recentpopularlog in

robertogreco : ralphwaldoemerson   8

What It Takes to Put Your Phone Away | The New Yorker
"During the first few days of my Internet decluttering, I found myself compulsively checking my unchanged in-box and already-read text messages, and scanning the same headlines over and over—attempting, as if bewitched, to see new information there. I took my dog out for longer walks, initially trying to use them for some productive purpose: spying on neighbors, planning my week. Soon I acquiesced to a dull, pleasant blankness. One afternoon, I draped myself on my couch and felt an influx of mental silence that was both disturbing and hallucinatorily pleasurable. I didn’t want to learn how to fix or build anything, or start a book club. I wanted to experience myself as soft and loose and purposeless, three qualities that, in my adulthood, have always seemed economically risky.

“Nothing is harder to do than nothing,” Jenny Odell writes, in her new book, “How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy” (Melville House). Odell, a multidisciplinary artist who teaches at Stanford, is perhaps best known for a pamphlet called “There’s No Such Thing as a Free Watch,” which she put together while in residence at the Museum of Capitalism, in Oakland. Odell investigated the origins of a blandly stylish watch that was being offered for free (plus shipping) on Instagram, and found a mirrored fun house of digital storefronts that looked as though they had been generated by algorithm. The retailers advertised themselves as brands that had physical origins in glitzy Miami Beach or hip San Francisco but were, in fact, placeless nodes in a vast web of scammy global wholesalers, behind which a human presence could hardly be discerned.

Like Newport, Odell thinks that we should spend less time on the Internet. Unlike him, she wants readers to question the very idea of productivity. Life is “more than an instrument and therefore something that cannot be optimized,” she writes. To find the physical world sufficiently absorbing, to conceive of the self as something that “exceeds algorithmic description”—these are not only “ends in and of themselves, but inalienable rights belonging to anyone lucky enough to be alive.” Odell details, with earnest wonder, moments in her life when she was reoriented toward these values. After the 2016 election, she began feeding peanuts to two crows on her balcony, and found comfort in the fact that “these essentially wild animals recognized me, that I had some place in their universe.” She also developed a fascination, via Google Maps, with the creek behind her old kindergarten, and she went to see it with a friend. She followed the creek bed, which, she learned, runs beneath Cupertino’s shopping centers and Apple’s headquarters. The creek became a reminder that under the “streamlined world of products, results, experiences, reviews” there is a “giant rock whose other lifeforms operate according to an ancient, oozing, almost chthonic logic.”

Odell elegantly aligns the crisis in our natural world and the crisis in our minds: what has happened to the natural world is happening to us, she contends, and it’s happening on the same soon-to-be-irreparable scale. She sees “little difference between habitat restoration in the traditional sense and restoring habitats for human thought”; both are endangered by “the logic of capitalist productivity.” She believes that, by constantly disclosing our needs and desires to tech companies that sift through our selfhood in search of profit opportunities, we are neglecting, even losing, our mysterious, murky depths—the parts of us that don’t serve an ulterior purpose but exist merely to exist. The “best, most alive parts” of ourselves are being “paved over by a ruthless logic of use.”

“Digital Minimalism” and “How to Do Nothing” could both be categorized as highbrow how-to—an artist and a computer scientist, both of them in their thirties, wrestling with the same timely prompt. (At one point, Odell writes, she thought of her book as activism disguised as self-help.) Rather than a philosophy of technology use, Odell offers a philosophy of modern life, which she calls “manifest dismantling,” and which she intends as the opposite of Manifest Destiny. It involves rejecting the sort of progress that centers on isolated striving, and emphasizing, instead, caregiving, maintenance, and the interdependence of things. Odell grew up in the Bay Area, and her work is full of unabashed hippie moments that might provoke cynicism. But, for me—and, I suspect, for others who have come of age alongside the Internet and have coped with the pace and the precariousness of contemporary living with a mixture of ambient fatalism and flares of impetuous tenderness—she struck a hopeful nerve of possibility that I hadn’t felt in a long time.

Odell writes about the first electronic bulletin-board system, which was set up, in Berkeley, in 1972, as a “communal memory bank.” She contrasts it with Nextdoor, a notoriously paranoid neighborhood-based social platform that was recently valued at $1.5 billion, inferring that the profit motive had perverted what can be a healthy civic impulse. Newport, who does not have any social-media accounts of his own, generally treats social media’s current profit model as an unfortunate inevitability. Odell believes that there is another way. She cites, for example, the indie platform Mastodon, which is crowdfunded and decentralized. (It is made up of independently operated nodes, called “instances,” on which users can post short messages, or “toots.”) To make money from something—a forest, a sense of self—is often to destroy it. Odell brings up a famous redwood in Oakland called Old Survivor, which is estimated to be almost five hundred years old. Unlike all the other trees of its kind in the area, it was never cut down, because it was runty and twisted and situated on a rocky slope; it appeared unprofitable to loggers. The tree, she writes, is an image of “resistance-in-place,” of something that has escaped capitalist appropriation. As Odell sees it, the only way forward is to be like Old Survivor. We have to be able to do nothing—to merely bear witness, to stay in place, to create shelter for one another—to endure."



"My Newport-inspired Internet cleanse happened to coincide with a handful of other events that made me feel raw and unmanageable. It was the end of winter, with its sudden thaws and strange fluctuations—the type of weather where a day of sunshine feels like a stranger being kind to you when you cry. I had just finished writing a book that had involved going through a lot of my past. The hours per day that I had spent converting my experience into something of professional and financial value were now empty, and I was cognizant of how little time I had spent caring for the people and things around me. I began thinking about my selfhood as a meadow of wildflowers that had been paved over by the Internet. I started frantically buying houseplants.

I also found myself feeling more grateful for my phone than ever. I had become more conscious of why I use technology, and how it meets my needs, as Newport recommended. It’s not nothing that I can text my friends whenever I think about them, or get on Viber and talk to my grandmother in the Philippines, or sit on the B54 bus and distract myself from the standstill traffic by looking up the Fermi paradox and listening to any A Tribe Called Quest song that I want to hear. All these capacities still feel like the stuff of science fiction, and none of them involve Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. It occurred to me that two of the most straightforwardly beloved digital technologies—podcasts and group texts—push against the attention economy’s worst characteristics. Podcasts often demand sustained listening, across hours and weeks, to a few human voices. Group texts are effectively the last noncommercialized social spaces on many millennials’ phones.

On the first day of April, I took stock of my digital experiment. I had not become a different, better person. I had not acquired any high-value leisure activities. But I had felt a sort of persistent ache and wonder that pulled me back to a year that I spent in the Peace Corps, wandering in the dust at the foot of sky-high birch trees, terrified and thrilled at the sensation of being unknowable, mysterious to myself, unseen. I watered my plants, and I loosened my StayFocusd settings, back to forty-five daily minutes. I considered my Freedom parameters, which I had already learned to break, and let them be."
jiatolentino  2019  internet  attention  jennyodell  capitalism  work  busyness  resistance  socialmedia  instagram  twitter  facebook  infooverload  performance  web  online  nature  nextdoor  advertising  thoreau  philosophy  care  caring  maintenance  silence  happiness  anxiety  leisurearts  artleisure  commodification  technology  selfhood  identity  sms  texting  viber  podcasts  grouptexts  digitalminimalism  refusal  calnewport  mobile  phones  smartphones  screentime  ralphwaldoemerson  separatism  interdependence 
april 2019 by robertogreco
The Library is Open: Keynote for the 2018 Pennsylvania Library Association Conference – actualham
"So I am trying to think about ways in. Ways in to places. Ways in to places that don’t eschew the complexity of their histories and how those histories inflect the different ways the places are experienced. I am thinking that helping learners see how places are made and remade, and helping them see that every interpretation they draw up–of their places and the places that refuse to be theirs– remake those places every hour.

This for me, is at the heart of open education.

Open to the past.

Open to the place.

Open at the seams.

Open to the public.

PUBLIC

So there is our final word, “PUBLIC.” You know, it’s not that easy to find out what a public library is. I googled it in preparation for this talk. It’s like a public museum. It might be open to the public, but does that make it public? But you know, it’s not that easy to find out what what a public university is. For example, mine. Which is in New Hampshire, the state which is proudly 50th in the nation for public funding of higher education. My college is about 9% state funded. Is that a public institution?

I think we may be starting backwards if we try to think of “public” in terms of funding. We need to think of public in terms of a relationship between the institution and the public (and the public good) and the economics of these relationships can be (will be! should be!) reflective of those relationships, rather than generative of them. What is the relationship of a public library or university– or a public university library– to the public? And could that relationship be the same for any college library regardless of whether the college is public or private?

Publics are places, situated in space and time but never pinned or frozen to either. Publics are the connective tissue between people, and as Noble points out, corporate interest in the web has attempted to co-opt that tissue and privatize our publics. A similar interest in education has attempted to do the same with our learning channels. Libraries exist in a critical proximity to the internet and to learning. But because they are places, that proximity flows through the people who make and remake the library by using (or not using) it. This is not a transcendent or romantic view of libraries. Recent work by folks like Sam Popowich and Fobazi Ettarh remind us that vocational awe is misguided, because libraries, like humans and the communities they bounce around in, are not inherently good or sacred. But this is not a critique of libraries. Or in other words, these messy seams where things fall apart, this is the strength of libraries because libraries are not everywhere; they are here.

I know this is an awful lot of abstraction wrapped up in some poetry and some deflection. So let me try to find some concrete practice-oriented ideas to leave you with.

You know textbooks cost way, way too much, and lots of that money goes to commercial publishers.

Textbook costs are not incidental to the real cost of college. We can fix this problem by weaning off commercial textbooks and adopting Open Educational Resources. OER also lets us rethink the relationship between learners and learning materials; the open license lets us understand knowledge as something that is continually reshaped as new perspectives are introduced into the field.

We can engage in open pedagogical practices to highlight students as contributors to the world of knowledge, and to shape a knowledge commons that is a healthier ecosystem for learning than a system that commercializes, paywalls, or gates knowledge. And all of this is related to other wrap-around services that students need in order to be successful (childcare, transportation, food, etc), and all of that is related to labor markets, and all of that is related to whether students should be training for or transforming those markets.

As we focus on broadening access to knowledge and access to knowledge creation, we can think about the broader implications for open learning ecosystems.

What kind of academic publishing channels do we need to assure quality and transparent peer review and open access to research by other researchers and by the public at large? What kinds of tools and platforms and expertise do we need to share course materials and research, and who should pay for them and host them and make them available? What kind of centralized standards do we need for interoperability and search and retrieval, and what kind of decentralization must remain in order to allow communities to expand in organic ways?

I’d like to see academic libraries stand up and be proud to be tied to contexts and particulars. I’d like to see them care about the material conditions that shape the communities that surround and infuse them. I’d like them to own the racism and other oppressive systems and structures that infuse their own histories and practices, and model inclusive priorities that center marginalized voices. I’d like them to insist that human need is paramount. Humans need to know, learn, share, revise. I’d like them to focus on sustainability rather than growth; the first is a community-based term, the second is a market-based term. Libraries work for people, and that should make them a public good. A public resource. This is not about how we are funded; it is about how we are founded and refounded.

Helping your faculty move to OER is not about cost-savings. You all know there are much easier ways to save money. They are just really crappy for learning. Moving to OER is about committing to learning environments that respect the realities of place, that engage with the contexts for learning, that challenge barriers that try to co-opt public channels for private gain, and that see learning as a fundamentally infinite process that benefits from human interaction. Sure, technology helps us do some of that better, and technology is central to OER. But technology also sabotages a lot of our human connections: infiltrates them with impersonating bots; manipulates and monetizes them for corporate gain; subverts them for agendas that undercut the network’s transparency; skews the flow toward the privileged and cuts away the margins inhabited by the nondominant voices– the perspectives that urge change, improvement, growth, paradigm shift. So it’s not the technology, just like it’s not the cost-savings, that matters. It’s not the new furniture or the Starbucks that makes your library the place to be. It’s the public that matters. It is a place for that public to be.

Libraries are places. Libraries, especially academic libraries, are public places. They should be open for the public. Help your faculty understand open in all its complexity. Help them understand the people that make your place. Help your place shape itself around the humans who need it.:
open  libraries  access  openaccess  2018  oer  publishing  knowledge  textbooks  college  universities  robinderosa  place  past  present  future  web  internet  online  learning  howwelearn  education  highered  highereducation  joemurphy  nextgen  safiyaumojanoble  deomcracyb  inequality  donnalanclos  davidlewis  racism  algorithms  ralphwaldoemerson  thoreau  control  power  equality  accessibility 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Why Americans see Buddhism as a philosophy rather than a religion — Quartz
"But American secular Buddhism has also produced some unintended consequences. Suzuki’s writings greatly influenced Jack Kerouac, the popular Beat Generation author of On the Road and The Dharma Bums. But Suzuki regarded Kerouac as a “monstrous imposter” because he sought only the freedom of Buddhist awakening without the discipline of practice.

Other Beat poets, hippies and, later, New Age DIY self-helpers have also paradoxically mistaken Buddhism for a kind of self-indulgent narcissism, despite its teachings of selflessness and compassion. Still others have commercially exploited its exotic appeal to sell everything from “Zen tea” to “Lucky Buddha Beer,” which is particularly ironic given Buddhism’s traditional proscription against alcohol and other intoxicants.

As a result, the popular construction of nonreligious Buddhism has contributed much to the contemporary “spiritual but not religious” phenomenon, as well as to the secularized and commodified mindfulness movement in America.

We may have only transplanted a fraction of the larger bodhi tree of religious Buddhism in America, but our cutting has adapted and taken root in our secular, scientific, and highly commercialized age. For better and for worse, it’s Buddhism, American-style."
buddhism  us  counterculture  philosophy  doctrine  2018  sokauniversityofamerica  mindfulness  secularism  religion  beatgeneration  jackkerouac  zen  zenbuddhism  daisetsuteitarosuzuki  thichnhathanh  shakusōen  anagārikadharmapāla  paulvcarus  ernestfenellosa  williamsturgisbigelow  henrydavidthoreau  ralphwaldoemerson  soka  sua 
august 2018 by robertogreco
Welcome to the Flaneur Society
"The Flaneur Society was created in response to Walter Benjamin's book Berlin Childhood Around 1900. In it he explores the concept of the Flaneur, one who wanders without destination.

Intrigued by this concept, the society was created to spread the concept of the Flaneur beyond academic studies and into the general consciousness of how we think of urban spaces.

The Guidebook to Getting Lost is a small pocket sized book which defines the concept of the Flaneur. Using the language of the Park Service and backcountry maps, the guide aims to introduce the participant to a city without the concern of street names and directions. Inside, there are three maps which can guide the participant to a state of Flaneuring. A PDF of the guidebook can be downloaded here." [PDF: http://www.flaneursociety.org/guide.pdf ]

[Tumblr: http://flaneursociety.tumblr.com/ ]
flaneur  situationist  walking  wandering  sanfrancisco  walterbenjamin  maps  mapping  derive  via:maryannreilly  ralphwaldoemerson  iste-fringe2012  dérive 
july 2011 by robertogreco
The Technium: Possibilians vs Agnostics
"Eagleman: "Our ignorance of the cosmos is too vast to commit to atheism, and yet we know too much to commit to a particular religion. A third position, agnosticism, is often an uninteresting stance in which a person simply questions whether his traditional religious story is true or not true. But with Possibilianism I'm hoping to define a new position -- one that emphasizes the exploration of new, unconsidered possibilities. Possibilianism is comfortable holding multiple ideas in mind; it is not interested in committing to any particular story."

…Agnostics end w/ lack of an answer. Possibilians begin w/ lack of an answer. Agnostics say, we can't decide between this & that. Possibilians say, there are other choices… Agnostics say, I Don't Know, it's impossible to answer that question. Possibilians say, I Don't Know, there must be better questions. Both start in humility, but agnosticism is bounded by our great ignorance, while possibilism is unbounded by our limited knowledge."
davideagleman  kevinkelly  uncertainty  possibility  possibilianism  religion  certainty  science  belief  agnosticism  atheism  doubt  curiosity  humility  skepticism  storytelling  criticalthinking  philosophy  ambiguity  hubble  ultradeepfield  ralphwaldoemerson  literature  myths  greekmyths  greeks  romans  creationstories  stories 
february 2011 by robertogreco
David Eagleman on Possibilianism on Vimeo
"Neuroscientist and best-selling author David Eagleman introduces the concept of Possibilianism, a new philosophy that simultaneously embraces a scientific toolbox while exploring new, unconsidered uncertainties about the world around us."
davideagleman  religion  atheism  agnosticism  possibilianism  philosophy  science  ambiguity  uncertainty  certainty  belief  curiosity  hubble  ultradeepfield  ralphwaldoemerson  literature  myths  greekmyths  greeks  romans  creationstories  storytelling  stories  possibility  doubt  humility  skepticism  criticalthinking 
february 2011 by robertogreco
Angela Ritchie's Ace Camps - Why We Travel - Pico Iyer
"We travel…to lose ourselves…to find ourselves…to open our hearts & eyes & learn more…to bring what little we can, in our ignorance & knowledge, to those parts of the globe whose riches are differently dispersed…to become young fools again—to slow time down & get taken in, & fall in love once more…

…travel…is just a quick way to keeping our minds mobile & awake. As Santayana…wrote, “There is wisdom in turning as often as possible from the familiar to the unfamiliar; it keeps the mind nimble; it kills prejudice, & it fosters humor.” Romantic poets inaugurated an era of travel because they were the great apostles of open eyes. Buddhist monks are often vagabonds, in part because they believe in wakefulness. And if travel is like love, it is, in the end, mostly because it’s a heightened state of awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed. That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end."

[Wayback: http://web.archive.org/web/20110526050656/http://www.ritchieacecamps.com/why-we-travel-pico-iyer ]
picoiyer  travel  learning  identity  glvo  self  knowledge  tcsnmy  ignorance  slow  time  love  santayana  thoreau  ralphwaldoemerson  wakefulness  awareness  noticing  observation  familiarity  transformationcompassion  empathy  work  life  freedom  proust  language  camus  fear  disruption  odyssey  grahamgreene  dhlawrence  vsnaipaul  brucechatwin  samuelbutler  paultheroux  oliversacks  petermatthiessen  marcelproust  albertcamus 
august 2010 by robertogreco

Copy this bookmark:





to read