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robertogreco : seneca   4

Robbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons
"In this temper, one last hypothesis: in making the case for study, one does not denigrate the teacher's profession. To be sure, one has to speak out against exaggerating the power of instruction. But this criticism does not reject teaching; in place of a rejection, it is a quest for the mean, a celebration of the Greek sense for nothing too much, an attempt to balance an inflated version of the teacher's mission with a touch of reality. Yes—let us continue our effort to teach all as best we can, but let us do so with more humility, sobriety, and realism.

Instruction does not make the man. A teacher gains coercive power to control and mold his students only so long as they abdicate their autonomy and dignity. Such an abdication is not a good foundation for an educational system, especially since it is less common and continuous than many would seem to believe. The teacher's authority, be it as a model of excellence or of folly, is a quality his students project erotically upon him. It is an attraction or repulsion that results because students are forever suspending their interest in learning their lessons; instead they abstract, they reflect; they step back mentally and with curiously cocked heads they observe their didactic deliverer, musing with soaring hope, wonder, joy, resignation, boredom, cynicism, amusement, sad tears, despair, or cold resentment—Ecce homo!

A teacher may or may not cause learning, but he will always be an object of study. Hence the pedant so surely plays the fool. But hence too, the man teaching can often occasion achievements that far surpass his personal powers. Great teachers can be found conforming to every type—they are tall and short, shaggy and trim, timid and tough, loquacious and terse, casual and stern, clear and obscure. Great teachers are persons who repay study, and they repay study because they know with Montaigne, "My trade and my art is to live.""
teaching  learning  instruction  montaigne  1971  robbiemcclintock  lucan  training  study  howwelearn  howweteach  pedagogy  erasmus  seneca  plato 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Why time management is ruining our lives | Oliver Burkeman | Technology | The Guardian
"All of our efforts to be more productive backfire – and only make us feel even busier and more stressed"

"At the very bottom of our anxious urge to manage time better – the urge driving Frederick Winslow Taylor, Merlin Mann, me and perhaps you – it’s not hard to discern a familiar motive: the fear of death. As the philosopher Thomas Nagel has put it, on any meaningful timescale other than human life itself – that of the planet, say, or the cosmos – “we will all be dead any minute”. No wonder we are so drawn to the problem of how to make better use of our days: if we could solve it, we could avoid the feeling, in Seneca’s words, of finding life at an end just when we were getting ready to live. To die with the sense of nothing left undone: it’s nothing less than the promise of immortality by other means.

But the modern zeal for personal productivity, rooted in Taylor’s philosophy of efficiency, takes things several significant steps further. If only we could find the right techniques and apply enough self-discipline, it suggests, we could know that we were fitting everything important in, and could feel happy at last. It is up to us – indeed, it is our obligation – to maximise our productivity. This is a convenient ideology from the point of view of those who stand to profit from our working harder, and our increased capacity for consumer spending. But it also functions as a form of psychological avoidance. The more you can convince yourself that you need never make difficult choices – because there will be enough time for everything – the less you will feel obliged to ask yourself whether the life you are choosing is the right one.

Personal productivity presents itself as an antidote to busyness when it might better be understood as yet another form of busyness. And as such, it serves the same psychological role that busyness has always served: to keep us sufficiently distracted that we don’t have to ask ourselves potentially terrifying questions about how we are spending our days. “How we labour at our daily work more ardently and thoughtlessly than is necessary to sustain our life because it is even more necessary not to have leisure to stop and think,” wrote Friedrich Nietzsche, in what reads like a foreshadowing of our present circumstances. “Haste is universal because everyone is in flight from himself.”

You can seek to impose order on your inbox all you like – but eventually you’ll need to confront the fact that the deluge of messages, and the urge you feel to get them all dealt with, aren’t really about technology. They’re manifestations of larger, more personal dilemmas. Which paths will you pursue, and which will you abandon? Which relationships will you prioritise, during your shockingly limited lifespan, and who will you resign yourself to disappointing? What matters?

For Merlin Mann, consciously confronting these questions was a matter of realising that people would always be making more claims on his time – worthy claims, too, for the most part – than it would be possible for him to meet. And that even the best, most efficient system for managing the emails they sent him was never going to provide a solution to that. “Eventually, I realised something,” he told me. “Email is not a technical problem. It’s a people problem. And you can’t fix people.”"
time  timemanagement  productivity  psychology  gtd  2016  oliverburkeman  stress  busyness  frederickwinslowtaylor  taylorism  merlinmann  technology  thomasnagel  humans  seneca  efficiency 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Gratitude and Its Dangers in Social Technologies
"How do our designs change when we start emphasizing people and community and not just the things they do for us? Over the next year of my research, I'm exploring acknowledgment and gratitude, basic parts of online relationships that designers often set aside to focus on the tasks people do online.

In May of last year, Wikipedia added a "thanks" feature to its history page, enabling readers to thank contributors for helpful edits on a topic:


The Wikipedia thanks button signals a profound change that's been in the making for years: After designing elaborate social practices and mechanisms to delete spam and maintain high quality content, Wikipedia noticed that they, like other wikis, were becoming oligarchic (pdf) and that their defense systems were turning people away. Realizing, this Wikipedia has been changing how they work, adding systems like "thanks" to welcome participation and encourage belonging in their community.

Thanks is just one small example of community-building at Wikimedia, who know that you can't create a welcoming culture simply by adding a "thanks" button. Some forms of appreciation can even foster very unhealthy relationships. In this post, I consider the role of gratitude in communities. I also describe social technologies designed for gratitude. This post is part of my ongoing research on designing acknowledgment for the web, acknowledging people's contributions in collaborations and creating media to support community and learning.

Why does Gratitude Matter?

People who invest time in others and support their communities describe their lives through a lens of gratitude. Dan McAdams at Northwestern University studies "generativity," the prosocial tendency of some people to see themselves as a person who supports their community: donating money, making something, fixing something, caring for the environment, writing a letter to the editor, donating blood, or mentoring someone. After asking them to take a survey, McAdams asks them to tell the story of their lives. Highly generative people often describe their lives through a lens of gratitude. People who give back to their community or pay it forward often think of things in exactly those terms: talking about the people, institutions, or religious figures who gave them advantages and helped them turn difficult times into positive experiences (read one of McAdams's studies in this pdf).

Gratitude that becomes part of our life story builds up over time. It's the kind of general gratitude we might direct toward a deity, an institution, or a supportive community. McAdams argues that this gratitude is an important part of the stories we tell ourselves about who we are: the person who loses his job and reimagines this tragedy positively as more time for family. A thankful perspective has also been linked to higher well being, mental health, and post-traumatic resilience (Wood, Froh, Geraghty, 2010 PDF)

Can we cultivate gratitude? Aside from my personal religious practice, I'm most often reminded to be grateful by Facebook posts from Liz Lawley, a professor at RIT who participates in the #365grateful movement. Every day in 2014, Liz has posted a photo of something she's grateful for. It's part of a larger participatory movement started by Hailey Bartholomew in 2011 to foster gratitude on social media:

[video: "" ]

The Economy of Thanks

… signals an understanding …

Expressions of gratitude can dramatically increase the recipient's pro-social behaviour…

Expressions of gratitude are a significant factor in successful long-term, collaborative relationships.…

…the link between reciprocity and thanks…

…commercial employee recognition technology for managers…

… expressions of thanks are signals of exchange within a relationship…

The Dark Side of Thanks

Gratitude or its absence can influence relationships in harmful ways by encouraging paternalism, supporting favoritism, or papering over structural injustices. Since the focus of my thesis is cooperation across diversity, I'm paying close attention to these dark patterns:

Presumption of thanks misguides us into paternalism…

… gratitude can support favoritism. …

Gratitude sometimes offers a moral facade to injustice.…

Mechanisms of Gratitude and Acknowledgment

In design, gratitude and thanks are often painted over systems for reputation, reward, and exchange. The Kudos system offers a perfect example of these overlaps, showing how a simple "thank you" can become freighted with implications for someone's job security, promotion, and financial future. As I study further, here are my working definitions for acts in the economy of gratitude:

Appreciation: when you praise someone for something they have done, even if their work wasn't directed personally to you. This could be a "like" on Facebook, the "thanks" button on Wikipedia, or the private "thanks" message on the content platform


Thanks: when you thank another person for something they have done for you personally. This is the core interaction on the Kudos system, as well as the system I'm studying with Emma and Andrés.

Acknowledgment: when you make a person visible for things they've done. This is closely connected to Attribution, when you acknowledge a person's role in something they helped create. I've already written about acknowledgment and designed new interfaces for displaying acknowledgment and attribution. I see acknowledgment as something focused on relationships and community, while attribution is more focused on a person's moral rights and legal relationships with the things they create, as they are discussed and shared.

Credit: when you attribute someone with the possibility or expectation of reward. Most research on acknowledgment focuses on credit, either its role in shaping careers or its implications in copyright law.

Reward: when you give a person something for what they have done. For example, the Wikipedia Barnstars program offers rewards of social status for especially notable contributions to Wikipedia. Peer bonus and micro-bonus systems such as add financial rewards to expressions of thanks, inviting people to add even more bonuses toward the most popular recipients.

[video: " Peer-to-peer employee recognition made easy" ]

Review: when you describe a person, hoping to influence other people's decisions about that person. Reviews on "reputation economy" sites like Couchsurfing are often expressed in the language of thanks, even though they have two audiences: the person reviewed as well as others who might interact with the subject of your review. In 2011, I blogged about research by Lada Adamic on reviews in the Couchsurfing community.

Designing for Gratitude, Thanks, and Acknowledgment

Gratitude is a basic part of any strong community. Thanks are the visible signal of a rich economy of favors and obligations, a building block in relationship formation and maintenance. Gratitude is common in the life stories of people who give back to their community, and it's the hallmark of the most successful long-term collaborative relationships. Despite the importance of gratitude, processes for collaboration and crowdsourcing much more frequently focus on rewards, reviews, and other short-term incentives for participation. Gratitude does have a dark side when it overrules consent, fosters favoritism, and even hides systemic injustices.

If we're going to design for community (civic technologies, I'm looking at you), we need to focus on relationships, not just the faceless outputs we want from "human computation." Across the academic year, I'll be posting more about the role of acknowledgment in cooperation, civic life, learning, and creativity, accompanied by more in-depth data analysis. I'll also write more about Wikipedia's initiatives for online collaboration that aim for greater inclusivivity."

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natematias  gratitude  socialmedia  wikipedia  learning  community  communities  communitymanagement  wikimedia  2014  thanks  appreciation  nathanmatias  visualization  journalism  kudos  lizlawley  socialnetworks  socialnetworking  civics  rewards  attribution  paternalism  peerbonus  acknowledgement  prosocial  cooperation  creativity  favoritism  injustice  presumption  facebook  365grateful  haileybartholomew  twitter  seneca  relationships  communication  generativity 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Nassim Taleb: my rules for life | Books | The Observer
"Modern life is akin to a chronic stress injury, he says. And the way to combat it is to embrace randomness in all its forms: live true to your principles, don't sell your soul and watch out for the carbohydrates."

"You have to pull back and let the system destroy itself, and then come back. That's Seneca's recommendation. He's the one who says that the sage should let the republic destroy itself."

"The "arguments" are that size, in Taleb's view, matters. Bigger means more complex, means more prone to failure. Or, as he puts it, "fragile". "

""Antifragile" is when something is actually strengthened by the knocks."

"In Taleb's view, small is beautiful."

"[He] claims that a janitor also has that kind of independence. "He can say what he thinks. He doesn't have to fit his ethics to his job. It's not about money.""

"He's also largely an autodidact."

"Between 2004 and 2008 were the worst years of my life. Everybody thought I was an idiot. And I knew that. But at the same time…"
math  teaching  fasting  diet  paleodiet  living  life  seneca  classics  war  thomasfriedman  honor  vindication  deschooling  autonomy  unschooling  anarchism  chaos  randomness  principles  honesty  freedom  academia  banking  money  ethics  socialmisfits  cv  independence  blackswans  failure  probability  antifragility  antifragile  small  fragility  autodidacts  2012  books  nassimtaleb 
november 2012 by robertogreco

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