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Project MUSE - On Nonscalability: The Living World Is Not Amenable to Precision-Nested Scales
"Because computers zoom across magnifications, it is easy to conclude that both knowledge and things exist by nature in precision-nested scales. The technical term is “scalable,” the ability to expand without distorting the framework. But it takes hard work to make knowledge and things scalable, and this article shows that ignoring nonscalable effects is a bad idea. People stumbled on scalable projects through the same historical contingencies that such projects set out to deny. They cobbled together ways to make things and data self-contained and static, and thus amenable to expansion. In European New World plantations, the natives were wiped out; coerced and alienated plants and workers came to substitute for them. Profits were made because extermination and slavery could be discounted from the books. Such historically indeterminate encounters formed models for later projects of scalability. This essay explores scalability projects from the perspective of an emergent “nonscalability theory” that pays attention to the mounting pile of ruins that scalability leaves behind. The article concludes that, if the world is still diverse and dynamic, it is because scalability never fulfills its own promises."



"How is scalability created? It is not a necessary feature of the world. People stumbled on scalable projects through historical contingencies. They cobbled together ways to make raw materials (for both goods and knowledge) selfcontained and static, and thus amenable to expansion. In European sugarcane plantations, the natives were wiped out; exotic, coerced, and alienated plants and workers came to substitute for them. Profits were made because the general mess of extermination and slavery could be discounted from the books. Such historically indeterminate encounters formed models for later projects of scalability.

Do we live in a world of scalable nonsocial landscape elements—nonsoels? Yes and no. The great “progress” projects of the last several centuries have built on the legacy of the colonial plantation to make scalability work in business, government, and technology. But scalability has never been complete. In recent years, changes in global capitalism have challenged the assumption of scalability for labor and natural-resource management, and at least some theorists in the social sciences have pointed out the malevolent hegemony of precision. Meanwhile, critics of scalability have raised distress signals about the fate of biological and cultural diversity on earth. It is an important time to develop nonscalability theory as a way to reconceptualize the world—and perhaps rebuild it."

[PDF here: http://www.lasisummerschool.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Tsing-2012-On-nonscalability.pdf ]

[via:
"I can’t say enough how good Anna Tsing’s essay on nonscalabilty is. “On Nonscalability: The Living World Is Not Amenable to Precision-Nested Scales.” Common Knowledge 18, no. 3 (September 19, 2012): 505–24. https://muse.jhu.edu/article/485828/pdf "
https://twitter.com/samplereality/status/1098610615969562626

"Scalability is the enemy of difference. (Page 507)

via:
"On Nonscalability: The Living World Is Not Amenable to Precision-Nested Scales by Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing"
https://twitter.com/dantaeyoung/status/1108070233670123521 ]

[See also:
"“On Nonscalability” of teaching and learning"
https://www.jonbecker.net/on-nonscalability-of-teaching-and-learning/
annalowenhaupttsing  scale  scalability  slow  small  2012  difference  diversity  capitalism  knowledge  expansion  growth  degrowth  culture  technology  progress  labor  work  biology  humanism  humanity  sustainability  environment  sugar  teaching  learning  howweteach  howwelearn  unschooling  deschooling  antigrowth 
16 days ago by robertogreco
There Is No Reason to Cross the U.S. by Train. But I Did It Anyway. - The New York Times
"Amtrak clings to the hope that someday people will view its service not as something that sucks and that they hate, but as something that is actually nice and that they don’t hate. There’s a whole separate Amtrak website dedicated to this dream (AmtrakVacations.com), where Amtrak does things like describe Los Angeles to people who have never heard of it. “The ‘City of Angels’ is one of the premier attractions in sunny Southern California.” But the other selling point of a cross-country train trip is a chance to look behind the American scrim: to learn where the nation makes and stores the hidden parts that run it, to find new places you wish you had been born, to spy on backyards and high school football fields whose possible existence had never occurred to you. Or me. Why not me? My boyfriend and I were planning a short vacation out West anyway. I could just leave a few days before him and get there after he arrived."



"The most unifying characteristic of my fellow passengers was not age (although, as a rule, the sleeping cars skewed retired), race (very mixed), income (while sleepers are astronomically priced, coach seats can be downright economical for shorter segments) or even fear of flying (no one I spoke to had it); it was their relaxed, easygoing, train-lulled contentment. To opt to travel long distance via Amtrak — a method deemed “on time” just 71.2 percent of the time by its own generous metric — is to say: As long as I get there eventually, I’m satisfied.

Train people are content to stare out the window for hours, like indoor cats. The trouble with the Lake Shore Limited is that the amount of enjoyment it is possible to derive from staring out the window of a train is inversely proportional to the population density of the land you are traversing. People need things, and unfortunately most of those things are ugly to look at. Many of them are gray. Views picked up considerably when, after a five-hour layover in Chicago, I transferred onto the Southwest Chief, a double-decker “Superliner” with many of its coach seats, sleeping quarters and lounges on the top level. Sightseer Lounges are the crown jewels of Amtrak’s long-distance trains: entire cars of retro-futuristic curved floor-to-ceiling windows where passengers can sit at tables or outward-facing upholstered chairs and watch the scenery streak by. Shortly into its route, the Chief passes the single best thing in the United States: a silo in Mendota, Ill., with an 80-by-20-foot ear of corn painted on one side.

Train people are also individuals for whom small talk is as invigorating as a rail of cocaine. For them, every meal on board Amtrak (communal seating like a Benihana, reservations only, included with the price of a sleeping-car ticket, check in with the dining-car attendant) is a rager. A white middle-aged man in motorcycle gear discussed leukemia treatment with a swish black grandmother. Another man, while gathering up armfuls of research books from a table, bid farewell to a farmer and suggested that he might run into him on the same train next year. I was seated at dinner with an Amish couple traveling to Arizona for a construction job, and by the time our Amtrak Signature Steaks with optional Béarnaise sauce arrived (the food is on a par with the fourth-best airplane meal you could ever imagine), we were deep in a conversation about one of my favorite topics, which is myself. I offered a tip I’d learned about cleaning up glitter using dryer sheets, and they laughed as they tried to envision a situation in which this information could ever be useful."
trains  us  travel  amtrak  slow  2019  caityweaver 
23 days ago by robertogreco
Opinion | The Good-Enough Life - The New York Times
"Ideals of greatness cut across the American political spectrum. Supporters of Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” and believers in Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again,” for instance, may find themselves at odds, but their differences lie in the vision of what constitutes greatness, not whether greatness itself is a worthy goal. In both cases — and in most any iteration of America’s idea of itself — it is.

The desire for greatness also unites the diverse philosophical camps of Western ethics. Aristotle called for practicing the highest virtue. Kant believed in an ethical rule so stringent not even he thought it was achievable by mortals. Bentham’s utilitarianism is about maximizing happiness. Marx sought the great world for all. Modern-day libertarians will stop at nothing to increase personal freedom and profit. These differences surely matter, but while the definition of greatness changes, greatness itself is sought by each in his own way.

Swimming against the tide of greatness is a counter-history of ethics embodied by schools of thought as diverse as Buddhism, Romanticism and psychoanalysis. It is by borrowing from D.W. Winnicott, an important figure in the development of psychoanalysis, that we get perhaps the best name for this other ethics: “the good-enough life.” In his book “Playing and Reality,” Winnicott wrote about what he called “the good-enough mother.” This mother is good enough not in the sense that she is adequate or average, but that she manages a difficult task: initiating the infant into a world in which he or she will feel both cared for and ready to deal with life’s endless frustrations. To fully become good enough is to grow up into a world that is itself good enough, that is as full of care and love as it is suffering and frustration.

From Buddhism and Romanticism we can get a fuller picture of what such a good enough world could be like. Buddhism offers a criticism of the caste system and the idea that some people have to live lives of servitude in order to ensure the greatness of others. It posits instead the idea of the “middle path,” a life that is neither excessively materialistic nor too ascetic. And some Buddhist thinkers, such as the 6th-century Persian-Chinese monk Jizang, even insist that this middle life, this good enough life, is the birthright of not only all humans, but also all of nature as well. In this radical vision of the good enough life, our task is not to make the perfect human society, but rather a good enough world in which each of us has sufficient (but never too many) resources to handle our encounters with the inevitable sufferings of a world full of chance and complexity.

The Romantic poets and philosophers extend this vision of good-enoughness to embrace what they would call “the ordinary” or “the everyday.” This does not refer to the everyday annoyances or anxieties we experience, but the fact that within what is most ordinary, most basic and most familiar, we might find a delight unimaginable if we find meaning only in greatness. The antiheroic sentiment is well expressed by George Eliot at the end of her novel “Middlemarch”: “that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.” And its legacy is attested to in the poem “Famous” by Naomi Shihab Nye: “I want to be famous to shuffling men / who smile while crossing streets, / sticky children in grocery lines, / famous as the one who smiled back.”

Being good enough is not easy. It takes a tremendous amount of work to smile purely while waiting, exhausted, in a grocery line. Or to be good enough to loved ones to both support them and allow them to experience frustration. And it remains to be seen if we as a society can establish a good-enough relation to one another, where individuals and nations do not strive for their unique greatness, but rather work together to create the conditions of decency necessary for all.

Achieving this will also require us to develop a good enough relation to our natural world, one in which we recognize both the abundance and the limitations of the planet we share with infinite other life forms, each seeking its own path toward good-enoughness. If we do manage any of these things, it will not be because we have achieved greatness, but because we have recognized that none of them are achievable until greatness itself is forgotten."
ordinary  everyday  small  slow  2019  avramalpert  greatness  philosophy  buddhism  naomishihabnye  georgeeliot  interconnected  individualism  goodenough  virtue  ethics  romanticism  psychoanalysis  dwwinnicott  care  caring  love  life  living  classideas 
4 weeks ago by robertogreco
Liberation Under Siege | Liberación Bajo Asedio on Vimeo
"Following the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, which successfully fended off imperial aggression by the United States, the United States imposed an economic trade blockade as punishment, which has continued to be in place for the past 60 years. The US has undertaken repeated attempts to plunder the Cuban people through genocidal measures, which has been met with the staunch resilience of the Cuban people, who continue to have faith and confidence in the socialist principles of the Revolution, despite the blockade materially impacting their everyday lives.

“Liberation Under Siege” examines the material conditions cultivated by the destructive blockade through the experiences and stories of everyday Cubans, and reclaim the imperialist narrative pushed by the United States through billions of dollars.

Filmed, Directed, and Edited by:

Priya Prabhakar
Reva Kreeger
Sabrina Meléndez"
cuba  2019  excess  us  foreignpolicy  interviews  education  healthcare  medicine  socialism  food  highereducation  highered  politics  blockade  embargo  poverty  equality  economics  race  gender  sexuality  priyaprabhakar  revakreeger  sabrinameléndez  video  small  slow  consumerism  materialism  capitalism  less  environment  values  success  health  imperialism  media  propaganda  resourcefulness  trade 
7 weeks ago by robertogreco
The Myth of the Superhero Leader - Educational Leadership
"They can't fly, but they can leap tall obstacles—if they stay balanced.

In light of the many feats we ask principals to perform as instructional leaders—like guiding teachers to improve student outcomes and arranging for teachers' continued learning, all while overseeing budgets, placating parents, and addressing student behavior and mental health needs—principals might wonder if their job description should also include leap tall buildings in a single bound. Is the widespread notion of principals as instructional leaders tantamount to asking them to be superhuman? Where did this idea of principal as hero come from, anyway?

Origins of Instructional Leadership

By most accounts, the concept of instructional leadership emerged in the 1970s, when researchers began to study so-called effective schools—high-poverty schools that were performing better than expected—and noted a common feature: Leaders focused on instruction. That is, principals were instructional leaders. In the ensuring years, scholars proposed dueling lists of key traits for instructional leadership.

As the lists grew, so did questions, including whether it was humanly possible to be an instructional leader. How could anyone, short of a bite from a radioactive spider, do everything scholars, superintendents, and policymakers expected of principals? Some scholars, like Leithwood (1992), questioned the roots of the concept, noting that it emerged from studies of a particular type of school (turnaround schools) whose leaders focused on boosting standardized test scores in a top-down way. What about the rest of schools, including those that were good but could be better? Might they need a different kind of leadership, one that could, say, inspire people to change by rallying around a shared moral purpose? Thus, a new concept, transformational leadership, was born—along with lists and surveys to define and measure it (Bass & Avolio, 1994).

Which Leadership Behaviors Matter Most?

By the early 2000s, researchers hoped to cut through the proliferation of lists by using scientific (or at least quantitative) methods to pin down more precisely which leadership behaviors had the most impact on student achievement. One meta-analysis of 37 published studies (Witziers, Bosker, & Kruger, 2003), found no significant link between principals' scores on a measure of leader effectiveness and the performance of those principals' schools. Yet a McREL meta-analysis drawing upon a sample of 70 studies identified 21 leadership responsibilities with links to student achievement that reflected elements of both instructional and transformational leadership (Waters, Marzano, & McNulty, 2003).

A few years later, in a meta-analysis of 27 studies, Australian researchers (Robinson, Lloyd, & Rowe, 2008) found that instructional leadership behaviors, such as actively engaging in teacher learning and guiding curriculum planning and enactment, had three to four times the effect size of transformational leadership behaviors. This finding prompted the researchers to conclude that "the closer leaders are to the core business of teaching and learning, the more likely they are to make a difference to students" (p. 636). Nonetheless, they noted that while transformational leadership behaviors like building school culture and fostering shared purpose weren't as strongly tied to student achievement, they still had significant effects, and thus might be "necessary but not sufficient" (p. 666) for improving school performance.

This phrase might apply to most, if not all, leadership behaviors. In fact, the one thing we might glean from studies of school leadership is that the best leaders demonstrate a wide array of behaviors, playing not one but many roles, which I've identified as:

• Visionary: Seeing new possibilities and inspiring others to pursue stretch goals.
• Learner: Modeling intellectual inquiry by reflecting on data and learning with teachers.
• Commander: Turning vision to action by aligning resources and accountability to goals.
• Connector: Creating a positive culture that empowers teachers to learn from each other.

Send in the Architects

In practice, these four roles likely reflect both natural traits and learned behaviors, so some leaders may slide more easily into certain roles and need to "lean in" to others. Yet, as a recent study suggests, the most effective leaders balance all four. British researchers Alex Hill and colleagues (2016) analyzed the behaviors of hundreds of school principals in the United Kingdom. They identified five leadership "personalities" that produce markedly different results:

• Philosophers seem most comfortable in the visionary and connector roles. They talk a good game about new ways of teaching and empowering teachers, yet often fail to translate vision into action.

• Surgeons are comfortable in commander mode. They quickly size up problems, remove ineffective teachers, and bring in new programs and routines to boost test results. School performance initially improves, but levels off after a couple years due a lack of investment in teacher learning.

• Soldiers are no-nonsense commanders of a different sort; they focus on trimming fat from school budgets, automating processes, and tightening the screws to get teachers to work harder. (As one such leader put it, "If you cut resources, people have to change!") School finances improve, but little else. Morale tanks.

• Accountants serve as commanders and connectors. They busy themselves with bringing new resources to the school and avoid ruffling feathers by giving teachers latitude in using resources. The financial picture improves, but little else changes.

Only one leadership personality, the architect, delivers sustained improvement—by balancing all four roles. In the words of the researchers, "they're insightful, humble, visionary leaders who believe schools fail because they're poorly designed," so they work with teachers to develop a collaborative school vision and engage directly in professional learning, coaching, mentoring, and peer collaboration. "In many ways," noted the researchers, "they combine the best parts of the other leaders."

With an architect at the helm, gains come slowly at first, but about three years in, performance begins to improve—and keeps improving. Notably, architects are unassuming leaders who seek few accolades, preferring to recede into the background. As one put it, "No one should notice when I leave the room." Thus, these balanced leaders seem to debunk the myth of principals as superheroes by demonstrating that the best leaders are those who create conditions for everyone else to be everyday heroes."
2019  leadership  administration  schools  education  slow  bryangoodwin  behavior  balance  humility  vision  howwlearn 
7 weeks ago by robertogreco
On making work in new surroundings Visual artist Cory Arcangel discusses leaving NYC and moving to Norway, the change in process and perspective that results from having a child, and how he will always be just a media artist from Buffalo.
"Yes. It’s like everything else. It`s always worse before you jump. It’s been liberating to let things go, especially all the things that I’m not really good at. And the Scandinavians are such chill people. They’re very talented, and really understated.

It’s the opposite of New York in a way. In New York, there’s a focus on money or success. It’s what a lot of culture is built on, and all arrows are pointing in those directions. In Norway, and in Scandinavia as a whole, everything is built for family life."
norway  nyc  money  priorities  coryarcangel  2019  family  slow  small  scandinavia  success  culture  society 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
An Essay by Miho Nonaka | Kenyon Review Online
[So good. There's really no good way to quote this one, so here are just a few sections.]

"Heavenly Worm

Mrs. Itō, our fourth-grade teacher, drew a new kanji character on the board: 蚕. “Worm from heaven,” she announced, “as you can see.” Heaven splits open like a curtain (天) and inside it dwells the worm (虫). For each student, she took out five worms from her basket and put them in a small paper box to take home. Having just hatched from their eggs, these worms were still covered in little black hairs. That’s why at this stage they are called kego (hairy baby), Mrs. Itō told us. To feed these dark babies, julienne your mulberry leaves first."



"Platinum Boy, 2006

After decades of research, Japanese silkworm breeders discovered a reliable method of hatching exclusively male silkworms. Female silkworms eat more, sleep more, take up more space, and are measurably less efficient in transforming mulberry leaves into silk. The verdict was clear: female silkworms are inferior for silk production.

Silk spinners and kimono weavers are unanimous in their praise of male silk: their thread is consistently finer, sturdier, glossier, whiter, and their cocoons are easier to harvest when boiled.

The birth site of Platinum Boy is literally black and white. When you look at a piece of paper where silkworm eggs are laid, white eggs are the empty shells from which male larvae have already hatched. They will thrive on the diet of tender mulberry shoot which, combined with their spit, will eventually turn into raw silk, translucent like frosted glass. The dark eggs contain female larvae that will never hatch and only keep darkening."



"Ten Thousand Leaves I

Compiled in the mideighth century, Man’yōshū (Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves) is the oldest Japanese anthology: more than forty-five hundred poems in twenty books. In the sweltering heat of the attic, I wasn’t looking for any particular motif when I happened on poem No. 2495, composed by Kakinomoto no Hitomaro, a low rank courtier and one of the “Saints of Japanese Poetry”:
like my mother’s
silkworms confined
inside cocoons,
how can I see my love
who lives secluded at home?

Poem No. 2991 is almost the same poem by another poet, simply tagged “unknown”:
like my mother’s
silkworms confined
inside cocoons,
sadness clouds my heart
when I cannot see her

The motif of a silk cocoon as the inaccessible, lyrical interior goes back to the dawn of Japanese poetics. The cocoon encases the image of the beloved, the poet’s longing that keeps building inside, and in my poem it holds the mother as a mythical seamstress, stitching blue in each wrist of her unborn daughter."



"職人 I

I used to blame my grandmother on my father’s side, who was described to me as fierce, frantic, funny, a destructive visionary and unsuccessful business entrepreneur during the critical times of the Second World War. When I felt defeated by the radical pull of my own emotion, I would attach them to the face of the woman I had never met in person, only in a fading picture where she stands next to my young father without glasses, still a student with surprisingly gentle eyes.

My father recently told me during one of our late-night international calls from Tokyo: “Your grandfathers were both shokunin (craftsman), remember? It’s in your DNA, too.” His father had come from a large family of silk farmers. After he left home, adopting the newly introduced Singer sewing machines, he began manufacturing Japanese cloven-toed socks, the traditional kind that used to be hand-sewn, and during the war, he took the assignment to sew parachutes for the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force. While he worked under dimmed light, my young father put up his primitive drawing of warplanes on the wall, covered in fine grains of sand."



"Small Things

They say (I love the convenience, but who are “they”?) that attention to detail is a characteristic of the Japanese. I am drawn to small things: tadpoles, silica beads, star sands in a vial, a notebook the size of a thumbnail, fish scales, a nativity scene inside half a walnut shell. I am terribly myopic like my father, and I like things that are near. Large things loom over and terrify: airports, Costco, churches in Texas, the Tokyo Skytree, Mount Rushmore (those granite faces I once believed had surfaced in response to the historic atomic bombing), and that elusive word “global.”"



"Komako

It didn’t occur to me until I tried translating a few passages from Snow Country that the young geisha’s name Komako (駒子) means Pony Child. What inspired the author Kawabata to portray his heroine as a woman of equine grace? We don’t know her family name. On the other hand, we don’t know the first name of Shimamura, who is referred to only by his last name.

I imagine if your family name is a gate to the house, your first name must be its interior. In the days when the first book of Man’yōshū was composed, asking a maiden’s first name was synonymous with proposing to her. Knowing it meant possessing the person.

Komako’s body is translucent like a silkworm, and an unearthly room encloses her fruitless passion like a white cocoon. While writing Snow Country, Kawabata says he distanced himself from Shimamura, who serves merely as a foil to Komako. “As an author, I entered deep inside the character of Komako, but casually turned my back to Shimamura,” he writes in the afterward. “Especially in terms of emotion—Komako’s sadness is nothing other than my own sadness. . . .” And so it is; his heart has become subsumed into her heart."



"Body

I find it impossible to talk about the body (mine and everyone else’s) without sounding embarrassed or oddly distant. I don’t mean to self-deprecate, but it has been almost too fashionable, too charged a topic for me to feel safe around. (A cowardly thing to say—the truth is, no one is safe.)

I won’t pretend my body is a plain blockhouse, or a slab of flesh aching with desire or lack thereof. Who could have taught me to stay at home in my own body all the while I traveled from one country to another, turning from the spontaneous, if careless, music of my mother tongue to the cautious economy of English, reaching out, in the hope of actually reaching and being reached?

For the subjects most critical to me, I find no teachers. Perhaps there is not enough demand? I believe I am badly behind everyone and that I missed an opportunity to ask questions long ago. People my age in this country sound fluent in the body, discussing it with just the right amount of sarcasm and laughter without revealing much, like they have been on intimate terms with it since they learned to speak. I suppose I should have listened to the body harder, without ulterior motives."
mihononaka  silk  essays  canon  howwewrite  2017  silkworms  multispecies  japan  japanese  language  gender  via:ayjay  poetry  writing  fabric  textiles  srg  glvo  insects  history  cocoons  craft  translation  languages  childhood  change  materials  process  form  details  weaving  texture  morethanhuman  shinto  bodies  body  small  slow 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
Scratching the Surface — 104. Cab Broskoski and Chris Sherron
"Cab Broskoski and Chris Sherron are two of the founders of Are.na, a knowledge sharing platform that combines the creative back-and-forth of social media with the focus of a productivity tool. Before working on Arena, Cab was a digital artist and Chris a graphic designer and in this episode, they talk about their desire for a new type of bookmarking tool and building a platform for collaborative, interdisciplinary research as well as larger questions around open source tools, research as artistic practice, and subverting the norms of social media."

[direct link to audio:
https://soundcloud.com/scratchingthesurfacefm/104-cab-broskoski-and-chris-sherron ]
jarrettfuller  are.na  cabbroskoski  chrissherron  coreyarcangel  del.icio.us  bookmarkling  pinterest  cv  tagging  flickr  michaelcina  youworkforthem  davidbohm  williamgibson  digital  damonzucconi  stanleykubrick  stephaniesnt  julianbozeman  public  performance  collections  collecting  research  2000s  interview  information  internet  web  sharing  conversation  art  design  socialmedia  socialnetworking  socialnetworks  online  onlinetoolkit  inspiration  moodboards  graphicdesign  graphics  images  web2.0  webdesign  webdev  ui  ux  scratchingthesurface  education  teaching  edtech  technology  multidisciplinary  generalists  creative  creativitysingapore  creativegeneralists  learning  howwelearn  attention  interdisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  crosspollination  algorithms  canon  knowledge  transdisciplinary  tools  archives  slow  slowweb  slowinternet  instagram  facebook 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Very Slow Movie Player – Bryan Boyer – Medium
"Walking around Brasília some years ago I had the distinct feeling that I was doing it “wrong” because, of course, I was. The center of Brasilía is organized along the Exio Monumental, featuring an array of government and other important buildings that form a long spine. This is a place designed to be “read” at the speed of a vehicle, so taking in Brasília by foot is like watching a movie in slow motion. It turns out, both can be rewarding in unexpected ways.

With a little bit of patience, the details of both reveal unexpected and delightful moments. In Brasília, pedestrians are rewarded with an opportunity to discover the subtle variations between what look to be mega-scaled buildings. Rhythmic reflections and shadows bring surfaces to life under the tropical sunlight in beautiful and nuanced ways. Just don’t forget to put on sunscreen, because the distances are intended to be enjoyed from the comfort of a motor vehicle.

On the other hand, watching movies in slow-mo is not something that I’ve had experience with outside of seeing the occasional Bill Viola installation. Until, that is, I started to tinker with ePaper components and Javascript in the depth of Michigan winter, looking for a way to celebrate slowness.

Can a film be consumed at the speed of reading a book? Yes, just as a car city can be enjoyed on foot. Slowing things down to an extreme measure creates room for appreciation of the object, as in Brasília, but the prolonged duration also starts to shift the relationship between object, viewer, and context. A film watched at 1/3,600th of the original speed is not a very slow movie, it’s a hazy timepiece. A Very Slow Movie Player (VSMP) doesn’t tell you the time; it helps you see yourself against the smear of time.

I’ve described VSMP in more detail below, but watch this video [https://vimeo.com/307806967 ] explains it more readily."
bryanboyer  slow  film  brasília  brasilia  modernism  urban  urbanism  raspberrypi  class  diy  movies  billviola  vsmp  cars  travel  movement  time  moments 
december 2018 by robertogreco
You Don’t Want Hygge. You Want Social Democracy.
"It’s the holidays, and you long to be cozy.

You want to curl up in a plush armchair next to a crackling fire. You want the softest of blankets and wooliest of sweaters. You want to devour grandma’s pecan fudge, get tipsy on eggnog with your cousins, and watch Miracle on 34th Street — mom’s favorite — for the thirty-fourth time. Or maybe neither Christmas nor family gatherings are your thing, but you like the idea of sipping hot toddies and playing board games with a few close friends while outside the snow falls and the lights twinkle.

But you can’t have it, because you couldn’t spring for a plane ticket. Or relatives are in town, but times are tight, and it seemed irresponsible to pass up the Christmas overtime pay. Maybe everything circumstantially fell into place, but you can’t relax. You’re eyeing your inbox, anxious about the work that’s not getting done. You’re last-minute shopping, pinching pennies, thinking Scrooge had some fair points. Or you’re hiding in your childhood bedroom, binge-watching television and scrolling social media, because a rare break from the pressures of daily life feels more like an occasion to zone out than to celebrate and be merry.

Either way, you feel terrible, because you know that someone somewhere is literally roasting chestnuts on an open fire, and you’re missing out.

The Danes have a word for the thing you desperately want but can’t seem to manifest: hygge.

The word isn’t easy to translate. It comes from a Norwegian word that means “wellbeing,” but the contemporary Danish definition is more expansive than that.

In The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living, author Meik Wiking writes, “Hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience, rather than about things. It’s about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe, that we are shielded from the world and allowed to let our guard down.”

You can have hygge any time, but Danes strongly associate it with Christmas, the most hyggelig time of the year. When asked what things they associate most with hygge, Danes answered, in order of importance: hot drinks, candles, fireplaces, Christmas, board games, music, holiday, sweets and cake, cooking, and books. Seven out of ten Danes say hygge is best experienced at home, and they even have a word for it — hjemmehygge, or home hygge.

But Wiking stresses that while hygge has strong aesthetic properties, it’s more than the sum of its parts. You don’t just see it, you feel it.

“Hygge is an indication that you trust the ones you are with and where you are,” he writes, “that you have expanded your comfort zone to include other people and you feel you can be completely yourself around other people.” The opposite of hygge is alienation.

It’s no coincidence that this concept is both native to and universally understood in the same country that consistently dominates the World Happiness Report and other annual surveys of general contentment. On rare occasions when Denmark is surpassed by another country, that country is always a Scandinavian neighbor.

What makes people in these countries happier than the rest of us is actually really simple. Danes and their neighbors have greater access to the building blocks of happiness: time, company, and security.

Scandinavians don’t have these things just because they value them more, or for cultural reasons that are congenital, irreplicable, and beyond our reach. People all over the world value time, company, and security. What Scandinavians do have is a political-economic arrangement that better facilitates the regular expression of those values. That arrangement is social democracy.

The Politics of Hygge

Denmark is not a socialist country, though like its neighbor Sweden, it did come close to collectivizing industry in the 1970s. That effort was driven by “unions, popular movements, and left parties,” write Andreas Møller Mulvad and Rune Møller Stahl in Jacobin. “It was these mass forces — not benevolent elites, carefully weighing the alternatives before deciding on an enlightened mix of capitalism and socialism — who were the architects and impetus behind the Nordic model. They are the ones responsible for making the Nordic countries among the happiest and most democratic in the world.”

A strong capitalist offensive stopped this Scandinavian coalition from realizing the transition to socialism, and the legacy of their efforts is a delicate compromise. The private sector persists, but taxes are both progressive and high across the board. The country spends 55 percent of its total GDP publicly, making it the third-highest government spender per capita in the world. Meanwhile, the power of employers is partially checked by strong unions, to which two-thirds of Danes belong.

This redistributive arrangement significantly reduces the class stratification that comes from capitalism. As a result, Denmark has one of the highest degrees of economic equality in the world.

All of that public spending goes to funding a strong welfare state. Everybody pays in, and everybody reaps the rewards. This egalitarian, humane, and solidaristic model allows the values associated with hygge to flourish. It also gives people more opportunities to act on them.

In Denmark, health care is free at the point of service. Same goes for education, all the way through college and even grad school. Twenty percent of the Danish housing stock is social housing, regulated and financially supported by the state but owned in common by tenants, and organized in the “tradition of tenants’ participation and self-governance.” Denmark offers year-long paid parental leave, and guarantees universal child care for all children beginning the moment that leave ends, when the child is one year old.

Similarly, due in large part to the past and and present strength of unions, Denmark has worker-friendly labor laws and standards which make for a more harmonious work-life balance. Danes get five weeks’ paid vacation, plus an additional nine public holidays. Unlike the United States, Denmark has a national paid sick-leave policy. Denmark also has generous unemployment benefits and a wage subsidy program for people who want to work but, for reasons outside their control, need more flexible arrangements.

The normal work week in Denmark is set at thirty-seven hours, and people tend to stick to it. Only 2 percent of Danes report working very long hours. In a survey of OECD countries Denmark ranked fourth for people spending the most time devoted to leisure and personal care. (The US ranked thirtieth.)

All of this has a profound effect on individuals’ ability to experience pleasure, trust, comfort, intimacy, peace of mind — and of course, the composite of these things, hygge.

For one thing, there are only so many hours in a day. And there are some activities that make us happy, and some that make us unhappy.

The Princeton Affect and Time Survey found that the activities that make us happiest include playing with children, listening to music, being outdoors, going to parties, exercising, hanging out with friends, and spending time with pets. (These are also the activities that Danes associate with hygge.) The ones that make us least happy include paid work, domestic work, home maintenance and repairs, running errands, personal medical care, and taking care of financial responsibilities.

Everyone has to do activities in the unhappy category in order to keep their affairs in order. But it makes sense that if you take some of those responsibilities off people’s plate and design the economy to give them more time to do activities in the happy category, they will be more content and lead more enriching lives.

Many working-class Americans don’t have much time for activities in the happy category, because they work multiple jobs or long hours and also have to keep a household in order without much assistance. Many more are afraid that if they take time away from their stressful responsibilities, they will overlook something important and fall behind, and there will be no social safety net to catch them — a pervasive anxiety that creeps up the class hierarchy. This breeds alienation, not intimacy.

Additionally, working people in highly capitalist countries, where economic life is characterized by cutthroat competition and the punishment for losing the competition is destitution, tend to develop hostile relationships to one another, which is not very hyggelig.

The social-democratic model is predicated instead on solidarity: my neighbor and I both pay taxes so that we can both have a high standard of living. We care for each other on the promise that we will each be cared for. By working together instead of against each other, we both get what we need. Universal social programs like those that make up the Scandinavian welfare states are thus engines of solidarity, impressing upon people that their neighbor is not an opponent or an obstacle, but a partner in building and maintaining society.

By pitting people against each other, neoliberal capitalism promotes suspicion and animosity. This frequently maps onto social divisions and manifests as racism, sexism, xenophobia, and so on. But it also just makes people guarded and antisocial in general. People who live in social democracies are far from invulnerable to prejudice or misanthropy, but the social compact remains more likely to promote kindness, trust, and goodwill among people than neoliberal capitalism — and indeed the Danes are some of the most trusting people in the world, of friends and strangers alike.

One of these political-economic arrangements strengthens people’s connection to the fundamentals of happiness, and of hygge — time, company, and security — while the other severs it. The abundance or scarcity of these fundamentals forms the material basis of collective social life.

The Ambiance Agenda

Hygge is not just a cultural … [more]
hygge  meaganday  2018  denmark  socialdemocracy  socialism  socialsafetynet  politics  policy  happiness  comfort  us  coreyrobin  scandinavia  solidarity  wellbeing  responsibility  uncertainty  anxiety  neoliberalism  capitalism  risk  civics  qualityoflife  pleasure  multispecies  family  trust  intimacy  peaceofmind  leisure  work  labor  health  healthcare  unions  time  slow  fragility  taxes  inequality  company  security 
december 2018 by robertogreco
On Hayden Carruth: A Friendship in Poetry | Academy of American Poets
"everything worthy is fragile and under threat, is prey to time and invisible to power, and yet affection keeps the accounting in the black. Worthy things, invested with affection, pass into “the now / which is eternal.” I don’t know how this can be… And yet I believe that it is so"

[via: https://www.instagram.com/p/BrA1Of-A34l/ ]
wendellberry  fragility  haydencarruth  2008  power  time  worthiness  affection  now  slow  small 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Resolved: Debate is stupid | The Outline
"People — yes, even you — do not make decisions on an entirely rational basis. An audience is more easily won over with a one-liner that inspires applause or laughter than a five-minute explanation of a complicated phenomenon. A false statistic repeated confidently will be more convincing than a truth stated haltingly by some guy you’ve never heard of, and who you’ve already decided you don’t like because he’s arguing against the guy you came to see. Massively complex ideologies with hundreds of years of scholarship behind them are reduced to a couple of fast-talking egos in Dockers thinking about the best way to make their opponent look like a dumbass. Debate is not politics. It’s theater.

Real learning is hard. It’s a slow, confusing process where you sometimes have to read long books with dreadful covers, and look at footnotes and shit. It requires us to recognize and then overcome our biases as best we can. It can take years to learn what we really think and why, and then if we get a lingering feeling we might be wrong, it can take years to un-learn and start all over.

Debate, in contrast, offers an easy way out. Some dudes spouting their favorite buzzwords in each other’s vicinity makes us feel smart and engaged, like we’re in that fresco of the Greek men they put on all the philosophy textbooks. (Small aside — have you ever noticed how in this image, all the female figures look thoroughly sick of these guys?) However, the format of debate, which is supposed to represent the height of intellectual tradition, encourages us instead to applaud the candidate who is best at using simple rhetoric, looking suave, and machine-gunning irrelevant lines at their browbeaten interlocutor. These are all things that real intellectual inquiry is supposed to look beyond.

Do not be tempted by the promise of easy satisfaction. Watching a debate can make you actively worse at understanding the nuances of a topic. If you want to really know about a subject, here’s my advice: read widely and extensively (and not just the books your favorite YouTuber recommends). Talk to people, patiently and fairly, rejecting your instinctual desire to win. And perhaps most importantly — take this from a veteran — do not reward former debate team kids with your attention. They are the worst type of nerds and they never share their snacks."
debate  learning  thinking  2018  aislingmccrea  politics  howwelearn  truth  theater  performance  slow  schooliness  deschooling  unschooling 
december 2018 by robertogreco
NOPHOTO. Colectivo de Fotografía Contemporánea
"NOPHOTO es un colectivo de fotografía contemporánea nacido en 2005 con el objetivo de hacer viables proyectos individuales y colectivos NO convencionales.


Se caracteriza por una actitud abierta en contenidos, una tendencia interdisciplinar en las formas, la utilización de múltiples soportes de difusión de los proyectos, como web y proyección digital y la implicación personal en el proceso de gestación y producción de los mismos.


NOPHOTO hace de la negación su punto de partida. NOPHOTO no es una agencia de fotógrafos, sino una ACTITUD. Una manera de ver. Una revolución. Un NO (que nunca está de más).


Esta actitud estética hace que NOPHOTO no renuncie a ninguna forma de creación o exhibición. Los trabajos del colectivo ofrecen una experimentada mirada sobre lo cotidiano que siempre conduce a lo extraordinario. Este proceso es resultado de la reflexión en grupo y de la interacción de procesos de creación alternativos.

“No es que nos guste ir a la contra, es que lo que nos divierte es caminar despacio, torpemente, observar las diferencias menudas entre las cosas, descubrir sus ritmos. Tratar de describir un objeto, dar una vuelta alrededor, acariciar su contorno y cubrir todo el perímetro. Preguntarse de qué está hecho y qué papel cumple en la historia. Obligarse a agotar el tema y no decir nada. Obligarse a mirar con sencillez y no resolver nada. No ilustrar, no definir, no fotografiar. Lo que nos gusta es desfotografiar las cosas y desnombrarlas.”

NOPHOTO ha sido galardonado con el Premio Revelación 2006 del Festival Internacional de Fotografía y Artes Visuales PHotoEspaña."
nophoto  photography  spain  españa  collectives  lcproject  openstudioproject  interdisciplinary  español  slow  differences  difference  betweenness  between  margins  periphery  unschooling  deschooling  opposition  discovery  howwelearn  learning  glvo  liminality 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Why the return of Animal Crossing feels so good - Polygon
"THE POWER OF NICE

A seemingly-unrelated selection of shows and movies in the past few years have each gained their fair share of critical acclaim, popularity and financial success, all linked by one common trait: They’re unrelentingly nice.

The Paddington movies have both found massive critical and box office success, all while essentially being feature-length commercials about the virtues of being polite and kind. Paddington 2 is currently the highest-rated Rotten Tomatoes movie of all time, usurping Toy Story 2’s record of the most consecutive certified Fresh ratings from reviewers. The total number of tracked positive reviews for Paddington 2 is 205, compared to zero negative reviews, for those counting at home.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, a heartfelt and straightforward documentary about the life and work of Mister Rogers, is now the highest-grossing biographical documentary of all time.

[embed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhwktRDG_aQ ]

But this trend (can I call it “nicecore?”) isn’t just limited to theatres.

On the small screen, NBC’s Making It, which may be the first craft-based reality competition show I’ve ever seen, pulled in millions of viewers over its six-week summer run and was just greenlit for a second season. And on Netflix, there is the runaway success story of the Queer Eye reboot, which, on top of effortlessly conveying a message of positivity, kindness and betterment through self-care, also won three Emmys this year. It was nominated for four.

The trend of Nice Media seems to be the sun-filled, hopeful answer to the negativity and division offered nearly everywhere else. No single video game series encapsulates that sense of safe, intentional and welcoming niceness like Animal Crossing, and it has been doing it for almost 20 years.

BELLS AND WHISTLES

There is no game quite like Animal Crossing, which makes it hard to properly explain and even harder to recommend. Most people won’t share your enthusiasm when you sit them down and tell them that the minute-to-minute gameplay mostly involves harvesting fruit, paying off personal debt to an enterprising raccoon, and delaying your Saturday night plans to make sure you can watch a dog play guitar.

But at its core, Animal Crossing is about living in a small town composed entirely of anthropomorphic animals. Sometimes you’re a villager, and sometimes you’re the mayor. What you do from there is up to you.

It shares the general God’s-eye-view life simulator vibe of The Sims, but it’s way less interested in letting you micromanage a neighborhood of people. Instead, it gives you direct (but decidedly less omnipotent) control over a single villager’s life.

[embed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJ6eGtsgbfM ]

While it can be just as surprisingly addictive and compelling as farming games like Harvest Moon, Story of Seasons and Stardew Valley, the looming threat of bankruptcy is the driving force of those games, compelling every player in the same direction of a more profitable farm. Meanwhile, Animal Crossing is happy to let your debt remain unpaid forever, and your villager has no discernible job or occupation. At least until New Leaf shoved you into the world of municipal governance.

The only real goal in these games is to pass the time in the best way you see fit; the endgame is to be happy. Along the way, like most fans of the series, you’ll likely find yourself having your own moments of emotional connection with the game. Everyone ends up with their own personal Animal Crossing moments, and those personal stories are a huge reason why people love the games as much as they do.

Feel free to share your own stories in the comments. I’m going to start with some of my own.

SMALL TOWN STORIES

My time with Animal Crossing goes all the way back to the GameCube original, a game that announced its humble intention to take over my life right on the front cover. The game’s save files were so large that they required an entire 59-block memory card’s worth of space, so that initial release came bundled with its own memory card as a gesture of practical kindness.

That memory card would soon hold a world that I relied on in a very direct way.

I went through a months-long depressive episode near the tail end of my sophomore year of high school, thanks to a mixture of hormones and early-era cyberbullying. I did all my schoolwork remotely, and spent my days either visiting a child psychologist or playing the GameCube. I would send letters to my villagers (specifically Rasher, Pierce and Goldie) about how sad, lonely and suicidal I was feeling.

They would send me carpets and shirts in return; that’s just what Animal Crossing villagers do. And it helped, especially since they would remember if I didn’t visit them for a few days. The game would tell me, specifically, how many days it had been since I had last interacted with it. It kept me accountable, made me feel needed and got me through a difficult (but all-too-common) part of my teenage years.

While reminders to come back to games are now common in the age of mobile gaming, Animal Crossing never felt like a nag. It was a relationship that gave as much as it asked me to give, and it held me accountable when even playing a game felt like it would be too much.

This trend would continue throughout my life, with major emotional moments supported and enhanced by my time in a virtual village. Animal Crossing: Wild World was there when I was dealing with constant insomnia-inducing stress nightmares during my time in university, with soothing music and absolutely no judgment about my sleep patterns.

[embed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ITM1vFiV6U ]

My New Leaf town was a monument to the people I loved at the time: fruit trees from a visiting friend, rare Nintendo-specific items from my brother, and clothing and letters from my partner at the time. The town was also essentially abandoned during our breakup, left for Isabelle (the player’s Deputy Mayor and the newest addition to the Smash Bros. Ultimate roster) to run during my years-long absence.

I logged back in when the game updated two years ago. And although Isabelle remembered the exact number of days I had been gone, the damage wasn’t beyond repair. My house was filled with roaches, but they could be cleared out within a few minutes. The once-pristine fields of Fürville had become overgrown with weeds, but a helpful sloth would cheer you on as you removed them or, for a small fee, get rid of them all for you overnight. Friends would move away, but they’d always send a goodbye letter, and new villagers would be eager to greet you and start virtual relationships.

There is no way to win in Animal Crossing, but that also means there’s no way to lose. Life in your village goes on without you, but it always welcomes you back.

A PLACE TO CALL YOUR OWN

The most valuable currency in Animal Crossing is time. An hour in the game is the same as an hour outside of it, so the game marches to the beat of your own life. At the same time, there is no real way to grind out progress in these titles, because they’re about patience; in fact, they seem to actively punish players who try to rush.

You cannot make a tree grow faster, but you’re liable to destroy your flower gardens or wear grass down into dirt paths by running through your town instead of walking.

You can have all the bells in the world, but you’re limited by the rotating daily stock at each of of the shops. You can catch bugs, go fishing and dig for fossils for hours each day, but you’ll still have to live through four real-world seasons to see them all. The game has its own pace, and you have to give into it if you want to get everything it has to offer. Few games are as capable of slowing us down, a trait that is sorely needed when everything else seems to be speeding up.

All of this — the emphasis on patience, the freeform approach to player agency, the overwhelming sense of forgiveness and kindness that stretches from the game’s systems to its text — combines to make a game that is, above all else, nice. And this commitment to niceness makes it an oasis of positivity in an increasingly reactionary and fragmented media landscape.

[embed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEJXS0MiKOA ]

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? transports you to a reality of kind actions and good deeds — for 93 minutes. The entire run of Queer Eye currently consists of 16 episodes and one special; you could charitably watch the whole thing in a weekend (if not an afternoon). Making It is only six episodes long, and won’t return for another year. This gathering wave of nicecore media is truly a gift, but it’s finite and fleeting — a few welcome drops of clear, cool water in an overwhelmingly murky bucket.

But the most powerful thing Animal Crossing offers us is an experience that doesn’t end after an hour or a season, but stays with us for as long as we need it. Because what we remember about these games are how they made us feel, and the stories they left us with long after we left our villages behind. They made us part of a community, and that community felt welcoming and generous.

Most games are power fantasies, and the easiest kind of power to convey is violence. They’re all about enforcing your will on the world through straightforward, goal-oriented action. And that’s enjoyable, without a doubt. But Animal Crossing offers a different sort of power fantasy: a world where you have unlimited kindness to spare, and you’re never punished for it. That doesn’t happen in real life; even Mr. Rogers’ funeral was picketed.

If nicecore is the natural artistic reaction to the state of the world, then it’s all too fitting that Animal Crossing should return and claim its throne (or, more likely, its comfortably weathered armchair) as the nicest franchise in gaming history.

It has been sorely missed."
2018  animalcrossing  nintendo  games  gaming  videogames  nicecore  niceness  fredrogers  mrrogers  mikescholars  paddington  paddingtonbear  small  slow  time  care  caring  power  violence  patience  agency  kindness  forgiveness  pace  play  presence  friendship 
september 2018 by robertogreco
Glow - macwright.org
"Technology didn’t have to glow.

The iPod Shuffle was a music player with no display. Mostly you’d use it for its namesake: shuffling a library. It contained a set amount of music, stored on a memory chip. It didn’t connect to the internet: you plugged it into a computer using a headphone-to-USB cable.

There were also GPS watches that didn’t glow, and that didn’t require your attention. They used LCD screens, and though some had backlights, the only reason you’d use the light is if you were running at night. They also connected to computers with USB cables.

There was an entire display technology based on not glowing - e-ink - and book-like devices that used it. Some of those had backlights, too, but you’d only use them at night. They didn’t do anything other than read books. Or, well, they had other functions but they were so frustrating and slow at anything besides showing books, that you’d use them to read books.

There were devices that simply did what they were for, without demanding attention. For their makers, they had some real problems. They had moving parts, which meant that they required more factory tooling and had more warranty returns. They were terrible for displaying advertisements. Without always-on internet connections, they were really bad for buying other things with.

These were problems for the makers, not the users. But both manufacturer and consumer recognized the addictive properties of the glow, and everything became flat, glowing, and covered with sturdy glass. Even a car, the Model 3, put everything on a single glass display.

Non-glowing devices became an expensive niche. The iPod Shuffle was discontinued with no replacement. Running watches merged with smart watches and started buzzing for phone calls and messages. Everything became less physical, leaving human capabilities unused and leaving us all staring at light bulbs.

Written on a glowing screen at night."
screens  glow  tommacright  technology  ipodshuffle  watches  eink  tesla  smartphones  slow  calm  attention  simplicity  2018 
august 2018 by robertogreco
Coming Home: Returning to a Pedagogy of Small – Here to there
"But in this telling of the story, I am the learner. I wanted to thank them, because in that small time and place together they taught me something, or perhaps retaught me something that I already should know: hope is easily restored if we stop chasing a better future and instead notice what just is already. This is a small story of what the pedagogy of small might be. I could perhaps seek to explain how the technologies of domination and self were at play, but that would be both hard work and nonsense; this is a pedagogical story rather than a technological one. What I did was notice. On a different day, when not contrasted by the XPRIZE man, I might have completely missed this story; that would have been my loss. By noticing, I as rewarded with a reminder of just how easily the ideas of large-scale technologies can be replaced with the small, human scale. The XPRIZE man got off the training and there they were ready to take his place. What if we already have all the alternatives that we seek, we just need to notice them and cherish them? I will have more to say about the pedagogy of small. The journey of this homecoming has just begun, a journey back to the people, places and ideas that I love most of all, a journey that is and will happily be intricately connected with a pedagogy of small."
tanyadorey-elias  small  slow  pedagogy  2018  xprize  audreywatters  education  learning  policy  technology  edtech  presence  cv  scale  scaling  canon  noticing  human  howwelearn  unschooling  deschooling 
august 2018 by robertogreco
Letters of Note: Ladies & Gentlemen of A.D. 2088
"The sort of leaders we need now are not those who promise ultimate victory over Nature through perseverance in living as we do right now, but those with the courage and intelligence to present to the world what appears to be Nature's stern but reasonable surrender terms:

1. Reduce and stabilize your population.
2. Stop poisoning the air, the water, and the topsoil.
3. Stop preparing for war and start dealing with your real problems.
4. Teach your kids, and yourselves, too, while you're at it, how to inhabit a small planet without helping to kill it.
5. Stop thinking science can fix anything if you give it a trillion dollars.
6. Stop thinking your grandchildren will be OK no matter how wasteful or destructive you may be, since they can go to a nice new planet on a spaceship. That is really mean, and stupid.
7. And so on. Or else."

[via http://www.openculture.com/2016/07/in-1988-kurt-vonnegut-gives-seven-pieces-advice-to-people-living-in-2088.html
via https://kottke.org/18/07/seven-bits-of-advice-from-kurt-vonnegut-to-people-living-100-years-in-the-future ]
vonnegut  advice  future  environment  sustainability  selfishness  goodancestors  1988  2088  nature  planetearth  spaceshipearth  ecosystems  war  small  slow  waste  wastefulness  escapism  technosolutionism 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Social media moderators should look to the oldest digital communities for tips about caring — Quartz
"Back when women only made up a tenth of the online population, Echo’s user base was 40% female. On its website, a banner read: “Echo has the highest population of women in cyberspace. And none of them will give you the time of day.” Stacy made Echo membership free for women for an entire year. She created private spaces on Echo where women could talk amongst themselves and report instances of harassment. She spoke to women’s groups about the internet, and she taught Unix courses out of her apartment so that a lack of technical knowledge would not limit new users to the experience of computer-mediated communication.

In short, Stacy achieved near gender parity on an almost entirely male-dominated internet because she cared enough to make it so.

For many in tech, caring means caring about: investing, without immediate promise of remuneration, in the pursuit of building something “insanely great,” as Steve Jobs once said. It means risking stability and sanity in order to change the world.

But what Stacy’s legacy represents is caring of another sort: not only caring about but caring for. It is this second type of caring that has been lost in our age of big social.

Moderators are a key part of this relationship. Stacy was a founder-moderator: a combination of tech support and sheriff who thought deeply about decisions affecting the lives of her users. She baked these values into the community: Every conversation on Echo was moderated by both a male and a female “host,” who were users who, in exchange for waived subscription fees, set the tone of discussion and watched for abuse.

In The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier, an early book about online community, Howard Rheingold documents such hosts all over the early internet, from a French BBS whose paid “animateurs” were culled from its most active users to the hosts on Echo’s West Coast counterpart, The WELL. “Hosts are the people,” he wrote, who “welcome newcomers, introduce people to one another, clean up after the guests, provoke discussion, and break up fights if necessary.” Like any party host, it was their own home they safeguarded.

Today the role of moderators has changed. Rather than deputized members of our own community, they are a precarious workforce on the front lines of digital trauma. The raw feed of flagged Facebook content is unimaginable to the average user: a parade of violence, pornography, and hate speech. According to a recent Bloomberg article, YouTube moderators are encouraged to work only a few hours at a time, and have access to on-call psychiatry. Contract workers in India and the Philippines work far removed from the content they moderate, struggling to apply global guidelines to a multiplicity of cultural contexts.

No matter where you’re located, it’s not easy to be a moderator. The details of such practices are “routinely hidden from public view, siloed within companies and treated as trade secrets,” as Catherine Buni and Soraya Chemaly note in a 2016 study of moderation for The Verge. They’re one of Silicon Valley’s many hidden workforces: Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter thrive on the invisibility of such labor, which makes users feel safe enough to continue engaging—and sharing personal data—with the platform. To sell happy places online, we are outsourcing the unhappiness to other people.

How did we stop caring about the communities we created? This is partially a question of scale. With mass adoption comes the mass visibility of brutality, and the offshore workers and low-wage contract laborers who moderate the major social media platforms cycle out quickly, traumatized by visions of beheadings and sexual violence. But it’s also a design choice, engineered to make us care about social platforms by concealing from us those who care after them. Put simply, we have fractured care.

The major platforms’ solution to the problem of scale has been to employ contract workers to enforce moderation guidelines. But what if we took the opposite approach and treated scale itself as the issue? This raises new questions: What is the largest number of people a platform can adequately care for? Can that number really be in the billions? What is the ideal size for a community?

Perhaps big social was never the right outcome for this wild experiment we call the internet. Perhaps we’d be happier with constellations of smaller, regional, and interest-specific communities; communities whose stakeholders are the users themselves, and whose moderators and decision-makers aren’t rendered opaque through distance and centralized authority. Perhaps social life doesn’t scale. Perhaps the future looks very much like the past. More like Echo.

Instead of expanding forever outward, we could instead empower groups of people with the tools to build their own communities. We have a long history of regional Community Networks and FreeNets to learn from. A generation of young programmers and designers are already proposing alternatives to the most baked-in protocols and conventions of the web: the Beaker Browser, a model for a new decentralized, peer-to-peer web, built on a protocol called Dat, or the zero-noise, all-signal community of Are.na, a collaborative social platform for thinkers and creatives. Failing those, a home-brew world of BBS—Echo included—exists still, for those ready to brave millennial-proof windows of pure text.

* * *

There is nothing inevitable about the future of social media—or, indeed, the web itself. Like any human project, it’s only the culmination of choices, some made decades ago. The internet was built as a resource-sharing network for computer scientists; the web, as a way for nuclear physicists to compare notes. That either have evolved beyond these applications is entirely due to the creative adaptations of users. Being entrenched in the medium, they have always had a knack for developing social commons out of even the most opaque screen-based places.

The utopian idealism of the first generation online influenced a popular conception of the internet as a community technology. Our beleaguered social media platforms have grafted themselves onto this assumption, blinding us to their true natures: They are consumption engines, hybridizing community and commerce by selling communities to advertisers (and aspiring political regimes).

It would serve us to consider alternatives to such a limited vision of community life online. For original tech pioneers such as Stacy, success was never about a successful exit, but rather the sustained, long-term guardianship of a community of users. Now more than ever, they should be regarded as the greatest resource in the world."
communication  culture  bbs  2018  claireevans  gender  internet  online  web  history  moderation  care  caring  scale  scalability  small  slow  size  siliconvalley  socialmedia  community  communities  technology  groupsize  advertising  are.na 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Thread by @ecomentario: "p.31 ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A… ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A… p.49 ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A… ecoed.wikispaces.co […]"
[on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ecomentario/status/1007269183317512192 ]

[many of the captures come from: "From A Pedagogy for Liberation to Liberation from Pedagogy" by Gustavo Esteva, Madhu S. Prakash, and Dana L. Stuchul, which is no longer available online as a standalone PDF (thus the UTexas broken link), but is inside the following document, also linked to in the thread.]

[“Rethinking Freire: Globalization and the Environmental Crisis" edited by C.A.Bowers and Frédérique Apffel-Marglin
https://ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A.+Bowers,+Frdrique+Apffel-Marglin,+Frederique+Apffel-Marglin,+Chet+A.+Bowers+Re-Thinking+Freire+Globalization+and+the+Environmental+Crisis+Sociocultural,+Political,+and+Historical+Studies+in+Educatio+2004.pdf ]
isabelrodíguez  paulofreire  ivanillich  wendellberry  subcomandantemarcos  gandhi  2018  gustavoesteva  madhuprakash  danastuchul  deschooling  colonialism  future  environment  sustainability  cabowers  frédériqueapffel-marglin  education  campesinos  bolivia  perú  pedagogyoftheoppressed  globalization  marinaarratia  power  authority  hierarchy  horizontality  socialjustice  justice  economics  society  community  cooperation  collaboration  politics  progress  growth  rural  urban  altruism  oppression  participation  marginality  marginalization  karlmarx  socialism  autonomy  local  slow  small  capitalism  consumerism  life  living  well-being  consumption  production  productivity  gustavoterán  indigeneity  work  labor  knowledge  experience  culture  joannamacy  spirituality  buddhism  entanglement  interdependence  interbeing  interexistence  philosophy  being  individualism  chiefseattle  lutherstandingbear  johngrim  ethics  morethanhuman  multispecies  humans  human  posthumnism  transhumanism  competition  marxism  liberation  simplicity  poverty  civilization  greed  p 
june 2018 by robertogreco
degrowth.info | Web portal on degrowth
"Welcome to the German degrowth web portal. Here, you find information around degrowth. Like answers to the question “What is degrowth?”, news on current projects as well as information about the international Conferences on Degrowth for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity. The web portal is further home to the degrowth media library with audio, video and text materials, an international blog, as well as a calendar of events."
degrowth  small  slow  sustainability  postcapitalism  socialequity  equity 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Calm Twitter - Chrome Web Store
"Encourages you to stop for a breath before you send each tweet.
Suffer from tweetgret? Tortured by typos? Get into online spats? Calm Twitter is here for you. It guides you through a deep breathing exercise before checking if you *really* want to send that tweet.

From the options panel, you can set your preferred breath count/rate and if you want the animation to appear for tweets, replies, and/or retweets."
twitter  calm  slow  breathing  extensions  chrome 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Isis Lecture (Lecture given at the Oxford Literary festival in 2003 ) - Philip Pullman
[from this page: http://www.philip-pullman.com/writings

"This was the first extended piece I wrote about education. I wanted to say what I thought had gone wrong with it, and suggest some better ways of doing things. The lecture was given during the Oxford Literary Festival in 2003."]

"I’m going to talk about culture this afternoon, in the widest sense; about education and the arts, especially literature. It’s my contention that something has gone bad, something has gone wrong in the state of education, and that we can see this very clearly in the way schools deal with books, and reading, and writing – with everything that has to do with literature, and the making of it. When more and more good teachers are leaving the profession in disillusion and disappointment; when the most able undergraduates are taking one look at a career in teaching, and deciding that it offers no scope for their talents, and turning away to do something else; when school headships are proving harder and harder to fill – then we’re doing something wrong.

I think it boils down to this: that education now is suffused with the wrong emotion. Somehow, over the past quarter of a century, ever since James Callaghan’s famous Great Debate speech, we have seen confidence leaking away, and something else slowly seeping in to take its place. What that something else is, I shall come to near the end. No doubt some of the confidence was misplaced; no doubt we needed a Great Debate. But I think the benefits that came from it have long since been exhausted. It’s time for another way of doing things.

So first of all, I’m going to look at what’s happening now, and I’m going right in to the glowing, radioactive core at the heart of the engine that drives the whole thing: the National Curriculum and the SATs. I won’t spend too long on these things, but we do need to look at the actual stuff to get a flavour of the thought behind it, and this is what the Qualifications Curriculum Authority says about the Reading part of the English tests at Key Stage 2 – that means, in human language, at age 11.

They think that reading consists of using a range of strategies to decode, selecting, retrieving, deducing, inferring, interpreting, identifying and commenting on the structure and organisation of texts, identifying and commenting on the writer’s purposes and viewpoints, relating texts to the social, cultural and historical contexts.

That’s it. That’s all. Nothing else. That’s what they want children of 11 to do when they read. They don’t seem to know that reading can also be enjoyed, because enjoyment just doesn’t feature in the list of things you have to do.

Mind you, it’s just as well that they don’t have to enjoy it, because they’re not likely to have a copy of the books anyway. In another unit of work – 46 pages, to get through in a fortnight – they are to study Narrative Structure. The work’s built around two short stories and part of a novel. It’s not expected – this is interesting – that the children will have their own copies of the complete texts, though some pages may be extracted and photocopied.

But the whole book doesn’t matter very much either, because books exist in order to be taken apart and laid out in pieces like Lego. One of the things the children have to do in this unit of work is to make a class list of “the features of a good story opening.” This is where it stops being merely tedious, and starts being mendacious as well. The teacher is asked to model the writing of an alternative first paragraph for one of the stories. The instructions say “Read through the finished writing together. Check this against the criteria for a good opening – does it fulfil all of these?”

I can’t say it clearly enough: this is not how it works. Writing doesn’t happen like this. What does happen like this is those Hollywood story-structure courses, where there are seven rules for this, and five principles of that, and eight bullet-points to check when constructing the second-act climax. You cannot write a good story by building up a list of effective openings. It is telling children a lie to say that this is the way you write stories. Apart from anything else, it’s profoundly vulgar.

Then there is the Reading Journal, which children have to keep. Among other things, they have to:

List the words and phrases used to create an atmosphere

Write a fifty word summary of a whole plot

Pick a descriptive word from the text and, using a thesaurus, write down five synonyms and antonyms for that word

And so on. What concerns me here is the relationship this sets up between child and book, between children and stories. Stories are written to beguile, to entertain, to amuse, to move, to enchant, to horrify, to delight, to anger, to make us wonder. They are not written so that we can make a fifty word summary of the whole plot, or find five synonyms for the descriptive words. That sort of thing would make you hate reading, and turn away from such a futile activity with disgust. In the words of Ruskin, it’s “slaves’ work, unredeemed.”

Those who design this sort of thing seem to have completely forgotten the true purpose of literature, the everyday, humble, generous intention that lies behind every book, every story, every poem: to delight or to console, to help us enjoy life or endure it. That’s the true reason we should be giving books to children. The false reason is to make them analyse, review, comment and so on.

But they have to do it – day in, day out, hour after hour, this wretched system nags and pesters and buzzes at them, like a great bluebottle laden with pestilence. And then all the children have to do a test; and that’s when things get worse."



"So said Ruskin in 1853. Again, we didn’t listen. Ruskin went on to point out that when you do trust people to act for themselves, they are free to make mistakes, to blunder and fail; but there is the possibility of majesty too. Do we want human beings teaching our children, with all their faults and follies and limitations, but with all their depth and grandeur as well? Or do we want managers, who are glib and fluent in the language of audits and targets and performance indicators and mission statements, but who are baffled by true originality, who flinch and draw back from it as if it were deadly poison?

The extraordinary thing is that they are the same people. They could all be free, if they chose. Some of the young people who come into teaching may be timid and narrow-minded, but don’t think for a moment that I think that they’re not capable of courage and curiosity. They’ve never had a chance to show it; their teachers are afraid themselves. Marilyn Mottram of the University of Central England in Birmingham, who has been studying the way the National Curriculum and the Literacy Strategy work in schools, wrote to me last month: “When I work with teachers on developing ways of using texts I’m frequently asked ‘… but are we allowed to do that?’ This sort of continuing anxiety about literacy teaching,” she goes on, “suggests that a culture of conformity has been quite securely established among our primary teachers and, like many others, I find this deeply disturbing.”

These young people are tigers born in cages, and kept caged until they think that being caged is a natural condition; and they look down at themselves, and they see their magnificent stripes, and the only way they can understand them is to think that they themselves must be made of bars: they are their own cage; they dare not move outside the little space they occupy. But they are tigers still, if only they knew."



"So here are five steps we should take, starting right now.

Do away with these incessant tests; they only tell you things you don’t need to know, and make the children do things they don’t need to do.

Abolish the league tables, which are an abomination.

Cut class sizes in every school in the country. No child should ever be in a class bigger than twenty.

Make teaching a profession that the most gifted, the most imaginative, the most well-informed people will clamour to join; and make the job so rewarding that none of them will
want to stop teaching until they drop.

Make this the golden rule, the equivalent of the Hippocratic oath: Everything we ask a child to do should be something intrinsically worth doing.

If we do those five things, we will not bring about a golden age, or an earthly paradise; there are more things wrong with the world than we can cure by changing a system of schooling. But if we get education right, it would show that we were being serious about living and thinking and understanding ourselves; it would show that we were paying our children the compliment of assuming that they were serious too; and it would acknowledge that the path to true learning begins nowhere else but in delight, and the words on the signpost say: “Once upon a time …”"
philippullman  education  canon  teaching  writing  howwelearn  howweread  howweteach  howwewrite  reading  literature  management  unschooling  deschooling  schooliness  schooling  policy  curriculum  culture  society  meaning  johnruskin  learning  schools  pedagogy  literacy  purpose  life  living  pleasure  via:derek  storytelling  stories  fear  intrinsicmotivation  children  self-esteem  self-confidence  language  communication  time  slow  results  accountability  measurement  testing  standardizedtesting  standardization  2003 
april 2018 by robertogreco
'An oasis of calm': Quakers broadcast 30 minutes of silence | Media | The Guardian
"It’s not the most obvious subject for a podcast, but a group of young Quakers in Nottingham have recorded their 30-minute silent meeting so as to share their “oasis of calm” with the world.

In an episode of the monthly Young Quaker Podcast, called the Silence Special, you can hear a clock ticking, pages being turned and the rain falling, as the group meets and sits in silence at the Friend’s Meeting House in Nottingham.

Quakerism was founded in the 17th century by the dissenter George Fox during the years of Puritan England. The group’s meetings are characterised by silence, which is occasionally broken when someone present feels the urge to speak, say a prayer or offer a reading.

The idea for the silent podcast first came from Tim Gee, a Quaker living in London, who was inspired by the BBC’s season of “slow” radio, which treated audiences to – among other things – the sounds of birds singing, mountain climbing and monks chatting.

Gee said he had wanted to “share a small oasis of calm, and a way to provide a moment of stillness, for people on the move”.

Jessica Hubbard-Bailey, 25, from the Nottingham Young Quakers, who recorded the podcast, said they had jumped at the opportunity to broadcast something “immersive and unusual”. She added: “We have very different ways of worship to most people of faith and we thought this was a really unique opportunity to give people a little slice of what the Quakers do. Also, we are really good at being quiet because we’ve made a practice of it and I think that is of value. These days everyone is so busy, everyone is working all the time, so it’s really valuable to have the opportunity to sit down once a week and just be quiet and listen.”

Hubbard-Bailey, who was brought up as an atheist but became attracted to Quakerism for its egalitarian principles, said that the podcast had had a good reception, with nearly 400 uses of it.

“I think that makes it the biggest Quaker meeting this year technically,” she said. “I’ve had one couple say that they’ve listened to the silence episode and are going to go to a Quaker meeting for the first time this Sunday. We’ve also had some people saying ‘oh, I’m not sure about this, seems like a bit of a waste of time’. But I think that’s really indicative of how we as a society view silence and stillness.”"
quakers  silence  sound  2018  via:subtopes  religion  georgefox  slow  slowradio  radio  atheism 
april 2018 by robertogreco
On how to grow an idea – The Creative Independent
"In the 1970s, a Japanese farmer discovered a better way to do something—by not doing it. In the introduction to Masasobu Fukuoka’s One-Straw Revolution, Frances Moore Lappé describes the farmer’s moment of inspiration:
The basic idea came to him one day as he happened to pass an old field which had been left unused and unplowed for many years. There he saw a tangle of grasses and weeds. From that time on, he stopped flooding his field in order to grow rice. He stopped sowing rice seed in the spring and, instead, put the seed out in the autumn, sowing it directly onto the surface of the field when it would naturally have fallen to the ground… Once he has seen to it that conditions have been tilted in favor of his crops, Mr. Fukuoka interferes as little as possible with the plant and animal communities in his fields.


Fukuoka’s practice, which he perfected over many years, eventually became known as “do nothing farming.” Not that it was easy: the do-nothing farmer needed to be more attentive and sensitive to the land and seasons than a regular farmer. After all, Fukuoka’s ingenious method was hard-won after decades of his own close observations of weather patterns, insects, birds, trees, soil, and the interrelationships among all of these.

In One Straw Revolution, Fukuoka is rightly proud of what he has perfected. Do-nothing farming not only required less labor, no machines, and no fertilizer—it also enriched the soil year by year, while most farms depleted their soil. Despite the skepticism of others, Fukuoka’s farm yielded a harvest equal to or greater than that of other farms. “It seems unlikely that there could be a simpler way of raising grain,” he wrote. “The proof is ripening right before your eyes.”

One of Fukuoka’s insights was that there is a natural intelligence at work in existing ecosystems, and therefore the most intelligent way to farm was to interfere as little as possible. This obviously requires a reworking not only of what we consider farming, but maybe even what we consider progress.

“The path I have followed, this natural way of farming, which strikes most people as strange, was first interpreted as a reaction against the advance and reckless development of science. But all I have been doing, farming out here in the country, is trying to show that humanity knows nothing. Because the world is moving with such furious energy in the opposite direction, it may appear that I have fallen behind the times, but I firmly believe that the path I have been following is the most sensible one.”

The One Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka

✶✶

In my view, Fukuoka was an inventor. Typically we associate invention and progress with the addition or development of new technology. So what happens when moving forward actually means taking something away, or moving in a direction that appears (to us) to be backward? Fukuoka wrote: “This method completely contradicts modern agricultural techniques. It throws scientific knowledge and traditional farming know-how right out the window.”

This practice of fitting oneself into the greater ecological scheme of things is almost comically opposite to the stories in John McPhee’s Control of Nature. There, we find near-Shakespearean tales of folly in which man tries and fails to master the sublime powers of his environment (e.g. the decades-long attempt to keep the Mississippi river from changing course).

Any artist or writer might find this contrast familiar. Why is it that when we sit down and try to force an idea, nothing comes—or, if we succeed in forcing it, it feels stale and contrived? Why do the best ideas appear uninvited and at the strangest times, darting out at us like an impish squirrel from a shrub?

The key, in my opinion, has to do with what you think it is that’s doing the producing, and where. It’s easy for me to say that “I” produce ideas. But when I’ve finished something, it’s often hard for me to say how it happened—where it started, what route it took, and why it ended where it did. Something similar is happening on a do-nothing farm, where transitive verbs seem inadequate. It doesn’t sound quite right to say that Fukuoka “farmed the land”—it’s more like he collaborated with the land, and through his collaboration, created the conditions for certain types of growth.

“A great number, if not the majority, of these things have been described, inventoried, photographed, talked about, or registered. My intention in the pages that follow was to describe the rest instead: that which is generally not taken note of, that which is not noticed, that which has no importance: what happens when nothing happens other than the weather, people, cars, and clouds.”

Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris by George Perec

✶✶

I’ve known for my entire adult that going for a walk is how I can think most easily. Walking is not simply moving your thinking mind (some imagined insular thing) outside. The process of walking is thinking. In fact, in his book Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-than-Human World, David Abram proposes that it is not we who are thinking, but rather the environment that is thinking through us. Intelligence and thought are things to be found both in and around the self. “Each place is a unique state of mind,” Abram writes. “And the many owners that constitute and dwell within that locale—the spiders and the tree frogs no less than the human—all participate in, and partake of, the particular mind of the place.”

This is not as hand-wavy as it sounds. Studies in cognitive science have suggested that we do not encounter the environment as a static thing, nor are we static ourselves. As Francisco Varela, Evan Thompson, and Eleanor Rosch put it in The Embodied Mind (a study of cognitive science alongside Buddhist principles): “Cognition is not the representation of a pre-given world by a pre-given mind but is rather the enactment of a world and a mind… “ (emphasis mine). Throughout the book, the authors build a model of cognition in which mind and environment are not separate, but rather co-produced from the very point at which they meet.

[image]

“The Telegarden is an art installation that allows web users to view and interact with a remote garden filled with living plants. Members can plant, water, and monitor the progress of seedlings via the tender movements of an industrial robot arm.”

✶✶

Ideas are not products, as much as corporations would like them to be. Ideas are intersections between ourselves and something else, whether that’s a book, a conversation with a friend, or the subtle suggestion of a tree. Ideas can literally arise out of clouds (if we are looking at them). That is to say: ideas, like consciousness itself, are emergent properties, and thinking might be more participation than it is production. If we can accept this view of the mind with humility and awe, we might be amazed at what will grow there.


breathing [animation]

✶✶

To accompany this essay, I’ve created a channel on Are.na called “How to grow an idea.” There you’ll find some seeds for thought, scattered amongst other growths: slime molds, twining vines, internet gardens, and starling murmurations. The interview with John Cage, where he sits by an open window and rejoices in unwritten music, might remind you a bit of Fukuoka, as might Scott Polach’s piece in which an audience applauds the sunset. The channel starts with a reminder to breathe, and ends with an invitation to take a nap. Hopefully, somewhere in between, you might encounter something new."
intelligence  methodology  ideas  jennyodell  2018  are.na  masasobufukuoka  francesmoorelappé  farming  slow  nothing  idleness  nature  time  patience  productivity  interdependence  multispecies  morethanhuman  do-nothingfarming  labor  work  sustainability  ecosystems  progress  invention  technology  knowledge  johnmcphee  collaboration  land  growth  georgesperec  walking  thinking  slowthinking  perception  language  davidabram  cognitivescience  franciscovarela  evanthompson  eleanorrosch  buddhism  cognition  johncage  agriculture 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Take your time: the seven pillars of a Slow Thought manifesto | Aeon Essays
"In championing ‘slowness in human relations’, the Slow Movement appears conservative, while constructively calling for valuing local cultures, whether in food and agriculture, or in preserving slower, more biological rhythms against the ever-faster, digital and mechanically measured pace of the technocratic society that Neil Postman in 1992 called technopoly, where ‘the rate of change increases’ and technology reigns. Yet, it is preservative rather than conservative, acting as a foil against predatory multinationals in the food industry that undermine local artisans of culture, from agriculture to architecture. In its fidelity to our basic needs, above all ‘the need to belong’ locally, the Slow Movement founds a kind of contemporary commune in each locale – a convivium – responding to its time and place, while spreading organically as communities assert their particular needs for belonging and continuity against the onslaught of faceless government bureaucracy and multinational interests.

In the tradition of the Slow Movement, I hereby declare my manifesto for ‘Slow Thought’. This is the first step toward a psychiatry of the event, based on the French philosopher Alain Badiou’s central notion of the event, a new foundation for ontology – how we think of being or existence. An event is an unpredictable break in our everyday worlds that opens new possibilities. The three conditions for an event are: that something happens to us (by pure accident, no destiny, no determinism), that we name what happens, and that we remain faithful to it. In Badiou’s philosophy, we become subjects through the event. By naming it and maintaining fidelity to the event, the subject emerges as a subject to its truth. ‘Being there,’ as traditional phenomenology would have it, is not enough. My proposal for ‘evental psychiatry’ will describe both how we get stuck in our everyday worlds, and what makes change and new things possible for us."

"1. Slow Thought is marked by peripatetic Socratic walks, the face-to-face encounter of Levinas, and Bakhtin’s dialogic conversations"

"2. Slow Thought creates its own time and place"

"3. Slow Thought has no other object than itself"

"4. Slow Thought is porous"

"5. Slow Thought is playful"

"6. Slow Thought is a counter-method, rather than a method, for thinking as it relaxes, releases and liberates thought from its constraints and the trauma of tradition"

"7. Slow Thought is deliberate"
slow  slowthought  2018  life  philosophy  alainbadiou  neilpostman  time  place  conservation  preservation  guttormfløistad  cittaslow  carlopetrini  cities  food  history  urban  urbanism  mikhailbakhti  walking  emmanuellevinas  solviturambulando  walterbenjamin  play  playfulness  homoludens  johanhuizinga  milankundera  resistance  counterculture  culture  society  relaxation  leisure  artleisure  leisurearts  psychology  eichardrorty  wittgenstein  socrates  nietzsche  jacquesderrida  vincenzodinicola  joelelkes  giorgioagamben  garcíamárquez  michelfoucault  foucault  asjalacis  porosity  reflection  conviction  laurencesterne  johnmilton  edmundhusserl  jacqueslacan  dispacement  deferral  delay  possibility  anti-philosophy 
march 2018 by robertogreco
The Tyranny of Convenience - The New York Times
"Convenience has the ability to make other options unthinkable. Once you have used a washing machine, laundering clothes by hand seems irrational, even if it might be cheaper. After you have experienced streaming television, waiting to see a show at a prescribed hour seems silly, even a little undignified. To resist convenience — not to own a cellphone, not to use Google — has come to require a special kind of dedication that is often taken for eccentricity, if not fanaticism.

For all its influence as a shaper of individual decisions, the greater power of convenience may arise from decisions made in aggregate, where it is doing so much to structure the modern economy. Particularly in tech-related industries, the battle for convenience is the battle for industry dominance.

Americans say they prize competition, a proliferation of choices, the little guy. Yet our taste for convenience begets more convenience, through a combination of the economics of scale and the power of habit. The easier it is to use Amazon, the more powerful Amazon becomes — and thus the easier it becomes to use Amazon. Convenience and monopoly seem to be natural bedfellows.

Given the growth of convenience — as an ideal, as a value, as a way of life — it is worth asking what our fixation with it is doing to us and to our country. I don’t want to suggest that convenience is a force for evil. Making things easier isn’t wicked. On the contrary, it often opens up possibilities that once seemed too onerous to contemplate, and it typically makes life less arduous, especially for those most vulnerable to life’s drudgeries.

But we err in presuming convenience is always good, for it has a complex relationship with other ideals that we hold dear. Though understood and promoted as an instrument of liberation, convenience has a dark side. With its promise of smooth, effortless efficiency, it threatens to erase the sort of struggles and challenges that help give meaning to life. Created to free us, it can become a constraint on what we are willing to do, and thus in a subtle way it can enslave us.

It would be perverse to embrace inconvenience as a general rule. But when we let convenience decide everything, we surrender too much."



"By the late 1960s, the first convenience revolution had begun to sputter. The prospect of total convenience no longer seemed like society’s greatest aspiration. Convenience meant conformity. The counterculture was about people’s need to express themselves, to fulfill their individual potential, to live in harmony with nature rather than constantly seeking to overcome its nuisances. Playing the guitar was not convenient. Neither was growing one’s own vegetables or fixing one’s own motorcycle. But such things were seen to have value nevertheless — or rather, as a result. People were looking for individuality again.

Perhaps it was inevitable, then, that the second wave of convenience technologies — the period we are living in — would co-opt this ideal. It would conveniencize individuality.

You might date the beginning of this period to the advent of the Sony Walkman in 1979. With the Walkman we can see a subtle but fundamental shift in the ideology of convenience. If the first convenience revolution promised to make life and work easier for you, the second promised to make it easier to be you. The new technologies were catalysts of selfhood. They conferred efficiency on self-expression."



"I do not want to deny that making things easier can serve us in important ways, giving us many choices (of restaurants, taxi services, open-source encyclopedias) where we used to have only a few or none. But being a person is only partly about having and exercising choices. It is also about how we face up to situations that are thrust upon us, about overcoming worthy challenges and finishing difficult tasks — the struggles that help make us who we are. What happens to human experience when so many obstacles and impediments and requirements and preparations have been removed?

Today’s cult of convenience fails to acknowledge that difficulty is a constitutive feature of human experience. Convenience is all destination and no journey. But climbing a mountain is different from taking the tram to the top, even if you end up at the same place. We are becoming people who care mainly or only about outcomes. We are at risk of making most of our life experiences a series of trolley rides.

Convenience has to serve something greater than itself, lest it lead only to more convenience. In her 1963 classic, “The Feminine Mystique,” Betty Friedan looked at what household technologies had done for women and concluded that they had just created more demands. “Even with all the new labor-saving appliances,” she wrote, “the modern American housewife probably spends more time on housework than her grandmother.” When things become easier, we can seek to fill our time with more “easy” tasks. At some point, life’s defining struggle becomes the tyranny of tiny chores and petty decisions.

An unwelcome consequence of living in a world where everything is “easy” is that the only skill that matters is the ability to multitask. At the extreme, we don’t actually do anything; we only arrange what will be done, which is a flimsy basis for a life.

We need to consciously embrace the inconvenient — not always, but more of the time. Nowadays individuality has come to reside in making at least some inconvenient choices. You need not churn your own butter or hunt your own meat, but if you want to be someone, you cannot allow convenience to be the value that transcends all others. Struggle is not always a problem. Sometimes struggle is a solution. It can be the solution to the question of who you are.

Embracing inconvenience may sound odd, but we already do it without thinking of it as such. As if to mask the issue, we give other names to our inconvenient choices: We call them hobbies, avocations, callings, passions. These are the noninstrumental activities that help to define us. They reward us with character because they involve an encounter with meaningful resistance — with nature’s laws, with the limits of our own bodies — as in carving wood, melding raw ingredients, fixing a broken appliance, writing code, timing waves or facing the point when the runner’s legs and lungs begin to rebel against him.

Such activities take time, but they also give us time back. They expose us to the risk of frustration and failure, but they also can teach us something about the world and our place in it.

So let’s reflect on the tyranny of convenience, try more often to resist its stupefying power, and see what happens. We must never forget the joy of doing something slow and something difficult, the satisfaction of not doing what is easiest. The constellation of inconvenient choices may be all that stands between us and a life of total, efficient conformity."
timwu  convenience  efficiency  psychology  business  2018  inconvenience  effort  technology  economics  work  labor  conformity  value  meaning  selfhood  self-expression  change  individuality  slow  slowness  customization  individualization  amazon  facebook  apple  multitasking  experience  human  humanness  passions  hobbies  resistance  struggle  choice  skill  mobile  phones  internet  streaming  applemusic  itunes 
february 2018 by robertogreco
a rat is killed, a man broken, a horse splashes | sara hendren
"Take small steps. In an experimental approach to social change, presume that we cannot know the consequences of our interventions in advance. Given this postulate of ignorance, prefer wherever possible to take a small step, stand back, observe, and then plan the next small move. As the biologist J. B. S. Haldane metaphorically described the advantages of smallness: “You can drop a mouse down a thousand-yard mineshaft; and on arriving at the bottom, it gets a slight shock and walks away. A rat is killed, a man broken, a horse splashes.”

Favor reversibility. Prefer interventions that can easily be undone if they turn out to be mistakes. Irreversible interventions have irreversible consequences. Interventions into ecosystems require particular care in this respect, given our ignorance about how they interact. Aldo Leopold captured the spirit of caution required: “The first rule of intelligent tinkering is to keep all the parts.”

Plan on surprises. Choose plans that allow the largest accommodation to the unforeseen. In agricultural schemes this may mean choosing and preparing land so that it can grow any of several crops. In planning housing, it would mean “designing in” flexibility for accommodating changes in family structures or living styles. In a factory it may mean selecting a location, layout, or piece of machinery that allows for new processes, materials, or product lines down the road.

Plan on human inventiveness. Always plan under the assumption that those who become involved in the project later will have or will develop the experience and insight to improve on the design."
2018  sarahendren  seeinglikeastate  jamescscott  urbanplanning  socialservices  government  everyday  maps  mapping  legibility  highmodernism  socialengineering  reversibility  small  slow  humanism  humans  ecosystems  markets  community  cooperation  scale  scalability  taylorism 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Slow Living: Wendy Parkins and Geoffrey Craig: Berg Publishers
"Speed is the essence of the modern era, but our faster, more frenetic lives often trouble us and leave us wondering how we are meant to live in today's world. Slow Living explores the philosophy and politics of 'slowness' as it investigates the growth of Slow Food into a worldwide, 'eco-gastronomic' movement. Originating in Italy, Slow Food is not only committed to the preservation of traditional cuisines and sustainable agriculture but also the pleasures of the table and a slower approach to life in general. Craig and Parkins argue that slow living is a complex response to processes of globalization. It connects ethics and pleasure, the global and the local, as part of a new emphasis on everyday life in contemporary culture and politics. The 'global everyday' is not a simple tale of speed and geographical dislocation. Instead, we all negotiate different times and spaces that make our quality of life and an 'ethics of living' more pressing concerns. This innovative book shows how slow living is about the challenges of living a more mindful and pleasurable life."

[via: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bdc_C3yg7gI/ ]
books  toread  slow  slowliving  everyday  body  bodies  globalization  slowfood  wendyparkins  geoffreycraig  mindfulness  2006  food  local  pleasure  slowness 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Unschooling as a Journey of Self Discovery | Growing Minds
"Here’s some food for thought, the institutions that are most alike in our society are schools and jail. The strictly adhered to timetables, uniforms and all manner of rules and regulations that are designed to turn human beings into numbers on a piece of paper. I used to be one of those numbers. Hi, my name is Scout, I’m a seventeen-year-old vegetarian with a music addiction and a soft spot for zombies.

I went to Durban Girls College, considered one of the best private schools in South Africa, not to mention one of the most competitive and I couldn’t have been more miserable. I could never keep up with the work load and the teachers didn’t make me feel safe enough to ask for help. If you asked too many questions you were either wasting their time or you hadn’t been paying attention. My marks were always terrible and I saw them as a reflection of my self-worth. I didn’t fit the system. After six grades, two visits to an occupational therapist and about a thousand anxiety attacks, my mom decided to teach me and my brother from home. We didn’t use a curriculum and we had no set “lessons” but I learned more in those first few weeks of being deschooled than I did in the entirety of my main stream school career. I developed an appetite for learning. Without the constant pressure of trying to keep up with everyone else I found my own rhythm, no longer was I forced to memorize information and give text book answers, I could have an opinion.

Naturally everyone we knew thought that my mom was crazy. She was depriving us of a “good” education. What is a good education? And is it worth sacrificing your happiness for? I guess they all figured that my brother and I would end up on the street or at least our IQ levels would drop dramatically. Well it’s been six years since I started my learning journey, the road so far? I’m an avid reader and read everything from Austen to King. Creating is my passion whether its spending hours in the kitchen baking up a storm or sitting at my piano composing the day way and I have finished my second year as a part time student of a fine art, animation and design school that I got a scholarship to without a matric certificate, IBE or any other piece of paper that we allow to define our abilities. I take pictures, I go out with my friends, I attend a drama class every Thursday and have developed a unicorn obsession. Some days I don’t get out of bed till ten and that’s okay, everyday can be whatever I want it to be. Every day I learn something new, no matter how small.


I’m no Einstein and I have no magic tricks up my sleeve but I have had the opportunity to just be without measuring myself by the standards institutions set. I have no doubt in my mind that I would not be the person I am today if I had stayed in school, being unschooled has taught me about who I am, who I want to be in the world and that when we don’t limit ourselves anything is possible."
unschooling  learning  education  schools  schooling  anxiety  howwelearn  testing  learnign  southafrica  2017  identity  slow  small 
january 2018 by robertogreco
What Is Neorealism? on Vimeo
"“The only great problem of cinema seems to be more and more, with each film, when and why to start a shot and when and why to end it.” – Jean-Luc Godard

Created for Sight & Sound / British Film Institute"
film  kogonada  editing  time  hollywood  walking  italy  1952  vittoriodesica  neolrealism  davidoselznick  extras  lingering  longshots  efficiency  slow  context  place  story  plot  narrative  cinema  srg  videoessays 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Productivity is dangerous | The Outline
"My personal rule is that if you aren’t quite certain that a certain action will be good for you and the world, you shouldn’t do it. Do nothing, which is likely to be pleasant and unlikely to hurt anyone. Few atrocities have been committed by people lying in bed, whereas the urge to Do Something has led to serious catastrophe. Productivity is extremely dangerous."



"Here’s a productivity idea: Just, fucking, don’t make shitty apps, or do advertising for Nestlé, or really for anything. I often see shit like, “Ten Habits I Have QUIT to Get More Done,” and I think, “Maybe quit writing posts like this.” If you’re waking up at 4 a.m. to write 1,000 words about how you write 1,000 words every day, what are you actually getting done? Just stay in bed. Whenever I am back in the Protestant centers of modern capitalism (New York or London, basically), it’s especially jarring to remember what it feels like to treat being busy as if it were a virtue."



"“As Calvin constantly reminded his followers, God watches his faithful every minute. Come Judgment Day, the faithful in turn will have to account for each minute,” reads this summary. And John Balserak put it this way: “European Calvinists — who dispensed with the liturgical calendar and still today do not celebrate Christmas and Easter as religious holidays...introduced during the 16th and 17th centuries a view of time that was linear and finite. With this came an appreciation of time as precious [emphasis mine]. People learned to be on time for appointments, which had previously not been a concern.”

So then, if we cannot blame Calvinists for the rise of capitalism specifically, we may attempt to blame them for a much larger malady: That religious philosophy is responsible for that feeling that we are constantly losing time, as we hurtle ever-closer to death.

I would be willing to guess that if you grew up in a rich Protestant country, you know this feeling. I do. It’s what’s behind the perverted impulse to self-flagellate and ask, “What did I accomplish this year?” and it’s why we get jealous every time we find out that some accomplished famous person is younger than us. In the U.S., for example, it doesn’t matter if you’re Catholic or Jewish or Buddhist, we are all still basically Calvinists deep down. And to the extent that American-style capitalism has spread around the world, so has this basic outlook, to every corner of the globe. This has has got to be what's behind those fanatical posts on LinkedIn and Medium.

That’s right. Everyone is thinking it. LinkedIn is a death cult. Becoming a guy that posts on Linkedin is essentially like joining a religious extremist group, but for first-world people that went to Stanford. You’re lost, you don’t know what to do with yourself, so you latch onto the dominant ideology, and throw your life into its service. If you were somewhere in the world else it might be radical Islam, or militant Buddhism, but you work in digital sales, so it’s just lots and lots of posting about how to get a promotion.

I had always thought that Weber was writing about the “protestant spirit” from a critical perspective, that the secular sociologist thought there was something insane about working compulsively to prove that you were born already destined going to heaven. But in reality, Weber thought that his native Germany needed to be more like the post-Puritan United States if it was going to emerge on top of the world.

He believed that “the modern world was not about to witness an impending reign of reason or an abundance of Christian compassion. Instead, the future promised a ceaseless global struggle over material resources and alternative modes of life. Only the most industrially competitive, politically dynamic, and assiduously hardheaded nations had a chance of becoming — or remaining — great powers and great cultures,” write Peter Baehr and Gordon C. Wells, summarizing Weber’s views around the publication of the book, which came out before World War I and then again updated afterwards. His country had to take cues from the religious, action-minded Americans, he thought, or else “Germany was in danger of becoming a laughingstock.”

I think it would have been better if Germany had become a laughingstock. As for me, I’m going back to bed."
productivity  2017  vincentbevins  idleness  slow  slowness  gtd  laziness  calvinism  maxweber  johnbalserak  capitalism  labor  work 
december 2017 by robertogreco
BBC Radio 4 - Thinking Allowed - Ethnography – What is it and why do we need it?
"‘You just want a holiday, don’t you?’

‘You just want a holiday, don’t you?’ – This is the not uncommon response from the uninitiated when one is embarking on a faraway ethnography project. It was in any event what a university employee asked me as I was setting off to conduct research on maritime migration into southern Europe – with first stop being, erm, the Spanish Canary Islands.

Aside from my unfortunate choice of initial destination, those who compare ethnography to a spot of vacationing do have a point: ethnographers in action can sometimes look distinctly like layabouts with too much time on their hands. You might spot them on a street corner, smoking with a bunch of ne’er-do-wells or pin-striped investment bankers, or catch them lazing about in a teahouse, a pub or a palm-fronded village. But as the ethnographers smoke their fags or sip their tea (or beer), what you don’t see is the mental gymnastics as they figure out how to enter the world of a street con artist, a body-builder or a stock broker. As one anthropologist once told a class of aspiring ethnographers, it’s all rather like being a teenager again: spending time trying to fit in and befriend perfect strangers.

Still, it can be good fun. Try it for yourself – a few minutes during your daily commute will do. Start off by observing other commuters stream past. How do they interact with each other, with the gates and the workers, and how can you tell them apart? Who is relaxed, who is stressed out, who glances anxiously about? Then join them in the rush: feel and sense what it’s like to be a commuter – the squash, the pushing, the rank armpits, the blinking smartphones and the freesheets held up as shields against intruding humanity. Observe it all. Sense it all. Then, finally, befriend those perfect strangers. Repeat next day. And the day after that. A year of this and you might be done and dusted.

Besides such ‘participant observation’, most of what ethnographers do is writing, writing, writing. Not just finished books or articles, but ‘field notes’ – scrawled into notebooks or typed on to a laptop, as I did when travelling the Euro-African borderlands on a quest to understand the interlocked worlds of undocumented migration and border controls. After a day volunteering in the migrant camp of Ceuta, a tiny Spanish enclave in North Africa – interpreting for the camp workers, answering migrants’ anxious questions, hanging about being generally useless – I’d rush home to type furiously on my wobbly Eee PC. As I travelled along clandestine African trails, I scrawled notes at the back of the bumpy four-wheel drives of Senegalese border police; and as I crossed the tall border fences surrounding Ceuta, the Spanish border guard accompanying me advised that I hide my notepad to avoid rousing suspicion among his Moroccan colleagues. It didn’t help much: next time I showed up a soldier waved his gun at me, but no matter. Weaving between camp life, border fences and surly soldiers was all in a day’s work – much as other ethnographers spend their time crouching among farmworkers in the fields, sneaking into the secret world of Wall Street or learning the art of sorcery on the edge of the Sahara.

Ethnography, then, is straying out of our comfort zone in order to understand another social world. It is a messy, fuzzy, tough and accident-prone line of business, as the young sociologist Alice Goffman realised when critics started tearing into her bestselling On the Run, a riveting ethnography about the causes and effects of constant police crackdowns in a poor black American neighbourhood. One journalist, frustrated with how Goffman had anonymised her data – and so made her text unverifiable – hit out at her methods, calling ethnography ‘an uncomfortable hybrid of impressionistic data gathering, soft-focus journalism with even a dash of creative writing’.

Besides their more valid concerns, some such critics of Goffman’s book were trying to read it as a piece of reportage that principally pointed a finger of blame. But ethnography is not a journalistic exposé. Rather than dig for killer facts, good ethnographers aim to uncover something deeper about how a society or subculture works – and it does so by changing perspective to that of the insider. We have to suspend disbelief and shift our gaze: what is the world really like when, during your every waking moment, you feel the police are out to get you? As Goffman took us into the street lives of young African Americans afraid to visit the hospital because they might get arrested, she conveyed to us these men’s view of the authorities, of the world and of their precarious place in it.

This understanding cannot come about through a social survey or a piece of investigative reporting alone. We have to stick around and listen, observe and participate, one awkward step at a time. It may be messy and imperfect, yet it opens up worlds that will otherwise remain locked to outsiders.

Ethnography is research on the slow boil – something that’s getting harder to justify at a time when our public debate increasingly favours the quick flash in the pan. Yet amid calls for more media soundbites, ready-made research metrics and pre-cooked policy ‘solutions’, this is precisely why we need it more than ever."
via:anne  2017  ethnography  rubenanderson  srg  slow  slowness  research  alicegoffman  sociology  anthropology 
december 2017 by robertogreco
G L A U K O P I S — “[…] Milton, who wrote Paradise Lost, was [in...
“[…] Milton, who wrote Paradise Lost, was [in capitalist terms] an unproductive worker.  On the other hand, a writer who turns out work for his publisher in factory style is a productive worker.  Milton produced Paradise Lost as a silkworm produces silk, as the action of his own nature.  He later sold his product for £5 and thus became a merchant.  But the literary proletarian of Leipzig who produces books, such as compendia on political economy, at the behest of his publisher is pretty nearly a productive worker since his production is taken over by capital and only occurs in order to increase it.  A singer who sings like a bird is an unproductive worker.  If she sells her song for money, she is to that extent a wage-labourer or a merchant.  But if the same singer is engaged by an entrepreneur who makes her sing to make money, then she becomes a productive worker, since she produces capital directly.  A schoolmaster who instructs others is not a productive worker.  But a schoolmaster who works for wages in an institution along with others, using his own labour to increase the money of the entrepreneur who owns the knowledge-mongering institution, is a productive worker.”
—Karl Marx (trans. Ben Fowkes), Capital Volume I, London: Penguin Books, 1990, p. 1044
johnmilton  paradiselost  production  productivity  karlmarx  labor  work  teaching  capitalism  slow  slowness  economics 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Against Productivity – The Message – Medium
"Here is what really happened in Puerto Rico four years ago: I fell into a funk, beat myself up a bit, and spent the rest of the time wandering around (mostly to the same places) and daydreaming. I wrote a few strange blog posts which no one read. I went a bit further into credit card debt. My days themselves were pretty quiet. I began to really think hard about what the internet does to society by just being the internet. I wrote out some of what I’d seen, and replayed them in my mind while I wandered around the beach. I made a video about being a robot in a Japanese blues bar asking if anyone could really see a singularity from inside of it. I tried to imagine 2010 me without the net. I tried to imagine 1989 me with the net. I talked about how the internet does and doesn’t change things in a place like PR. I read about Rwanda, and about the trade union history of PR and read and talked more about the history of coffee. Puerto Ricans are big on coffee. And then I left. I don’t remember where I went next.

But it all means something else now. When I look back on not only the wasted time in PR, but the couple of unproductive years around it I see it differently now. When I wasn’t beating myself up for not being productive enough, I was thinking about and interacting with the world. I was laying the first stones of a new foundation, a new way of thinking about networked culture, and even about our place on this planet. Instead of getting things done I was learning, smiling at people I didn’t share a language with, and cross-connecting the notions of my brain and the experiences of my life. It all lay fallow in me for a long time, as notes on my blog, snatches of poems, story bits to never be written. The pieces of this change were pieces of lyrics I wasted time writing on post-it notes I promptly lost, and articles I read instead of working and bits of conversation and pop songs that clung like ribbons and buttons and bits of flowers stuck all over my psyche.

My wasteful and unproductive time was the only time I asked: What should I be doing? What is a worthwhile life? And so it followed that was the only time when I could start to answer those questions. What is good work? Is any of this worth it? What makes life worth living? What good can I do in this world?

What is this world anyway?

I am only now beginning to harvest what was sown in that wasted and unproductive time. But now there are so many threads and ideas from that time, I can’t possibly follow them all. I see the world differently now. I like it more, and I see, just a tiny bit better, how it fits together.

Wisdom takes time. It takes staring out into the rain, It takes service to others. It takes getting nothing done to make us human again. To see the connections between things requires studying the blank spaces between them, days that slip into boredom and loneliness with only a person and their senses and their imagination to keep them company. I can now see that much of what I’ve written in the past year started in 2010, in Puerto Rico. I can see how the time around it allowed me to work the stories of 2011 and 2012 with an insight and understanding that I couldn’t have gotten without the failures to produce that shaped my 2009 and 2010. I can now see that my productive work — at least the good stuff, comes from my unproductive time, from my empty yearning to understand the world.

In many ways foolishness isn’t the opposite of wisdom, but its absence. Productivity is the opposite of wisdom. Humanity is a creature of time and imagination. From these things our fruits are born more than manufactured. Productivity is a quality of perfect robots. Stories, adventures and all new things still have to come from messy humans.

We should spend more time wasting time. We all need to be bored more. We all need to spend more time looking quizzically at birds we don’t recognize. We all need a little more time to connect the dots and see if they matter. I don’t know how much more, but sometimes you have to do things without knowing how much you need.

As for me, I want to go back to Puerto Rico."
productivity  life  philosophy  quinnorton  2017  slow  slowness  writing  idleness  transcontextualism  internet  web  networkedculture  purpose 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Drew Dudley: Everyday leadership | TED Talk | TED.com
"We have all changed someone's life -- usually without even realizing it. In this funny talk, Drew Dudley calls on all of us to celebrate leadership as the everyday act of improving each other's lives."
small  everyday  leadership  2010  drewdudley  slow 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Certad Talks - Dr. Geetha Narayanan's thoughts on Story as Pedagogy - YouTube
"Dr. Geetha Narayanan's thoughts on Story as Pedagogy at the Certad Talks.
CERTAD TALKS is an initiative to bring together eminent educators, artists, designers, thinkers and practitioners to talk with invited audiences about important aspects of education. Our purpose is to engage with powerful questions, provocative ideas and explore opportunities for innovative and sustainable education practice. We envision CERTAD TALKS will contribute to on going discussions and dialogue on what is valuable in constructing learning today."
geethanarayanan  2014  story  storytelling  pedagogy  slowpedagogy  slow  education  learning  decisionmaking  choices  plurality  multilingualism 
october 2017 by robertogreco
Geetha Narayanan at Conversations with Namu Kini - YouTube
"Geetha Narayanan, founder of Srishti School of Art, Design & Technology & Mallya Aditi International School tells Namu all about her life, work and philosophies. She has founded institutions, raised funds for movements, taught hundreds, inspired many more - and she doesn't seem to be slowing down!"
geethanarayanan  education  india  2013  interviews  technology  slow  slowness  sfsh  learning  pedagogy 
october 2017 by robertogreco
Lingua Franca - February 2001 | Cover Story: The Ex-Cons
"The only thing that arouses Luttwak's ire more than untrammeled capitalism is its elite enthusiasts—the intellectuals, politicians, policy makers, and businessmen who claim that "just because the market is always more efficient, the market should always rule." Alan Greenspan earns Luttwak's special contempt: "Alan Greenspan is a Spencerian. That makes him an economic fascist." Spencerians like Greenspan believe that "the harshest economic pressures" will "stimulate some people to...economically heroic deeds. They will become great entrepreneurs or whatever else, and as for the ones who fail, let them fail." Luttwak's other b'te noire is "Chainsaw Al" Dunlap, the peripatetic CEO who reaps unimaginable returns for corporate shareholders by firing substantial numbers of employees from companies. "Chainsaw does it," says Luttwak, referring to Dunlap's downsizing measures, "because he's simpleminded, harsh, and cruel." It's just "economic sadism." Against Greenspan and Dunlap, Luttwak affirms, "I believe that one ought to have only as much market efficiency as one needs, because everything that we value in human life is within the realm of inefficiency—love, family, attachment, community, culture, old habits, comfortable old shoes.""



"Although Luttwak writes in his 1999 book Turbo-Capitalism, "I deeply believe...in the virtues of capitalism," his opposition to the spread of market values is so acute that it puts him on the far end of today's political spectrum—a position that Luttwak congenitally enjoys. "Edward is a very perverse guy, intellectually and in many other ways," says former Commentary editor Norman Podhoretz, one of Luttwak's early champions during the 1970s. "He's a contrarian. He enjoys confounding expectations. But I frankly don't even know how serious he is in this latest incarnation." Luttwak insists that he is quite serious. He calls for socialized medicine. He advocates a strong welfare state, claiming, "If I had my druthers, I would prohibit any form of domestic charity." Charity is a "cop-out," he says: It takes dignity away from the poor."

[via: https://twitter.com/jonathanshainin/status/907983419413381120
via: https://twitter.com/camerontw/status/908176042182950914 ]

[from the responses to the tweet above:

"reminds me of kurt vonnegut on buying an envelope"
https://twitter.com/okay_dc/status/907991703184912386

"[When Vonnegut tells his wife he's going out to buy an envelope] Oh, she says, well, you're not a poor man. You know, why don't you go online and buy a hundred envelopes and put them in the closet? And so I pretend not to hear her. And go out to get an envelope because I'm going to have a hell of a good time in the process of buying one envelope. I meet a lot of people. And, see some great looking babes. And a fire engine goes by. And I give them the thumbs up. And, and ask a woman what kind of dog that is. And, and I don't know. The moral of the story is, is we're here on Earth to fart around. And, of course, the computers will do us out of that. And, what the computer people don't realize, or they don't care, is we're dancing animals. You know, we love to move around. And, we're not supposed to dance at all anymore."

http://blog.garrytan.com/kurt-vonnegut-goes-to-buy-an-envelope-profund
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9299135 ]

[also from the responses:

"Excellent. Nicholas Carr http://www.roughtype.com/?p=4708 "
https://twitter.com/BrianSJ3/status/908022365128462337

"Pichai doesn’t seem able to comprehend that the essence, and the joy, of parenting may actually lie in all the small, trivial gestures that parents make on behalf of or in concert with their kids — like picking out a song to play in the car. Intimacy is redefined as inefficiency."
http://www.roughtype.com/?p=4708 ]

[Cf: "The automated island"
http://crapfutures.tumblr.com/post/161539196134/the-automated-island

"In his frankly curmudgeonly but still insightful essay ‘Why I am Not Going to Buy a Computer’ (1987), Wendell Berry lays out his ‘standards for technological innovation’. There are nine points, and in the third point Berry states that the new device or system ‘should do work that is clearly and demonstrably better’ than the old one. This seems obvious and not too much to ask of a technology, but how well does the automated entrance at Ponta Gorda fulfill that claim?

Berry also has a point, the last in his list, about not replacing or disrupting ‘anything good that already exists’. This includes relationships between people. In other words, solve actual problems - rather than finding just any old place to put a piece of technology you want to sell. Even if the scanners at Ponta Gorda did work, how would eliminating the one human being who is employed to welcome visitors and answer questions improve the system? In Berry’s words, ‘what would be superseded would be not only something, but somebody’. The person who works there is a ‘good that already exists’, a human relationship that should be preserved, especially when her removal from a job would be bought at so little gain."]
2001  efficiency  capitalism  policy  politics  alangreenspan  edwardluttwak  freemarkets  humans  humanism  love  family  attachment  community  culture  canon  inefficiency  economics  slow  small  coreyrobin  charity  poverty  markets  welfarestate  dignity  normanpodhoretz  karlmarx  marxism  johngray  conservatism  thatcherism  ronaldreagan  elitism  kurtvonnegut  nicholascarr  parenting 
september 2017 by robertogreco
How the hipster can save the monk (and vice versa) | America Magazine
"That vision is spreading. Just north of New York City, a start-up company has built cabins in the woods that are advertised as retreat spaces for writing or taking a break from the grind of city life. It sounds and looks like a hermitage to me. The only thing missing is God."



"What does this mean for you, members of religious communities who might be reading this? A few things. Consider how closely hipster ideals, as portrayed in magazines and advertisements, now mirror central monastic ideals—simplicity, authenticity, community, self-sufficiency, contemplation. You have rules, long histories and theologies that illuminate these ideals and shape your daily rhythms. Hipsters do not.

One way to engage the world might be to help hipsters—I write as one of them—understand why we find it gratifying to make our own bread, tend our own gardens or brew our own beer. What is it about bodily practices and habituation that speaks to our souls? We know the slowness of our hobbies does something to us, but we don’t quite know what it is.

To learn, we will have to become aware of your existence and your gifts. So you ought to photograph your community and publish those photographs on Instagram. This practice offers an opportunity to meet people where they are—which, by and large, is not anywhere close to a contemplative religious life.

The average young adult spends over four hours of each day on her phone, and she checks social media channels an average of 17 times per day. Further, young people are averse to speaking about religion explicitly. They lack the imagination and vocabulary even to broach the subject of monastic life. But they do possess a highly developed visual grammar and are interested in stylized photographs of agriculture, cooking, handicraft, drinks and books.

Further, contemplative orders should reinsert themselves into the public sphere as the keepers and guardians of real mindfulness. The mindfulness moment that America is having is marred by an extreme sense of self-centeredness. But perhaps mindfulness is contemplation’s shadow on the cave wall. Of course, cultivating a contemplative life requires a lifetime of struggle, a challenging proposition in our age of instant gratification. But a simple—admittedly gimmicky—change of language, from contemplation to “monastic mindfulness,” could generate an audience of people willing to read your articles or attend your retreats. You may not need or even want that audience, but they need you.

All of which is to say, you have a fascinating preaching opportunity, and when this bizarre cultural moment shifts, you will lose that opportunity. So start an Instagram account. Take advantage of the fact that your daily lives entail much of what the authenticity hounds are clamoring after. Take photos of your gardens, your chapels, your candles, your table spread with a feast day dinner.

Perhaps you have an industrial kitchen, buy your food at Sam’s Club and haven’t had a butcher block table in 50 years. Not to worry. Photograph your icons and your books. Document your community as it prays or goes for walks or enjoys recreation. (As we know from Paweł Pawlikowski and Paolo Sorrentino, cassocks and habits are very cinematic.) Tag these photographs with a hashtag like #monklife or #nunlife. Slowly but surely, you will start to develop a following. The Benedictine Monks of Meath, Ireland, who run a wonderful Instagram, have over 900 followers. That may not sound like a lot when many middle schoolers have thousands, but it is a solid start.

Finally, if you belong to an order that supports itself through handicraft or food production, you should market your wares under the hipster umbrella. Los Angeles’s Ace Hotel, the popular hipster hotel chain, is ornamented with handmade leather knickknacks and woolen blankets available for purchase at a hefty price. Maybe those blankets could be woven by your community? In the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge, a hip men’s store sells “Incense of the West,” which smells suspiciously like church incense. Perhaps that store could be selling your incense instead? Write to hipster boutiques and high-end urban specialty food shops and see if they will stock your products. Your community will make some money, but more important, it will garner interest and curiosity.

A notable American example of monastic engagement can be found in Spencer, Mass., where the Cistercians at St. Joseph Abbey, worried about the costs of running their community, recently started brewing the first Trappist beer in the United States. So many fans were clamoring to visit the abbey and tour the brewery that this past summer the brewery opened its doors to the general public for one day.

•••

Of course, the compatibility of Catholic and hipster visions of authenticity breaks down at a certain point. The Catholic Church, by definition, runs counter to the ideas of exclusivity that hipsterdom associates with authenticity. The church is for everyone. Nonetheless, in tapping into the current hipster lifestyle craze, you have a chance to share what a truly authentic life looks like: a life grounded in God.

Before you go all-in, however, a word of caution. To introduce Instagram or Snapchat into your community could threaten your own attention span. Smartphones and social media might distract the mind from prayer and contemplation. If you are a cloistered community, employing social media or engaging the world through mindfulness presents an implicit threat to your cloistered lifestyle and your vocation. You are no doubt well aware of these threats.

But as St. Augustine writes in De Doctrina Christiana: “We were not wrong to learn the alphabet just because they say that the god Mercury was its patron, nor should we avoid justice and virtue just because they dedicated temples to justice and virtue.” I am not advocating packing smartphones in your cassocks and habits. I am suggesting that you wade into the stream with care. For at the moment, the world needs your wisdom and your model of the good life almost as much as it needs your prayers."
monasticism  monks  mindfulness  hispters  davidmichael  2017  cv  authenticity  catholicism  lifesyle  craft  slow  socialmedia  body  practice  ritual  habituation  slowness  instagram  contemplation  handmade  bespoke  smallbatch  bodies 
july 2017 by robertogreco
how to do nothing – Jenny Odell – Medium
[video: https://vimeo.com/232544904 ]

"What I would do there is nothing. I’d just sit there. And although I felt a bit guilty about how incongruous it seemed — beautiful garden versus terrifying world — it really did feel necessary, like a survival tactic. I found this necessity of doing nothing so perfectly articulated in a passage from Gilles Deleuze in Negotiations:
…we’re riddled with pointless talk, insane quantities of words and images. Stupidity’s never blind or mute. So it’s not a problem of getting people to express themselves but of providing little gaps of solitude and silence in which they might eventually find something to say. Repressive forces don’t stop people expressing themselves but rather force them to express themselves; what a relief to have nothing to say, the right to say nothing, because only then is there a chance of framing the rare, and ever rarer, thing that might be worth saying. (emphasis mine)

He wrote that in 1985, but the sentiment is something I think we can all identify with right now, almost to a degree that’s painful. The function of nothing here, of saying nothing, is that it’s a precursor to something, to having something to say. “Nothing” is neither a luxury nor a waste of time, but rather a necessary part of meaningful thought and speech."



"In The Bureau of Suspended Objects, a project I did while in residence at Recology SF (otherwise known as the dump), I spent three months photographing, cataloguing and researching the origins of 200 objects. I presented them as browsable archive in which people could scan the objects’ tags and learn about the manufacturing, material, and corporate histories of the objects.

One woman at the Recology opening was very confused and said, “Wait… so did you actually make anything? Or did you just put things on shelves?” (Yes, I just put things on shelves.)"



"That’s an intellectual reason for making nothing, but I think that in my cases, it’s something simpler than that. Yes, the BYTE images speak in interesting and inadvertent ways about some of the more sinister aspects of technology, but I also just really love them.

This love of one’s subject is something I’m provisionally calling the observational eros. The observational eros is an emotional fascination with one’s subject that is so strong it overpowers the desire to make anything new. It’s pretty well summed up in the introduction of Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, where he describes the patience and care involved in close observation of one’s specimens:
When you collect marine animals there are certain flat worms so delicate that they are almost impossible to capture whole, for they break and tatter under the touch. You must let them ooze and crawl of their own will onto a knife blade and then lift them gently into your bottle of sea water. And perhaps that might be the way to write this book — to open the page and let the stories crawl in by themselves.

The subject of observation is so precious and fragile that it risks breaking under even the weight of observation. As an artist, I fear the breaking and tattering of my specimens under my touch, and so with everything I’ve ever “made,” without even thinking about it, I’ve tried to keep a very light touch.

It may not surprise you to know, then, that my favorite movies tend to be documentaries, and that one of my favorite public art pieces was done by the documentary filmmaker, Eleanor Coppola. In 1973, she carried out a public art project called Windows, which materially speaking consisted only of a map with a list of locations in San Francisco.

The map reads, “Eleanor Coppola has designated a number of windows in all parts of San Francisco as visual landmarks. Her purpose in this project is to bring to the attention of the whole community, art that exists in its own context, where it is found, without being altered or removed to a gallery situation.” I like to consider this piece in contrast with how we normally experience public art, which is some giant steel thing that looks like it landed in a corporate plaza from outer space.

Coppola instead casts a subtle frame over the whole of the city itself as a work of art, a light but meaningful touch that recognizes art that exists where it already is."



"What amazed me about birdwatching was the way it changed the granularity of my perception, which was pretty “low res” to begin with. At first, I just noticed birdsong more. Of course it had been there all along, but now that I was paying attention to it, I realized that it was almost everywhere, all day, all the time. In particular I can’t imagine how I went most of my life so far without noticing scrub jays, which are incredibly loud and sound like this:

[video]

And then, one by one, I started learning other songs and being able to associate each of them with a bird, so that now when I walk into the the rose garden, I inadvertently acknowledge them in my head as though they were people: hi raven, robin, song sparrow, chickadee, goldfinch, towhee, hawk, nuthatch, and so on. The diversification (in my attention) of what was previously “bird sounds” into discrete sounds that carry meaning is something I can only compare to the moment that I realized that my mom spoke three languages, not two.

My mom has only ever spoken English to me, and for a very long time, I assumed that whenever my mom was speaking to another Filipino person, that she was speaking Tagalog. I didn’t really have a good reason for thinking this other than that I knew she did speak Tagalog and it sort of all sounded like Tagalog to me. But my mom was actually only sometimes speaking Tagalog, and other times speaking Ilonggo, which is a completely different language that is specific to where she’s from in the Philippines.

The languages are not the same, i.e. one is not simply a dialect of the other; in fact, the Philippines is full of language groups that, according to my mom, have so little in common that speakers would not be able to understand each other, and Tagalog is only one.

This type of embarrassing discovery, in which something you thought was one thing is actually two things, and each of those two things is actually ten things, seems not only naturally cumulative but also a simple function of the duration and quality of one’s attention. With effort, we can become attuned to things, able to pick up and then hopefully differentiate finer and finer frequencies each time.

What these moments of stopping to listen have in common with those labyrinthine spaces is that they all initially enact some kind of removal from the sphere of familiarity. Even if brief or momentary, they are retreats, and like longer retreats, they affect the way we see everyday life when we do come back to it."



"Even the labyrinths I mentioned, by their very shape, collect our attention into these small circular spaces. When Rebecca Solnit, in her book Wanderlust, wrote about walking in the labyrinth inside the Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, she said, “The circuit was so absorbing I lost sight of the people nearby and hardly heard the sound of the traffic and the bells for six o’clock.”

In the case of Deep Listening, although in theory it can be practiced anywhere at any time, it’s telling that there have also been Deep Listening retreats. And Turrell’s Sky Pesher not only removes the context from around the sky, but removes you from your surroundings (and in some ways, from the context of your life — given its underground, tomblike quality)."



"My dad said that leaving the confined context of a job made him understand himself not in relation to that world, but just to the world, and forever after that, things that happened at work only seemed like one small part of something much larger. It reminds me of how John Muir described himself not as a naturalist but as a “poetico-trampo-geologist-botanist and ornithologist-naturalist etc. etc.”, or of how Pauline Oliveros described herself in 1974: “Pauline Oliveros is a two legged human being, female, lesbian, musician, and composer among other things which contribute to her identity. She is herself and lives with her partner, along with assorted poultry, dogs, cats, rabbits and tropical hermit crabs.” Incidentally, this has encouraged me to maybe change my bio to: “Jenny Odell is an artist, professor, thinker, walker, sleeper, eater, and amateur birdnoticer.”

3. the precarity of nothing

There’s an obvious critique of all of this, and that’s that it comes from a place of privilege. I can go to the rose garden, or stare into trees all day, because I have a teaching job that only requires me to be somewhere two days a week, not to mention a whole set of other privileges. Part of the reason my dad could take that time off was that on some level, he had enough reason to think he could get another job. It’s possible to understand the practice of doing nothing solely as a self-indulgent luxury, the equivalent of taking a mental health day if you’re lucky enough to work at a place that has those.

But here I come back to Deleuze’s “right to say nothing,” and although we can definitely say that this right is variously accessible or even inaccessible for some, I believe that it is indeed a right. For example, the push for an 8-hour workday in 1886 called for “8 hours of work, 8 hours of rest, and 8 hours of what we will.” I’m struck by the quality of things that associated with the category “What we Will”: rest, thought, flowers, sunshine.

These are bodily, human things, and this bodily-ness is something I will come back to. When Samuel Gompers, who led the labor group that organized this particular iteration of the 8-hour movement, was asked, “What does labor want?” he responded, “It wants the earth and the fullness thereof.” And to me it seems significant that it’s not 8 hours of, say, “leisure” or “… [more]
jennyodell  idleness  nothing  art  eyeo2017  photoshop  specimens  care  richardprince  gillesdeleuze  recology  internetarchive  sanfrancisco  eleanorcoppola  2017  1973  maps  mapping  scottpolach  jamesturrell  architecture  design  structure  labyrinths  oakland  juliamorgan  chapelofthechimes  paulineoliveros  ucsd  1970s  deeplisening  listening  birds  birdwatching  birding  noticing  classideas  observation  perception  time  gracecathedral  deeplistening  johncage  gordonhempton  silence  maintenance  conviviality  technology  bodies  landscape  ordinary  everyday  cyclicality  cycles  1969  mierleladermanukeles  sensitivity  senses  multispecies  canon  productivity  presence  connectivity  conversation  audrelorde  gabriellemoss  fomo  nomo  nosmo  davidabram  becominganimal  animals  nature  ravens  corvids  crows  bluejays  pets  human-animalrelations  human-animalelationships  herons  dissent  rowe  caliressler  jodythompson  francoberardi  fiverr  popos  publicspace  blackmirror  anthonyantonellis  facebook  socialmedia  email  wpa  history  bayarea  crowdcontrol  mikedavis  cityofquartz  er 
july 2017 by robertogreco
If Scale Isn’t The Goal, Then What Is? – Strong Words – Medium
"I don’t believe in the hustle. The goal for us as a company is finding a balance in our work and in our life. Extreme growth sounds way too stressful! We aren’t some kids from the Bay Area Hacker News crowd hoping against hope to grab a winning lottery ticket. As a product person I want to spend the next 40–50yrs honing and perfecting this craft.

I’m Italian. We measure things in generations, not quarters."
giacomoguilizzoni  scale  scaling  2017  craft  slow  hustle  balance  work  life  labor  work-lifebalance 
april 2017 by robertogreco
We need a "slow food" movement for higher education — Quartz
"The academy has moved to the fast lane. Corporatization has sped up the clock, compromising teaching, scholarship, and collegiality. The “slow movement”—originating in slow food—challenges the frantic pace and homogenization of contemporary culture. We believe that adopting the principles of “slow” into the professional practice of academia is an effective way to alleviate time poverty, preserve humanistic education, and resist the destructive effects of the corporate university.

“Slow,” Carlo Petrini makes clear in Slow Food Nation (2007), is not really about speed. It’s about the difference “between attention and distraction; slowness, in fact, is not so much a question of duration as of an ability to distinguish and evaluate, with the propensity to cultivate pleasure, knowledge, and quality.”

Being a professor is a privilege. We are not advocating slacking off, letting junior faculty do the heavy lifting, taking the summers off, missing deadlines, or doing less in class. Our view, advocated in our book The Slow Professor (2016), is rather about protecting the work that matters. Due to expanding workloads, the casualization of labor, the rise of technology, the consumer model of education, and increasing managerialism, the nature of the academy has changed dramatically in the past generation. Universities are now businesses. Teaching and learning are increasingly standardized, emphasizing the transfer of skills and time to completion. Both are now assessed in quantitative rather than qualitative terms. Research now is about winning grants and generating output—all as quickly as possible. Collegiality now is about useful networking.

Distractedness and fragmentation characterize contemporary life. In order to protect the intellectual and pedagogic life of the university, we need to create opportunities to think and to shift our sense of time. This might mean getting away from having everything scheduled down to the minute. We can’t do our best work if we are frantic.

It is also crucial to be aware of the structural changes in the university so we don’t blame ourselves for not keeping up. And we should not forget the joy that is possible in teaching and scholarship. We are drawn to the slow movement because its critique of contemporary culture insists on the importance of pleasure and conviviality. Talking about individual stress and trying to find ways to foster wellbeing have political implications. If we are stressed, we feel powerless to change the larger context. In the corporate university, aggressive individualism and the familiar bottom line dominate at the expense of community and social critique.

Slow teaching is not about lowering standards. Rather, it is about reducing our distractedness so that we can focus on our students and our subjects. We need to be able to concentrate on creating a convivial classroom in which our students can meet the challenges—and we can foster the joys—of learning a discipline.

Slow scholarship is about resisting the pressure to reduce thinking to the imperative of immediate usefulness, marketability, and grant generation. It’s about preserving the idea of scholarship as open-ended enquiry. It will improve the quality of teaching and learning.

In the current climate, most of us simply don’t have time for genuine collegiality. As academics become more isolated from each other, we are also becoming more compliant—more likely to see structural problems, including those of general working conditions, as individual failings. When that happens, resistance to corporatization seems futile. Collegiality, properly understood as a community practice, is about mutual support rather than works-in-progress, about sharing our failures as well as our successes, and about collaboration as well as competition. It offers solidarity.

We acknowledge the systemic inequities in the university, but we believe that a slow approach is potentially relevant across the spectrum of academic positions. Slow time is inimical to the corporate university. Scholars in tenured positions, given the protection that we enjoy, have an obligation to try to improve in the working climate for all of us. We are concerned that the bar is being continually raised for faculty and for graduate students. We need to reflect on what we are modeling for each other and the next generation of academics."
slow  sloweducation  highered  highereducation  barbaraseeber  maggieberg  2017  collegiality  time  carlopetrini  slowness  pleasure  knowledge  quality  attention  distraction 
april 2017 by robertogreco
The Snarling Girl | Hazlitt
"Oh really, she says. Now I matter? Wrong, motherfucker: I mattered before. (Also: Nope, can’t help you write a book, best of luck.)

She’s a little trigger-happy on the misanthropic rage, this snarling girl. She is often accused of “not living up to her potential.” She is neither inspired by nor impressed with prep school. The college admissions race leaves her cold. Her overbearing mother berates her about crappy grades and lack of ambition. (O-ho, the snarling girl says, you want to see lack of ambition? I’ll show you lack of ambition!) Where she is expected to go right, she makes a habit of veering left. She is not popular, not likely to succeed. Her salvation arrives (surely you saw this coming) in the form of books, movies, music. She obsessively follows the trail of breadcrumbs they leave behind. Here is a neat kind of power: she can be her own curator. She can find her way from one sustaining voice to another, sniffing out what’s true, what’s real. In her notebooks she copies out passages from novels, essays, poems, and songs. She Sharpies the especially resonant bits on her bedroom wall. This is how she learns to trust herself, no easy feat. These are epigraphs to the as yet unwritten book of her life, rehearsals for the senior page she is keen to assemble. These stories and lines and lyrics are companionship, proof that the universe is much, much bigger than her radioactive family and rich bitch west L.A. and Hebrew school and Zionist summer camp. Behold: She is not crazy! She is not alone! She is not a freak! Or, rather: she is crazy, she is alone, she is a freak, and she’ll keep glorious company with all of these other crazy, lonely, amazing freaks.

Look at her notebooks, all in a row. They live in my study, above shelves stacked with my books, galleys, audiobooks, foreign editions, literary journals, anthologies, Literary Death Match Champion medal, and piles of newspapers and magazines in which I’m celebrated as this amazing thing: a writer. A novelist. Legit. But witness, please, no coincidence, the notebooks live above that stuff. Spiral-bound, leather-bound, fabric-bound, black, pink, green, floral. This Notebook Belongs To: Elisa Albert, neatly printed in the earliest, 1992. Fake it ’til you make it, girl! The notebooks have seniority. Here is how she began to forge a system of belief and belonging, to say nothing of a career. Am I aggrandizing her? Probably. I am just so goddamn proud of her."



"Everything worthwhile is a sort of secret, not to be bought or sold, just rooted out painstakingly in whatever darkness you call home.

Here is what we know for sure: there is no end to want. Want is a vast universe within other vast universes. There is always more, and more again. There are prizes and grants and fellowships and lists and reviews and recognitions that elude us, mysterious invitations to take up residence at some castle in Italy. One can make a life out of focusing on what one does not have, but that’s no way to live. A seat at the table is plenty. (But is it a good seat? At which end of the table??? Alongside whom!?) A seat at the table means we are free to do our work, the end. Work! What a fantastic privilege."



"Some ambition is banal: Rich spouse. Thigh gap. Gold-buckle shoes. Quilted Chanel. Penthouse. Windowed office. Tony address. Notoriety. Ten thousand followers. A hundred thousand followers. Bestseller list. Editor-in-Chief. Face on billboard. A million dollars. A million followers. There are ways of working toward these things, clear examples of how it can be done. Programs, degrees, seminars, diets, schemes, connections, conferences. Hands to shake, ladders to climb. If you are smart, if you are savvy, who’s to stop you? Godspeed and good luck. I hope you get what you want, and when you do, I hope you aren’t disappointed.

Remember the famous curse? May you get absolutely everything you want.

Here’s what impresses me: Sangfroid. Good health. The ability to float softly with an iron core through Ashtanga primary series. Eye contact. Self-possession. Loyalty. Boundaries. Good posture. Moderation. Restraint. Laugh lines. Gardening. Activism. Originality. Kindness. Self-awareness. Simple food, prepared with love. Style. Hope. Lust. Grace. Aging. Humility. Nurturance. Learning from mistakes. Moving on. Letting go. Forms of practice, in other words. Constant, ongoing work. No endpoint in sight. Not goal-oriented, not gendered. Idiosyncratic and pretty much impossible to monetize.

I mean: What kind of person are you? What kind of craft have you honed? What is my experience of looking into your eyes, being around you? Are you at home in your body? Can you sit still? Do you make me laugh? Can you give and receive affection? Do you know yourself? How sophisticated is your sense of humor, how finely tuned your understanding of life’s absurdities? How thoughtfully do you interact with others? How honest are you with yourself? How do you deal with your various addictive tendencies? How do you face your darkness? How broad and deep is your perspective? How willing are you to be quiet? How do you care for yourself? How do you treat people you deem unimportant?

So you’re a CEO. So you made a million dollars. So your name is in the paper. So your face is in a magazine. So your song is on the radio. So your book is number one. You probably worked really hard; I salute you. So you got what you wanted and now you want something else. I mean, good, good, good, great, great, great. But if you have ever spent any time around seriously ambitious people, you know that they are very often some of the unhappiest crazies alive, forever rooting around for more, having a hard time with basics like breathing and eating and sleeping, forever trying to cover some hysterical imagined nakedness.

I get that my foremothers and sisters fought long and hard so that my relationship to ambition could be so … careless. I get that some foremothers and sisters might read me as ungrateful because I don’t want to fight their battles, because I don’t want to claw my way anywhere. My apologies, foremothers: I don’t want to fight. Oh, is there still sexism in the world? Sigh. Huh. Well. Knock me over with a feather. Now: how do I transplant the peonies to a sunnier spot so they yield more flowers next year or the year after? How do I conquer chapter three of this new novel? I’ve rewritten it and rewritten it for months. I need asana practice, and then I need to sit in meditation for a while. Then some laundry. And the vacuum cleaner needs a new filter. Then respond to some emails from an expectant woman for whom I’m serving as doula. And it’s actually my anniversary, so I’m gonna write my spouse a love letter. Then pick up the young’un from school. And I need to figure out what I’m making for dinner. Something with lentils, probably, and butter. Then text my friends a stupid photo and talk smack with them for a while.

Taking care of myself and my loved ones feels like meaningful work to me, see? I care about care. And I don’t care if I’m socialized to feel this way, because in point of fact I do feel this way. So! I am unavailable for striving today. I’m suuuuuper busy.

Yes, oppression is systemic, I get it, I feel it, I live it, I struggle, I do. Women are not equal, we’re not fairly represented, the pie charts are clear as day: nothing’s fair, nothing at all, it’s maddening, it’s saddening, it’s not at all gladdening. We all suffer private and public indignities (micro-aggressions, if you prefer) big and small. It’s one thing to pause and grapple with unfairness, but if we set up camp there, we can’t get anything done, can’t get to the root of the problem. So sure, great, go on and on about how women should help other women! Rah rah, put it on a T-shirt, sell it on Etsy. Great marketing, but what’s actually being accomplished? Who, specifically, is being helped? A collection of egos shouting ME ME ME is not artistically or intellectually productive or interesting.

“Real” work is often invisible, and maybe sort of sacred as such. The hollering and clamoring and status anxiety and PR two inches from our collective eyeballs all day? Not so much. So tell the gatekeepers to shove it, don’t play by their rules, and get back to work on whatever it is you hold dear. Nothing’s ever been fair. Nothing will ever be fair. But there is ever so much work to be done. Pretty please can I go back to my silly sweet secret sacred novel now? Bye. Take care."



"Here’s what bothers me about conventional ambition, the assumption that we all aspire to the top, the winner’s circle, the biggest brightest bestest, the blah blah blah, and that we will run around and around and around our little hamster wheels to get there: most of these goals are standardized. Cartoonish. Cliché. Beware anything standardized, that’s what I would teach my daughter. Health care, ambition, education, diet, culture: name it, and you will suffer endlessly from any attempt to go about it the same way as some projected Everyone Else. You cannot be standardized. You are a unique flower, daughter. Maybe the Ivy League will be wonderful for you; maybe it will crush your soul. If the former, I will mortgage the house to pay your way; if the latter, give that shit the finger and help me move these peonies, will you? You are not defined by such things, either way. Anyway, let us discuss what we want to whip up for dinner and take turns playing DJ while doing so.

“She can, though every face should scowl / And every windy quarter howl / Or every bellows burst, be happy still.” That was Yeats.

I mean, fuck ambition, that’s where this is going. I don’t buy the idea that acting like the oppressor is a liberation, personal ambition being, in essence, see above, patriarchal. And yeah, about recognition. What about when genius and/or hard work isn’t recognized? Because often it isn’t, and what do we make of that… [more]
elisaalbert  writing  belief  2017  literature  purpose  books  notebooks  care  caring  emotionallabor  whatmatters  feminism  audience  small  slow  ambition  standardization  mayaangelou  patriarchy  liberation  recognition  success  mastery  accomplishment  sideeffects  unintendedconsequences  striving  humility  winning 
april 2017 by robertogreco
Check This Box if You’re a Good Person - The New York Times
"HANOVER, N.H. — When I give college information sessions at high schools, I’m used to being swarmed by students. Usually, as soon as my lecture ends, they run up to hand me their résumés, fighting for my attention so that they can tell me about their internships or summer science programs.

But last spring, after I spoke at a New Jersey public school, I ran into an entirely different kind of student.

When the bell rang, I stuffed my leftover pamphlets into a bag and began to navigate the human tsunami that is a high school hallway at lunchtime.

Just before I reached the parking lot, someone tapped me on the shoulder.

“Excuse me, ma’am,” a student said, smiling through a set of braces. “You dropped a granola bar on the floor in the cafeteria. I chased you down since I thought you’d want your snack.” Before I could even thank him, he handed me the bar and dissolved into the sea of teenagers.

Working in undergraduate admissions at Dartmouth College has introduced me to many talented young people. I used to be the director of international admissions and am now working part time after having a baby. Every year I’d read over 2,000 college applications from students all over the world. The applicants are always intellectually curious and talented. They climb mountains, head extracurricular clubs and develop new technologies. They’re the next generation’s leaders. Their accomplishments stack up quickly.

The problem is that in a deluge of promising candidates, many remarkable students become indistinguishable from one another, at least on paper. It is incredibly difficult to choose whom to admit. Yet in the chaos of SAT scores, extracurriculars and recommendations, one quality is always irresistible in a candidate: kindness. It’s a trait that would be hard to pinpoint on applications even if colleges asked the right questions. Every so often, though, it can’t help shining through.

The most surprising indication of kindness I’ve ever come across in my admissions career came from a student who went to a large public school in New England. He was clearly bright, as evidenced by his class rank and teachers’ praise. He had a supportive recommendation from his college counselor and an impressive list of extracurriculars. Even with these qualifications, he might not have stood out. But one letter of recommendation caught my eye. It was from a school custodian.

Letters of recommendation are typically superfluous, written by people who the applicant thinks will impress a school. We regularly receive letters from former presidents, celebrities, trustee relatives and Olympic athletes. But they generally fail to provide us with another angle on who the student is, or could be as a member of our community.

This letter was different.

The custodian wrote that he was compelled to support this student’s candidacy because of his thoughtfulness. This young man was the only person in the school who knew the names of every member of the janitorial staff. He turned off lights in empty rooms, consistently thanked the hallway monitor each morning and tidied up after his peers even if nobody was watching. This student, the custodian wrote, had a refreshing respect for every person at the school, regardless of position, popularity or clout.

Over 15 years and 30,000 applications in my admissions career, I had never seen a recommendation from a school custodian. It gave us a window onto a student’s life in the moments when nothing “counted.” That student was admitted by unanimous vote of the admissions committee.

There are so many talented applicants and precious few spots. We know how painful this must be for students. As someone who was rejected by the school where I ended up as a director of admissions, I know firsthand how devastating the words “we regret to inform you” can be.

Until admissions committees figure out a way to effectively recognize the genuine but intangible personal qualities of applicants, we must rely on little things to make the difference. Sometimes an inappropriate email address is more telling than a personal essay. The way a student acts toward his parents on a campus tour can mean as much as a standardized test score. And, as I learned from that custodian, a sincere character evaluation from someone unexpected will mean more to us than any boilerplate recommendation from a former president or famous golfer.

Next year there might be a flood of custodian recommendations thanks to this essay. But if it means students will start paying as much attention to the people who clean their classrooms as they do to their principals and teachers, I’m happy to help start that trend.

Colleges should foster the growth of individuals who show promise not just in leadership and academics, but also in generosity of spirit. Since becoming a mom, I’ve also been looking at applications differently. I can’t help anticipating my son’s own dive into the college admissions frenzy 17 years from now.

Whether or not he even decides to go to college when the time is right, I want him to resemble a person thoughtful enough to return a granola bar, and gracious enough to respect every person in his community."
colleges  universities  admissions  kindness  sfsh  small  slow  2017  rebeccasabky  recommendations  edg  srg 
april 2017 by robertogreco
Not Leadership Material? Good. The World Needs Followers. - The New York Times
"The glorification of leadership skills, especially in college admissions, has emptied leadership of its meaning."



"In 1934, a young woman named Sara Pollard applied to Vassar College. In those days, parents were asked to fill out a questionnaire, and Sara’s father described her, truthfully, as “more a follower type than a leader.”

The school accepted Sara, explaining that it had enough leaders.

It’s hard to imagine this happening today. No father in his right mind (if the admissions office happened to ask him!) would admit that his child was a natural follower; few colleges would welcome one with open arms. Today we prize leadership skills above all, and nowhere more than in college admissions. As Penny Bach Evins, the head of St. Paul’s School for Girls, an independent school in Maryland, told me, “It seems as if higher ed is looking for alphas, but the doers and thinkers in our schools are not always in front leading.”

Harvard’s application informs students that its mission is “to educate our students to be citizens and citizen-leaders for society.” Yale’s website advises applicants that it seeks “the leaders of their generation”; on Princeton’s site, “leadership activities” are first among equals on a list of characteristics for would-be students to showcase. Even Wesleyan, known for its artistic culture, was found by one study to evaluate applicants based on leadership potential.

If college admissions offices show us whom and what we value, then we seem to think that the ideal society is composed of Type A’s. This is perhaps unsurprising, even if these examples come from highly competitive institutions. It’s part of the American DNA to celebrate those who rise above the crowd. And in recent decades, the meteoric path to leadership of youthful garage- and dorm-dwellers, from Steve Jobs to Mark Zuckerberg, has made king of the hill status seem possible for every 19-year-old. So now we have high school students vying to be president of as many clubs as they can. It’s no longer enough to be a member of the student council; now you have to run the school.

Yet a well-functioning student body — not to mention polity — also needs followers. It needs team players. And it needs those who go their own way.

It needs leaders who are called to service rather than to status.

Admissions officers will tell you that their quest for tomorrow’s leaders is based on a desire for positive impact, to make the world a better place. I think they mean what they say.

But many students I’ve spoken with read “leadership skills” as a code for authority and dominance and define leaders as those who “can order other people around.” And according to one prominent Ivy League professor, those students aren’t wrong; leadership, as defined by the admissions process, too often “seems to be restricted to political or business power.” She says admissions officers fail to define leadership as “making advances in solving mathematical problems” or “being the best poet of the century.”

Whatever the colleges’ intentions, the pressure to lead now defines and constricts our children’s adolescence. One young woman told me about her childhood as a happy and enthusiastic reader, student and cellist — until freshman year of high school, when “college applications loomed on the horizon, and suddenly, my every activity was held up against the holy grail of ‘leadership,’ ” she recalled. “And everyone knew,” she added, “that it was not the smart people, not the creative people, not the thoughtful people or decent human beings that scored the application letters and the scholarships, but the leaders. It seemed no activity or accomplishment meant squat unless it was somehow connected to leadership.”

This young woman tried to overhaul her personality so she would be selected for a prestigious leadership role as a “freshman mentor.” She made the cut, but was later kicked out of the program because she wasn’t outgoing enough. At the time, she was devastated. But it turned out that she’d been set free to discover her true calling, science. She started working after school with her genetics teacher, another behind-the-scenes soul. She published her first scientific paper when she was 18, and won the highest scholarship her university has to offer, majoring in biomedical engineering and cello.

Our elite schools overemphasize leadership partly because they’re preparing students for the corporate world, and they assume that this is what businesses need. But a discipline in organizational psychology, called “followership,” is gaining in popularity. Robert Kelley, a professor of management and organizational behavior, defined the term in a 1988 Harvard Business Review article, in which he listed the qualities of a good follower, including being committed to “a purpose, principle or person outside themselves” and being “courageous, honest and credible.” It’s an idea that the military has long taught.

Recently, other business thinkers have taken up this mantle. Some focus on the “romance of leadership” theory, which causes us to inaccurately attribute all of an organization’s success and failure to its leader, ignoring its legions of followers. Adam Grant, who has written several books on what drives people to succeed, says that the most frequent question he gets from readers is how to contribute when they’re not in charge but have a suggestion and want to be heard. “These are not questions asked by leaders,” he told me. “They’re fundamental questions of followership.”

Team players are also crucial. My sons are avid soccer players, so I spend a lot of time watching the “beautiful game.” The thing that makes it beautiful is not leadership, though an excellent coach is essential. Nor is it the swoosh of the ball in the goal, though winning is noisily celebrated. It is instead the intricate ballet of patterns and passes, of each player anticipating the other’s strengths and needs, each shining for the brief instant that he has the ball before passing it to a teammate or losing it to an opponent.

We also rely as a society, much more deeply than we realize, on the soloists who forge their own paths. We see those figures in all kinds of pursuits: in the sciences; in sports like tennis, track and figure skating; and in the arts. Art and science are about many things that make life worth living, but they are not, at their core, about leadership. Helen Vendler, a professor of English at Harvard, published an essay in which she encouraged the university to attract more artists and not expect them “to become leaders.” Some of those students will become leaders in the arts, she wrote — conducting an orchestra, working to reinstate the arts in schools — “but one can’t quite picture Baudelaire pursuing public service.”

Perhaps the biggest disservice done by the outsize glorification of “leadership skills” is to the practice of leadership itself — it hollows it out, it empties it of meaning. It attracts those who are motivated by the spotlight rather than by the ideas and people they serve. It teaches students to be a leader for the sake of being in charge, rather than in the name of a cause or idea they care about deeply. The difference between the two states of mind is profound. The latter belongs to transformative leaders like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi; the former to — well, we’ve all seen examples of this kind of leadership lately.

If this seems idealistic, consider the status quo: students jockeying for leadership positions as résumé padders. “They all want to be president of 50 clubs,” a faculty adviser at a New Jersey school told me. “They don’t even know what they’re running for.”

It doesn’t have to be this way.

What if we said to college applicants that the qualities we’re looking for are not leadership skills, but excellence, passion and a desire to contribute beyond the self? This framework would encompass exceptional team captains and class presidents. But it wouldn’t make leadership the be-all and end-all.

What if we said to our would-be leaders, “Take this role only if you care desperately about the issue at hand”?

And what if we were honest with ourselves about what we value? If we’re looking for the students and citizens most likely to attain wealth and power, let’s admit it. Then we can have a frank debate about whether that is a good idea.

But if instead we seek a society of caring, creative and committed people, and leaders who feel called to service rather than to stature, then we need to do a better job of making that clear."
susancain  leadership  leaders  sfsh  followers  community  courage  honesty  purpose  2017  colleges  universities  admissions  canon  small  slow  helenvendler  arts  art  artists  followership  soccer  football  us  values  credibility  military  authority  power  dominance  ivyleague  admission  capitalism  politics  elitism  adamgrant  introverts  extroverts  allsorts  attention  edg  srg  care  caring  maintenance  futbol  sports 
april 2017 by robertogreco
The Slow Professor movement: reclaiming the intellectual life of the university - Home | The Sunday Edition | CBC Radio
"You have heard of the slow food movement...now, there's a "slow professor" movement.

Two university professors say they feel time-crunched, exhausted and demoralised. They say they are being asked to be more efficient at the expense of more thoughtful teaching.
"Really, we're being encouraged to stay away from the really big questions because they're going to take too long to think through. You want to pump out as much stuff as quickly as you can. That's going to have a consequence for how thoughtful things are." — Barbara K. Seeber

Maggie Berg, a professor of English at Queen's University, and Barbara K. Seeber, a professor of English at Brock University, are co-authors of The Slow Professor: Challenging the Culture of Speed in the Academy.

Berg and Seeger argue universities squeeze as much intellectual capital out of professors as possible, and closely monitor the output of their mental exertions.

They spoke to Michael about their book and their mission to "reclaim the intellectual life of the university.""

[Update: See also: "We need a “slow food” movement for higher education"
https://qz.com/947480/we-need-a-slow-food-movement-for-higher-education/ ]
slow  highereducation  highered  education  academia  reflection  2017  barbaraseeber  maggieberg  deliberation  slowprofessor  productivity  standardization  speed  homogeneity  slowfood  knowledgeproduction  universities  corporatism  corporatization  competition  economics  fastknowledge  research  adminstrativebloat  teaching  howweteach  wisdom  faculty  howwelearn  friendship  benjaminginsberg  management  power  labor  work  casualization  adjuncts  busyness  time  anxiety  stress  davidposen  credentials  credentialization  joy  beauty  transferableskills 
february 2017 by robertogreco
Flatbread Society Seed Journey
"ABOUT

This journey to the Middle East can be seen as an awakening of the memory—the long journey the grain itself has taken—through the hands of time.

-Michael Taussig

Seed Journey is a seafaring voyage connected to a public art project* in the former port of Bjørvika in Oslo, Norway. Seed Journey moves people, ideas and seeds through time and space. This voyage—its crew and cargo—are agents that link the commons as they relate to local networks and a more global complex of seed savers and stewards of the land, air and water. A rotating crew of artists, anthropologists, biologists, bakers, activists, sailors and farmers join the journey and share their findings at host institutions along the route from small harbors to large ports from barns to museums (contemporary art, natural history and maritime) to social centers.

"NOT STUCK ON TIME"

Seed Journey departs from the port of Oslo, Norway beginning with a few key defining points and space for new stops and invitations along the way. The crew’s interests will influence the route, but ultimately grains are the compass. Seed Journey maps not only space, but also time and phylogeny: while the more familiar space yields a cartographic map, time yields history and phylogeny yields a picture of networks of relationships between and among living beings—relationships between cultural groups, but also between human and non-human living forms such as seeds, sea-life and the terrestrial species from the various places and times we will traverse.

****

FLATBREAD SOCIETY

Flatbread Society is a permanent public art project created in a “common” area amidst the waterfront development of Bjørvika, in Oslo, Norway. In 2012, the international arts collective, Futurefarmers formed Flatbread Society as a proposition for working with local actors to establish an aligned vision for the use of this land. The groups’ dynamic activation of the site through public programs, a bakehouse and a cultivated grain field has attracted the imagination of farmers, bakers, oven builders, artists, activists, soil scientists, city officials; while simultaneously resulting in the formation of an urban gardening community called Herligheten, a Declaration of Land Use, and a permanent grainfield and bakehouse.

Flatbread Society has extended beyond Oslo into a network of projects and people that use grain as a prismatic impetus to consider the interrelationship of food production to realms of knowledge sharing, cultural production, socio-political formations and everyday life.

Flatbread Society is part of Bjørvika Utvikling (BU) public art program Slow Space, commissioned and produced by Bjørvika Utvikling and supported by The Norwegian Public Road Authroities (Eastern Region)."
futurefarmers  seedjourney  michaeltaussig  art  norway  oslo  bjørvika  naturalhistory  flatbreadsociety  slow  baking  biology  science  classideas  activism  sailing  boats  anthropology  barns  museums  seeds  sailboats  spain  denmark  españa  vejle  london  england  cardiff  wales  uk  antwerp  belgium  asturias  lena  mallorca  rmallah  palestine  istanbul  turkey  johanpetersen  børrepetersen  carlemilpetersen  fernandogarcíadory  agency  didierdemorcy  amyfranceschini  marthevandessel  viviensansour  ignaciochapela  martinlundberg  alfonsoborragán  hananbenammar  joeriley  audreysnyder  annavitale  jørundaasefalkenberg 
january 2017 by robertogreco
How America's 'Culture of Hustling' Is Dark and Empty - The Atlantic
"Q: You write about the "unnecessary," "wasteful," and "stupid" routines, obsessions, and goals that you once pursued and that most of American culture preaches as the means of accessing the good life—careers, professional ambition, the drive for prestige, etc. You have left that behind for a peaceful "retirement" in Mexico, but during your retirement, you've written five books. How do you differentiate between pointless hustling and meaningful work? You write that more people should "let the universe do its thing." How do we do that and strive for work that gives our lives a sense of purpose and source of meaning? 

A: The tipoff for me is somatic. Whenever a project comes to me, one that is right, that is genuine, I feel a kind of “shiver” in my body, and that tells me that it corresponds to something very deep in me, and that I need to pursue it. That has been my guide with literally every book I wrote. Trusting this kind of visceral reaction means that you are willing to let life “come and get you.” It means who you are is defined from the inside, not the outside. In terms of what’s really important, we don’t have much choice, and that’s as it should be. The decision is made by a larger energy or unconscious process, and when it’s right, you know it.

Most Americans have a dull sense that their lives are fundamentally “off”—because for the most part, they are. They hate their lives, but to get through the day, besides taking Prozac and consulting their cell phone every two minutes, they talk themselves into believing that they want to be doing what they are doing. This is probably the major source of illness in our culture, whether physical or mental.

In the film Definitely, Maybe, Ryan Reynolds works for an ad agency and says to himself at one point that he never imagined he’d be spending his days trying to convince people to buy Cap’n Crunch for their kids instead of Fruit Loops. As far as striving goes, Goethe wrote: “Man errs as long as he strives.” Sit still, meditate, just let the answer arise from the body. (It may take a while.)

Q: So much of American culture is results obsessed. You write in your book about appreciating pleasures as they come, whether they are sexual, intellectual, or emotional. Do you think much of happiness is about learning to appreciate pleasure in the moment and not attaching it some tangibly measurable result?

A: It took me a long time to understand that I, or, my ego, had no idea what was best for me. Some part of happiness undoubtedly derives from a Zen enjoyment of whatever is in front of you, but a big part of it is knowing who you are and being that person. This is ontological knowing, and it’s very different from intellectual knowing.

Q: Your message of detachment from materially measurable pursuits and your encouragement of leisure, creativity, and relaxed living is un-American (I mean this as a compliment). Why is American culture so addicted to speed, movement, action, and "progress"?

A: This is, in some ways, the subject of my book Why America Failed. America is essentially about hustling, and that goes back more than 400 years. It’s practically genetic, in the U.S., by now; the programming is so deep, and so much out of conscious awareness, that very few Americans can break free of it. They’re really sleepwalking through life, living out a narrative that is not of their own making, while thinking they are in the driver’s seat.

It’s also especially hard to break free of that mesmerization when everyone else is similarly hypnotized. Groupthink is enormously powerful. Even if it occurs to you to stop following the herd, it seems crazy or terrifying to attempt it. This is Sartre’s “bad faith,” the phenomenon whereby a human being adopts false values because of social pressure, and is thus living a charade, an inauthentic life. It’s also what happens to Ivan Illych in the Tolstoy story, where Ivan is dying, and reviews his life during his last three days, and concludes that it was all a waste, because he lived only for social approval."

[See also: http://tumblr.austinkleon.com/post/154822488046 ]
culture  hustling  via:austinkleon  morrisberman  work  hustle  society  productivity  ambition  careers  prestige  motivation  us  howwework  slow  retirement  2013  davidmasciotra  results  stress  pleasure  leisurearts  artleisure  knowing  creativity  life  living  consumption  materialism  authenticity  socialpressure  meaning  meaningmaking 
december 2016 by robertogreco
école de Hogbonou
[via: https://pioneerworks.org/index/ecole-de-hogbonu/ ]

"L’école de Hogbonu, first art school in Benin Republic, West Africa, foreshadowed in summer 2016 in Porto Novo, the capital of the country by the Romanian Fabiola Badoi and the German Ewa Knitter, both living and working in Paris and their international team.

Hogbonu is the name given by the first inhabitants of the city of Porto Novo. It seemed echo with the spirit of the school.

l'école de Hogbonu opens a thinking towards a notion of art where creation is neither stake nor object of fetish making or merchandise, whispered art silently in life like a heart beat.

If schools are institutions made to give individuals a set of skills in order to fulfill a role in society, then l’école de Hogbonu is a non-school without any other finality than to provide time for exploration, idleness and wandering. Melting pot of transmitting and sharing knowledge as well as uncertainties, disquiet, doubts.

Skhole, skholes
A. noun. : primary meaning : stop
a. rest, leisure;
i. studious occupation, scientific intercourse,study;
ii. place of study, school;
iii. study product, treatise, work;
b. respite, truce;
c. leisure, slowness, idleness;
B. adv.
at. at leisure, in his time, slowly, step by step;
b. with difficulty, not easily

L’école de Hogbonu offers :

defining and defending artistic identity emphasizing cultural heritage intended by the school to be explored and deepened in order to construct a consistent discourse.

building critical thinking to strenghten an aesthetical judgement by reflecting with people from various fields and horizons : artists, historians, art historians, farmers, workers, fishermen, travelers, anthropologists, shamans, priests, philosophers, sociologists, educators, architects, writers, poets, psychologists, linguists, dieteticians, musicians, beggars, actors, dancers, economists, mathematicians, physicists, geologists, art critics, theorists…

translating cultures by simple exchange, without hierarchy

opening knowledge and carving out, throwing light on the intimate relationship between disciplines

forging a pertinent vision of art and its market

inaugurating an artistic research

slowing down art production

finding alternative economies

digging the poetic furrow of life

or

remaining in the poetic wake of life

or

traveling in the poetic vein of life

..there is nothing to say, there is only to be, there is only to live. Piero Manzoni"
benin  artschools  art  education  schools  openstudioproject  lcproject  pieromanzoni  webdesign  webdev  sfsh  altgdp  slow  horizontality  transdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  leisure  leisurearts  artleisure  slowness  idleness  non-schools  unschooling  deschooling  l’écoledehogbonu  portonovo  fabiolabadoi  ewaknitter  artschool 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Are You Being Served? → Summit_afterlife.md
"A few months after “Are You Being Served?“ some of us met up in the Feminist Server Summit at Art Meets Radical Openness (AMRO <http://radical-openness.org>), ESC in Graz. The theme of this edition, Autonomy (im)possible sparked discussions on relationality, dependency and what that would mean for an (imaginary) Feminist Server. The following embryonic manifesto was written in response to these discussions.
A feminist server…

* Is a situated technology. She has a sense of context and considers herself to be part of an ecology of practices
* Is run for and by a community that cares enough for her in order to make her exist
* Builds on the materiality of software, hardware and the bodies gathered around it
* Opens herself to expose processes, tools, sources, habits, patterns
* Does not strive for seamlessness. Talk of transparency too often signals that something is being made invisible
* Avoids efficiency, ease-of-use, scalability and immediacy because they can be traps
* Knows that networking is actually an awkward, promiscuous and parasitic practice
* Is autonomous in the sense that she decides for her own dependencies
* Radically questions the conditions for serving and service; experiments with changing client-server relations where she can
* Treats network technology as part of a social reality
* Wants networks to be mutable and read-write accessible
* Does not confuse safety with security
* Takes the risk of exposing her insecurity
* Tries hard not to apologize when she is sometimes not available


Another version will be developed and presented at The Ministry of Hacking (ESC, Graz) <http://esc.mur.at/de/projekt/ministry-hacking>. You are welcome to contribute to this text through comments, rewriting, additions or erasure: <http://note.pad.constantvzw.org/public_pad/feministserver>."
via:caseygollan  feminism  servers  technology  ecology  community  software  hardware  materiality  efficiency  scalability  slow  small  immediacy  networking  autonomy  security  safety  readwrite  service  manifestos  context  sfsh  care  caring  transparency  open  openness 
november 2016 by robertogreco
A Work In Progress... | When we adults think of children there is a simple...
"When we adults think of children there is a simple truth which we ignore: childhood is not preparation for life, childhood is life. A child isn’t getting ready to live, a child is living. The child constantly confronted with the question, “What are you going to be?” Courageous would be the youngster who, looking the adult squarely in the face, would say, I’m not going to be anything; I already am.“ We adults would be shocked by such an insolent remark for we have forgotten, if indeed we ever knew, that a child is an active participating and contributing member of society from the time he is born. Childhood isn’t a time when he is molded into a human who will then live life; he is a human who is living life. No child will miss the zest and joy of living unless these are denied him by adults who have convinced themselves that childhood is period of preparation.

How much heartache we would save ourselves if we would save ourselves if we would recognize the child as a partner with partner with adults in the process of living, rather than always viewing him as an apprentice. How much would teach each other… adults with the experience and children with the freshness. How full both our lives could be. A little child may not lead us, but at least we ought to discuss the trip with him for, after all, life is his and her journey, too."

–Professor T. Ripaldi, Notes On An Unhurried Journey [https://pippahirst.wordpress.com/notes-on-an-unhurried-journey/ ]
children  childhood  preparation  unschooling  deschooling  lcproject  openstudioproject  sfsh  tripaldi  slow 
october 2016 by robertogreco
Darning Sampler | Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
"When we talk about sustainability, why don’t we talk about mending?

The Netherlands-based Platform 21=Repairing project and its offshoot, Repair Cafés, do just that. Platform 21=Repairing published a manifesto extolling the benefits of mending, and the Repair Cafés bring together skilled tinkerers and those with items in need of repair together in a free social space over tea and coffee. Both of these initiatives engage the community, promote the sharing of hand skills, and resurrect a culture of caring enough to repair.

This darning sampler is also Dutch and was made in 1735 by a girl of about 12. She was confronted with a piece of fabric with 17 square-cut holes and with all four corners cut away. In the center and lower right corner she carefully darned the missing bits back into place and the rest she repaired with needle weaving (what you might call re-weaving if you were at the dry cleaners with a hole in your favorite wool pants). Each hole is filled in, thread by thread, with a different woven pattern to demonstrate the girl’s skill at repairing weave structures found in common household and clothing textiles such as herringbone, birds-eye twill, etc. Bright colors were originally selected to make it easier for the instructor to check for accuracy, but also contribute to a wonderfully fresh and modern overall effect.

While the textile industry is striving along with other industries to create fabrics from recycled, rapidly renewable or organic materials, the only truly sustainable option is to consume less. This sampler shows a reverence for the humble everyday objects that fill our homes (such as napkins, dishtowels, jeans, etc.) that we cannot afford not to emulate."

[Also here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BKmn7ktj6T2/ ]
cooper-hewitt  sustainability  via:litherland  clothing  fashion  textiles  fabrics  reuse  mending  glvo  repair  repairing  slow  recycling  platform21  darning  susanbrown  consumption 
september 2016 by robertogreco
Scraps Stories | Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
"Welcome to the blog series Scraps Stories, where we explore sustainable textiles and fashion in relation to the Cooper Hewitt exhibition Scraps: Fashion, Textiles, and Creative Reuse.

The exhibition and catalog present three designers’ approaches to addressing the issue of pre-consumer textile waste. The blog will broaden the discussion, exploring current concerns over the alarming social and environmental impact of fashion and textile production. It will also explore positive steps being made by designers and manufacturers to develop solutions, as well as look at past and present global traditions of repair, reuse, and recycling of textiles and clothing.

Please join this important conversation about the impact of the decisions we make about our clothing.  Comments and information sharing are welcome!"

[posts: http://www.cooperhewitt.org/?s=scraps+stories&count=100 ]
scraps  cooper-hewitt  textiles  2016  design  sustainability  fashion  reuse  waste  recycling  repair  slow 
september 2016 by robertogreco
Green Glossary: A for Artisanal | Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
"Artisanal work is a practice that relies on hand skills to produce distinctive objects on a small scale, outside the industrial system. Promoting artisanal production by working with skillful artisans and prioritizing the handmade is a good alternative to the “$5 t-shirt” industry that is responsible for alarming overproduction and waste. Since the 1960s, drastic changes have affected the fashion industry, shifting from small made-to-order and artisanal runs to globalized and highly industrialized collections in order to reach lower prices, sell more, and make more profit. This phenomenon has led to a severe loss of value and quality of garments. Quality of craftsmanship is a key component to ensure the lasting value and durability of our clothes. “Slow Fashion” takes its inspiration from the concept of “Slow Food,” a movement started in Italy by Carlo Petrini in the late 1980s that encouraged a sustainable agriculture with slower production schedules, fair wages for the farmers and lower carbon footprints. American fashion brands such as dosa by Christina Kim, one of the three designers presented in SCRAPS: Fashion, Textiles and Creative Reuse, Alabama Chanin, a label founded by Natalie Chanin, and Study NY directed by New-York-based designer Tara Saint James, all embrace a similar way of designing and producing clothing.

Christina Kim has indexed a variety of artisanal techniques, textiles, people, and organizations and has shared this list on dosa’s website in the form of a beautifully illustrated glossary. Each entry includes a picture, a short description, indication of geographical origin, and tells how it entered the company’s history. This approach not only provides better quality and longevity to the garments, but it also changes the dynamics between designers, makers, and users and raises awareness of the craft of clothes-making."
clothes  artisanal  design  glvo  textiles  small  slow  fabrics  slowfashion  carlopetrini  christinakim  creativereuse  reuse  longevity  quality  nataliechanin  alabamachanin  scraps  magalianberthon  cooper-hewitt 
september 2016 by robertogreco
Reading Things — Magazine — Walker Art Center
"I’m sunbathing on the beach on a cloudless August day in the Rockaways. It’s blindingly bright and I have a T-shirt draped over my eyes to block the sun. I am overhearing a conversation between some of the friends around me and someone new who has walked across the sand to us. Whose is this voice I don’t know? I think it is man, someone I’ve never met. I uncover my eyes and see that it is one of my friends—a woman, a transwoman whose female-ness I have never questioned, whose voice I had always heard as a female voice. Had I never heard her before? How can my ears hear two different voices, depending on whether or not I know who is speaking? As I puzzle over this, I start thinking of other instances in which two or more versions of reality butt up against each other, two contradictory sensory experiences that are somehow both real to me, depending on how I encounter them. What is going on here?"



"This winter I delivered an artist talk at Virginia Commonwealth University, where I’ve been teaching, about my investment in objects with open-ended or ambiguous function—things that cause one to ask, “What is this for?” I discuss the studio as a place where I aim to make objects that frustrate even my own attempts to know them, once and for all, as one thing and not others. I make things that ask for nuanced, open-ended forms of reading that can accommodate these objects of ambiguous functionality. Over coffee the following morning, one of the other faculty members in the department, Corin Hewitt, excitedly wanted to know if I had heard of a beloved object known as the “slant step.” I had not, but since then an image of it has been following me around—in the studio, on the train, in and out of bathrooms, while reading the news. The slant step is a small piece of furniture that was purchased in a second-hand store in Mill Valley, California, in 1965 by the artist William Wiley and his then-graduate student Bruce Nauman. Costing less than a dollar, this wood and green linoleum, one-of-a-kind handmade object struck these two artists as puzzling and fascinating, primarily because its function was a mystery. Though reminiscent of a step stool, the step part of the stool sits at a 45-degree angle to the floor, making it impossible to step up onto it, hence the name, the slant step. This unassuming ambiguous object resonated not just with Wiley and Nauman, but also with a whole range of Bay Area artists in the 1960s, inspiring more than one group exhibition themed around it, a catalogue, and numerous articles as well as extensive use as a teaching tool by the painter Frank Owen. It is now in the permanent collection of the University of California Davis.3"



"In the midst of all this urgency, the figure of the slant step comes to my mind. I feel embarrassed about it because what could this remote object have to offer when we are in need of such concrete changes? A useful object with no apparent use. A handmade thing of unknown origin, producing more questions than answers. An object that modestly requests a more effortful type of reading than what we normally engage in. We identify things in terms of their function and move on, reading passively. We learn only as much as we need to know. This object, compelling to so many in the past 50 years, is compelling to me as well, insofar as it encourages me to read more slowly. It makes me want to see it as more than one thing at once, or as many different things in quick succession. Looking to the slant step as a teacher, I want to learn what it seems to already know—I can’t always know what I am looking at. Clearly already well used in the mid-1960s but for an inscrutable purpose, the slant step speaks of bodies without being able to name them. It has always seemed wrong to me to say that we see what is before us and then interpret it, because the idea of “interpreting what we see” implies an inaccurate linearity to this process and suggests that the things themselves are fixed while our understandings of them remain malleable. Rather, we understand what we are seeing at the same moment we see it; perception is identification. Understood in this way, changing our interpretations is literally synonymous with changing the functioning of our senses, initiating a pulling apart of the instantaneous act of assigning meaning to what we see. This slowness to assign identification in the moment of encounter lies at the heart of the slant step’s curious appeal."



"On an overcast August day in 1995, Tyra Hunter, a hairstylist and black transgender woman, got in a car accident while driving in Washington, DC. Adrian Williams, the emergency medical technician at the scene who began to cut away her clothing to administer urgently needed aid, is reported to have said, “This bitch ain’t no girl… it’s a nigger; he’s got a dick!” Hunter lay on the ground bleeding as Williams and the other EMTs joked around her, and died later that day of her injuries at a nearby hospital. A subsequent investigation into the events leading to her death concluded that it would very likely have been prevented had treatment been continued at the scene of the accident.15

In the fall of 2014, a grand jury in St. Louis County Missouri decided not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. In the spring of 2015, the US Department of Justice also cleared Wilson of all civil rights violations, deeming the shooting to be an act of self-defense. In Wilson’s testimony in his grand jury hearing, he recounted looking at Brown in the moments before shooting him six times, and described him as having “the most intense aggressive face. The only way I can describe it, it looks like a demon, that’s how angry he looked.”16

It’s hard to stomach these statements, but I write them here because I am noticing the ways that both of the speakers managed to transform the person they were about to kill from a human being to a thing in the moments before their deaths. By a probably less-than-conscious twist of verbal gymnastics, both killers shift from using a pronoun generally used to refer to people (he/she) to using a pronoun generally used to refer to inanimate things: it. If murder is the act of permanently dehumanizing another, then it is as if in order to give themselves permission to kill these two individuals Williams and Wilson had to preemptively transform them from people into things. “It’s a nigger…” “It looks like a demon…” Did these statements make it possible to turn a human being into a corpse? Maybe so, as a person turned nonconsensually into a thing is already a person dangerously close to death."



"In the 1966 slant step show, William Wiley, the artist who originally bought the step from the thrift store, made a metal casting from it that bore the following inscription: “This piece is dedicated to all the despised unknown, unloved, people, objects and ideas that just don’t make it and never will, who have so thoughtlessly given their time and talent to become objects of scorn but maintain an innocent ignorance and never realize that you hate them.”18 For Wiley, the slant step was both an intriguing object of ambiguous functionality, while also serving another purpose as the object of certain recuperations. To treat a discarded object with care, to focus on it, show it to others, make copies and homages to it—to, in a sense, treat it with love—had a value for him on its own account. A small act of treating an uncared-for thing with care as an articulation of an ethos for encountering one another. Frank Owen, one of Wiley’s friends and an original participant in the slant step show, used the step as a model in his life-drawing classes for decades—producing innumerable depictions of its likeness and encouraging his students to think deeply about it through the slow and close looking necessitated by drawing. “This was its job—to pose on a model stand patiently (which it is very good at) and be drawn while also posing its eternal question: What is this thing, what is it for and why do we attend to it?”19"



"In thinking about Mark and her succulents, I am wrapping myself around the sustaining potential of relations of care with non-human things. I wonder about the role that the cultivation, protection, and recuperation of things might play in the day-to-day processes of healing necessitated by living as a body that is objectified, misread, or unrecognized. Can attending to objects with care be a labor of self-sustenance for us as well? Can the things of our lives be our companions, our children, our comrades?24 What can we know or feel about our own bodies through the ways that we relate to objects? I want to propose the possibility that our relations with objects themselves might function as a means of remodeling our own often-fraught bonds with the materiality that is our own lived bodies. I sometimes joke that all I am doing in the studio is making friends. This joke is feeling more real by the day. I am thinking now about all the gorgeous non-traditionally gendered people I know coming back to their apartments exhausted from the daily labor of moving through the world and carefully watering their plants."
objects  kinship  objectkinship  care  caring  reality  perception  senses  gordonhall  gender  seeing  sculpture  art  artists  2016  functionality  corinhewitt  brucenauman  williamwiley  1960s  slow  slowreading  howweread  reading  knowing  howwelearn  noticing  observation  identification  bodies  naming  notknowing  meaning  meaningmaking  frankowen  ambiguity  mickybradford  race  markaguhar  michaelbrown  williamwitherup  mrionwintersteen  chancesdances  tyrahunter  northcarolina  housebill2  body 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Human scale technology — Medium
[video now here: https://vimeo.com/180044030

"Human-Scale – Beyond user-centered design, we need to create systems that are explicitly and deliberately built to be humane. What does this mean, and is it in conflict with existing corporate structures?"]

"To me, the idea of human scale is critical. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that every idea must scale. That thinking is distracting, closes us off from great opportunities, and invites unnecessary complexity.

Turn down the amplifier a little bit. Stay small. Allow for human correction and adjustment. Build for your community, not the whole world.

At this scale, everybody counts. Plus, we get a few other benefits.

Small is simpler. This is good from a pure engineering and design perspective. We strive for simplicity in the structures we build.

Even better, though, small things are more accessible.

You don’t need a full team of fancy Google engineers to build something small. You can be new to programming, or a hobbyist. You don’t have to be born in the right place at the right time to the right parents.

Simpler systems are easier to create, deploy, and maintain.

More people can be the creators and tinkerers, and not just the users.

If you make it small, it’s also cheap to run. You can build a service that supports thousands of people on a $5/month server, or a Raspberry Pi.

So cheap, most likely, that you don’t have to charge anybody for it. With the right architecture, you can run community-size services for less than $10/month, total.

And if this works, we can tackle the issue of incentives.

Not to get all Ben Franklin on you, but if you don’t spend money, you don’t have to make money.

If complexity drops, and cost drops, the community can now build its own systems. Incentives align.

So, it really comes down to this:

Do it yourself. Strip it down. Keep control. Make it for your community. Don’t do it for the money.

And this is where I start to understand what my friend Rebecca Gates means when she says that technologists and designers have a lot to learn from punk and indie rock.

Leave the expensive, large scale, commercial arena rock to Facebook, Google, and Twitter.

We can be The Ramones.

And Bad Brains.

We can press our own records, and run our own labels.

We can make our own spaces based on our own values.

And remember that computing used to be pretty punk rock.

This is the first public computerized bulletin board system, which was set up in a record store in Berkeley in 1973.

In 1974, the year the Ramones formed, Ted Nelson wrote the first book about the personal computer.

It contained perhaps my favorite opening line of any piece of literature: “Any nitwit can understand computers, and many do.”

It was basically a giant zine.

We can reclaim autonomy and agency with the incredible tools we have at hand–we just need to approach it differently."
scale  small  accessibility  simplicity  slow  sfsh  lcproject  openstudioproject  punk  design  web  online  community  theramones  badbrains  scrappiness  diy  values  eyeo  eyeo2016  jessekriss  intimate  safe  groupsize  humans  humanism  humanscale  paulgoodman  efschumacher  ursulafranklin  incentives 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Why Viggo Mortensen Is Off the Grid
"And so we drive. Or, rather, he drives. For the next eight hours, for about 250 miles, up to and around Watertown, through the Adirondacks and not quite to Canada—though he does ask if I brought my passport—with periodic stops at diners and waterfalls, lakes and trout ponds, his mother's grave and finally his father's farmhouse. Viggo loves to drive. Sometimes he drives cross-country, just for the hell of it. And yet he has rented a Ford Fusion. "They always do this thing where they try to upgrade me to some fancy fucking car." But he doesn't want a fancy fucking car. At times, he spontaneously pulls over to the side of the road for a good five or ten minutes to finish a train of thought—about life or death or demons or fears or his favorite soccer team in Argentina, San Lorenzo. About the time in the wilds of New Zealand when he skinned, cooked, and ate his own roadkill. ("It was there.") About how much he loves the militant Chomskyite he plays in Captain Fantastic, a father of six who decides to raise his kids in the isolated wilderness of the Pacific Northwest. We could've gone straight to Watertown and stayed there, and we could've gotten there a hell of a lot faster, but Mortensen, his two hands resting gently on the bottom of the steering wheel, doesn't like to drive too fast. He doesn't want to miss a thing."



"Then he did something truly bizarre by Hollywood standards. He had the world by the balls, with his pick of roles—big studio stuff, Clooney kind of stuff, paycheck stuff. He turned all of it down, choosing instead to do what he wanted to do, little of which was lucrative. "I mean, how much fucking money do you need?" he asks. He used some of his Lord of the Rings loot to start a publishing company—yes, a publishing company; it's called Perceval Press, after one of King Arthur's Knights of the Round Table—that would publish poets and other writers who might not otherwise get a book deal, and do so without having them "compromise." He could also afford to spend time on his other interests—writing poetry, taking photographs, painting."

[via: https://submittedforyourperusal.com/2016/05/26/highlights-from-esquires-viggo-mortensen-profile/ ]
viggomortensen  2016  humility  slow  small  driving  life  living  money 
may 2016 by robertogreco
From A Pedagogy for Liberation to Liberation from Pedagogy [.pdf]
Gustavo Esteva
Madhu S. Prakash
Dana L. Stuchul

"At the end of his life, Freire wrote a short book, Pedagogía de la autonomía. (Freire, 1997) In it, he offers a meditation on his life and work, while returning to his most important themes. Freire reminds us that his education, his pedagogy, is pointedly and purposively ideological and interventionist. It requires mediators. Here again, it addresses those mediators: a final call to involve them in the crusade.
The leitmotiv of the book, the thread woven through every page as it occurred everyday in the life of Freire, is the affirmation of the universal ethic of the human being --- universal love as an ontological vocation. He recognizes its historical character. And he reminds us that it is not any ethic: it is the ethic of human solidarity. (Freire, 1996, p.124) Freire promotes a policy of human development, privileging men and humans, rather than profit. (Freire, 1996, p.125) He proclaims solidarity as a historical commitment of men and women, as one of the forms of struggle capable of promoting and instilling the universal ethic of the human being. (Freire, 1997, p.13)

Similar to liberation theology (an option for the poor) courageously adopted by an important sector of the Catholic Church in Latin America, Freire finds a foundation and a destiny for his theory and practice in the ideal of solidarity. Solidarity expresses an historical commitment based on a universal ethics. Solidarity legitimizes intervention in the lives of others in order to conscienticize them. Derived from charity, caritas, the Greek and Latin word for love, and motivated by care, by benevolence, by love for the other, conscientization becomes a universal, ethical imperative.

Certainly, Freire was fully aware of the nature of modern aid; of what he called false generosity. He identified clearly the disabling and damaging impact of all kinds of such aid. Yet, for all of his clarity and awareness, he is unable to focus his critique on service: particularly that service provided by service professionals. Freire's specific blindness is an inability to identify the false premises and dubious interventions --- in the name of care --- of one specific class of service professionals: educators.

In its modern institutional form, qua service, care is the mask of love. This mask is not a false face. The modernized service-provider believes in his care and love, perhaps more than even the serviced. The mask is the face. (McKnight, 1977, p.73) Yet, the mask of care and love obscure the economic nature of service, the economic interests behind it. Even worse, this mask hides the disabling nature of service professions, like education.

All of the caring, disabling professions are based on the assumption or presupposition of a lack, a deficiency, a need, that the professional service can best satisfy. The very modern creation of the needy man, a product of economic society, of capitalism, and the very mechanism through which needs are systematically produced in the economic society, are hidden behind the idea of service. Once the need is identified, the necessity of service becomes evident. It is a mechanism analogous to the one used by an expert to transmogrify a situation into a "problem" whose solution --- usually including his own services --- he proposes.

In this way, Freire constructed the human need for the conscience he conceived. In attributing such need to his oppressed, he also constructed the process to satisfy it: conscientization. Thus, the process reifies the need and the outcome: only conscientization can address the need for an improved conscience and consciousness and only education can deliver conscientization. This educational servicing of the oppressed, however, is masked: as care, love, vocation, historical commitment, as an expression of Freire's universal ethic of solidarity. Freire's blindness is his inability to perceive the disabling effect of his various activities or strategies of conscientization. He seems unaware that the business of modern society is service and that social service in modern society is business. (McKnight, 1997, p.69) Today, economic powers like the USA pride themselves in being post-industrial: that is, the replacement of smoke stacks and sweatshops moved to the South, with an economy retooled for global supremacy in providing service. With ever increasing needs, satisfaction of these needs requires more service resulting in unlimited economic growth.

Freire was also unaware that solidarity, both the word and the idea, are today the new mask of aid and development, of care and love. For example, in the 1990s, the neoliberal government of Mexican president Carlos Salinas used a good portion of the funds obtained through privatization to implement the Programa Nacional de Solidaridad. The program was celebrated by the World Bank as the best social program in the world. It is now well documented that, like all other wars against poverty, it was basically a war waged against the poor, widening and deepening the condition it was supposed to cure, a condition that, in the first place, was aggravated by the policies associated with the neoliberal credo.

Freire could not perceive the corruption of love through caring, through service. Furthermore, he was unable to perceive that the very foundation of his own notion of universal, globalized love, God's love for his children through Christ, is also a corruption of Christianity. (Cayley, 2000)

Freire was particularly unable to perceive the impact of the corruption which occurs when the oppressed are transformed into the objects of service: as clients, beneficiaries, and customers. Having created a radical separation between his oppressed and their educators, Freire was unsuccessful in bringing them together, despite all his attempts to do so through his dialogue, his deep literacy --- key words for empowerment and participation. All these pedagogical and curricular tools of education prove themselves repeatedly to be counterproductive: they produce the opposite of what they pretend to create. Instead of liberation, they add to the lives of oppressed clients, more chains and more dependency on the pedagogy and curricula of the mediator.iii.

During the last several centuries, all kinds of agents have pretended to "liberate" pagans, savages, natives, the oppressed, the under-developed, the uneducated, under-educated, and the illiterate in the name of the Cross, civilization (i.e. Westernization), capitalism or socialism, human rights, democracy, a universal ethic, progress or any other banner of development. Every time the mediator conceptualizes the category or class of the oppressed in his/her own terms, with his/her own ideology, he is morally obligated to evangelize: to promote among them, for their own good, the kind of transformation he or she defines as liberation. Yet, a specific blindness seems to be the common denominator among these mediators: an awareness of their own oppression. In assuming that they have succeeded in reaching an advanced level or stage of awareness, conscience, or even liberation (at least in theory, in imagination, in dreams), and in assuming, even more, that what their oppressed lack is this specific notion or stage, they assume and legitimate their own role as liberators. Herein, they betray their intentions.

In response to colonization, Yvonne Dion-Buffalo and John Mohawk recently suggested that colonized peoples have three choices: 1) to become good subjects, accepting the premises of the modern West without much question, 2) to become bad subjects, always resisting the parameters of the colonizing world, or 3) to become non-subjects, acting and thinking in ways far removed from those of the modern West. (Quoted in Esteva and Prakash, 1998, p.45)"



"In his denunciation of the discrimination suffered by the illiterate, Freire does not see, smell, imagine or perceive the differential reality of the oral world. While aspiring to eliminate all these forms of discrimination from the planet, he takes for granted, without more critical consideration, that reading and writing are fundamental basic needs for all humans. And, he embraces the implications of such assumptions: that the illiterate person is not a full human being.

Freire's pedagogic method requires that literacy should be rooted in the socio- political context of the illiterate. He is convinced that in and through such a process, they would acquire a critical judgement about the society in which they suffer oppression. But he does not take into account any critical consideration of the oppressive and alienating character implicit in the tool itself, the alphabet. He can not bring his reflection and practice to the point in which it is possible, like with many other modern tools, to establish clear limits to the alphabet in order to create the conditions for the oppressed to critically use the alphabet instead of being used by it."



"IV. Resisting Love: The Case Against Education

Freire's central presupposition: that education is a universal good, part and parcel of the human condition, was never questioned, in spite of the fact that he was personally exposed, for a long time, to an alternative view. This seems to us at least strange, if not abhorrent.
Freire was explicitly interested in the oppressed. His entire life and work were presented as a vocation committed to assuming their view, their interests. Yet, he ignored the plain fact that for the oppressed, the social majorities of the world, education has become one of the most humiliating and disabling components of their oppression: perhaps, even the very worst.



"For clarifying the issues of this essay, we chose to reflect on the life, the work, and the teachings of Gandhi, Subcommandante Marcos and Wendell Berry. Purposely, we juxtapose them to exacerbate their radical and dramatic differences. Is it absurd to even place them under the umbrella of public and private virtues we dwell on as we … [more]
gustavoesteva  madhuprakash  danastuchul  liberation  pedagogy  pedagogyoftheoppressed  wendellberry  solidarity  care  love  caring  carlossalinas  neoliberalism  teaching  howweteach  education  conscientization  liberationtheology  charity  service  servicelearning  economics  oppression  capitalism  mediators  leadership  evangelization  yvonnedion-buffalo  johnmohawk  legibility  decolonization  colonialism  karlmarx  ivanillich  technology  literacy  illegibility  bankingeducation  oraltradition  plato  text  writing  memory  communication  justice  modernism  class  inequality  humility  zapatistas  comandantemarcos  parochialism  globalphilia  resistance  canon  gandhi  grassroots  hope  individuality  newness  sophistication  specialization  professionalization  dislocation  evolution  careerism  alienation  self-knowledge  schooling  schools  progress  power  victimization  slow  small 
may 2016 by robertogreco
CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts
"February 23 – April 9, 2016

Wang Bing: Three Portraits

Opening reception: February 23, 6:30-8:30 pm.

Details are what make humans human. The slight intonation that gives emphasis to one word over another. The tightened jaw that accompanies impatience. The compliment disguised as a question. The hand gestures. The hesitations.

Film has the time to see the details. A film can linger, wait, and be patient. Wang Bing's films are about the details, how they accumulate, and how they come to determine entire lives and tell the story of entire cultures and entire ideologies.

Most are documentary films, but their lack of linear narrative and their extreme duration bring them closer to being history paintings. Unlike many history painters, however, he is not interested in spectacular events but prefers the minor and the mundane—the details—because he knows that the minutiae of daily routines can be the building blocks of life itself. (AH)"

[See also: http://www.wattis.org/MEDIA/00777.pdf ]
wangbing  film  srg  2016  wattis  art  humans  documentary  narrative  details  time  patience  slow  everyday  mundane  tosee 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Small Schools: The Edu-Reform Failure That Wasn't - Education Week
[paywalled, available in PDF here: http://www.holycross.edu/sites/default/files/files/education/jschneider/small_schools_commentary.pdf ]

"But were small schools really the problem? A decade later, we have fairly robust evidence suggesting otherwise. A 2014 study by the nonpartisan research organization MDRC, for instance, found that graduation rates in New York City improved by 9.5 percent at small schools, with effects across every student group—a tremendous increase that also led to higher college enrollments. Another study, by a team at Northwestern University's Institute for Policy Research, found similar increases in high school graduation rates in Chicago's public schools, despite the fact that small schools generally served a more disadvantaged population in the city.

As it turns out, small schools do exactly what you might expect. Smallness can create more opportunities for young people to be known, both by one another and by the adults in the building. The relative intimacy of small schools can foster trusting, caring, and attentive relationships. Deborah Meier, the godmother of the small-schools movement, consistently made this argument in the 1980s and 1990s when explaining the importance of size. As she put it in a 1989 op-ed essay, small schools offer young people better opportunities to learn forms of participation" necessary to becoming a member of a democratic society." But they are, at best, only one piece of a complex puzzle. And early proponents of small schools were clear about that. As Meier, who also writes an opinion blog for Education Week, prudently observed: "Small schools are not the answer, but without them none of the proposed answers stand a chance.""
small  slow  smallschools  education  educationreform  edreform  2016  via:lukeneff  jackschneider  deborahmeier  smallness  reform  schools  lcproject  openstudioproject  sfsh 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Feel Train
[http://feeltrain.com/blog/hello-feel-train/

"I am incredibly proud to announce that Courtney Stanton and I are starting a creative technology cooperative called Feel Train. We build tech that creates dynamic and nuanced interactions between humans and computers. We eschew meme generation and instead confront people with their own humanity by putting them face to face with the inhuman. And as of today we're available for hire.

So. We're a creative technology cooperative. I'll talk more about "creative technology" in a future essay, but right now I want to dive into the "cooperative" part. Feel Train is a worker-owned, cooperatively managed company.

A hard limit on scale
I've spent about a decade as a working professional. I've been at at half a dozen companies of various sizes, ranging from a three-person bootstrapped business to a multinational technology company with 5000 employees. I've been lucky: every company I've worked for has been a pretty good place to work overall.

I've experienced a bunch of different workplace cultures and organizational structures but I've never felt comfortable with any of them, which is why we're doing something a little bit different with this new business.

There are plenty of models out there for technical cooperatives, and we wanted to make sure we picked the right one for Feel Train. (For 101-level information on how a tech co-op might work, the Tech Co-op Network hosts an excellent free guide full of case studies.)

One thing that Courtney and I knew from the start in our very bones: Feel Train will never consist of more than 8 people.

This is a hard cap on the number of employees. With this limit in place, we no longer have to pick solutions that scale, because we literally cannot scale. We could have a different benefits or vacation package for every worker. That would be a logistical nightmare at most companies, but we'll never have to keep track of more than 8 packages.

Emotionally speaking, this does wonders for me. I've had plenty of entrepreneur friends over the years. Sometimes I would hear them swear up and down, "I love our company at this size. We're going to grow slowly and carefully." Then (ideally) success hits and it becomes very difficult to say no to the prospect of doing more, and doing so by growing faster than they'd ever planned.

All of a sudden, the company is bigger than they ever told themselves it would be. The work isn't fun like it used to be.

I'm not a better person than my friends. If (ideally) Feel Train is successful, then I know I would say yes to growing it beyond our intentions. With this limit in place, I'll never have to tempt myself.

Worker ownership
I believe that labor is the source of value, which means that in order to run a just company, ownership must belong to the workers and solely to the workers. The question becomes: who owns how much?

In production-based industries (factories, agriculture, etc) there are cooperative models where it's a simple matter of converting hourly labor to percent ownership. If Ayesha clocks twice as many hours as Bert, then Ayesha owns twice as much of the company as Bert.

But measuring labor is tricky in a creative industry. Why it's so tricky is a huge topic outside the scope of this article, but Courtney and I have given this a lot of thought and the best answer we have is: don't measure labor. No time tracking.

This means that, when it comes to ownership, we simply give it away. Ownership means equal say in every strategic decision the company makes: one worker, one vote. This solution absolutely does not scale. I couldn't imagine direct democracy working smoothly in an organization of even 20 people let alone 100 or 1,000. But it'll work for 8 people.

This also means that investment does not translate to ownership. Courtney and I are investing a pretty big chunk of our savings to get Feel Train started, but this doesn't give us any special rights. The next person to join Feel Train, whoever that is, will own one third of the company. My share of the company will dilute from one half to one third, as will Courtney's. Fortunately, we don't have to worry about too much dilution. I can guarantee you that if you join Feel Train you will never own less than one eighth of the company as long as you work here.

This is all just the beginning...
It's a good feeling to help start a company I can feel proud of deep, deep down in my Marxist bones. And these two core principles of worker ownership and non-scalability are just the foundation. Courtney has a ton of thoughts on the management of creative workers, and she'll talk about those in the future. If you're eager to hear more about all this, sign up for our monthly mailing list!"]

[See also: https://tinyletter.com/superopinionated/letters/super-opinionated-power-club-16-live-from-open-source-bridge ]
courtneystanton  dariuskazemi  bots  labor  technology  coding  feeltrain  humanism  cooperatives  groupsize  ownership  marxism  production  directdemocracy  organizations  growth  size  employment  lcproject  openstudioproject  scale  scalability  tcsnmy8  tcsnmy  small  slow  sfsh 
february 2016 by robertogreco
crap futures — constraint no. 4: education
"We hesitated a bit before tackling this one, because education is such a vast and complex subject. But as far as constraints on possible futures go, education is impossible to ignore. Skill sets and thought paths are determined at an early age, shaping and constraining future possibilities for entire generations of pupils. (It is worth rediscovering Ken Robinson’s 2008 talk on changing paradigms in relation to educational constraints.) There are serious consequences to enforcing the constraint of economic utility on education, drastically narrowing curricula to what are considered core subjects, replacing older - not to say obsolete or useless - technologies with newer ones in the classroom, and so on. Maslow’s evocative maxim, often attributed to Mark Twain for reasons unknown, comes to mind: ‘It is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.’ Today this might be paraphrased as: ‘Give a child a computer, and everything has to be coded.’ Or 3D printed. Or laser cut. Or CNC machined. Obviously the more of these tools girls and boys are given, the better for them and the country they live in.

Unfortunately, recent educational trends in the UK paint a rather bleak picture where constraints are concerned. An article from the BBC on the rise of 3D printing in schools states: ‘the key inspiration … has been what is loosely termed the “digital maker” movement’. But why digital maker movement and not simply maker movement? The article goes on to tell us that ‘"Fab lab" stands for a “fabrication laboratory”, where digital ideas are turned into products and prototypes.’ Again, why digital ideas and not just ideas? What is it about a fablab that needs to be wholly digital and not a hybrid of materials and practices? (Some spaces and curricula do seek to fuse the old ‘shop’ class with the new computer lab, but other concerns may arise - as in the case a few years ago of controversial DARPA military funding to put a thousand DIY workshops in US high schools.)

A UK Government report, meanwhile, that lays out the agenda on 3D printing in education there, includes the following ‘points to consider’: ‘Who will use it? What will it be used for?’ These are good questions, too seldom asked. As for the questions that were not asked, they might include: ‘What will happen to the old machines?’, ‘What will happen to the old knowledge?’ and ‘What is lost in the headlong rush to full digitalisation?’ 3D printing holds an enormous amount of potential, as boundary pushing movements like 3D Additivism demonstrate. But the 3D printer and the laser cutter shouldn’t be the only tools in the box, and deskilling leads to a narrowing of possibilities for everyone.

Roland Barthes, writing in the 1950s about the sudden shift from traditional wooden toys to plastic ones, observed:
Wood makes essential objects, objects for all time. Yet there hardly remain any of these wooden toys…. Henceforth, toys are chemical in substance and colour; their very material introduces one to a coenaesthesis of use, not pleasure. These toys die in fact very quickly, and once dead, they have no posthumous life for the child.

A word of warning to those who would abandon old areas of knowledge and useful materials too quickly."
crapfutures  2016  rolandbarthes  wood  education  children  durability  materials  time  slow  plastic  future  futures  3dprinting  digital  digitization  3dadditivism  fablabs  darpa  diy  making  makermovement  economics  purpose  additivism  fablab 
january 2016 by robertogreco
being an artist and parent in a city of riches? w/Tim Devin by a-small-lab
"Part of a series of 'art' conversations for summer art, not-school 2016 in and around Mairangi Bay Arts Centre - small-workshop.info/sans2016/

Tim Devin (www.timdevin.com/) is a Boston-based artist, librarian, parent and more. His work supports the need for information and feeling connected that are essential for people having a say in their communities and the world at large. This discussion starts from three points coming out of his project "How to be an Artist and a Parent?" - how to be a "good parent" and also do the other stuff you need to do, the question of what happens to a community life pressures slowly hinder people from being creative, and the fact that both Boston and Auckland are going through huge transformations right now.

Provided in collaboration with Mairangi Arts Centre, with support of Creative Communities Scheme"

[Shared on Twitter: "Listening…"
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/686288610660757504

"making some connections to friendships, community, and housing https://tinyletter.com/metafoundry/letters/metafoundry-54-nominative-determinism … + http://www.vox.com/2015/10/28/9622920/housing-adult-friendship … + http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/10/how-friendships-change-over-time-in-adulthood/411466/ "
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/686288881134649344 ]
parenting  art  chrisberthelsen  2016  timdevin  community  cities  neighborhoods  somerville  japan  newzealand  realestate  slow  local  politics  housing  zoning  urban  urbanism  activism  friendship  age  aging  education  unschooling  deschooling  aukland  labor  work  gentrification  development  children  creativity  cognitivesurpluss  lcproject  openstudioproject  small  rents  inequality  economics 
january 2016 by robertogreco
bell hooks: Buddhism, the Beats and Loving Blackness - The New York Times
"G.Y.: Absolutely. You’ve talked about how theory can function as a place of healing. Can you say more about that?

b.h.: I always start with children. Most children are amazing critical thinkers before we silence them. I think that theory is essentially a way to make sense of the world; as a gifted child growing up in a dysfunctional family where giftedness was not appreciated, what held me above water was the idea of thinking through, “Why are Mom and Dad the way they are?” And those are questions that are at the heart of critical thinking. And that’s why I think critical thinking and theory can be such a source of healing. It moves us forward. And, of course, I don’t know about other thinkers and writers, but I have the good fortune every day of my life to have somebody contacting me, either on the streets or by mail, telling me about how my work has changed their life, how it has enabled them to go forward. And what greater gift to be had as a thinker-theorist, than that?"



"G.Y.: Is there a connection between teaching as a space of healing and your understanding of love?

b.h.: Well, I believe whole-heartedly that the only way out of domination is love, and the only way into really being able to connect with others, and to know how to be, is to be participating in every aspect of your life as a sacrament of love, and that includes teaching. I don’t do a lot of teaching these days. I am semi-retired. Because, like any act of love, it takes a lot of your energy."



"G.Y.: You’ve conceptualized love as the opposite of estrangement. Can you say something about that?

b.h.: When we engage love as action, you can’t act without connecting. I often think of that phrase, only connect. In terms of white supremacy right now for instance, the police stopped me a few weeks ago here in Berea, because I was doing something wrong. I initially felt fear, and I was thinking about the fact that in all of my 60-some years of my life in this country, I have never felt afraid of policemen before, but I feel afraid now. He was just total sweetness. And yet I thought, what a horrible change in our society that that level of estrangement has taken place that was not there before.

I know that the essential experience of black men and women has always been different, but from the time I was a girl to now, I never thought the police were my enemy. Yet, what black woman witnessing the incredible abuse of Sandra Bland can’t shake in her boots if she’s being stopped by the police? When I was watching that video, I was amazed the police didn’t shoot her on the spot! White supremacist white people are crazy.

I used to talk about patriarchy as a mental illness of disordered desire, but white supremacy is equally a serious and profound mental illness, and it leads people to do completely and utterly insane things. I think one of the things that is going on in our society is the normalization of mental illness, and the normalization of white supremacy, and the evocation and the spreading of this is part of that mental illness. So remember that we are a culture in crisis. Our crisis is as much a spiritual crisis as it is a political crisis, and that’s why Martin Luther King, Jr. was so profoundly prescient in describing how the work of love would be necessary to have a transformative impact.

G.Y.: And of course, that doesn’t mean that you don’t find an important place in your work for rage, as in your book “Killing Rage”?

b.h.: Oh, absolutely. The first time that I got to be with Thich Nhat Hanh, I had just been longing to meet him. I was like, I’m going to meet this incredibly holy man. On the day that I was going to him, every step of the way I felt that I was encountering some kind of racism or sexism. When I got to him, the first thing out of my mouth was, “I am so angry!” And he, of course, Mr. Calm himself, Mr. Peace, said, “Well, you know, hold on to your anger, and use it as compost for your garden.” And I thought, “Yes, yes, I can do that!” I tell that story to people all the time. I was telling him about the struggles I was having with my male partner at the time and he said, “It is O.K. to say I want to kill you, but then you need to step back from that, and remember what brought you to this person in the first place.” And I think that if we think of anger as compost, we think of it as energy that can be recycled in the direction of our good. It is an empowering force. If we don’t think about it that way, it becomes a debilitating and destructive force.

G.Y.: Since you mentioned Sandra Bland, and there are so many other cases that we can mention, how can we use the trauma that black people are experiencing, or reconfigure that trauma into compost? How can black people do that? What does that look like therapeutically, or collectively?

b.h.: We have to be willing to be truthful. And to be truthful, we have to say, the problem that black people face, the trauma of white supremacy in our lives, is not limited to police brutality. That’s just one aspect. I often say that the issue for young black males is the street. If you only have the streets, you encounter violence on all sides: black on black violence, the violence of addiction, and the violence of police brutality. So the question is why at this stage of our history, with so many wealthy black people, and so many gifted black people, how do we provide a place other than the streets for black males? And it is so gendered, because the street, in an imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, is male, especially when it is dark. There is so much feeling of being lost that it is beyond the trauma of racism. It is the trauma of imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, because poverty has become infinitely more violent than it ever was when I was a girl. You lived next door to very poor black people, but who had very joyful lives. That’s not the poverty of today.

G.Y.: How is the poverty of today different?

b.h.: Let’s face it, one of the things white people gave us when they gave us integration was full access to the tormenting reality of desire, and the expectation of constant consumption. So part of the difference of poverty today is this sort of world of fantasy — fantasizing that you’ll win the lottery, fantasizing that money will come. I always cling to Lorraine Hansberry’s mama saying in “A in Raisin in the Sun,” “Since when did money become life?” I think that with the poverty of my growing up that I lived with and among, we were always made to feel like money is not what life is all about. That’s the total difference for everyone living right now, because most people in our culture believe money is everything. That is the big tie, the connecting tie to black, white, Hispanic, native people, Asian people — the greed and the materialism that we all invest in and share.

G.Y.: When you make that claim, I can see some readers saying that bell is pathologizing black spaces.

b.h.: As I said, we have normalized mental illness in this society. So it’s not the pathologizing of black spaces; it’s saying that the majority of cultural spaces in our society are infused with pathology. That’s why it’s so hard to get out of it, because it has become the culture that is being fed to us every day. None of us can escape it unless we do so by conscious living and conscious loving, and that’s become harder for everybody. I don’t have a problem stating the fact that trauma creates wounds, and most of our wounds are not healed as African-Americans. We’re not really different in that way from all the others who are wounded. Let’s face it — wounded white people frequently can cover up their wounds, because they have greater access to material power.

I find it fascinating that every day you go to the supermarket, and you look at the people, and you look at us, and you look at all of this media that is parading the sorrows and the mental illnesses of the white rich in our society. And it’s like everybody just skips over that. Nobody would raise the question, “why don’t we pathologize the rich?” We actually believe that they suffer mental illness, and that they deserve healing. The issue for us as black people is that very few people feel that we deserve healing. Which is why we have very few systems that promote healing in our lives. The primary system that ever promoted healing in black people is the church, and we see what is going on in most churches today. They’ve become an extension of that material greed.

G.Y.: As you shared being stopped by police, I thought of your book “Black Looks: Race and Representation,” where you describe whiteness as a site of terror. Has that changed for you?

b.h.: I don’t think that has changed for most black people. That particular essay, “Representations of Whiteness in the Black Imagination,” talks about whiteness, the black imagination, and how many of us live in fear of whiteness. And I emphasize the story about the policeman because for many of us that fear of whiteness has intensified. I think that white people, for the most part, never think about black people wanting to be in black only spaces, because we do not feel safe.

In my last book, “Writing Beyond Race: Living Theory and Practice,” I really wanted to raise and problematize the question: Where do we feel safe as black people? I definitely return to the home as a place of spiritual possibility, home as a holy place.

I bought my current house from a conservative white male capitalist who lives across the street from me, and I’m so happy in my little home. I tell people, when I open the doors of my house it’s like these arms come out, and they’re just embracing me. I think that is part of our radical resistance to the culture of domination. I know that I’m not who he imagined in this little house. He imagined a nice white family with two kids, and I think on some level it was very hard for … [more]
bellhooks  2015  georgeyancy  buddhism  christianity  spirituality  religion  race  class  patriarchy  racism  classism  mentalillness  money  greed  mentalhealth  society  capitalism  consumerism  materialism  domination  power  gender  feminism  idenity  listening  love  humor  martinlutherkingjr  cornelwest  allies  influence  homes  intellectualism  theory  practice  criticalthinking  pedagogy  writing  children  unschooling  deschooling  teaching  howweteach  oedagogy  solitude  workinginpublic  publicintellectuals  narcissism  healing  malcolmx  blackness  whitesupremacy  abandonment  betrayal  anger  masculinity  markmcleodbethune  resistance  safety  whiteness  terror  wealth  imperialism  inequality  pathology  poverty  truth  truthfulness  sandrabland  thichnhathanh  activism  estrangement  everyday  humanism  humanization  humility  grace  change  changemaking  transformation  canon  empowerment  composting  desire  lotteries  lorrainehansberry  araisininthesun  culture  trauma  sorrow  leadership  psychology  self-determination  slow  small  beatpoets  jackkerouac  garysnyder  beatpoetry  ethics 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Why I Believe in Text — Thoughts on Media — Medium
"The next step is to have publishing and blogging platforms introduce “medium form” structures. Formats like Medium’s responses help you get your point across in faster and more lightweight manner. There has yet to be a widely adopted writing format that is medium form, under 2500 characters, can be read under 5 minutes, and designed with constraints for brevity. I see great potential for fast, medium-length, text sharing on the web. The format can be written in an abstract form where the user is constrained by a character limit under 2500 (approximately three paragraphs). Constraints in writing structure can breed innovation and concision. It also solves the blank canvas problem where people are intimidated by a never ending blank text editor.

Gone are the days of 10 minute long reads like http://longform.org/. People are producing and consuming content in shorter, quippier, digestable ways (listicles, Buzzfeed, Twitter, theSkimm etc). As a writer, I find this paradigm shift towards short form text both fascinating and scary. The scroll can be your friend when you write long prose (Source: Michael Sippey). Now people just stop scrolling when your content doesn’t catch their attention in the first 30 seconds.

The market for text is larger than ever

People are still reading and producing text more than ever. Facebook, Messenger, Whatsapp, and iMessage indicate that the demand for text in messaging and commenting is exponentially increasing. People are just writing and consuming text in different ways.

For a social network to cater to as many people’s needs as possible it needs to provide a spectrum of sharing as diagramed above. No one sharing format can perfectly capture one person’s identity or needs. There is an amalgamation of personas within social networks. Snapchat is for fast, casual sharing in real time; Instagram is for beautiful images + text to capture your best moments; Notes and Medium are for deeper and richer storytelling when you want to get your points across. For a healthy sharing ecosystem you need a wide spectrum of sharing from lightweight to heavyweight richer storytelling.

Christiana and I broke down the sharing ecosystem by content types and depth of expression. Depth of expression is how much emotional content you can convey in one post. As you progress to the right of the spectrum the content format becomes more meaningful and deeper in expression due to a combination of text and multimedia stories. When I see a singular check-in or Snapchat, I get a glimmer of a person. When I read a note or Medium post, I feel connected to that person and know how they think.

The future of writing is going to be Text+

Text’s linguistic sentence structure adds unique organization to other media. When it comes down to telling a story in visual, video, or written form it is all about flow and organization. The ability to communicate with simple words to complex sentence structures to paragraphs offer an unique advantage for text to be a flexible and modular media that organizes photos and videos into a multimedia story.
Text is the most flexible communication technology. Pictures may be worth a thousand words, when there’s a picture to match what you’re trying to say.
— Always Bet on Text [https://graydon2.dreamwidth.org/193447.html ]

The future of text is going to be text+ (text + multimedia e.g. photos, videos, gifs, podcasts etc). In a mobile first world coupled with our shrinking attention span, readers and users want text+ for a faster, more immersive, gratifying consumption experience. Multimedia stories are the future of text. For rich storytelling to have the fast consumption of videos and it photos, it also needs to be interwoven with the depth and organization of text. It’s not going to be enough for Medium to be just text + photos. The Atatvist Mag does a great job embedding rich media into longform content. Now anyone can generate Pulitzer-winning content on par with “Snowfall”, which is powerful. The Atavist is democratizing high brow publishing to the masses. You don’t need programmers or photo editors anymore to produce high quality long form content. Publishing platforms like Facebook Notes, Medium, and the Atavist empower anyone to generate publisher-par content.

Text Conveys Emotional Depth

I question a world and system that overweighs “fast food consumption” over “slow food consumption”. Text is slow food because it takes longer to produce and consume. Like fast food, fast consumption fills you up fast but doesn’t do much for you. In a world where we measure user satisfaction and trust, we neglect the very basic metric for “connectedness” between users. NPS scores mean nothing if your users don’t feel connected to each other. I want to see companies adopt a metric for “connectedness” measuring how a reader feels towards the writer after reading a story. We should measure how you feel after reading a post. Did it make you feel more connected to the writer? Was the 1 minute you spent reading quality time? How does 1 minute of cat video trade off with 1 minute of reading?

Most importantly, text conveys a certain emotional depth that is not possible in photos and videos. People write during heightened states in their life like when Sheryl Sandberg wrote about losing her husband (I broke down reading her beautiful and poignant post) or when Mark Zuckerberg wrote about the miscarriages he and his wife Priscilla experienced before Max was born (very few people talked publicly about the pain of miscarriages until Mark’s text post). Writing helps us share our pain and heal together by connecting others to us through shared humanity. Through writing we find out that we are not as alone as we thought about our hardships. Writing is a conveyor of vulnerability and brings people together.

You can get to know someone through their writing. Writing makes me feel like I know someone like katie zhu before meeting her. From reading Katie’s Medium posts, I felt like I knew her and skipped the small talk when we met in person. We talked about everything from our shared love for writing to love-hate relationship with SF to internet ethics to cognitive diversity. We started on what would have been a fourth or fifth conversation level all thanks to me reading her writing. Writing connects people because it provides a deeper understanding of someone’s psyche, their beliefs, and their values. And that is a powerful thing in a world with so many disparate beliefs and divisiveness in political and religious factions. Writing has the ability to help you understand the other side’s opinion and dismount hidden biases.

Your product is only as good as the amalgamation of the people who use it. Content changes on the web but products that build deeper, meaningful connections between people will be lasting.

Let’s not get caught up in a “fast food consumption” world and forget that the internet can also be place for permanent, deep, and meaningful expressions. And this is why I believe in text. Text is not over yet, it’s just the beginning."
boren  writing  text  web  digital  via:tealtan  2015  slow  reading  slowreading  howweread  howwewrite  communication  socialmedia  atavist  longform  mediumform  snowfall  christinachae  twitter  theskimmm  buzzfeed  michaelsippy  slate  theawl  text+  theoffing  theatlantic  alwaysbetontext  sms  texting  snapchat  connectedness  emotions  storytelling  instagram  medium  facebook  internet  online  photography  video  toddvanderwerff  messaging  chat  multiliteracies 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Why I Quit Ordering From Uber-for-Food Start-Ups - The Atlantic
[This is Josephine: https://josephine.com/ ]

"I work some days from a small office in San Francisco, and every day, I gotta eat. For a stretch of several weeks this year, I obtained my lunch from an iPhone app called Sprig.

It’s a beautiful piece of software. A trompe l’oeil table offers a compact slate of choices for lunch and dinner, all photographed beautifully from above. On the day I’m writing this, I can get a Caesar salad ($11), blackened chicken with broccoli ($11), a lamb-kofta wrap ($11), a tequila-lime shrimp salad ($13), or a kimchi veggie bowl ($10). Everything is organic, with sources all specified. The chicken comes from Petaluma.

* * *

I work some days from my apartment in Berkeley, and every day, I gotta eat. Two or three times a month, I obtain lunch or dinner from a network called Josephine.

The first time I encountered Josephine, its website was a bare page that instructed you to enter your phone number and “join our SMS list.” The design is only slightly more elaborate today; there’s still no iPhone app.

Josephine doesn’t prepare any meals itself. Instead, it screens home cooks and takes orders on their behalf. On the day I’m writing this, I can get carrot soup ($11) from Lisa in Oakland or pho ($13) from Hai in Emeryville. That’s it for tonight. Tomorrow, there’s chicken and dumplings ($11) from Suzie in Albany or veggie enchiladas ($8) from Afiba in Fruitvale. The menu extends out two weeks; Josephine is less “I’m hungry now” and more “I expect to be hungry on Thursday, so I’d better line something up.” The photography is rough-and-ready, Etsy-caliber, and the dishes are described by the cooks themselves.

* * *

Sprig sells on speed: From selection to delivery, it’s twenty minutes. The experience is identical to an order from Seamless or GrubHub. A harried courier extracts your meal from a fat insulated bag; you say “thank you,” close the door, and feel bad for a moment about the differences between your lives. Five stars.

Meals from Sprig arrive reliably deflated from their in-app depictions: soggier, less composed. The quality of the food ranges, in my experience, from “sure, I can eat this” to very good indeed. It’s approximately equivalent to what you’d get in a nice cafeteria; better than Kaiser Permanente’s, not as good as Facebook’s.

“Gotta eat” is a rumble in the belly, a business opportunity, and a public-health crisis all rolled into one, and to address it, Sprig is building the biggest, nicest cafeteria ever. The ambition is clear: Sprig in every city, with longer menus, better ingredients, faster delivery. I can see them: the drones dropping lamb kofta from the sky.

But there’s more to any cafeteria than the serving line, and Sprig’s app offers no photograph of that other part. This is the Amazon move: absolute obfuscation of labor and logistics behind a friendly buy button. The experience for a Sprig customer is super convenient, almost magical; the experience for a chef or courier…? We don’t know. We don’t get to know. We’re just here to press the button.

I feel bad, truly, for Amazon and Sprig and their many peers—SpoonRocket, Postmates, Munchery, and the rest. They build these complicated systems and then they have to hide them, because the way they treat humans is at best mildly depressing and at worst burn-it-down dystopian.

What would it be like if you didn’t have to hide the system?

* * *

Meals from Josephine are not available for delivery.

On the day of your order, a text message arrives bearing a street address. You ride over on your bicycle and spot a Josephine sign taped to the front door, which is ajar. You step inside; the feeling is both clandestine and transgressive. In the kitchen, the cook—your neighbor—is working. Maybe another customer—also your neighbor—is lingering. You announce yourself, say hello, receive your meal. Chat a bit, if you like. Carry it home in a bag dangling from your handlebars.

It definitely takes more than twenty minutes.

But I will tell you that my Josephine pickups have been utterly reliable generators of smiles and warm feelings. I look forward to them, not just because “gotta eat,” but because they unlock my neighborhood, fill in the blank spaces on my mental map. And of course, it’s always fun to see the insides of other people’s houses.

The seriousness of Josephine’s cooks ranges widely. Some are clearly demi-professionals, as polished and efficient as Airbnb hosts; others seem surprised to have people in their kitchen. Some offer fat slices of cornbread as impulse buys; others seem happy to have finished their soup in time.

What unites them is this: They are your neighbors; they have cooked a dish of their own design; they have invited you into their home.

I flaked on a Josephine meal once, and as the pick-up window was closing, my phone rang. It was the cook. “I can leave it out for you,” she offered. I demurred. “Oh, okay,” she said. Her voice betrayed her disappointment. I felt bad all night.

* * *

Sprig started in 2013. Its four founders have tech-industry roots, and the company has raised around $50 million so far. (It is safe to assume the words "Uber for food" were uttered along the way.) Currently, you can order in San Francisco, Palo Alto, and Chicago—the last of which is clearly the test case for national expansion. The Sprig careers page advertises openings in Boston, Los Angeles, Seattle, Dallas, and Austin.

Josephine started in 2014. Its two founders also have tech-industry roots, and the company has raised around $600,000 so far. Mark Bittman recently joined its board of directors. Josephine’s home cooks are mainly scattered around Oakland and Berkeley. In October, the company listed its first batch of meals for San Francisco; on the day I’m writing, there are three home cooks in the city.

If Sprig projects an Amazon-like relentlessness, Josephine feels tenuous; some days, it seems almost too good for this world, too “eat your vegetables,” literally and figuratively. It’s convenient, but not THAT convenient. When it needs more cooks, it can’t simply hire them. Its viability in neighborhoods beyond the Bay Area will depend on instruments subtler than a war chest and an expansion playbook.

* * *

We are alive at a time when huge systems—industrial, infrastructural—are being remade, and I think it’s our responsibility as we make choices both commercial and civic—it’s just a light responsibility, don’t stress—to extrapolate forward, and ask ourselves: Is this a system I want to live inside? Is this a system fit for humans?

It’s like this:

Sprig-type operations drain agency and expertise out of the world. They centralize, aiming to build huge hubs with small spokes; their innermost mechanisms are hidden. They depend on humans behaving as interchangeable units of labor.

In the hypothetical future we can label Full Sprig, no one cooks who is not employed by this kind of company.

Josephine cultivates agency and expertise. It decentralizes, aims to build a dense mesh, neighborhood-scale; its mechanisms are public. It depends on humans developing their specific, idiosyncratic tastes and skills.

In the hypothetical future we can label Full Josephine, many people don’t cook, but some people cook a lot more, and better, than ever before, and all of us, cooks and non-cooks, derive pleasure from that. We meet on the sidewalk carrying warm veggie enchiladas.

What kills me is the plausibility of the Josephine future. This isn’t some utopian vision; there’s a scale model working in the East Bay today. Neighborhoods everywhere are full of cooks, or would-be cooks; the talent and the desire is thick on the ground.

Josephine employs the most basic tools of telecommunications to make a market and match “gotta eat” with “wanna cook.” This could be the system! The rumble in the belly, the business opportunity, the public-health crisis: The answer to all of it might be waiting next door.

We make these choices, bit by bit. I stopped ordering from Sprig back in the spring, because (a) I don’t like that future and (b) they sent me a truly sub-par chicken sandwich.

Every couple of weeks, or whenever I think of it, I check Josephine for something nearby. The food is always good, at least friend-cooking-dinner good and often better, but honestly, the future is what sells it."
robinsloan  systems  systemsthinking  2015  amazon  sprig  uber  efficiency  josephine  markbittman  decentralization  civics  society  neighborhoods  community  humanity  future  food  cooking  eating  slow  slowness  relentlessness  neighbors  neighborliness  dystopia  technosolutionism 
november 2015 by robertogreco
paperplanes. To Be a Better Listener, Embrace the Awkward Pause
"About a year ago I met one of our team members in person for the first time. We hung out for the entire day, talking about all kinds of things, problems we were facing with our company at the time were amongst them.

During those conversations he taught me a simple yet rather powerful conversation technique: the awkward pause. It’s since become an important tool for me in 1:1s and conversations with other people.

When you talk about a problematic topic, there tends to be that moment when the other party stops talking. It can happen for lots of reasons. They don’t want to rat someone out, they don’t want to vent, they’re looking for the right words to express themselves, or the topic is so uncomfortable that they don’t want to continue talking about it.

When you’re impatient, it’s tempting to pick up the conversation in those moments. You ask further questions, you start talking about your point of view, you possibly even change the topic thinking that there’s not much more to get out of it.

Our intuition makes the awkward pause weird for both of us. It feels uncomfortable because no one is talking when this entire meeting is about talking, exchanging ideas and thoughts. The temptation to chime in and take over the conversation is big. Nobody likes the awkward pause.

When you chime in and interrupt the awkward pause, breaking this uncomfortable silence, the topic likely drops off the other person’s mind. Whatever troubles they’ve had, they’re unlikely to come up again in this meeting. They’re more likely to come up in some future conversation, when that person has gotten to a point where the topic has made them so unhappy that it turns into a vent, or maybe even in their resignation.

Interrupting the awkward pause means losing out on invaluable information and insight. What comes after the awkward pause is usually the real issues on that person’s mind. Whether what you’re going to hear is actionable or not, a vent, a personal issue, it’s the underlying issue of everything else you’ve talked about up until this point.

It’s the essence of what the conversation is all about. Breaking out of the awkward pause makes sure that essence is lost forever, possibly never to be seen again.

When you find yourself in a conversation and you can feel that you’re in an awkward pause moment, take a deep breath, focus on the other person and just wait. Resist the urge to continue the conversation and let the other person continue digging up the real issue that’s on their mind. Resist the urge to break out of the awkwardness and just let the other person talk when they’re ready.

Embracing the awkward pause is possibly one of the simplest and most effective tools to make you a better listener. It helps you build trust and develop more patience in conversations with your reports and your peers. I’d go as far as considering it an essential leadership skill.

Thanks, Dan, for teaching me an invaluable skill!"
listening  conversation  2015  mathiasmeyer  slow  silence 
october 2015 by robertogreco
4 Ways Slow Design Will Make The Super-Fast World We Live In Better
"In part, that means slowing things down. For years, proponents of "slow design" have been advocating just that—building healthy, meaningful relationships with our stuff, our planet, and other people through local and artisanal products, DIY resourcefulness, and sustainable lifecycles and materials. While that conversation has been thought-provoking, "slow design" also includes a heavy dose of neo-Luddism and anti-consumerist sentiment that has slowed its march toward the mainstream.

The question remains: How might our collective longing to unplug realistically inspire new products (and product ecosystems) that fit within our competitive business landscape?

At Altitude, we found four ways to product-ize the best elements of "slow" while still living in a world where our technology moves faster than our brains:

1. EASE IT UP.

Slow used to mean inefficient. Now that technology has become less of a limiting factor, "slow" has taken on a more nuanced meaning. In certain contexts, such as virus-scanning software or medical diagnostics, slow is a reassuring signal for thoroughness and reliability, whereas faster-than-expected processing rates are signs of inaccuracy or lack of thoroughness.

In product design, slow can also improve functionality. Blindly chasing speed alone can come at the detriment of other, competing values. Altitude recently partnered with Oster to design their new A6 Clipper, and our research revealed that professional pet groomers actually preferred slower motor speeds because high clipping speeds created vibrations in their hands that reduced productivity and became painful over time.

2. CONTROL THE TEMPO.

If you manipulate workflow tempo through a product’s UI, it can make for a more emotionally satisfying user experience. That’s because it brings a human sensibility into a fast-paced, digital context.

User interface research by Chris Harrison, at the Human Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon, has shown that people respond negatively to pauses or delays toward the end of moving progress bars. One study showed that when given the option, users preferred progress bars that were intentionally slower to start and which then ramped up in pace toward the end, "providing a sense of rapid conclusion."

There’s obviously no one-size-fits-all lesson about where to slow things down, but a product’s UI is often the place where the mechanical comes to life, and it’s important to design its graphical and temporal elements in ways that recognize common human biases and rhythms.

3. EMBRACE THE GRIND.

Sometimes, people want to take the harder route and invest valuable "elbow grease" in the activities they care about. There’s something about home-brewed beer and long-marinated steak that feels special precisely because of the effort they require.

The classic Chemex pour-over coffeemaker, a longtime design piece in the Museum of Modern Art, has seen a recent resurgence in popularity among Millennials. Though the product requires more effort than a Keurig or Nespresso machine, it offers a coffee brewing experience that feels meditative and deeply authentic in its simplicity. The process is evocative, a reminder of the way people made coffee before Starbucks and instant K-Cups appeared.

Similarly, Kamado-style cookers such as "The Big Green Egg," while more labor-intensive and complex than typical gas grills, enable people to slow-smoke specialty meats or pizzas; they provide an intriguing centerpiece for daylong social events.

4. DESIGN OBJECTS THAT APPRECIATE OVER TIME.

While most consumer products inevitably deteriorate with use, others actually become better. Cast-iron cookware is a great example because continued use seasons it and protects it from future rust. Similarly, new Birkenstock sandals look identical to every other off-the-shelf pair. But after months of wear, those sandals have literally molded to the unique contours of the owner’s feet. "Smart" devices of tomorrow might learn to do the same.

Connected products, such as the Nest thermostat, learn from our past behaviors and proactively recognize patterns in our daily decision-making. When we use a product over time—and it continues to perform as well as (or better than) it did when we first started using it—our emotional bond with it gets strengthened.

Ultimately, when I think of "slow design," my mind returns vividly to my grandfather’s old fly-fishing lures, all hooked into his outdoors vest. He owned some of those lures for 20 years and had deep emotional connections to and great stories about each one. They became part of the fabric of his fishing rituals, and of his life.

Today’s electronic gadgets are different. They’re faster, stronger, and less recognizable than the simpler tools of the past. But by incorporating elements of "slow design," we can create enduring products and innovative services that help consumers overcome their anxieties around modern technology—without having to completely unplug."
slow  slowdesign  design  process  jeremyfinch  chemex  chrisharrison  anti-consumerism  neo-luddism  sustainability  diy  resourcefulness  2013 
october 2015 by robertogreco
The Challenge of Digital Patina | Project Evolution
"I challenge designers and developers to start to integrate “digital patina” into their application design and UIs. What is digital patina? Let me give you a few examples:

• Your smartphone’s homescreen may display “trails” from where your finger has touched most often, like a desk that wears over time under your arms.

• The most used icons show a wear-and-tear around the edges over time. Maybe the color rubs off like the keys on an old keyboard, maybe there is a slight stain or darkening around the edges from the oils on your finger. When the icon changes or is moved, the stain remains as a sort of ghost.

• Or the opposite happens. The most used icons remain bright and shiny, polished from use. The icons that are not used fade or darken over time, displaying their neglect.

• Maybe in a painting/drawing program, constant use shows little bits of paint and marker trails on the UI. Evidence of paintings past.

• A digital object may be designed to “age” – slowly over time, its color changes or fades, according to the time it has been active – or an object may show signs of wear and tear from the pattern of interactions. Or it may be designed to do both.

I did not coin the phrase. In fact, Mark Boulton first blogged about this idea in May 2012, in his article titled, simply, “Digital Patina”. In it, he outlines the basic idea, the need for digital things to impart their own “flavor” on the world. His open-ended article started me down the path of thinking about what digital patina could really be.
We talk about Patina as sheen – a thing that changes appearance over time. That change can be damaging, or it can give an object more value. It does this by demonstrating what it’s been through. In the case of a pair of jeans, it’s the little rip, the pen mark, the small hole that’s been repaired in the pocket. In chinese cooking, a wok is seasoned to make it non-stick. A well seasoned pan will go beyond simply making the pan non-stick. It will impart flavour to the food in what the Chinese call ‘wok hey’, or ‘breath of wok’. You see, to me, Patina is more than surface level sheen, or the aging of something. It’s the flavour. It’s an individual ‘taste’ that can only come from that thing.

Now the idea of “wok-hey” might be a bit too much to think about right now. Where do we take that idea when we talk about applications? Should our Yahoo account started in 1999 have a different flavor in its messages than someone else’s shiny new Gmail account? Are texts sent from your year-old smartphone imparted with a scratchy old-film quality? That might be taking things too far. What I like is the idea that our actions and the way in which we use an application can leave a mark, a signature, of our use over time.

Why digital patina? Why is it important?

Well, I feel that what is missing in this digital age is the evidence that we are humans using a system, application, whatever… There is no way for us to leave a mark on the object that we use all the time. Sure, the phone itself imparts its own patina, but that’s it. Without patina, there is no history. Without history, there is very little attachment to the thing. It is much easier to throw out the teddy bear that your Aunt got you that you never quite liked and still looks brand new. It is much harder to get rid of the teddy bear that you loved, even if it is missing and eye and has a strange stain on one of its legs. That stain, those worn spots, that is our mark, proof that we have an effect on this world and that our love and constant use of an object takes a little of that objects perfection away from it, which makes us love it more.

Let me note that this is not a call for more and more skeuomorphism in UI design. The idea of digital patina can be applied to even the slickest, non-faux-anything UI design. What digital patina aims to do, I hope, is give the user a sense that they have left a mark on this digital object. That this object has a life and a history, and that history helps us make an emotional connection to it.

As an argument against skeuomorphism, I think this is a world where the visual cliches will soon be irrelevant. The kids picking up smartphones today don’t remember leather desk calendars, they never used a typewriter, they perhaps don’t even have a favorite, well worn novel. Their world could be full of shiny apps that never age, or degrade into bits to be left behind as a ghost of ones and zeros. They might not feel an attachment to their tools of communication, and therefore have very little need for an emotional attachment to objects. Objects, then, become just as forgettable and disposable as the applications on their home screens.

What I am talking about is surface details, I know. It seems to be the low-hanging fruit at the moment, while we think more about Mark Boulton’s challenge to impart “wok hey”. If we start down this path, though, and explore what it means to impact digital patina, than ways in which an application or digital object can have “wok hey” may become more apparent.

The age of digital objects moves rapidly, I know. Most people hang on to a smartphone or tablet for an average of a year before they upgrade. The maximum age may be around 2 years for most pieces of technology. The time in which individual applications are used may be very short, I also admit that. Admittedly, this “patina” would happen in a relatively short time frame. While this may seem like romanticism, what I trying to concentrate on is the connection between people and the objects they love and use every day. In some ways, digital patina might make people appreciate the “new and shiny” when they upgrade their device.

I for one, would prefer that we design a digital world that replicates the positive things about the real world and translates them in a new way. Leaving your mark, having objects that tell a story and have a history with you, that’s a positive thing."
digitalpatina  patina  digital  beausage  skeuomorphism  jhogue  2012  ui  ux  design  grahicdesign  usage  time  slow 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Intimacy and Digital Patina | Mattie Brice
"From embodiment and kink to luxury and tea, I see myself reaching for something solid to hold onto. I feel disconnected from digital art and environments, and resist how much conversation is centered around theorizing the digital. There’s more to play than video games, and a lot can be learned if we stretch beyond this genre and find more relationships in other places concerned with play. Admittedly, there is some distaste, bitterness, for the digital experience within me that I have to grapple with. I feel completely repelled, like a fugue lifted and I see a land of nightmares, and want nothing to do with it. But that would be unfair, and also throw away a lot of work that I’ve done with games. So I wanted to investigate what made me feel so distant from video games that attracted me to the looser, more intimate-feeling play currently grabbing my attention. I want to believe that there is more playfulness that video games has yet to focus on, something that can deepen our bonds to play and life. The tension then lies within the apparent immateriality of digital games, which are still subject to principles of object design yet rarely attain certain qualities of objecthood that we expect from physical experiences.

Video games feel distinctly like products, made for consumption but not necessarily use. It’s easy to enter a malaise of ennui, your Steam library having many games you’ll never touch and mobile games only one slight iteration away from the other. Digital game design is focused on an attention economy, how to grab you, keep you engrossed for as long as possible, and have you spend as much while they’ve got you. Because design is so focused on this kind of consumerism, video games enable cycles of disposability, where you buy something with the knowledge that you’re going to replace it with the next version soon after. This is ultimately unsustainable as we see with companies trying to shove life into harried sequels and remakes. You won’t get too attached because there will always be something similar fighting for your attention, and it is rare that something will be uniquely special to you. Typical game design acts as wedge between player and experience, trying to tap into your short-term worth at the expense of your long-term investment. Video games rarely make you care. You might get to know video games, but video games don’t really get to know you. They keep themselves on the screen and often don’t conjure intimacy with the physical interfaces between you and the experience. It knows you can just load up another game in the same manner that you accessed this one. Because what is being sold is some abstract immersion, a sort of mental drug trip, there is little legacy it can leave behind, having a profound effect through your use. Passing down games will soon go extinct between planned obsolescence and constant hype cycles for the new. Instead, we are left with empty, pandering nostalgia, sucking desperately at a straw and only getting the watered down remnants of a high long ago crashed.

This circles me back to the question of intimacy in games. There is an accepted fault of contemporary video games that intimacy, both in feeling and as a topic, are not its strengths. I doubt that it’s a weakness of the form, rather an outcome of canonized design practices. I have my own hunches for play in general, but digital games in particular prove tricky to find intimacy outside of a now quiet trend of autobiographical games. Is there a design concept out there that can reliably point someone towards crafting more intimate digital games?

My search lead me to digital patina, a technique in user interface design that builds on an apparently divisive skeuomorphic trend popularized by Apple. In short, digital patina creates artificial wear and tear to your digital products as you use them, particularly the ones that are already designed to resemble their physical analogues. So if your contacts app looked like an old-school address book, then there would be signs of usage around the tabs and pages you used the most. Despite handwringing over going into too deep of ideological territory, J. Houge notes “without patina, there is no history. Without history, there is very little attachment to the thing.” This evokes our typical relationship with objects, that it’s harder to part with an heirloom passed down in your family than with something you got at H&M. But this form of digital patina is still a couple steps away from design that helps solidify meaningful relationships, since this is purely about visuals. He cites something closer to what I’m thinking from Mark Boulton, who ties the analogy of digital patina to wok hey:

“In Chinese cooking, a wok is seasoned to make it non-stick. A well seasoned pan will go beyond simply making the pan non-stick. It will impart flavour to the food in what the Chinese call ‘wok hey’, or ‘breath of wok’. You see, to me, Patina is more than surface level sheen, or the aging of something. It’s the flavour. It’s an individual ‘taste’ that can only come from that thing. Not all woks are alike. This one is mine.”

For him, patina would be a practice in making a digital product uniquely the user’s, turning a mass-produced object into uniquely yours through personal use. Meaning, the experience that the product, or in our case, a game, can offer is changed by its unique circumstances. It imbues its idiosyncrasies in everything it touches that differs from person to person.

It’s tempting to assume that games with user-generated content or general sandbox types fulfill this idea. But that’s the topical application, the game itself is still the same and produces the same kind of experience. Though there is a strong player-evangelist edge in contemporary design philosophies, it stays within the digital ephemera, that a player will feel agency but not actually have agency. Agency isn’t really a good word for this, rather an effect, that a player can affect the actual design and use of a game as a part of the construction of the experience. The point isn’t to be able to do whatever you want in a game, rather that a game shapes itself around your natural motions and in turn reads as something idiosyncratic of you.

While it isn’t at the level that I’m thinking of, I see this happen with games like Dragon Age and Mass Effect, particularly with the consequences of actions in one game transferring over to the next. The choices are still topical and don’t really change the game itself, but the way players often talk about the games taps into what I’m speaking to. Look through fan discussion of these games and you’ll see people say “my Shepherd,” indicating that the boilerplate main character has been ‘seasoned’ with their playthrough to amount to a unique character. Speaking from personal experience, there is an investment on having particular kinds of playthroughs, like your ‘fresh’ run that is a result of playing the game without knowledge of any of the choices, and a ‘true’ run that is a meticulously curated save file that has all the choices you feel represents the most interesting story and what you’ll use to base your headcanon. The save files become a part of a legacy that you want to carry with you and retain, and many people grow attached to these personalized kinds of games. I don’t think this exemplifies my argument, rather shows what we can start from in contemporary design to push beyond what we have now.

Games that evolve over time intrinsically have the potential to evoke their own wok hey, because the tiny choices build up over time that build up into unique structures that are hard to replicate. I think about games like Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing that focus on longer cycles of engagement, where you have different ways to save the farm and interact with the village, and while these things don’t quantitatively differentiate too much, the experience that we build up with it makes an emotional impression on, and of, us. In essence, this is trying to make digital games more life-like, things that grow with us than expecting to be cast aside, filling up the trash heaps of our lives. Maybe it’s just me, but I ache for these sorts of games to be iterated on again, to further entrench themselves in our lives. A lot of my fantasy video game projects are inspired by experiences like Harvest Moon and would turn out to be an imprint of your experience. Like playing through a game shows an aspect of yourself that isn’t easily visible without its particular focus.

What patina looks like in game design could still use some discussion. I do have some investment in it though, there’s something romantic about design made for you to personally express yourself through mundanity. The reason why contemporary games don’t really do this well is because all instances of change must be grand and explicitly telegraphed. Life isn’t like that though, we are slow buildups of tiny effects and motions, and it isn’t until we take time to reflect that we see we’re something different from the past. This would be a game trying to translate how you exist, how you affect the world by just being, what it is like for you to just touch something or think a thought. I think we crave those sorts of things, to see reflections of ourselves, to see that we do make a mark and matter. So far, video games mostly tap into sedative design, numbing us to the world so we can feel important or centered in some way. But instead, I think there’s design that can make us feel more alive through the mundane acts in our lives, to find how we move through the world its own kind of magic."

[See also: http://www.projectevolution.com/activity/challenge-digital-patina/
http://www.markboulton.co.uk/journal/digital-patina ]
mattiebrice  games  gaming  videogames  gamedesign  consumerism  capitalism  disposability  consumption  intimacy  jhouge  markboulton  patina  harvestmoon  animalcrossing  engagement  time  beausage  slow  digital  digitalpatina  degradation 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Wendell Berry on Climate Change: To Save the Future, Live in the Present by Wendell Berry — YES! Magazine
"What we must not do in our efforts of provision is to waste or permanently destroy anything of value. History informs us that the things we waste or destroy today may be needed on the morrow. This obviously prohibits the “creative destruction” of the industrialists and industrial economists, who think that evil is permissible today for the sake of greater good tomorrow. There is no rational argument for compromise with soil erosion or toxic pollution.

For me—and most people are like me in this respect—“climate change” is an issue of faith; I must either trust or distrust the scientific experts who predict the future of the climate. I know from my experience, from the memories of my elders, from certain features of my home landscape, from reading history, that over the last 150 years or so the weather has changed and is changing. I know without doubt that to change is the nature of weather.

Just so, I know from as many reasons that the alleged causes of climate change—waste and pollution—are wrong. The right thing to do today, as always, is to stop, or start stopping, our habit of wasting and poisoning the good and beautiful things of the world, which once were called “divine gifts” and now are called “natural resources.” I always suppose that experts may be wrong. But even if they are wrong about the alleged human causes of climate change, we have nothing to lose, and much to gain, by trusting them.

Even so, we are not dummies, and we can see that for all of us to stop, or start stopping, our waste and destruction today would be difficult. And so we chase our thoughts off into the morrow where we can resign ourselves to “the end of life as we know it” and come to rest, or start devising heroic methods and technologies for coping with a changed climate. The technologies will help, if not us, then the corporations that will sell them to us at a profit.

I have let the preceding paragraph rest for two days to see if I think it is fair. I think it is fair. As evidence, I will mention only that, while the theme of climate change grows ever more famous and fearful, land abuse is growing worse, noticed by almost nobody."



"It is true that changes in governmental policy, if the changes were made according to the right principles, would have to be rated as big solutions. Such big solutions surely would help, and a number of times I have tramped the streets to promote them, but just as surely they would fail if not accompanied by small solutions. And here we come to the reassuring difference between changes in policy and changes in principle. The needed policy changes, though addressed to present evils, wait upon the future, and so are presently nonexistent. But changes in principle can be made now, by so few as just one of us. Changes in principle, carried into practice, are necessarily small changes made at home by one of us or a few of us. Innumerable small solutions emerge as the changed principles are adapted to unique lives in unique small places. Such small solutions do not wait upon the future. Insofar as they are possible now, exist now, are actual and exemplary now, they give hope. Hope, I concede, is for the future. Our nature seems to require us to hope that our life and the world’s life will continue into the future. Even so, the future offers no validation of this hope. That validation is to be found only in the knowledge, the history, the good work, and the good examples that are now at hand.

There is in fact much at hand and in reach that is good, useful, encouraging, and full of promise, although we seem less and less inclined to attend to or value what is at hand. We are always ready to set aside our present life, even our present happiness, to peruse the menu of future exterminations. If the future is threatened by the present, which it undoubtedly is, then the present is more threatened, and often is annihilated, by the future. “Oh, oh, oh,” cry the funerary experts, looking ahead through their black veils. “Life as we know it soon will end. If the governments don’t stop us, we’re going to destroy the world. The time is coming when we will have to do something to save the world. The time is coming when it will be too late to save the world. Oh, oh, oh.” If that is the way our minds are afflicted, we and our world are dead already. The present is going by and we are not in it. Maybe when the present is past, we will enjoy sitting in dark rooms and looking at pictures of it, even as the present keeps arriving in our absence.

Or maybe we could give up saving the world and start to live savingly in it. If using less energy would be a good idea for the future, that is because it is a good idea. The government could enforce such a saving by rationing fuels, citing the many good reasons, as it did during World War II. If the government should do something so sensible, I would respect it much more than I do. But to wish for good sense from the government only displaces good sense into the future, where it is of no use to anybody and is soon overcome by prophesies of doom. On the contrary, so few as just one of us can save energy right now by self-control, careful thought, and remembering the lost virtue of frugality. Spending less, burning less, traveling less may be a relief. A cooler, slower life may make us happier, more present to ourselves, and to others who need us to be present. Because of such rewards, a large problem may be effectively addressed by the many small solutions that, after all, are necessary, no matter what the government might do. The government might even do the right thing at last by imitating the people."
slow  small  present  now  frugality  via:steelemaley  wendellberry  2015  climatechange  future  policy  government  nature  farming  environment  sustainability  goodness  futurism  predictions  provisions  landscape  history  past  humanity  christianity  agriculture 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Senongo Akpem - Responsiveness, being a chameleon - Video Archive - The Conference by Media Evolution
""In an increasingly global world we need design that is culturally responsive."

Senongo Akpem, Senior Designer at Cambridge University Press, talks about culturally responsive design. Senongo discuss how cultural variables can affect our perception, and how to build visual and cultural diversity into design in a thoughtful (and occasionally subversive) way."

[See also: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:0f1362374ca1 ]
senongoakpem  2015  culturalresponsiveness  highcontext  lowcontext  culture  design  webdev  webdesign  2013  ambiguity  directness  collectivism  individuality  power  relationships  powerrelationships  authority  slow  fast  messaging  speed  communication  difference  adapting  adaptation  universality  context  inequality  fastmessaging  slowmessaging  fastmessages  slowmessages  gov.uk  individualism  appropriation  punchingup  truthtopower  yinkashonibare 
september 2015 by robertogreco
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