as everyone else, I’d like to consider Trobriand Cricket. It’s not quite in the same bit of the Pacific as the cargo cults, but it has a similar use of “western” ideas.

[video]

This game is a syncretic mix of cricket as introduced by missionaries to the Trobriand Islands (along with football), and the rituals of war on the islands. It includes teams whose victory dances for a catch include references to WW2 soldiers and military materiel. Many of the islanders are university educated.

Now. Unless we’re going to say that Norwich City’s canary branding is part of an animistic shaman cult led by Delia Smith, this all seems quite normal for sport. Or even life. You have a game, you change it to fit your local context. You understand your strategy. It is also worth pointing out that the Prince Philip Movement’s cult of personality around the Duke of Edinburgh wouldn’t look out of place in the comments section of a number of national newspapers.

Here’s where it breaks down though. The game was imposed by missionaries. The way that these people lived was changed irreparably by British colonialism. The power dynamics in this idea are huge. So changing the game becomes a response to colonialism. A way of maintaining some control against overwhelming power.

And there is where my discomfort is. What people in the Pacific were often doing was a response to the invasion of their land, and its use as a strategic assett in war. Many islanders died. The power relations and political history of the phrase have been shed so that it becomes a glib way of comparing someone’s actions to the old saying about the definition of insanity as being the repetition of something expecting a previous result to the previous time.

As I mentioned yesterday, ‘disruption’ can feel like an existential threat to the status quo. It is all around us, and the internet is going to change how you do your job. Or else someone who will change will put you out of business, or make your organisation seem too inefficient by comparison. Copying your work of the kid at the next desk won’t work. Learning together and open conversation might help. But treat this as a plea: don’t get sucked in by tired cliche. Shorthand is just that - a reminder of the nuance and complexity that has been left out.

Go out and explore that."
alexblandford  2015  cargocult  disruption  complexity  nuance  copying  mimicry  imitation  systemsthinking  organizations  power  anthropology  ethnography  gds 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Is Cultural Appropriation Always Wrong? - The New York Times
"It’s a truth only selectively acknowledged that all cultures are mongrel. One of the first Indian words to be brought into English was the Hindi ‘‘loot’’ — ‘‘plunder.’’ Some of the Ku Klux Klan's 19th-century costumes were, of all things, inspired in part by the festival wear of West African slaves; the traditional wax-print designs we associate with West Africa are apparently Indonesian — by way of the Netherlands. Gandhi cribbed nonviolence from the Sermon on the Mount.

We sometimes describe this mingling as ‘‘cross-pollination’’ or ‘‘cross-fertilization’’ — benign, bucolic metaphors that obscure the force of these encounters. When we wish to speak more plainly, we talk of ‘‘appropriation’’ — a word now associated with the white Western world’s co-opting of minority cultures. And this year — these past several months alone — there has been plenty of talk. In film, there was the outcry over the casting of the blonde Emma Stone as the part-Chinese Hawaiian heroine of Cameron Crowe’s ‘‘Aloha.’’ In music, Miley Cyrus wore dreadlock extensions while hosting the V.M.A.s and drew accusations of essentially performing in blackface — and not for the first time. In literature, there was the discovery that Michael Derrick Hudson, a white poet, had been published in this year’s Best American Poetry anthology under a Chinese pseudonym. In fashion, there was the odd attempt to rebrand cornrows as a Caucasian style — a ‘‘favorite resort hair look,’’ according to Elle. And floating above it all has been Rachel Dolezal, the presiding spirit of the phenomenon, the white former N.A.A.C.P. chapter president who remains serenely and implacably convinced of her blackness.

Questions about the right to your creation and labor, the right to your identity, emerge out of old wounds in America, and they provoke familiar battle stances. The same arguments are trotted out (It’s just hair! Stop being so sensitive! It’s not always about race!) to be met by the same quotes from Bell Hooks, whose essays from the early ’90s on pop culture, and specifically on Madonna, have been a template for discussions of how white people ‘‘colonize’’ black identity to feel transgressive: ‘‘Ethnicity becomes spice, seasoning that can liven up the dull dish that is mainstream white culture.’’ It’s a seasonal contro­versy that attends awards shows, music festivals, Halloween: In a country whose beginnings are so bound up in theft, conversations about appropriation are like a ceremonial staging of the nation’s original sins.

It can feel like such a poignantly stalled conversation that we’re occasionally tempted to believe we’ve moved past it. A 2013 NPR story on America’s changing demographics and the evolution of hip-hop made a case that the genre has lost its identification with race, and that young people aren’t burdened by anxieties about authenticity. ‘‘The melding of cultures we’re seeing now may have Generation X and Generation Y shaking in their boots with claims of racial ‘appropriation,’ ’’ the rapper and performance artist Mykki Blanco said in an online discussion about fashion’s debt to ‘‘urban culture.’’ ‘‘To Generation Z, I would clearly think it all seems ‘normal.’ ’’ Hip-hop culture is global culture, according to this wisdom: People of Korean descent have dominated the largest international b-boy championships; twerking is a full-blown obsession in Russia. ‘‘We as black people have to come to grips that hip-hop is a contagious culture,’’ Questlove, the drummer and co-founder of the Roots, said last year in an interview with Time magazine in which he defended Iggy Azalea, the white Australian rapper derided for (among other things) affecting a ‘‘Southern’’ accent. ‘‘If you love something, you gotta set it free.’’

But many of the most dogged critics of cultural appropriation are turning out to be the very people who were supposed to be indifferent to it. Members of supposedly easygoing Generation Z object — in droves — to Lena Dunham’s posting a photograph of herself in a mock hijab. Others argue that the cultural devaluation of black people paves the way for violence against them. ‘‘What would America be like if we loved black people as much as we loved black culture?’’ Amandla Stenberg, the 16-year-old star of ‘‘The Hunger Games,’’ asked, in her video message ‘‘Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows,’’ which criticized pop stars like Katy Perry for borrowing from black style ‘‘as a way of being edgy.’’ In June, young Asian-Americans protested when the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, as an accompaniment to a lecture called ‘‘Claude Monet: Flirting With the Exotic,’’ invited visitors to pose next to Monet’s ‘‘La Japonaise’’ while wearing a matching kimono. And South Asian women, objecting to the fad for ‘‘ethnic’’ wear at music festivals like Coachella, continued a social-media campaign to ‘‘reclaim the bindi,’’ sharing photographs of themselves, their mothers and grandmothers wearing bindis, with captions like ‘‘My culture is not a costume.’’’

Is this just the latest flowering of ‘‘outrage culture’’? Not necessarily. ‘‘The line between cultural appropriation and cultural exchange is always going to be blurred,’’ Stenberg acknowledges in her video. But it has never been easier to proceed with good faith and Google, to seek out and respect context. Social media, these critics suggest, allow us too much access to other people’s lives and other people’s opinions to plead ignorance when it comes to causing offense. When Allure magazine offers tips on achieving a ‘‘loose Afro’’ accompanied by a photograph of a white woman, we can’t overlook how actual black women have been penalized for the hairstyle — that two years ago it was widely reported that a 12-year-old black girl in Florida was threatened with expulsion because of her ‘‘distracting’’ natural hair, and that schools in Oklahoma and Ohio have tried to ban Afros outright. We can’t forget that South Asian bindis became trendy in the mid-’90s, not long after South Asians in New Jersey were being targeted by a hate group that called itself Dotbusters, referencing the bindi, which some South Asian women stopped wearing out of fear of being attacked.

Seen in this light, ‘‘appropriation’’ seems less provocative than pitiably uninformed and stale. It seems possible that we might, someday, learn to keep our hands to ourselves where other people’s cultures are concerned. But then that might do another kind of harm. In an essay in the magazine Guernica, the Pakistani novelist Kamila Shamsie called for more, not less, imaginative engagement with her country: ‘‘The moment you say a male American writer can’t write about a female Pakistani, you are saying, Don’t tell those stories. Worse, you’re saying: As an American male you can’t understand a Pakistani woman. She is enigmatic, inscrutable, unknowable. She’s other. Leave her and her nation to its Otherness. Write them out of your history.’’

Can some kinds of appropriation shatter stereotypes? This has been literature’s implicit promise: that entering into another’s consciousness enlarges our own. Reviewing ‘‘Green on Blue,’’ Elliot Ackerman’s new novel that looks at America’s war in Afghanistan from the perspective of a young Afghan, the writer Tom Bissell said ‘‘there would be fewer wars’’ if more novelists allowed themselves to imagine themselves into other cultures. It’s a seductive if utterly unverifiable claim. But what cannot be disputed is how profoundly we exist in one another’s imaginations. And what conversations about appropriation make clear is that our imaginations are unruly kingdoms governed by fears and fantasies. They are never neutral."
appropriation  culturalappropriation  2015  parulsehgal  colonialism  decolonization  hiphop  music  fashion  generationz  amandlastenberg  popculture  questlove  culture  mileycyrus  casting  film  bindis  kamilashamsie  otherness  othering  nuance  stereotypes  elliotackerman  tombissell  cosmicrace  larazacósmica  mykkiblanco  genx  generationx  geny  generationy  millennials  michaelderrickhudson  hair  clothing  bellhooks  madonna  context  genz 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Still Water blog · Personal Touch: Joanne McNeil on Digital Intimacy
"The Thoma award is intended to “promote understanding of digital art,” and it’s easy to see why the jury chose McNeil for this mission. Neither fanboy nor pedant, she puts thoughts into words that are clear yet nuanced, unencumbered by the jargon that weighs down so much scholarship.

Many of her essays pivot on a concrete detail: a broken iPhone screen, a photo of the Eiffel tower, an unlikely 3d puzzle available on a Chinese ecommerce site. These grains of digital texture aren’t haphazard observations, floating by like Facebook posts about a delicious breakfast or pretty sunset. They are tiny gateways to understanding the unseen forces busily automating society, unseen because they are too vast to grasp except on a global scale, or because they are too intimate to experience except subliminally. Forces surveyed in McNeil’s essays include Twitter algorithms that encourage stalking and automated birthday notices that turn anniversaries into occasions for harassment.

Among my favorite essays is “iPhone Dreams,” precipitated by McNeil’s discovery of a website displaying imagined renderings of what was soon to become the Apple phone. The site compiles unofficial mockups that ordinary artists and designers concocted in October of 2006, shortly after news broke that Apple had struck a deal with a phone company. Unlike the elegant touchscreen slab that Apple would eventually unveil, these clunky, button-cluttered prototypes look more like iPods–or even Princess phones–revealing how our imaginations can be shackled to the past. (The first tractors were equipped with leather reins so farmers could get used to steering them.) Despite its ostensible critique of tech forecasters and Apple groupies, “iPhone Dreams” ends in a confession of infatuation by the author as well. When she eventually gets her hands on the real phone, she brings it to sleep with her, concluding, “I have to remember to put it down.”

McNeil’s confessional tone can be infectious–it gives us readers permission to consider whether we’ve felt parallel digital dreads or desires. But her confessions have a purpose beyond titillation or gossip. She reminds us that the feminist adage “the personal is political” also applies to personal computing, whether in an essay written with Astra Taylor on the industry’s historically inaccurate bias towards the mansplaining “Dads of Tech,” or in a remark on how search engines have changed the meaning of the word “search,” whose original connotation of longing has been demurely expunged to leave only the objective act of research.

The latter insight comes from her catalogue essay for the exhibition “Touch To Feel,” in which McNeil astutely notes how gestural interfaces like tablets and smartphones have similarly consigned touch, our most carnal sense, to the role of a pragmatic intermediary:

The word ‘touch’ is likewise recalibrated, with a focus on the motion of touching rather than sensing the texture of something. The uniformly smooth surface of a ‘touch interface’ has no friction. Touch is never the point of a digital experience, not the way that code is written for us to hear or see. We touch surfaces that do not tug back or prick our fingers. We touch to alter images, to turn the volume down. We touch to engage other senses.

It’s tempting to blame digital tools for stripping away the sensuous meanings of these formerly hot-blooded verbs. Is there a deliberate corporate agenda here, to refocus our erotic attention on nouns that can be bought and sold–like the facts returned by a Google search, or the iPhone we cozy up next to in bed? McNeil doesn’t sermonize on this point; she opens the door and lets us walk through on her own. She has, as we say, a light touch.

We need more writers who can draw our attention to the intimate dimensions of the gadgets that have cozened their way onto our wrists and into our pant pockets. Enough of my mansplaining–go read her yourself."
joannemcneil  writing  nuance  digital  astrataylor  technology  2015  newmedia  jonippolito  experience  jargon  scholarship  academia  accessibility 
june 2015 by robertogreco
The Dads of Tech - The Baffler
"The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house,” Audre Lorde famously said, but let Clay Shirky mansplain. It “always struck me as a strange observation—even the metaphor isn’t true,” the tech consultant and bestselling author said at the New Yorker Festival last autumn in a debate with the novelist Jonathan Franzen. “Get ahold of the master’s hammer,” and you can dismantle anything. Just consider all the people “flipping on the ‘I’m gay’ light on Facebook” to signal their support for marriage equality—there, Shirky declared, is a prime example of the master’s tools put to good use.

“Shirky invented the Internet and Franzen wants to shut it down,” panel moderator Henry Finder mused with an air of sophisticated hyperbole. Finder said he was merely paraphrasing a festival attendee he’d overheard outside—and joked that for once in his New Yorker editing career, he didn’t need fact-checkers to determine whether the story was true. He then announced with a wink that it was “maybe a little true.” Heh.

Shirky studied fine art in school, worked as a lighting designer for theater and dance companies; he was a partner at investment firm The Accelerator Group before turning to tech punditry. Now he teaches at NYU and publishes gung-ho cyberliberation tracts such as Here Comes Everybody and Cognitive Surplus while plying a consulting sideline for a diverse corps of well-paying clients such as Nokia, the BBC, and the U.S. Navy—as well as high-profile speaking gigs like the New Yorker forum, which was convened under the stupifyingly dualistic heading “Is Technology Good for Culture?”

And that’s tech punditry for you: simplification with an undercurrent of sexism. There are plenty of woman academics and researchers who study technology and social change, but we are a long way from the forefront of stage-managed gobbledygook. Instead of getting regaled with nods and winks for “inventing the Internet,” women in the tech world typically have to overcome the bigoted suspicions of an intensively male geek culture—when, that is, they don’t face outright harassment in the course of pursuing industry careers."



"No wonder, then, that investors ignore coders from marginalized communities who aspire to meet real needs. With an Internet so simple even your Dad can understand it as our guiding model, the myriad challenges that attend the digital transformation, from rampant sexism, racism, and homophobia to the decline of journalism, are impossible to apprehend, let alone address. How else could a white dude who didn’t know that a “bustle” is a butt-enhancing device from the late nineteenth century raise $6.5 million to start a women’s content site under that name? Or look at investors racing to fund the latest fad: “explainer” journalism, a format that epitomizes our current predicament. Explainer journalism is an Internet simple enough for Dad to understand made manifest. Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight, the New York Times’ The Upshot, and Ezra Klein’s Vox (which boasts a “Leadership Team” of seventeen men and three women) all champion a numbers-driven model that does not allow for qualification or uncertainty. No doubt, quantification can aid insight, but statistics shouldn’t be synonymous with a naive, didactic faith that numbers don’t lie or that everything worth knowing can be rendered in a series of quickly clickable virtual notecards. Plenty of news reports cry out for further explanation, because the world is complex and journalists often get things wrong, but like Internet punditry before it, these explainer outlets don’t explain, they simplify."



"Most of all, the dominance of the Dad’s-eye-view of the world shores up the Internet’s underlying economic operating system. This also means a de facto free pass for corporate surveillance, along with an increasing concentration of wealth and power in the coffers of a handful of advertising-dependent, privacy-violating info-monopolies and the men who run them (namely Google and Facebook, though Amazon and Apple are also addicted to sucking up our personal data). Study after study shows that women are more sensitive to the subject of privacy than men, from a Pew poll that found that young girls are more prone than boys are to disabling location tracking on their devices to another that showed that while women are equally enthusiastic about technology in general, they’re also more concerned about the implications of wearable technologies. A more complicated Internet would incorporate these legitimate apprehensions instead of demanding “openness” and “transparency” from everyone. (It would also, we dare to hope, recognize that the vacuous sloganeering on behalf of openness only makes us more easily surveilled by government and big business.) But, of course, imposing privacy protections would involve regulation and impede profit—two bête noires of tech dudes who are quite sure that Internet freedom is synonymous with the free market.

The master’s house might have a new shape—it may be sprawling and diffuse, and occupy what is euphemistically referred to as the “cloud”—but it also has become corporatized and commercialized, redolent of hierarchies of yore, and it needs to be dismantled. Unfortunately, in the digital age, like the predigital one, men don’t want to take it apart."
astrataylor  joannemcneil  2014  sexism  technology  culture  siliconvalley  dads  nodads  patriarchy  paternalism  gender  emotionallabor  hisotry  computing  programming  complexity  simplification  nuance  diversity  journalism  clayshirky  polarization  exclusion  marcandreessen  ellenchisa  julieannhorvath  github  careers  audrelorde  punditry  canon  inequality 
november 2014 by robertogreco
6, 31: Nixtamalization
"Broadly, you’re getting three things here:

First, reminiscences, because “I saw an unusual thing once and, on reflection, here’s what I think of it” is one of my favorite things to read.

Second, criticism of cultural criticism, especially of the tech industry. From the fact that I work in this industry, you can guess that I think there are at least a few beautiful, wholly worthwhile things here. From the fact that I’m not a complete psychopath, you can guess that I think the industry as a whole is enormously broken. My ideas about this are not very lucid, but I try to clarify them using actual experiences and numbers and introspection. One opinion you’ll see a lot is that complaining about epiphenomena – the taste of Soylent, creepy wording choices in Facebook press releases, the fact that some tech workers are rude – is fine or whatever, but it doesn’t replace serious inquiries into cultural and economic problems like systemic sexism or child labor.

What I fear is a cultural framework around technology like the one around pro sports, where a merry enterprise has grown an industry based on “a subtle but insidious form of child abuse”, but popular criticism is stuck on the level of nitpicking stars’ public behavior. To take high technology’s potential for good seriously is to take its potential for bad seriously, and to take its potential for bad seriously is to get beyond the “they call us users, which is also what drug addicts are called!!!” horseshit.

The tech industry, or its subculture, or the network itself, is neither independent of nor a seamless part of the society around it. It has its own potentials, its own points of rigidity and articulation, that are not understood in one glance. Studying it is like studying anything else. You need sweat and rigor: to build a ship that floats, that catches the wind, that can be sailed and improved by other people. You also need enchantment and humility: to have been out of sight of land and imagine, involuntarily, the abyssal plains and mountains far under you, and realize that your mind will never encompass everything as it is at once.

In this decade we have a lot of loud commentators who are very keen on certain conclusions about the network – that it’s good or bad, shaped like this or that – but don’t show the rigor or the humility. The commentators themselves are not a bad blight, as blights go. Better to have reflexive Luddites and unreflective transhumanists selling tweet-sized answers to Wikipedia-sized questions on the lecture circuit than to have locusts, or bears, or superflus, or gray goo, or dictators, or weevils.

But we can do better, I hope. We will apply more of what we already know about people to technology made and used by people. It’s a very slippery thing to talk about people, personhood itself, at the scale where experience happens. People speaking for themselves can do it. Good fiction does it, and very good narrative history. Nonfiction tends to be terrible at it. There is a big exception. It’s the structure that’s been home to a sizable plurality, maybe even a majority, of the most serious intellectual work of the last three or four generations: feminism. (Other fields have been able to talk about lived personhood, obvs, but it’s feminism that’s coordinated all these insights into productive mosaics. Third-wave feminism is the single most useful collection of ideas of what people are like. So it is that if in 2014 you read something generally about humanness that doesn’t feel like it was written by Howard Hughes on DMT, it’s likely using a hundred years feminist scholarship as a foundation.) The first of many problems, of course, is that a lot of the tech culture shares the larger culture’s suspicion that feminism is just patriarchy through a mirror, and we all know patriarchy is for crap, so.

And we have weird ideas about the future. We think that technology is more about the future than other things are. We think that to make people work for a better future, we have to convince them that things are getting worse. (The evidence is that the most important things are getting better for most people.) We think that we can make climate change not come true after it’s already come true. On the whole of course I suspect the future of people is less determined by its being the future than by their being people.

And a special note on meritocracy. The following is pandering to most readers, but occasionally someone thanks me for my “newsletter about how the tech industry isn’t really that bad” or something, so I’d like to draw a line. I’ve been lucky enough to be part of several institutions that people could move in under their own power. I’ve appreciated them partly because they’re so rare, especially in tech. The idea that the economy is an objective sorting of people according to innate virtue onto a scale of income is on a level with the idea that our fates are woven by the Norns. Maybe a bit below, in that the Norns were fictional but describable, while merit is both fictional and circularly defined. Smartness is a concept that I try to avoid, but if I had to choose someone as the smartest I know, with the best ability to analyze and construct complex and subtle ideas, she’s in training as a mid-level social worker and can expect to “““““earn”””””, at her career peak, somewhat less than a middling third-year code monkey making trick websites in SF. I know two different brilliant people stuck in subsistence retail jobs to take care of their sick relatives. I know two different eldercare nurses who are made to take extra work hours. You can take your meritocracy and shove it so far up your ass it chips your teeth."



"By request, though in some consternation about acting as if I have the answers, I suggest two rules of thumb:

1. When you meet someone, examine your first impression carefully. Consider what kind of person you reflexively think they are, and start interacting with them from the assumption that they’re sick of being treated like that kind of person. Defer to basic sensitivities and to common sense, of course. The idea is to actively negate biases rather than trying to ignore them, and it seems to land me in more interesting conversations.

2. Think of times you’ve changed your mind about something important. Think especially of the ways that people tried to talk you out of it that failed before you did come around. Then, when debating, use ways of arguing that have worked on you. Maybe more importantly, don’t use ways of arguing that only entrenched you."
2014  charlieloyd  firstimpressions  listening  assumptions  conversation  mindchanging  openmindedness  iterestedness  debate  debating  arguing  argument  meritocracy  technology  siliconvalley  fiction  patriarchy  feminism  humility  rigor  criticism  nuance  complexity  systemsthinking  epiphenomena  internet  web  mindchanges 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Stuart Hall obituary | Education | The Guardian
"When the writer and academic Richard Hoggart founded the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at Birmingham University in 1964, he invited Stuart Hall, who has died aged 82, to join him as its first research fellow. Four years later Hall became acting director and, in 1972, director. Cultural studies was then a minority pursuit: half a century on it is everywhere, generating a wealth of significant work even if, in its institutionalised form, it can include intellectual positions that Hall could never endorse.

The foundations of cultural studies lay in an insistence on taking popular, low-status cultural forms seriously and tracing the interweaving threads of culture, power and politics. Its interdisciplinary perspectives drew on literary theory, linguistics and cultural anthropology in order to analyse subjects as diverse as youth sub-cultures, popular media and gendered and ethnic identities – thus creating something of a model, for example, for the Guardian's own G2 section.

Hall was always among the first to identify key questions of the age, and routinely sceptical about easy answers. A spellbinding orator and a teacher of enormous influence, he never indulged in academic point-scoring. Hall's political imagination combined vitality and subtlety; in the field of ideas he was tough, ready to combat positions he believed to be politically dangerous. Yet he was unfailingly courteous, generous towards students, activists, artists and visitors from across the globe, many of whom came to love him. Hall won accolades from universities worldwide, despite never thinking of himself as a scholar. Universities offered him a base from which he could teach – a source of great pleasure for him – and collaborate with others in public debate."



"Ambivalent about his relation both to his place of departure and to his place of arrival, he sought to survive the medieval gloom of Oxford by making common cause with the city's displaced migrant minority."


"In Birmingham, under Hall's charismatic leadership – and on a shoestring budget – cultural studies took off. But as Hoggart remarked, Hall rarely used the first person singular, preferring to speak of the collaborative aspects of the work. His energy was prodigious and he shifted the terms of debate on the media, deviancy, race, politics, Marxism and critical theory.

While there are no single-authored, scholarly monographs to his name, Hall produced an astonishing array of collectively written and edited volumes, essays and journalism – translated into many languages – as well as countless political speeches, and radio and television talks.

In 1979 he became professor of sociology at the Open University, attracted by the possibility of reaching out to those who had fallen through the conventional educational system. He remained there until 1998 – later becoming emeritus professor – launching a series of courses in communications and sociology. Increasingly, he focused on questions of race and postcolonialism, and on theorising the migrant view of Britain that he had always cherished."



"Under New Labour he became increasingly furious that managerialism was hollowing out public life, and increasingly pessimistic about the global situation. Yet he was cheered that "someone with Hussein for a middle name" was sitting in the White House and, after the credit crunch, was mesmerised by the sight of capitalism falling apart of its own accord. Throughout, he maintained an optimism of the will, and as late as last year he and his colleagues on Soundings magazine were producing manifestos for a post-neoliberal politics."



"When he appeared on Desert Island Discs, Hall talked about his lifelong passion for Miles Davis. He said that the music represented for him "the sound of what cannot be". What was his own intellectual life but the striving, against all odds, to make "what cannot be" alive in the imagination?"
obituaries  2014  stuarthall  culturalstudies  culture  lcproject  openstudioproject  interdisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  nuance  subcultures  media  ethnicity  identity  institutionalization  colonialism  imperialism  decolonization  culturalanthropology  anthropology  literarytheory  multiliteracies  power  politics  gender  openuniversity  humility  collaboration  marxism  neoliberalism  activism  managerialism  liminalspaces  liminality 
february 2014 by robertogreco
Philip Pullman interview: the ‘religious atheist’ – Peter Jukes – Aeon
"In a rare interview, Philip Pullman tells us his own origin story, and why the great questions are still religious ones"



"For 12 years, the pupils of an ordinary Oxford middle school must have had one of the most astonishing educations in the country. The classroom gave Pullman a space to learn as well as perform. ‘It was like being given the keys of the Rolls-Royce,’ he says of teaching the Classics. ‘When I’m reading, I’m looking for something to steal,’ he continues, confiding that his own daemon or animal familiar would be a thieving magpie or raven. ‘Readers ask me all the time the traditional question “Where do you get your ideas from?” I reply: “We are all having ideas all the time. But I’m on the lookout for them. You’re not.”’"



"‘I like to say I’m a complete materialist but…’ Pullman allows himself an English teacher’s dramatic pause, ‘matter is conscious. How do I know that? Because I’m matter and I’m conscious.’ Once again, Pullman opts for complexity and nuance, and you can hear the same dislike of hierarchies in his critique of some popular science. ‘What you often get in people of this stripe (and Brian Cox — the TV physicist — goes in for it as well), is a sentence of the formula “X is no more than/just/merely/nothing but Y.” For example: “The world is nothing but the action of molecules” or “Love is merely the movement of electrons in the brains.” Sentences of that sort are nearly always mistaken,’ says Pullman. ‘I would prefer they were put in the form of “Love is a movement of electrons in the brain, among other things.”’

‘Among other things’ would be a great motto for Pullman’s ambivalence (or should that be multivalence?) about matters of belief, fiction and science. He is of the old school of secularism which holds that faith should be kept out of the public sphere, but still refuses the kind of inquisition that seeks to root out mistaken beliefs: ‘What you feel and believe are private to you and belong to nobody else,’ he counters. ‘What you do in the public sphere is what’s important.’"
philippullman  2014  interviews  religion  belief  ambiguity  nuance  love  science  hierarchy  hierarchies  writing  howwewrite 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Urge of the Letter: Social media surely change identity performance....
"Often, the critique of device dependence in connected life today turns on forms of etiquette that emerge or change in the context of technology. Sherry Turkle is perhaps the best-known and most grounded of such critics—and yet I often find myself wondering whether she gets the moral and psychological import of such social forms precisely backward. “I talk to young people about etiquette when they go out to dinner,” she writes in a recent op-ed, “and they explain to me that when in a group of, say, seven, they make sure that at least three people are ‘heads up’ in the ‘talking’ conversation at any one time.” For Turkle, this is evidence of how “[t]echnology doesn’t just do things for us. It does things to us, changing not just what we do but who we are.” But isn’t this evidence instead of our social malleability and adaptability, our capacity for incorporating devices and signals into new modes of address? And as Jurgenson points out in the quote above, it isn’t as though devices arrived in the midst of a sociable utopia of autonomous persons engaged in exchanges of authenticity—for we humans always have deployed rituals and discursive forms to discipline, mediate, and construct social selves.

On the other hand, I’m reminded of Bruce Sterling’s observations about disconnection, in which device-independence becomes a kind of luxury practice akin to boutique poultry farming and meditation retreats—an indulgence of those wealthy enough to afford assistance in human form, or can avoid those dependencies of work, social, and civic life that increasingly require us to maintain our tech-mediated connectivity. Devices can make us susceptible to surveillance and control in insidious and comprehensive ways. It’s important to remember, however, that such control is not a thing technology does to us out of some inherent hegemonic impulse, but the result of choices we make about its design and use."
2014  matthewbattles  digitaldualism  nathanjurgenson  sherryturkle  brucesterling  nuance  disconnection  socialmedia  identity  performance  etiquette  context  technology  morality  psychology  malleability  behavior  adaptability  society  social  mediation  discipline  connectivity  surveillance  control  design  choice 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Why João Matters — Pop of Culture — Medium
"Gilberto performs alone. He appears onstage looking like an insurance office employee — thick glasses, humble sportcoat, nondescript demeanor. He sings in an interior, musing-to-himself voice, his nylon-string acoustic guitar standing in for an orchestra. There is no show business in his presentation. Notorious for walking off stage mid-tune if conditions don’t suit him, he insists on quiet. Insists. His terms are extreme: all or nothing. The uneasy quiet becomes his blank canvas, and from it, he sets forth a harrowingly vulnerable emotional landscape. Conjures it, really, out of thin air. In this place, everything, even soul-crushing disappointment, is explored in a stage whisper. His is a seduction of silences, measured pauses, infinite restraint. He understands that by not blurting out full details of his every feeling, he draws the sensitive listeners in, makes them anticipate the next turn in the road, activates their own longing for a distant, mostly unattainable serenity.

And yet, Gilberto’s voice itself is always serene, contented, smiling. He confides when he sings, telling stories in slopes and twists and arcs that simulate the graceful movements of butterflies. His phrasing flows like great conversation, but underneath it, running in the background, there’s this wicked crisp guitar, chopping up the time with murderous precision. The slicing, forward-moving syncopations — another signature contribution, the heartbeat of bossa nova — are intricate marvels all by themselves. Heard alone, the rhythms can seem like a relentless energy surge. But when his voice enters, it radiates a feeling of calm introspection that transforms the unsettled rhythm into something utterly sublime. Tension and release in the same instant.



Gilberto matters not simply because he sets rather extreme terms of engagement — itself a bold stance in our look-at-me age. But because out of that, he creates art that offers rare and elusive truths about what it means to be alive, in love, devoted to something other than the self. He may be removed from the spotlight, his work nearly forgotten, but his example endures as a high-level argument for that fast-disappearing quality at the root of so much great art: Nuance. After João Gilberto, just about everything sounds like shouting."
joãogilberto  music  brasil  jazz  2013  tommoon  nuance  silence  brazil 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Notebook on Cities and Culture: S3E1: Buoyancy and Poignancy with Pico Iyer
"Japan's distinctive combination of buoyancy and poignancy, which leads to the pre-savoring of wistfulness to come; the culture's dissolution of mind, heart, and soul all in the same place, and his efforts to build an intellectual infrastructure around his Japan-related intuitions; his recent reading of John Cage, an unexpected master of the Japanese virtues of not knowing and not saying; the necessity, when you want to write about something, to write about something else, and of writing about a passion in order to write about yourself; the Californian question of "being yourself," and its inadmissability to the Japanese mindset; his relief at not having to be Japanese within Japanese society, and what being a Japanese in Japanese society has done to visit a female brain drain upon the country; what it takes to best remain an outsider in Japan, enjoying its peculiar kind of diplomatic immunity, and how Donald Richie mastered that exchange of belonging for freedom…"
passions  memoirs  notknowing  presence  time  fleetingmoments  poignancy  buoyancy  nuance  invisibility  reservedness  quiet  energy  friction  spontaneity  globalization  osaka  english  responsibility  interdependence  compassion  isolationism  isolation  canon  identity  collectivism  community  place  westpoint  books  listening  silence  understanding  vitality  comfort  nostalgia  pre-nostalgia  memory  women  familiarity  attention  donaldrichie  gender  knowing  writing  belonging  california  thoughfulness  japan  intimacy  society  culture  colinmarshall  johncage  2013  via:charlieloyd  picoiyer 
january 2013 by robertogreco
The Messiness of “With” | Rush the Iceberg
"Education is not a “I learned from” concept; rather, it is a “I learned with” concept.
“From” is clean.“With” is messy.

“From” is binary.“With” is human.
“From” is instant.“With” takes time.
“From” is passive.“With” is active.
“From” is singular.“With” is together.
“From” is shallow.“With” is deep.
“From” is informative.“With” is transformative.
Do you interact WITH your students the same way you tweet?

Which word describes your pedagogy in the classroom and tweets on Twitter?"
stephendavis  with  and  thisandthat  nuance  teaching  learning  conversation  from  messiness  education  collaboration  collaborative  depthoverbreadth  transformation  behavior  howwework  human  time  slow 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Jon Kolko » Interaction design and design synthesis. ["The Conflicting Rhetoric of Design Education"]
"We must train generalists. We must train specialists…

Skills of craft, building, and beauty are more important than theory or systems thinking. Theory and systems thinking are more important than craft, building, and beauty…

We must focus more on ethnography, anthropology, and the social sciences. We must focus more on science, cognitive psychology, math, and engineering…

It's clear that a change is needed in design education, and it's equally clear that the discourse of this change must advance beyond simply calling well-intentioned designers to action…"
jonkolko  education  design  designeducation  nuance  paradox  generalists  specialization  specialists  craft  making  doing  building  iteration  theory  systems  systemsthinking  well-rounded  balance  lcproject  pedagogy  teaching  learning 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Facebook and the Epiphanator: An End to Endings? -- Daily Intel [Don't rely on the quotes here. Read the whole thing.]
"…should be a word for that feeling you get when an older person…shames himself by telling young people how to live…

Obviously, the Epiphinator will need to slim down in order to thrive, but a careful study of history shows how impossible it is to determine whether it can return to both power & glory, or whether its demise is imminent…

This moment of anxiety and fear will pass; future generations (there's now one every 3-4 years) will have no idea what they missed, & yet they will go on, marry, divorce, & own pets.

They may even work in journalism, not in the old dusty career paths…

We'll still need professionals to organize the events of the world into narratives, & our story-craving brains will still need the narrative hooks, the cold opens, the dramatic climaxes, & that all-important "■" to help us make sense of the great glut of recent history that is dumped over us every morning. No matter what comes along streams, feeds, & walls, we will still have need of an ending."
technology  media  socialmedia  facebook  privacy  paulford  narrative  jonathanfranzen  zadiesmith  billkeller  zeyneptufekci  life  wisdom  journalism  storytelling  endings  epiphinator  love  living  stevejobs  commencementspeeches  wholeearthcatalog  stewartbrand  aaronsorkin  2011  nuance  feral  unfinished  culture  internet  commencementaddresses 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Flourishes, Craftsmanship, Dates, History, and Flickr - Laughing Meme
"I fret about the warm bath of now-ness we seem to be currently living in; real time a synonym for ephemerality and disposability."

"…giving you the ability to label your photo as being taken solidly 800+ years before anything most of us would describe as the invention of photography…a little silly. But I do love this photo of the Blue grotto…taken in 1890…

Fundamentally this split btwn system activity time, & human editable creation date models a world where the people who use your software do something other then use your software. You have to decide how you feel about admitting that possibility…

…if you visited that Blue Grotto photo you’ll notice date is listed as “This photo was taken some time in 1890.” That’s date granularity. Flickr taken dates come in 4 levels of granularity, exact, year-month, year, & circa.

…Circa is a flourish…sort of feature you only get when you care about craftsmanship…

Computers demand exactitudes by default, but it’s a laziness of which we are collectively guiltily that we’ve traded a few programmer & compute cycles for a rich & nuanced societal understanding of time."
flickr  design  dates  detail  circa  perception  computing  human  kellanelliot-mccrea  granularity  squishiness  fuzziness  nuance  meaning  meaningmaking  2011  florishes  details  disposability  bighere  longnow  craft  craftsmanship  ephemerality  ephemeral 
june 2011 by robertogreco
…your writing about him has a strange kind of ambiguity. …… I’m not trying to diagnose or accuse you… - a grammar
"Online writing & criticism tend to really lead the reader around by the nose — dragging horses straight to the water of the author’s opinion. It’s partly just the format…partly because of way people read online…skimmy & ungenerous: The average comments box is full of people who have clearly read text mostly in search of something to be critical or superior about. So it helps to be explicit…If you quote, for instance, a vile misogynist lyric, a lot of readers will be much more attuned to the question of whether you know it’s vile & misogynist — rather than the fact that they know it & don’t need you to tell them…

However: I sorta feel like “excoriating” pieces often suffer from the same problems of glib skimming, ungenerous interpretation, and easy superiority. Often it makes them a lot less excoriating than they want to be: They become little rallies for people who already agree with you, people who read words on the internet in order to be told what they already know."
nitsuhabebe  writing  online  reading  web  internet  skimming  groupthink  echochambers  commenting  reinforcement  ofwgkta  text  superiority  criticism  nuance  oddfuture 
may 2011 by robertogreco
Tom Hume: Common lies of social software
"I've been mentally collecting "lies of social software"…So far I've come up with these, mainly based on my experiences w/ blogging, Flickr, Twitter & Facebook:

"Your friends are equally important". Dunbar pointed out that we have concentric circles of friends: 5 close ones, 15 acquaintances, 50 rough friends, etc. Yet in my friends lists on Twitter & Facebook, everyone's equal (& usually alphabetical). I like what Path have done around limiting size of your network, & Flickr concept of Family, Friends & Contacts - but what about software for just you & those 5 of your closest? Or for you and your other half?

"Your friends are arranged into discrete groups", w/ a corollary that these groups rarely change…

"You can manage hundreds of friends"…

"Friendship is reciprocal & equal". Some people are more important to me than I am to them, & vice versa; we might not like to face up to this in every day life but it's true nonetheless, & our digital tools don't reflect this…"
socialsoftware  via:preoccupations  dunbar  dunbarnumber  twitter  facebook  flickr  path  blogs  blogging  relationships  nuance  socialnetworking  socialmedia 
april 2011 by robertogreco
The BS Bubble | Hack Education
[in response to: http://techcrunch.com/2011/04/10/peter-thiel-were-in-a-bubble-and-its-not-the-internet-its-higher-education/ ]

"So in conclusion (holy shit, phew!) I think Lacy’s Techcrunch story conflates several important points here. They’re interconnected, sure, because they’re all part of Thiel’s spiel. But if you just take her story at face value, you miss what should actually be a pretty nuanced analysis about what education means and what education is “worth.”

If you frame the story of higher education in terms of Thiel’s argument — Ivy League schools are over-valued — and his actions — paying students from those very elite academic backgrounds to ditch the degree to become entrepreneurs under his tutelage — well, in return you get these oddly protectionist responses from the likes of Vivek Wadhwa (a vocal proponent of education who I really do admire) that end up looking like they’re propping up what is, I think many of us agree, a deeply flawed system."
education  highereducation  highered  unschooling  deschooling  money  nuance  2011  sarahlacy  peterthiel  bubbles  learning  economics  meaning  value 
april 2011 by robertogreco
Spencer's Scratch Pad: Smaller Stories
"We want to believe in huge stories w/ insurmountable conflicts, bravely heroic protagonists & settings that are other-worldly…fairy tales & legends, but we want those stories to be placed w/in the non-fiction section of our bookstore…movie…"based upon a true story"…

We want to believe in these big stories, because we are convinced that our own stories are too small. All too often, the "small stories" are too subtle, too nuanced & too authentic for us to celebrate. What's the drama in pushing your daughter on the swing after realizing that you've been devoting too much time to work? Where's the inspiration in learning how to handle conflict without yelling or falling apart?

However, what if the most triumphant stories are the humble ones? What if the life-changing narratives are filled with small acts of courage & incremental moments of character development? …when you admit that you are broken and choose love over bitterness anyway?"
johnspencer  gregmortenson  truth  fiction  belief  humility  small  scale  simplicity  sustainability  otherworldly  inspiration  narrative  storytelling  2011  smallmoments  character  nuance  supersizedheroes  neighborsizedheroes  family  whatmatters  everylittlebitcounts  human  humanscale 
april 2011 by robertogreco
Rush the Iceberg » Rigid Inconsistency
"I thought these teachers are for creativity, diversity, and tolerance. I thought they were for students to be able to create their own meaning through assimilating new experiences into their bank of previous experiences.

Why do these teachers tell others what they should be doing in their classrooms? Their students’ reality is not my students’ reality.

There is variety in nature – some for good, some for bad. There is nuance in nature. Is their nuance in their classroom? Is their nuance in their tweets? Is their nuance in their blog posts?

I admire and learn from humble teachers that readily admit they do not have the magic unicorn glitter that will bring true learning to their students. What they do have, however, is creativity, diversity, and tolerance that transcends issues of grading, pedagogy, and technology."
stephendavis  ego  cv  teaching  nuance  diversity  certainty  uncertainty  inconsistency  rigidity  mywayorthehighway  humility  ambiguity  purpose  twitter  blogs  blogging  pontificating  technology  platitudes  thereisroomforall  allsorts  2011 
april 2011 by robertogreco
Noreena Hertz: How to use experts -- and when not to | Video on TED.com
"We make important decisions every day -- and we often rely on experts to help us decide. But, says economist Noreena Hertz, relying too much on experts can be limiting and even dangerous. She calls for us to start democratizing expertise -- to listen not only to "surgeons and CEOs, but also to shop staff.""
experts  specialization  specialists  tunnelvision  generalists  listening  patternrecognition  decisionmaking  ted  noreenahertz  economics  infooverload  confusion  certainty  uncertainty  democratization  blackswans  influence  blindlyfollowing  confidence  unschooling  deschooling  trust  openminded  echochambers  complexity  nuance  truth  persuasion  carelessness  paradigmshifts  change  gamechanging  criticalthinking  learning  problemsolving  independence  risktaking  persistence  self-advocacy  education  progress  manageddissent  divergentthinking  dissent  democracy  disagreement  discord  difference  espertise 
february 2011 by robertogreco
The Messiness of “And” | Rush the Iceberg
"Education is not a “this OR that” concept; rather it is a “this AND that” concept.

“Or” is clean.

“And” is messy.

“Or” is obvious

“And” is nuance.

“Or” is destructive.

“And” is human.

Do you interact with your students the same way you tweet?

Do you eat mashed potatoes AND gravy?

Which word describes your pedagogy in the classroom and tweets on Twitter?"
stephendavis  education  learning  andor  messiness  unschooling  deschooling  expression  interdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  nuance  control  complexity  and  tcsnmy  teaching  pedagogy  language  thisandthat 
january 2011 by robertogreco
Small Precautions: Rightwing productions of history
"…Ultimately, appreciating the perplexing richness of the past, which is what professional historians do, makes it difficult to produce historical narratives that serve a politics of slogans and zingers.<br />
<br />
By contrast, the one-sidedness of the right's interpretations of the past is precisely what makes it politically powerful: having dispensed with the difficult task of trying to get the past right, the right finds it far easier than the left (with its crotchety insistance on empirical truth and complexity) to produce a past that has obvious and unambiguous political implications for the present."
history  us  right  left  politics  classideas  complexity  nuance  truth 
november 2010 by robertogreco
Tuttle SVC: This Proves My Point About Learning Styles! [see also: http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=51227]
"I don't actually have a point about learning styles, except to say that indeed, the hackneyed version that trickles down through professional development lectures to mandated lesson plan requirements is indeed hackneyed. But the truth is out there, and it is subtle and complex."
learning  learningstyles  tomhoffman  education  nuance 
january 2010 by robertogreco
Difficult Conversations - Practical Theory
"So we do the best we can, we get council from trusted colleagues, and we work with kids, and we work with families. And then we reflect on our decisions and try to figure out how to be better tomorrow than we were today. As a principal, there are days when I wish there was some handbook, some great big chart with an X and Y axis of issues and severity, so that I could follow the lines and figure out exactly what I was supposed to do, but of course, there isn't, and there can't be, because those kind of proscriptive rules never come with nuance, and short of the situations of mandatory reporting, those moments always contain nuance.

For me, the answer is to never fall in love with my answer... to always question... to always wonder... to always reflect... and to always remain self-critical. I say all the time that we should be humbled before the enormity of what we are trying to do."
chrislehmann  education  teaching  administration  leadership  parenting  nuance  tcsnmy  reflection  cv  learning  change  adaptability  humility 
january 2010 by robertogreco
Un-humble opinions - The Irish Times - Sat, Jun 20, 2009
"This goes some way towards explaining why a characteristic shared by many of these wrong-headed “experts” is an overweening self-confidence. All those brass-necked pundits whose self-assurance seems inversely proportional to their wisdom are merely the inevitable result of free markets, because selling certainty is easier than selling nuanced opinions that embrace complexity and doubt.

At first, this quirk of human psychology sounds like an interesting nugget of pop science, until you consider the cumulative cost of this cognitive error. If the result of this psychological quirk were restricted to football commentators embarrassing themselves before a Champions League final, no harm done. Unfortunately, the implications are rather more profound, and dangerous. ... The triumph of the competent over the confident, it would seem, is far from assured."
psychology  human  confidence  doubt  opinions  nuance  complexity  experts  certainty  competency 
july 2009 by robertogreco
Dubai bashing and 'what-aboutery' - Joi Ito's Web [see also the comments]
"... one thing I've learned from my still brief time is that it's much more complicated than it appears. Just calling Muslim law and governance "medieval" and writing it off is ignorant. It's very different and isn't in sync with what many of us might think is "fair". They treat bounced checks and drug smuggling very seriously. Moving to the Middle East casually and assuming that everything should be just like home is dangerous and I wouldn't recommend it. However, I knew about the drug thing even before I visited and I learned about the "bounced checks land you in jail" thing on my first day. In summary, I think that if you're looking for fast money or a "rags to riches" dream, I would recommend against going to Dubai. On the other hand, if you're looking for a safe place to park while you explore opportunities or culture in the Middle East, I think Dubai is fine, for now."
joiito  dubai  nuance  complexity 
april 2009 by robertogreco
'Call to Renewal' Keynote Address [Wednesday, June 28, 2006] | U.S. Senator Barack Obama
"need to understand critical role separation of church & state has played in preserving not only democracy, but robustness of religious practice...Democracy demands religiously motivated translate concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, va
barackobama  politics  religion  christianity  democrats  atheism  belief  elections  2008  2006  us  government  nuance  dialog  gamechanging  dialogue 
february 2008 by robertogreco

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