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Gnamma #5 - Some Lessons from Learning Gardens
"The Learning Gardens [http://learning-gardens.co/ ] Slack, which has been, emergently, the "home" of the initiative, is shutting down in two months. This is a decision by me, Éd, and Morgane to encourage decentralization and distributed ownership of the idea. You could see whiffs of this coming in my earlier newsletter [https://tinyletter.com/gnamma/letters/gnamma-2-to-grow-a-garden ].

The goal returns to the kernel of the initiative in the first place: encouraging people to make spaces to take on [learning] initiatives they believe in. A Slack may re-emerge, things may decentralize, circle around tools like Are.na and Twitter and Discord, one-off forums, group texts, email newsletters, IRL groups and meeting spaces. Or perhaps the whole thing will fizzle for a while until some future moment. We, the janitors, generally tried to keep our moderation and assertiveness minimal, but this represents a strong-armed push to catalyze something new.

With this change forthcoming, I'm asking myself, what have we learned over 2.5 years of Learning Gardens as a public concept?

If someone came to me today saying, "I want to start a group of people to study X together!" some of my first questions would be: Is X well-defined enough to rally a group behind it? If X is vague, is the group well-defined enough to organize? Do you have the bandwidth to deal with not only organizing "content" for the group, but also managing a social landscape or making the conditions such that it can self-manage?

Let me clarify: X here doesn't need to be a "topic." It can also be a "mode of organizing." The medium can be the message, here, and a lot of the value in Learning Gardens has been in bearing witness to a variety of organizational schemes. (But I do recommend either a well-defined topic, well-defined group of people, or well-defined structure!)

This comes as NO surprise to anyone who has run groups or shared spaces: good management takes a lot of energy. It takes either a lot of active management & conversation, or a lot of lead time to build a substrate of mutual trust such that self-management works. To keep people aligned in logistics, to keep momentum, to upkeep a value set that people connect with, to generate ideas of where to go next. If your group is one organized around discrete "events" (in-person meet-ups, skype-in conversations, workshops, publications, etc), it's important to remember that the bulk of the work happens around these things, too: in the preparation and post-facto follow-up. You, organizing, should prepare for this and think of it as a way to invite others to participate (rather than feeling like you need to take on the "extra-curricular" work by yourself).

Redundancy in information-sharing is necessary. I've learned this lesson repeatedly, given a general desire to be a bit terse in what I put up online. Oversharing is necessary to get the point across, to get people to see it twice, to get them to come back.

Online, even in a semi-closed gardens of the sort that Slack groups emerged to be, the line between "being there" and "not" is thin. We have a term for riding this line: "lurking." Lurking in its internet-native form can be quite positive. (If you "lurk" in real life spaces, you're creepy.) It allows for exploratory observations of new interests, for following along without the commitment of joining the room, for feeling a connection even when formal participation might be difficult or contentious.

Learning Gardens is about learning, however, and one thing I strongly believe is that you do not learn passively. I don't want LG to be a loose social space: there is enough of that already. I want LG to be about communities formed through action. Latent in my thoughts around the decision to retire the Slack is the desire to see people turn a lurking tendency into an organizing (or participating) one. Trust is necessary for the vulnerability and confidence that breeds effective learning experiences, and trust is easiest to build when you know who else is in the room.

Thanks to everyone who has made the Slack interesting and dynamic over these years. I am looking forward to what is next! Please drop me a line if you are in the Bay Area."
lukaswinklerprins  2019  learning  unschooling  deschooling  learninggardens  gardens  education  self-directed  self-directedlearning  mutualaid  trust  community  howwelearn  redundancy  momentum  slack  social  action  sharing  éduordurcades  morganesantos 
february 2019 by robertogreco
Learning Gardens
[See also: https://www.are.na/blog/case%20study/2016/11/16/learning-gardens.html
https://www.are.na/edouard-u/learning-gardens ]

"Learning Gardens is a meta-organization to support grassroots non-institutional learning, exploration, and community-building.

At its simplest, this means we want to help you start and run your own learning group.

At its best, we hope you and your friends achieve nirvana."



"Our Mission

It's difficult to carve out time for focused study. We support learning groups in any discipline to overcome this inertia and build their own lessons, community, and learning styles.
If we succeed in our mission, participating groups should feel empowered and free of institutional shackles.

Community-based learning — free, with friends, using public resources — is simply a more sustainable and distributed form of learning for the 21st century. Peer-oriented and interest-driven study often fosters the best learning anyway.

Learning Gardens is an internet-native organization. As such, we seek to embrace transparency, decentralization, and multiple access points."



"Joining

Joining us largely means joining our slack. Say hello!

If you own or participate in your own learning group, we additionally encourage you to message us for further information.

Organization

We try to use tools that are free, open, and relatively transparent.

Slack to communicate and chat.
Github and Google Drive to build public learning resources.

You're welcome to join and assemble with us on Are.na, which we use to find and collect research materials. In a way, Learning Gardens was born from this network.

We also use Notion and Dropbox internally."



"Our lovely learning groups:

Mondays [http://mondays.nyc/ ]
Mondays is a casual discussion group for creative thinkers from all disciplines. Its simple aim is to encourage knowledge-sharing and self-learning by providing a space for the commingling of ideas, for reflective conversations that might otherwise not be had.

Pixel Lab [http://morgane.com/pixel-lab ]
A community of indie game devs and weird web artists — we're here to learn from each other and provide feedback and support for our digital side projects.

Emulating Intelligence [https://github.com/learning-gardens/_emulating_intelligence ]
EI is a learning group organized around the design, implementation, and implications of artificial intelligence as it is increasingly deployed throughout our lives. We'll weave together the theoretical, the practical, and the social aspects of the field and link it up to current events, anxieties, and discussions. To tie it all together, we'll experiment with tools for integrating AI into our own processes and practices.

Cybernetics Club [https://github.com/learning-gardens/cybernetics-club ]
Cybernetics Club is a learning group organized around the legacy of cybernetics and all the fields it has touched. What is the relevance of cybernetics today? Can it provide us the tools to make sense of the world today? Better yet, can it give us a direction for improving things?

Pedagogy Play Lab [http://ryancan.build/pedagogy-play-lab/ ]
A reading club about play, pedagogy, and learning meeting biweekly starting soon in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

[http://millennialfocusgroup.info/ ]
monthly irl discussion. 4 reading, collaborating, presenting, critiquing, and hanging vaguely identity-oriented, creatively-inclined, internet-aware, structurally-experimental networked thinking <<<>>> intersectional thinking

Utopia School [http://www.utopiaschool.org/ ]
Utopia School is an ongoing project that shares information about both failed and successful utopian projects and work towards new ones. For us, utopias are those spaces and initiatives that re-imagine the world in some crucial way. The school engages and connects people through urgent conversations, with the goal of exploring, archiving and distributing collective knowledge throughout this multi-city project.

A Pattern Language [https://github.com/learning-gardens/pattern_language ]
Biweekly reading group on A Pattern Language, attempting to reinterpret the book for the current-day."

[See also: "Getting Started with Learning Gardens: An introduction of sorts"
http://learning-gardens.co/2016/08/13/getting_started.html

"Hi, welcome to this place.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably wondering where to start! Try sifting through some links on our site, especially our resources, Github Organization, and Google Drive.

If you’re tired of reading docs and this website in general, we’d highly recommend you join our lively community in real time chat. We’re using Slack for this. It’s great.

When you enter the chat, you’ll be dumped in a channel called #_landing_pad. This channel is muted by default so that any channels you join feel fully voluntary.

We’ve recently started a system where we append any ”Learning Gardens”-related channels with an underscore (_), so it’s easy to tell which channels are meta (e.g. #_help), and which are related to actual learning groups (e.g. #cybernetics).

Everything is up for revision." ]
education  learninggardens  learningnetworks  networks  slack  aldgdp  artschools  learning  howwlearn  sfsh  self-directed  self-directedlearning  empowerment  unschooling  deschooling  decentralization  transparency  accessibility  bookclubs  readinggroups  utopiaschool  apatternlanguage  christopheralexander  pedagogy  pedagogyplaylab  cyberneticsclub  emulatingintelligence  pixellab  games  gaming  videogames  mondays  creativity  multidisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  interdisciplinary  ai  artificialintelligence  distributed  online  web  socialmedia  édouardurcades  artschool 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Gomix
"Gomix is the easiest way to build the app or bot of your dreams

[video]

Start by remixing

You never have to start from a blank slate. Remix a full, working app to personalize it for your needs, or build on the most popular and powerful developer frameworks to create your app.

Real collaboration

You don’t have to deal with the complexity of version control or tracking changes — the built-in editor allows multiple people to edit code at once and undo mistakes as they happen, just like working together in Google Docs.

It's not training wheels

Gomix is not a limited "toy" version of a real developer environment — your Gomix app is hosted on the exact same industry standard infrastructure that the best developers use to run their apps.

We handle the mess

While you work with Gomix, we seamlessly upgrade your servers and cloud infrastructure in the background. There’s no deployment or server provisioning because it all happens automatically.

Backed by a real company

Gomix is made by Fog Creek, one of the most influential small tech companies in the world. We made Trello, FogBugz and co-created Stack Overflow.

Why Did We Make Gomix?

In some ways, Gomix is a throwback to an older era of software or the internet, when there were simpler ways to get started making cool stuff. For people who were around at that time, they'll understand Gomix easily: We’re bringing “View Source” back. Of course, they didn't literally take “View Source” out of web browsers, but the ability to just look at the code behind something, and tweak it, and make your own thing, was essential to making the Internet fun, and weird, and diverse, in its early days. And that has sadly disappeared.

Similarly, in even earlier eras, tools like HyperCard on the Mac and Visual Basic on Windows democratized software creation, letting regular individuals or casual business users create useful apps to meet their needs. During development, Gomix was even called “HyperDev”, as a nod to this history — and its early-90s aesthetic subtly nods to that heritage, too.

Whether we look at simple issues like being able to do fun things with an Amazon Echo, or hugely complex issues like trying to make tech and programming more inclusive, Gomix has a role to play in solving problems that matter. And we’re going to have fun doing it!"
webdev  bots  gomix  slack  alexa  fogcreek  remixing  programming  webdesign 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Wikity, One Year Later | Hapgood
"I have to admit, I thought early on that there would be larger appetite for Wikity. There may still be. But it has proved harder than thought.

Part of the reason, I think, is that the social bookmarking world that I expected Wikity to expand on is smaller than I thought, and has at least one good solid provider that people can count on (Pinboard, written and maintained by the excellent Maciej Cegłowski). More importantly, people have largely built a set of habits today that revolve around Twitter and Facebook and Slack. The habits of personal bookmarking have been eroded by these platforms which give people instant social gratification. In today’s world, bookmarking, organizing, and summarizing information feels a bit like broccoli compared to re-tweeting something with a “WTF?” tag and watching the likes roll in.

I had a bunch of people try Wikity, and even paid many people to test it. The conclusion was usually that it was easy to use, valuable, cool — and completely non-addictive. One hour into Wikity people were in love with the tool. But the next day they felt no compulsion to go back.

We could structure Wikity around social rewards in the future, and that might happen. But ultimately, for me, that struggle to understand why Wikity was not addictive in the ways that Twitter and Facebook were ended up being the most important part of the project.

I began, very early on, compiling notes in Wikity on issues surrounding the culture of Twitter, Facebook, social media, trolling, and the like. Blurbs about whether empathy was the problem or solution. Notes on issues like Abortion Geofencing, Alarm Fatigue, and the remarkable consistency of ad revenue to GDP over the last century. Was this the battle we needed to have first? Helping people understand the profound negative impact our current closed social media tools are having on our politics and culture?

I exported just my notes and clippings on these issues the other day, from Wikity, as a pdf. It was over 500 pages long. I was in deep.

As the United States primary ramped up, I became more alarmed at the way that platforms like Facebook and Twitter were polarizing opinions, encouraging shallow thought, and promoting the creation and dissemination of conspiracy theories and fake news. I began to understand that the goals of Wikity — and of any social software meant to promote deeper thought — began with increasing awareness of the ways in which our current closed, commercial environments our distorting our reality.

Recently, I have begun working with others on tools and projects that will help hold commercial social media accountable for their effect on civic discourse, and demonstrate and mitigate some of their more pernicious effects. Tools and curriculum that will help people to understand and advocate for the changes we need in these areas: algorithmic transparency, the right to modify our social media environments, the ability to see what the feed is hiding from us, places to collectively fact-check and review the sources of information we are fed.

Wikity will continue to be developed, but the journey that began with a tool ended at a social issue, and I think it’s that social issue — getting people to realize how these commercial systems have impacted political discourse and how open tools might solve the problem — that most demands addressing right now. I don’t think I’ve been this passionate about something in a very long time.

I’ve had some success in getting coverage of this issue in the past few weeks, from Vox, to TechCrunch, to a brief interview on the U.S.’s Today Show this morning.

I think we need broader collaborations, and I think open tools and software will be key to this effort. This is a developing story.

So it’s an interesting end to this project — starting with a tool, and getting sucked into a movement. Wikity is complete and useful, but the main story (for me) has turned out to lead beyond that, and I’m hurtling towards the next chapter.

Was this a successful grant? I don’t know what other people might think, but I think so. Freed from the constrictions of bullet pointed reports and waterfall charts, I just followed it where it led. It led somewhere important, where I’m making a positive difference. Is there more to success than that?

Thanks again to the Shuttleworth Foundation which kicked me off on this ride. I’ll let you all know where it takes me in the future.

(And to my Wikity fans and users — don’t worry: Wikity is not going away. As long as I can’t live without it, it’s going to continue to be developed, just a bit more slowly)."
mikecaulfield  wikity  bookmarking  socialbookmarking  software  pinboard  wikis  2016  socialmedia  titter  facebook  slack  socialgratification  tagging  compulsion 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Walled Gardens & Escape Routes | Kneeling Bus
"Slack and Snapchat are two of the platforms that best embody the current technological moment, the fastest recent gainers in Silicon Valley’s constant campaign to build apps we put on our home screens and not only use constantly but freely give our locations, identities, relationships, and precious attention. One of those products is for work and one is for play; both reflect values and aesthetics that, if not new, at least differ in clear ways from those of email, Facebook, and Twitter—the avatars of comparable moments in the recent past.

Recently I compared Twitter to a shrinking city—slowly bleeding users and struggling to produce revenue but a kind of home to many, infrastructure worth preserving, a commons. Now that Pokemon Go has mapped the digital universe onto meatspace more literally, I’ll follow suit and extend that same “city” metaphor to the rest of the internet.

I’m kidding about the Pokemon part (only not really), but the internet has nearly completed one major stage of its life, evolving from a mechanism for sharing webpages between computers into a series of variously porous platforms that are owned or about to be owned by massive companies who have divided up the available digital real estate and found (or failed to find) distinct revenue-generating schemes within each platform’s confines, optimizing life inside to extract revenue (or failing to do so). The app is a manifestation of this maturing structure, each app a gateway to one of these walled gardens and a point of contact with a single company’s business model—far from the messy chaos of the earlier web. So much urban space has been similarly carved up.

If Twitter is a shrinking city, then Slack or Snapchat are exploding fringe suburbs at the height of a housing bubble, laying miles of cul-de-sac and water pipe in advance of the frantic growth that will soon fill in all the space. The problem with my spatial metaphor here is that neither Slack nor Snapchat feels like a “city” in its structure, while Twitter and Facebook do by comparison. I never thought I’d say this, but Twitter and Instagram are legible (if decentralized): follower counts, likes, or retweets signal a loosely quantifiable importance, the linear feed is easy enough to follow, and everything is basically open by default (private accounts go against the grain of Twitter). Traditional social media by now has become a set of tools for attaining a global if personally-tailored perspective on current events and culture.

Slack and Snapchat are quite different, streams of ephemeral and illegible content. Both intentionally restrict your perspective to the immediate here and now. We don’t navigate them so much as we surf them. They’re less rationally-organized, mapped cities than the postmodern spaces that fascinated Frederic Jameson and Reyner Banham: Bonaventure Hotels or freeway cloverleafs, with their own semantic systems—Deleuzian smooth space. Nobody knows one’s position within these universes, just the context their immediate environment affords. Facebook, by comparison, feels like a high modernist panopticon where everyone sees and knows a bit too much.

Like cities, digital platforms have populations that ebb and flow. The history of urbanization is a story of slow, large-scale, irreversible migrations. It’s hard to relocate human settlements. The redistributions of the digital era happen more rapidly but are less absolute: If you have 16 waking hours of daily attention to give, you don’t need to shift it all from Facebook to Snapchat but whatever you do shift can move instantly.

The forces that propel migrations from city to city to suburb and back to city were frequently economic (if not political). Most apps and websites cost nothing to inhabit and yield little economic opportunity for their users. If large groups are not abandoning Twitter or Facebook for anything to do with money, what are they looking for?"



"If we’ve learned anything from recent technology, we can expect Slack and Snapchat to reveal their own serious flaws over time as users accumulate, behaviors solidify, and opportunists learn to exploit their structure. Right now most of the world is still trying to understand what they are. When the time comes—and hopefully we’ll recognize it early enough—we can break camp and go looking for our next temporary outpost."
walledgadens  web  online  internet  2016  snapchat  slack  darknet  darkweb  instagram  twitter  legibility  drewaustin  fredericjameon  reynerbanham  email  venkateshrao  benbashe  identity  communication  openweb  facebook  texting  sms  flowlaminar 
july 2016 by robertogreco
One voice, many hands — Several People Are Typing — The Official Slack Blog
"First, you need to know what voice you’re using. There’s a difference between creating a voice from scratch and building on one that already exists — and we’ll get to the difference between a constructed or a nourished brand voice in a later piece — but once you know your voice, you have to break it down again in order to work out how to scale it.

Starting with the what

When we first started approaching this problem at Slack, we tried to do it from a logistical, logical, mechanical point of view. We started making lists of words and phrases that sound like things we’d say.

Or, more often, lists of things we’d never say. It’s always easier to identify what you don’t want your voice to sound like than what you do. “We should never sound like this,” you say, reading a densely packed jargon-filled piece of marketing copy from a long-defunct service. “We mustn’t ever use this word. Or this phrase. Or… here: I’ll just make a list.”

Thing is, while it’s easy to identify the negative traits, it creates a gaping void for anyone who isn’t inside the mind of the holder of that voice. Anyone who comes to write for you steps off the huge cliff of “not like this” into an empty space. What DO you sound like, then?

A great first step, as used in many style guides (and guides to styling style guides) is the “this but not that” list.

From our style guide, for example:
We are:
Confident (never cocky)
Witty (but not silly)
Informal (but never too informal)
Intelligent (and always treat our users as intelligent, too)
Friendly (but not ingratiating)
Helpful (never overbearing)
Clear, concise and human.

We are characterful
But we never let character overwhelm content. What we have to say is infinitely more important than being admired for the way in which we say it. If people can’t see the substance for the style, we’ve gone wrong.

But having that basic sense of the personality of the company, or the brand, doesn’t mean that people can necessarily step into and out of it when they need to write something.

If people are still relying on checking the lists of things they sound like against things they shouldn’t, they tend to get bound up and overthink. The words are all there, but the feeling behind them is lacking. They’re trying to sound a certain way, but it doesn’t feel clear how or why they’re wanting to sound that way.

Never mind the what — start with the why

Our training in writing at Slack has shifted over time, then, from using the solid ‘examples and end results’ to encouraging people to tap into the feelings behind them.

We’re working on getting people to think of writing — of using the “Slack voice” — as merely using their own voice, but using shared characteristics or values to approach whatever it is they’re about to write. And how do you get into that brain? We use a few of our company values to help focus on how it is we sound. Simple: just ask a few questions, and consider a few things.

Empathy

Whatever someone is about to write, we encourage people to think about the person they’re writing it for. To give them a face, and a name. If it helps to think of someone you know, do that. If it helps to think of an appropriate emoji face that sums it up, why not? Ask yourself:

• What is the reader feeling? Where have we found them?
• Are they angry? Confused? Curious? Excited?
• How often might they see this bit of writing? How would it read after the 20th time?
• How do I want them to feel at the end? How can I help get them there?

Courtesy

Being courteous is about being respectful, but not over-polite. Adding 12 extra pleases and thanks, or a paragraph telling people what you’re about to say in the next paragraph is less courteous than simply telling people what they need to know and then getting out of their way.

• How does this help the person I’m talking to?
• What’s the very essence of what they need to take from this? How quickly can they get to it?
• Do I need to speak at all? Is this something a person will work out by themselves?

Think about what you need to say in advance. Work through all the questions people may have, and answer them. Then delete anything that is extraneous or confusing information.

Craftsmanship

The stuff you put out into the world speaks volumes to people about every other part of whatever you make. You’re representing all your colleagues, your team, all the people that don’t get seen, whatever you type. So being precise about the quality of the work will speak volumes about all the work that people can’t see.

• Can this be tighter? Can I lose the first paragraph?
• Who can give me a second opinion, or a second pair of eyes?
• When I read it out loud, does it make me stumble? Can I rewrite it so that it doesn’t?

Playfulness

At Slack, playfulness is not about the number of emoji you can use, or whimsy or … whatever. It’s about being in a playful stance: being in the spirit of the game, having an open mind, looking at the world sideways or surpassing expectations.

• What does this usually sound like?
• What different angle can I look at this from? How can I approach this differently?
• What word or phrase can I throw in there that will make someone smile?
• What do I need to do to meet expectations? What can I do to surpass them?
• How can I use this opportunity to make someone’s day a little more pleasant?

We tend think of our voice, in addition to being an external representation of the people behind it, as part of the product. And because of that, we aren’t necessarily making rules about what to say or what not to say. We’re trying to find the right traits to tap into, trying to open up the space so people can sound like themselves — because, if they work here, sounding like themselves is sounding like Slack — but come at it from a position of shared characteristics. It’s less about mechanics — more about a sensibility. Of course, even if you’re working from inside out like this, you still need rules (and more of that anon). But working this way means we can be a little more flexible, a little more able to stretch and grow, and be, in general, a little more liberal with our words.

Because we’re hippies.

Not really. It’s because, so far, it actually seems to be (mainly) working."
sfsh  content  contentstrategy  voice  slack  writing  howto  tutorials  organizations  webdev  communication  webdesign 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Processing — Race Condition — Medium
"I am sitting in the Library at Slack.

I plan to leave work today at 3pm because that’s when someone has the Library booked and I can’t be at work today unless I am in the Library.

The Library is my shelter and solace from the smiling, happy, faces of my coworkers. The Library protects me from their good cheer and protects them from the stew of negative emotions currently on a low boil inside me. The Library prevents them from stoking the flame.

Last night I learned that yet another black man was murdered by a police officer. There was video. I was unable to watch the video. I tried, but immediately broke down in tears when the police pinned Alton Sterling to the ground. I gathered bits and pieces from the endless tweets about it, from people close to me who had watched it, from the video of the store owner, Alton Sterling’s friend, who talked about it.

Alton Sterling was selling CD’s in front of his friend’s store. Somebody called the police. The police tackled him to the ground, held him there restrained, and then shot him point blank. They did not immediately call for medical assistance. Two 28 year old men, hiding behind the badges given to them by the city of Baton Rouge and the power given to them by the system that says white is right, murdered a black man, a husband, a father.

***

This morning on my way to work, I scrolled through Twitter while riding BART to work. I encountered a video of a press conference of Alton Sterling’s family. His 15 year old son was visibly and vocally destroyed. His father, doing nothing wrong, was suddenly ripped away from him. This young black man, who lives in this society where young black men are conditioned to be “hard” and “tough”, could not help but to bawl at the loss of his father. My heart broke. I closed the video and looked up at the ceiling in an attempt to hold my tears back.

I got to work and made a beeline for the Library. Headphones on, so I could pretend not to hear the cheerful greetings. Head down, so I would not make eye contact. I did not want to invite a discussion that would almost certainly include the sort of banter wherein I would be expected to be pleasant and smiling and say “Fine, how are you,” in response to a query about how I’m doing. In therapy I learned that I shouldn’t lie to people about how I’m feeling to protect them, but sometimes, I don’t want to deal with the emotional weight of having to explain my feelings to someone who couldn’t possibly understand them, no matter how hard they tried. This morning was one of those times.

***

Though many black folks joke about it, there is no such thing as “calling in black.” To call in black would be a radical act of self care, were it available to most black people. On the day after we have watched yet another black body be destroyed by modern day slave patrols, it would be helpful for us to be able to take a day away to process. To grieve. To hurt. To be angry. To try to once again come to grips with the fact that many people in this country, especially those in power, consider us disposable at best.

It would be equally helpful to be shielded from the smiling, happy, faces of those oblivious of what it is like to watch someone who could easily be your brother, cousin, auntie, or nephew be murdered in cold blood. To not have to force a smile when a coworker greets you with anything but grim remorse. To not have to think about the what it must be like to be so shielded, so protected, so blissfully unaware that you are able to utter the words “good morning” when the morning is anything but. To avoid the inevitable “Oh, I hadn’t heard,” belying that person’s “commitment to inclusion,” as to include me is to know that my people continue to be systemically marginalized and brutalized, to include me is to go out of your way to make yourself aware, to include me is to speak up about it. And today I don’t want to be reminded that I’m not really included.

But because most of us work in companies largely helmed by non-black people, there is nobody in a position of power who would even understand the need to “call in black” and so it does not exist, at least in my workplace.

And so I sit at work, in this Library, in my shelter, with my headphones on, as removed from anyone else as I can possibly be, while I process, and grieve.
Rest in Power Alton Sterling. You, like all those before you, did not deserve to be added to the list of hashtags.

***

Update: Yesterday after I published this, Stewart reached out to me to say this: “You, or anyone else, can call in Black any day.” Not 3 hours after that, I learned of yet another brutal and senseless shooting of a Black man by a police officer. I did not watch that video either. I cannot. I cannot continue to watch Black people die at the hands of police. And like yesterday, I am grieving, hurting, mourning, aching, worrying, angry, and scared. Unlike yesterday, I will do this in a safe space. Today I am calling in Black.

Today I will give myself the space to grieve for Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and every other Black person that has been executed and all those that will be executed by the police, until we finally say enough is enough and put an end to the terrorism that we call modern day policing. There has to be a better way. This way that criminalizes blackness is destroying families, communities, and cultures. So while I encourage Black folks to call in Black today, I am encouraging everyone else, especially White folks, to stop shaking your heads, and moaning about the tragedies. I am specifically asking you, White people, to police your police.

I am encouraging you to speak up, to rise up, to ask questions, to shine the same spotlight on your local police department that is shining on Baltimore, Ferguson, Baton Rouge, Minneapolis, and Oakland. I am encouraging you to educate and inform yourselves about the police force in your area. How frequently do they pull over and arrest black people? How often are officers put on leave with pay for excessive force? How many people have they killed? What are they saying on social media? Dig. Look into every record, into every background. Leave no stone unturned. I don’t want your thoughts and prayers. Your thoughts and prayers are clearly not helping. I want you to do something that will prevent another Black person from being summarily executed for merely existing."
ericajoy  self-care  2016  blacklivesmatter  policbrutality  altonsterling  philandocastile  racism  trauma  stewartbutterfield  slack  work  leadership  administration  callinginblack  mourning  safety 
july 2016 by robertogreco
The Future of Chat Isn’t AI — Medium
"So if not AI, then what? What will bots let you do that was never possible before?

We think the answer is actually quite simple: For the first time ever, bots will let you instantly interact with the world around you. This is best illustrated through something that I experienced recently.

During last year’s baseball playoffs, I went to a Blue Jays game at the Rogers Centre. I was running late, so I went straight to my seat to catch as much of the game as I could. But when I got there, I realized I was the only one of my friends without a beer. So, with no beer guy in sight, I turned back to go get a beer. After 10 minutes of waiting in line, I finally got back to my seat. I had missed two home runs.

But good news! In the future, this will never have to happen again. The stadium is developing an app that will let you order from your seat. So next time, I won’t have to miss a beat — I’ll just order through the app. It will be great. Or will it?

Imagine I had sat down and found that there was a sticker on the back of the chair in front of me that said, “Want a beer? Download our app!” Sounds great! I’d unlock my phone, go to the App Store, search for the app, put in my password, wait for it to download, create an account, enter my credit card details, figure out where in the app I actually order from, figure out how to input how many beers I want and of what type, enter my seat number, and then finally my beer would be on its way.

Actually, I would have been better off just waiting in line.

And yet there are so many of these types of apps: apps to order train tickets at stations; apps to order food at restaurants; and apps to order movie tickets at theatres. Everyone wants you to just “download our app!” And yet, after spending millions of dollars developing them, how many people actually use them? My guess: not a lot.

But imagine the stadium one more time, except now instead of spending millions to develop an app, the stadium had spent thousands to develop a simple, text-based bot. I’d sit down and see a similar sticker: “Want a beer? Chat with us!” with a chat code beside it. I’d unlock my phone, open my chat app, and scan the code. Instantly, I’d be chatting with the stadium bot, and it’d ask me how many beers I wanted: “1, 2, 3, or 4.” It’d ask me what type: “Bud, Coors, or Corona.” And then it’d ask me how I wanted to pay: Credit card already on file (**** 0345), or a new card.

Chat app > Scan > 2 > Bud > **** 0345. Done."



"To be clear, this is just the beginning of the bots era, and there are many developments to come. The leaders in this space — Kik, WeChat, Line, Facebook, Slack, and Telegram — all have their own ideas about how this is all going to play out. But one thing I think we can all agree on is that chat is going to be the world’s next great operating system: a Bot OS (or, as we like to call it, BOS).

These developments open up new and giant opportunities for consumers, developers, and businesses. Chat apps will come to be thought of as the new browsers; bots will be the new websites. This is the beginning of a new internet."
chat  ai  artificialintelligence  2016  tedlivingston  kik  slack  telegram  facebook  ui  ux  interface  api  wechat  bots  qrcodes 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Slack, I’m Breaking Up with You — Better People — Medium
"You’re actually making it HARDER to have a conversation

Back before we met, I had two primary modes of digitally communicating with people:

1. Real Time
Some of the digital platforms I used were inherently “real time” (phone, Skype, IRC, Google Hangouts, etc.), where there was a built-in expectation of an immediate, rapid-fire conversation wherein everyone involved was more or less fully-present and participating.

2. Asynchronous
Conversely, there were other platforms that were inherently asynchronous (email, voicemail, iMessage, Twitter DMs, etc.), where there was no expectation of an immediate response, and people tended to send cogent feedback in their own time.

Then you came along, and rocked everyone’s world by introducing a conversational melting pot that is neither fully real time, nor fully asynchronous. You’re somewhere in between:

You’re asynchronish.

At first I thought this sounded delightful — it would be the best of both worlds! I was always free to drop someone a line, and if they were feeling chatty, a full-fledged conversation could simply spring up, with no need to switch platforms.

After getting to know you better, though, I’ve found that your “asynchronish” side is less impressive than I first thought. It leads to everyone having half-conversations all day long, with people frequently rotating through one slow-drip discussion after another, never needing to officially check out because “hey! it’s asynchronous!”"



"You’re turning my workdays into one long Franken-meeting

I think you and I can both agree that meetings are kind of the worst. And, on the surface, you do totally obviate the need for a ton of them. I can definitely think of many times in which a quick Slack whip-around has saved me from all kinds of interpersonal tedium. So thank you for that.

However, I’m wondering what the cost of it is. Specifically, I wonder if conducting business in an asynchronish environment simply turns every minute into an opportunity for conversation, essentially “meeting-izing” the entire workday."



"I belong to roughly 10 different Slack teams. People are very used to messaging me (directly or publicly) whether I’m online or not, so there’s a heavy social expectation for me to keep those conversational plates spinning on an ongoing basis, even if I’m signed out of all your clients.

I really don’t want to leave the people I care about hanging, but I haven’t seen any native way to let them know I may be gone for a while, and to perhaps try me elsewhere. This all seems a bit possessive on your part, whether you meant it to be or not — how do I take a vacation without taking you with me? How would you help me if I wound up in the hospital?

For better or for worse, you’ve gone from a novelty to a supernova in the blink of an eye. It’s only been two years, and many already act as if it’s impossible to remember what life was like before you came along."



"The question isn’t quality of design; you are stunningly well-designed in supporting the human tendencies you’re set up to support. I’m just not sure that those tendencies are ones I really want more of in my life right now. It seems that everyone’s social habits around using you are lagging pretty far behind your marvelous technical advancements."
slack  asynchronous  messaging  email  meetings  2016  asynchronish  work  productivity  conversation  samuelhulick  cabelsasser  jasonfried  joshpigford  chat 
march 2016 by robertogreco
My family uses Slack. It’s pretty interesting. | Labs
It turns out our school is living in the future, providing a RSS-feed per child. I had no idea. RSS works very well with this setup.
via:alexismadrigal  rss  slack  schools  education  sweden  2016  automation  chat  parenting  communication  internet  web  online 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Allen Tan on Twitter: "The rise of Slack / messaging apps and bot culture means that all the research and analysis of MUD and MOO culture is super relevant again."
"The rise of Slack / messaging apps and bot culture means that all the research and analysis of MUD and MOO culture is super relevant again."
https://twitter.com/tealtan/status/679709599444893696

"For ex: this paper on presence, citing Artaud and Meyerhold theater influences: http://www.hayseed.net/MOO/roleaud.htm "
https://twitter.com/tealtan/status/679710707559055360

"Next, this comparison with Speech Acts theory, which studies the relationships between utterances and performances http://www.encore-consortium.org/Barn/files/docs/cve98.html "
https://twitter.com/tealtan/status/679711280958156801

"Also, the use of MUDs by children to form constructionist learning environments, a la Harel, Papert, and Piaget http://www.hayseed.net/MOO/moose-crossing-proposal.ps "
https://twitter.com/tealtan/status/679711851836522496

"Plus this embarrassment of riches from @arnicas who wrote an ethnographic PhD thesis + book:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1575861542/ http://www.ghostweather.com/papers/index.html "
https://twitter.com/tealtan/status/679712523034165248

"Bonus round: if you’re new to MUDs and MOOs, then Julian Dibbell wrote the authoritative intro for you: http://www.amazon.com/My-Tiny-Life-Passion-Virtual/dp/0805036261 "
https://twitter.com/tealtan/status/679713145196253184
allentan  messaging  chat  slack  muds  moos  history  juliandibbell  lynnsherny  seymourpapert  jeanpiaget  iditharel  performance  communication  children  constructionism  antoninartaud  vsevolodmeyerhold  speechacts  bots  botculture  utterances 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Just a Brown Hand — Medium
"On August 25th, Slack unveiled a new way for developers to connect to Slack, the “Add to Slack” button. It was the culmination of a great deal of work from many Slack employees, and just the beginning of what we have in store for Slack in the near future. Today, though, I want to talk about a seemingly small detail that has been more important to me than I would have expected: the skin color of the hand in the launch graphics.
Slack’s people of color group (#earth-tones) was the first to say something.

[screenshot]

But, it wasn’t just Slack employees who noticed:

[screenshot]

Why was the choice an important one, and why did it matter to the people of color who saw it? The simple answer is that they rarely see something like that. These people saw the image and immediately noticed how unusual it was. They were appreciative of being represented in a world where American media has the bad habit of portraying white people as the default, and everyone else as deviations from the norm."

[continues]
slack  diversity  race  design  diogenesebrito  representation  2015  imagery  hands 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Tomtown ( 8 Oct., 2015, at Interconnected)
"The web is busy now. No bad thing. But much too busy to have a single place to gather my friends around photos, another around status updates, etc. I used to have one community online, and now I've got a hundred. And while I can shard them by app (business on LinkedIn, family on Facebook, my global village on Twitter), it's a lot of effort to maintain that. And it doesn't make any sense.

Until:

Tom Coates invited me to join a little community of his in Slack. There are a handful of people there, some old friends, some new friends, all in this group messaging thingy.

There's a space where articles written or edited by members automatically show up. I like that.

I caught myself thinking: It'd be nice to have Last.FM here too, and Dopplr. Nothing that requires much effort. Let's also pull in Instagram. Automatic stuff so I can see what people are doing, and people can see what I'm doing. Just for this group. Back to those original intentions. Ambient awareness, togetherness.

Nobody says very much. Sometimes there's a flurry of chat.

It's small, human-scale. Maybe it's time to bring all these ambient awareness tools back, shared inside Slack instances this time.

You know what, it's cosy. I've been missing this. A neighbourhood."
2015  mattwebb  ambientawareness  ambient  community  culture  presentationofself  twitter  flickr  slack  tomcoates  email  neighborhoods  scale  groups  groupsize  glancing  jaiku  dopplr  im  instantmessenger  last.fm  openplans  offices  attention  socialmedia  noise 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Acktodo | The missing todo manager for Slack
"Want to manage team based to-do lists? Use Slack for just yourself and hate switching out to another app to write your to-dos? Want your to-do lists to be with you wherever you go, portable and exportable?"

Well, you've come to the right place, Acktodo is the best to-do management system for Slack available. As simple as you want it to be, scales up to be as complex as you need it to be.
slack  todo  rvdancatt  acktodo 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Futures of text ["A survey of all the current innovation in text as a medium"] | Whoops by Jonathan Libov
"Text is the most socially useful communication technology. It works well in 1:1, 1:N, and M:N modes. It can be indexed and searched efficiently, even by hand. It can be translated. It can be produced and consumed at variable speeds. It is asynchronous. It can be compared, diffed, clustered, corrected, summarized and filtered algorithmically. It permits multiparty editing. It permits branching conversations, lurking, annotation, quoting, reviewing, summarizing, structured responses, exegesis, even fan fic. The breadth, scale and depth of ways people use text is unmatched by anything."



"Messaging is the only interface in which the machine communicates with you much the same as the way you communicate with it. If some of the trends outlined in this post pervade, it would mark a qualitative shift in how we interact with computers. Whereas computer interaction to date has largely been about discrete, deliberate events — typing in the command line, clicking on files, clicking on hyperlinks, tapping on icons — a shift to messaging- or conversational-based UI's and implicit hyperlinks would make computer interaction far more fluid and natural.

What's more, messaging AI benefits from an obvious feedback loop: The more we interact with bots and messaging UI's, the better it'll get. That's perhaps true for GUI as well, but to a far lesser degree. Messaging AI may get better at a rate we've never seen in the GUI world. Hold on tight."

[via: https://twitter.com/equartey/status/570340911227367424
https://twitter.com/hautepop/status/570895976296087552
https://twitter.com/bruces/status/572384468230676480
https://twitter.com/TheRealFuture/status/572502116490747905 ]
text  texting  chat  sms  messaging  ui  communication  interface  design  gui  lark  quicktype  sinaweibo  alipay  qq  wechat  qqhousekeeper  weidan  koudai  facebook  facebookmessenger  talkto  applications  mobile  luka  chatgrape  slack  commandline  bustime  jonathanlibov 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Wire
"It’s beautiful.
Visually rich, clean, and elegant, Wire delivers a communication experience like no other. Write, talk, share pictures, music and video with people on phones, tablets and desktops — Wire is thoughtfully designed. For your every thought.

It’s pure.
With Wire you can easily move from messages and pictures to HD voice. Wire’s pristine audio quality makes it feel as if the people you are speaking to are right there with you.

It’s happening.
Photos on Wire display beautifully inline, SoundCloud music and YouTube videos blend nicely with text and pictures. So you can share your nicest moments, in the moment.

It’s everywhere.
Phone, desktop or tablet — Wire goes where you go. Wire for browsers will be available soon.

It’s on.
Wire is perfect for staying connected with any group. Create a conversation, name it as you wish, and add people — your groups will be taking off whether they’re about work, family or fun. Oh, and Wire groups are full democracy."

[via: http://techcrunch.com/2014/12/02/skype-co-founder-backs-wire-a-new-communications-app-launching-today-on-ios-android-and-mac/ ]
communication  applications  android  iphone  ios  skype  qik  janusfriis  chat  texting  telephony  conversation  groupchat  2014  multimedia  voice  slack  email  ios8  osx  mac  messaging 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Brave New Phone Call — Backchannel — Medium
"Ray Ozzie’s new app Talko hopes to give people their voices back"



"While Talko offers a number of compelling features, one in particular is destined for controversy: it stores all conversations by default. Unless you are being bugged by the FBI, the spoken words of a phone call have always disappeared as soon as the sound subsided. In that sense, traditional telephony is more ephemeral than Snapchat. But Talko calls are persistently available, like email or texts."
talko  communication  phones  email  chat  applications  ios  rayozzie  2014  conversation  texting  telephony  voicemail  slack 
december 2014 by robertogreco
A leaky rocketship / Snarkmarket
"Joining this blog was one of the most important things that ever happened to me, and that’s another way in which I can judge somewhat objectively how important it is been. In November 2008, I was on the academic job market, getting ready to interview for a few tenure-track jobs and postdoctoral fellowships, and it was weird — it was a time when people, smart people, influential people still said “you shouldn’t have a blog, you shouldn’t be on twitter, if you do these things, you should do them under pseudonyms, and if anyone asks you about it, you shouldn’t tell them, because if you blog, and it’s known that you write a blog, online, people are going to wonder whether or not you’re really serious about your work, and you just don’t want to give them any extra ammunition to wonder anything about you.”

I didn’t care. I had been waiting for one or two years, ever since Robin had suggested that maybe Snarkmarket would add a few writers and maybe I might be one of them, I think when we were on our way to the bathroom at the Museum of Modern Art on a random visit, and I was just super hungry to be handed the key to this place where I’ve been reading and writing comments since before I knew what a blog really was.

Is that still a thing, people getting excited about being able to be part of a blog? I didn’t think so, but then I became part of Paul Ford’s tilde.club and saw people falling over themselves to get an invite to SSH into a UNIX server, just to be a part of something, just to have a chance to put up some silly, low bandwidth, conceptually clever websites and chat with strangers using the UNIX terminal. It’s not like being one of the cool kids who’s in on a private beta for the latest and greatest smartphone app, where your enjoyment is really about being separate from the people who aren’t included, and the expected attitude is a kind of jaded, privileged disinterest: it’s more like getting a chance to play with the neighbor kid’s Lego set, and he has all the Legos.

Robin and Matt had crazy good Legos. I didn’t get that academic job, but I was able to take their Legos and build my way into a job writing for Wired, of all places, 30 years old and I’d never been a journalist except by osmosis and imposture here at Snarkmarket, and now I get paid every month to write for Wired, how does that happen except that this place was an extra scaffolding for all of us, for me in grad school, for Matt at newspapers across the country, for Robin at Gore TV/Current TV/Twitter, to build careers that weren’t possible for people who didn’t have that beautiful Lego scaffolding to support them (I’m wearing a sling on my arm right now with straps that wrap around my body to hold my arm in place, and a screw and washer to hold my shoulder bone together, my upper arm bone really, plus my rotator cuff, plus hold massive tendons, plus I’m thinking about those times that I would walk from my apartment in Columbus Circle down Broadway to Four Times Square in Manhattan to go to work at wired, wired isn’t there anymore, Condé Nast just moved in to one World Trade Center today, all the way downtown, but the scaffolding in Manhattan that is just constant, that is the only thing that allows the city to remake itself day after day month after month year after year, so this scaffolding metaphor is really doing something for me, plus Legos, well, Legos that just came from before, so what can I tell you, roll with it).

I don’t work at Wired, Robin doesn’t work at Twitter, Matt is at NPR, and we are where we are because of the things that we did but also because of this place. Ars Technica ran a story about it being 10 years since EPIC 2014 – I could paste the link [http://arstechnica.com/business/2014/11/epic-2014-recalling-a-decade-old-imagining-of-the-tech-driven-media-future/ ] and maybe that would be the bloggy thing to do, but you’re big boys and girls, you can Google it after you finish reading this — and there’s great interviews in there with Robin and Matt about how they made the video, and some specific names of wars and companies aside, were basically right about how technology companies were going to take the distribution and interpretation of the news away from both traditional journalism companies and the emerging open standards of the World Wide Web. I mean, isn’t that a hell of a thing, to see the future and put it in a flash movie? Anything was possible in 2004, especially if that anything Looked like a future that was vaguely uncomfortable but not so bad, really.

I turned 35 today, and I don’t really have a lot of deep thoughts about my own life or career or where I am in it. I’ve had those on other birthdays, and I’ve had them on many days in the not too distant past. Today, though, I’ve mostly felt warm and embraced by the people all around me, in my home, across the country, on the telephone, connected to me by the mails, whose books I read (and whose books publishers send to my house, my friends are writing books and their publishers send them free to my house, that’s almost as amazing as a machine that I can control that lets me read new things all day), and who were connected to me by the Internet: on twitter or Facebook, on Slack or email, by text message or text messaging’s many, many hypostases, all around me, as real to me as anyone I’ve ever imagined or read or touched, all of them, all of them warm and kind and gracious and curious about me and how I’m doing, what I’m up to, what I’m thinking, what I want to do this week or next month or when I get a chance to read that thing they sent me. it is as real to me as that invented community at the end of epic 2015 [http://epic.makingithappen.co.uk or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQDBhg60UNI ], that brilliant coda that people almost always forget, and I don’t know why because it’s actually a better prediction of our future-come-present than anything in the first video, but maybe it’s not about the New York Times, it’s just about a beautiful day outside, a traffic accident, an open door, Matt’s beautiful voice when he narrates that photograph, beckoning you to come outside to look, LOOK.

The Snarkmatrix Is infinite, the stark matrix is everywhere, the start matrix can touchdown at any point in these electronic channels and reconstitute itself, extending perpetually outward into the entire world of media and ideas and editors who are trying to understand what will happen next, and teenage kids who are trying to figure out how what they’re doing maps in any way at all to this strange, established world of culture, to writers who are anxious for any sense of community, any place to decompress between the often hostile worlds of social media and professional correspondence. People want a place, a third place, and blogs are a great form of that place, even when they’re not blogs. (I’m subblogging now. This is what it’s come to. But I think most of you feel me.)"
2014  snarkmarket  epic2014  epic2015  timcarmody  robinsloan  mattthomas  blog  blogging  writing  scaffolding  lego  snarkmatrix  looking  seeing  observing  sharing  conversation  howwelearn  howwethink  howwewrite  history  future  making  culturecreation  media  journalism  slack  email  im  twitter  facebook  socialmedia 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Chat, Slack, and the panoptic telecommute — Medium
"I recently talked with an old friend and former colleague who felt stalked by a startup-CEO boss who was using Slack to check up on employees and make sure they were available 24/7 to meet the company’s needs. Given the promise in Slack’s name of providing your worklife with a tension-reducing buffer, this was ironic. Of course, it’s also an issue with startup culture that transcends the use of particular tools. A boss who is determined to rub out the boundary between work and personal time is going to grab anything handy to make that happen. But tools like Slack can certainly streamline the process.

I think a lot of us love the flexibility and fun that chat systems provide and wouldn’t want to give it up. But we also need some way to keep work from invading every minute of every day. The simplest and most effective way for this to happen is for enlightened managers to make clear to teams exactly what sort of responsiveness and attentiveness they expect from employees using chat — so that the employees aren’t in the lousy position of trying to guess what the norm is, or outdo one another.

When I started my career at a newspaper, there were very clear understandings between management and the Newspaper Guild as to who owned which hours of my day. Every week I filled out a timecard — yes, an actual piece of cardstock — reporting my hours, and every week I basically made it up. There was no way I ever worked a normal 8-hour day. As a theater critic seeing shows, writing at night, and doing background research and reading during the day, I wasn’t in a position to draw clear lines between work and pleasure. It was all OK for me; I didn’t mind because I loved it all.

In that era, the expectations were clearly laid out but meaningless. Today, a lot of “knowledge workers” find themselves in a much tougher position: no clear expectations from their leadership and torn between a desire to do a great job and the need to preserve some time for family, personal life, all the Stuff that Isn’t Work.

We need to get much better at this — to find ways to make great tools like Slack increase, not diminish, the sum total of workplace sanity."
tinyspeck  slack  notifications  2014  chat  im  work  labor  control  taylorism  trust  stalking  flexibilty  communication  work-lifebalance 
october 2014 by robertogreco
The Most Fascinating Profile You’ll Ever Read About a Guy and His Boring Startup | Business | WIRED
"But these are sweatsock numbers. The kind of thing you toss in the hamper in an offhand fashion, but that only hints at your larger ambition and work. Slack wants to get huge. It wants to get to a place where it is the one application that everyone in your company runs all the time, no matter what else they are doing. It wants to end interoffice email. It wants to be the next Microsoft—not the current, cowed, pathetic company looking for a comeback. No, it doesn’t want to be Expendables Stallone-era Microsoft, it wants to be Rocky/Rambo Stallone-era Microsoft.

But—and this is a key but—Stewart wants Slack to be the Microsoft you want to use. The software itself is easy to understand. It does the things you expect it to do, as you expect it to do them, and holds your hand when it introduces new concepts. You can change the way it looks in subtle ways to make it your own, but even on a fresh install it’s just pretty to look at. Every time you fire it up, it greets you with whimsically twee inspirational messages. It says “Each day will be better than the last. Especially this one.” Or: “Please enjoy Slack responsibly.” Or Stewart’s favorite: “What good shall I do this day?”

Slack’s strategy is to insinuate itself into the workplace from the bottom up. The idea is that it will get so popular inside organizations that IT departments will have to embrace it. When you’ve got just a few people using the free version, it works well enough. But as it catches on in the workplace, features like unlimited message search and custom integrations with other software become increasingly vital. And to get those features you have to pay to upgrade. By now, you’re hooked. So you convince your CIO to pony up—or at least, that’s the hope. I mean, it’s working for Dropbox, right? Until now, Slack hasn’t even done any advertising. It has grown entirely (and phenomenally) by word of mouth."



"In 2004, photo sharing in the cloud was wild stuff. But Flickr was also groundbreaking in a number of other ways. The service pioneered a cocktail of features that we would come to associate with the Web 2.0 era—the transition period when the world moved from largely static web pages to ones that act more like interactive applications. Although Delicio.us was the first major service to introduce what came to be known as tagging, Flickr took it mainstream. Every time you tag someone in Facebook or add a hashtag on Twitter, you can thank Flickr. It also figured out the concept of “authing in.” You know how you can use Facebook or Google or Twitter to log in to a site, just by clicking a button, without actually having to surrender your username and password? Yeah, Flickr did it first. It was even at the forefront of social networking: A decade ago, it was letting people add friends and contacts with varying levels of permission. You could identify someone as a contact, a friend, family or all of the above, and vary what they saw based on the relationship. It also introduced the world to activity streams—the running tallies of what a user does on a site.

But its power move was something called an open API. To see just how far we’ve come, nobody who is anybody even uses the term “open API” anymore. It’s just API, now. But prior to Flickr, websites’ application programming interfaces—or the set of rules that govern how a program can interact with something in a database—were typically reserved as internal tools. Flickr threw open the doors and let anyone on the Internet prong into its API, the first big service for consumers to do so. It was a philosophical statement: Our data is better when we let other people do things with it. This is accepted gospel now, but at the time it was a new and radical notion.

It was precisely the kind of thing a philosophy major who spent his childhood on a commune without running water or electricity might come up with. “I related to the whole hippie, acid-test confluence of the early Internet,” Stewart says, looking up at the vast empty space overhead in the Slack office. “The idea that we should be open and interoperate with our data resonated with me.”

He pauses. His tone shifts. “It was also something people could get behind, and make them want to support us. You know? We didn’t think about Dvorak or Mossberg. We thought about Cory Doctorow.” That is, they didn’t care about the mainline tech press, the people writing about IBM and Apple and Adobe. They wanted the information-should-be-free set. The zealots, who would spread the gospel out on the open Web."
slack  tinyspeck  2014  stewartbutterfield  flickr  mathonan  glitch 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Third life: Flickr co-founder pulls unlikely success from gaming failure. Again | PandoDaily
"Butterfield’s story is one many entrepreneurs can identify with. It’s a tale of risk taking, passion, perseverance, and success. But it’s also one of fear, failure, and disappointment. It’s rare in Silicon Valley that a product could flop so hard — not once, but twice — and yet out of that failure could come — not one, but two — hits.

Butterfield is a strange choice for a two-time CEO of a gaming company. He’s no Mark Pincus — by his own admission, he’s not that into gaming. As a former philosophy student with a master’s from Cambridge, he was more interested in play as a framework for social interaction than play for play’s sake. “Infinite games are what we collectively do as a species for building culture,” Butterfield explains. “It’s fundamental for human beings, as deep a desire as hunger and thirst and sex.”

From an early age, he was intrigued with how online communities like IRC allowed people to experiment with their identities. His then-wife Caterina Fake found the topic compelling too.

“There are at least two kinds of games,” Butterfield says, paraphrasing a favorite scholar of his. ”The first type is played for the purpose of winning and the second type you play for the purpose of play.”

When they brainstormed a company to start, they settled on building “Game Neverending.” Butterfield and Fake spent a year and a half creating it."
stewartbutterfield  gne  flickr  glitch  tinyspeck  2014  games  gaming  play  identity  gameneverending  slack  socialinteraction  communication 
april 2014 by robertogreco
SpeEdChange: Grit Part 4: Abundance, Authenticity, and the Multi-Year Mentor
"A number of us in the school central office I work in share a common thread from childhood. Whatever the circumstances of our lives, whatever the challenges, we were afforded a key luxury: we had in our lives some adult who stuck with us for more than a single year. We had a multi-year mentor.

Industrial education has many destructive effects, but one rarely focused on is the refusal of our school design to allow adult support to stretch beyond a single school year. We have sixth grade teachers and tenth grade teachers. We have middle schools and high schools. We have programs, and thus teachers, who only work with certain age kids. We sometimes even have separate coaches for different age-defined sports. And this is disastrous. By doing this we create the ultimate scarcity of support."



"For me, it is essential that we first ask questions about our systems, that we first ask what we can do to stop damaging children. If we do not, as I've said in this series before, we create damaged children at a far faster rate than we can possibly help them. Whatever the merits of the interventions Tough's book champions, from poorly prepared principals and questionable chess coaches on one end of the spectrum to deeply caring, deeply involved support on the other, nothing he promotes will halt the damage going on daily. I think we must be better than that.

Focusing instead on those three essentials, abundance, authenticity, and adult long-term human support will change the damage equation. We know that. And since we know that, we need to do it."



"Laura Deisley wrote on Eric Juli's blog that kids, "are coming to us from different and very real contexts and yet equally yearning for relationship and purpose. What your kids learn outside of school, and we are associating with "grit," is driven by both relationships and purpose. It is not their choice, and God knows they should not have to be in that situation. And, you're right we cannot change their immediate condition. However, if we too narrowly define outcomes--academic "success" as you call it--then they aren't going to see a purpose that is worth expending any more effort."

Abundance offers opportunity. Authenticity offers that purpose. Relationship offers that support. And I do not care where we teach, or who we teach, I believe that we can alter our systems to provide more of those three things than we do today. And by doing that we can begin to change the equations which defeat our children."
2014  irasocol  grit  looping  tcsnmy  education  teaching  mentoring  systemsthinking  care  caring  abundance  authenticity  support  lcproject  scarcity  slack  relevance  relationships  trust  purpose  lauradeisley  ericjuli 
february 2014 by robertogreco
SpeEdChange: Paul Tough v. Peter Høeg - or - the Advantages and Limits of "Research"
[Part 2 now here: http://speedchange.blogspot.com/2014/01/grit-part-2-is-slack-what-kids-need.html ]
[And from Josie Holford: http://www.josieholford.com/grit-hits-the-fan/ ]
[Huge discussion with Paul Tough: http://learningpond.wordpress.com/2014/01/24/does-grit-need-deeper-discussion/ ]
[Part 3: http://speedchange.blogspot.com/2014/01/grit-part-3-is-it-abundance-of.html ]
[And more: http://atthechalkface.com/2014/01/29/an-open-apology-with-explanations-math-behaviorism-and-grit/
Part 4: http://speedchange.blogspot.com/2014/02/grit-part-4-abundance-authenticity-and.html
Paul Gow: http://notyourfathersschool.blogspot.com/2014/02/in-which-i-confess-to-lacking-grit.html
Laura Deisley http://growinggoodschools.blogspot.com/2014/01/grit-or-slack-are-we-asking-right.html?showComment=1391262821367#c343857328100931918
Mike Rose: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/02/06/the-misguided-effort-to-teach-character/
"Summarizing Grit: The Abundance Narratives" (Ira includes a collection of links to additional posts, including mant of those above): http://speedchange.blogspot.com/2014/02/summarizing-grit-abundance-narratives.html ]

"Mostly, it's an important book because Tough has written a book which might begin to persuade his The New York Times social class, the wealthy, powerful people who set national and international agendas, that their education agenda of the past 30 years has been wrong. I cannot do that, and my writing cannot do that, because "evidence" of a single specific form is the only thing which this group responds to. And Paul Tough has assembled that form of information admirably, largely repudiating all that he has - and much of what has - written about education before. That really matters.

But it is a dangerous book because Tough continues to look for simple answers which will make life comfortable for his social class. It is a dangerous book because it never really asks the tough questions. It is a dangerous book because it holds out those old New England Calvinist ideals - grit and hard work - as the "by your own bootstraps" way to the top - as the path for the poor without ever really acknowledging that the rich need none of that.

Principally it is a dangerous book because, through the use of only stories selected by the researchers Tough fawns over, it implies a series of essential untruths about those who grow up along America's socio-economic, learning, and behavioral borderlines. It is not a dangerous book, however, for the reasons suggested by "the usual suspects" - E.D. Hirsch, Daniel Willingham, and Peter Meyer. "Yet it is hard to argue from recent reform efforts that the aim has been to increase the “information we can stuff into her brain in the first few years," Hirsch laughably pronounces, proving once again that he has actually never seen a public school. The danger in the book is not Tough's correct demolition of the "cognitive hypothesis" - the idea that schools have been focusing on Googlable information instead of life long learning competencies - but his lack of art in understanding children born differently from himself.

But that missing art, that missing empathy, that missing doubt, where do we go to reach for that? And why is that important?"



"That fact: that quantifiable research can only tell you about what you already know, is a critical problem for people of Paul Tough's class, people with Data Over Acceptance Disorder. And its a disaster in education - block real change from ever being considered "What Works" by those in power. And so we get someone like David Coleman, "architect of the Common Core," making this ridiculous - if entertainingly profane - statement:
"Do you know the two most popular forms of writing in the American high school today?…It is either the exposition of a personal opinion or the presentation of a personal matter. The only problem, forgive me for saying this so bluntly, the only problem with these two forms of writing is as you grow up in this world you realize people don’t really give a sh** about what you feel or think. What they instead care about is can you make an argument with evidence, is there something verifiable behind what you’re saying or what you think or feel that you can demonstrate to me. It is a rare working environment that someone says, “Johnson, I need a market analysis by Friday but before that I need a compelling account of your childhood."

Coleman, a life spent fully immersed in nothing but prior knowledge, cannot understand the power of either personal experience or the imagination. He believes that the best storytelling is that which is endlessly repeated until it is "normed." But the best storytelling is not what Paul Tough writes, or what David Coleman tests - rather - it begins with the art of seeing what few others can.

Thus, in Tough's chapters 11 and 12, his researchers search their known world among children they do not know at all - and that is a problem for the story Tough wants to tell. First, he tells us that kids in a Chicago juvenile detention facility have much smaller vocabularies than other students, but we have no way of knowing whether that is true or not. The vocabularies of the jailed teens was not measured, instead they were asked about white middle class vocabulary. I could easily devise a test based on South Side Chicago street vocabulary that middle class AP students would fail, but there just isn't any validity in either assessment. Then Tough writes about how children with less "attentive" mothers were more likely to engage in disruptive activities in classrooms - but again - we do not have any idea what "disruption" means in this context. We might guess the behavior standard being sought is that used by KIPP, sitting still, staring straight ahead, and shutting up. But if I looked at St. Ann's School in Brooklyn Heights, I might find that the wealthy children of highly attentive parents would be acting a lot like Tough's troubled kids - a great deal of movement, distraction, talking out of turn, leaving the classroom, staring out the window... In fact, later in the book, Tough himself acknowledges as much, but that pesky Data Over Acceptance Disorder prevents him from understanding his own experience, he's stuck in David Coleman's world of non-imagination."



"There is this scene in Borderliners, in it the young narrator Peter describes exactly what he needs. He

tells the story of the orphanage he was in, and how you only got 30 seconds of hot water in the shower, and then had to move to the cold. But his friend Oscar Humlum stays under the cold for minutes, stopping the line, leaving Peter in the comfort of the hot water stream. Humlum says nothing then, needs to say nothing, offers neither praise nor sympathy. Rather, he just gives a moment of peace, and for Peter, this is mythic.

Because that is what "we" need, Mr. Tough. That is what we've always needed. Acceptance, belief, a few moments of peace, and maybe - evidence that "we" are worth sacrificing for. Not the kind of "work sacrifice" KIPP expects from their teachers, not the paid sacrifice of social workers, not even the charity sacrifice of volunteers, but the kind of deep personal sacrifice which suggests real care.

It is that which will give "us" both a chance to breath and believe in ourselves. And in that pause we may find a path."

[Grateful for this after seeing these:
http://blog.coreknowledge.org/2012/09/26/e-d-hirsch-on-paul-toughs-how-children-succeed/
http://www.danielwillingham.com/1/post/2013/10/how-children-succeed.html
http://educationnext.org/paul-tough%E2%80%99s-grit-hypothesis-doesn%E2%80%99t-help-poor-kids/ ]
irasocol  grit  paultough  children  learning  education  poverty  allostaticload  stress  kipp  davelevin  borderliners  technology  quantification  questionframing  edhirsch  danielwillingham  petermeyer  2013  measurement  science  elitism  disconnect  cognitivetheory  cleocherryholmes  howchildrenlearn  howwelearn  peterhøeg  josieholford  slack  petergow  lauradeisley  relationships  shrequest1 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Over Optimized | Quiet Babylon
"I keep thinking about the impending extinction of the Cavendish Banana a… mono-culture… propelled to the #1 spot when the previous favourite, the Gros Michel Banana was wiped out, also by disease. And of the injuries (careful about clicking that link) sustained by Super-G skiers when their highly optimized gear turns against them during a crash. And of Koalas which have evolved to eat a tree no one else eats and who will die off when the trees do.

Then I think about apples which come in a variety of types, casual skiers who make it to the bottom of the hill eventually and raccoons who will eat just about anything. These are all generalists that manage to thrive in a variety of areas, and seem to be pretty good at adapting to massive changes to their environments."

"…When things are stable, specialization and optimization is the recipe for success. When things are bumpy, allowing some of the inefficiency that comes from flexibility is probably the thing that will let you survive."
2008  timmaly  markets  inefficiency  overoptimization  adaptability  resilience  survival  slack  optimization  sustainability  animals  raccoons  koalas  skiing  diversity  bananas  apples  generalists  specialization 
november 2012 by robertogreco

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