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Radical Housing Journal
"The first issue of the Radical Housing Journal focuses on practices and theories of organizing as connected to post-2008 housing struggles. As 2008 was the dawn of the subprime mortgage and financial crisis, and as the RHJ coalesced ten years later in its aftermath, we found this framing apropos. The 2008 crisis was, after all, a global event, constitutive of new routes and formations of global capital that in turn impacted cities, suburbs, and rural spaces alike in highly uneven, though often detrimental, ways. Attentive to this, we hoped to think through its globality and translocality by foregrounding “post-2008” as field of inquiry. What new modes of knowledge pertinent to the task of housing justice organizing could be gained by thinking 2008 through an array of geographies, producing new geographies of theory?"
housing  organization  organizing  2008  mortgages  greatrecession  finance  translocality  global  capitalism  cities  urban  urbanism 
11 days ago by robertogreco
Justice in America Episode 20: Mariame Kaba and Prison Abolition - The Appeal
"On the last episode of Season 2, Josie and Clint discuss prison abolition with Mariame Kaba, one of the leading organizers in the fight against America’s criminal legal system and a contributing editor for The Appeal. Mariame discusses her own journey into this work, provides perspective on the leaders in this space, and helps us reimagine what the future of this system could look like. Mariame’s way of thinking about this system, and the vision of possibilities she provides, is an excellent send-off to our second season."

[full transcript on page]

"I grew up in New York City and came of age in 1980s. So, um, when I was coming of age in the city, it was kind of the early eighties were a fraught moment for many different kinds of reasons. The tail end of deinstitutionalization. So the first time where we actually started seeing homeless people outside on the streets. Michael Stewart was killed by the police in 1983 which was a very big moment for me. I was 12 years old and that really impacted me. My, um, older siblings were very animated by that fact. Um, crack cocaine is coming into being, this is the time of ACT UP. Um, this is when Reagan comes to power. It was a very tumultuous period and moment of time. So coming of age in that time led me to start organizing for racial justice as a teenager. And I also came of age during the time when there was the Bensonhurst case where a young black man was pursued and then killed by a mob of white young people who were close to my age because he supposedly talked to a white girl in a way that people were not happy about. The Howard Beach incident comes up in 1986. There was a lot happening during my teenagers in the city and I did not have an analysis of the criminal punishment system at that time. I just saw a lot of my friends, I grew up on the Lower East Side, so a lot of my friends ending up in juvie and then in prison and I didn’t, and the cops were always in our neighborhood harassing people and I did not really put all these things together, but I had a frame that was a racial justice frame at a very young age, mainly because of my parents. My mom and my dad. Um, my father, who’d been a socialist in the anti-colonial struggles in Guinea. Like I had a politics at home, but all I understood was like they were coming after black people in multiple different kinds of ways. It wasn’t until I was older and I had come back from college, um, I went to school in Montreal, Canada, came back to the city right after, I was 20 years old when I graduated from college, came back to the city and got a job working in Harlem at the, um, Countee Cullen Library and then ended up teaching in Harlem. And it was there that I found out that all of my students were also getting enmeshed in the criminal punishment system. But I still didn’t have a really, like I didn’t have a politic about it. It wasn’t until a very tragic story that occurred with one of my students who ended up killing another one of my students that I became very clearly aware of the criminal punishment system cause they were going to try to, um, basically try him as an adult. The person who did the killing, he was only 16. And it was that incident that kind of propelled me into trying to learn about what the system was, what it was about. And it concurrently, it was also the time when I started to search for restorative justice because it occurred to me, in watching the family of my student who had been killed react to the situation, that they did not want punishment for the person who killed their daughter. They were, uh, they wanted some accountability and they were also talking about the fact that he did not want him charged as an adult."

"people who are practitioners of restorative justice see restorative justice as a philosophy and ideology, a framework that is much broader than the criminal punishment system. It is about values around how we treat each other in the world. And it’s about an acknowledgement that because we’re human beings, we hurt each other. We cause harm. And what restorative justice proposes is to ask a series of questions. Mostly the three that are kind of advanced by Howard Zehr, who is the person who about 40 years ago popularized the concept of restorative justice in the United States. He talks about since we want to address the violation in the relationships that were broken as a result of violence and harm, that you want to ask a question about who was hurt, that that is important to ask, that you want to ask then what are the obligations? What are the needs that emerge from that hurt? And then you want to ask the question of whose job is it to actually address the harm? And so because of that, those questions of what happened, which in the current adversarial system are incidental really, you know, it’s who did this thing, what rules were broken? How are we going to actually punish the people who broke the rules? And then whose role is it to do that? It’s the state’s. In restorative justice it’s: what happened? Talk about what happened, share what happened, discuss in a, you know, kind of relational sense what happened. And then it’s what are your needs? Would do you need as a result of this? Because harms engender needs that must be met, right? So it asks you to really think that through. And then it says, you know, how do we repair this harm and who needs to be at the table for that to happen. It invites community in. It invites other people who were also harmed because we recognize that the ripples of harm are beyond the two individuals that were involved, it’s also the broader community and the society at large. So that’s what restorative justice, at its base, is really the unit of concern is the broken relationship and the harm. Those are the focus of what we need to be addressing. And through that, that obviously involves the criminal punishment system. In many ways RJ has become co-opted by that system. So people were initially proponents of restorative justice have moved their critique away from using RJ and talking about instead transformative justice. That’s where you see these breakdowns occurring because the system has taken on RJ now as quote unquote “a model for restitution.”"

"Restorative justice and transformative justice, people say they’re interchangeable sometimes, they are not. Because transformative justice people say that you cannot actually use the current punishing institutions that exist. Whereas RJ now is being run in prisons, is being run in schools. Institutions that are themselves violently punishing institutions are now taking that on and running that there. And what people who are advocates of transformative justice say is RJ, because of its focus on the individual, the intervention is on individuals, not the system. And what transformative justice, you know, people, advocates and people who have kind of begun to be practitioners in that have said is we have to also transform the conditions that make this thing possible. And restoring is restoring to what? For many people, the situation that occurred prior to the harm had lots of harm in it. So what are we restoring people to? We have to transform those conditions and in order to do that we have to organize, to shift the structures and the systems and that will also be very important beyond the interpersonal relationships that need to be mended."

"I reject the premise of restorative and transformative justice being alternatives to incarceration. I don’t reject the premise that we should prefigure the world in which we want to live and therefore use multiple different kinds of ways to figure out how to address harm. So here’s what I mean, because people are now saying things like the current criminal punishment system is broken, which it is not. It is actually operating exactly as designed. And that’s what abolition has helped us to understand is that the system is actually relentlessly successful at targeting the people it wants and basically getting the outcomes that wants from that. So if you understand that to be the case, then you are in a position of very much understanding that every time we use the term “alternative to incarceration” what comes to your mind?"

"You’re centering the punishing system. When I say alternative to prison, all you hear is prison. And what that does is that it conditions your imagination to think about the prison as the center. And what we’re saying as transformative and restorative justice practitioners is that the prison is actually an outcome of a broader system of violence and harm that has its roots in slavery and before colonization. And here we are in this position where all you then think about is replacing what we currently use prisons for, for the new thing. So what I mean by that is when you think of an alternative in this moment and you’re thinking about prison, you just think of transposing all of the things we currently consider crimes into that new world."

"It has to fit that sphere. But here’s what I, I would like to say lots of crimes are not harmful to anybody."

"And it’s also that we’re in this position where not all crimes are harms and not all harms are actually crimes. And what we are concerned with as people who practice restorative and transformative justice is harm across the board no matter what. So I always tell people when they say like, ‘oh, we’re having an alternative to incarceration or alternative to prison.’ I’m like, okay, what are you decriminalizing first? Do we have a whole list of things? So possession of drugs is a criminal offense right now. I don’t want an alternative to that. I want you to leave people the hell alone."

"Transformative justice calls on us to shatter binaries of all different types. Most of the people who currently are locked up, for example, in our prisons and jails, are people who are victims of crime first. They’ve been harmed and have harmed other people. The “perpetrator,” quote unquote… [more]
mariamekaba  clintsmith  josieduffyrice  prisonindustrialcomplex  prisions  violence  restorativejustice  justice  prisonabolition  punishment  2019  angeladavis  howardzehr  incarceration  community  humans  transformativejustice  harm  racism  responsibility  repair  people  carceralstate  binaries  accountability  police  lawenforcement  jails  coercion  gender  criminalization  humanism  decency  humanity  transformation  survival  bodies  abolition  abolitionists  nilschristie  ruthiegilmore  fayeknopp  presence  absence  systemsthinking  systems  complexity  capitalism  climatechange  climate  globalwarming  livingwage  education  organization  organizing  activism  change  changemaking  exploitation  dehumanization  optimism 
29 days ago by robertogreco
The Rise of the WeWorking Class - The New York Times
"IMAGINE YOU TRAINED an artificial intelligence on a comprehensive stock-photo set of every boutique-hotel lobby from Palm Springs to Stockholm to Milan, then connected it to a five-story 3-D printer fully furnished with pendant-dome lamps, waxy leaves and old-school hip-hop lyrics. The output would be a WeWork. So much serene, lavish and mechanical attention is allocated to every detail: the neon and the daybeds and the fiddle-leaf figs, the wallpaper and the playlists and the typefaces. The newest iteration of its ever-emergent design concept may be indebted to Luis Barragán and Carlo Scarpa, but the degree of thought and investment that goes into its terrarium construction is something its busy occupants are expected to register only as background noise. WeWorks feel voguish but never threatening; comfortable but never shabby; rousing but never intemperate; detailed but never ostentatious.

There’s also free top-shelf coffee, the sort of minor frill most office workers might take for granted in a way the self-employed never would. One premise of the company’s existence is that it’s good business to provide such minor luxuries to the otherwise unfrilled. The coffee — and the draft kombucha, which has come to supplement beer as WeWork distances itself from the frattier aspects of entrepreneurship — is, at any rate, only part of an environment engineered for felicitous exchange. This strategy is supported by narrow hallways, boxy plate-glass enclosures, distant bathrooms and centralized fruit-water dispensers, but the company’s architects never indulged the belief that if they built it, people would come. The spaces themselves are the staging ground for yoga classes, wine tastings, make-your-own-trail-mix bars and vendor workshops about how to cut cloud costs. For what remains of life outside the workplace, there are cross-promotional discounts on and Crunch gym memberships.

Most of us have serious reasons to worry about the future of work, and it’s easy to object to WeWork’s thin consolations on the basis of aesthetic or moral principle. Once you get accustomed to the basic product, however, it’s hard not to find it ... pretty nice. Over the course of about a year, I stopped into locations in six or seven cities, and in each of them I sat in front of my computer alongside other people in front of their computers and felt at once marginally more productive and slightly less unmoored."

"The relentless sociability inspired by WeWork was always one of the founders’ aims, even as the composition of its membership has changed. When the company first opened in 2010, its spaces catered to entrepreneurs. The founders soon understood that the increasingly fluid and anxious labor market — its conditions exacerbated by the downturn but likely to exist in perpetuity — presented them with a much larger potential customer base. Uber and TaskRabbit and other labor-platform intermediaries positioned themselves to match those who needed something done with those who needed something to do, but they based their recruitment drives on a cynical reading of the economic mood. The subway I took to WeWork was plastered with tough-love ads from services like Fiverr, which made naked appeals to stoic virtues. (“Actually, it hasn’t all been done before”; “In doers we trust”; “Reading about starting your own business is like reading about having sex.”)

That sort of campaign felt manipulative: The platforms’ emphasis on self-reliance for the economically precarious merely disguised their rent-seeking. WeWork, by contrast, just charged rent. The company was perceptive enough to realize that disaggregated workers (or at least those of a certain class) did not want to hear that they should just kill it on their own, bro. They wanted to hear that nobody ever can. What WeWork offered was not just rhetoric — a more sympathetic description of the restless, fretful life of the deinstitutionalized worker — but true shelter from a pervasive sense of alienation. Where Fiverr issued an invitation to gladiatorial combat, WeWork promised a work environment remodeled for solace and dignity.

Thus is the business model of WeWork, recently valued at $47 billion, now only facially about commercial subletting. All its accessories serve to buttress its real product: “office culture” as a service. When people at the company try to explain that culture, they invariably resort to talk of positive energy sources and the obligation to heal the social fabric — a vocabulary traditionally associated with utopian architecture, 1980s academic communitarianism or ayahuasca experimentation. They affirm that all the ostensibly small incremental niceties add up to more than the sum of their parts, and on some level I couldn’t help agreeing. The market certainly seems to. As of this January, WeWork has 400,000 members in 425 locations in 27 countries, at least 30 percent of whom are employees of large existing businesses. This latter category has helped double that membership in only a year. Some of these enterprise customers are merely outsourcing their facilities management the way they outsource manufacturing or payroll; others anticipate the revitalization — or even wholesale procurement — of their corporate culture. The conviction behind the rapid growth of WeWork is that the office culture of the future is likely to be the culture of the future, full stop, and that it is WeWork’s special vocation to bring it to market.

THE IDEA OF “CORPORATE CULTURE,” long before it was identified and cultivated as such, emerged as a solution to the problems of the large, distributed mass-industrial firm. Ransom Olds is credited with inventing the concept of the assembly line in 1901, and it was over the following decades that businesses began to feel an imperative to address the question of what work was supposed to “mean.” This was both an internal bottom-line matter — employees who toiled in exchange for only a paycheck were difficult to retain and unlikely to prioritize efficiency or innovation — and a social one. By midcentury, large companies like the car manufacturers had come to represent the predominant institutional affiliation for legions of American men. Even if these firms had no explicit philanthropic interest in civic cohesion, they certainly had a stake in the preservation of the social order. If they could invest piecemeal labor with something like dignity, they could neutralize the political and economic threats posed by union solidarity.

What they arrived at was a generic set of strategies, applicable at any industrial organization, designed to help workers recognize the value of their personal contributions to the final product. The classic formulation of this approach was Peter Drucker’s “Concept of the Corporation”; though it’s now seen — if not much read — as a foundational text in the study of management, it reads like a sober contribution to midcentury sociology. The simplest form of recognition is advancement. Workers, Drucker believed, ought to be viewed not as exploitable resources but as human capital to be fostered, and thus provided with the training necessary to secure a path upward. Programs like project rotations — which exposed otherwise specialized employees to the breadth of company operations — should be put in place even if they seemed, in the short term, economically irrational; in the long term, they represented an investment in worker potential. Employees unlikely to advance might more gladly accept their place in the corporate scheme when given a holistic perspective on production: The maker of a car’s door hinge, for example, might be shown where his discrete, repetitive effort fits into the fully realized car.

The anthropologist Clifford Geertz defined culture as a collective act of interpretation, the stories we tell one another about ourselves in an attempt to make ongoing sense of why we do what we do. A car manufacturer could just point to a sensible Oldsmobile, something the world self-evidently needed. Because cars were public goods, corporate culture could easily borrow its energy from civic culture.

It could also borrow civic culture’s prevailing norms — and, in turn, reinforce them. The management classic “Built to Last” describes how Walt Disney, for example, did not manage a corporation so much as lord over an extended brood of subordinates, each of them expected not only to abide by the letter of company decorum but also to embody its founder’s spirit. Hourly theme-park workers were held to an imperious standard of personal upkeep: for men, no facial hair; for women, no dangly earrings or excessive makeup. As one biographer described it, “When someone did, on occasion, slip in Walt’s presence and use a four-letter word in mixed company, the result was always immediate dismissal, no matter what type of professional inconvenience the firing caused.” The people making the country’s cars could be forgiven a coarse exclamation; the people making the country’s cartoons were held to a loftier code.

As the economy shifted from industrial manufacturing to the service and knowledge sectors, it became increasingly necessary for businesses to articulate their “core purpose” as an organizational and motivational principle — and a way to differentiate “their” ethereal knowledge work from whatever it was other companies’ employees did. The separation of corporate culture in particular from general civic culture was also encouraged by the ascendancy of free-market economics; Milton Friedman told executives that their sole remit was to tend to their own shareholder garden. Shared goals, while important, ought to be strictly values-agnostic."

"Over the past year, as WeWork has been folded into what is now called the We Company — which encompasses WeGrow, its school, and WeLive, its communal housing projects — its Powered by We product has been refined and … [more]
wework  work  labor  workplace  2019  culture  gideonlewis-kraus  cliffordgeertz  economics  organization  peterdrucker  solidarity  unions  facilities  fiverr  uber  taskrabbit  business 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
Captain Awkward on Twitter: "Fellow #ADHD kids, what elaborate new planning/organization systems and rituals are we going to embrace enthusiastically for the first half of January?"
"Fellow #ADHD kids, what elaborate new planning/organization systems and rituals are we going to embrace enthusiastically for the first half of January?

If we can crowdsource data about price, fiddliness, cult following, # of dedicated subreddits, # of naturally organized people who swore it would change our lives or said “if I can do it anyone can!”, etc, then I can get a jump start on shame spiral trajectory calculations!

My poor therapists (all): Have you tried to-do lists?

Me: Yes! I love making them, but I constantly forget to check. Also putting a task on the list can “solve” its urgency & I forget. Whereas if I DON’T write it, the terror of forgetting might keep it in focus!

Therapists: [gif]

Me: I basically exist inside a giant perpetual-motion machine of prcrastination, forgetting stuff, guilt, and anxiety and sometimes I can harness it as motivation!

Therapists: [gif]

Therapists: But you DO accomplish things?

Me: Yes?


Me: Oh, that’s easy, I have enough raw intelligence & ability that sometimes the crippling fear of failure makes a volcano instead of an abyss, and work erupts out of the crater instead of collapsing in.

Therapists: But...wouldn’t be easier to keep a to-do list?

Me: Obviously!

Therapists: So, what CAN we work on?

Me: Could we maybe make the creative work volcanoes a little bigger and the crushing paralysis & shame abysses a little smaller?

Therapists: [gif]

In all seriousness, the thing about getting finally getting dx’d with #ADHD that helps me most isn’t the meds, which do mitigate it a bit, but that I stopped hating myself for being this way.

My whole childhood & life before diagnosis, my intelligence and literally everything I am good at was used as proof that I must be lazy & deliberately fucking up career & academic & household stuff out of spite.

The paradox of #ADHD - being excellent at complex, high-stimulus tasks and fuck-all at routine, “easy” tasks was a weapon in the hands of parents, teachers, & employers and a constant abusive echo in my brain.

What I internalized was that accomplishments that were fun or that came easy to me had no value, only the ones that involve effort “count.” But the things that involved the most effort for me were mundane tasks that came easy to others, so they had no value, either.

“But you are so good at ______ it should be easy to _____?” became “But I am so good at ____, I should be good at ____ and since I am not actually good at ____ I must be a hopeless fuckup.”

I also internalized a fallacy that I was not “allowed” to do rewarding ambitious enjoyable things until all my “chores” were done. Meaning I set impossible traps for myself for YEARS b/c I would never get the chores done?

TBH sometimes the right thing for me to do is put the laptop down & clean the house but also one main reason I can be a prolific writer is an internal shift in permissions, like, chores CAN actually wait if I’m in the grip of an idea, & I DON’T have to read/answer every email.

My condition comes with gifts like creativity and intense bursts of focus & enthusiasm and it is ok to ride those bursts and enjoy them and give my effort & time to “fun” work. It is also ok to kinda suck at some things.

This article was a turning point for me in getting dx’d - I had raised the prospect before and been told I was “too smart” & “too high-functioning.” Therapist was using (incredibly common) idea of hyperactive boys. ["ADHD Is Different for Women"]

This book by Sari Solden, rec’d by a friend, was also really helpful: ["Women With Attention Deficit Disorder: Embrace Your Differences and Transform Your Life"]

Finally, #ADHD is buds with Depression & Anxiety, and a lot of its symptoms overlap with PTSD. If you never get a clear ADHD dx it doesn’t mean you are not having real trouble with executive function. Your treatment (esp. meds) might differ, tho, so get checked out if you can.

Ok, actually finally finally finally there is tons of productivity & organizing advice from people who are naturally good at organization. You will often recognize it by the word “just” - “I just take 10 seconds to put things back where they belong!” “I just make lists!”

For us #ADHD buds this advice can be so, so, so overwhelming. It isn’t factually untrue (It does save time to put things away as you go? Or, er, I believe organized people when they say this?) but your instinct that the word “just” does not apply to you is CORRECT.

If the actual tips sound helpful and you want to try them, by all means! We can work on new habits and find better workarounds. But if it’s difficult, please know, that’s expected & you’re not imagining it. Please also don’t add it to the ways you beat yourself up.

I tweet for the kids who got their messy desks dumped out as an example to others. I tweet for the ones who never once brought a permission slip home, and got it signed, and brought that same piece of paper back in time for the field trip.

I tweet for the kids who peed their pants sometimes not b/c they weren’t potty-trained but b/c they got too absorbed in something & forgot to switch tasks.

I tweet for #ADHD couples, esp. brides, who are like “I want to marry YOU but what the hell is WEDDING PLANNING and why do people think I know how?”

I tweet for the ones who are panicking that “you have so much potential!” is turning into “you *had* so much potential.” Every day is a race against the sun and our own runaway brains.

BTW I also tweet for the parents who are like “oh crap I lost my kid’s permission slip...again...”

Also, hi to the people who really need an assistant but have no idea how to delegate things to an assistant and/or find the whole assistant thing terrifying b/c someone will know how truly, truly disorganized you are & how much you rely on adrenaline & charisma. [gif]

I see you, I am you, I have been you, and I have been your assistant. Let the nice person help you if you possibly can. They want to. They *like* it. You just have to be nice and honest & give them money.

If anyone has ever told you, patiently & kindly, that the best way to accomplish a big project is to break it down into small, digestible chunks, and you’ve nodded in agreement but internally screamed b/c you know a long list = more ways to lose focus, come here: [gif]"

[Via/see also:

This thread made me cry. I have never considered ADHD as something that might describe me. Depression, anxiety, yes. ADHD? Not so much.

But holy shit does this thread have my number re: procrastination, organization, shame spirals, etc..
Oh, but Emile. It's not you with the disorder, it's society. You're just made for a better, slower, simpler, more attuned, more holistic world. 90% of the shit people do when they get shit done is actually destroying the planet. If everybody just did less we could save the world.
Have you seen this research on the cultural dimensions of attentional stance? ["Open Attention as a Cultural Tool for Observational Learning" by Suzanne Gaskins

Learning through observation in everyday activities is widely recognized in the ethnographic literature as a central way that children learn from others. There are two well-described
characteristics of learning through observation: participation in meaningful activities with people who are important in the children’s lives and a belief that children are active, motivated learners who take initiative to garner experiences and make meaning from them. Gaskins and Paradise (2010) have proposed that there is a third characteristic central to observational learning: open attention, defined as attention that takes in information from the full environmental context (that is, wide-angled) and is sustained over time (that is, abiding). This paper will describe open attention in some detail, giving examples of how open attention is encouraged in a variety of cultures, its value as a component of observational learning, the role of concentration, and the implications for understanding children’s learning (in and out of school) and play. The presentation will conclude that, while learning through observation is present in all cultures, in cultures where open attention is encouraged and expected, and where the responsibility for learning is given to the children, observational learning is both more powerful and more central to children’s mastery of the full range of cultural knowledge." ]]
attention  adhd  neurodiversity  2018  productivity  unschooling  deschooling  education  learning  organization  anxiety  depression  context  procrastination  shame  forgetfulness  executivefunction  creativity  add  children  childhood  schools  schooling 
december 2018 by robertogreco
The Making of a Democratic Economy | Ted Howard | RSA Replay - YouTube
"While not often reported on in the press, there is a growing movement – a Community Wealth Building movement – that is taking hold, from the ground up, in towns and cities in the United States and in the United Kingdom, in particular.

Ted Howard, co-founder and president of the Democracy Collaborative, voted one of ‘25 visionaries who are changing your world’, visits the RSA to share the story of the growth of this movement, and the principles underlying it. Join us to explore innovative models of a new economy being built in cities from Cleveland, Ohio to Preston, Lancashire, and to discuss how we might dramatically expand the vision and reality of a democratic economy."
economics  tedhoward  inequality  democracy  extraction  extractiveeconomy  us  uk  2018  capitalism  privatization  finance  wealth  power  elitism  trickledowneconomics  labor  work  universalbasicincome  ubi  austerity  democraticeconomy  precarity  poverty  change  sustainability  empowerment  socialism  socialchange  regulations  socialsafetynet  collectivism  banking  employment  commongood  unemployment  grassroots  organization  greatdepression  greatrecession  alaska  california  socialsecurity  government  governance  nhs  communities  communitywealthbuilding  community  mutualaid  laborovercapital  local  absenteeownership  localownership  consumerism  activism  participation  participatory  investment  cleveland  systemicchange  policy  credit  communityfinance  development  cooperatives  creditunions  employeeownership  richmond  virginia  nyc  rochester  broadband  publicutilities  nebraska  energy  utilities  hospitals  universities  theprestonmodel  preston  lancashire 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Marxism 101: How Capitalism is Killing Itself with Dr. Richard Wolff - YouTube
"Despite a concerted effort by the U.S. Empire to snuff out the ideology, a 2016 poll found young Americans have a much more favorable view of socialism than capitalism.

Though he died 133 years ago, the analysis put forward by one of the world’s most influential thinkers, Karl Marx, remains extremely relevant today. The Empire’s recent rigged presidential election has been disrupted by the support of an avowed socialist, Bernie Sanders, by millions of voters.

To find out why Marx’s popularity has stood the test of time, Abby Martin interviews renowned Marxist economist Richard Wolff, Professor Emeritus of Economics at UMass - Amherst, and visiting professor at the New School in New York.

Prof. Wolff gives an introduction suited for both beginners and seasoned Marxists, with comprehensive explanations of key tenets of Marxism including dialectical and historical materialism, surplus value, crises of overproduction, capitalism's internal contradictions, and more."
richardwolff  karlmarx  academia  academics  capitalism  accounting  us  inequality  communism  socialism  marxism  berniesanders  labor  idealism  materialism  radicalism  philosophy  dialecticalmaterialism  humans  systems  change  friedrichengels  slavery  automation  credit  finance  studentdebt  poverty  unions  organization  systemschange  china  russia  ussr  growth  2016  power  democracy  collectives  collectivism  meansofproduction  society  climatechange  environment  sustainability  rosaluxemburg  militaryindustrialcomplex  pollution  ethics  morality  immorality  ows  occupywallstreet  politics  corruption 
november 2018 by robertogreco
The Pirate Creed | JSTOR Daily
"Examining the 18th-century social contract of Captain Bartholomew Roberts and his men shows just how organized and codified pirate societies could be."
pirates  anarchism  organization  farahmohammed  2018 
august 2018 by robertogreco
Designing better file organization around tags, not hierarchies
"Computer users organize their files into folders because that is the primary tool offered by operating systems. But applying this standard hierarchical model to my own files, I began to notice shortcomings of this paradigm over the years. At the same time, I used some other information systems not based on hierarchical path names, and they turned out to solve a number of problems. I propose a new way of organizing files based on tagging, and describe the features and consequences of this method in detail.

Speaking personally, I’m fed up with HFSes, on Windows, Linux, and online storage alike. I struggled with file organization for just over a decade before finally writing this article to describe problems and solutions. Life would be easier if I could tolerate the limitations of hierarchical organization, or at least if the new proposal can fit on top of existing HFSes. But fundamentally, there is a mismatch between the narrowness of hierarchies and the rich structure of human knowledge, and the proposed system will not presuppose the features of HFSes. I wish to solicit public feedback on these ideas, and end up with a design plan that I can implement to solve the problems I already have today.

This article is more of a brainstorm than a prescriptive formula. I begin by illustrating how hierarchies fall short on real-life problems, and how existing alternative systems like Git and Danbooru bypass HFS problems to deliver a better user experience. Then I describe a step-by-step model, starting from basic primitives, of a proposed file organization system that includes a number of desirable features by design. Finally, I present some open questions on aspects of the proposal where I’m unsure of the right answer.

I welcome any feedback about anything written here, especially regarding errors, omissions, and alternatives. For example, I might have missed helpful features of traditional HFSes. I know I haven’t read about or tested every alternative file system out there. I know that my proposed file organization scheme might have issues with conceptual and computational complexity, be too general or not expressive enough, or fail to offer a useful feature. And certainly, I don’t know all the ramifications of the proposed system if it gets implemented, on aspects ranging from security to sharing to networks. But I try my best to present tangible ideas as a start toward designing a better system. And ultimately, I want to implement such a proposed file system so that I can store and find my data sanely.

In the arguments presented below, I care most about the data model and less about implementation details. For example in HFSes, I focus on the fact that the file system consists of a tree of labeled edges with file content at the leaves; I ignore details about inodes, journaling, defragmentation, permissions, etc. For example in my proposal, I care about what data each file should store and what each field means; I assert that querying over all files in the file system is possible but don’t go into detail about how to do it efficiently. Also, the term “file system” can mean many things – it could be just a model of what data is stored (e.g. directories and files), or an abstract API of possible commands (e.g. mkdir(), walk(), open(), etc.), or it could refer to a full-blown implementation like NTFS with all its idiosyncratic features and characteristics. When I critique hierarchical file systems, I am mostly commenting at the data model level – regardless of the implementation flavor (ext4, HFS+, etc.). When I propose a new way of organizing files, I am mainly designing the data model, and leaving the implementation details for later work."
tags  tagging  design  folksonomy  files  filing  computing  organization  via:jslr  hierarchy  hypertext  complexity  multiverse  search 
april 2018 by robertogreco
'The connection between education and democracy should be clear'
"Simon Creasey meets the academic calling for teachers to revolt against the ‘pedagogy of oppression’ and demand due payment for their overlooked role in underpinning democracy

Henry Giroux wants teachers to mobilise. He wants them to rise up and launch a revolutionary movement in order to eradicate what he calls a “pedagogy of oppression” that has permeated the education system, both in the UK and in his native US. Teachers and teachers’ unions should work with parents to pressure governments to focus education on creating “informed citizens”, he says, not learning-by-rote simply to get students to pass their exams and become workforce-ready.

This is a push for change that Giroux has been working on for some time. He currently holds the McMaster University chair for scholarship in the public interest, in Ontario, Canada. But he has been an education academic for decades and penned numerous books. He’s insistent on this course of action because “you cannot have a democracy without an informed citizenry”.

“We live in a culture that thrives on ignorance, refuses to invest in education, flees from the obligations of shared citizenship and ignores what it means to provide a decent life for everyone, especially children,” says Giroux.

“[In this environment,] politics degenerates into a pathology and education is reduced to a form of training.”

'We need to have a dialogue'
To emphasise his point, he cites the election of Donald Trump – a president who is on record claiming that he “loves the poorly educated”.

“[Trump’s election win] is not just about a crisis of politics; it’s about the crisis of education, it’s about the crisis of civic literacy,” he says. So, how do teachers contribute to putting this right?

As a starting point, he thinks a discussion needs to be had about the true purpose of education. “We need to have a dialogue about what teachers can do to, in a sense, ensure that education is viewed as a public good and that it is tied to a democratic project that would be used to prepare students to be engaged, critical and informed citizens,” Giroux says. “We’ve got to ditch this notion that the only purpose of education is basically to educate people for the workforce or that the most important aspect of education is learning 25 different ways to teach. That’s just silly, it’s reductionistic and it turns teachers into automatons.

“This type of educational reform is really about deskilling teachers and turning education into an adjunct of the corporate workplace. It kills any notion of the imagination, and what we usually end up with is people teaching for the test. We end up with people basically implementing what I call ‘pedagogies of oppression’.”

Giroux explains that a pedagogy of oppression is one that essentially “assaults” a student’s imagination. “It often emphasises memorisation; it places a strong emphasis on harsh forms of discipline; it can result in enormously unproductive and poisonous forms of racism; it usually teaches for the test,” he says. “It embraces standardisation as a measure of knowledge and it does everything it can to basically shut down any sense of curiosity and any sense of teaching students – and teachers for that matter – what it means to exercise a degree of civic courage, to take risks, to doubt, to in some way be critically conscious of the world, to explore the full capacity of their imagination, and to open the world and themselves in a way in which they can embrace and expand their capacity to be real social-political agents.”

Giroux believes that we should educate educators in a way that enables them to fulfil the “civic purpose” of education.

“I think that increasingly gets lost in the commercialisation, the corporatisation, the commodification and the standardisation of education,” he says. “These are forces that have been highly influenced by a corporate state that doesn’t really recognise the relationship – and doesn’t want to recognise the relationship – between education and democracy, and I think teachers need to seize upon and develop a new language for understanding the purpose of education.”

Giroux identifies another issue: the things that children are being taught in schools typically bear no relation to the world in which they live – a world that is heavily influenced by social media, popular culture and mainstream media.

“To me, this is tragic because when that happens, schools often translate into dead zones of education and spaces of abandonment,” he argues. “They become places that seem irrelevant to young people. They seem to have no meaning except for an elite who need the credentials to get into Oxford, Cambridge, Yale or Harvard.”

He is similarly depressed by what he perceives to be a “deskilling” of teachers that has been brought about by the “audit culture” that pervades the education system in the US and UK. Educators, he believes, should push against or ignore it.

“Teachers can’t just close their door and say ‘I’m going to do everything I can to avoid this’,” says Giroux. “They need to organise collectively. They need to bring the power of a collective teacher’s union, and the power of working with parents and young people, to begin to put pressure on governments because in the final analysis what is at stake here is changing policy. That is, changing policies that are oppressive and endlessly put into play.”

‘Great social movement’

What is important, he says, it that such a reaction is not politically aligned. Giroux explains that “the notion of creating informed and critical students cuts across ideological lines” and that it “should be attractive to anyone who believes that schooling is crucial to creating informed citizens”.

To do this, teachers need to have a clear idea of their larger role in society and this role needs to be self-defined. “Teachers have to become part of a great social movement in which they define themselves as a public resource,” says Giroux.

He argues that, as part of this movement, teachers should fight for policies that advocate more funding for education, more autonomy for teachers and higher pay.

“Teachers should be paid like doctors and they should be professionalised in ways that suggest they are a valued part of any society, which is what they are,” says Giroux. “Schools matter in a democracy and teachers should be one of the most valued groups of people that we have in our society, yet at the same time they are the most belittled, the most dehumanised and the most exploited among professionals – and I think that’s because we have no faith in democracy.

“We can’t seem to make the connection between teaching, education and democracy, and I think that teachers need to make that connection and they need to make it loud and clear. They need to talk about public schools and higher education as democratic public spheres and they need to make clear that what they do is absolutely vital to the nature of society itself – and they need to fight for it.”

Picking sides

Although he concedes that he is “utterly pessimistic” about the changes that have taken place to the education system in the US since the 1980s – the public schools sector in particular – he is quietly optimistic about the future. “I think we’ve reached a breaking point where many people are refusing to accept what we call the ‘school to prison’ pipeline,” says Giroux.

“They’re refusing to accept the racism that goes on in schools with kids being expelled and thrown out of schools, and we have also seen this huge revolt in the US against teaching for the test. More and more people are now realising that education is one of the few protected spaces and battlefronts left over which we can defend any notion of a liberal education. An education that is engaged in creating critical citizens and furthering the parameters of a democratic society.”

Regardless of whether this change is happening as quickly as Giroux feels it must, he is clear that we are at a point where teachers need to pick sides.

“Democracy is in crisis around the world and to address that crisis, education needs to be reclaimed as a moral and political project willing to address the future with a degree of civic courage and educated hope,” he says. “In this case, the struggle to reclaim the democratic function of education is not an option, it is a necessity.”"
simoncreasey  henrygiroux  children  schools  schooling  unschooling  deschooling  teachers  teaching  democracy  oppression  pedagogy  civics  politics  pathology  education  standardization  racism  race  rote  rotelearning  learning  corporatism  memorization  resistance  socialmedia  popularculture  society  elitism  credentials  us  uk  policy  autonomy  unions  organization  2018  sfsh 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Movement Pedagogy: Beyond the Class/Identity Impasse - Viewpoint Magazine
"Ellsworth had studied critical pedagogy carefully and incorporated it into her course, which she called Curriculum and Instruction 607: Media and Anti-racist Pedagogies. She describes the diverse group of students it drew, including “Asian American, Chicano/a, Jewish, Puerto Rican, and Anglo European men and women from the United States, and Asian, African, Icelandic, and Canadian international students.” This diverse context seemed ideal for engaging in critical pedagogy. And yet, problems arose as soon as the class began.

When invited to speak about injustices they had experienced and witnessed on campus, students struggled to communicate clearly about racism. They had a hard time speaking and listening to one another about the main subject of the course. Rather than dialogue providing grounds for solidarity, “the defiant speech of students and professor…constituted fundamental challenges to and rejections of the voices of some classmates and often the professor.” Ellsworth began to question the limitations of an approach to dialogue that assumes “all members have equal opportunity to speak, all members respect other members’ rights to speak and feel safe to speak, and all ideas are tolerated and subjected to rational critical assessment against fundamental judgments and moral principles.” These assumptions were not bearing out in her classroom due to the vastly different histories, experiences, and perspectives of those in the room.

There was difficulty, pain, and deadlock in communicating about the social structure of the university, a deadlock that fell along classed, racial, gendered and national lines. Like a broken window, fissures between the experiences and perspectives of Ellsworth and her students formed cracks, which then caused more cracks, until no one could see each other clearly.

Contrary to critical pedagogy’s promise of liberation through dialogue, Ellsworth’s classroom was filled with uncomfortable silences, confusions, and stalemates caused by the fragmentation. The students and professor could not achieve their stated goal of understanding institutional racism and stopping its business-as-usual at the university. She recalls that
[t]hings were not being said for a number of reasons. These included fear of being misunderstood and/or disclosing too much and becoming too vulnerable; memories of bad experiences in other contexts of speaking out; resentment that other oppressions (sexism, heterosexism, fat oppression, classism, anti-Semitism) were being marginalized in the name of addressing racism – and guilt for feeling such resentment; confusion about levels of trust and commitment about those who were allies to one another’s group struggles; resentment by some students of color for feeling that they were expected to disclose more and once again take the burden of doing pedagogic work of educating White students/professor about the consequences of White middle class privilege; resentment by White students for feeling that they had to prove they were not the enemy.

The class seemed to be reproducing the very oppressive conditions it sought to challenge. As they reflected on these obstacles, Ellsworth and her students decided to alter the terms of their engagement. They replaced the universalism of critical pedagogy, in which students were imagined to all enter dialogue from similar locations, with a situated pedagogy that foregrounded the challenge of working collectively from their vastly different positions. This shift completely altered the tactics in the course. Rather than performing the teacher role as an emancipatory expert presumed able to create a universal critical consciousness through dialogue, Ellsworth became a counselor, helping to organize field trips, potlucks, and collaborations between students and movement groups around campus. These activities helped to build relations of trust and mutual support without presuming that all students entered the classroom from the same position. Rather than holding class together in a traditional way, Ellsworth met with students one on one, discussing particular experiences, histories, and feelings with them, talking through these new activities.

As trust began to form out of the morass of division, students created affinity groups based on shared experiences and analyses. The groups met outside of class to prepare for in-class meetings, which “provided some participants with safer home bases from which they gained support…and a language for entering the larger classroom interactions each week.” The affinity groups were a paradigm shift. The class went from a collection of atomized individuals to a network of shared and unshared experiences working in unison. Ellsworth writes that, “once we acknowledged the existence, necessity, and value of these affinity groups we began to see our task as…building a coalition among multiple, shifting, intersecting, and sometimes contradictory groups carrying unequal weights of legitimacy within the culture of the classroom. Halfway through the semester, students renamed the class Coalition 607.” Ellsworth describes this move from fragmentation to coalition as coming together based on what the group did not share, rather than what they did share. Ultimately the class generated proposals for direct action to confront structural inequalities at the university.

Why doesn’t this feel empowering?

In 1989, Ellsworth published her now-famous article reflecting on the Coalition 607 experience. Provocatively entitled, “Why Doesn’t This Feel Empowering? Working through the Repressive Myths of Critical Pedagogy,” she used her experiences in this course to critique what she saw as a universalist model of voice, dialogue and liberation embedded within the assumptions of critical pedagogy. At the heart of this problem was a failure to recognize the fact that students do not all enter into dialogue on equal terrain. Instead, the social context of the classroom – like any other – is shaped by the very unequal histories and structures that critical pedagogy seeks to address. Thus, the idea that Ellsworth and her students might set aside their differences in order to tackle institutional racism on campus proved naive, and even harmful. Instead, it was through a pedagogical shift to coalition that they were ultimately able to build collective action. These actions were rooted not in claims of universality, but in a commitment to building solidarity across structural divisions.

Ellsworth’s story offers useful lessons for contemporary movement debates – debates that are often framed around an apparent dichotomy of class universalism versus identity politics. The question, “why doesn’t this feel empowering?” gestures toward the subtle (and not-so-subtle) processes of exclusion that occur within many movement spaces, where the seemingly neutral terms of debate obscure the specific perspectives that guide our agendas, strategies, and discussions. As Peter Frase notes, “appeals to class as the universal identity too often mask an attempt to universalize a particular identity, and exclude others.” Yet, Ellsworth and her students did not simply retreat into separate corners when these divisions flared; instead, they rethought the terms of their engagement in order to develop strategies for working together across difference. It was by thinking pedagogically about organizing that Ellsworth and her students arrived at a strategy of coalition."

"Ellsworth’s coalition – what we call thinking pedagogically about organizing – is an example of how to get to the imagined relation that dissolves the alleged impasse between class struggle and identity politics: thinking pedagogically creates an ideology of coalition rather than an ideology of impasse.

We can apply this insight from classrooms to activist spaces by examining a recent proposal adopted by the Democratic Socialists of America. At the national convention in August 2017, DSA members debated a controversial resolution calling for a rigorous program of organizer trainings. “Resolution #28: National Training Strategy” proposed to train “some 300 DSA members every month for 15 months” with the goal of ultimately producing “a core of 200 highly experienced trainers and 5,000 well trained leaders and organizers to carry forward DSA’s work in 2018 and beyond.” The proposal asked delegates to devote a significant amount of DSA’s national funds ($190,000) toward creating this nationwide activist training program, which includes modules on Socialist Organizing and Social Movements and Political Education.

The resolution emerged from a plank of the Praxis slate of candidates for the National Political Committee. On their website, the slate described this “National Training Strategy” in detail, emphasizing the importance of teaching and learning a “wide array of organizing skills and tactics so members develop the skills to pursue their own politics” (emphasis in original). Noting that “Poor and working people – particularly people of color – are often treated as external objects of organizing,” this educational strategy explicitly sought to use positionality as a strength. They elaborate: “If DSA is serious about building the power of working people of whatever race, gender, citizen status or region, we must re-build the spine of the Left to be both strong and flexible.” Aware that DSA members would be coming from a variety of positions, the slate made education a central plank of their platform. Members pursuing “their own politics” based on their precise structural location would create a flexible and strong spine for left politics. They write: “It’s not just the analysis, but also the methods of organizing that we pursue which create the trust, the self-knowledge, and the solidarity to make durable change in our world.”

While we can’t know for sure how the training strategy will work out, we highlight the resolution as an … [more]
criticalpedagogy  pedagogy  2017  davidbacker  katecairns  solidarity  collectiveaction  canon  affinitygroups  affinities  salarmohandesi  combaheerivercollective  coalition607  via:irl  elizabethellsworth  currymalott  isaacgottesman  henrygiroux  paulofreire  stanleyaronowitz  petermclaren  irashor  joekincheloe  trust  commitment  resentment  vulnerability  conversation  guilt  privilege  universalism  universality  dialogue  peterfrase  empowerment  repression  organizing  organization  identity  coalition  exclusion  inclusion  inclusivity  identitypolitics  azizchoudry  socialmovements  change  changemaking  praxis  dsa  socialism  education  learning  howwelearn  politics  activism  class  race  stuarthall  articulation  ernestolaclau  plato  johnclarke  fragmentation  generalities 
december 2017 by robertogreco
When The Iron Law of Efficiency Comes Crashing Down – Jokull | Helge Tennø
"This is part of my manuscript for a session with Keen Bull on how additive manufacturing will impact the world, at this years DIF-festival.

We believe three things are happening with organizations at the moment..

First, advantage of scale has given far more of us increased material wealth, access to mass education, longevity of life increased social complexity and so forth.

The mass production system has enabled us to grow as human beings. But as we grow we have also come to demand more from the business organizations we depend upon for consumption and employment (1).

This hasn’t been a part of the organizations toolbox.

Organizations have had a blueprint that was tailored for mass efficiency — but not meaningfulness, identity, belonging and individualization.

These elements, which are now essential to the output and progress of an organization were deemed problematic and irrelevant in the old system.

So there is a conflict at the moment between a new generation of employeeneeds and what the current organizational tools can offer.

The second thing is that there is an increase in market complexity and uncertainty. We are in an era where digitization has led industries to converge and mutate.

So this system of certainty and predictability which was built for stability in certain times. Is suddenly finding itself in uncertainty. Unable to control for the asymmetric relationships that are appearing between their customers and new organizations.

The only thing certain becomes uncertainty.

Thirdly the iron law of industry — advantage of scale itself — is being disrupted.

In fact scale is turning into a disadvantage due to the massive cost of producing non-standardized parts.

Scale, which once was a barrier to entry for new companies has turned into a barrier for incumbents to answer the demand patterns of the market.

As advantage of scale breaks down every scaffolding around it seems to shake or go down with it.

When the iron law of efficiency — which has cost individuals, ideas, talents and meaningfulness so much — comes crashing down we are GIVEN the opportunity to redesign how we organize and create together.

And advancements in Additive Manufacturing is on a path to softening one of the hardest kernels in the midst of the industrial corporate landscape — the industrial machine.

With Additive manufacturing we are envisioning an ability for the industrial landscape to start delivering on the emerging demand in the market for identity and individualization.

As we are moving from this organization designed and trained to make as little friction as possible, where people are situated into narrow compartments with clearly and precisely defined roles and goals — to an organization where friction, creativity, outliers have no added cost. They are in fact what is needed in order to be aligned to the needs of the market. We are imagining a radically different organization designed to output today what wasn’t even imagined yesterday.

We are entering a highly flexible world demanding highly flexible organizations.

The organizations are not linear, they are not based on hierarchies or chains of command and centralized decision making.

In this new world we have decentralized teams making autonomous decisions. Smaller companies (because there is no advantage of scale) with local niches and the ability to turn around swiftly as demand patterns are manipulated by new impulses."
efficiency  helgetennø  keenbull  complexity  scale  decentralization  horizontality  manufacturing  additivism  consumption  employment  stability  certainty  predictability  uncertainty  organization 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Competition Is Ruining Childhood. The Kids Should Fight Back. - The New York Times
"Like the crack of a starting pistol, November begins the official college application season. But for students, this race started long ago.

Many of today’s kids have lived their entire lives, from sunup until midnight, in a fierce tournament with their peers. (I was one of them. A decade after graduation, I still can’t think of a period when I’ve worked harder than in high school.) From kindergarten to 12th grade, schools brag about how “competitive” they are. That means it’s not enough for students to do their best. Whether in the classroom, on the athletic field or at home on the computer, they must always be better. Youth has become a debilitating endurance test.

The thing is, we don’t even really know what we are racing for, much less how to tone down the competition. And most people don’t seem to be benefiting from this frantic contest, either as students or as adult workers. Americans are improving themselves, but the rewards keep flowing uphill to the 1 percent.

Everyone tells students that the harder they work to develop their job skills — their “human capital” — the better off they will be. It’s not true. In fact, the result is the opposite: more and better educated workers, earning less.

An analysis in September of Census Bureau data by the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank, found that between 2000 and 2016 — years when many millennials first entered the job market — there was “little to no gain” in median annual earnings. This isn’t some limited fallout from the 2008 financial crisis; it’s a different type of phenomenon and part of a longer trend of wage stagnation that reaches back to the 1970s.

Educational achievement, on the other hand, follows a different trend. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, over the same period (2000 to 2016), the percentage of young people with a high school diploma or its equivalent passed 90 percent for the first time. In the same period, the portion of graduates seeking and obtaining both two- and four-year degrees increased consistently, and the percentage of people ages 25 to 29 with postgraduate degrees jumped to 9 percent from 5.

And this cohort of young Americans hasn’t only put in the classroom work — to say nothing of extracurricular activities and internships. This cohort of young Americans has also taken on incomprehensible amounts of debt in order to do it.

Despite what we’ve heard, money isn’t a reward America hands out for hard work. Not only is more education not leading to higher wages, there isn’t even a positive correlation between the two. If anything, the flood of human capital puts employers in a position to offer workers a shrinking slice of the pie and get more in return. Kids are getting conned. I got conned, too.

If enough students manage to master cutting-edge job skills, it will be great for the “economy,” but as workers they will find themselves rewarded with lower wages. The dynamic may seem counterintuitive but not totally unexpected. In the ’70s, the economist Gary Becker theorized that employers would shift the costs of developing human capital onto workers, from paid on-the-job training to unpaid schooling. He figured that, though they need skilled labor, corporations would be disinclined to pay for training since other companies could then lure away “their” human capital.

As training left the factory and the office for the classroom, it also meant that work could be shifted to children, who are mostly not eligible for wage labor but can, it turns out, do a whole lot of school. If firms want workers who can speak Mandarin or code Python, why should they pay trainees to learn when they can scare kids into training themselves? Within this system, all an individual kid can do is try to put a sufficient number of their peers between themselves and poverty.

There are some winners, but the real champions are the corporate owners: They get their pick from all the qualified applicants, and the oversupply of human capital keeps labor costs down. Competition between workers means lower wages for them and higher profits for their bosses: The more teenagers who learn to code, the cheaper one is.

The struggle for success has heavy financial and psychological costs for the participants. Constant competition has affected how young Americans see themselves in relation to the world. That’s why the United States has measured huge increases in youth anxiety and depression, as well as a sharp decline in social trust. If kids are told to find comfort in the idea that they are sacrificing their mental health now for security in adulthood, they are being tricked once more.

At the end of their journey into adulthood they aren’t reimbursed for their efforts. And in this winner-take-all economy, most of them just lose. They can’t increase the size of Harvard’s freshman class just by working harder; all they can do is drive one another to anxiety, depression, paranoia and exhaustion. That, and save money for their future bosses.

It doesn’t have to be this way. The kids don’t have to keep getting conned.

This system may work for a small number of bosses and shareholders, but it’s not in the interest of education in a broad, exploratory sense — and it’s clearly not in the interests of young people themselves. But even though older adults are ostensibly worried about the kids, policymakers will never scale back academic competition, and most educators and parents are understandably loath to tell children, “Don’t work so hard.”

If change is going to come, it should come from students, in the classroom.

As individuals, students have no choice but to compete. But together, there’s no telling what kind of power they could exercise. They face an age-old collective action problem, but they are smart. Schools can’t run without students, and the economy can’t run without schools; their work matters, and they can withdraw it.

Unions aren’t just good for wage workers. Students can use collective bargaining, too. The idea of organizing student labor when even auto factory workers are having trouble holding onto their unions may sound outlandish, but young people have been at the forefront of conflicts over police brutality, immigrant rights and sexual violence. In terms of politics, they are as tightly clustered as just about any demographic in America. They are an important social force in this country, one we need right now.

It’s in students’ shared interest to seek later start times for the school day to combat the epidemic of insufficient sleep among high schoolers. It’s in their shared interest to improve their mental health by reducing competition. They could start by demanding an end to class rank or a cap on the number of Advanced Placement courses each student can take per year. It’s in their shared interest to make life easier and lower the stakes of childhood in general. Only young people, united, can improve their working conditions and end the academic arms race."
mlcolmharris  2017  children  competition  schools  schooling  homework  education  unions  organization  childhood  admissions  humancapital  achievement  economics  garybecker  sfsh  work  labor  wagelabor  corporatism  depression  paranoia  exhaustion  exploration  violence  us  policy  capitalism 
november 2017 by robertogreco
A Manifesto – Evergreen Review
"We devise and concoct ways to make each other beg for the most meager of resources. Death, which should simply be something that comes to us, is instead an instrument of dominion and torture. We have perfected instruments of death-making. We extend such deathery even to our social systems, creating ways to ensure that the poorest and most vulnerable among us will die because the rest of us don’t believe they deserve the methods and technologies by which we keep ourselves alive."

"And yet, even in our imagination, we cannot conceive of a world where abundance is enough. We can literally create anything we want and live without want, but we still want more.

In this imagined new world, we are still at war with others, crisscrossing space to divide it up into sectors and grids, cutting up even empty air into parcels the way we do patches of land. We make the vast and incomprehensible universe malleable by exerting our history of dispossession onto it. Our thirst for possession is as boundless as the universe we inhabit. Even our imagination is limited by avarice. This is why, dear aliens, I feel no real pain or sadness at the thought of what you might do to us. The sorrows and suffering we have inflicted upon each other, the degradations, the humiliations, the pain, the contrasts in resources and the creation of need—nothing in the universe can match what we have already done."

"Like the utopias they bring forth, manifestos are birthed in the possibility of failure. They succeed not in the audacity of hope but in the audacity of despair. What is the present and the future we need to keep imagining? What is a utopia? What is the nature of our utopias? Do we still dare to have any?"

"No one is outside ideology. Yet, too many Americans believe they are, and prefer to focus on how they feel: a particularly American problem is the preponderance of affect in politics. But when it comes to politics—to anything that calls itself justice—we should only pay attention to two questions: what do people need, and how do we get them what they need without having to beg? Yet our political programs are neither initiated nor sustained by the will to redistribute our ridiculously ample resources. Rather, we obsess over whether the people who receive them are worthy of our care. We ask questions we never ask the well-off: Are you deserving? Do you have the proper moral character? If we give you this money, how do we know you won’t spend it on cigarettes? If you buy food, will it be junk food or apples? But wait, how can we be sure you won’t blow it all on lobster?"

"If you want our help, then make us weep for you.

In that, the left has failed miserably. The left can barely articulate what it stands for without weeping for forgiveness for its own existence. This manifesto is an attempt to instantiate the left. How do we learn to be the left fearlessly, without either shame or arrogance?"

"No doubt, dear aliens, you will have found in your exploration of our debris or our archives (who knows in what state you encounter us) rants from leftists about “identity” or “identitarianism.” It has been difficult to convince this kind of activist that a true left finds a way to think about getting people what they need without erasing the material realities of their lives, but without capitulating to the essentializing of gender, race, ethnicity, and sexuality. Yet, even now, in most left organizations, it is women who do the emailing and the cleaning up, while the menfolk spout on about the revolution."

"A true left abjures philanthropy, which only enables the concentration of wealth by providing the super wealthy with fantastic tax breaks. A true left fights for a society where housing is not a matter of investment linked to the survival of an economy but simply a right. It fights for a world where prisons don’t exist to extract life from those whose failings, real or imagined, we cannot confront and whom we would rather shut away forever."

Such focus on Trump’s xenophobia ignores the fact that the millions of undocumented in this country became such under Bill Clinton. Two pieces of immigration legislation, in 1994 and 1996, made many simple misdemeanours into felonies only for non-citizens, and created the three- and ten-year bars on re-entry, which pushed undocumented people, now afraid of not being allowed to return if they should leave the country, into the shadows. Arguably, Trump has fine-tuned such mechanisms, but the tools for expulsion and removal were left there by Democratic administrations and are simply being sharpened and honed by this one."

"Resistance, like the heart, is a muscle, and needs to be constantly exercised. Instead, it’s become a buzzword. It’s made people think that somehow they’re soldiers now, fighting on every front. Ongoing work gets rebranded as “resistance” as if magically, due to the presence of Voldemort, everything changed overnight. The press plays up a collective sense of impending doom, making it seem like our lives are now unfolding like a scene from The Deathly Hallows."

"To liberals and lefties, this August 2016 exchange was evidence of Trump’s madness and his dangerously childish naivete. But in fact Trump’s response revealed the idiocy of nuclear weaponry and exposed the irrationality at the heart of American foreign policy: that somehow there is nothing wrong about possessing nuclear weapons."

"Neoliberalism is in fact capitalism made familiar, which is why I describe it as the endless privatisation of everyday life. It survives on vectors of intimacy, transforming capitalism into an emotional matter rather than an economic one, even though its incursions and devastations are deadly and long-lasting precisely because of the way it serves to insinuate itself into the machinations of the daily world."

"This is not to wax nostalgic about “neighborhoods” or to imply that everyone needs to be an “ethical gentrifier,” but to point out that the economic structure in relation to something as basic as housing is entirely set up to benefit the banking and finance industry. Meanwhile, Chicago resolutely and proudly refers to itself as a city of neighborhoods. The question is: who gets to belong, who gets phased out?"

"how neoliberalism operates upon various vectors of intimacy, and how that intimacy cuts across lines of class, race, and gender with varying effects."

"Over and over, Chicago and other cities fetishise their “neighborhood feel,” creating “community” out of displacement, demanding that the displaced then return only to satisfy the cravings the new residents refuse to acknowledge or to perform the jobs beneath the newcomers’ pay grade. Home ownership is what Americans, gay and straight, are expected to do as married people and the intimacy of married life brutally occludes the covert and hidden intimacies of transactions that keep underground economies flourishing.

Neoliberalism seduces us with its intimacy. Intimacy with our workplace, our occupation, the idea of having to “love” what you do: our work becomes our lover. Neoliberalism feeds off our sense of constant economic precariousness by convincing us that we must never demand more from the state or corporations, that what we label “sharing” economies are somehow community-based endeavors. And so people everywhere distribute their labor almost for free, in workplaces that are described as “mobile” and to which they “commute” as free agents. But these are in fact far more onerous than regular workplaces, and are mostly unregulated enterprises, and offer neither benefits nor protections (the field of “left publishing", including this publication, consists almost entirely of such labor).

But what they do is put us in touch with our own labor as something we control, birth, operate. We work with the illusion of control, but we are compelled, all the while, to cede it. We believe that having no control over the circumstances of our lives yields an intimacy that we cannot get elsewhere.

Neoliberalism survives as well as it does because its machinations allow people to express dissent even as they in fact only echo support for its worst effects. During Occupy, it was incredible to watch so many take to the streets, finally critical of how capitalism had wreaked its havoc. But as I wound my way through the massive crowds and their signs, it also became evident that the palpable anger was not so much at the system but that the system had failed them. Signs everywhere said, in effect, “I did the right thing for years, and I was still screwed over.” Everywhere, there was an anger at the ruling classes, certainly, but I couldn’t help but recall yet again those words about America’s “temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” The subsequent bailouts only confirmed a widespread sense that if we just fix the system, we can make it all better, when the system itself is the problem, and “fixing” it only serves to concentrate resources and power in the hands of fewer and fewer people."

"Capitalism flows unimpeded."

" Western analysts take their own social freedoms for granted—average Americans have, for many decades, left their parental homes in their late teens—but when it comes to other and what they fondly imagine as “more traditional” cultures, would prefer it if everyone just stayed transfixed in quaint old ways, please.

Neoliberalism fills the immediate needs of people in ways that other systems cannot—because, yes, that’s how capitalism functions, by dismantling our existing structures, and creating a need for new ones that provide the illusion of stability but in fact cause more harm. Consider schooling, at least in the US. We first eviscerated public education by defunding it, except in the wealthiest districts, and then created a demand for (exploitative, ruinous, substandard) … [more]
yasminnair  2017  society  manifestos  left  love  compassion  justice  socialjustice  utopia  ideology  charity  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  charitableindustrialcomplex  government  excess  abundance  hunger  healthcare  gender  race  racism  sexism  homophobia  neoliberalism  capitalism  feminism  systems  sytemsthinking  socialism  communism  migration  immigration  donaldtrump  barackobama  hillaryclinton  resistance  future  climatechange  neighborhoods  gentrification  chicago  privatization  class  classism  poverty  sexuality  intersectionality  compromise  change  organization  economics  power  control 
october 2017 by robertogreco
The Mind of John McPhee - The New York Times
"Much of the struggle, for McPhee, has to do with structure. “Structure has preoccupied me in every project,” he writes, which is as true as saying that Ahab, on his nautical adventures, was preoccupied by a certain whale. McPhee is obsessed with structure. He sweats and frets over the arrangement of a composition before he can begin writing. He seems to pour a whole novel’s worth of creative energy just into settling which bits will follow which other bits.

The payoff of that labor is enormous. Structure, in McPhee’s writing, carries as much meaning as the words themselves. What a more ordinary writer might say directly, McPhee will express through the white space between chapters or an odd juxtaposition of sentences. It is like Morse code: a message communicated by gaps."

"“Draft No. 4” is essentially McPhee’s writing course at Princeton, which he has been teaching since 1975. This imposes a rigid structure on his life. During a semester when he teaches, McPhee does no writing at all. When he is writing, he does not teach. He thinks of this as “crop rotation” and insists that the alternation gives him more energy for writing than he would otherwise have.

McPhee’s students come to his office frequently, for editing sessions, and as they sit in the hallway waiting for their appointments, they have time to study a poster outside his door. McPhee refers to it as “a portrait of the writer at work.” It is a print in the style of Hieronymus Bosch of sinners, in the afterlife, being elaborately tortured in the nude — a woman with a sword in her back, a small crowd sitting in a vat of liquid pouring out of a giant nose, someone riding a platypus. The poster is so old that its color has faded.

David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker, where McPhee has been a staff writer for more than 50 years, took McPhee’s class in 1981. “There was no fancy discussion of inspiration,” he told me. “You were in the room with a craftsman of the art, rather than a scholar or critic — to the point where I remember him passing around the weird mechanical pencils he used to use. It was all about technique. In the same spirit that a medical student, in gross anatomy, would learn what a spleen is and what it does, we would learn how stuff works in a piece of writing.”

Much of that stuff, of course, was structure. One of Remnick’s enduring memories is of watching Professor McPhee sketch out elaborate shapes on the chalkboard. One looked like a nautilus shell, with thick dots marking points along its swirl. Each of these dots was labeled: “Turtle,” “Stream Channelization,” “Weasel.” Down the side of the chart it said, simply, “ATLANTA.” An arrow next to the words “Rattlesnake, Muskrat, etc.” suggested that the swirl was meant to be read counterclockwise."

"John McPhee lives, and has almost always lived, in Princeton. I met him there in a large parking lot on the edge of campus, next to a lacrosse field, where he stood waiting next to his blue minivan. He wore an L.L. Bean button-down shirt with khaki pants and New Balance sneakers. The top half of his face held glasses, the bottom a short white beard that McPhee first grew, unintentionally, during a canoe trip in the 1970s and has not shaved off since. He is soft-spoken, easy and reserved. Although McPhee possesses intimidating stores of knowledge — he told me, as we walked around campus, the various geological formations that produced the stone used in the buildings — he seems to go out of his way to be unintimidating. Whenever we stepped outside, he put on a floppy hat.

McPhee proceeded to show me every inch of Princeton, campus and city, narrating as we went. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anyone so thoroughly identified with a place. His memories are archaeological, many layers deep. Not 30 seconds into our orienting drive, we passed the empty lot where he used to play tackle football as a child, and where, at age 10, he first tasted alcohol. (“One thing it wasn’t was unpleasant,” he wrote recently.) The lot is no longer empty; it is occupied by a new house, boxy and modern. I asked McPhee if he felt any animosity toward the structure for stomping out his memories.

“No,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of stomping grounds stomped out.”

McPhee was born in 1931. His father was the university’s sports doctor, and as a boy McPhee galloped after him to practices and games. By age 8, he was running onto the field alongside Princeton’s football team, wearing a custom-made miniature jersey. He played basketball in the old university gym, down the hall from his father’s office; when the building was locked, he knew which windows to climb in. McPhee was small and scrappy, and he played just about every sport that involved a ball. To this day, he serves as a faculty fellow of men’s lacrosse, observing Princeton’s practices and standing on the sidelines during games.

Every summer growing up, McPhee went to a camp in Vermont called Keewaydin, where his father was the camp doctor. One of his grandsons goes there today. (“I have 200 grandchildren,” McPhee told me; the number is actually 10.) McPhee speaks of Keewaydin as paradise, and his time there established many of the preoccupations of his life and work: canoeing, fishing, hiking. “I once made a list of all the pieces I had written in maybe 20 or 30 years, and then put a check mark beside each one whose subject related to things I had been interested in before I went to college,” he writes in “Draft No 4.” “I checked off more than 90 percent.” Keewaydin put McPhee into deep contact with the American land, and introduced him to the challenge of navigation — how the idealized abstractions of plans and maps relate to the fertile mess of the actual world. The camp’s infirmary is now officially named after McPhee’s father. McPhee’s own name still sits in the rafters, an honor for having been the second-most-accomplished camper in 1940, when he was 9."

"McPhee is a homebody who incessantly roams. He inherited Princeton and its Ivy League resources as a kind of birthright, but he comes at the place from an odd angle: He was not the son of a banker or a politician or some glamorous alumnus but of the sports doctor. His view of the university is practical, hands-on — it is, to him, like a big intellectual hardware store from which he can pull geologists and historians and aviators and basketball players, as needed, to teach him something. He is able to run off to Alaska or Maine or Switzerland or Keewaydin because he always knows where he is coming back to.

“I grew up in the middle of town,” McPhee said. “It’s all here.”

McPhee took me to his office in the geology building, in a fake medieval turret that, before he moved in, was crowded with paint cans. Now its walls are full of maps: the Pacific Ocean floor, United States drainage, all the world’s volcanoes. On the carpet in the corner of the room, a box sat stuffed with dozens more, from the center of which protruded, almost shyly, a folded map of Guayaquil, Ecuador. His enormous dictionary, open to the letter P, sat on top of a minifridge. Multiple shelves were loaded with books published by former students, above which stood framed photos of McPhee’s wife, Yolanda, and his four daughters.

McPhee sat down at his computer and clicked around. Green text appeared on a black screen. That was all: green text. No icons, rulers, or scrollbars.

McPhee began to type in command lines.

x coded.*

dir coded.*

x coded-10.tff

x coded-16.tff

Up came portions of his book “The Founding Fish.” He typed in further commands, and hunks of green text went blinking around: a complete inventory of his published articles; his 1990 book, “Looking for a Ship.”

I felt as if I were in a computer museum, watching the curator take his favorite oddity for a spin. McPhee has never used a traditional word processor in his life. He is one of the world’s few remaining users of a program called Kedit, which he writes about, at great length, in “Draft No. 4.” Kedit was created in the 1980s and then tailored, by a friendly Princeton programmer, to fit McPhee’s elaborate writing process.

The process is hellacious. McPhee gathers every single scrap of reporting on a given project — every interview, description, stray thought and research tidbit — and types all of it into his computer. He studies that data and comes up with organizing categories: themes, set pieces, characters and so on. Each category is assigned a code. To find the structure of a piece, McPhee makes an index card for each of his codes, sets them on a large table and arranges and rearranges the cards until the sequence seems right. Then he works back through his mass of assembled data, labeling each piece with the relevant code. On the computer, a program called “Structur” arranges these scraps into organized batches, and McPhee then works sequentially, batch by batch, converting all of it into prose. (In the old days, McPhee would manually type out his notes, photocopy them, cut up everything with scissors, and sort it all into coded envelopes. His first computer, he says, was “a five-thousand-dollar pair of scissors.”)

Every writer does some version of this: gathering, assessing, sorting, writing. But McPhee takes it to an almost-superhuman extreme. “If this sounds mechanical,” McPhee writes of his method, “its effect was absolutely the reverse. If the contents of the seventh folder were before me, the contents of twenty-nine other folders were out of sight. Every organizational aspect was behind me. The procedure eliminated nearly all distraction and concentrated just the material I had to deal with in a given day or week. It painted me into a corner, yes, but in doing so it freed me to write.”"

"McPhee’s great theme has always been conservation, in the widest possible sense of the word: the endless tension between presence and absence, staying and leaving, existence … [more]
johmcphee  writing  howwewrite  structure  2017  conservation  princeton  place  humility  process  kedit  organization  belonging  local  gaps  shyness  celebration  nature  geology  time  editing  outlining  naturalhistory  history  maps  mapping  writingprocess  focus  attention  awareness  legacy 
october 2017 by robertogreco
'Scores in reading, math fail to budge' in Minnesota: Maybe it's time to try the obvious -
"As a parent, teacher and citizen, I’m concerned about persistent achievement gaps in Minnesota schools, as described once again in Tuesday’s newspaper (“Scores in reading, math fail to budge,” Aug. 8).

While we are looking for new solutions, I propose that we let go of some old obsessions that we now can say clearly have not worked.

For this parent of three kids, the big one is homework, especially the mindless yet stubborn insistence on “10 minutes per grade, per night.” That piece of silliness never was backed up by solid research, and all it has done is drive a wedge between school and home as school personnel, with good intentions at heart, preach endlessly to parents about the importance of creating a space just for homework and offering “a guide by their side.” But that, we can now see, is so much hogwash. As a parent, I would love to stop worrying about it, until my children reach the upper grades. Last year, in 10th grade, my oldest child took command of his own home study. I consider that a sign that home study has begun to do him some good.

A second questionable mantra is that a child has to be organized before he or she can learn. Given that babies are born already learning, it seems obvious that no amount of organization is needed in order to learn. We must stop holding children back from other pursuits until they can tie their shoes, or clean out their desks, or remember to bring papers home and back again (which will be less of an issue once we’ve dispensed with homework). I’m all for quiet study environments, but not all day, every day. Talent goes to waste while we wait for 30 children to stand in a neat line, sit in their squares on a carpet or produce fresh notebooks all year long because we wanted them in five designated colors back in September. Learning is messy, and we only harm ourselves by insisting that it appear neat and orderly.

And while we all know that children learn best at certain hours of the day and that they should sleep and eat according to millennia-old circadian rhythms, most of our schools continue to demand that teenagers “get up and learn” at hours of the day when they should be fast asleep. It may well be that business hours could also use some adult adjustments, but at this point we should be offering young children their intense exposure to learning environments early in the day and elementary kids a little later, and then letting teenagers rest — with proper nourishment and supervision — until midmorning.

All of these wrongheaded obsessions contribute to our achievement gaps by race, class or other divisions, because all of them require added resources at home. A family that can pay for tutors and other supporting adults can meet these obsessions and get their kids through the hoops at school; a family that struggles with multiple jobs at inadequate pay has a much harder time doing so.

The first two obsessions would be easy to drop, and we should do so sooner rather than later. The third one would require significant public investment, but maybe if we all stopped buying so many school supplies, and backpacks to haul them around in, we could afford some added paraprofessional staff members and bus drivers to meet our children’s needs for sleep, nourishment and healthy recreation."
2017  anneholzman  sfsh  schools  education  learning  parenting  children  homework  sleep  organization  howwelearn  race  class  inequality  balance  testing  standardizedtesting  achievementgap 
august 2017 by robertogreco
Organizing for Action
"We aren’t the first to fight for progressive change and we won’t be the last.


Organizing for Action is a movement of millions of Americans, coming together to fight for real, lasting change.

We’re community organizers, and we’re proud of it.

With more than 250 local chapters around the country, OFA volunteers are building this organization from the ground up, community by community, one conversation at a time—whether that’s on a front porch or on Facebook. We’re committed to finding and training the next generation of great progressive organizers, because at the end of the day, we aren’t the first to fight for progressive change, and we won’t be the last.

This is bigger than just one person or one cause.

The 5 million Americans who’ve taken action with OFA are part of a long line of people who stand up and take on the big fights for social justice, basic fairness, equal rights, and expanding opportunity.

That means turning up the heat on climate change deniers, because the stakes are too high not to act.

It means calling for lawmakers to stop standing in the way of comprehensive immigration reform.

We’re helping people get health coverage, and telling the stories of the millions who are seeing the life-saving benefits of Obamacare.

We’re the ones rallying around the simple principle that love is love and that no one should ever be discriminated against because of who they are or whom they love.

We organize because too often a woman’s health care is debated as a political issue, not as a basic right.

And we believe that anyone who works hard and plays by the rules deserves a fair shot at the American dream.

That kind of progress is never easy. But we’re not here for the easy fights.

In the face of partisan gridlock and powerful, deep-pocketed interests, we refuse to be cynical about what we can accomplish. We have a history of proving the naysayers wrong, and we look forward to doing it again."
climatechange  immigration  us  policy  politics  government  organization  healthcare  progress  discrimination  reform  barackobama 
may 2017 by robertogreco
'More Justice and Some Peace': Mariame Kaba on Ending America's Violence | Broadly
"Last year, she moved back to New York, where she has continued her work of ending violence in its myriad forms. To her, that means ending prisons, ending white supremacy, ending gender-based violence, ending economic inequality, and ultimately ending capitalism. It is, of course, a tall order. Over the phone, Kaba says she simply tries to fill it piece by piece, with as many people as possible fighting alongside her. She currently organizes with Survived and Punished, bringing attention to victims of domestic violence who have been incarcerated for fighting back against their attackers.

"I don't think you can make change as a lone ranger. That's why you see myself and others building so many organizations. And when those organizations and containers are no longer needed, you end those and then you do something else." she said. "You need organization because people need containers for the work and we need each other's backs. Ella Baker used to always say, 'Martin didn't make the movement. The movement made Martin.' [Individuals] actually transform things with a base of people who are working their asses off. That's how it works."

Most recently, she invigorated the push for "Medicare for All" by starting a campaign to get both state legislatures and congressional representatives to support single-payer health care. It is at once a concrete demand and way of envisioning a positive future. In the face of the Affordable Care Act being dismantled by Donald Trump and the Republicans, Medicare for All goes beyond simply defending existing benefits and asserts that everyone has a right to health and life. Indeed, all of Kaba's efforts consciously intersect and try to build a world with, as she often tweets, "more justice and some peace."

If you find yourself wondering what to do next as Donald Trump's horrible presidency only gets worse, Kaba's organizing is instructive: Engage on a local level, find ways to support your community, build new institutions, and think about what you are working toward—not just resisting. I talked with Kaba about how she does just that."

"I have a hard time focusing on [Trump] in particular. Trump really does not care about Chicago. Chicago is not a real place for him. Chicago is a metaphor for him that he's able to use in his fevered, racist project. Addressing what he has to say about Chicago just feels like falling into a trap. He doesn't see people who live in the city as people. They're just abstractions to be weaponized to maintain white supremacy. There's just no question about how that is playing itself out in all ways. You're seeing it as a through-line in all his policies.

Chicago is a city that is ground zero of the neoliberal experiment led by Democrats over a long period of time. They were trying to figure out and test out their policies of privatization in multiple ways. They closed dozens and dozens of schools over a 20-year period. They defunded public services like public mental health clinics. That is itself violence, and to expect that that is not going to lead to interpersonal violence in those communities is nuts. They just want to point their finger at an individual young person and raise the penalties against that young person. For years in Chicago, the mayor has had an obsession with increasing the mandatory minimums for gun possession. Empirical data has said that that is not the way forward, but they still want to do it. When I was in Chicago we spent four years in a row fighting against that mandatory minimum gun bill. It will probably pass this year because people are so whipped up into frenzy about crime. The same failed policies from the past get repeated as though they are brand new. And the public doesn't have the energy to follow it closely enough. They're scared. They don't have the energy. They're taken by the fear-mongering. People have some legitimate, real concerns as well. Some young people are being put into harm's way by other people with guns. They want people to feel safe. That's all understandable. Nobody wants their neighborhood to be a shooting gallery, but we just have to be smart about how we respond to these things. And people aren't."

"I kind of cringe when I hear the term self-care, for lots of reasons: the way that it's been commodified, the way it's a form of compulsory action. People do a lot of "are you doing self-care?" and it becomes, like, it's own work. People have made self-care a labor. To me that's really not useful, and for some people it's actually oppressive. It becomes it's own job. I'm interested in collectivizing our care. I'm interested in community care. We should take care of each other and help each other out. It's not an individual pursuit. Everything in this county is so fucking individualistic and so rooted in capitalism I can't stand it. Like, do I have hobbies? Yes. I knit. I watch dumb movies. I go out to dinner with people I love. I love to do lots of different kinds of things, and I don't see it as some special time that I'm carving out. I just see it as my life. Just like organizing is my life, and part of the rent that I pay to live on this planet.

I understand, though. I hear a lot of conversations around self-care and healing. I'm so happy that they pay attention to those things and try to center them in their own lives. On the one hand, I'm grateful to them for making sure they pay attention to that. In my generation this was not something that people focused on doing. But I have to admit to being super concerned by a lot of the language and how people are trying to operationalize and actualize self-care within capitalism. I also worry that it is going to become a new labor for people to undertake. So when you are in a position where you can't "self-care" the anxiety of not being able to do it becomes its own thing. I just think it shouldn't be that. I also think that struggle and organizing are also joys. It's not taxing labor all the time, and if it is you're probably doing it wrong."
mariamekaba  activism  violence  capitalism  organization  medicadeforall  healthcare  policy  grassroots  2017  self-care  socialjustice  collaboration  peace  racism  inequality  whitesupremacy 
february 2017 by robertogreco
Radical Black Women | A Study and Discussion Circle
"Black Radical Women in the U.S. 1910-1960 – A Study & Discussion Circle
[Note: this circle took place in 2015 but I am keeping the site up for others to use]

“In far too many historic portrayals black radicals are always men, communists are white men, and feminists are white women.” – Maxine Craig

This study and discussion circle taking place on March 21, 2015 is focused on the contributions of Black radical women activists and theorists from the early 20th century through the Cold War era. Most of these women were affiliated with the U.S. Communist Party (CPUSA) and others were part of various socialist organizations.

This circle will consider the backgrounds, thinking and writing of some of these leaders. We will specifically discuss the lives and contributions of Marvel Cooke, Shirley Graham Du Bois, Vicki Garvin, Esther Cooper Jackson, Claudia Jones, Queen Mother Audley Moore and Louise Thompson Patterson.

This list does not begin to scratch the surface of radical Black women in the U.S. who have contributed to social, economic, political and cultural analysis and to organizing. We will begin with the women listed above in our 3/21 discussion circle. Pending interest, we could move on to other Black women in the future.

Thanks for your interest in this discussion circle and see you on 3/21."
history  marvelcooke  shirleygrahamdubois  vickigarvin  esthercooperjackson  claudiajones  queenmotheraudleymoore  louisethompsonpatterson  blackwomen  women  2015  communicm  radicalism  organization 
february 2017 by robertogreco
The Wonder Years: Creating a Middle School Launching Pad - Urban Planning and Design - architecture and design
"As a way of summarizing our findings, we created 10 “rules of the road” that we are continually referring to as a check on our design:

1. The range of growth between 6th and 8th grade is vast, but they’re all still just children.
2. Our children are transforming every day, so our school should too.
3. Retaining the benefits of grade-affiliation is crucial in the move toward project—and discipline-based work.
4. Middle school is the “starting point,” when you begin to become who you will be (as an adult).
5. Let’s leverage technology to provide two-way conversation, and have a ‘push-out’ / ‘pull-in’ dynamic.
6. We still need places for quiet and spaces for personal, sometimes sensitive conversations.
7. Aim to create a facility that encourages parents to “let go.”
8. Access to nature is a “need to have,” not a “nice to have.”
9. A happy faculty means happy students.
10. And, make it MAGIC.

Now here’s a deep-dive into what we discovered for each of the stakeholder groups:

6th Grade


We found that 6th graders need their own lane before they fully merge into the greater middle school community. This is their first taste of independence—their world just expanded! Although they experience massive change in maturity level from September to June, they still need space to play, both outdoors and in. This is a time to celebrate their imaginations because they are not yet self-conscious about risk-taking. Additionally, 6th graders still need help with organization, study skills and daily prep.

Design Strategies

We believe there should be a 6th grade-centric space that can close and open to the larger school. The design of the space will highlight creativity, provide ample areas to pin up/showcase work, minimize distractions, offer direct connection to the outdoors and create a space for play (maybe designed by kids). Overall, the 6th grade space will be a cozy, home-like atmosphere with bright colors.

7th Grade


Seventh graders are beginning to build awareness of the outside world and a desire to make a difference. Social life takes on a new importance, and they are ready to expand their world. With that said, they are still easily distracted, as well as awkward and insecure; they feel “stuck in the middle.” Seventh graders tend to have a strong connection to teachers, and while they are ready to make more of their own choices, creativity now feels risky. They are just beginning to attack “maker” activities.

Design Strategies

To cater to the needs of a 7th grader, the middle school environment needs hangout spaces, as well as distributed spaces for quiet group work/focus work. It’s critical to have visual and physical access to shared areas with 8th graders to provide exposure to mentorship. In terms of play, 7th graders need a connection to outdoors, age-appropriate play opportunities and access to “maker” space. The classroom should provide choice and flexibility with furniture, such as fidget chairs, that students can move on their own.

8th Grade


Eighth graders tend to be curious and intellectual, but not yet jaded. They are learning to think critically for the first time and handle ambiguity. They are ready to take on leadership roles and are increasingly interested in the “real world” and their place in it. As pre-teens who feel torn between childhood and adulthood, the social life of an 8th grader has started to expand beyond the school.

Design Strategies

Flexible classrooms will allow 8th grade students to toggle between learning modes, a learning style that hints at upper school culture. This age group needs central flex space for showcasing, broadcasting, making and talking about work, as well as places to sit and reflect.



Middle school faculty are intensely dedicated to their students. Teachers are challenged to find private space to have sensitive conversations with students, parents, and colleagues, and they get stressed when limitations of space get in the way of delivering active education. They are always looking for moments of calm and focus.

Design Strategies

Middle school faculty need one-on-one meeting spaces, private phone space, “behind the scenes” teacher areas, tutoring/teaching bars, teacher-only bathrooms, access to beauty and nature to reduce stress, and places to sit and reflect.



Middle school parents are learning to let go. They don’t yet know how to handle their kids’ growing independence, so they need reassurance and communication from the school. They need to feel wowed and inspired by DE facilities, tech presence and student work. Additionally, children are embarrassed by parents’ presence on campus, and helicopter parents can be a distraction to both students and teachers.

Design Strategies

To fulfill the needs of both parents and students, the middle school should have a large lobby space with transparency to student work, but limited access to classrooms. The lobby will serve as an exhibit space for student projects and could feature a tech space as public face of school. The building should look fun, cool and tech-forward with two-way broadcasting.

What’s Next
We are currently in the process of interpreting and integrating these strategies into the design of the new middle school. Under the guidance of Dr. Rodney De Jarnett, Dwight-Englewood’s Head of School, we will be looking to create an environment where, in Dr. De Jarnett’s words, “our children, faculty, and parents will walk in and immediately feel something special.” Stay tuned for a design update in the coming months."
middleschool  sfsh  schools  schooldesign  2016  parenting  independence  quiet  children  education  learning  organization  studyskills  markthaler 
january 2017 by robertogreco
John Berger: The Nature of Mass Demonstrations (Autumn 1968)
"Seventy years ago (on 6 May 1898) there was a massive demonstration of workers, men and women, in the centre of Milan. The events which led up to it involve too long a history to treat with here. The demonstration was attacked and broken up by the army under the command of General Beccaris. At noon the cavalry charged the crowd: the unarmed workers tried to make barricades: martial law was declared and for three days the army fought against the unarmed.

The official casualty figures were 100 workers killed and 450 wounded. One policeman was killed accidentally by a soldier. There were no army casualties. (Two years later Umberto I was assassinated because after the massacre he publicly congratulated General Beccaris, the ‘butcher of Milan.’)

I have been trying to understand certain aspects of the demonstration in the Corso Venezia on 6 May because of a story I am writing. In the process I came to a few conclusions about demonstrations which may perhaps be more widely applicable.

Mass demonstrations should be distinguished from riots or revolutionary uprisings although, under certain (now rare) circumstances, they may develop into either of the latter. The aims of a riot are usually immediate (the immediacy matching the desperation they express): the seizing of food, the release of prisoners, the destruction of property. The aims of a revolutionary uprising are long-term and comprehensive: they culminate in the taking over of State power. The aims of a demonstration, however, are symbolic: it demonstrates a force that is scarcely used.

A large number of people assemble together in an obvious and already announced public place. They are more or less unarmed. (On 6 May 1898, entirely unarmed.) They present themselves as a target to the forces of repression serving the State authority against whose policies they are protesting.

Theoretically demonstrations are meant to reveal the strength of popular opinion or feeling: theoretically they are an appeal to the democratic conscience of the State. But this presupposes a conscience which is very unlikely to exist.

If the State authority is open to democratic influence, the demonstration will hardly be necessary; if it is not, it is unlikely to be influenced by an empty show of force containing no real threat. (A demonstration in support of an already established alternative State authority – as when Garibaldi entered Naples in 1860 – is a special case and may be immediately effective.)

Demonstrations took place before the principle of democracy was even nominally admitted. The massive early Chartist demonstrations were part of the struggle to obtain such an admission. The crowds who gathered to present their petition to the Tsar in St Petersburg in 1905 were appealing – and presenting themselves as a target – to the ruthless power of an absolute monarchy. In the event – as on so many hundreds of other occasions all over Europe – they were shot down.

It would seem that the true function of demonstrations is not to convince the existing State authority to any significant degree. Such an aim is only a convenient rationalisation.

The truth is that mass demonstrations are rehearsals for revolution: not strategic or even tactical ones, but rehearsals of revolutionary awareness. The delay between the rehearsals and the real performance may be very long: their quality – the intensity of rehearsed awareness – may, on different occasions, vary considerably: but any demonstration which lacks this element of rehearsal is better described as an officially encouraged public spectacle.

A demonstration, however much spontaneity it may contain, is a created event which arbitrarily separates itself from ordinary life. Its value is the result of its artificiality, for therein lies its prophetic, rehearsing possibilities.

A mass demonstration distinguishes itself from other mass crowds because it congregates in public to create its function, instead of forming in response to one: in this, it differs from any assembly of workers within their place of work – even when strike action is involved – or from any crowd of spectators. It is an assembly which challenges what is given by the mere fact of its coming together.

State authorities usually lie about the number of demonstrators involved. The lie, however, makes little difference. (It would only make a significant difference if demonstrations really were an appeal to the democratic conscience of the State.) The importance of the numbers involved is to be found in the direct experience of those taking part in or sympathetically witnessing the demonstration. For them the numbers cease to be numbers and become the evidence of their senses, the conclusions of their imagination. The larger the demonstration, the more powerful and immediate (visible, audible, tangible) a metaphor it becomes for their total collective strength.

I say metaphor because the strength thus grasped transcends the potential strength of those present, and certainly their actual strength as deployed in a demonstration. The more people there are there, the more forcibly they represent to each other and to themselves those who are absent. In this way a mass demonstration simultaneously extends and gives body to an abstraction. Those who take part become more positively aware of how they belong to a class. Belonging to that class ceases to imply a common fate, and implies a common opportunity. They begin to recognise that the function of their class need no longer be limited: that it, too, like the demonstrations itself, can create its own function.

Revolutionary awareness is rehearsed in another way by the choice and effect of location. Demonstrations are essentially urban in character, and they are usually planned to take place as near as possible to some symbolic centre, either civic or national. Their ‘targets’ are seldom the strategic ones – railway stations, barracks, radio stations, airports. A mass demonstration can be interpreted as the symbolic capturing of a city or capital. Again, the symbolism or metaphor is for the benefit of the participants.

The demonstration, an irregular event created by the demonstrators, nevertheless takes place near the city centre, intended for very different uses. The demonstrators interrupt the regular life of the streets they march through or of the open spaces they fill. They ‘cut off these areas, and, not yet having the power to occupy them permanently, they transform them into a temporary stage on which they dramatise the power they still lack.

The demonstrators’ view of the city surrounding their stage also changes. By demonstrating, they manifest a greater freedom and independence – a greater creativity, even although the product is only symbolic – than they can ever achieve individually or collectively when pursuing their regular lives. In their regular pursuits they only modify circumstances; by demonstrating they symbolically oppose their very existence to circumstances.

This creativity may be desperate in origin, and the price to be paid for it high, but it temporarily changes their outlook. They become corporately aware that it is they or those whom they represent who have built the city and who maintain it. They see it through different eyes. They see it as their product, confirming their potential instead of reducing it.

Finally, there is another way in which revolutionary awareness is rehearsed. The demonstrators present themselves as a target to the so-called forces of law and order. Yet the larger the target they present, the stronger they feel. This cannot be explained by the banal principle of ‘strength in numbers,’ any more than by vulgar theories of crowd psychology. The contradiction between their actual vulnerability and their sense of invincibility corresponds to the dilemma which they force upon the State authority.

Either authority must abdicate and allow the crowd to do as it wishes: in which case the symbolic suddenly becomes real, and, even if the crowd’s lack of organisation and preparedness prevents it from consolidating its victory, the event demonstrates the weakness of authority. Or else authority must constrain and disperse the crowd with violence: in which case the undemocratic character of such authority is publicly displayed. The imposed dilemma is between displayed weakness and displayed authoritarianism. (The officially approved and controlled demonstration does not impose the same dilemma: its symbolism is censored: which is why I term it a mere public spectacle.) Almost invariably, authority chooses to use force. The extent of its violence depends upon many factors, but scarcely ever upon the scale of the physical threat offered by the demonstrators. This threat is essentially symbolic. But by attacking the demonstration authority ensures that the symbolic event becomes an historical one: an event to be remembered, to be learnt from, to be avenged.

It is in the nature of a demonstration to provoke violence upon itself. Its provocation may also be violent. But in the end it is bound to suffer more than it inflicts. This is a tactical truth and an historical one. The historical role of demonstrations is to show the injustice, cruelty, irrationality of the existing State authority. Demonstrations are protests of innocence.

But the innocence is of two kinds, which can only be treated as though they were one at a symbolic level. For the purposes of political analysis and the planning of revolutionary action, they must be separated. There is an innocence to be defended and an innocence which must finally be lost: an innocence which derives from justice, and an innocence which is the consequence of a lack of experience.

Demonstrations express political ambitions before the political means necessary to realise them have been created. Demonstrations predict the realisation of their own ambitions and thus may contribute to that realisation, but they cannot themselves achieve them.

The … [more]
johnberger  demonstrations  1968  revolution  massdemonstrations  assembly  democracy  rehearsal  resistance  awareness  practice  authority  authoritarianism  civics  change  law  order  organization  violence 
january 2017 by robertogreco
In Praise Of Mess: Why Disorder May Be Good For Us : NPR
""Clean up this mess!"

This is a command you've probably given or received in your life. Perhaps in the last day, or even the last hour.

To many of us, the desire to bring order to chaos – to tidy up our kids' toys, organize an overstuffed closet, or rake the leaves covering the lawn – can be nearly irresistible. And it's a desire that extends to other aspects of our lives: Managers tell employees to get organized. Politicians are elected on promises to clean up Washington. And so on.

But economist and writer Tim Harford thinks we're underestimating the value of disorder. In this episode of Hidden Brain, we talk with Harford about his new book, Messy, and how an embrace of chaos is beneficial to musicians, speechmakers, politicians – and the rest of us."
messiness  chaos  timhartford  disorder  management  leadership  order  organization 
december 2016 by robertogreco
A Gadget for Every Need: Assistive Technology for Students | Edutopia
"Technology provides today’s students with an infinite number of distractions; mobile devices have literally put texting, Facebook, and addictive games at their fingertips. Although some educators might perceive this technology as a bane to classroom learning, it can actually be one of your most powerful educational tools.

All of your students can benefit from technology in the classroom, but new advancements have become particularly useful for those with special needs. Known as assistive technology (AT), these developments help level the playing field for students with special needs, giving them a greater chance at success in some of the more challenging areas.

Listening, Memory, and Organization

Listening and memorization are two difficult areas for many students. But there are many recording devices on the market that can help, including noise-canceling headphones and recording devices, such as tape recorders or students’ iPhones, that can be used to record lectures. Personal listening devices can also link students directly to their lecturers through a microphone and headset.

Even more specialized are AT devices like smartpens. These devices are used with special paper so students can write notes that correspond with verbal recordings. When students return to their written notes, they can touch the pen to the handwriting, and the pen will play back the corresponding recording. This eases the anxiety of having to listen intently while determining what’s most important to write down.

Enabling students to better organize their thoughts and assignments can significantly aid in comprehension, as well. Physical or digital color-coordinated daily planners are simple yet effective ways to get students organized. The advantage of digital organizers such as the iPhone organizer or software such as Info Select by Micro Logic is that students can set reminders with alarms and even add links to assignments to help them stay on track.


Students struggling with math can also benefit from smartpens by linking their handwritten formulas and math problems with recorded instructions and tips.

Aligning math problems on paper is another challenge for some students with special needs, but putting those math problems on a computer screen with electronic math worksheets can alleviate that issue. Applications like MathPad allow students to write out problems on a tablet screen, and the program translates and aligns the writing into a more readable, solvable math problem. The student can also utilize the program’s special keyboard that includes clear mathematical symbols.

Calculators can also be difficult to handle, but with talking calculators such as Calc-U-Vue, students can double-check what they’ve entered and reiterate correct answers verbally, helping them focus on solving the problem rather than working the device.


Whether your students are visually impaired or struggle with comprehension, translating text into speech is a helpful function. There are many resources for audiobooks and publications, such as Audible, Bookshare, or your state library, where you can find a national database of audio publications via the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.

If you can’t find a specific book or publication in audio form, computer software or separate handheld devices with optical character recognition can scan documents and read them aloud using speech synthesizers or screen readers. These can also read text that users type or copy and paste from other resources.


Most word-processing programs include proofreading software for spelling and grammar, but students with special needs often require more comprehensive AT tools for writing.

For students with underdeveloped motor skills, speech recognition programs allow users to speak into a microphone, and the program will translate those spoken words into text. Many software programs have both speech recognition and speech synthesizers built in so students can verbalize what they want written, and the program reads the text back to them.

For students who struggle with writing by hand and prefer typing, small portable word processors allow them to type notes in class and take them home to add to or expand on for assignments without rekeying. This can be done on a tablet with word-processing software or with AT devices specific to this task, such as the Forte portable word processor.

Abbreviation expanders and word prediction software can help students with spelling and grammar by suggesting words or phrases they might mean to type while also speeding up their keying time. Similarly, alternative keyboards, such as IntelliKeys, help increase typing proficiency by grouping letters or symbols with customizable overlays, for example.

These AT tools and others can enhance the learning experience for all students and help them develop the self-confidence they need to succeed. You can find additional resources on the National Public Website on Assistive Technology, as well as games and websites for the classroom on Common Sense Education. AbleNet is a great resource for information on the most recent AT developments, such as SoundingBoard, an application that allows students with speech difficulties to communicate by touch screen.

Assistive technology can’t replace the vital human element of dedicated teachers, parents, and aides, but embracing these advancements will give both you and your students a leg up on learning."
assistivetechnology  technology  2015  rebeccadean  listening  memory  organization  math  mathematics  writing  reading  tools  teaching  education 
november 2016 by robertogreco
All That Multitasking is Harming, Not Helping Your Productivity. Here’s Why. | KQED Future of You | KQED Science
"How the Digital Age Zaps Productivity

I visited Gazzaley in his UCSF laboratory, Neuroscape, to learn more about the science of distraction. Gazzaley pulled up, on a TV screen, a 3-D image of a brain, created from an MRI Scan. He pointed to different sections to explain what’s going on when our attention flits between tasks.

“The prefrontal cortex is the area most challenged,” Gazzely says. “And then visual areas, auditory areas, and the hippocampus — these networks are really what’s challenged when we are constantly switching between multiple tasks that our technological world might throw at us.”

When you engage in one task at a time, the prefrontal cortex works in harmony with other parts of the brain, but when you toss in another task it forces the left and right sides of the brain to work independently. The process of splitting our attention usually leads to mistakes.

In other words, each time our eyes glance away from our computer monitor to sneak a peak at a text message, the brain takes in new information, which reduces our primary focus. We think the mind can juggle two or three activities successfully at once, but Gazzaley says we woefully overestimate our ability to multitask.

“An example is when you attempt to check your email while on a conference call,” says Gazzaley. “The act of doing that makes it so incredibly obvious how you can’t really parallel process two attention-demanding tasks. You either have to catch up and ask what happened in the conversation, or you have to read over the email before you send it — if you’re wise!”

Answering an Email Takes A Lot Longer Than You Think

Gazzaley stresses that our tendency to respond immediately to emails and texts hinders high-level thinking. If you’re working on a project and you stop to answer an email, the research shows, it will take you nearly a half-hour to get back on task.

“When a focused stream of thought is interrupted it needs to be reset,” explains Gazzaley. “You can’t just press a button and switch back to it. You have to re-engage those thought processes, and recreate all the elements of what you were engaged in. That takes time, and frequently one interruption leads to another.”

In other words, repetitively switching tasks lowers performance and productivity because your brain can only fully and efficiently focus on one thing at a time.

Plus, mounting evidence shows that multitasking could impair the brain’s cognitive abilities. Stanford researchers studied the minds of people who regularly engage in several digital communication streams at once. They found that high-tech jugglers struggle to pay attention, recall information, or complete one task at a time.

“When they’re in situations where there are multiple sources of information coming from the external world or emerging out of memory, they’re not able to filter out what’s not relevant to their current goal,” says Stanford neuroscientist Anthony Wagner. “That failure to filter means they’re slowed down by that irrelevant information.”

The researchers are still studying what’s causing multitaskers to perform poorly on cognitive tests. It could be that they are born with an inability to concentrate, or digital distractions are taking a toll. In any case, the researchers believe the minds of multitaskers are not performing optimally.

And the habit of multitasking could lower your score on an IQ test, according to researchers at the University of London.

Creating Digital Boundaries

But don’t worry. Gazzaley says. It’s not about opting out of technology. In fact, there’s a time and place for multitasking. If you’re in the midst of a mundane task that just has to get done, it’s probably not detrimental to have your phone nearby or a bunch of tabs open. The distractions may reduce boredom and help you stay engaged. But if you’re finishing a business plan, or a high-level writing project, then it’s a good idea to set yourself up to stay focused."
multitasking  cognition  collaboration  email  organization  productivity  2016  adamgazzaley  larryrosen 
october 2016 by robertogreco
Emory Douglas: The Art of The Black Panthers on Vimeo
"Emory Douglas was the Revolutionary Artist and Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party. Through archival footage and conversations with Emory we share his story, alongside the rise and fall of the Panthers. He used his art as a weapon in the Black Panther Party’s struggle for civil rights and today Emory continues to give a voice to the voiceless. His art and what The Panthers fought for are still as relevant as ever."
emorydouglas  art  sanfrancisco  history  blackpanthers  film  blackpantherparty  graphicdesign  documentary  resistance  organization  youth 
october 2016 by robertogreco
Understanding Trump « George Lakoff
"Unconscious thought works by certain basic mechanisms. Trump uses them instinctively to turn people’s brains toward what he wants: Absolute authority, money, power, celebrity.

The mechanisms are:

1. Repetition. Words are neurally linked to the circuits the determine their meaning. The more a word is heard, the more the circuit is activated and the stronger it gets, and so the easier it is to fire again. Trump repeats. Win. Win, Win. We’re gonna win so much you’ll get tired of winning.

2. Framing: Crooked Hillary. Framing Hillary as purposely and knowingly committing crimes for her own benefit, which is what a crook does. Repeating makes many people unconsciously think of her that way, even though she has been found to have been honest and legal by thorough studies by the right-wing Bengazi committee (which found nothing) and the FBI (which found nothing to charge her with, except missing the mark ‘(C)’ in the body of 3 out of 110,000 emails). Yet the framing is working.

There is a common metaphor that Immorality Is Illegality, and that acting against Strict Father Morality (the only kind off morality recognized) is being immoral. Since virtually everything Hillary Clinton has ever done has violated Strict Father Morality, that makes her immoral. The metaphor thus makes her actions immoral, and hence she is a crook. The chant “Lock her up!” activates this whole line of reasoning.

3. Well-known examples: When a well-publicized disaster happens, the coverage activates the framing of it over and over, strengthening it, and increasing the probability that the framing will occur easily with high probability. Repeating examples of shootings by Muslims, African-Americans, and Latinos raises fears that it could happen to you and your community — despite the miniscule actual probability. Trump uses this to create fear. Fear tends to activate desire for a strong strict father — namely, Trump.

4. Grammar: Radical Islamic terrorists: “Radical” puts Muslims on a linear scale and “terrorists” imposes a frame on the scale, suggesting that terrorism is built into the religion itself. The grammar suggests that there is something about Islam that has terrorism inherent in it. Imagine calling the Charleston gunman a “radical Republican terrorist.”

Trump is aware of this to at least some extent. As he said to Tony Schwartz, the ghost-writer who wrote The Art of the Deal for him, “I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration — and it’s a very effective form of promotion.”

5. Conventional metaphorical thought is inherent in our largely unconscious thought. Such normal modes of metaphorical thinking that are not noticed as such.

Consider Brexit, which used the metaphor of “entering” and “leaving” the EU. There is a universal metaphor that states are locations in space: you can enter a state, be deep in some state, and come out that state. If you enter a café and then leave the café , you will be in the same location as before you entered. But that need not be true of states of being. But that was the metaphor used with Brexit; Britons believed that after leaving the EU, things would be as before when the entered the EU. They were wrong. Things changed radically while they were in the EU. That same metaphor is being used by Trump: Make America Great Again. Make America Safe Again. And so on. As if there was some past ideal state that we can go back to just by electing Trump.

6. There is also a metaphor that A Country Is a Person and a metonymy of the President Standing For the Country. Thus, Obama, via both metaphor and metonymy, can stand conceptually for America. Therefore, by saying that Obama is weak and not respected, it is communicated that America, with Obama as president, is weak and disrespected. The inference is that it is because of Obama.

7. The country as person metaphor and the metaphor that war or conflict between countries is a fistfight between people, leads to the inference that just having a strong president will guarantee that America will win conflicts and wars. Trump will just throw knockout punches. In his acceptance speech at the convention, Trump repeatedly said that he would accomplish things that can only be done by the people acting with their government. After one such statement, there was a chant from the floor, “He will do it.”

8. The metaphor that The nation Is a Family was used throughout the GOP convention. We heard that strong military sons are produced by strong military fathers and that “defense of country is a family affair.” From Trump’s love of family and commitment to their success, we are to conclude that, as president he will love America’s citizens and be committed to the success of all.

9. There is a common metaphor that Identifying with your family’s national heritage makes you a member of that nationality. Suppose your grandparents came from Italy and you identify with your Italian ancestors, you may proudly state that you are Italian. The metaphor is natural. Literally, you have been American for two generations. Trump made use of this commonplace metaphor in attacking US District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is American, born and raised in the United States. Trump said he was a Mexican, and therefore would hate him and tend to rule against him in a case brought against Trump University for fraud.

10. Then there is the metaphor system used in the phrase “to call someone out.” First the word “out.” There is a general metaphor that Knowing Is Seeing as in “I see what you mean.” Things that are hidden inside something cannot be seen and hence not known, while things are not hidden but out in public can be seen and hence known. To “out” someone is to made their private knowledge public. To “call someone out” is to publicly name someone’s hidden misdeeds, thus allowing for public knowledge and appropriate consequences."

"How Can Democrats Do Better?

First, don’t think of an elephant. Remember not to repeat false conservative claims and then rebut them with the facts. Instead, go positive. Give a positive truthful framing to undermine claims to the contrary. Use the facts to support positively-framed truth. Use repetition.

Second, start with values, not policies and facts and numbers. Say what you believe, but haven’t been saying. For example, progressive thought is built on empathy, on citizens caring about other citizens and working through our government to provide public resources for all, both businesses and individuals. Use history. That’s how America started. The public resources used by businesses were not only roads and bridges, but public education, a national bank, a patent office, courts for business cases, interstate commerce support, and of course the criminal justice system. From the beginning, the Private Depended on Public Resources, both private lives and private enterprise.

Over time those resources have included sewers, water and electricity, research universities and research support: computer science (via the NSF), the internet (ARPA), pharmaceuticals and modern medicine (the NIH), satellite communication (NASA and NOA), and GPS systems and cell phones (the Defense Department). Private enterprise and private life utterly depend on public resources. Have you ever said this? Elizabeth Warren has. Almost no other public figures. And stop defending “the government.” Talk about the public, the people, Americans, the American people, public servants, and good government. And take back freedom. Public resources provide for freedom in private enterprise and private life.

The conservatives are committed to privatizing just about everything and to eliminating funding for most public resources. The contribution of public resources to our freedoms cannot be overstated. Start saying it.

And don’t forget the police. Effective respectful policing is a public resource. Chief David O. Brown of the Dallas Police got it right. Training, community policing, knowing the people you protect. And don’t ask too much of the police: citizens have a responsibility to provide funding so that police don’t have to do jobs that should be done by others.

Unions need to go on the offensive. Unions are instruments of freedom — freedom from corporate servitude. Employers call themselves job creators. Working people are profit creators for the employers, and as such they deserve a fair share of the profits and respect and acknowledgement. Say it. Can the public create jobs. Of course. Fixing infrastructure will create jobs by providing more public resources that private lives and businesses depend on. Public resources to create more public resources. Freedom creates opportunity that creates more freedom.

Third, keep out of nasty exchanges and attacks. Keep out of shouting matches. One can speak powerfully without shouting. Obama sets the pace: Civility, values, positivity, good humor, and real empathy are powerful. Calmness and empathy in the face of fury are powerful. Bill Clinton won because he oozed empathy, with his voice, his eye contact, and his body. It wasn’t his superb ability as a policy wonk, but the empathy he projected and inspired.

Values come first, facts and policies follow in the service of values. They matter, but they always support values.

Give up identity politics. No more women’s issues, black issues, Latino issues. Their issues are all real, and need public discussion. But they all fall under freedom issues, human issues. And address poor whites! Appalachian and rust belt whites deserve your attention as much as anyone else. Don’t surrender their fate to Trump, who will just increase their suffering.

And remember JFK’s immortal, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Empathy, devotion, love, pride in our country’s values, public resources to create freedoms. And adulthood.

Be prepared. You have to understand Trump … [more]
georgelakoff  donaldtrump  2016  conservatives  markets  systems  systemsthinking  hierarchy  morality  puritanism  election  hillaryclinton  cognition  psychology  evangelicals  freemarkets  capitalism  pragmatism  patriarchy  progressivism  directcausation  systemiccausation  thinking  politicalcorrectness  identitypolitics  politics  policy  us  biconceptuals  brain  howwethink  marketing  metaphor  elections  dallas  dallaspolice  policing  lawenforcement  unions  organizing  organization  billclinton  empathy  campaigning  repetition  democrats 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Berlin Biennale | All Problems Can Be Illuminated; Not All Problems Can Be Solved
"“There is no technology for justice. There is only justice.”12 Ursula Franklin answered when I asked her in December 2015, what to do. I reached out because I wanted her to tell me how to act on the perspectives she brings to the traditional story of progress. As someone building internet technologies, working within this received wisdom, I wanted a recipe, something I could share with others (with you!) and throw my body into.

She was warm and generous and incredibly insightful, and she gave me no smooth answers, no simple way.

Central to our conversation was my worry about the massive surveillance capacities enabled by internet technologies and the way in which public assent to surveillance is fueled by the racism and militarism of the now eternal “War on Terror.” What could we do to combat this narrative? What could we do to change the underlying technologies such that they respect human agency and privacy?

Franklin agreed. This is a grave problem. But not a “technological” problem:

“Whether it’s heathens, witches, women, communists, whoever, the institution of an enemy as a political tool is inappropriate. The only solution is an insistence on a civilized democratic society. A civilized democratic society combats this and the wish of an authority to collect personal information on citizens and their activities and loyalties. Whether it’s done by spying, by bribing children, by workplace monitoring, by confession in the confession box of the church—the collection is the issue. The means—the technology—is secondary. The problem is a problem of authoritarian power. And at the root of this problem is the issue of justice, and justice is political.”

While justice can be understood, can be felt, there is no template to follow, or checklist to work through for ensuring a just outcome. The requirements are humility, a respect for context, and a willingness to listen to the most marginalized voices. Let these define the basic requirements of whatever you do. You must “put yourself in the position of the most vulnerable, in a way that achieves a visceral gut feeling of empathy and perspective—that’s the only way to see what justice is.”

Understanding justice, honoring those most vulnerable and including them as authors of any plan that impacts them, is a necessary starting place. But the problems associated with our current technologies won’t be solved by tweaking gears or redesigning mechanisms. A roadmap that centers on justice is only the first step. “For a very long time gadgets and machinery have been anti-people. If one wants to get away from the anti-people component, then you don’t argue technology as much as you argue capitalism.” Even with a view of what justice would look like and could be, attempts at radical change will, of course, be repulsed by powerful actors who benefit richly from the unjust status quo. Political change must be a part of the equation.

This isn’t a frenzied call for revolution. The bigger the scale, the bigger the vision for just change, the more difficult it will be to “get it through” a system in which power is aligned against justice (and, of course, the more difficult it will be to truly understand this vision’s vast impact on vulnerable populations and thus ensure it really supports justice.) Not that working to build practices and plans isn’t worthwhile—it is incredibly worthwhile. But you’re unlikely to have much real impact if you start with a grand announcement. “To proceed in a hostile world,” Franklin suggests, “call it an experiment. Admit that you don’t know how to do it, but ask for space and peace and respect. Then try your experiment, quietly.” In conditions not conducive to success, situate yourself out of the spotlight and proceed subtly, humbly, and be willing to downplay expectations while new forms incubate.

“My favorite word is an old Quaker term, ‘scrupling,’ used as an activity,” Franklin begins, addressing how to approach the vastness of the political and social problems we were discussing. “It comes out of the anti-slavery movement, originally. People would get together to ‘scruple,’ that is, discuss and debate a common problem, something they had scruples about—say, justice—for which they did not have a solution. This is scrupling, and this is something you and your friends can do.”

Gather and talk. Empathize and listen. Don’t chase the spotlight, and accept that some problems are big, and difficult, and that what you’re good at may not fix them. These are not the ways of charismatic executives and flash-bang inventors. These are not instructions for entrepreneurial success. These won’t produce bigger faster newer ways of doing things.

Her parting words were meant to comfort me. “For your own sanity, you have to remember that not all problems can be solved. Not all problems can be solved, but all problems can be illuminated. If the eggs are scrambled, they’re scrambled. You can’t unscramble them. All you can possibly do is cook them and share them with somebody.”"
ursulafranklin  justice  technology  meredithmeredith  2016  efficiency  compliance  listening  empathy  progress  racism  militarism  surveillance  waronterror  democracy  society  humility  inclusivity  inclusion  vulnerability  radicalchange  power  statusquo  politics  scrupling  conversation  problemsolving  jacquesellul  capitalism  consumerism  innovation  quakers  systems  interrelationships  systemsthinking  complexity  culture  materials  art  mindset  organization  procedures  symbols  orthodoxy  luddism  occupywallstreet  ows  resistance  disruption  speed  humanism  science  scientism  legibility  elitism  experts  authority  privilege  experience  civilization  authoritarianism  socialjustice  revolution  peace  spotlight  hardproblems  success 
july 2016 by robertogreco
25 Language Arts Graphic Organizers for You and Your Kids
"Language arts graphic organizers just seem to work magic with kids.

I guess it's really no surprise--they just seem to GET IT better when they have a means of visually organizing their thoughts.

When they can analyze what they have read, when they can plan a writing project, or when they can collaborate with others in pictorial form, the "lights" in their heads just seem to burn more brightly.

The 25 language arts graphic organizers that you will see on this page, in my opinion, will enhance your instructional initiatives with your kids.

These PDF documents come with a clickable Table of Contents that makes it easier to quickly find what you need.

Just pick the one you want, print it, make copies for your kids, and hand them out! "
languagearts  vi:bopuc  organization  classideas  sfsh  writing  visual  charts  maps  mapping  mindmapping 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Taking note: Luhmann's Zettelkasten
"Index cards played a large role in research during the last century -- the 20th century, that is. And there is still a great deal of interest in using index cards as a means for organizing one's daily life. See, for instance, Index Cards, More Index Cards, Photos, or any number of other sites that are fascinated by paper or "analog devices," as they are sometimes referred to by geeks in this time when electronic devices take over more and more of our lives. But index cards clearly also were the model for important early programs intended for what is by some called with the unfortunate phrase "personal knowledge management" today. I mean such programs as NoteCard, HyperCard, and their successors, which began from the index- or note-card metaphor.

One of the more interesting systems for keeping such index cards was developed by the German sociologist Niklas Luhmann (1927-1998). I have no great interest in his theory. I am fascinated by his method of keeping notes, and will therefore restrict my comments to this aspect of his work. But if you are interested, you can visit Niklas Luhmann for a short introduction to his theory. Clearly, his index-card-system and his sociological theory are connected in interesting, intricate, and not easily understood ways, but I will forgo investigating these for now.

One of the things that made his Zettelkasten or slip box (or note card file) so intriguing to the larger (German) public was a 1981 paper, entitled "Kommunikation mit Zettelkästen. Ein Erfahrungsbericht" (Communication with Index Card Systems. An Empirical Account. It appeared in Niklas Luhmann, Universität als Milieu. Kleine Schriften. hrsg. von André Kieserling. Bielefeld: Verlag Cordula Haux, 1992.) Luhmann claimed that his file was something of a collaborator in his work, a largely independent partner in his research and writing. It might have started out as a mere apprentice when Luhmann was still studying himself (in 1951), but after thirty years of having been fed information by the human collaborator it had acquired the ability of surprising him again an again. Since the ability of genuinely surprising one another is an essential characteristic of genuine communication, he argued that there was actually communication going on between himself and his partner in theory.

Luhmann also described his system as his secondary memory (Zweitgedächtnis), alter ego, or his reading memory or (Lesegedächtnis).

Luhmann's notecard system is different from that of others because of the way he organized the information, intending it not just for the next paper or the next book, as most other researchers did, but for a life-time of working and publishing. He thus rejected the mere alphabetical organisation of the material just as much as the systematic arrangement in accordance with fixed categories, like that of the Dewey Decimal System, for instance. Instead, he opted for an approach that was "thematically unlimited," or is limited only insofar as it limits itself.

Instead, he opted for organisation by numbers. Every slip would receive a number, independently of the information on it, starting with 1, and potentially continuing to infinity. Since his slips were relatively small (slightly larger than 5 x 8 cards, or Din-A 6, to be precise), he often had to continue on other slips the information or train of thought started on one slip. In this way, he would end up with Numbers like 1/1 and 1/2 and 1/3 etc. He wrote these numbers in black ink at the top of the slip, so that they could easily be seen when a slip was removed and then put back in the file.

Apart from such linear continuations of topics on different slips, Luhmann also introduced a notation for branchings of topics. Thus, when he felt that a certain term needed to be further discussed or the information about it needed to be supplemented, he would begin a new slip that addded a letter, like a, b, or c to the number. So, a branching from slip 1/6 could have branches like 1/6a or 1/6b, up to 1/6z. These branching connections were marked by red numbers within the text, close to the place that needed further explanation or information. Since any of these branches might require further continuations, he also had many slips of the form 1/6a1, 1/6a2, etc. And, of course, any of these continuations can be branched again, so he could end up with such a number as:

21/3d26g53 for -- who else? -- Habermas.

These internal branchings can continue ad infinitum -- at least potentially. This is one of the advantages of the system. But there are others: (i) Because the numbers given to the slips are fixed and never change. Any slip can refer to any other slip by simply writing the proper number on the slip; and, what is more important, the other slip could be found, as long as it was properly placed in the stack or file. (ii) This system makes internal growth of the Zettelkasten possible that is completely independent of any preconceived ordering scheme. In fact, it leads to a kind of emergent order that is independent of any preconception, and this is one of the things that makes surprise or serendipity. (iii) it makes possible a register of keywords that allow one to enter into the system at a certain point to pursue a certain strand of thought. (iv) it leads to meaningful clusters within the system. Areas on which one has worked a lot are much more spatially extended than those on which one has not worked. (v) There are no privileged places in the note-card system, every card is as important as every other card, and no hierarchy is super-imposed on the system. The significance of each card depends on its relation to other cards (or the relation of other cards to it). It is a network; it is not "arboretic." Accordingly, it in some ways anticipates hypertext and the internet.

Almost all of these advantages of Luhmann's numbering scheme are, of course, easily realizable in any database system that have fixed record system. And the branching ability is easily reproduced by wiki-technology. (For more on the relation of this approach and wiki, see "Some Idiosyncratic Reflections on Note-Taking in General and ConnectedText in Particular" or Idiosyncratic Reflections on Note-Taking).

If you would like to see a video of Luhmann, explaining the intricacies of his system, go to Luhmann on Zettelkasten"
indexcards  niklasluhmann  via:tealtan  2007  notetaking  indexing  notecards  cards  zettelkasten  memory  reading  archives  organization  habermas  branching  annotation 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Parachutes | Instructions for landing in the 21st century
“‘Who cares for you?’ said Alice . . . ‘You’re nothing but a pack of cards!’” — Lewis Carroll

Unlike a book, cards are unbound, unnumbered, and give no indication of any order. Free of the constraints of linearity, cards move in many directions. They rub up against one another and generate unforeseen connections. And as the reader moves through them, they begin to work a simultaneous effect. A pack of cards doesn’t mount an argument or tell a story, but uncovers a terrain.
“The same or almost the same points were always being approached afresh from different directions, and new sketches made . . . if you looked at them you could get a picture of the landscape. Thus this book is really only an album.” — Ludwig Wittgenstein

Our approach, however, is nothing new. Parachutes follows a long tradition of fragmentary thinking, from the heady and enigmatic (McLuhan’s Distant Early Warning and Eno’s Oblique Strategies) to the methodical and encyclopedic (IDEO’s Method Cards and W.I.R.E.’s Mind the Future). Placing ourselves in their midst, Parachutes was born from the need to think in both parts and wholes.
“No one fragment carries the totality of the message, but each text (which is in itself a whole) has a particular urgency, an individual force, a necessity, and yet each text also has a force which comes to it from all the other texts.” — Hélène Cixous

Though diverse in their topics and far-reaching in their speculations, these cards have a definite subject matter. Without speaking too much for the text itself—a sin every introduction is fated to commit—we try to make sense of a world in which hyperconnectivity has flattened space and collapsed time, untethered us from our bodies and fractured our identities; where static objects have given way to fluid experiences and organizations call forth communities of interaction rather than make products for individual consumption.

Despite the supremacy of technology—and yet, somehow, because of it—people have never been in a better position to understand what it means to be human. In this tightly knit latticework of activity and feeling and thought, our connection with others can be felt as subtly and yet as directly as if we were swimming in a school of fish. Our study, now as ever, is the human being.

Above all, our aim has been to dismantle clichéd forms of thinking—the maps that lead us astray—in order to view the territory with fresh eyes. As we parachute into the reality of the 21st century, we survey the land from a variety of elevations and scales, vistas and vantage points. Only in that way could we observe the land’s depth as well as its extent. Only when we consider both dimensions do essential patterns emerge.
“Writing has nothing to do with meaning. It has to do with landsurveying and cartography, including the mapping of countries yet to come.” — Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari

In the end, however, there can be no grand conclusion. One must always move forward, chart new territories, assimilate new findings. No all-seeing summit could be reached that would not be blind to itself. Alas, and yet thankfully, we are forever amid the trees."
classideas  books  cards  publishing  linear  lewiscarroll  wittgenstein  obliquestrategies  srg  methodcards  marshalmcluhan  fragmentarythinking  hyperconnectivity  gilleseleuze  félixguattari  thinking  order  disorder  juxtaposition  howwered  deleuze&guattari  cartography  linearity  organization  hélènecixous  hypertext  connections  media  technology  business 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Brexit Stage Right: What Now? - @robfahey
"Fifth and finally, this isn’t just about the UK. Brexit has come about as a consequence not so much of the European Union or its policies, but as an expression of a general anger and dissatisfaction that has also reared its head across much of the developed world. It’s not unreasonable to compare the UK’s Leave campaign with Donald Trump in the USA, Le Pen in France or Wilders in Holland. Voting for Brexit was characterised by nationalist sentiment and a strong desire to “take back” Britain’s sovereignty from the ill-defined others who have appropriated it. It thrived in communities that have seen widening inequality and economic malaise even as they watched political leaders turn up on TV night after night to talk about economic recovery; communities that may have been delivered a mortal blow by the 2008 recession and the austerity policies which followed, but which had already been suffering from neglect and economic abuse for decades before that, as successive governments tore up more and more pages of the post-war social contract in favour of the shiny new religion of markets and efficiency. There was a time when those communities turned to left-wing movements for their salvation, to unions and to the Labour party; with much of the power of the unions broken and the Labour party pursuing aspirational middle class voters, opportunities have been opened for new and far less savoury political movements to take root. At their core is a deep dissatisfaction and anger not just with individual political actors but with the very institutions of democracy and representative government; a deep conviction that it is not merely that specific parties or policies that have caused people’s quality of life to decline, but that the whole system is stacked against them. Thus, anything that’s seen as part of the system – be it politicians, the media, or even academics and independent experts – is suspect. It is not an attitude that calls for political change, for a new party in power or a new prime minister; it is an attitude that calls for the tearing down of everything, and offers nothing with which to replace it. It is frightening precisely because, in its absolute conviction that the institutions of democracy themselves are a vast conspiracy against the common man, it ends up being insatiable; even if today’s Brexit leaders become Britain’s leaders, in doing so they will become part of “the system” and face the anger of the same people who now cheer them on. The cycle will continue until someone turns up with the capacity to tame the monster that has been conjured up by economic hardship, inequality and unthinking nationalism. Unfortunately, the lessons of the past tell us that such a person is unlikely to be benevolent.

None of this is unique to Britain, and none of it can be fixed by anything less than a fundamental rethink of how we have chosen to structure our society and our economies. Even as market capitalism and globalisation have done wonders at lifting the world’s poorest people out of poverty – an achievement for which capitalism does not get remotely enough credit – it has begun to run out of rope in the developed world. In nations from Japan to Western Europe to North America, inequality is growing and standards of living are slipping. Labour market reforms have turned whole generations into disposable people; I can’t blame British people for laughing off the notion that the EU has protected them in the workplace, when companies like Sports Direct have based their business model off exploiting every loophole, legal and otherwise, no matter how desperately cruel and inhumane, that might allow them to wring more money, more profitability out of their vulnerable, poorly paid staff. “If you leave the EU, you’ll lose your workers rights!” is no argument at all to someone whose zero-hours contract leaves them in desperate financial instability, or whose exploitation by an avaricious, unscrupulous employer has been rubber-stamped by the government itself in the form of a Workfare deal.

The Brexit vote wasn’t just a rejection of the EU; it was a rejection of the whole system, of the whole establishment, of the whole set of institutions and practices that make up the developed world. It was, in ways, a rejection of modernity – a demand to turn back the clock. Turning back the clock isn’t in anyone’s power to deliver. If we want to break this dangerous cycle of economic inequality, social cleavage and political extremism before it rolls out of control, though, it’s beholden upon our countries and institutions to start paying attention to inequality, to public services, to quality of life and to the huge swathe of the electorate for whom every mention of the phrase “economic recovery” in the past two decades has just been salt in the wound."
robfahey  2016  via:tealtan  brexit  elitism  government  policy  economics  europe  us  unions  labor  work  inequality  establishment  austerity  politics  eu  france  holland  netherlands  recession  2008  democracy  power  change  wealthinequality  incomeinequality  globalization  poverty  capitalism  japan  exploitation  organization  classism 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Americans Don’t Miss Manufacturing — They Miss Unions | FiveThirtyEight
"Why do factory workers make more in Michigan? In a word: unions. The Midwest was, at least until recently, a bastion of union strength. Southern states, by contrast, are mostly “right-to-work” states where unions never gained a strong foothold. Private-sector unions have been shrinking across the country for decades, but they are stronger in the Midwest than in most other parts of the country. In Michigan, 23 percent of manufacturing production workers were union members in 2015; in South Carolina, less than 2 percent were.2

Unions also help explain why the middle class is healthier in the Midwest than in the Southeast, where manufacturing jobs have been growing rapidly in recent decades. A new analysis from the Pew Research Center this week explored the state of the middle class in different parts of the country by looking at the share of households making between two-thirds and double the national median income, after controlling for the local cost of living. In many Midwestern cities, 60 percent or more of households are considered “middle-income” by this definition; in some Southern cities, even those with large manufacturing bases, middle-income households are now in the minority.

Even in the Midwest, however, unions are weakening and the middle class is shrinking. In the Indianapolis metro area, where the Carrier plant Trump talks about is located, the share of households in the middle tier of earners has shrunk to 54.8 percent in 2014 from 58.9 percent in 2000. And unlike in some parts of the country, the decline in the middle class there has been primarily driven by people falling into the lower tier of earners, not moving up. The Carrier plant, where workers make more than $20 an hour, is unionized.

Cause and effect here is complicated. Unions have been weakened by some of the same forces that are driving down wages overall, such as globalization and automation. And while unions benefit their members, economists disagree over whether they are good for the economy as a whole. Liberal economists note that overall wages tend to be higher in union-friendly states; conservative economists counter that unemployment tends to be higher in those states, too.

But this much is clear: For all of the glow that surrounds manufacturing jobs in political rhetoric, there is nothing inherently special about them. Some pay well; others don’t. They are not immune from the forces that have led to slow wage growth in other sectors of the economy. When politicians pledge to protect manufacturing jobs, they really mean a certain kind of job: well-paid, long-lasting, with opportunities for advancement. Those aren’t qualities associated with working on a factory floor; they’re qualities associated with being a member of a union."
us  unions  labor  manufacturing  2016  bencasselman  politics  organization  work  class  race  birthrate  economics  unemployment  employment  recession  federalreserve 
may 2016 by robertogreco
The hundred languages of childhood know no age bounds | IOE LONDON BLOG
"Loris Malaguzzi (1920-94) was one of the great educationalists of the 20th century. He was a thinker, but also a doer, a council employee who played a leading role in the evolution of a network of municipal schools in the Italian city of Reggio Emilia, 70 kilometres west of Bologna. Today, the schools and Malaguzzi are an inspiration to those who resist the spread of neoliberal and neoconservative education policies.

Most educationalists won’t have heard of Reggio Emilia or Malaguzzi. This is in part because both are Italian, and most of his work is in Italian. A newly published book – ‘Loris Malaguzzi and the Schools of Reggio Emilia’ – edited by myself and colleagues in Reggio Emilia, aims to rectify this, with English translations of a selection of his writings and speeches, starting in 1945 (when, as he wrote ‘everything seemed possible’). But there’s another reason. Malaguzzi and Reggio Emilia are world famous for early childhood education, a field largely untrodden by the rest of education. Yet Malaguzzi was convinced that he was engaged in a project of educational renewal, which knew no age bounds.

What lessons does Malaguzzi have for all education? He insists that education is, first and foremost, a political practice, always about making choices between conflicting alternatives. One of the most important choices concerns our understanding or image of the child – who do we think the child is? Answer that question, Malaguzzi argued, and all else – policy, provision, practice – follows. Of course every educational policy and service is based on a particular image, but one that is invariably implicit and unacknowledged; policy documents typically neither ask nor answer the question. But Reggio Emilia does.

Malaguzzi insisted that ‘a declaration [about the image of the child] is…the necessary premise for any pedagogical theory, and any pedagogical project’. And he was clear about his image: ‘We say all children are rich, there are no poor children. All children whatever their culture, whatever their lives are rich, better equipped, more talented, stronger and more intelligent than we can suppose’.

Rich children are born with a ‘hundred languages’, the term he used to suggest the many and diverse ways children can express themselves and relate to the world – ranging from manifold forms of art to maths, sciences and technologies. Malaguzzi was damning about the damage usually done to these languages by education: ‘Children have a hundred languages: they rob them of ninety nine, school and culture.’ Instead, he strove to nurture languages, for example through ateliers and atelieristas – art workshops and artist-educators found in most Reggio schools. Atelieristas were also there to confront traditional and narrow pedagogy, to ‘provoke some less convenient directions capable of breaking with the professional and cultural routine.’

For Malaguzzi, education was about constructing new knowledge and thought. He valued wonder and surprise, the unpredicted and the unexpected, making connections and inter-disciplinarity. The strength of Reggio, Malaguzzi believed, was that all the time ‘something unexpected, something that surprised us or made us marvel, something that disappointed us, something that humiliated us, would burst out in a child or in the children.’ While he despised what he termed ‘testology’ – ‘which is nothing but a ridiculous simplification of knowledge and a robbing of meaning from individual histories’ – and its partner ‘prophetic pedagogy’, which knows everything [that will happen], does not have one uncertainty, is absolutely imperturbable… [It] prophesies everything, to the point that it is capable of giving you recipes for little bits of actions, minute by minute, hour by hour, objective by objective, five minutes by five minutes. This is something so coarse, so cowardly, so humiliating of teachers’ ingenuity, a complete humiliation for children’s ingenuity and potential.

If making choices about understandings was an important part of education’s political practice, making choices about values was another. Malaguzzi’s choice included uncertainty and subjectivity, solidarity and cooperation and, perhaps most important of all, participation and democracy. As a ‘living centre of open and democratic culture’, opening out not only to families but also to its local neighbourhood, the school should be capable of ‘living out processes and issues of partici­pation and democracy.’ Democracy, for Malaguzzi, was not just a matter of participant social management and participatory accountability, important as both were; it should suffuse all relationships and practices – democracy in a Deweyan sense of ‘a mode of associated living’.

If Malaguzzi placed political practice first, this did not mean he ignored technical practice. He thought organisation was vital, though always serving politics and ethics, and was constantly asking under what conditions can innovation work. Indeed, it was this attention to organisational detail and technical practice that has enabled the municipal schools of Reggio Emilia to become the most extensive and sustained example of radical, democratic, public education in the world. Faced by a hidebound education system, Loris Malaguzzi showed that there are alternatives, that another world is possible.

A final point needs emphasising at a time when local authorities in England are being squeezed out of any role in the provision of schools. Reggio Emilia’s schools are municipal schools; this innovative experience was initiated and nurtured by the city council. Malaguzzi himself was a council employee, putting me in mind of equally inspired heads of local education authorities in England. As a believer in public, democratic education, embedded in its local community, Malaguzzi thought that the democratic expression of that community, the commune or local authority, should be a main protagonist in the provision of schools for young children (and other services). Academisation may make all the running at present, but Malaguzzi and the schools of Reggio Emilia remind us that there are alternatives."
lorismalaguzzi  reggioemilia  2016  education  pedagogy  emergentcurriculum  politics  italy  children  howwelearn  howweteach  lcproject  openstudioproject  tcsnmy  expression  ethics  organization  innovation  schools  democratic  democracy  alternative  publicschools  community  academization  uncertainty  knowledge  culture  languages  art  policy  solidarity  cooperation  participation  participatory  sfsh 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Viriconium FAQ | the m john harrison blog
"(1) Read as one book, not as three novels followed by a collection of afterthoughts.

(2) Freely intersperse the short stories between the novels.

(3) The novels can be read in any order, but order of publication makes a kind of sense if you are bound by expectations of linear time & causality.

(4) Start with “Viriconium Knights” if you need a readily-assimilable f/sf rationale for what’s going on in the rest of the book.

(5) Other rationales are available.

(6) Random dipping is just as effective an archeology. All beginnings are endings. Every reiteration is the (not an) original iteration.

(7) It is a metafictional critique of “epic” fantasy.

(8) It is a deconstruction of “epic” fantasy.

(9) It is a conscious disruption & abjection of the American ideological overmyth “Hero with a Thousand Faces”.

(10) It hates story. It hates the idea of character as fixed & causal. It hates relatability. It hates reader-identification. It hates the idea that because the real is disordered, fiction’s duty is to provide order; it hates the anodyne mouth-feel & simultaneous shrill desperation of ordering fictions. It hates immersive texts because immersion defuses political & social dissatisfaction.

(11) Read “A Young Man’s Journey to Viriconium” last. Or see (14).

(12) Titles, epigraphs & chapter headings are often significant parts of the text, so if you’re reading something framed as The Floating Gods, you aren’t reading Viriconium.

(13) Every available edition is problematical in terms of content, organisation & packaging.

(14) There is a new, as yet unpublished story."
mjohnharrison  linearity  storytelling  linear  nonlinear  novels  stories  via:robinsloan  2016  organization  time  sequence  viriconium  non-linear  alinear 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Allen Tan on Twitter: "Organizational complexity, misaligned incentives, and false accountability are the biggest issues ailing (all kinds of) institutions today."
"Organizational complexity, misaligned incentives, and false accountability are the biggest issues ailing (all kinds of) institutions today."

[Preceded by a series of tweets with screenshots from this article:
"One Day, 625 Delays: A mechanical failure at Union Square cascaded into hours of underground hell, revealing just how fragile the subway really is."

"That thing when institutions respond to criticism with self-congratulatory bullshit:"

"That thing when institutions fix problems with infrastructure by actively destroying it for short term gains"

"That thing when institutions blame the people they serve:"

"That thing when an institution’s incentives backfire: "

"That thing where an institution issue noncommittal statements ungrounded in the underlying causes:"

"That thing where institutions fancies themselves those futuresight people in Minority Report:" ]
organizations  change  organization  leadership  complexity  oranizationalchange  accountability  incentives  allentan  cv  2016  institutions  bureaucracy 
march 2016 by robertogreco
cityofsound: Journal: 'In Studio: Recipes for Systemic Change' book, and Helsinki Design Lab
"In particular, much strategic work for government clients in particular suffers from a major flaw—the lack of a ‘hinge’ connecting the work to a clear pathway to projects, or further work. If the workshop is free, as it often is in new, challenging, transformational areas where there is no clear understanding of value from previous efforts, it's particularly difficult, Here, the client is barely a client at all in one of the more meaningful senses i.e. they haven’t paid for it, they don’t have ‘skin in the game’.

Equally, studios can usefully bring together multiple stakeholders. Yet with complex interdependent problems requiring holistic thinking and action—e.g. climate change, health, urbanisation, education—this can lead to no one body taking responsibility, and so potential solutions fall through the cracks between organisations or within one organisation's architecture (fig.2 below) i.e. education is no longer the sole responsibility of the Department of Educaiton; it's more complex, hybrid, layered, networked than that (add your descriptor of choice).

Finally, workshops or studios lend themselves to a particular kind of focus, based on conversation and collaboration—yet they rarely provide the depth of analysis to tightly define an issue such that it can be developed into action. This often requires subsequent work, by which time the potential client has left the building and achieved escape velocity, easily side-stepping momentum generated in the workshop. The workshop model, which is often the foot-in-the-door for consultancies in this field, is intrinsically flawed.

The Helsinki Design Lab studio model is designed to side-step or otherwise deal with many of these problems. This is partly due to the nature and position of Sitra itself, particularly if strategic connections can be generated across relevant government bodies. Sitra has, to some extent, the capacity to can reach into and manipulate the 'dark matter' of organisation, governance, culture, industry (fig.3). [PS. "Dark matter" is a phrase I've been using in recent presentations and conversations (drawn from Wouter Vanstiphout in a great interview with Rory Hyde) and one I'll return to. It's not as bad as it sounds, just like real dark matter. Though it can be.]"

"The Helsinki Design Lab approach, which we're developing rapidly now, is an attempt to flesh out many strands of strategic design that we're pursuing. This first aspect, the studio, is about sketching vision. The idea of studio itself is at least three-fold, simultaneously conjuring up the idea of a space, a team or organisation, and an act of being 'in studio'."

"I think, I hope, that it suggests one possible meaningful way forward for design itself, as well as suggesting new cultures for the public sector, for thinking about complex, interdependent problems, and for rapidly creating practical yet compelling visions built on a clear understanding of 'the architecture of the problem', as we call it. "

"More fundamentally though, we intend that this is the first in a series of projects which describe how design can be used beyond these details of production of space, realisation of product or service. Often, of course, design is used in this traditional if limited role of process improvement and problem solving—the realisation of 'the thing'—without addressing the core issue, the core strategy, the vision and organisations behind 'the thing' in the first place. We think design has a role to play before we even know what the questions are, never mind the solutions. That's what this book begins to address. Subsequent projects—some products/services/things, some events, some discussion—will develop this idea."
danhill  2011  lcproject  openstudioproject  culture  decisionmaking  process  studios  studioclassroom  strategicdesign  design  vision  organization  organizations  bryanboyer 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Metalogue: Why Do Things Get in a Muddle? | Gregory Bateson
"Metalogue: Why Do Things Get in a Muddle? | Gregory Bateson

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

Father: What do you mean? Things? Muddle?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

F: I doubt it, my dear — I doubt it.

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

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

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

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

D: Here on the end of this shelf.

F: Okay — now if it were anywhere else?

D: No, that would not be tidy.

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

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

F: Oh — in the right place and straight.

D: Yes.

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

D: Only one place —

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

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

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

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

F : Yes, I know. (Pause)

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

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

D: But that isn’t a reason why.

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

D: Oh, Daddy! Stop it.

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

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

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

D: Hmm...

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

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

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

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

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

D: But, Daddy .. .

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

D: But, Daddy .. .

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

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

F: Oh God.

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

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

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

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

D: Daddy — don’t begin talking nonsense.

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

D: Yes.

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

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

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

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

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

D: Why do they?

F: Damn the movie people.

D: But you mentioned them first, Daddy.

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

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

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

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

F: Yes.

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

F: Yes — that’s right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written in 1948, published in Steps to an Ecology of Mind (1972… [more]
gregorybateson  thinking  1948  messiness  order  tidiness  orderliness  tidying  organization  understanding  taxonomy  language 
december 2015 by robertogreco
On the Political Dimensions of Solarpunk — Medium

"Don’t ask permission from a state beholden to oligarchs, and definitely don’t expect those oligarchs to do any of this for you. Guerilla gardening is the model, but look further. Guerilla solar panel installation. Guerilla water treatment facility restoration. Guerilla magnificent temple to the human spirit construction. Guerilla carbon sequestration megastructure creation.

Figure out what a community needs to be prosperous, peaceful and sustainable in as long a term as you can wrap your head around, and start building whatever piece is most in reach before the absent state notices. Doing so just might create pockets of more effective, horizontal politics. As the state wanes, these pockets can grow in size and influence, creating a better world even if some government claims the authority of law and holds a monopoly on violence.

Now, political choices got us into this mess, and political choices could get us out. I for one argue for a comprehensive set of reforms that were inspired by the discussions held around the world during Occupy: a global debt jubilee to free both countries and individuals from debts that impoverish and enslave them; a tax on extreme wealth to control inequality and rein in the power of oligarchs; a guaranteed basic income to provide for the poor, the infirm and those more useful as caregivers, artists and thinkers than employees of businesses; a dramatic reduction in the workweek to slow down unsustainable levels of economic expansion and to eliminate the countless “bullshit jobs” that serve no function but to bore those who hold them; the regulation or even abolition of usury (once considered as great a sin as slavery), so that investments in sustainable infrastructure that will pay off in cathedral time are not hampered by interest payments that will eventually exceed principal."

"As I argued in my discussion of cities, solarpunk should be careful not to idealize either the gothic high tech or the favela chic. No matter how many High Line-style parks or vertical farms they build, Manhattan will be useless if it is only filled with the luxury condos of absentee financiers. And favelas may be full of jugaad-innovation and dense with diverse entrepreneurialism, but they feature a fatal flaw: no fire codes. Slums are fascinating from a design perspective right up until they burn down or wash away. In a world of more extreme weather, disasters will strike down favelas before their recycling-centric, low-carbon lifestyles can save the climate.

Instead, I like the idea of focusing on large-scale infrastructure projects that will provide value for communities into the long term. A seed bank; a hyper-dense vertical permaculture farm engineered for carbon fixing; a massive, low-maintenance desalination system; a space elevator. These projects could themselves be the organizing principle around which unique solarpunk communities are organized."

"I’ve seen many people describe solarpunk as optimistic. My last suggestion is this: don’t be optimistic, be hopeful. As Vaclav Havel explained: “Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.” Havel, an artist turned activist turned statesman who led his nation out of a time of crisis, in many ways embodies the transformational power of ideas and aesthetics — and thus the potential of a movement like solarpunk to do real good in the world.

This essay has been long, and it has discussed many troubling situations and possibilities. I wrote these things because I think it is important for any cohesive body of political thought to contrast what it wants with what it opposes: for transparency and privacy, against surveillance and deception; for conservation and abundance, against hoarding and exploitation; for neighborhoods and collaboratives, against gangs and police.

I also wrote this because I believe the enormity of our problems doesn’t have to paralyze us. Quite the opposite: seeing the world as it is is vital if you are going to figure out how it could be. Now is the moment to be galvanized, to know that we are on to something, and to make acting on these ideas a real part of our lives."
solarpunk  2015  andrewdanahudson  politics  favelachic  gothichightech  recycling  diy  optimism  hopefulness  scale  activism  jugaad  infrastructure  organization  horizontality  sustainability  solar  water  climatechange  gardening  hope  refugees  longnow  longnowfoundation  williamgibson  madmax  paolobacigalupi  bladerunner  overconsumption  overpopulation  thecomingrevolution  cities  urban  urbanism  brucesterling  drought  blackswans 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Small groups and consultancy and coffee mornings ( 7 Oct., 2015, at Interconnected)
"One permanent pattern in our workshop culture:
Best design consultancy tip I know: Don't criticise without offering something better. Called the Ahtisaari Manoeuvre after an early client

Always have something on the table.

Another: Always use fat pens.

Another: It's important to have the right people in the room -- representing knowledge of technical possibilities, business needs, and market insights. But at the same time, the ideal number of people to have in the room is five or six. Any more than that, you can't continue a single conversation without it turning into a presentation.

Another: The one who understands the client's business best is the client."

"There are a couple of things I'm investigating:

1. That a small group is a powerful way of thinking, and of creating action. That repetition matters, and informality.

2. It might be possible to help with strategy without providing original thought or even active facilitation: To consult without consulting. The answers and even ways of working are inherent in the group itself.

My hunch is this: To answer a business's strategic questions, which will intrinsically involve changing that business, a more permanent solution than a visiting consultant might be to convene a small group, and spend time with it, chatting informally."

"Once a week we get together -- a half dozen students, often Durrell, whoever is teaching the course with him which was Stuart before and Oscar now, plus a special guest.

It's just for coffee somewhere or other, on Friday mornings, and we chat. It's super casual, sharing ideas and references, talking about the brief and design in general.

I'm curious about informality.

The lunchtimes at BERG, everyone around the table with such a broad range of skills and interests... and after Friday Demos - part of the weekly rhythm - the sparked conversations and the on-topic but off-topic sharing... this is where ideas happen too. Between projects but not outside them.

And I think informality as part of the design process is under-communicated, at least where I've been listening. So much work is done like that. The students are great at speaking about their work, sure. But mainly I'm interesting in how we induct someone into a worldview, quickly; how we explain ideas and then listen carefully for feedback, accepting ideas back -- all conversationally, without (and this is the purpose of the special guest) it turning into a seminar or a crit.

I think the best way to communicate this "lunch table" work informality is to rehearse it, to experience it. Which is what the coffee mornings are about.

I try to make sure everyone speaks, and I ask questions to see if I can encourage the removal of lazy abstraction -- words that get in the way of thinking about what's really going on. I'm a participant-observer.

Tbh I'm not sure what to call this. Visiting convener? It's not an official role.

I think (I hope!) everyone is getting something out of the experience, and everyone is becoming more their own kind of designer because of it, and meanwhile I get to explore and experience a small group. A roughly consistent membership, a roughly regular meeting time, an absence of purpose, or rather a purpose that the group is allowed to negotiate at a place within itself.


These RCA coffee mornings grew out of my experiment with hardware-ish coffee mornings, a semi-irregular meetup in London having a vague "making things" skew... Internet of Things, hardware startups, knitting, the future of manufacturing and distribution, a morning off work. That sort of thing. People chat, people bring prototypes. There's no single conversation, and only rarely do we do introductions. This invite to a meet in January also lists my principles:

• Space beats structure
• Informality wins
• Convening not chairing
• Bonfires not fireworks

I've been trying to build a street corner, a place to cultivate serendipity and thoughts. Not an event with speakers, there are already several really good ones."

"My setup was that I believed the answer to the issue would come from the group, that they knew more about their business than me.

Which was true. But I also observed that the purpose of the business had recently changed, and while it could be seen by the CEO that the current approach to this design problem wasn't satisfying, there was no way for the group to come together to think about it, and answer it together. Previously they had represented different strands of development within the startup. Now the company was moving to having a new, singular, measurable goal.

So I started seeing the convened discussions as rehearsing a new constellation of the team members and how they used one-another for thinking, and conscious and unconscious decision making. The group meetings would incubate a new way to think together. Do it enough, point out what works, and habits might form.


Consulting without consulting."

"I'm not entirely sure where to take these experiments. I'm learning a lot from various coffee mornings, so I'll carry on with those.

I had some conversations earlier in the year about whether it would be possible to act as a creative director, only via regular breakfast conversations, and helping the group self-direct. Dunno. Or maybe there's a way to build a new division in a company. Maybe what I'm actually talking about is board meetings -- I've been a trustee to Startup Weekend Europe for a couple of years, and the quarterly meetings are light touch. But they don't have this small group aspect, it might be that they haven't been as effective as they could be.

There might be something with the street corners and serendipity pattern... When I was doing that three month gig with the government earlier this year, it felt like the people in the civil service - as a whole - had all the knowledge and skills to take advantage of Internet of Things technologies, to deliver services faster and better. But often the knowledge and opportunities weren't meeting up. Maybe an in-person, regular space could help with that.

At a minimum, if I'm learning how to help companies and friends with startups in a useful way that doesn't involve delivering more darn Powerpoint for the meat grinder: Job done.

But perhaps what's happening is I'm teaching myself how to do something else entirely, and I haven't figured out what that is yet.


Some art. Some software."
mattwebb  small  groups  groupsize  2015  collaboration  consulting  vonnegut  kurtvonnegut  organization  howwewrite  writing  meaningmaking  patternrecognition  stevenjohnson  devonthink  groupdynamics  psychology  wilfredbion  dependency  pairing  serendipity  trickster  doublebinds  informality  informal  coffeemornings  meetings  crosspollination  conversation  facilitation  catalysts  scenius  experienceingroups 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Ivan Illich, "Philosophy... Artifacts... Friendship"
"Architects drafted on paper or modeled in clay, not on a screen. True, in the time of Ford's Model A, when Thérèse of Lisieux was canonized, and I was born, the instrumental artifact moved toward its apogee; it was becoming increasingly dominant in the sensual environment. But technology was still conceived as a tool for the achievement of a telos, a final cause set by its user, not as milieu. Technology had not yet redefined homo from tool-user to co-evolved product of engineering. The nature of the object was not a quandary; it was something more or less what it had been for generations. This is no longer so. The old rules for the discernment of good from evil spirits must be complemented by new rules for the distinction of things from zombies, and objects from pictures. Temperance, what the Cappadocians call nepsis, must now guard the heart, not only from real things like sweet skin and weighty bullion, but also guide one to the sound recognition of the allurements of mere images and so-called needs....

In my own pilgrimage, I engage philosophy as ancilla: on the one hand, to resist - how should I call it? - algorithmic reductionism and, on the other, to dispel the illusion that power or organization can ever enhance the practice of charity. This double conceptual shield against loving misplaced concreta, and belief in benevolent management inevitably implies the rejection of those genetic axioms from which the topology of technological thinking arises. This topology is well protected, if not hidden, by a self-image meant to give comfort to life beyond virtue and the good. The aim to make life always better has crippled the search for the appropriate, proportionate, harmonious or simply good life - hopes easily written off as simplistic or irresponsible. Only sober, unsentimental, vernacular rhetoric can possibly demonstrate the incompatibility of mathematical modeling or systems management with the quest for faith and love. The typical artifacts of our decade are at once more intimately and deviously connected to the understanding of revealed truth than hearth or arms or mill, the res agricola, res bellica, and scientia mechanica of earlier times....

In my seminars, I have seen many a student look up from the exegesis of a passage by Aelred of Rivaulx, Héloïse, or Hugh of St. Victor, and search for a correspondence in his or her own twenty-two year-old heart, and recognize what the notions related to process, field, feedback, loop, and context sensitivity have done to their grasp. At such moments of disciplined alienation, it is then possible to foster the insight that it is almost impossible for an inhabitant of "the system" to desire an I-Thou relationship like that cultivated in Talmudic or monastic communities. Following such an awakening and finding themselves at a loss to recapture this past experience, a thirst is incited....

In the study of theology, ecclesiology was my preferred subject; and, within this discipline, liturgy. Liturgy, like ecclesiology, is concerned with sociogenesis. It inquires into the continued embodiment of the Word through rituals. Necessarily, these rituals often center on objects like tables, tombs and chalices. So, my interest in these so-called sacra led me to the theory of instrumentally used objects. I pursued the nature of the artifact in the belief that understanding would deepen my insight into virtue in our epoch, especially the virtue of charity. Therefore, the love of friendship, philia, as practicable under the social and symbolic conditions engendered by modern artifacts, has been the constant subject of my teaching. For me, finally, philosophy is the ancilla amicitiae."
sensorium  ivanillich  1996  via:ayjay  technology  objects  artificat  charity  friendship  organization  power  goodness  enough  well-being  theology  ecclesiology  liturgy  sociogenesis  systemsmanagement  management  faith  love  temperance 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Amelia Greenhall: Start your own b(r)and: Everything I know about starting collaborative, feminist publications
[via: "Is there something like a website framework for starting an organization? Like boilerplate/best practices on decision-making, structure,"

"This guide by @ameliagreenhall feels like the closest thing to what I'm imagining…but not as generic as a "framework" "

"I have a hard time believing there isn't already a whole universe out there of "forkable" sets of principles, how-tos, bylaws, workflows?" ]
via:caseygollan  advice  branding  publishing  startups  publications  howto  organization  bestpractices  frameworks  principles  workflows  organizations  2015  tutorials 
may 2015 by robertogreco
I Live in a Digital Dumpster Fire | Motherboard
"Right now, I can't see what tabs I have open, because I have too many open. I have 167,998 unread Gmail messages. I am writing this, right now, on a TextEdit file called Untitled 199, and I have exactly 32 instances of the program open. My dock is a disaster, and, very recently, my desktop had thousands of files on it. Oddly enough, my trash bin is empty.

I exist, digitally, in the equivalent of a dumpster fire. I wouldn't have it any other way. Or rather, I don't think I can exist any other way. I thought I was alone. I am not.

It turns out there are plenty of digital hoarders out there, and maybe we don't give a shit about virtual cleanliness because it doesn't really matter anymore.

"I don't particularly think digital clutter is a bad thing. It's just a consequence of how people use computers, asynchronously," ​Matthew Hughes, a British tech journalist who lives much like me, told me. "We don't use computers in a systematic, one-task-at-a-time kind of way, do we? We're always doing multiple things at once, and digital clutter is just a consequence of that."

[embedded tweet with image: "this is my desktop"]

I've tweeted photos of my desktop before, and had a mix of reactions. Most people are horrified. Some people want me to throw my computer in the trash—nothing will save it now, it's ruined forever, they say. I get it. But when I went looking for people like me, I didn't have much trouble finding them.

​Adrian Sanabria, a security researcher, told me that he opens tabs until his computer crashes. While he doesn't think that digital clutter and tab overload is totally harmless ("I've come the realization that I have anxiety over losing something interesting that I want to read," he said), fast internet connections, Google images, and search apps are making it very easy to throw shit wherever we want without adversely affecting our lives.

[image: Matthew Hughes's desktop]

We're creating massive, disgusting haystacks of files, but finding the needle we want is effortless, so who cares?

"I use FoundApp, and it is FANTASTIC for finding things. It works like Mac OS X’s Finder, but you can have it log into Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote—all your cloud stuff, and it will index and search those locations along with your local hard drive," Sanabria told me. "I have no idea what folder my files are in, and I don’t care."

Sanabria has also done away with his folder of memes and gifs that he used to have at the ready to deploy on Twitter at a moment's notice. Now, he finds them on Google much faster.

[image (animated GIF): "My desktop, pre-purge"]

There's the stereotype of the journalist, the professor, the academic, who has papers cluttered all over their office. I once walked past Bob Woodward's desk at the Washington Post, and he had mountains upon mountains of … stuff, everywhere. With a computer, you can be like that without showing other people.

One thing that surprised me about the people I talked to is they haven't always been like this (I have). Sanabria used to have inbox zero. So did Brian Fung, a great tech policy reporter with the Washington Post. And then, Twitter happened.

"I used to be an inbox zero kind of guy—leave no message unread, no RSS item unchecked, etc. But then with Twitter, I got used to just jumping into the feed for short stints. And then one day I woke up and realized, 'You know what? It's okay if you don't get through it all," he told me. "Since then, I've started treating my RSS feed like a slower version of Twitter. I ignore irrelevant emails. They pile up. It's fine. The desktop is much more manageable if you don't, you know, actually use the desktop."

[image "My dock"]

Fung "organizes" his desktop in reverse chronological order, and I do too. He says it turns the desktop into something like email—the most recent downloaded files show up at the top of any folder you're using to upload files with, and then it's easy.

We're not slobs, we're not overwhelmed, I don't even really think of myself as a hoarder. I eventually trash everything and forget about it. The thing that modern operating systems and modern search tools have done is make a whole host of systems viable. They work.

[image (animated GIF): "An inefficient way of deleting files"]

That said, I was wondering what life might be like if I cleaned up my act a bit. I purged my desktop. I set up a new folder for screenshots, which I used constantly, and I made my computer save them there automatically. I try to close my tabs when I can't see the icons anymore. I used a program called Sublime Text to write.

It's not for me. It's more effort than it's worth. Bury me with all my files; I'll know where to find them."
hoarding  digitalhoarding  search  os  technology  organization  digital  desktops  culture  spotlight  jasonkoebler  matthewhughes  adriansanabria  foundapp  clutter  finder  2015 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Forget Shorter Showers: Why Personal Change Does Not Equal Political Change
"Would any sane PERSON think dumpster diving would have stopped Hitler, or that composting would have ended slavery or brought about the eight-hour workday, or that chopping wood and carrying water would have gotten people out of Tsarist prisons, or that dancing naked around a fire would have helped put in place the Voting Rights Act of 1957 or the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Then why now, with all the world at stake, do so many people retreat into these entirely personal “solutions”?

Part of the problem is that we’ve been victims of a campaign of systematic misdirection. Consumer culture and the capitalist mindset have taught us to substitute acts of personal consumption (or enlightenment) for organized political resistance. An Inconvenient Truth helped raise consciousness about global warming. But did you notice that all of the solutions presented had to do with personal consumption — changing light bulbs, inflating tires, driving half as much — and had nothing to do with shifting power away from corporations, or stopping the growth economy that is destroying the planet? Even if every person in the United States did everything the movie suggested, U.S. carbon emissions would fall by only 22 percent. Scientific consensus is that emissions must be reduced by at least 75 percent worldwide.

Or let’s talk water. We so often hear that the world is running out of water. People are dying from lack of water. Rivers are dewatered from lack of water. Because of this we need to take shorter showers. See the disconnect?Because I take showers, I’m responsible for drawing down aquifers? Well, no. More than 90 percent of the water used by humans is used by agriculture and industry. The remaining 10 percent is split between municipalities and actual living breathing individual humans. Collectively, municipal golf courses use as much water as municipal human beings. People (both human people and fish people) aren’t dying because the world is running out of water. They’re dying because the water is being stolen.

Or let’s talk energy. Kirkpatrick Sale summarized it well: “For the past 15 years the story has been the same every year: individual consumption — residential, by private car, and so on — is never more than about a quarter of all consumption; the vast majority is commercial, industrial, corporate, by agribusiness and government [he forgot military]. So, even if we all took up cycling and wood stoves it would have a negligible impact on energy use, global warming and atmospheric pollution.”

Or let’s talk waste. In 2005, per-capita municipal waste production (basically everything that’s put out at the curb) in the U.S. was about 1,660 pounds. Let’s say you’re a die-hard simple-living activist, and you reduce this to zero. You recycle everything. You bring cloth bags shopping. You fix your toaster. Your toes poke out of old tennis shoes. You’re not done yet, though. Since municipal waste includes not just residential waste, but also waste from government offices and businesses, you march to those offices, waste reduction pamphlets in hand, and convince them to cut down on their waste enough to eliminate your share of it. Uh, I’ve got some bad news. Municipal waste accounts for only 3 percent of total waste production in the United States.

I want to be clear. I’m not saying we shouldn’t live simply. I live reasonably simply myself, but I don’t pretend that not buying much (or not driving much, or not having kids) is a powerful political act, or that it’s deeply revolutionary. It’s not. Personal change doesn’t equal social change.

So how, then, and especially with all the world at stake, have we come to accept these utterly insufficient responses? I think part of it is that we’re in a double bind. A double bind is where you’re given multiple options, but no matter what option you choose, you lose, and withdrawal is not an option. At this point, it should be pretty easy to recognize that every action involving the industrial economy is destructive (and we shouldn’t pretend that solar photovoltaics, for example, exempt us from this: they still require mining and transportation infrastructures at every point in the production processes; the same can be said for every other so-called green technology). So if we choose option one — if we avidly participate in the industrial economy — we may in the short term think we win because we may accumulate wealth, the marker of “success” in this culture. But we lose, because in doing so we give up our empathy, our animal humanity. And we really lose because industrial civilization is killing the planet, which means everyone loses. If we choose the “alternative” option of living more simply, thus causing less harm, but still not stopping the industrial economy from killing the planet, we may in the short term think we win because we get to feel pure, and we didn’t even have to give up all of our empathy (just enough to justify not stopping the horrors), but once again we really lose because industrial civilization is still killing the planet, which means everyone still loses. The third option, acting decisively to stop the industrial economy, is very scary for a number of reasons, including but not restricted to the fact that we’d lose some of the luxuries to which we’ve grown accustomed, and the fact that those in power might try to kill us if we seriously impede their ability to exploit the world — none of which alters the fact that it’s a better option than a dead planet. Any option is a better option than a dead planet.

Besides being ineffective at causing the sorts of changes necessary to stop this culture from killing the planet, there are at least four other problems with perceiving simple living as a political act (as opposed to living simply because that’s what you want to do). The first is that it’s predicated on the flawed notion that humans inevitably harm their landbase. Simple living as a political act consists solely of harm reduction, ignoring the fact that humans can help the Earth as well as harm it. We can rehabilitate streams, we can get rid of noxious invasives, we can remove dams, we can disrupt a political system tilted toward the rich as well as an extractive economic system, we can destroy the industrial economy that is destroying the real, physical world.

The second problem — and this is another big one — is that it incorrectly assigns blame to the individual (and most especially to individuals who are particularly powerless) instead of to those who actually wield power in this system and to the system itself. Kirkpatrick Sale again: “The whole individualist what-you-can-do-to-save-the-earth guilt trip is a myth. We, as individuals, are not creating the crises, and we can’t solve them.”

The third problem is that it accepts capitalism’s redefinition of us from citizens to consumers. By accepting this redefinition, we reduce our potential forms of resistance to consuming and not consuming. Citizens have a much wider range of available resistance tactics, including voting, not voting, running for office, pamphleting, boycotting, organizing, lobbying, protesting, and, when a government becomes destructive of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we have the right to alter or abolish it.

The fourth problem is that the endpoint of the logic behind simple living as a political act is suicide. If every act within an industrial economy is destructive, and if we want to stop this destruction, and if we are unwilling (or unable) to question (much less destroy) the intellectual, moral, economic, and physical infrastructures that cause every act within an industrial economy to be destructive, then we can easily come to believe that we will cause the least destruction possible if we are dead.

The good news is that there are other options. We can follow the examples of brave activists who lived through the difficult times I mentioned — Nazi Germany, Tsarist Russia, antebellum United States — who did far more than manifest a form of moral purity; they actively opposed the injustices that surrounded them. We can follow the example of those who remembered that the role of an activist is not to navigate systems of oppressive power with as much integrity as possible, but rather to confront and take down those systems."
via:caseygollan  2015  change  politicalchange  personalchange  environment  sustainability  environmentalism  derrickjensen  capitalism  consumerism  globalwarming  climatechange  reistance  inconvenienttruth  water  energy  consumption  kirckpatricksale  waste  simplicity  politics  doublebinds  success  wealth  culture  industrialism  activism  purity  morality  injustice  oppression  power  integrity  systemsthinking  systems  misdirection  2009  policy  organization  civilization  individualism  collectivism 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Open Garden | /firechat
[See also: "FireChat – the messaging app that’s powering the Hong Kong protests"

"#BBCtrending: Hong Kong's 'off-grid' protesters"

"Faced with network surveillance, Hong Kong student demonstrators go P2P" ]

[Description here is from the iTunes page: ]

"FireChat introduces a new way to chat: "off-the-grid".
Now you can chat with people around you – even if there is no Internet connection or mobile phone coverage.

Whether you’re on the beach or in the subway, at a big game or a trade show, camping in the wild or at a concert, or even travelling abroad, simply fire up the app with a friend or two and find out who else is there.

FireChat enables a new type of communication: “firechats”. These live and anonymous discussion groups can gather as many as 10,000 people simultaneously.

And you can also create your own firechats about anything that interests you - whether it's the NY Yankees, Game of Thrones, League of Legends or Italian food.

Get FireChat and start bringing people together.

Wait, how does this app work without an Internet connection or any type of mobile coverage? The magic comes from one of Apple’s iOS 7 most advanced technologies: the Multipeer Connectivity Framework, which FireChat is built upon.

We’re Open Garden. Welcome to a new era of open communications.

Please meet us on Twitter @OpenGarden and Facebook


• Instantly chat with anyone around you on iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch
• Works even without any Internet connection or cellular phone coverage
• Choose your own unique username and avatar
• Create your own ‘firechats’ for live discussions with up to tens of thousands of simultaneous users
• See what people are talking about in your country in the ‘Everyone’ mode
• Off-the-grid communications work with devices up to 200 feet of your location
• Multi-hop capabilities extend the range of off-the-grid communications
• No significant impact on battery consumption,

• FireChat is designed for iOS 7.

Please note that FireChat is not meant for secure or private communications. Other people nearby may see your messages. It's just like if you were playing music at home, people across the street might hear it too."

[See also: ]
firechat  messaging  android  ios  communication  decentralization  mesh  meshnetworking  bluetooth  meshnetworks  networks  organization  iphone  opengarden  p2p 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Why Misogynists Make Great Informants: How Gender Violence on the Left Enables State Violence in Radical Movements | INCITE! Blog
"Informants in our movements are usually sent by an agency (I say this based on my personal investigations and reading of historical accounts) and Agents Provacatuers are usually self-nominated and misguided individualists (Same source). Whether you blame the state for the appearance of the latter, you can only blame our movement’s incohesion and inability to deal openly with internal conflict for their continued existence in the roles which serve to divide us.

Unless and until men (especially white men) are held accountable and actually challenged by persons in the movement in an open manner, this problem will continue to fester. What happens instead is the soft approach; the telltale abuse survivor adaptation of slander, often anonymously posted or subversively communicated.

Oh, sure it is an effective way to get at the real bastards and undercut their authority. But it is also a great way to play on the fears, ideals, and guilt of the left in general, and isolate the not-so-bastards. Because we each want so earnestly to be good allies, we tend to adopt the “believe the victim” maxim. And that is a great thing to offer when it is time to listen in private to someone who needs to tell their story. But it is a toxic thing to turn around and repeat that story as if you “know” it to be true. It is especially toxic to turn that “knowledge” of only one side of the story into action in the community. Often that action is only symbolic, sometimes it is violence. Would any of us tolerate a state trial which muzzled the defense attorney? We sure would – if the accused were a white male who pisses us off in a meeting!

We hold governments to be acocuntable through an open medium, and expect debate and counter argument. But too often we throw this out when we hear rumors of bad behavior by the guy who pisses us off in a meeting. We expect the government or corporations to come clean with an account of what they are doing, and yet almost never actually do that hard work when it comes time to find out whether someone who was accused really is that bastard their former partner says they were.

Abuse is real, and it needs to be challenged wherever we find it. But too often, we really want validation and not a harder search for the truth – and we are too easily swayed by anyone who tells us we’re special, that our own bad behavior really isn’t as bad, or bad enough, to be addressed. Isn’t that what the mysogynists say? It sure is. The most disgusting thing I ever heard a mysogynist say was that she was not responsible for her abuse because of her gender.

I am a man, and I have made mistakes for which I will always mourn. But I am a man, and not a role or an ‘archy,’ and I will always demand of my community that it speak truth to power even if that power is me.

Nothing about me, without me."

[See also: ]
gender  misogyny  feminism  activism  politics  2014  informants  history  blackpanthers  brownberets  courtneydesireemorris  disruption  abuse  power  conflict  incohesion  organization  hierarchy  horizontality  organizing  anarchism  sexism  blackpantherparty 
september 2014 by robertogreco
When the Boss Says, 'Don't Tell Your Coworkers How Much You Get Paid' - Jonathan Timm - The Atlantic
"In both workplaces, my bosses were breaking the law.

Under the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 (NLRA), all workers have the right to engage “concerted activity for mutual aid or protection” and “organize a union to negotiate with [their] employer concerning [their] wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment.” In six states, including my home state of Illinois, the law even more explicitly protects the rights of workers to discuss their pay.

This is true whether the employers make their threats verbally or on paper and whether the consequences are firing or merely some sort of cold shoulder from management. My managers at the coffee shop seemed to understand that they weren't allowed to fire me solely for talking about pay, but they may not have known that it is also illegal to discourage employees from discussing their pay with each other. As NYU law professor Cynthia Estlund explained to NPR, the law "means that you and your co-workers get to talk together about things that matter to you at work." Even "a nudge from the boss saying 'we don't do that around here' ... is also unlawful under the National Labor Relations Act," Estlund added.

And yet, gag rules thrive in workplaces across the country. In a report updated this year, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research found that about half of American employees in all sectors are either explicitly prohibited or strongly discouraged from discussing pay with their coworkers. In the private sector, the number is higher, at 61 percent.

This is why President Obama recently signed two executive actions addressing workplace transparency and accountability. One prohibits federal contractors from retaliating against employees who discuss their pay with one another. The other requires contractors to provide compensation data on their employees, including race and sex. But while these protect workers at federally contracted employers—of which Lilly Ledbetter was one—it does not affect any other employers.

The bill that would cover the rest of workers is the Paycheck Fairness Act. The law would both strengthen penalties to employers who retaliate against workers for discussing pay and require employers to provide a justification for wage differentials.

These reforms are necessary to address this widespread, illegal problem that the law has failed to address for decades. Gag rules violate a fundamental labor right and allow for discriminatory pay schemes.

Given their illegality, why are gag rules so common? One answer is that the NLRA is toothless and employers know it. When employees file complaints, the National Labor Relations Board’s “remedies” are slaps on the wrist: reinstatement for wrongful termination, back-pay, and/or “informational remedies” such as “the posting of a notice by the employer promising to not violate the law.”

At the same time, ignorance of the law can just as easily fuel gag rules. Craig Becker, general counsel for the AFL-CIO, used to serve on the National Labor Relations Board. He told me that workers who called the NLRB rarely were aware that their employer’s pay secrecy policy was unlawful.

“The problem isn’t so much that the remedies are inadequate,” Becker said, “but that so few workers know their rights.” He says that even among those workers who are aware of the NLRA, many think that it protects unions but no one else. Now overseeing organizers at the AFL-CIO, Becker has found that before organizers even begin helping workers, they have to educate employees on this very basic law. “Workers call us up saying they’re unhappy and they want to organize,” Becker explains, “and when organizers look at the employee manual, sure enough, they find a policy saying that workers aren’t allowed to discuss their pay.”

Gag rules, then, are policies that flourish when employers know the law and their employees do not.

But why do employers do this in the first place? Many employers say that if workers talk to each other about pay, then tension is sure to follow. It’s understandable: If you found out that your coworker made more than you for doing the same work, then you’d probably be upset.

A study by economists David Card, Enrico Moretti, and Emmanuel Saez from Berkeley and Alexandre Mas from Princeton supports that prediction. To study the relationship between pay transparency, turnover, and workplace satisfaction, they selected a group of employees in the University of California system and showed them a website that lists the salaries of all UC employees. They found that employees who were paid above the median were unaffected by using the website, while those who were paid lower than the median became less satisfied with their work and more likely to start job hunting. This result suggests, according to the authors, that employers have an incentive to keep pay under wraps."
salaries  employment  legal  tcsnmy  chandlerschool  2014  gagrules  management  administration  labor  organization  compensation  transparency  opacity  morale  inequality  discrimination  race  gender 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Peter Senge: Systems Thinking and The Gap Between Aspirations and Performance - YouTube
"In his keynote presentation to our Climate, Buildings and Behavior symposium last month, leading organizational thinker Peter Senge offers a distillation of his insights into the most important factors in achieving meaningful change for the environment or in any sphere of life. They include positive aspirations instead of negative admonitions ("the power of aspiration is much greater than the power of desperation"), the desire and vision to bring into being and develop something new (like building a cathedral, or raising a child) and networks of relationships with collaborators engaged in "collective, creative process." Whatever kind of personal or social change work you're engaged in, you'll take away actionable insights from this accessible and profound talk."
via:steelemaley  2013  systems  systemsthinking  collaboration  networks  changetheory  change  howthingschange  relationships  collectivism  process  petersenge  climate  climatechange  behavior  organization  environment  aspiration  humbertomaturana  desperation  awareness  hierarchy  hierarchies  listening  meetings  knowledge  knowledgenetworks  networksoflovingrelations 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Forget Shorter Showers | Derrick Jensen | Orion Magazine
"WOULD ANY SANE PERSON think dumpster diving would have stopped Hitler, or that composting would have ended slavery or brought about the eight-hour workday, or that chopping wood and carrying water would have gotten people out of Tsarist prisons, or that dancing naked around a fire would have helped put in place the Voting Rights Act of 1957 or the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Then why now, with all the world at stake, do so many people retreat into these entirely personal “solutions”?

Part of the problem is that we’ve been victims of a campaign of systematic misdirection. Consumer culture and the capitalist mindset have taught us to substitute acts of personal consumption (or enlightenment) for organized political resistance. An Inconvenient Truth helped raise consciousness about global warming. But did you notice that all of the solutions presented had to do with personal consumption—changing light bulbs, inflating tires, driving half as much—and had nothing to do with shifting power away from corporations, or stopping the growth economy that is destroying the planet? Even if every person in the United States did everything the movie suggested, U.S. carbon emissions would fall by only 22 percent. Scientific consensus is that emissions must be reduced by at least 75 percent worldwide.

Or let’s talk water. We so often hear that the world is running out of water. People are dying from lack of water. Rivers are dewatered from lack of water. Because of this we need to take shorter showers. See the disconnect? Because I take showers, I’m responsible for drawing down aquifers? Well, no. More than 90 percent of the water used by humans is used by agriculture and industry. The remaining 10 percent is split between municipalities and actual living breathing individual humans. Collectively, municipal golf courses use as much water as municipal human beings. People (both human people and fish people) aren’t dying because the world is running out of water. They’re dying because the water is being stolen.

Or let’s talk energy. Kirkpatrick Sale summarized it well: “For the past 15 years the story has been the same every year: individual consumption—residential, by private car, and so on—is never more than about a quarter of all consumption; the vast majority is commercial, industrial, corporate, by agribusiness and government [he forgot military]. So, even if we all took up cycling and wood stoves it would have a negligible impact on energy use, global warming and atmospheric pollution.”

Or let’s talk waste. In 2005, per-capita municipal waste production (basically everything that’s put out at the curb) in the U.S. was about 1,660 pounds. Let’s say you’re a die-hard simple-living activist, and you reduce this to zero. You recycle everything. You bring cloth bags shopping. You fix your toaster. Your toes poke out of old tennis shoes. You’re not done yet, though. Since municipal waste includes not just residential waste, but also waste from government offices and businesses, you march to those offices, waste reduction pamphlets in hand, and convince them to cut down on their waste enough to eliminate your share of it. Uh, I’ve got some bad news. Municipal waste accounts for only 3 percent of total waste production in the United States.

I want to be clear. I’m not saying we shouldn’t live simply. I live reasonably simply myself, but I don’t pretend that not buying much (or not driving much, or not having kids) is a powerful political act, or that it’s deeply revolutionary. It’s not. Personal change doesn’t equal social change.

So how, then, and especially with all the world at stake, have we come to accept these utterly insufficient responses? I think part of it is that we’re in a double bind. A double bind is where you’re given multiple options, but no matter what option you choose, you lose, and withdrawal is not an option. At this point, it should be pretty easy to recognize that every action involving the industrial economy is destructive (and we shouldn’t pretend that solar photovoltaics, for example, exempt us from this: they still require mining and transportation infrastructures at every point in the production processes; the same can be said for every other so-called green technology). So if we choose option one—if we avidly participate in the industrial economy—we may in the short term think we win because we may accumulate wealth, the marker of “success” in this culture. But we lose, because in doing so we give up our empathy, our animal humanity. And we really lose because industrial civilization is killing the planet, which means everyone loses. If we choose the “alternative” option of living more simply, thus causing less harm, but still not stopping the industrial economy from killing the planet, we may in the short term think we win because we get to feel pure, and we didn’t even have to give up all of our empathy (just enough to justify not stopping the horrors), but once again we really lose because industrial civilization is still killing the planet, which means everyone still loses. The third option, acting decisively to stop the industrial economy, is very scary for a number of reasons, including but not restricted to the fact that we’d lose some of the luxuries (like electricity) to which we’ve grown accustomed, and the fact that those in power might try to kill us if we seriously impede their ability to exploit the world—none of which alters the fact that it’s a better option than a dead planet. Any option is a better option than a dead planet.

Besides being ineffective at causing the sorts of changes necessary to stop this culture from killing the planet, there are at least four other problems with perceiving simple living as a political act (as opposed to living simply because that’s what you want to do). The first is that it’s predicated on the flawed notion that humans inevitably harm their landbase. Simple living as a political act consists solely of harm reduction, ignoring the fact that humans can help the Earth as well as harm it. We can rehabilitate streams, we can get rid of noxious invasives, we can remove dams, we can disrupt a political system tilted toward the rich as well as an extractive economic system, we can destroy the industrial economy that is destroying the real, physical world.

The second problem—and this is another big one—is that it incorrectly assigns blame to the individual (and most especially to individuals who are particularly powerless) instead of to those who actually wield power in this system and to the system itself. Kirkpatrick Sale again: “The whole individualist what-you-can-do-to-save-the-earth guilt trip is a myth. We, as individuals, are not creating the crises, and we can’t solve them.”

The third problem is that it accepts capitalism’s redefinition of us from citizens to consumers. By accepting this redefinition, we reduce our potential forms of resistance to consuming and not consuming. Citizens have a much wider range of available resistance tactics, including voting, not voting, running for office, pamphleting, boycotting, organizing, lobbying, protesting, and, when a government becomes destructive of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we have the right to alter or abolish it.

The fourth problem is that the endpoint of the logic behind simple living as a political act is suicide. If every act within an industrial economy is destructive, and if we want to stop this destruction, and if we are unwilling (or unable) to question (much less destroy) the intellectual, moral, economic, and physical infrastructures that cause every act within an industrial economy to be destructive, then we can easily come to believe that we will cause the least destruction possible if we are dead.

The good news is that there are other options. We can follow the examples of brave activists who lived through the difficult times I mentioned—Nazi Germany, Tsarist Russia, antebellum United States—who did far more than manifest a form of moral purity; they actively opposed the injustices that surrounded them. We can follow the example of those who remembered that the role of an activist is not to navigate systems of oppressive power with as much integrity as possible, but rather to confront and take down those systems. "
activism  consumerism  consumption  environment  politics  derrickjensen  2009  systems  systemsthinking  policy  simplicity  organization  civilization  sustainability  individualism  collectivism  via:caseygollan  2015  change  politicalchange  personalchange  environmentalism  capitalism  globalwarming  climatechange  reistance  inconvenienttruth  water  energy  kirckpatricksale  waste  doublebinds  success  wealth  culture  industrialism  purity  morality  injustice  oppression  power  integrity  misdirection 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Conditional Design: Workbook: Andrew Blauvelt, Koert Van Mensvoort: 9789078088585: Books
[Book website: ]
[See also: and and ]

""Conditional Design" is the name of a new design ethos formulated by graphic designers Luna Maurer, Jonathan Puckey and Roel Wouters, and artist Edo Paulus. It espouses a working method that involves drawing up arbitrary constraints and rules of play, fostering both a strongly collaborative spirit and unpredictable end results. Conditional Design provides beautifully simple ideas for open, collaborative processes in art and design. Its workbook format organizes the material step by step, and the publication as a whole provides exciting ways for others--groups of children as well as artists and designers--to apply the method themselves. In accompanying essays, Andrew Blauvelt elaborates on the implications of such processes for art and design, and Koert van Mensvoort describes how Conditional Design could form the basis for the design and organization of the city of Zhiango, China, in 2050."
design  conditionaldesign  play  lunamaurer  jonathanpuckey  roelwouters  edopaulus  moniker  collaboration  art  openstudioproject  classideas  lcproject  andrewblauvelt  koertvanmensvoort  zhiango  chinaprocess  howwework  organization  2014  contraints  rules  unpredictability  children  books  toread  wcydwt 
february 2014 by robertogreco
STET | Making remote teams work
"I’ll be the first to admit that remote work is not a panacea for all that ails the modern workplace, nor is it suitable for everyone. It’s just as possible to have a dysfunctional remote team as it is to have a broken and unproductive office space.

That said, in the tech community today, remote work has some clear advantages. For the employer, it enables hiring from a more diverse set of workers. Yahoo! may be unwilling to hire an engineer who lives in Kansas City and isn’t inclined (or able) to move to Sunnyvale or New York, but another team may be more than happy to accommodate her. Remote teams also don’t incur the costs associated with expensive campuses and their roster of caterers, laundromats, buses, and gyms, making them more appealing to smaller and leaner organizations. (And, since those perks are usually designed to keep workers at the office, employees could be said to benefit from their absence.) For employees, remote work can permit a flexibility and freedom that is especially valuable to those with less-than-perfect home lives. Caring for children or elderly parents, or contending with an illness or physical or mental disability, may all be made easier with the flexibility to work when and where it best works for you.

This last point is, in some ways, the most damning criticism of Meyer’s policy at Yahoo!: a mother with a full-time nanny may find no difficulty in making it to the office every day, but most parents are not so well-supported. Of the remote workers I spoke to, a recurring theme was the ability to time-shift one’s day to meet their kids’ schedules (as were various techniques for insulating the workspace from tantrums, about which more in a moment). Remote working holds the promise of adapting work to fit our lives, rather than requiring that we twist and bend our lives to fit the space that work demands.

But only if it’s done well. Remote working is a different way of working, with different constraints and practices. It undoes decades of management policies and, given its relatively recent uptake, there’s scant information about the best way to proceed. What follows is some advice, drawn from our own experience at Editorially, with guidance from others about how to make remote teams work — and which pitfalls to look out for."

"One of the most unexpected things that I’ve learned from working remotely is that it isn’t just about accommodating different lifestyles or taking advantage of technology’s ability to compress long distances. Remote working encourages habits of communication and collaboration that can make a team objectively better: redundant communication and a naturally occurring record of conversation enable team members to better understand each other and work productively towards common ends. At the same time, an emphasis on written communication enforces clear thinking, while geography and disparate time zones foster space for that thinking to happen.

In that way, remote teams are more than just a more humane way of working: they are simply a better way to work."

[See also: ]
mandybrown  collaboration  tools  communication  2014  stet  technology  remote  work  howwework  editorially  accessibility  inclusivity  chat  video  management  organization  organizations  administration  inclusion  inlcusivity 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Education Week: Why Make Reform So Complicated?
"In the realm of organizational improvement, complexity kills. It demoralizes employees and distorts the critical connection between effort and outcomes. It is the enemy of the most indispensable elements of improvement: clarity, priority, and focus.

That is the message of multiple prominent studies, from Jim Collins' 2001 best-seller Good to Great to more recent books like The Laws of Simplicity, by John Maeda, and Simple: Conquering the Crisis of Complexity, by Alan Siegel and Irene Etzkorn. These experts implore us to simplify: to prioritize, minimize, and employ only the clearest language in the service of focus. Only this will allow teams and individuals to understand, practice, and perfect those few, highest-priority skills and actions that are most critical to progress.

Education clearly doesn't get this. Perhaps no enterprise is more crippled by complexity than school improvement. For two decades, I've worked with educators in every kind of school and district. For every major initiative, a common theme emerges: There is simply too much to do, and most of it is maddeningly ambiguous and confusing.

Maybe it started with state-mandated strategic planning, which produced those book-length, jargon-laced documents with their impossibly long bulleted lists of goals, tasks, and action plans—which turned out to have no substantive effect on teaching quality.
Then came the standards movement."

"The transition to simple, priority-driven school improvement might require a kind of civil disobedience: a refusal, by a critical mass of educators, to implement anything unless it has been adequately piloted, amply proven, and then made clear and simple enough for educators to learn and implement successfully. If we insist on such conditions, we will move forward at a rate not seen before."
via:lukeneff  simplicity  education  policy  standards  commoncore  2014  complexity  organization  curriculum  mikeschmoker  standardization  leadership  administration  pedagogy  johnmaeda 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Zappos is going holacratic: no job titles, no managers, no hierarchy - Quartz
"During the 4-hour meeting, Hsieh talked about how Zappos’ traditional organizational structure is being replaced with Holacracy, a radical “self-governing” operating system where there are no job titles and no managers. The term Holacracy is derived from the Greek word holon, which means a whole that’s part of a greater whole. Instead of a top-down hierarchy, there’s a flatter “holarchy” that distributes power more evenly. The company will be made up of different circles—there will be around 400 circles at Zappos once the rollout is complete in December 2014—and employees can have any number of roles within those circles. This way, there’s no hiding under titles; radical transparency is the goal.

“We’re classically trained to think of ‘work’ in the traditional paradigm,” says John Bunch, who, along with Alexis Gonzales-Black, is leading the transition to Holacracy at Zappos. “One of the core principles is people taking personal accountability for their work. It’s not leaderless. There are certainly people who hold a bigger scope of purpose for the organization than others. What it does do is distribute leadership into each role. Everybody is expected to lead and be an entrepreneur in their own roles, and Holacracy empowers them to do so.”

In its highest-functioning form, he says, the system is “politics-free, quickly evolving to define and operate the purpose of the organization, responding to market and real-world conditions in real time. It’s creating a structure in which people have flexibility to pursue what they’re passionate about.”

Twitter Co-Founder Ev Williams is one of the system’s early adopters; he uses Holacracy to run his publishing platform Medium, which has around 50 employees. Jason Stirman, whose roles include head of people operations and product designer at Medium, says that one of the best things about Holacracy is that it facilitates autonomy. “Ev isn’t the CEO of Medium to have another title for his Twitter bio. He wants the company to operate at the highest level possible, and he recognizes that all the power consolidated at top is great for people who are hungry but it can be a total bottleneck. There are decisions he wants to make and the rest can be absorbed in other areas of the organization.”

Still, Holacracy can feel unnatural, especially at first. Meetings are designed to rapidly process tensions. The focus is on the work, not the people. “It’s not a very human-centric model for things,” says Stirman. “For example, if you’re a junior designer, Holacracy says that you should bring up everything in this forum, but it can be difficult to ask for feedback or mentorship, especially when you’re new.”

Robertson says that Holacracy is meant to address structural issues, and that leaders will respond to the human element in different ways. Medium has created mentorship circles, and Zappos has similar plans. Williams and Hsieh both “have a high capacity to see the complex systems at play in their organizations,” says Robertson. “It’s not linear or a matter of just following the logical argument; it’s seeing the cloud of interconnections and influences, beyond just cause and effect thinking.”

At the Zappos “All Hands” meeting Hsieh said that at most companies, “there’s the org chart on paper, and then the one that is exactly how the company operates for real, and then there’s the org chart that it would like to have in order to operate more efficiently. … [With Holacracy] the idea is to process tensions so that the three org charts are pretty close together.”"
zappos  hierarchy  hierarchies  management  leadership  organizations  organization  tonyhsieh  aimeegroth  2013  horizontality  holacracy  autonomy  mentorship  power  evanwilliams  medium 
december 2013 by robertogreco
cityofsound: Sketchbook: Fabrica 2013 Informal Annual Review: from departments to studios
The studio model I had in mind was drawn from long experience—the multidisciplinary teams I had created, or tried to create, at the BBC and Arup—and recent experience, in Helsinki, with the Strategic Design Unit model pursued with my ertswhile colleages, Bryan Boyer, Justin Cook and Marco Steinberg, and documented well here. And of course, the studio as the forum for design practice generally.

I had also drawn a lot from Alex Coles' useful book The Transdisciplinary Studio—not necessarily in any direct sense (I haven't implemented any details of the various studio practices described therein: Jorge Pardo Sculpture, Konstantin Grcic Industrial Design, Studio Olafur Eliasson & Åbäke) but more in terms of concept, of not simply mixing disciplines, but going beyond them. Given the sense that Fabrica could be a new kind of factory, helping invent and construct the future ("Fabrica" is drawn from faber, to make, and also suggests the Italian word for factory, fabbrica), I was particularly interested in the hybrid products that much emerge from the synthesis of disciplines into something new. As Piaget has it, going beyond the displines.
"Transdisciplinary: between the disciplines, across the different disciplines, and beyond each individual discipline." [Jean Piaget, referenced in Coles]

Fabrica was essentially organised into discipline-based departments—film, music, product design, graphic design and so on. Although some areas, like Design, or Interactive, had the beginnings of a multidisciplinary mix, the structure was something I wanted to address. (I suggested this in something I wrote called "The New Vision", which was an internal discussion document/book—more soon—to gauge peoples' opinions.)

Fabrica, in terms of the structure of its "engine" was not a million miles from many other studios and schools. elsewhere.

Given the rest of our world—institutional or otherwise—is largely organised into such disciplinary structures, which organisations turn into silos (disciplines need not be silos; it's organisations that do that) then what would be the point of Fabrica doing that too?

Following my colleague Marco Steinberg's thought that "we have 18th century institutions facing 21st century problems", can we create a 21st century organisation? Something that faces the 21st century, in all its hybridity and complexity, on its own terms? Something that might address 21st century issues with a more appropriate, flexible and complex creative toolkit?

If we look at a city council organisational structure, you see that it is largely in a 19th century mode, and so ill-equipped to deal with a complex, interdependent challenge like climate change? All of the following departments—and more—are implicated in solving the problem. In my experience, even getting a meeting to discuss a citizen-centred project like Brickstarter can be an issue with this form of organisation.

If you look at the departments and divisions of Oxford University, say, can we really say it has moved far from the organisation of the medieval university?

So why, for instance, should Fabrica have a music department? There are a million places to go and study or practice music. Probably many better. Juillard, for instance. Yet there are few places that sit a musician or sound designer next to a coder, next to a filmmaker, next to an industrial designer. (The same applies to other departments, obviously.)

Given our size, agility, mission and the fact that we are not interested in formal academic certification (that is another "trap" that reinforces silos) this environment is something that Fabrica can uniquely forge. This is the possibilty behind the idea of Fabrica.

Ten months in we have moved to a new studio-based model of organisation, addressing thematic areas via a transdisciplinary mode.

• Each studio has a mix of disciplines; for example, code, graphic design, film making, writing, industrial design, sound, art, and so on.
• Each studio has a range of projects addressing the theme, from big to small, slow to quick, client-led to self-directed.
• Each is led by a studio lead, or leads.
• Each has a dedicated studio space at Fabrica.
• These are the studios we have now (overlapping to indicate the possibility of fluid movement between them, and shared projects.) …

[Read on.]
[Rest saved here too: ]
transdisciplinary  interdisciplinary  studioclassroom  danhill  fabrica  cityofsound  2013  organization  disciplines  crossdisciplinary  openstudioproject  tcsnmy  schooldesign  education  projectbasedlearning  innovation  creativity  thematiclearning  fluidity  projectorientedorganizations  pbl 
october 2013 by robertogreco
russell davies: the web, the web, the web
"I'm Not Saying: the website is broken therefore the company must have stupid web people.

I Am Saying: the website is broken therefore the company must have stupid leadership.

I Am Further Saying: I bet the web people are brilliant and are struggling to cope with an organisation that thinks the web is for marketing and aftersales rather then realising that the web is the platform on which they should build their whole business.

I Am Further Acknowledging Again That This Is Hard: It's hard because you have thousands of skus and legacy systems tied into horrible service contracts in competing regions, divisions and cultures. Fair enough. That's what you have to solve. That's why it's not a technology problem.

If you have so many products that you can't build a website that can easily surface them - then you have too many products.

If you have a corporate structure that means customers can't find the stuff they want - then you have the wrong corporate structure."
russelldavies  sony  web  management  digital  tcsnmy  organization  administration  leadership  2013 
october 2013 by robertogreco
What Google Can Learn from the Long History of Information Management | New Republic
"What is missing in this story is an examination of the inherently Promethean quality of mastering and organizing massive amounts of data. No matter how sophisticated, information management does not always work. In spite of super cross-referencing computers and epic algorithms, the most basic financial data or political intelligence can fail to get to the desk of the right analyst. Experts, scholars, and administrators practice the remarkable human activity of ignoring the data in front of them, or the very systems that they have designed to manage it. Leibniz makes a good case in point. Three hundred years before Einstein, he, too, kept a messy desk. A father of mathematics, a famous historian and philosopher, the builder of calculation machines and scrinia literaria, and the librarian of the massive ducal collection in Wolfenbüttel, Leibniz was nonetheless very bad at organizing his papers. Indeed, while he was a librarian, he attempted to catalogue the more than 200,000 books in Wolfenbüttel. Each title was written on a scrap of paper. He placed the almost 120,000 reference scraps (still only half the library) not into an organized scrinia, but into a bag. Many were misplaced or spilled, and at Leibniz’s death, in 1716, the failed project had succeeded only in closing down the library for nine years. The catalogue was not finished until years after his death.

Why did a figure such as Leibniz fail to use his own tools? Perhaps messiness was the source of his creativity. This is a fact of intellectual originality with which Google must still grapple—libraries, after all, allow for the type of manageable disorder which is often the spark of creativity. Or maybe Leibniz resisted the very order of things, over which his calculus gave him a unique mastery. If anything, the rejection of systematized information handling methods could be as common as their adoption. Humanists had the tools and even the concepts to invent the cross-referenced thematic library catalogue, but they did not do so. We do not know why it took several hundred years and the Italian director of the British Museum, Antonio Panizzi, to create a truly modern reference catalogue through his “Ninety-One Cataloguing Rules” in 1841."
messiness  organization  2011  google  cataloging  expertise  creativity  catalogs  systems  systemsthinking  libraries  manageabledisorder  disorder  cross-referencing  antoniopanizzi  leibniz  alberteinstein  scrinialiteraria  collections  memory  references  data  via:ayjay 
september 2013 by robertogreco
The Tyranny of Stuctureless
"Contrary to what we would like to believe, there is no such thing as a structureless group. Any group of people of whatever nature that comes together for any length of time for any purpose will inevitably structure itself in some fashion. The structure may be flexible; it may vary over time; it may evenly or unevenly distribute tasks, power and resources over the members of the group. But it will be formed regardless of the abilities, personalities, or intentions of the people involved. The very fact that we are individuals, with different talents, predispositions, and backgrounds makes this inevitable. Only if we refused to relate or interact on any basis whatsoever could we approximate structurelessness -- and that is not the nature of a human group.

This means that to strive for a structureless group is as useful, and as deceptive, as to aim at an "objective" news story, "value-free" social science, or a "free" economy. A "laissez faire" group is about as realistic as a "laissez faire" society; the idea becomes a smokescreen for the strong or the lucky to establish unquestioned hegemony over others. This hegemony can be so easily established because the idea of "structurelessness" does not prevent the formation of informal structures, only formal ones. Similarly "laissez faire" philosophy did not prevent the economically powerful from establishing control over wages, prices, and distribution of goods; it only prevented the government from doing so. Thus structurelessness becomes a way of masking power, and within the women's movement is usually most strongly advocated by those who are the most powerful (whether they are conscious of their power or not). As long as the structure of the group is informal, the rules of how decisions are made are known only to a few and awareness of power is limited to those who know the rules. Those who do not know the rules and are not chosen for initiation must remain in confusion, or suffer from paranoid delusions that something is happening of which they are not quite aware.


Once the movement no longer clings tenaciously to the ideology of "structurelessness," it is free to develop those forms of organization best suited to its healthy functioning. This does not mean that we should go to the other extreme and blindly imitate the traditional forms of organization. But neither should we blindly reject them all. Some of the traditional techniques will prove useful, albeit not perfect; some will give us insights into what we should and should not do to obtain certain ends with minimal costs to the individuals in the movement. Mostly, we will have to experiment with different kinds of structuring and develop a variety of techniques to use for different situations. The Lot System is one such idea which has emerged from the movement. It is not applicable to all situations, but is useful in some. Other ideas for structuring are needed. But before we can proceed to experiment intelligently, we must accept the idea that there is nothing inherently bad about structure itself -- only its excess use.

While engaging in this trial-and-error process, there are some principles we can keep in mind that are essential to democratic structuring and are also politically effective:

1) Delegation of specific authority to specific individuals for specific tasks by democratic procedures. Letting people assume jobs or tasks only by default means they are not dependably done. If people are selected to do a task, preferably after expressing an interest or willingness to do it, they have made a commitment which cannot so easily be ignored.

2) Requiring all those to whom authority has been delegated to be responsible to those who selected them. This is how the group has control over people in positions of authority. Individuals may exercise power, but it is the group that has ultimate say over how the power is exercised.

3) Distribution of authority among as many people as is reasonably possible. This prevents monopoly of power and requires those in positions of authority to consult with many others in the process of exercising it. It also gives many people the opportunity to have responsibility for specific tasks and thereby to learn different skills.

4) Rotation of tasks among individuals. Responsibilities which are held too long by one person, formally or informally, come to be seen as that person's "property" and are not easily relinquished or controlled by the group. Conversely, if tasks are rotated too frequently the individual does not have time to learn her job well and acquire the sense of satisfaction of doing a good job.

5) Allocation of tasks along rational criteria. Selecting someone for a position because they are liked by the group or giving them hard work because they are disliked serves neither the group nor the person in the long run. Ability, interest, and responsibility have got to be the major concerns in such selection. People should be given an opportunity to learn skills they do not have, but this is best done through some sort of "apprenticeship" program rather than the "sink or swim" method. Having a responsibility one can't handle well is demoralizing. Conversely, being blacklisted from doing what one can do well does not encourage one to develop one's skills. Women have been punished for being competent throughout most of human history; the movement does not need to repeat this process.

6) Diffusion of information to everyone as frequently as possible. Information is power. Access to information enhances one's power. When an informal network spreads new ideas and information among themselves outside the group, they are already engaged in the process of forming an opinion -- without the group participating. The more one knows about how things work and what is happening, the more politically effective one can be.

7) Equal access to resources needed by the group. This is not always perfectly possible, but should be striven for. A member who maintains a monopoly over a needed resource (like a printing press owned by a husband, or a darkroom) can unduly influence the use of that resource. Skills and information are also resources. Members' skills can be equitably available only when members are willing to teach what they know to others.

When these principles are applied, they insure that whatever structures are developed by different movement groups will be controlled by and responsible to the group. The group of people in positions of authority will be diffuse, flexible, open, and temporary. They will not be in such an easy position to institutionalize their power because ultimate decisions will be made by the group at large. The group will have the power to determine who shall exercise authority within it."
feminism  politics  culture  community  activism  structurelessness  jofreeman  joreen  1971  1970  movements  organization  democracy  structure  horizontality  verticality  hierarchy  authority  elitism  groups  groupdynamics  via:mitchbostian 
july 2013 by robertogreco
Leaders everywhere: A conversation with Gary Hamel | McKinsey & Company
"So, already, I think we’ve understood that value is created, more and more, out there on the periphery. But we still have these organizations where too much power and authority are reserved for people at the top of the pyramid. Ultimately, yes, I think the structures, the compensation, the decision making must catch up with this new reality.

I’ve found it kind of interesting. Most companies are now quite comfortable with 360-degree review, where your peers, your subordinates, and so on review your performance. In the best cases, that’s all online, and everybody can see it. But I would argue that the next important step is going to be 360-degree compensation because if you show me an organization where compensation is largely correlated with hierarchy, I can tell you that’s not going to be a very innovative or adaptable organization. People are going to spend a lot of their time managing up rather than collaborating. There will be a lot of competition that goes into promotion up that formal ladder rather than competing, really, to add value. So, increasingly, compensation has to be a correlate of value created wherever you are, rather than how well you fought that political battle, what you did a year or two or three years ago that made you an EVP or whatever."

[via: via Taryn]
leadership  administration  compensation  conversation  collaboration  hierarchy  hierarchies  management  value  power  labor  organization  organizations  authority  garyhamel 
june 2013 by robertogreco
The Metropolitan Museum of Art's surprising baseball card collection - ESPN
"Anyway, as Burdick was moving into middle age, he began thinking about where he wanted his collection to end up. Baseball cards weren't yet hot collectibles, so the idea that his cards might have commercial value never occurred to him. Instead, he proposed giving his collection to the Metropolitan Museum, which basically told him, "Sure, we'll take it -- as long as you catalog it and organize it first." So Burdick spent years making daily trips to the Met, where he painstakingly put all his cards into albums. He gave each series of cards its own alpha-numeric code -- sort of his own Dewey Decimal System -- that's still used by baseball card collectors today. That includes the code that has become the most famous shorthand in the card-collecting world: T206."
via:robinsonmeyer  cataloging  baseball  baseballcards  collection  folksonomy  themet  jeffersonburdick  organization  archives  cardcollecting  cards 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Paris Review - The Art of Poetry No. 91, Jack Gilbert
"He failed out of high school and worked as an exterminator and door-to-door salesman before being admitted, thanks to a clerical error, to the University of Pittsburgh. There he met the poet Gerald Stern, his exact contemporary. Gilbert started writing poetry, he says, because Stern did."

'INTERVIEWER: Do you think it’s important for American writers to live abroad?

GILBERT: At least at some point—so you have something to compare to what you think is normal, and you encounter things you aren’t used to. One of the great dangers is familiarity."

"INTERVIEWER: Did being removed from the literary community benefit you?


INTERVIEWER: What did you like most about it?

GILBERT: Paying attention to being alive. This is hard—when I try to explain, it sounds false. But I don’t know any other way to say it. I’m so grateful. There’s nothing I’ve wanted that I haven’t had. Michiko dying, I regret terribly, and losing Linda’s love, I regret equally. And not doing some of the things I wanted to do. But I still feel grateful. It’s almost unfair to have been as happy as I’ve been. I didn’t earn it; I had a lot of luck. But I was also very, very stubborn. I was determined to get what I wanted as a life.

INTERVIEWER: Do you think that your idea of happiness differs from most people’s idea of happiness?

GILBERT: Sure. I’m vain enough to think that I’ve made a successful life. I’ve had everything I’ve ever wanted. You can’t beat that."

"INTERVIEWER: Did school influence you as a young writer?

GILBERT: No, I failed high school; I got into college by mistake. I failed freshman English eight times. I was interested in learning, but I wanted to understand too, which meant I was fighting with the teachers all the time. Everybody accepted the fact that I was smart but I wouldn’t obey. I didn’t believe what they said unless they could prove it.

INTERVIEWER: Was your defiance—your resistance—ultimately an advantage?

GILBERT: Yes and no. It takes much longer if you have to find it all and do it all for yourself. My mind was not available for the impress of teachers or other people’s styles. The other arts were important to me. At one time I was working in photography with Ansel Adams. He offered to help me with my photographs if I would help him write his books, which was fine until we ran short of money and the woman I was with finally said she was tired of cooking pancakes.

INTERVIEWER: How did you get involved with Ansel Adams?

GILBERT: I was teaching a class and some of his students got to know me. I wish I’d been able to continue working with him, but it was either him or the woman. I chose the woman. After that I went to Italy and everything went into my falling in love for the first time. I did some painting there and won a fourth prize. I wish I had continued with painting and photography—novels too. But I was excited.

INTERVIEWER: What was Ansel Adams like?

GILBERT: Very German.

INTERVIEWER: Have you ever looked to other writers for inspiration?

GILBERT: I liked many writers but never found a teacher."

"INTERVIEWER: Do you think this has anything to do with the fact that so many poets come out of M.F.A. programs and go right on to teach?

GILBERT: If I answer that I’ll get into a rant, but I’ll tell you—I think poetry was killed by money. When I started out, no poet in America could make a living in poetry except Ogden Nash. And he did it with light verse."

INTERVIEWER: You taught in universities very rarely, only when you had to—just enough so that you could travel and write. Do you think writing poetry can be taught?

GILBERT: I can teach people how to write poetry, but I can’t teach people how to have poetry, which is more than just technique. You have to feel it—to experience it, whether in a daze or brightly. Often you don’t know what you have. I once worked on a poem for twelve years before I found it."

"INTERVIEWER: What, other than yourself, is the subject of your poems?

GILBERT: Those I love. Being. Living my life without being diverted into things that people so often get diverted into. Being alive is so extraordinary I don’t know why people limit it to riches, pride, security—all of those things life is built on. People miss so much because they want money and comfort and pride, a house and a job to pay for the house. And they have to get a car. You can’t see anything from a car. It’s moving too fast. People take vacations. That’s their reward—the vacation. Why not the life? Vacations are second-rate. People deprive themselves of so much of their lives—until it’s too late. Though I understand that often you don’t have a choice."

"INTERVIEWER: It sounds like even in your San Francisco days you sustained a rather remote life away from others. Is solitude important for you?

GILBERT: I don’t know how to answer that because I’ve always lived a life with a lot of quiet in it—either alone or with someone I’m in love with."

"INTERVIEWER: Is being childless good for a poet?

GILBERT: I could never have lived my life the way I have if I had children. There used to be a saying that every baby is a failed novel. I couldn’t have roamed or taken so many chances or lived a life of deprivation. I couldn’t have wasted great chunks of my life. But that would be a mistake for other people. Fine people. Smart people."

"INTERVIEWER: Do you keep to a work schedule?

GILBERT: No, I have an approximate rhythm, but I don’t like the idea of anything creative being mechanical. That’ll kill you. On the other hand, if I was not satisfied with how much I’d written in a year, then I would set out to write a hundred poems in a hundred days. I force myself to write poems even though I don’t approve of it because it does keep something alive. So I guess I have a little bit of a pattern that I live by. For instance, the other day I woke up at one in the morning and worked until four in the afternoon. I do that a lot. I can do that because I don’t have to accommodate anybody but me.

INTERVIEWER: So discipline is important to you?

GILBERT: Yes, because I’m lazy. If you have it in you, you want to create, but I won’t force myself—because it’s dangerous. People who are organized are in danger of making a process out of it and doing it by the numbers."

"INTERVIEWER: What’s your relationship with the contemporary literary community now?

GILBERT: I don’t have one.

INTERVIEWER: Does that bother you?

GILBERT: No. Why? Why would it bother me? Those people are in business. They’re hardworking.

INTERVIEWER: Don’t you work hard?

GILBERT: Not in the same meaning of the word hard. I put in a lot of effort because it matters to me. Many of these people who teach would do anything not to teach. I don’t have any obligations. I don’t have a mortgage. These people are working hard at a great price.

INTERVIEWER: I’m struck by how rarely I see your poems in anthologies and how 
often I see the same poems by other poets over and over again. Do you think there’s a disadvantage to spending most of your life abroad or outside of literary circles?

GILBERT: It’s fatal, which is all right with me.

INTERVIEWER: Do you ever feel any professional antagonism toward other writers?

GILBERT: Them toward me or me toward them?

INTERVIEWER: You toward them.


INTERVIEWER: Do you feel it from them toward you?

GILBERT: Sure. I contradict a lot of what they’re doing. I don’t go to the meetings and dinners. I don’t hang out."

"INTERVIEWER: Have you ever followed a particular religion?

GILBERT: Presbyterianism. Till I was about seven, I guess. My mother never went to church, but she was a believer. She loved God and believed God would be good to her. She sang when she cleaned the house on Sunday mornings.

INTERVIEWER: Do you consider yourself religious now?

GILBERT: I’d like to be. I think I’m very religious by temperament. I think it would be a great comfort to believe. But you don’t have a choice. Either you believe or you don’t. It’s not a practical matter. Religion is a beautiful idea, but I don’t have a choice.

INTERVIEWER: Where does your preoccupation with mythology and the gods come from?

GILBERT: Careless reading. I never read mythology or any fiction as if I were in a class. Myths give shape to what I feel about the world and my instinct about what I’m looking at. They inform what I think about the past."

"INTERVIEWER: Have you ever thought of writing your memoirs?

GILBERT: Yes. Every once in a while someone asks to do it for me. Sometimes I’m interested because I’ve forgotten so much of the past and I like the idea of walking through my life. What’s more, it’s a profound experience to be with people from my past again. To be with my memories. Things that I thought I’d forgotten all of a sudden become visible, become present.

INTERVIEWER: Like a film?

GILBERT: Different than that. It’s more like a feeling rising from the tops of my knees. Then I start remembering. It’s complicated; a child seldom remembers anything before he’s four years old. I just wonder how much I know, how much I’ve been through, that I no longer remember."

"INTERVIEWER: Does the United States—Northampton—feel like home to you now?

GILBERT: No, I don’t have a home. Not anymore. When Linda’s not teaching anymore we’ll probably leave this lovely Massachusetts world for another fine world. To be happy. Very happy."
jackgilbert  jackspicer  allenginsberg  anseladams  poems  poetry  writing  howwewrite  teaching  learning  dropouts  education  life  living  happiness  loneliness  solitude  quiet  love  children  parenting  community  purpose  experience  travel  livingabroad  expatriates  business  mfa  mfas  obligations  work  labor  howwework  relationships  inspiration  geraldstern  familiarity  difference  routine  process  success  photography  ogdennash  aging  death  organization  laziness  schedules  interviews  parisreview  nomads  nomadism  belonging  place  memory  memories  forgetting  religion  belief  myths  reading  howweread  mythology  sarahfay  idleness 
may 2013 by robertogreco
The University as a Googleplex | MPG
"When you hear people say - now and in our present context - that they want the university to be run like a business - full of "sherpas" but not "coasters" - what they really mean is that they don't want it to exist. At all. They don't want it to be dependent on public dollars, or "welfare," or that they don't want "tenured radicals" to be rewarded for obscure, narrowly applicable research agendas, or that they want higher education to be cheap and affordable. This is a certain kind of business model. More like Wal-Mart. It cheapens education. And it spells, down the road, the end of schooling, generally, as anything other than a bestowal of bare skills on a prospective worker."

"Yes, there are serious structural problems with interdisciplinarity. Many clever deans and provosts and chancellors see the metaphors of "bridges" and "switching points" and "nodes" as cutting-edge cost-saving measures, since, in many cases, a single jointly-appointed faculty isn't a truly new hire; he or she is a reallocated budget line, once wholly in one department or another, and now split. Budget problems are real and ongoing. Your average administratrix does the best that he or she can in an age of limited resources to keep the antique disciplines strong and to open the curriculum up to the avante-garde at the same time. Sometimes, they figure - or hope? - that a single person, allocated in two directions, can do the institutional work of many.

If you are trying to foster new knowledge, hiring is the start of it, not the end. What comes next, though, is what often gets skipped: building a more robust interdisciplinary infrastructure - a Googleplex for academics.

So, then, build bridges, where and when you can. Worry as much about sidewalks as that new humanities building. Offer faculty and staff subventions for a bicycle, or give them away. Don't get too caught up with putting the cognate units close together. Make the process of connection over space easier, so that the practice of articulation between units and fields and offices is generative. Keep your faculty moving. Good ideas often come on the road, in transit, in the spaces between destination and departure. If budgets are tight, worry less about clustering like-minded units; worry more about the creation of scenic walkways with flat, safe sidewalks, and benches.

But, then, don't skimp on the tech. You know what kills ideas? It isn't the sprint from one office to another. It is the discovery, on the end of the route, of dodgy wifi, spotty ethernet, and the chatter of the prehistoric desktop computer. Or it is the grinding weight of that 10 lbs. laptop from 2005. So, really, ipads for everyone and segways, too, along with moleskine notebooks, whiteboards, and color pens. Pay for iphones and cover the data costs. Spend the extra 10 million (a tenth of the cost of a big new LEED building) for the best internet connection. And, while you're at it, set up a shuttle bus. And if someone wants to see if the new google chromebook works for them - just as an experiment - say "yes." This isn't pampering. It is dreamscape infrastructure.

When the time comes to hire someone, embrace the weird. Hire people who don't mind wearing running shoes, or who text while they run, or who gchat through meetings. People who love to be in two places, or three, at once. People who aren't just working on three books at once, but who can actually make progress on each. People who can speak to a handful of fields and not just one. Hire foxes, not hedgehogs. And, above all else, hire people who can work with other people.

And then, finally, don't screw it all up by hanging these people out to dry: change the rules about tenure and promotion to protect interdisciplines, groupwork in the humanities, and digital publishing. Make it possible for new forms of knowledge production to be recognized as equally important and valuable. In the humanities, this means that we need to stop the unthinking worship of the book, and remember that the book is a vehicle for ideas, which get expressed - fully and richly - in many ways.

All of this stuff costs about as much as one lab for one scientist, which sounds pretty efficient to me. And the payoff, which may not come in the form of grant money or retail teaching, is worth every penny. If we want to measure our "best" and our "brightest" universities by their movement of the conversation, by their reorientation of everything we know about anything, then let's steal some good ideas from the Googleplex.

But let's also remember that the Googleplex and Google are different. The former is a structure of innovation, while the latter, just like Wal Mart, exists chiefly to market a product, in this case an eco-system through which an enhancement can be bought and downloaded. So build a Googleplex, but don't be Google. Because the central point here is that while universities can learn some useful things from studying corporate cultures of innovation, they can't ever be businesses. And anyone who says otherwise really, truly, and seriously just wants to kill them off."
highered  google  highereducation  education  business  publicgood  interdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  schooldesign  organization  2013  academics  technology  crosspollination  lcproject  openstudioproject  hiring  hierarchy  flatness  money  matthewprattguterl 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Social spaces summit – Briarpatch Magazine
"In describing the Thistle’s approach, Bergman said, “One of our goals is being a truly convivial space and really striving to connect to the folks who live near and around the centre. We do pretty good, especially with our drop-in participants, but the core collective is often made up of folks who are a lot alike in their predilections. There’s lots of reasons for this and I think a lot of it has to do with the explicit radical way in which we organize. We like to say we are politically overt but not ideological pure – we are always looking at and reworking this.”"
purplethistle  socialspaces  artistsspaces  praxis  socialtheory  via:selinjessa  2013  sonedworthy  vancouver  organization  openstudioproject 
march 2013 by robertogreco
b e e h i v e d e s i g n c o l l e c t i v e [Beehive Collective]
"To cross-pollinate the grassroots, by creating collaborative, anti-copyright images that can be used as educational and organizing tools.
In the process of this effort we seek to take the “who made that!?” and “how much does it cost!?” out of our creative endeavors, by anonymously functioning as word-to-image translators of the information we convey. We build, and disseminate these visual tools with the hope that they will self-replicate, and take on life of their own."
maine  collaborative  art  collective  activism  education  creativity  organization  via:matthall  self-replication  visualtools  design  beehivecollective  grassroots 
january 2013 by robertogreco
Fabula and syuzhet - Wikipedia
"…terms originating in Russian Formalism and employed in narratology that describe narrative construction. Syuzhet is an employment of narrative and fabula is the chronological order of the retold events. They were first used in this sense by Vladimir Propp and Shklovsky.

The fabula is "the raw material of a story, and syuzhet, the way a story is organized."[1] Since Aristotle (350 BCE, 1450b25) narrative plots are supposed to have a beginning, middle, and end. For example: the film Citizen Kane starts with the death of the main character, and then tells his life through flashbacks interspersed with a journalist's present-time investigation of Kane's life. This is often achieved in film and novels via flashbacks or flash-forwards. Therefore, the fabula of the film is the actual story of Kane's life the way it happened in chronological order…"

[via: ]
writing  storytelling  time  literature  poststructuralism  sequence  order  viktorshklovsky  vladimirpropp  russian  narratology  organization  narrative  plot  syuzhet  fabula 
november 2012 by robertogreco
The importance of not knowing: reflections of a designer tutor « SB129
"1. Teaching is really difficult…

2. Learning is all about the process, not the product…

3. Reflection has different temporalities… Real-time… Postmortem… Meta-level analysis…

4. Sparking imagination…

5. Research into teaching… How does your own intellectual drive become apparent to your students…

6. Debunking complexity…

7. Contextualisation…

…of ideas… …of their learning…

8. Humor / Humility…

9. Visual stimulation…

10. Good timing… in terms of when to introduce certain ideas…[and] the pace and length of each session…

11. Organisation and communication…

12. Shifting pace, flipping roles, experimenting…

13. Let them lead way…

14. Never patronise, never underestimate…

15. If you’re not learning from your students, you’re probably doing something wrong…

16. It’s all about mediating/encouraging curiosity…

17. It’s all about questions, not answers

Never pretend to know everything, ask more questions that you give answers…"
goldsmithscollege  2012  mattward  pedagogy  superiority  socraticmethod  questioning  mediating  mediation  students  communication  organization  timing  listening  stimulation  humor  humility  curiosity  complexity  contextualization  context  imagination  tcsnmy  reflection  product  process  learning  howweteach  education  design  canon  cv  teaching 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Alex Payne — The Case Against Everything Buckets
"One of my Rules For Computing Happiness is: “do not use software that does many things poorly.” Everything Buckets violate this rule up, down, and sideways. They’re poor filesystems, poor text editors, poor databases, poor to-do lists, poor calendars, poor address books, poor bookmark managers, and poor password managers. At their worst, they’re even poor web browsers, poor encryption systems, and poor synchronization schemes.

The corollary to that rule is: “use software that does one thing well.” When you need to store some data, there are so many wonderful applications to pick from. From recipes to receipts, photographs to music, journal entries to to-do list items, there’s a great application out there for what you need to do. Chances are good that the right application structures your data so that you can get more out of it. Use an application that actually does something more than holding data. You’ll be happier."
yojimbo  shovebox  devonthink  2009  computing  toolbelttheory  toolbelts  onlinetoolkit  specializedsoftware  tools  software  specialization  evernote  alexpayne  via:ablaze  organization  everythingbuckets 
september 2012 by robertogreco
The Hacker Ethic and Meaningful Work - Acrewoods home
"This essay begins with the following proposition: given that we spend a large proportion of our time working, a just society will provide or encourage meaningful work. I further assume that, rather than mounting a full frontal assault on the root of the problem, which I identify as capitalism and instrumental wage labour, we should instead seek out and broaden spaces where life can unfold freely (Gorz, 1994). Hackers, a group or label used in a sense unfamiliar to analytical philosophers, have created such spaces, and fit Melucci's description of individuals who "invest... in the creation of autonomous centres of action". Hackers have, to an extent, "oppose[d] the intrusion of the state and market" (quoted in Della-Porta & Diani, 2003) into their lifeworld since they first emerged as a social group in the late 1950s (Levy, 2001). I shall therefore set out to show how the Hacker Ethic, by which all hackers work, provides a promosing model both for further research into meaningful work…
socialutility  taoism  tao  life  autonomy  organization  regulation  karlmarx  marxism  richardstallman  deschooling  unschooling  hacking  hackers  obligations  howwework  state  markets  alienation  via:litherland  labor  capitalism  philosophy  politics  psychology  crackers  crime  motivation  freedom  passion  pekkahimanen  tomchance  meaningmaking  meaning  meaningfulness  work  hackerethic  ethics  culture 
august 2012 by robertogreco
Rare Interview With Garry Winogrand - Inside Aperture
"There've been times it's been just impossible to find a negative or whatever. … I don't have a filing system that's worth very much."

"It's hopeless. I've given up. You just go through a certain kind of drudgery every time you have to look for something. I've got certain things grouped by now, but there's a drudgery in finding them. There's always stuff missing."

"Winogrand almost never developed his film immediately. He was in no rush to edit his film, and he makes a strong case for it. He said he deliberately waited a year or two in order to lose the memory of the take.

"If I was in a good mood when I was shooting one day, then developed the film right away, I might choose a picture because I remember how good I felt when I took it." "Better to let the film 'age,' the better to grade slides or contact sheets objectively"."

[More: AND ]

[Another interview: ]

[An exhibit I saw at the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego: ]
cv  filingsystems  search  objectivity  memory  1981  organization  photography  via:markllobrera  robertfrank  garrywinogrand  dianearbus  ruth-marionbaruch  jerryberndt  brucedavidson  leefriedlander  dannylyon  ernestwithers 
august 2012 by robertogreco
The Writing Problems of Visual Thinkers
“Visual thinkers have difficulty organizing expository prose because their preferred mode of thought is fundamentally different from the organization of expository prose.” /

“The writing of a visual thinker is like a map of all the possibilities.” /

“Visual thinking allows for many elements to appear at once, simultaneously, interpenetrating with one another, with relationships that may be more evocative than specific.”

“Perhaps writing has been made unnecessarily difficult by the rarely challenged assumption that students should write in a one-dimensional sequence and produce a document composed exclusively of words typed in a uniform typeface.” /

“It is my hunch that people engage in high-speed, multi-channeled fully-verbalized thinking, as well as simultaneous ‘multitasking’ in cryptic forms of verbal thought, nonverbal modalities, and integrated forms of thought. Such a concept challenges current ideas about the limitations of ‘linear’ thought and could revolutionize our idea of where writing starts.”
writing  thinking  via:litherland  visualthinkers  organization  perspective  howwethink  howwewrite  nonverbal  multitaksing  thought  reading  howweread  learning  psychology  visual  cv 
july 2012 by robertogreco
Knoll (verb) - Wikipedia
"Knolling is the process of arranging like objects in parallel or 90 degree angles as a method of organization."

[Reminds me of "Things Organized Neatly": ]
glengarryglenross  frankgehry  words  language  arrangement  ocd  tools  angles  parallels  rightangles  florenceknoll  tomsachs  via:litherland  knolling  organization 
june 2012 by robertogreco
Good Tools Have Verb-Based Interfaces | Smarterware
"Thinking it through, I realized this category-based naming convention just doesn't align with my basic mental construct of what software is. Organizing items by category makes sense in libraries and bookstores, on restaurant menus, in music and movies—but not apps. An app isn't consumable media. An app is a tool. It helps you perform an action, to do something. Modern programming languages and APIs are verb-based (think MyObject->setName() and and HTTP's GET and POST), and the user interface should be, too. That's when I settled on a verb-based folder system."
via:coldbrain  organization  2012  software  langauge  actions  verbs  naming  tools  ginatrapani  iphone  ios  names 
february 2012 by robertogreco
David Graeber, On Bureaucratic Technologies & the Future as Dream-Time [at SVA]
"The twentieth century produced a very clear sense of what the future was to be, but we now seem unable to imagine any sort of redemptive future. Anthropologist and writer David Graeber asks, "How did this happen?" One reason is the replacement of what might be called poetic technologies with bureaucratic ones. Another is the terminal perturbations of capitalism, which is increasingly unable to envision any future at all. Presented by the MFA Art Criticism and Writing Department."
occupywallstreet  ows  anarchism  davidgraeber  alvintoffler  timothyleary  futurism  situationist  capitalism  collapse  economics  anthropology  robots  robotfactories  future  labor  efficiency  sva  self-governance  paperwork  decentralization  scifi  sciencefiction  humanrights  corruption  politics  policy  organization  2012  startrek  automation  technology 
february 2012 by robertogreco
Rands In Repose: A Bag of Holding
"When I stand up to go somewhere, the routine is precise. Right pocket, wallet. Left pocket, iPhone. Keys in hand, grab my bag and go. It’s this sort of workflow precision that allows me to stay cool when the unexpected occurs. My inner dialog during the situation is, Well, see, I’ve got my shit together, so even though this unpredictable thing is going down, I’m doing my part to support predictability.

Whether it’s a wallet or a bag, its design needs to encourage and support my irrational worldview that with the proper level of organization those disasters, large and small, are all manageable."
preparedness  tombihn  packing  howto  via:rushtheiceberg  organization  wallets  backpacks  cv  travel  bags 
december 2011 by robertogreco
#Occupy: The Tech at the Heart of the Movement - Alexis Madrigal - Technology - The Atlantic
"This essay inaugurates a series of stories on the ways that protesters have shaped technologies to fit their needs -- and how technologies opened up new space for their messages.

Let's start with what seems self-evident, but what I'm sure is more complex than it appears: Occupy is different from the protests that preceded it. To be honest, I'm not sure anyone can explain why. The list of factors contributing to its outstanding run is long: economic circumstances, a distance from the enforced patriotism that followed 9/11, disappointment on the left with Obama's presidency, the failure to adequately regulate banks, the neverending foreclosure crisis, the Adbusters provenance, severe cuts to social programs at the state and local level, the language of occupation, and the prolonged nature of the engagement.

But among those factors, technology plays a central role…"
ows  occupywallstreet  technology  2011  alexismadrigal  habitsofmind  twitter  socialmedia  facebook  protests  organization  networks  socialnetworks  socialnetworking  corporatism  news  communication  coordination 
november 2011 by robertogreco
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