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William Gibson on Watches | WatchPaper
“William Gibson is famously credited with predicting the internet. Early works like Neuromancer, Count Zero, and Mona Lisa Overdrive established him as a major voice in science fiction and the worlds he created still serve as a template for how popular culture views the future. If you’ve seen The Matrix or read any cyberpunk, you’ve seen William Gibson’s influence at work. Equally important, but perhaps less famous are his essays, collected recently in Distrust That Particular Flavour. Highly perceptive and suggestive, they span a range of topics from Singapore’s totalitarianism and Tokyo’s futurism, to the Web and technology’s effect on us all. The volume also contains his glosses on those essays, which were written over a span of 30 years. Brief afterwords, they are his reflections on the content, and on the person who wrote that content at a point and time, and what’s happened since. In his 1997 essay, “My Obsession”, William Gibson chronicled his interest in watches for Wired magazine. [See “My Obsession” https://www.wired.com/1999/01/ebay/ ] The essay is as much about the advent of the internet and sites like eBay as it is about watches, and his afterword to the essay reflects:
People who’ve read this piece often assume that I subsequently became a collector of watches. I didn’t, at least not in my own view. Collections of things, and their collectors, have generally tended to give me the willies. I sometimes, usually only temporarily, accumulate things in some one category, but the real pursuit is in the learning curve. The dive into esoterica. The quest for expertise. This one lasted, in its purest form, for five or six years. None of the eBay purchases documented [in the essay] proved to be “keepers.” Not even close.

Undaunted by his placing this interest squarely in the past, something he got over, I wanted to find out what had survived, physically or intellectually, of his obsession. It turns out, quite a lot. We corresponded via email and William Gibson shared his thoughts on collecting, how he got started, what “keepers” remain in his collection and why. We also talked about the Apple watch and what it means for traditional horology.”

...

"If “old” people, as you mentioned in our recent discussion, are concerned that what they’ve collected will be unwanted, how is that anxiety being manifested? Some watch brands like Patek Philippe use durability, inheritance and legacy as their explicit identity.

I was thinking of someone with dozens of rare military watches. Even if they have children, will the children want their watches? It could be difficult finding the right museum to donate them to, in order to keep the collection intact. I think Patek’s appeal to inheritance and legacy still has some basis, though the wristwatch itself has become a piece of archaic (though still functional) jewelry. You don’t absolutely need one. You do, probably, absolutely need your smartphone, and it also tells the time. Eventually, I assume, virtually everything will also tell the time.

Is there something authentic in collecting we as humans are striving for? What does the impulse represent for you?

I actively enjoy having fewer, preferably better things. So I never deliberately accumulated watches, except as the temporary by-product of a learning curve, as I searched for my own understanding of watches, and for the ones I’d turn out to particularly like. I wanted an education, rather than a collection. But there’s always a residuum: the keepers. (And editing is as satisfying as acquiring, for me.)

Do you think there’s anything intrinsic to watches (their aesthetics, engineering etc.) that make them especially susceptible to our interest?

Mechanical timekeeping devices were among our first complex machines, and became our first ubiquitous complex machines, and the first to be miniaturized. Mechanical wristwatches were utterly commonplace for less than a century. Today, there’s no specific need for a mechanical watch, unless you’re worried about timekeeping in the wake of an Electromagnetic Pulse attack. So we have heritage devices, increasingly archaic in the singularity of their function, their lack of connectivity. But it was exactly that lack that once made them heroic: they kept telling accurate time, regardless of what was going on around them. They were accurate because they were unconnected, unitary.

How do you think the notion of collecting has changed since your preoccupation with watches played itself out? Scarcity (but not true rarity) barely exists any more.

The Internet makes it increasingly easy to assemble a big pile of any category of objects, but has also rationalized the market in every sort of rarity. There’s more stuff, and fewer random treasures. When I discovered military watches, I could see that that was already happening to them, but that there was still a window for informed acquisition. That’s mostly closed now. The world’s attic is now that much more thoroughly sorted and priced!"
watches  williamgibson  ebay  horology  fashion  collecting  collections  learning  howwelearn  2015  esoterica  research  researching  deepdives  expertise  obsessions  cv  immersion  posterity  legacy  analog  mechanical  durability  longevity  inheritance  jewelery  smartphones  understanding  education  self-directed  self-directedlearning  timekeeping  connectivity  scarcity  objects  possessions  ownership  quality  internet  web  online  wristwatches  things  applewatch  pebble  pebblewatch  smartwatches 
9 days ago by robertogreco
What It Takes to Put Your Phone Away | The New Yorker
"During the first few days of my Internet decluttering, I found myself compulsively checking my unchanged in-box and already-read text messages, and scanning the same headlines over and over—attempting, as if bewitched, to see new information there. I took my dog out for longer walks, initially trying to use them for some productive purpose: spying on neighbors, planning my week. Soon I acquiesced to a dull, pleasant blankness. One afternoon, I draped myself on my couch and felt an influx of mental silence that was both disturbing and hallucinatorily pleasurable. I didn’t want to learn how to fix or build anything, or start a book club. I wanted to experience myself as soft and loose and purposeless, three qualities that, in my adulthood, have always seemed economically risky.

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

On the first day of April, I took stock of my digital experiment. I had not become a different, better person. I had not acquired any high-value leisure activities. But I had felt a sort of persistent ache and wonder that pulled me back to a year that I spent in the Peace Corps, wandering in the dust at the foot of sky-high birch trees, terrified and thrilled at the sensation of being unknowable, mysterious to myself, unseen. I watered my plants, and I loosened my StayFocusd settings, back to forty-five daily minutes. I considered my Freedom parameters, which I had already learned to break, and let them be."
jiatolentino  2019  internet  attention  jennyodell  capitalism  work  busyness  resistance  socialmedia  instagram  twitter  facebook  infooverload  performance  web  online  nature  nextdoor  advertising  thoreau  philosophy  care  caring  maintenance  silence  happiness  anxiety  leisurearts  artleisure  commodification  technology  selfhood  identity  sms  texting  viber  podcasts  grouptexts  digitalminimalism  refusal  calnewport  mobile  phones  smartphones  screentime  ralphwaldoemerson  separatism  interdependence 
april 2019 by robertogreco
A Book Addict's Defense of the Smartphone | Technology and Learning
"A counterargument to the emerging conventional wisdom"



"Smartphones are either like cigarettes or comic books. Either bad for humans, or good for those who make their living telling us what is bad.

The smartphone worrywarts have some evidence on their side. I’ll get to some disturbing smartphone numbers in a second, but first some smartphone love.

Smartphones are the best thing to happen to book lovers since the paperback. The iPhone is a bookstore, library, and narrator.

The biggest reason that we don’t read more books is not lack of desire, but a shortage of time.

With my iPhone, I’m able to listen to audiobooks while walking, cooking, and cleaning. The Kindle iOS app allows me to read e-books in short bursts. I’ll read a page or two while standing in line at the grocery store, or while eating my morning cereal.

Does the advantages of the iPhone for book discovery, portability and reading outweigh the costs of mobile computing for everything else?

The big worry about smartphones is that they are killing our ability to focus. Productive thinking requires our attention, and smartphones are attention magnets.

On average, smartphone users (which is everyone now) spend 3 hours and 15 minutes a day on their phones. The top 20 percent of smartphone users are on their devices for an average of 4.5 hours per day.

Smartphones have been associated with everything from rising levels of anxiety and depression among teenagers to damaging interpersonal relationships.

Professors find the use of smartphones so distracting for teaching and learning that 1 in 4 has banned them from their classes.

A recent MIT study showed that even a single day with access to their smartphone can cause college students to have elevated levels of stress and anxiety.

Some warning signs of smartphone addiction that I found online include:

• “Difficulty completing chores or work due to concentration issues.”

• "Seclusion from family and friends or using your phone when in conversation.”

• Masking of smartphone use by sneaking off to the bathroom at work.

• “Worry that you’re missing out on something when you’re not with your phone.”

• Feeling "anxious or irritable” when not with your phone

• Sleep problems.

There seems to be a growing acceptance that we can’t control our smartphone actions. A recent NYTimes article called "Do Not Disturb: How I Ditched My Phone and Unbroke My Brain" (2/23/19) received 495 comments.

Almost half of Americans have tried to limit their smartphone usage in the past, with only 30 percent being successful.

I could go on enumerating all the disturbing smartphone statistics.

My point is not that I don’t think that smartphones can cause problems for attention, focus, and interpersonal relationships. I’ll stipulate that we have not adjusted to the downsides of having the internet - and everything that comes along with the web - in our pockets.

What I am saying is that the advantages of being to store, listen to, and read books - wherever and whenever - outweigh all the smartphone negatives.

The audiobook and the e-book, purchased (or borrowed) and read/listened to on a smartphone, is the game changer for book lovers.

Strangely, the wonderful opportunities to spend more time reading books that smartphones have enabled has gone largely uncelebrated. Academics - we people of the book - should be overjoyed about the potential of the smartphone to increase reading time.

We should be making the argument that the problem with the smartphone is not the device, but how people use it. Delete that Facebook app. Get rid of Twitter. Take the games off the phone. Maybe even remove your e-mail accounts.

Keep the Kindle and Audible apps. (Or whatever e-book and audiobook app that you use).

Think only of the smartphone as a reading device and a bookshelf.

Do you use your phone to read books?"
smartphones  mobile  phones  howweread  reading  joshuakim  infooverload  distraction  kindle  ebooks  audiobooks  access  accessibility  attention  2019 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Urban innovation doesn't have to leave rural areas behind — Quartz
"A nice house in the country is an aspirational lifestyle for many: a little place in Norfolk or Maine, a few acres of land, an old farmhouse that’s been nicely retrofitted, maybe a few solar panels on the roof. You could grow some of your own vegetables in the garden and use the internet to video-conference into the office. You’d be back to the land, with all the creature comforts of the city.

But it’s very expensive to pull yourself out of Western industrial capitalism and give yourself the simpler life. If you try and do that in Britain, it’ll cost at least £300,000 (USD$380,000) to buy the place and get it set up. Then you’ve got to spend £20,000 to £50,000 a year to maintain your lifestyle on top of that. You’re basically going back to what the original builders of that farmhouse had, but the difference is that now you have an internet connection, clean water, and solar panels—and it cost you nearly half a million pounds to get there.

For so many of us, the urban phase of existence is seen as an on-ramp that will hopefully one day take us back into the rural phase; the city is where you come to make the money to buy yourself back out into the country. A simple rural life is the golden apple at the end of the capitalist trip, the brass ring that 30 or 40 years of successful work buys you. But it’s also a paradox: We want to pay to live in the near-poverty that the original builders of our dreamy farmhouse were working to escape.

That was 1600s England. Modern-day South America, India, parts of China, and most of Africa essentially have the same lifestyle niche that most of Britain had in the Elizabethan era. Their standard of living is very low. Their water is dirty. The open fires on which they cook on emit a lot of smoke, so everybody is smoking the equivalent of 20 cigarettes a day. There are all kinds of terrible diseases that lower life expectancy, and somewhere between one in five to one in 20 children will die before the age of five.

But rural life doesn’t have to look like this. It is my prediction that in the 21st century, the villagers of Africa, India, and South America will leapfrog over the city—and the rest of Western industrialized society. Instead of aspiring to migrate to the cities to make a bunch of money, the rural farmers of the developing world will be soon able to stay where they are with low-cost, local, distributed versions of all the critical amenities they need.

Start with a building, like a mud or thatched hut. Put a cheap, water-resistant coating on the outside and some solar panels on the roof, just enough to charge your cell phone. Thanks to cheap water filters—you can buy them for about 30 quid now—you’ll also have clean drinking water. There are some great designs from an English outfit called Safe Water Trust that are even cheaper, and they’ll last more-or-less forever in a typical village context.

With your phone charged, you’ll be able to access the internet; rural areas are increasingly equipped with 3G, 4G, or soon-to-be 5G connections. Your kids will therefore be able to get an education off your tablet computer—which now can cost as little as $35—and those solar panels on the roof can keep it running. You can make some money, too, like doing a bit of translation work for your cousin who lives in New York, or some web development for your ex-colleague’s start-up. You’re still growing your vegetables out the back, but now you can look up crop diseases, and there’s this thing called permaculture that you’re also taking an online course in.

Humans need to explore this mode of living if we are to continue catapulting down this materialistic path. When we wind up with a global population of 9 billion, where everybody has two cars and a four-bedroom house, there’s no other way of arranging the pieces. There isn’t enough metal in the earth, never mind enough money.

We’re therefore at a dead end. Inequality is here to stay. But inequality doesn’t have to mean abject poverty. These rural communities will have access to self-sufficient peasant agriculture, education by internet, and a standard of living that is roughly what we aspire to have when we get rich and retire—but they’ll be able to achieve it without going through the urban hyper-capitalist phase first.

This notion of rural life will be centered around the bicycle, the solar panel, and the tablet computer instead of the Land Rover, the diesel generator, and the combine harvester. A life of stable self-sufficiency, rather than precarious plenty. If leapfrogging rural communities can manifest an existence that would satisfy the lawyer-turned-faux-farmer, the notion of rural-urban-and-then-back-to-rural migration would reach the end of the cul-de-sac."
cities  rural  leapfrogging  vinaygupta  2018  capitalism  solar  internet  web  connectivity  simplicity  decentralization  mobile  phones  smartphones  technology  tablets 
march 2019 by robertogreco
I Embraced Screen Time With My Daughter—and I Love It | WIRED
I often turn to my sister, Mimi Ito, for advice on these issues. She has raised two well-adjusted kids and directs the Connected Learning Lab at UC Irvine, where researchers conduct extensive research on children and technology. Her opinion is that “most tech-privileged parents should be less concerned with controlling their kids’ tech use and more about being connected to their digital lives.” Mimi is glad that the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) dropped its famous 2x2 rule—no screens for the first two years, and no more than two hours a day until a child hits 18. She argues that this rule fed into stigma and parent-shaming around screen time at the expense of what she calls “connected parenting”—guiding and engaging in kids’ digital interests.

One example of my attempt at connected parenting is watching YouTube together with Kio, singing along with Elmo as Kio shows off the new dance moves she’s learned. Everyday, Kio has more new videos and favorite characters that she is excited to share when I come home, and the songs and activities follow us into our ritual of goofing off in bed as a family before she goes to sleep. Her grandmother in Japan is usually part of this ritual in a surreal situation where she is participating via FaceTime on my wife’s iPhone, watching Kio watching videos and singing along and cheering her on. I can’t imagine depriving us of these ways of connecting with her.

The (Unfounded) War on Screens

The anti-screen narrative can sometimes read like the War on Drugs. Perhaps the best example is Glow Kids, in which Nicholas Kardaras tells us that screens deliver a dopamine rush rather like sex. He calls screens “digital heroin” and uses the term “addiction” when referring to children unable to self-regulate their time online.

More sober (and less breathlessly alarmist) assessments by child psychologists and data analysts offer a more balanced view of the impact of technology on our kids. Psychologist and baby observer Alison Gopnik, for instance, notes: “There are plenty of mindless things that you could be doing on a screen. But there are also interactive, exploratory things that you could be doing.” Gopnik highlights how feeling good about digital connections is a normal part of psychology and child development. “If your friends give you a like, well, it would be bad if you didn’t produce dopamine,” she says.

Other research has found that the impact of screens on kids is relatively small, and even the conservative AAP says that cases of children who have trouble regulating their screen time are not the norm, representing just 4 percent to 8.5 percent of US children. This year, Andrew Przybylski and Amy Orben conducted a rigorous analysis of data on more than 350,000 adolescents and found a nearly negligible effect on psychological well-being at the aggregate level.

In their research on digital parenting, Sonia Livingstone and Alicia Blum-Ross found widespread concern among parents about screen time. They posit, however, that “screen time” is an unhelpful catchall term and recommend that parents focus instead on quality and joint engagement rather than just quantity. The Connected Learning Lab’s Candice Odgers, a professor of psychological sciences, reviewed the research on adolescents and devices and found as many positive as negative effects. She points to the consequences of unbalanced attention on the negative ones. “The real threat isn’t smartphones. It’s this campaign of misinformation and the generation of fear among parents and educators.”

We need to immediately begin rigorous, longitudinal studies on the effects of devices and the underlying algorithms that guide their interfaces and their interactions with and recommendations for children. Then we can make evidence-based decisions about how these systems should be designed, optimized for, and deployed among children, and not put all the burden on parents to do the monitoring and regulation.

My guess is that for most kids, this issue of screen time is statistically insignificant in the context of all the other issues we face as parents—education, health, day care—and for those outside my elite tech circles even more so. Parents like me, and other tech leaders profiled in a recent New York Times series about tech elites keeping their kids off devices, can afford to hire nannies to keep their kids off screens. Our kids are the least likely to suffer the harms of excessive screen time. We are also the ones least qualified to be judgmental about other families who may need to rely on screens in different ways. We should be creating technology that makes screen entertainment healthier and fun for all families, especially those who don’t have nannies.

I’m not ignoring the kids and families for whom digital devices are a real problem, but I believe that even in those cases, focusing on relationships may be more important than focusing on controlling access to screens.

Keep It Positive

One metaphor for screen time that my sister uses is sugar. We know sugar is generally bad for you and has many side effects and can be addictive to kids. However, the occasional bonding ritual over milk and cookies might have more benefit to a family than an outright ban on sugar. Bans can also backfire, fueling binges and shame as well as mistrust and secrecy between parents and kids.

When parents allow kids to use computers, they often use spying tools, and many teens feel parental surveillance is invasive to their privacy. One study showed that using screen time to punish or reward behavior actually increased net screen time use by kids. Another study by Common Sense Media shows what seems intuitively obvious: Parents use screens as much as kids. Kids model their parents—and have a laserlike focus on parental hypocrisy.

In Alone Together, Sherry Turkle describes the fracturing of family cohesion because of the attention that devices get and how this has disintegrated family interaction. While I agree that there are situations where devices are a distraction—I often declare “laptops closed” in class, and I feel that texting during dinner is generally rude—I do not feel that iPhones necessarily draw families apart.

In the days before the proliferation of screens, I ran away from kindergarten every day until they kicked me out. I missed more classes than any other student in my high school and barely managed to graduate. I also started more extracurricular clubs in high school than any other student. My mother actively supported my inability to follow rules and my obsessive tendency to pursue my interests and hobbies over those things I was supposed to do. In the process, she fostered a highly supportive trust relationship that allowed me to learn through failure and sometimes get lost without feeling abandoned or ashamed.

It turns out my mother intuitively knew that it’s more important to stay grounded in the fundamentals of positive parenting. “Research consistently finds that children benefit from parents who are sensitive, responsive, affectionate, consistent, and communicative” says education professor Stephanie Reich, another member of the Connected Learning Lab who specializes in parenting, media, and early childhood. One study shows measurable cognitive benefits from warm and less restrictive parenting.

When I watch my little girl learning dance moves from every earworm video that YouTube serves up, I imagine my mother looking at me while I spent every waking hour playing games online, which was my pathway to developing my global network of colleagues and exploring the internet and its potential early on. I wonder what wonderful as well as awful things will have happened by the time my daughter is my age, and I hope a good relationship with screens and the world beyond them can prepare her for this future."
joiito  parenting  screentime  mimiito  techology  screens  children  alisongopnik  2019  computers  computing  tablets  phones  smartphones  mobile  nicholaskardaras  addiction  prohibition  andrewprzybylski  aliciablum-ross  sonialvingstone  amyorben  adolescence  psychology  candiceodgers  research  stephaniereich  connectedlearning  learning  schools  sherryturkle  trust 
march 2019 by robertogreco
New American Outline 1
"These days, the mirrors we most often use to check our makeup or see if there’s gunk in our teeth are found on our phones — “smart” devices that coordinate an array of sensors and cutting-edge “image display” and “image capture” technologies to render reality within the boundaries of a powered physical display.

What’s interesting about smart-devices-as-mirrors is that the eventual representation of the “image of the world” is explicitly and wholly a “model” of the world — a “model” meaning a “ human-constructed representation (abstraction) of something that exists in reality”. Physical mirrors are interesting because they have the ability to render reality and even warp it, but what they depict is “a physical reality” in the truest sense; The physical qualities of a mirror can be seen as akin to seeing the world through air, or seeing the world through water. While a human being can physically manipulate a physical mirror to alter the final reflection, the reflection in and of itself is a product of the physical world and unalterable in totality.

To a degree, film photography was an extension of this physical realization (rendering) of reality. At a certain point, what else is the capture of light on paper but a wholly physical process? While people intervened in the path of light’s travel with lenses and apertures and specifically-designed crystal-studded paper, what emerges as a process is less a constructed model of reality and more a continually warped representation of what actually exists in the world. Film and paper photography was a deeply labor-intensive art, full of cutting and cropping and poisoning and brushwork, all serving the act of rendering what was once a beam of light into an image-rendering of a particular summer day. Impressionism lives on in this sense.

It wasn’t until recently that most photographs became literal abstractions or literal models of thought with the advent of digital photographic capture. While the earliest digital photographs presented terrible image quality/resolution, they were possibly the most honest representations of what they actually were: a product of humans manipulating bits through clever mathematic compression to render blocks of color accordingly.

“How can mirrors be real if our eyes aren’t real?”

What we “see” in our screens is wholly a model of reality, wholly an abstraction of the natural world, wholly determined and manufactured by people sitting in an office in California somewhere, typing away at an IDE. When we strip away the image rendered on a screen, when we deconstruct an algorithm, what’s left?

What does it mean when most models (abstractions) of our digital representations are constructed in California, or completely in America for that matter?

When I look at myself on my phone camera, why do I get the haunting feeling I’m not situated in New York anymore? When I scroll through all the photos of friends and strangers on Facebook or Twitter, why does it all feel so flat? When I tap through my friend’s stories on Instagram and get interrupted by an ad for shoes, why does the shoe ad feel more real than the stories it’s sandwiched between?"



"New American Interfaces

When we talk about “New American Interfaces”, it’s important to expand upon the meaning of each word for a complete sense of the conceptual picture we’re trying to paint.

We should imagine “New American Interfaces” to be less a definition, more an expansion. Less an encircling and more an arrangement collage [https://www.are.na/block/736425 ] of existing realities.

“New”ness is a direct reference to developments in human technology that span the last 10 years or so. “New” American technology does not refer to technology that was developed in the 1970s. “New” American Technology is not a reference to networking protocols or personal computers proliferating in the 90s. “Newness” refers to mobile phones finding themselves in billions of people’s hands and pockets. “Newness” refers to the viability of video streaming over wireless networks. “New” implies cameras directly imbued with the capability to re-model reality and assign social value through “the arrangement of certain interfaces” only found in the most cutting-edge devices. “New”ness implies the forgetting of the massive stacks of technology that exist to show us images of our friends and their lives in chronological order.

“America” speaks to the “Americanness” of the current world. Totalizing global governance, military might, far-reaching memetic saturation the rest of the world cannot escape from. “America” means pop culture, “America” means world police. “America” retains the ability to wobble the economy of the world when executives shitpost on Twitter. When we talk about “America”, we mean the hegemonic cultural-economic infrastructure the rest of the world rests upon whether they like it or not.

“Interfaces” speak to not any button, slider, or like button physical or digital or otherwise. “Interfaces” in the sense of “New American” interfaces refer to what Kevin Systrom meant when he called Snapchat a “format”. A replicable stack(s) of technology is an “interface”. An “interface” under this definition means every chat application is fundamentally the same and completely interchangeable. Linear conversation will always be linear conversation, and the pattern of linear conversation is what we call a messaging app, and we call this an “interface”. Every search interface is the same, every index is the same, every captive portal is the same. To take our example to the physical world, imagine this scene:

You see two chairs side by side with one another. From afar, they are completely the same. You inspect them close and they are the same, you notice they both are built from the same beautiful ash wood, every single detail is perfectly mirrored in both chairs.

One of these chairs was wholly made by human hands and the other was cut to shape by a machine, assembled by people on a factory line, and produced in the millions.

One of these chairs is an interface —"

[See also: https://www.are.na/edouard-urcades/new-american-interface ]
édouardurcades  mirrors  interfaces  ui  ux  cameras  stories  instagram  storytelling  reality  2019  snapchat  multimedia  media  kevinsystrom  format  form  newness  technology  smartphones  mobile  phones  images  imagery  buttons  jadensmith  lukaswinklerprins 
february 2019 by robertogreco
The Future Is Made In China | MISC
"How Chinese Design and Values Are Driving Global Innovation

Like many other children who grew up in Canada with parents who did not, we felt the light embrace of a distant – yet distinctly present – country and culture. We learned what it was like to grow up in China through the stories of our parents and grandparents. The China our families remembered was one defined by a simple life but also underscored by a lack of basic infrastructure. There were no roads or bridges, they told us. Educated youths were sent to the countryside to pursue farm labor, where they would have the best chance of a secure livelihood.

Despite an awareness that things have changed since our parents were children, we have both found ourselves stuck in China’s past. Even when visiting several times in the last decade, we were always surprised and amazed by the country’s modernity each time we arrived. The advancements in technology and the country’s overall progress since the Open Door policy was introduced 40 years ago is even more startling from our parents’ perspective. Ever since then-leader Deng Xiaoping opened the country’s doors through the introduction of free market principles in 1978, China’s GDP has grown at a pace so rapid that the World Bank described it as “the fastest sustained expansion by a major economy in history.” Even more significant is that with GDP growth averaging 10% per year – three times the global average – an estimated 800 million people have been raised out of poverty.

Conversations within our social circles, as well as observations of China’s representation in Western popular media, have made it apparent to us that most people in North America share our original assumptions about modern life in the country our parents once called home. What they don’t realize is that China has been working tirelessly to catch up.

Watch, Learn, and Do It Better

The narrative that China is a “copycat” of the US, particularly in terms of its products and services, is a popular one in tech circles. In recent decades, however, this idea gained traction across the international community, and the Chinese government and its people decided they no longer wanted to be seen as imitators. They wanted to rid themselves of the misconception of China as “manufacturer to the world” – only executing others’ ideas, never originating new concepts themselves. This was the catalyst for a 2015 initiative known as Made in China 2025.

This initiative identifies 10 industries within which China aims to be globally competitive by 2025, ranging from robotics, to new materials (such as those used in solar cells), to new-energy vehicles. While these goals may sound familiar, particularly to Westerners, Made in China 2025 stands out because it clearly outlines how the country plans to grow in these industries. The project acts as an extremely public blueprint for shifting the nation from an industrial economy to a service-based economy driven by technology and innovation. As a country, China is unified by a holistic approach and a shared vision rooted in innovation and research, enabling the many public and private actors required for change to work toward a common goal. China’s long tradition of direct government intervention in the economy has enabled it to succeed rapidly and on a massive scale.

China’s tech industry continues to expand rapidly, though the recent trade tariffs introduced by President Trump’s administration highlight the unstable dynamic between China and the US. In addition, it appears that there is still a shroud of mystery surrounding China’s advancements as a leader in the global innovation space. In a recent Wired article, Kai-Fu Lee, former president of Google China and current CEO of venture capital firm Sinovation Ventures, said:

I think from a logical standpoint the time has come to copy from China … but in practice, it’s not. Chinese entrepreneurs know everything about what’s happening in Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley people, a few of them know a lot about China; some of them know a little bit about China; most of them know nothing about China.

Rather than dismissing China or perceiving China’s advancement as a threat, it is time to acknowledge that in some areas, the country’s best-in-class technology has become an example to learn from.

Move Fast and Don’t Break Things

China is a blank canvas, largely due to a lack of legacy technology infrastructure combined with a uniquely enclosed innovation model despite substantial foreign investment. For China, following the common adage that spurs many companies in Silicon Valley – “move fast and break things” – would be a rash move with serious consequences. Freedom is a luxury that must be handled delicately, especially considering the sheer size of China’s population and its relatively nonexistent privacy laws. The following companies have managed to find this balance in their respective industries.

Payments: Alipay and WeChat Pay

At the forefront of the payments space are Alipay, operated by Alibaba’s fintech affiliate Ant Financial, and WeChat Pay, developed by Tencent. With Alibaba and Tencent both making the 2018 Top 10 Risers list in Kantar and WPP’s 2018 “BrandZ™ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands” report, the meteoric rise of mobile payments led by these two companies is proof of China’s remarkable ability to scale. The technology for quick response (QR) codes was originally developed in Japan in 1994 for the automotive industry and was later adapted by Alipay for use with mobile payments. China’s vast market and lack of credit and debit card use has expedited the expansion of mobile payments across the country. This, coupled with the centralized nature of Alibaba’s and Tencent’s ecosystems, quickly proliferated Alipay and WeChat Pay through ecommerce and social media, respectively. This meant that brick-and-mortar stores, from massive chains to the neighborhood food stall, had to follow suit or be left behind. And follow suit they did: Data from iResearch Consulting Group shows that mobile payments in China grew from 1.2 trillion yuan ($187B) in 2013 to 58.8 trillion yuan in 2016. In 2018, QR code settlements are expected to reach 165.9 trillion yuan: more than 90 times the size of the US mobile payments market, as reported by Forrester Research.

According to an article from Knowledge@Wharton, published by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, over the past three years Alipay and WeChat Pay have enabled 98.3% of Chinese consumers – including those in rural areas – to shift directly from cash to smartphone. By contrast, only 5.6% of the surveyed population in the US have used mobile payments. Looking ahead, Alibaba and Tencent are hoping to take their expertise in QR technology and go-to-market strategy to begin scaling in developing countries where consumers have less access to credit cards and other traditional banking services. If innovation is the process of turning ideas into outcomes, China’s nearly cashless transaction model has definitively allowed it to emerge as an innovation economy.

Online-Offline Integration: Hema Fresh

As ecommerce continues to boom and brick-and-mortar retailers find themselves coming up against rising land and labor costs, the question of how to blend digital and physical commerce becomes increasingly important. Many believe that the ideal state for bringing these two worlds together will come in the form of an integrated process that provides consumers with a seamlessly engaging experience while enabling companies to optimize both digital and physical operations. This future seemed elusive until recently.

For most, an important shift occurred when Amazon announced its purchase of Whole Foods in 2017 and opened its first Amazon Go location in January of 2018. Unbeknownst to many, however, Alibaba was three years ahead of its North American competitor, debuting its first attempt at “new retail” in 2015 in the form of Hema Fresh. For a first attempt, Hema Fresh is impressive. By connecting product barcodes with a mobile app, Hema Fresh allows consumers to research products during their in-store shopping experience. Shoppers can trace a product’s origin, delivery, and nutritional information, and the app also recommends recipes and other relevant products. The data taken from these cashless transactions enables further personalization of the user’s recommendations. The physical aspect includes an eat-as-you-shop option, where shoppers can hand-pick fresh seafood and have it cooked on-site. The food is soon ready for shoppers to eat in Hema’s dining area. Facial recognition is also used at checkout. Meanwhile, Hema stores act as fulfillment centers for online shoppers, who can have their orders delivered within 30 minutes of placement.

There are now 25 Hema stores across China, and Alibaba has plans to more than double the store’s presence in 2018. In a press release for Alibaba, Hou Yi, CEO of Hema, said that he hopes that “as [the] model becomes more established, it can be shared with other traditional retailers to help them transform in the digital age.”

Mobility: Didi Chuxing

Migration from rural areas in China has led to the ongoing expansion of urban populations over the past few decades, causing urban development to grow at breakneck speeds. Sprawling expressways and superblocks congested with cars now connect cities across the country. Didi Chuxing (“DiDi”), the world’s largest ride-sharing service, was founded with this simple frustration in mind. DiDi aims to “redefine the future of mobility” by leveraging big data and machine learning to help solve this problem, which is characteristic of many Chinese cities. While Uber and Lyft dominate ride-sharing in the US, the sheer scale and size of DiDi sets it apart. According to recent articles from Reuters and Wired, the service has 550 million users in over 400 cities in China, delivering… [more]
samanthalew  ronniepang  china  legacy  infrastructure  change  leapfrogging  2018  technology  design  didichuxing  mobile  phones  smartphones  alibaba  legacysystems  ecommerce  mobilepayments  wechat 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Silicon Valley Nannies Are Phone Police for Kids - The New York Times
[This is one of three connected articles:]

"Silicon Valley Nannies Are Phone Police for Kids
Child care contracts now demand that nannies hide phones, tablets, computers and TVs from their charges."
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/26/style/silicon-valley-nannies.html

"The Digital Gap Between Rich and Poor Kids Is Not What We Expected
America’s public schools are still promoting devices with screens — even offering digital-only preschools. The rich are banning screens from class altogether."
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/26/style/digital-divide-screens-schools.html

"A Dark Consensus About Screens and Kids Begins to Emerge in Silicon Valley
“I am convinced the devil lives in our phones.”"
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/26/style/phones-children-silicon-valley.html

[See also:
"What the Times got wrong about kids and phones"
https://www.cjr.org/criticism/times-silicon-valley-kids.php

https://twitter.com/edifiedlistener/status/1058438953299333120
"Now that I've had a chance to read this article [specifically: "The Digital Gap Between Rich and Poor Kids Is Not What We Expected"] and some others related to children and screen time and the wealthy and the poor, I have some thoughts. 1/

First, this article on the unexpected digital divide between rich and poor seems entirely incomplete. There is an early reference to racial differences in screen usage but in the article there are no voices of black or brown folks that I could detect. 2/

We are told a number of things: Wealthy parents are shunning screens in their children's lives, psychologists underscore the addictive nature of screen time on kids, and of course, whatever the short end of the stick is - poor kids get that. 3/

We hear "It could happen that the children of poorer and middle-class parents will be raised by screens," while wealthy kids will perhaps enjoy "wooden toys and the luxury of human interaction." 4/

Think about that and think about the stories that have long been told about poor families, about single parents, about poor parents of color - They aren't as involved in their kids' education, they are too busy working. Familiar stereotypes. 5/

Many of these judgments often don't hold up under scrutiny. So much depends upon who gets to tell those stories and how those stories are marketed, sold and reproduced. 6/

In this particular story about the privilege of being able to withdraw from or reduce screen time, we get to fall back into familiar narratives especially about the poor and non-elite. 7/

Of course those with less will be told after a time by those with much more - "You're doing it wrong." And "My child will be distinguished by the fact that he/she/they is not dependent on a device for entertainment or diversion." 8/

My point is not that I doubt the risks and challenges of excessive screen time for kids and adults. Our dependence on tech *is* a huge social experiment and the outcomes are looking scarier by the day. 9/

I do, however, resist the consistent need of the wealthy elite to seek ways to maintain their distance to the mainstream. To be the ones who tell us what's "hot, or not" - 10/

Chris Anderson points out "“The digital divide was about access to technology, and now that everyone has access, the new digital divide is limiting access to technology,” - 11/

This article and its recent close cousins about spying nannies in SV & more elite parent hand wringing over screen in the NYT feel like their own category of expensive PR work - again allowing SV to set the tone. 12/

It's not really about screens or damage to children's imaginations - it's about maintaining divides, about insuring that we know what the rich do (and must be correct) vs what the rest of us must manage (sad, bad). 13/fin]
siliconvalley  edtech  children  technology  parenting  2018  nelliebowles  addiction  psychology  hypocrisy  digitaldivide  income  inequality  ipads  smartphones  screentime  schools  education  politics  policy  rules  childcare  policing  surveillance  tracking  computers  television  tv  tablets  phones  mobile  teaching  learning  howwelearn  howweteach  anyakamenetz  sherrispelic  ipad 
october 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
Digital Text is Changing How Kids Read—Just Not in the Way That You Think | MindShift | KQED News
[See also: "Reading behavior in the digital environment: Changes in reading behavior over the past ten years"
https://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/00220410510632040

"Predicting Reading Comprehension on the Internet: Contributions of Offline Reading Skills, Online Reading Skills, and Prior Knowledge"
http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1086296X11421979 ]

"According to Julie Coiro, a reading researcher at the University of Rhode Island, moving from digital to paper and back again is only a piece of the attention puzzle: the larger and more pressing issue is how reading online is taxing kids’ attention. Online reading, Coiro noticed, complicates the comprehension process “a million-fold.”

As more and more of kids’ reading takes place online, especially for schoolwork, Coiro has been studying how kids’ brains have had to adjust. Her research, conducted on middle- and high school students as well as college students, shows that reading online requires more attention than reading a paper book. Every single action a student takes online offers multiple choices, requiring an astounding amount of self-regulation to both find and understand needed information.

Each time a student reads online content, Coiro said, they are faced with almost limitless input and decisions, including images, video and multiple hyperlinks that lead to even more information. As kids navigate a website, they must constantly ask themselves: is this the information I’m looking for? What if I click on one of the many links, will that get me closer or farther away from what I need? This process doesn’t happen automatically, she said, but the brain must work to make each choice a wise one.

“It used to be that there was a pre-reading, the reading itself, and the evaluation at the end of your chapter or at the end of a book,” Coiro said. “Now that process happens repeatedly in about 4 seconds: I choose a link. I decide whether I want to be here/I don’t want to be here, and then, where should I go next?”

In one of Coiro’s studies of middle schoolers, she found that good readers on paper weren’t necessarily good readers online. The ability to generate search terms, evaluate the information and integrate ideas from multiple sources and media makes online reading comprehension, she argues, a critical set of skills that builds on those required to read a physical book.

“We make the assumption that we’re going to keep them safe and protected if we have kids read mostly in the print world,” Coiro said. “And if they’re good readers in that world, they’re just going to naturally be a good reader in a complex online world. That’s so not the case.”

To navigate a new world straddled between digital and physical reading, adults are finding ways to try and balance both. Though there is plenty of distracting media out there vying for kids’ attention, digital reading companies like Epic! are trying to keep the reading experience as close to a real book as possible. Suren Markosian, Epic!’s co-founder and CEO, created the app in part for his own young children. He said they made a conscious choice to keep ads, video content and hyperlinks outside of the book-reading experience. “Once inside a book, you get a full-screen view,” he said. “You are basically committing to reading the book and nothing else.”

Some teachers have taken a more aggressive approach toward making space for reading, taking Willingham’s advice to talk to students head-on about putting down digital devices. Jarred Amato, a high school ELA teacher in Nashville, Tennessee, created a 24-hour digital cleanse for his freshman to crack the surface of what he calls their “smartphone addiction.”

“Students need to develop a reading routine, so I give my students daily time to read independently in my classroom,” he said. “Once they find a book that hooks them, they're far more likely to unplug from technology and continue reading at home.”"
reading  howweread  children  books  2018  digital  digitalreading  skimming  attention  comprehension  danielwillingham  ziminglu  screens  internet  online  web  socialmedia  research  juliecoiro  search  smartphones 
august 2018 by robertogreco
Blloc | Back to the root
Blloc is a plain and minimalistic smartphone combining a power saving operating system with efficient hardware and an easy to use messaging platform, it’s built to be the perfect communication and productivity tool that you can rely on every day."



"Regain control of your smartphone. Blloc allows you to focus on your contacts and meaningful interactions. With more effortless and fluid exchange of information, there is more space for your productivity.

The lost, forgotten and scattered information is now gathered in one place, a simple timeline which facilitates speedy and effective conversations, while Blloc anticipates your needs through learning."
android  mobile  phones  hardware  blloc  smartphones 
april 2018 by robertogreco
BBC Blogs - Academy - How to improve your mojo skills by sacrificing a latte
"A journalist using only the pre-installed apps on their smartphone is like someone driving a Ferrari in first gear. At the risk of stretching the metaphor to breaking point, you can get your phone purring along in fifth with the addition of just a few well-chosen apps. But you’ll have to buy them – yes, by spending actual money.

Before I highlight some of my personal favourites and explain how they could improve your mojo (mobile journalism) output, here’s a quick question: how often do you buy a coffee during the day? Perhaps once on the way to work to get yourself going and again later to counter that mid-afternoon slump? Anecdotally from my face-to-face training for the BBC Academy, many people don't think twice about spending £3 for a triple decaf caramel dry latte (extra nutmeg) once or twice a day.

Yet ask those same people when they last spent a comparable sum on an app to soup up their smartphones and I find that it’s rarely within the last month. More often it is "never".

But if the money on just one coffee a week went instead towards an app, within a few months that smartphone would have acquired new powers (and you might even have lost a few pounds from your waistline).

The apps I’m writing about here are established favourites within the growing global mojo community - that is, producers and reporters who cover news stories and create related content using just their smartphones plus a few gadgets and gizmos like a tripod, a lens, a microphone and a spare battery.

You can also find an entire level of high end apps which stray more into cinematography than video for news and journalism, but I won't be dealing with those here."
smartphones  phones  mobile  journalism  reporting  applications  ios  iphone  video  audio  howto  tutorials  cinematography  editing  onlinetoolkit 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Psychopolitics: Neoliberalism and New Technologies of Power by Byung-Chul Han – review | Books | The Guardian
"The new surveillance society that has arisen since 1984, argues Han, works differently yet is more elegantly totalitarian and oppressive than anything described by Orwell or Jeremy Bentham. “Confession obtained by force has been replaced by voluntary disclosure,” he writes. “Smartphones have been substituted for torture chambers.” Well, not quite. Torture chambers still exist, it’s just that we in the neoliberal west have outsourced them (thanks, rendition flights) so that that obscenity called polite society can pretend they don’t exist.

Nonetheless, what capitalism realised in the neoliberal era, Han argues, is that it didn’t need to be tough, but seductive. This is what he calls smartpolitics. Instead of saying no, it says yes: instead of denying us with commandments, discipline and shortages, it seems to allow us to buy what we want when we want, become what we want and realise our dream of freedom. “Instead of forbidding and depriving it works through pleasing and fulfilling. Instead of making people compliant, it seeks to make them dependent.”

Your smartphone, for Han, is crucial in this respect, the multifunctional tool of our auto-exploitation. We are all Big Brother now. It is in part Catholicism with better technology, a modern rosary that is handheld confessional and effective surveillance apparatus in one. “Both the rosary and the smartphone serve the purpose of self-monitoring and control,” he explains. “Power operates more effectively when it delegates surveillance to discrete individuals.” And we queue overnight to get the latest model: we desire our own domination. No wonder the motto for Han’s book is US video artist Jenny Holzer’s slogan: “Protect me from what I want.”

Han considers that the old form of oppressive capitalism that found its personification in Big Brother has found its most resonant expression in Bentham’s notion of a panopticon, whereby all inmates of an institution could be observed by a single watchman without the inmates being able to tell whether or not they were being watched. Bentham’s invention in turn catalysed French theorist Michel Foucault’s reflections on the disciplinary, punishing power that arose with industrial capitalism, leading him to coin the term biopolitics. Because the body was the central force in industrial production, Han argues, then a politics of disciplining, punishing and perfecting the body was understandably central to Foucault’s notion of how power worked.

But in the west’s deindustrialised, neoliberal era, such biopolitics is obsolete. Instead, by means of deploying “big data”, neoliberalism has tapped into the psychic realm and exploited it, with the result that, as Han colourfully puts it, “individuals degrade into the genital organs of capital”. Consider that the next time you’re reviewing your Argos purchase, streaming porn or retweeting Paul Mason. Instead of watching over human behaviour, big data’s digital panopticon subjects it to psychopolitical steering."



"At least in Nineteen Eighty-Four, nobody felt free. In 2017, for Han, everybody feels free, which is the problem. “Of our own free will, we put any and all conceivable information about ourselves on the internet, without having the slightest idea who knows what, when or in what occasion. This lack of control represents a crisis of freedom to be taken seriously.”"



"No matter. How might we resist psychopolitics? In this respect, Han cuts an intriguing figure. He rarely makes public appearances or gives interviews (and when he does he requires journalists turn off their recorders ), his Facebook page seems to have been set up by Spanish admirers, and only recently did he set up an email address which he scarcely uses. He isn’t ungooglable nor yet off the grid, but rather professor at Berlin’s University of the Arts and has written 16 mostly lovely, slender volumes of elegant cultural critique (I particularly recommend The Burnout Society, The Scent of Time, Saving Beauty and The Expulsion of the Other – all available in English) and is often heralded, along with Markus Gabriel and Richard David Precht, as a wunderkind of a newly resurgent and unprecedentedly readable German philosophy.

For all that, and I mean this as a compliment, Byung-Chul Han is an idiot. He writes: “Thoroughgoing digital networking and communication have massively amplified the compulsion to conform. The attendant violence of consensus is suppressing idiotisms.”

Indeed, the book’s last chapter is called “Idiotism”, and traces philosophy’s rich history of counter-cultural idiocy. Socrates knew only one thing, namely that he knew nothing. Descartes doubted everything in his “I think therefore I am”. Han seeks to reclaim this idiotic tradition. In an age of compulsory self-expression, he cultivates the twin heresies of secrets and silence.

Perhaps similarly, for our own well being, in our age of overspeak and underthink, we should learn the virtue of shutting up."
capitalism  latecapitalism  technology  politics  2017  biopolitics  byung-chulhan  stuartjeffries  1984  freedom  control  data  mobile  phones  facebook  twitter  conformity  conformism  amazon  internet  web  online  markusgabriel  richarddavidprecht  philosophy  idiocy  overspeak  underthink  thinking  communication  neoliberalism  foucault  power  smartphones  bigbrother  catholicsm  jennyholzer  desire  michelfoucault 
january 2018 by robertogreco
You Have a New Memory - Long View on Education
"Last night I nearly cleaned out my social media presence on Instagram as I’ve used it about 6 times in two years. More generally, I want to pull back on any social media that isn’t adding to my life (yeah, Facebook, I’m talking about you). Is there anything worth staying on Instagram for? I know students use it to show off the photographic techniques they learn in their digital photography class. When I scrolled through to see what photos have been posted from the location of our school, I was caught by a very striking image that represents a view out of a classroom.

One of the most striking things about Instagram is how students engage with it (likes) way more than they do our school Twitter stream. I care about where their engagement happens since in the last two days of learning conferences, many students told me that they got their news through Snapchat. But neither Instagram nor Snapchat are where I have the interactions that I value.

This poses a serious challenge for teaching media literacy, but also for teaching the more traditional forms of text. With my Grade 9s, we have been reading and crafting memoirs. How does their construction of ephemeral memoirs on Snapchat and curated collections of memories on Instagram shape both how they write and see themselves?

Even though I understand how Snapchat works, I will never understand what it’s like to feel the draw of streaks or notifications. And with Instagram, I’m well past a point where I’m drawn to construct images that vie for hundreds of likes. I’m simply not shaped by these medias in the same way.

Beyond different medias, students really carry around different devices than I do, even though they may both be called iPhones. Few of them read the news on it or need to sift through work emails. But in both cases, these devices form the pathway to a public presentation of self, which is something that I struggle with on many levels. I’m happy to be out here in public intellectual mode sharing and criticizing ideas, and to reflect on my teaching and share what my students are doing, and to occasionally put out parts of my personal life, but I resent the way that platforms work to combine all of those roles into one public individual.

Just this morning, I received the most bizarre notification from my Apple Photos: “You Have a New Memory”. So, even in the relatively private space between my stored photos and my screen, algorithms give birth to new things I need to be made aware of. Notified. How I go about opting out of social media now seems like an easier challenge than figuring out how I withdraw from the asocial nudges that emerge from my own archives."
2017  benjamindoxtdator  instagram  twitter  facebook  algorithms  memory  memories  photography  presentationofself  apple  iphone  smartphones  technology  teaching  education  edtech  medialiteracy  engagement  snapchat  ephemerality  text  memoirs  notifications  likes  favorites  ephemeral 
october 2017 by robertogreco
Close Reading — Real Life
"In transitioning ambient intimacy from one mode to the other, it turns out that our desires are more ambient in text and more intimate when visual. Even among the rather ordinary set of people I follow on Instagram, there is an undercurrent of the erotic more immediate and obvious than on places like Twitter. An ambient sense of social desire is something else when it is visual; we aim to be seen, and are thus asked to be seen in certain ways. And if the camera asks you to be seen, it also offers a chance to determine how you are seen and by whom, this new insistence on the scopophilic turned back against the viewer. I have watched people I know who long seemed to avoid being looked at settle into a new idea of who they are: The ego, once pinched, releases and expands from the center to the skin, a kind of warm fluid of confidence, a body now radiating a newly-minted sense of self-possession. A watchful eye once avoided is reclaimed, welcomed, relished — and so of course, the connective tissue of our communication came to include the image of the body.

There is a tension in this, though. It is hard to separate visual culture from economies of various sorts, from systems of circulation and exchange. The demand to place yourself into the swirl of images comes with certain rules. These are the boundaries of our particular modal shift. One can, for example, embrace body acceptance, can challenge regimes of corporeal domination, but it helps to do so symmetrically, in fashionable clothing, against well-lit backgrounds, engaging in the logic of the rectangular image, augmenting one form of desire with another. When intimacy is a thing to be as much seen as felt, one must, if not contort oneself, at least turn one’s life to the camera. The lens is like a supportive mother believing she is simply doing the right thing: “Be who you are, dear, but at least make yourself presentable.”

Yet there is warmth in the feed of images, too: a steady cavalcade of tiny, precious detail, a gentle flood of affection for both others and ourselves. For the lonely, sitting by themselves in quiet rooms and apartments, it represents an emergent social field, a kind of extra-bodily space in which one communes. The modal shift of ambient intimacy from text to the image is itself a minor analog of the broader one, from mass media to the network, from the body to its holographic pairing. There is in it surveillance and self-surveillance, the insistent saturation of capital down to our most private core. In its most ideal state, the collection of stories on otherwise faceless platforms is like an auditorium of holograms, a community of bodily projections. In those rare moments, one does not find oneself simply alone in the dark and cold, barely lit by a glowing phone. Instead, if only for a fraction of time, it is a field of light made full by incandescent strands of connection, staving off a colourless abyss, an intimate ambience that is — temporarily at least — just enough."
ambientintimacy  socialmedi  twitter  instagram  clivethompson  2017  socialmedia  intimacy  capitalism  capital  loneliness  smartphones  bodies  presentationofself  communication  media  news  photography  imagery  imagessurveillance  self-surveillance  economics  body 
october 2017 by robertogreco
My social media fast
"Social media, mostly through my phone, has been an important way for me to stay connected with friends and goings on in the wider world. But lately I’d noticed an obsessiveness, an addiction really, that I didn’t like once I became fully aware of it. When I wasn’t working, I was on my phone, refreshing Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook repeatedly in an endless series, like a little old lady at Caesar’s Palace working several slot machines at the same time. And I couldn’t stop it — my phone was in my hand even when I was trying to concentrate on my kids, watching a movie, or reading a book. So, I quit for a week to see what would happen. It’s not a super-long time period, but here’s what I noticed:

- Once I’d set my mind to it, it was pretty easy to go cold turkey. Perhaps my Twitter usage and keeping up with the news for kottke.org acted as a nicotine patch, but I don’t think so. Instagram was the toughest to stay away from, but I didn’t crack once.

- As the week went on, it was more and more evident that it wasn’t so much social media as the phone that was the problem. Even now, a few days after the conclusion of my experiment, I’m leaving my phone at home when I go out or across the room when I’m doing something. I’m going to try hard to keep this up.

- Buuuut, when you have kids, there is no such thing as giving up your phone. There’s always the potential call from their school or their mom or their doctor or another parent regarding a playdate or or or. I spend enough time online at my computer for work that I could mostly do without my phone, but with kids, that’s not really an option.

- Not a single person noticed that I had stopped using social media. (Not enough to tell me anyway.) Perhaps if it had been two weeks? For me, this reinforced that social media is actually not a good way to “stay connected with friends”. Social media aggregates interactions between loved ones so that you get industrialized communication rather than personal connection. No one really notices if a particular person goes missing because they’re just one interchangeable node in a network.

- My no-social week, for a variety of reasons, was probably the shittiest week I’d had in more than a year. Total emotional mess. Being off social media didn’t make it any better, but I doubt it made it worse. Overall, it was probably a good thing I wasn’t subjecting my friends and followers to self-subtweets and emo Instagram Stories…I was already scoring enough own goals without social media’s help.

- So, what did I do instead? I wish I could say that I had loads of extra free time that I used to learn Spanish, clean my house, catch up with old friends, cook delicious meals, and finish a couple work projects. Perhaps if shittiest week ever hadn’t been happening, I would have done some of that. Still, I did end up going to bed early every night, read a couple books, and had more time for work and dealing with kid drama.

After the week was up, I greedily checked in on Instagram and Facebook to see what I had missed. Nothing much, of course. Since then, I’ve been checking them a bit less. When I am on, I’ve been faving and commenting more in an attempt to be a little more active in connecting. I unfollowed some accounts I realized I didn’t care that much about and followed others I’ve been curious to check out. Swarm I check a lot less, about once a day — there was a lot of FOMO going on when I saw friends checked in at cool places in NYC or on vacations in Europe. And I’m only checking in when I go someplace novel, just to keep a log of where I’ve been…that’s always fun to look back on.

Mostly, I’ve resolved to use my phone less. Being on my phone was my fidget spinner…this thing that I would do when there was nothing else to do or that I would use to delay going to bed or delay getting out of bed in the morning. Going forward, I’m going to be more mindful about its use. If nothing else, my hands and thumbs might start feeling better."
kottke  smartphones  socialmedia  via:lukenff  2017  fomo  balance  twitter  instagram  social  presence  sleep 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Why Millennials Are Lonely
"We’re getting lonelier.

The General Social Survey found that the number of Americans with no close friends has tripled since 1985. “Zero” is the most common number of confidants, reported by almost a quarter of those surveyed. Likewise, the average number of people Americans feel they can talk to about ‘important matters’ has fallen from three to two.

Mysteriously, loneliness appears most prevalent among millennials. I see two compounding explanations.

First, incredibly, loneliness is contagious. A 2009 study using data collected from roughly 5000 people and their offspring from Framingham, Massachusetts since 1948 found that participants are 52% more likely to be lonely if someone they’re directly connected to (such as a friend, neighbor, coworker or family member) is lonely. People who aren’t lonely tend to then become lonelier if they’re around people who are.

Why? Lonely people are less able to pick up on positive social stimuli, like others’ attention and commitment signals, so they withdraw prematurely – in many cases before they’re actually socially isolated. Their inexplicable withdrawal may, in turn, make their close connections feel lonely too. Lonely people also tend to act “in a less trusting and more hostile fashion,” which may further sever social ties and impart loneliness in others.

This is how, as Dr. Nicholas Christakis told the New York Times in a 2009 article on the Framingham findings, one lonely person can “destabilize an entire social network” like a single thread unraveling a sweater.
If you’re lonely, you transmit loneliness, and then you cut the tie or the other person cuts the tie. But now that person has been affected, and they proceed to behave the same way. There is this cascade of loneliness that causes a disintegration of the social network.

Like other contagions, loneliness is bad for you. Lonely adolescents exhibit more social stress compared to not lonely ones. Individuals who feel lonely also have significantly higher Epstein-Barr virus antibodies (the key player in mononucleosis). Lonely women literally feel hungrier. Finally, feeling lonely increases risk of death by 26% and doubles our risk of dying from heart disease.

But if loneliness is inherently contagious, why has it just recently gotten worse?

The second reason for millennial loneliness is the Internet makes it viral. It’s not a coincidence that loneliness began to surge two years after Apple launched its first commercial personal computer and five years before Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web.

Ironically, we use the Internet to alleviate our loneliness. Social connection no longer requires a car, phone call or plan – just a click. And it seems to work: World of Warcraft players experience less social anxiety and less loneliness when online than in the real world. The Internet temporarily enhances the social satisfaction and behavior of lonely people, who are more likely to go online when they feel isolated, depressed or anxious.

The Internet provides, as David Brooks wrote in a New York Times column last fall, “a day of happy touch points.”

But the Internet can eventually isolate us and stunt our remaining relationships. Since Robert Putnam’s famous 2000 book Bowling Alone, the breakdown of community and civic society has almost certainly gotten worse. Today, going to a bowling alley alone, Putnam’s central symbol of “social capital deficit,” would actually be definitively social. Instead, we’re “bowling” – and a host of other pseudo-social acts – online.

One reason the Internet makes us lonely is we attempt to substitute real relationships with online relationships. Though we temporarily feel better when we engage others virtually, these connections tend to be superficial and ultimately dissatisfying. Online social contacts are “not an effective alternative for offline social interactions,” sums one study.

In fact, the very presence of technology can hinder genuine offline connection. Simply having a phone nearby caused pairs of strangers to rate their conversation as less meaningful, their conversation partners as less empathetic and their new relationship as less close than strangers with a notebook nearby instead.

Excessive Internet use also increases feelings of loneliness because it disconnects us from the real world. Research shows that lonely people use the Internet to “feel totally absorbed online” – a state that inevitably subtracts time and energy that could otherwise be spent on social activities and building more fulfilling offline friendships.

Further exacerbating our isolation is society’s tendency to ostracize lonely peers. One famous 1965 study found that when monkeys were confined to a solitary isolation chamber called the "pit of despair" and reintroduced to their colony months later, they were shunned and excluded. The Framingham study suggested that humans may also drive away the lonely, so that “feeling socially isolated can lead to one becoming objectively isolated.”

The more isolated we feel, the more we retreat online, forging a virtual escape from loneliness. This is particularly true for my generation, who learned to self-soothe with technology from a young age. It will only become more true as we flock to freelancing and other means of working alone.

In his controversial 1970 book The Pursuit of Loneliness, sociologist Phillip Slater coined the “Toilet Assumption”: our belief that undesirable feelings and social realities will “simply disappear if we ignore them.” Slater argued that America’s individualism and, in turn, our loneliness, “is rooted in the attempt to deny the reality of human interdependence.” The Internet is perhaps the best example to date of our futile attempt to flush away loneliness.

Instead, we’re stuck with a mounting pile of infectious isolation."
online  internet  socialmedia  loneliness  2017  isolation  social  phillipslater  1970  1965  contagion  psychology  technology  smartphones  robertputnam  2000  web  nicholaschristakis  trust  hostility 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Your Camera Wants to Kill the Keyboard | WIRED
"SNAPCHAT KNEW IT from the start, but in recent months Google and Facebook have all but confirmed it: The keyboard, slowly but surely, is fading into obscurity.

Last week at Google’s annual developer conference, the company presented its vision for how it expects its users—more than a billion people—to interact with technology in the coming years. And for the most part, it didn’t involve typing into a search box. Instead, Google’s brass spent its time onstage touting the company’s speech recognition skills and showing off Google Lens, a new computer vision technology that essentially turns your phone’s camera into a search engine.

Technology has once again reached an inflection point. For years, smartphones relied on hardware keyboards, a holdover from the early days of cell phones. Then came multitouch. Spurred by the wonders of the first smartphone screens, people swiped, typed, and pinched. Now, the way we engage with our phones is changing once again thanks to AI. Snapping a photo works as well, if not better, than writing a descriptive sentence in a search box. Casually chatting with Google Assistant, the company’s omnipresent virtual helper, gets results as fast, if not faster, than opening Chrome and navigating from there. The upshot, as Google CEO Sundar Pichai explained, is that we’re increasingly interacting with our computers in more natural and emotive ways, which could mean using your keyboard a lot less.

Ask the people who build your technology, and they’ll tell you: The camera is the new keyboard. The catchy phrase is becoming something of an industry-wide mantra to describe the constant march toward more visual forms of communication. Just look at Snapchat. The company bet its business on the fact that people would rather trade pictures than strings of words. The idea proved so compelling that Facebook and Instagram unabashedly developed their own versions of the feature. “The camera has already become a pervasive form of communication,” says Roman Kalantari, the head creative technologist at the design studio Fjord. “But what’s the next step after that?”

For Facebook and Snapchat, it was fun-house mirror effects and goofy augmented reality overlays—ways of building on top of photos that you simply can’t with text. Meanwhile, Google took a decidedly more utilitarian approach with Lens, turning the camera into an input device much like the keyboard itself. Point your camera at a tree, and it’ll tell you the variety. Snap a pic of the new restaurant on your block, and it’ll pull up the menu and hours, even help you book a reservation. Perhaps the single most effective demonstration of the technology was also its dullest—focus the lens on a router’s SKU and password, and Google’s image recognition will scan the information, pass it along to your Android phone, and automatically log you into the network.

This simplicity is a big deal. No longer does finding information require typing into a search box. Suddenly the world, in all its complexity, can be understood just by aiming your camera at something. Google isn’t the only company buying into this vision of the future. Amazon’s Fire Phone from 2014 enabled image-based search, which meant you could point the camera at a book or a box of cereal and have the item shipped to you instantly via Amazon Prime. Earlier this year, Pinterest launched the beta version of Lens, a tool that allows users to take a photo of an object in the real world and surface related objects on the Pinterest platform. “We’re getting to the point where using your camera to discover new ideas is as fast and easy as typing,” says Albert Pereta, a creative lead at Pinterest, who led the development at Lens.

Translation: Words can be hard, and it often works better to show than to tell. It’s easier to find the mid-century modern chair with a mahogany leather seat you’re looking for when you can share what it looks like, rather than typing a string of precise keywords. “With a camera, you can complete the task by taking a photo or video of the thing,” explains Gierad Laput, who studies human computer interaction at Carnegie Mellon. “Whereas with a keyboard, you complete this task by typing a description of the thing. You have to come up with the right description and type them accordingly.”

The caveat, of course, is that the image recognition needs to be accurate in order to work. You have agency when you type something into a search box—you can delete, revise, retype. But with a camera, the devices decides what you’re looking at and, even more crucially, assumes what information you want to see in return. The good (or potentially creepy) news is that with every photo taken, search query typed, and command spoken, Google learns more about you, which means over time your results grow increasingly accurate. With its deep trove of knowledge in hand, Google seems determined to smooth out the remaining rough edges of technology. It’ll probably still be a while before the keyboard goes extinct, but with every shot you take on your camera, it’s getting one step closer."
interface  ai  google  communication  images  cameras  2017  snapchat  facebook  smartphones  lizstinson  imagerecognition  pinterest  keyboards  input  romankalantari  technology  amazon  sundarpichai  albertpereta  gieradlaput 
may 2017 by robertogreco
I’m Still Here: A Conversation with Agnès Varda - From the Current - The Criterion Collection
"At eighty-eight years old, Agnès Varda is still blossoming as an artist. Long known primarily as a filmmaker, a vocation she took up more than half a century ago, the French iconoclast is now in what she gleefully describes as her “third life,” a period in which her photography, video installation, and sculpture have finally gained international recognition. Last month, Varda visited New York for a revelatory new show at Blum & Poe gallery that spans over sixty years of her creative expression. The works on view highlight both her aesthetic versatility and her affinity for excavating the past to breathe new life into the present.

While in town for the opening of the exhibition, Varda visited us at Criterion for lunch and chatted about how her gallery art exists in the context of her career.

Q: Featured in the exhibition is a series of photographs that you first displayed in your courtyard over fifty years ago. What was your original experience of showing them like?

A: I made these photographs in 1953 and 1954 and printed them myself in my lab. At that time, I had done fifty, seventy—I don’t remember how many images—and I glued them to a woodlike material. I presented them in my courtyard, hanging them on the walls and the shutters. I was impressed to see them on a clean wall in a beautiful gallery in New York, when originally they were outside for two weeks, whatever the weather. Back then, I didn’t know anybody, and I didn’t ask any papers or journalists to come. I put up papers at the grocery and bakery on the two or three streets around me. People in my neighborhood came to visit, and some were name artists, like Brassaï, who lived next door. Now, fifty years later, the photographs are on a gallery wall and they’re called “vintages”—valuable things—and I feel very odd about that.

Q: Can you tell me about some of the other works on view?

A: Blum & Poe asked that the exhibition span from my early works in 1953 to what I’ve done in the last ten years. In the time in between, I have been inventing other ways of sharing images and sound in cinema, and I went from being an old filmmaker to a young visual artist. I especially love the triptych, a form of art used in sixteenth-century Flemish paintings. I try to bring together three images at the same time. In cinema, when someone goes out of frame, you don’t know where that person has gone. I always try to think about this when I see an image; my imagination is bigger than the screen. In my own triptychs, surrounding the central image, I like to be able to open side panels of what would have been off-screen.

I did something similar with a photo I took in Marseille in 1956. I was sent to do documentary images of a Le Corbusier building for a magazine, and I went to the terrace and took a snapshot. Every snapshot questions who these people are who happen to be there at that time: Did they know each other? Did they come here together? This inspired a short screenplay I wrote and shot years later, Les gens de la terrasse (2007). I took people I met, who weren’t even actors, and my friend, a set designer, built a wall like the terrace in the photo. Then I asked the people to act out the screenplay as if they were two families having a meeting. Maybe in real life these people didn’t know each other, but I made the screenplay work. In the gallery, on the same wall, the still image is near the video, at the same size.

Q: What is the inspiration behind the maquettes, which are miniature re-creations of larger shacks you’ve built using film stock?

A: I’m very into gleaners, recycling things. And as you know, film screenings have changed so much that now they no longer need film prints—they have DCP. And people watch films on little computers and even on smartphones, which I feel sad about. I feel sorry for all these cans full of 35 mm prints, which inspired me to build shacks out of real film stock. I made one with The Creatures and one with Lions Love (. . . and Lies). It’s funny to think about these films becoming shacks and transparent walls. People can enter and look at the walls and recognize the images. I was careful to put parts of Catherine Deneuve and Michel Piccoli at a good height, so people could recognize them. We all love shacks; as kids, we would make them with fabric in the woods, so it’s like an old childish desire to make them out of leftover abandoned prints. The gallery presents the miniatures, which I made by reshooting the films in Super 8.

Q: You seem to be creating a dialogue with the past, reimagining your own installations and photographs. Is this about reclaiming memory for you?

A: My point is not to remember but to revive the past, to make it now. My favorite landscape is the seaside, which I captured in a piece that mixes photography, film, and sand [Bord de mer]. I try to reinvent the photos I’ve taken, turn them into triptychs. The gallery also has three self-portraits: one from when I was twenty, one from when I was forty, and one from when I was eighty. It’s like me saying I’m still here. They show my long life as an artist.

I was mostly doing photography in my first life, then mostly making films in my second life, and now I’m mostly making installations—though I just completed a documentary with the artist JR, so I haven’t completely left filmmaking. An audience in a theater is different from the audience coming into a museum or a gallery. I had a big, big exhibition in Paris at the Fondation Cartier, and I also had one where I was born in a neighborhood in Brussels called Ixelles. I’m very happy that people want to show my stuff. It’s an extension of my sides, my arms, my body.

Q: How is your non-film visual art informed by your fifty-year career as a filmmaker?

A: I like to reconcile silver prints with digital, the past with the present. Sometimes I make my work with 35 mm negatives and video, mixing black-and-white and color, still images and movement. At the end of my life, I don’t want to say cinema is against video. I want to use all of these things and play with them and keep my wish to touch people. Not to make them cry, but to touch their sensibility. I’m putting together elements that touch your memory of your own life. I want people to get back to themselves; I don’t want to impose anything.

Q: How do you feel looking back on those photographs from your courtyard?

A: I feel old; I’ve learned a lot, suffered a lot, enjoyed a lot. But I think I’m blessed in the last part of my life to get so much understanding and so much love for my work. I think I’m spoiled, in a way, because I could just be home waiting for my children to visit me and watching TV and sleeping half the time. I’m almost eighty-nine, and I have an incredible, exciting life, so I feel very lucky. I’m most touched when I meet people in the streets who say, “Thank you, you gave me a lot of happiness.” More than when they say “Bravo.” I think it’s more touching to get a “Thank you,” no?"
agnèsvarda  hillaryweston  2017  film  filmmaking  learning  photography  1953  1954  recycling  smartphones  super8  memory  history  jr 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Hayati - Fabrica
"Hayati, “my life” in Arabic, is an intimate photographic diary created entirely on a smartphone by Karim El Maktafi, in which the author reflects on his own identity as an Italian born from Moroccan parents. The photographer chose a smartphone, a medium he considers less intrusive than a camera. With this tool he creates suspended, enigmatic images that capture the sense of uncertainty, doubt and disorientation of those who live between two seemingly incompatible realities. Embracing a single status is not easy; feeling like an odd cultural hybrid happens often. Yet, while trying to define this identity, one understands the advantage of “standing on a doorstep”. One can decide who to be or where to belong, or else create new ties, keeping everything learnt along the path: more languages, more cultural taboos and references, more prohibitions to withstand and explain. Hayati explores some of these realities, using the photographer’s own life, family and friends as a case study, sometimes concealing their faces to respect their wish for privacy.

Born in Desenzano del Garda, Karim El Maktafi graduated from the Italian Institute of Photography in Milan in 2013. He has collaborated with several photographers in various fields and has then explored the concept of identity through reportages and portraits. His work has been presented in exhibitions such as the Brescia Photo Festival, the Festival of Ethical Photography, and YES Collective in Auckland. Hayati was realised between 2016 and 2017, during El Maktafi’s residency at Fabrica. It was awarded the PHM 2017 Grant – New Generation Prize, and is shortlisted for the CAP Prize 2017 – Contemporary African Photography Prize."
photography  smartphones  karimelmaktafi  fabrica  classideas  privacy  intimacy  hybrids  thirdculturekids  uncertinty  doubt  immigration  migration  identity  disorientation  incompatibility 
may 2017 by robertogreco
BBC Radio 4 - FutureProofing, The Future of the Future
"Does the accelerating pace of technology change the way we think about the future?

It's said that science fiction writers now spend more time telling stories about today than about tomorrow, because the potential of existing technology to change our world is so rich that there is no need to imagine the future - it's already here. Does this mean the future is dead? Or that we are experiencing a profound shift in our understanding of what the future means to us, how it arrives, and what forces will shape it?

Presenters Timandra Harkness and Leo Johnson explore how our evolving understanding of time and the potential of technological change are transforming the way we think about the future."
future  2017  mattnovak  sciencefiction  scifi  timandraharkness  leojohnson  time  technology  learning  howwelive  change  1960s  1950s  alexanerrose  prediction  bigdata  stability  flexibility  adaptability  astroteller  googlex  longnow  longnowfoundation  uncertainty  notknowing  simulation  generativedesign  dubai  museumofthefuture  agency  lawrenceorsini  implants  douglascoupland  belllabs  infrastructure  extremepresent  sfsh  classideas  present  past  history  connectivity  internet  web  online  futurism  futures  smartphones  tv  television  refrigeration  seancarroll 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Cinema in Black | Pioneer Works
"Cinema in Black
Taught by: Derica Shields Fanta Sylla
Mar 04 — Apr 22
8 Sessions
Saturdays, 3 - 6:00pm
First class, free RSVP
Entire class, $180

“But I think this underrepresentation also an amazing opportunity for us. It’s almost like Silicon Valley in the 80s and 90s: the black community is where all the great ideas are, it’s where the next generation of filmmakers are going to come from, it’s what’s going to save movies. Once we start making movies in the same way that we make music, it’ll be undeniable. Once we’re able to represent ourselves—not even represent ourselves but to express ourselves—in the way that we feel and we think, then I don’t even know what to say. I don’t even know what that’s gonna look like!”

— Kahlil Joseph (music video director and filmmaker)

What is missing from the screens? Is Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid M.a.a.d City an album or a short film? Does WorldStarHipHop create better representations of Blackness than Hollywood?

Cinema in Black explores representations of Blackness on screen and in text through films and related writing. The class will create an unconventional Black film canon through the appreciation of Black auteurs, including a focus on independent video artists and filmmakers and an exploration of alternative forms such as short online videos and music videos. Via the reading of seminal critical texts and discussions with guests and screenings, students will be asked to think about their own vision of cinema, their style and singular authorship. Students will be asked to experiment with tools they use in their everyday life (smartphones, Instagram and Snapchat Stories) and to write an augmented script. We hope to create a space in which we all can subvert hegemonic images and ways of thinking about Blackness, cinema and art and give birth to new images and new worlds.

This first meeting of this class is offered for free with an RSVP; the entire class requires registration after the first meeting.

Image from good kid, m.A.A.d city, directed by Kahlil Joseph.

Teacher(s)

Derica Shields is a writer, film programmer, and co-founder of The Future Weird.

Fanta Sylla is a critic (Reverse Shot, TIFF, Indiewire, Variety) and author of The Black Film Critic Syllabus. She’s based in Paris."
fantasylla  dericashields  2017  film  filmmaking  blackness  pioneerworks  kahiljoseph  smartphones  cinema  art  snapchat  instagram  storytelling  expression  kendricklamar  worldstarhiphop  hollywood  internet  online  web  mobile  phones  musicvideos  video 
february 2017 by robertogreco
This Is What Happens When Millions Of People Suddenly Get The Internet - BuzzFeed News
"Less than 1% of Myanmar had internet access until 2014. Now the country is getting online at an astonishing rate — but so is fake news and anti-Muslim sentiment. Sheera Frenkel finds out what happens when everyone you know joins Facebook at the same time."



"YANGON, Myanmar — The internet brought Donald Trump to Myanmar. Or, at least that’s how Shar Ya Wai first remembers hearing about the Republican president-elect.

“One day, nobody knew him. Then, everyone did. That’s what the internet is. It takes people who say crazy things and makes them famous,” the 19-year-old student said.

Like most people in this country of 50 million, which only recently opened up to the outside world, Shar Ya Wai is new to the internet. And on this day, she had walked purposefully into a phone shop in central Yangon to buy her first smartphone, a simple model by China’s Huawei that is popular among her friends. “Today I’ll buy this phone,” she said. “I guess I’ll find out how crazy [the internet] really is.”

It’s not that she’d never seen the internet before. She’d tried to stalk ex-boyfriends through a friend’s Facebook page and caught glimpses of the latest Thai pop bands on her uncle’s old tablet, which he bought secondhand a year ago. But her forays into the internet have been brief and largely left her perplexed. Here was a public space where everyone seemed to have so much to say, but it was disorganized, bombastic, overwhelming. It felt like the polar opposite of the quiet, sheltered life she’d lived until recently.

“My father is a measured person. He speaks carefully and always wanted us to speak carefully too,” she said, smoothing down her waist-length black hair, betraying her nerves. “I’m more energetic, like my mom. We speak a lot more, but it is nothing like what I see on the internet.”

It was her father who wanted her to put off buying a phone until she was old enough to “use it safely,” though she wasn’t really sure what that meant. She thought he might be referring to the men who post crass and vulgar photos online. Or he might be worried about the various scammers who are increasingly targeting the nascent internet in Myanmar. She wasn’t sure because no one had ever told her how to stay safe online — what to do, or say, or write.

Still, on this day in mid-July, Shar Ya Wai pushed herself out of a crowded store in central Yangon, holding the cellophane-wrapped cell phone as though it were an injured bird. Her fingers cradled the top and felt for the button that would turn it on, but then hesitated.

“Maybe I should wait until later. I should wait until I’m with my family,” she said, and then admitted, “I’m scared.”

She has reason to be afraid. For nearly five decades, Myanmar lived under military dictatorships that suppressed all forms of dissent and limited free speech, leading to US and European sanctions that largely cut off the country from the rest of the world. That changed in 2011, when the military junta was officially dissolved and a nominally civilian government was established. In 2015, in the first national election since the military eased its hold, Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy Party was voted into power. Of the changes to hit the largely Buddhist country since then, few have been as drastic — and as rapid — as the sudden arrival of the internet to the general public. It revolutionized everything, from how people interact with one another to how they get their news, once the exclusive purview of hyper-regulated state-sanctioned media."
myanmar  mobileonly  mobile  phones  internet  sheerafrenkel  technology  news  media  online  facebook  smartphones  viber  socialmedia 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Your phone is becoming your favorite screen, even when you’re at home - Recode
"Everyone says mobile is the future of digital. But when they talk about mobile, lots of people still talk about it as something you take with you, on the go.

And that’s true! But mobile is also something you turn to when you’re at home and have plenty of other screens to turn to.

We’ve been tracking this for years. Way back in 2011, for instance, Vevo said that most of the mobile views for its music videos were actually happening in bedrooms and living rooms.

Here’s another data point: Sandvine, a broadband services company, says that 30 percent of internet data usage at home comes from phones and tablets.

[graph]

That’s up from 20 percent in 2013 and 9 percent in 2012. So you can see where this is going.

But the road to the future isn’t always a straight line. When you think of streaming, for instance, you probably aren’t thinking about Windows PCs. But you should!

Note, for instance, that in the chart Windows machines still account for more data usage than any other kind of device. Ah! You say. Maybe those Windows users are gaming, or spreadsheeting, or doing something else to gobble up all those gigabytes!

Yup! Could be! But also, they are streaming a lot of video. Here, for instance, is Sandvine’s breakdown of streaming machines during one day of NBC’s Olympics coverage this month:

[graph]

Surprising, no? Now, if Microsoft got itself into the phone business, it might really have something.

Oh. Right."
mobile  digital  media  smartphones  reading  howweread  microsoft  internet  web  online  2016 
september 2016 by robertogreco
11 video game trends that will change the future of the industry | Technology | The Guardian
"1. VR with friends rather than alone

2. Physically collaborative games

Virtual reality and its experimental tech contemporaries are exploring new ways to incorporate the body as more than just an anchor to the physical world. As Ghislaine Boddington, creative director of body>data>space, noted in her talk on virtual reality and the “internet of bodies”, the hope for the future is in recognising and augmenting physical bodies in games and play. She offers technologies like programmable gels used with the body in more intimate ways, such as rubbing “gels on to erogenous zones”, allowing partners to “connect together at a distance”.

Boddington also noted the future of physically collaborative and increasingly social spaces in AR, as seen in the very popular Pokémon Go: “Pokémon Go is definitely a collaborative share space. The Pokémon Go site, along with many others, allow the individual to join with the group into the middle, both in a physical and a virtual way.”

Implications of the physical are vast, as Robin Hunicke, co-founder and creative director of Funomena (Woorld, Luna) and previously of thatgamecompany (Journey), noted on the psychological impact of VR brought about by gestural controls, and recognising the capacity of range of movement from players. What does it mean for a player, psychologically, to encourage them to stand tall and strike a powerful pose? What might it mean to force them into a crouched position, to feel small? The necessity of an embodied experience in VR also brings up new questions, such as what the platform offers by way of accessibility.

3. The future of augmented reality

Pokémon Go came to the UK on the third and last day of the conference, and it felt like everyone in Brighton was catching Magikarp and Shellder and Seel and all the other water Pokémon the seaside town had to offer. Had this international hit been available a little earlier, the conference schedule would surely have contained a few more panels about augmented reality. Whether we can expect to see an AR-heavy Develop 2017 will depend on whether Pokémon Go represents the start of a new trend, or if it’s simply a one-off success carried by an already successful brand.

Ismail thinks the latter. When asked what he would do with Pokémon Go, he said that he would sell it, and that it hasn’t proven anything about AR itself. “We’re seeing a lot of discussion right now about whether AR just beat VR, and I think that would be a very wrong statement. Like, Pokémon beat VR, that’s for sure, but I guess Pokémon beat everything at the moment. Pokémon beat Tinder and Twitter, which is a big deal.”

Hunicke might not be looking to make the next Pokémon Go, but she’s still interested in the potential of augmented-reality games that “make the world more silly and joyful, and less logical”. One of Funomena’s upcoming games, Woorld, is described as “a hand-held Alternative Reality experience”, a “whimsical, exploratory application” that lets you place virtual objects against the backdrop of your physical environment. Created in collaboration with Google, with art from Keita Takahashi (Katamari Damacy, Noby Noby Boy), this colourful augmented-reality game and sandbox will be available on devices that include Google’s new AR-enabling platform Tango, like the upcoming Lenovo Phab2 Pro.

4. Incremental console updates …

5. The next step for mobile: TV …

6. Sayonara, Steam: the rise of specialised stores

The number of games on Steam is on the rise, and with it, the number of games that go unplayed or unnoticed. Nearly 37% of all registered Steam games go unplayed , and it’s no secret that many indie games – even good, critically acclaimed games – get lost amid a sea of other green lit games.

In light of this, smaller more specialised distribution services are becoming more important. Itch.io, an “indie game marketplace and DIY game jam host” is already hugely popular in the indie scene, offering pay-what-you-want and minimum-pricing models. Just last year, Itch’s co-founder Leaf Corcoran revealed in a blog post about the site’s finances that they had paid out $393,000 to developers. Since then, the platform has only grown and it’s likely that we’ll see more specialised distributors following Itch’s model.

7. The rise of indie studios …

8. Rejecting crunch

Crunch, ie mandatory (and often unpaid) overtime in the weeks or months leading to a game’s release, has long been an issue for this industry. More than a decade since Erin Hoffman wrote about her husband’s experiences of unpaid overtime when working for EA, in an originally anonymous blog post known at the time as “EA Spouse”, crunch is still commonplace in studios of all sizes, and people are still fighting it.

At this year’s Develop, Machine Studios (Maia) founder Simon Roth gave a talk called “Killing the Indie Crunch Myth: Shipping Games Alive”, which began tweet:
People who support crunch are going against 100+ years of data and science. They are the flat earthers of software development.

9. Design that puts feelings first

The design practice underlying Hunicke’s studio Funomena, and the focus of her keynote, is one she calls “feel engineering”. As Hunicke describes it: “Feel engineering is the process by which you create a game backwards from the feeling you want to create in a person forward towards the mechanics and the dynamics of the game itself.” She notes that while feel engineering isn’t easy, due to its time commitment, high cost, and level of emotional investment asked from development teams, it’s worth it. Hunicke speaks to the positive studio culture of feeling-focused engineering, and its contrast to the toxicity of crunch is evident. “The process of making it is so delightful,” she adds. “It’s so much better than anything I’ve ever done.”

We’ve already seen aspects of feel engineering in the mobile market, with games looking to reverse-engineer social situations people already find fun. Haslam outlines how the design of “co-operative shouting game” Spaceteam was inspired by the social experience of playing a board game with friends, an experience its lead designer Henry Smith already enjoyed.

10. Trying – and failing …

11. Feeling twitchy about YouTube and Twitch"
games  gaming  videogames  future  2016  vr  virtualreality  ar  augmentedreality  youtube  twitch  funomena  kickstarter  crowdfunding  indiegames  design  gamedesign  spaceteam  social  collaboration  braid  worldofgoo  steam  itch.io  mobile  phones  smartphones  pokemongo  keitatakahashi  robinhunicke  thatgamecompany  ghislaineboddington  body>data>space  bodies  play  physical  oculusrift  ramiismail  jordanericaebber  katbrewster  pokémongo  body 
july 2016 by robertogreco
61 Glimpses of the Future — Today’s Office — Medium
"1. If you want to understand how our planet will turn out this century, spend time in China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria and Brazil.

2. If you’re wondering how long the Chinese economic miracle will last, the answer will probably be found in the bets made on commercial and residential developments in Chinese 3rd to 6th tier cities in Xinjiang, Gansu, Qinghai and Tibet.

4. Touch ID doesn’t work at high altitude, finger prints are too dry.

5. You no longer need to carry a translation app on your phone. If there’s someone to speak with, they’ll have one on theirs.

6. A truly great border crossing will hold a mirror up to your soul.

9. The art of successful borderland travel is to know when to pass through (and be seen by) army checkpoints and when to avoid them.

10. Borders are permeable.

12. The premium for buying gasoline in a remote village in the GBAO is 20% more than the nearest town. Gasoline is harder to come by, and more valuable than connectivity.

13. After fifteen years of professionally decoding human behaviour, I’m still surprised by the universality of body language.

14. Pretentious people are inherently less curious.

15. Everything is fine, until that exact moment when it’s obviously not. It is easy to massively over/under estimate risk based on current contextual conditions. Historical data provides some perspective, but it usually comes down to your ability to read undercurrents, which in turn comes down to having built a sufficiently trusted relationship with people within those currents.

16. Sometimes, everyone who says they know what is going on, is wrong.

17. Every time you describe someone in your own country as a terrorist, a freedom is taken away from a person in another country.

18. Every country has its own notion of “terrorism”, and the overuse, and reaction to the term in your country helps legitimise the crack-down of restive populations in other countries.

17. China is still arguably the lowest-trust consumer society in the world. If a product can be faked it will be. Out of necessity, they also have the most savvy consumers in the world.

18. After twenty years of promising to deliver, Chinese solar products are now practical (available for purchase, affordable, sufficiently efficient, robust) for any community on the edge-of-grid, anywhere in the world. Either shared, or sole ownership.

20. When a fixed price culture meets a negotiation culture, fun ensues.

21. The sharing economy is alive and well, and has nothing to with your idea of the sharing economy.

25. Chinese truckers plying their trade along the silk road deserve to be immortalised as the the frontiersmen of our generation. (They are always male.)

29. The most interesting places have map coordinates, but no names.

30. There are are number of companies with a competitive smartphone portfolio. The rise of Oppo can be explained by its presence on every block of 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th tier Chinese cities.

32. People wearing fake Supreme are way more interesting than those that wear the real deal.

33. An iPhone box full of fungus caterpillar in Kham Tibet sold wholesale, is worth more than a fully specced iPhone. It’s worth 10x at retail in 1st/2nd Tier China. It is a better aphrodisiac too.

35. One of the more interesting aspects of very high net worth individuals (the financial 0.001%), is the entourage that they attract, and the interrelations between members of that entourage. This is my first time travelling with a spiritual leader (the religious 0.001%), whose entourage included disciples, and members of the financial 0.01% looking for a karmic handout. The behaviour of silicon valley’s nouveau riche is often parodied but when it comes to weirdness, faith trumps money every time. Any bets on the first Silicon Valley billionaire to successfully marry the two? Or vice versa?

37. For every person that longs for nature, there are two that long for man-made.

38. Tibetan monks prefer iOS over Android.

40. In order to size up the tribe/sub-tribe you’re part of, any group of young males will first look at the shoes on your feet.

42. After the Urumqi riots in 2009 the Chinese government cut of internet connectivity to Xinjiang province for a full year. Today connectivity is so prevalent and integrated into every aspect of Xinjiang society, that cutting it off it would hurt the state’s ability to control the population more than hinder their opposition. There are many parts to the current state strategy is to limit subversion, the most visible of which is access to the means of travel. For example every gas station between Kashi and Urumqi has barbed wire barriers at its gates, and someone checking IDs.

43. TV used to be the primary way for the edge-of-grid have-nots to discover what they want to have. Today it is seeing geotagged images from nearby places, sometimes hundreds of kilometres away.

44. Facebook entering China would be a Pyrrhic victory, that would lead to greater scrutiny and regulation worldwide. Go for it.

45. The sooner western companies own up to copying WeChat, the sooner we can get on with acknowledging a significant shift in the global creative center of gravity.

48. Green tea beats black tea for acclimatising to altitude sickness.

49. The most interesting destinations aren’t geotagged, are not easily geo-taggable. Bonus points if you can figure that one out.

50. The first time you confront a leader, never do it in front of their followers, they’ll have no way to back down.

51. There is more certainty in reselling the past, than inventing the future.

55. Pockets of Chengdu are starting to out-cool Tokyo.

56. To what extent does cultural continuity, and societal harmony comes from three generations under one roof?

58. If you want to understand where a country is heading pick a 2nd or 3rd tier city and revisit it over many years. Chengdu remains my bellwether 2nd tier Chinese city. It’s inland, has a strong local identity and sub-cultures, and has room to grow. Bonus: its’ only a few hours from some of the best mountain ranges in the world.

60. The difference between 2.5G and 3G? In the words of a smartphone wielding GBAO teenager on the day 3G data was switched on her town, “I can breathe”."
janchipchase  2016  travel  technology  borders  authenticity  pretension  curiosity  china  tibet  japan  eligion  culture  capitalism  wechat  facebook  android  ios  tokyo  chengdu  future  past  communication  tea  greentea  certainty  monks  translation  nature  indonesia  nigeria  brasil  brazil  india  shoes  connectivity  internet  mobile  phones  smartphones  sharingeconomy  economics  negotiation  touchid  cities  urban  urbanism  location  risk  relationships  consumers  terrorism  truckers  oppo  siliconvalley  wealth  nouveauriche  comparison  generations 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Ghost in the machine: Snapchat isn’t mobile-first — it’s something else entirely — Free Code Camp
"Snapchat is not mobile-first, and it’s not really an app anymore. Nor is it a meta-app platform at this point like Facebook Messenger is angling to become (at least not yet). Snapchat is a true creature of mobile, a living, breathing embodiment of everything that our camera-enabled, networked pocket computer can possibly offer. And in its cooption of smartphones into a true social operating system, we see the inklings of what is beyond mobile.
When I open Snapchat up to the camera, I can’t shake the feeling that the ghost is banging on the glass, trying to break out into the world."
snapchat  benbasche  2016  photography  ar  augmentedreality  design  ux  ui  media  susansontag  nathanjurgenson  cameras  feeds  mobile  mobilefirst  twitter  facebook  instagram  experience  socialmedia  smartphones  uber  authenticallymobile  evanspiegel 
july 2016 by robertogreco
The Device is the Message
["THE-DEVICE-IS-THE-MESSAGE_PART_I"
http://blog.newhive.com/the-device-is-the-message_part_i/v

"The Device is the Message by Liliana Farber

Storage Un.it is a small project space located in a storage unit @ arebyte Gallery in London. The space features a series of projects, which take place online and investigate the relationship between the URL & IRL. The space was initiated in Nov 2015 as part of ‘The Wrong’ online Biennale.

The second residency in storage-un.it is artist Liliana Farber and her work titled the-device-is-the-message_Part_I.

The work focuses on the idea of the smartphone as an active agent in the way we interact with the real world, the art world and the online world, but also with each other. Confrontations become digitized and repercussions between the machine and its user are staged virtually.

In relation to the way in which the smartphone has become integral to the modern world, Farber will interrogate how this reliance affects real interactions — but also how the specific language of the virtual is shaping our perceptions of time, space and place in the real. The symbiotic relationship between the user, the machine and the notion of privacy is of interest for the artist and will be explored further via recordings and research with relation to her personal data usage.

A precise intimacy is at play between the user and the screen; private experiences are created but can also become part of the public domain. This idea of the boundaries between public and private can be seen by the way in which Farber is conducting her research and documenting the project’s progress. All aspects are continually updated via NewHive, and viewers can watch the project update in real time through September 10th, 2016.

Once the online residency is completed, the research undertaken will be presented in an exhibition displayed through the smartphone screen – both reflecting on the temporal nature of imagery and our constant exposure to content, a comment on the sub-sequential reliance on the screen to divulge information."]
thedeviceisthemessage  lilianafarber  newhive  smartphones  mobile  art  2016  privacy  online  internet  phones  time  space  place  public  private  imagery  netart 
july 2016 by robertogreco
The brain in your pocket - Daniel Willingham
"Thinking is taxing and people don’t much like it. Psychologists describe this phenomenon with the term cognitive miserliness, coined by Robyn Dawes in the ‘70s—we think when we feel we have to, and otherwise avoid it.

We use two strategies to avoid thinking. If the situation seems similar to one we’ve seen before, we rely on memory and do whatever we did last time. (Retrieving from memory incurs little cognitive cost.) My late colleague, Dan Wegner, had one dish he would order for lunch at each restaurant we frequented. He explained to me, “That way I don’t have to think.”

If the situation is unfamiliar memory won’t work, but you can often get away with heuristics—quick, cognitively inexpensive processing routines that provide an answer, often a good one. One heuristic would be association—produce an answer that is associated in memory with whatever seems to be the key term in the problem.

A classic problem to measure miserly thinking is this:

A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost? cents.

The “not really thinking about it” answer is “10 cents.” You see the word “more,” figure the problem calls for subtraction, perform that operation for the two numbers in the problem, boom, 10 cents. But you don’t check your work.

The last twenty-five years has brought a new strategy: find the answer on the internet. (For the lazy, here you go.) And in the last five, smartphones have become inexpensive enough to deeply penetrate the consumer market--64% of US adults own one.

[Picture]

With this new route to miserliness, are people less likely to analyze, and more likely to use the Internet as a sort of external memory? A new study indicates the answer is “maybe, for heavy users.”

Researchers at University of Waterloo conducted three studies examining the association between self-reported smartphone use and performance on questions like the ball-and-bat problem. They separated respondents into low- medium- and high-smartphone usage groups. They found no difference between the low and medium groups, but the high usage group was less accurate on the analytic problems.

Researchers found that the effect held for total number of minutes subjects reported using their smartphones, and for search engine use, but not number of minutes spent on entertainment sites (YouTube, Reddit) or social media sites (Facebook, Snapchat). So the researchers were able to confirm a somewhat more fine-grained version of their hypothesis that people who are more cognitively miserly are more likely to search information out on their smartphone.

Researchers also reported a negative correlation between smartphone use and cognitive ability (as measured by brief numeracy and verbal intelligence tests), an association reported in previous research. The reason is not clear. It may be that low-cognitive-ability people seek information—look up a word meaning, calculate a tip—that high-ability people have in their heads.

The authors rightly point out that their study should be thought of as just the start of what will have to be a much broader research program (or set of programs) examining how people interact with technology that can be provide cognitive support, and that is nearly always available to us. The idea of “external memory”—that we know information useful to us is available, even though it is stored in others and in recorded sources—is very old. William James discussed it Principles of Psychology over 100 years ago. Dan Wegner proposed a particular conceptualization of this idea in 1985.

New technology has made external memory complicated and the need for understanding it more urgent. Many of us spend a lot of time with our smartphones—is it making us more cognitively miserly, or are misers simply taking advantage of a new opportunity? What are the costs and benefits of either change?

​The ideal design would be to examine short- and long-term changes in individual habits when people first gain access to a smartphone, but the opportunity to conduct such a study is fast disappearing."
danielwillingham  education  technology  2016  smartphones  williamjames  danwegner  memory  socialmedia  psychology 
may 2016 by robertogreco
Frances Stonor Saunders · Where on Earth are you? · LRB 3 March 2016
"The one border we all cross, so often and with such well-rehearsed reflexes that we barely notice it, is the threshold of our own home. We open the front door, we close the front door: it’s the most basic geographical habit, and yet one lifetime is not enough to recount all our comings and goings across this boundary. What threshold rites do you perform before you leave home? Do you appease household deities, or leave a lamp burning in your tabernacle? Do you quickly pat down pockets or bag to check you have the necessary equipment for the journey? Or take a final check in the hall mirror, ‘to prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet’?

You don’t have a slave to guard your door, as the ancients did, so you set the alarm (or you set the dog, cave canem). Keys? Yes, they’re in your hand. You have ‘the power of the keys’, the right of possession that connects you to thousands of years of legal history, to the rights of sovereigns and states, to the gates of salvation and damnation. You open the door, step through, and turn to close it – through its diminishing arc, the details of your life inside recede. ‘On one side, me and my place,’ Georges Perec wrote:
The private, the domestic (a space overfilled with my possessions: my bed, my carpet, my table, my typewriter, my books, my odd copies of the Nouvelle Revue française); on the other side, other people, the world, the public, politics. You can’t simply let yourself slide from one into the other, can’t pass from one to the other, neither in one direction nor in the other. You have to have the password, have to cross the threshold, have to show your credentials, have to communicate … with the world outside.

You lock the door. You’ve crossed the border. You’ve ignored Pascal’s warning that all humanity’s misery derives from not being able to sit alone in a quiet room. When the Savoyard aristocrat Xavier De Maistre was sentenced to six weeks’ house arrest for duelling in 1790, he turned his detention into a grand imaginary voyage. ‘My room is situated on the 45th degree of latitude,’ he records in A Journey around my Room. ‘It stretches from east to west; it forms a long rectangle, 36 paces in perimeter if you hug the wall.’ And so he sets off, charting a course from his desk towards a painting hung in a corner, and from there he continues obliquely towards the door, but is waylaid by his armchair, which he sits in for a while, poking the fire, daydreaming. Then he bestirs himself again, presses north towards his bed, the place where ‘for one half of our life’ we forget ‘the sorrows of the other half’. And so on, ‘from the expedition of the Argonauts to the Assembly of Notables, from the lowest depths of hell to the last fixed star beyond the Milky Way, to the confines of the universe, to the gates of chaos’. ‘This,’ he declares, ‘is the vast terrain which I wander across in every direction at leisure.’

Whether around your room in forty days, or around the world in eighty days, or around the Circle Line in eighty minutes, whether still or still moving, the self is an act of cartography, and every life a study of borders. The moment of conception is a barrier surpassed, birth a boundary crossed. Günter Grass’s Oskar, the mettlesome hero of The Tin Drum, narrates, in real time, his troubling passage through the birth canal and his desire, once delivered into the world, to reverse the process. The room is cold. A moth beats against the naked light bulb. But it’s too late to turn back, the midwife has cut the cord.

Despite this uncommon ability to report live on his own birth, even Oskar’s power of self-agency is subject to the one inalienable rule: there is only one way into this life, and one way out of it. Everything that happens in between – all the thresholds we cross and recross, all the ‘decisions and revisions that a minute will reverse’ – is bordered by this unbiddable truth. What we hope for is safe passage between these two fixed boundaries, to be able to make something of the experience of being alive before we are required to stop being alive. There’s no negotiating birth or death. What we have is the journey.

On the evening of 3 October 2013, a boat carrying more than five hundred Eritreans and Somalis foundered just off the tiny island of Lampedusa. In the darkness, locals mistook their desperate cries for the sound of seagulls. The boat sank within minutes, but survivors were in the water for five hours, some of them clinging to the bodies of their dead companions as floats. Many of the 368 people who drowned never made it off the capsizing boat. Among the 108 people trapped inside the bow was an Eritrean woman, thought to be about twenty years old, who had given birth as she drowned. Her waters had broken in the water. Rescue divers found the dead infant, still attached by the umbilical cord, in her leggings. The longest journey is also the shortest journey.

Already, in the womb, our brains are laying down neural pathways that will determine how we perceive the world and our place in it. Cognitive mapping is the way we mobilise a definition of who we are, and borders are the way we protect this definition. All borders – the lines and symbols on a map, the fretwork of walls and fences on the ground, and the often complex enmeshments by which we organise our lives – are explanations of identity. We construct borders, literally and figuratively, to fortify our sense of who we are; and we cross them in search of who we might become. They are philosophies of space, credibility contests, latitudes of neurosis, signatures to the social contract, soothing containments, scars.

They’re also death zones, portals to the underworld, where explanations of identity are foreclosed. The boat that sank half a mile from Lampedusa had entered Italian territorial waters, crossing the imaginary line drawn in the sea – the impossible line, if you think about it. It had gained the common European border, only to encounter its own vanishing point, the point at which its human cargo simply dropped off the map. Ne plus ultra, nothing lies beyond.

I have no theory, no grand narrative to explain why so many people are clambering into their own hearses before they are actually dead. I don’t understand the mechanisms by which globalisation, with all its hype of mobility and the collapse of distance and terrain, has instead delivered a world of barricades and partition, in which entire populations seem to be living – and dying – in a different history from mine. All I know is that a woman who believed in the future drowned while giving birth, and we have no idea who she was. And it’s this, her lack of known identity, which places us, who are fat with it, in direct if hopelessly unequal relationship to her.

Everyone reading this has a verified self, an identity, formed through and confirmed by identification, that is attested to be ‘true’. You can’t function in the world without it: you can’t open a bank account, get a credit card or national insurance number, or a driving licence, or access to your email and social media accounts, or a passport or visa, or points on your reward card. You can’t have your tonsils removed without it. You can’t die without it. Whether you’re conscious of it or not, whether you like it or not, the verified self is the governing calculus of your life, the spectrum on which you, as an individual, are plotted from cradle to grave. As Pierre-Joseph Proudhon explained, you must be ‘noted, registered, enumerated, accounted for, stamped, measured, classified, audited, patented, licensed, authorised, endorsed, reprimanded, prevented, reformed, rectified and corrected, in every operation, every transaction, every movement.’"



"All migrants know that the reply to the question ‘Who on earth are you?’ is another question: ‘Where on earth are you?’ And so they want what we’ve got, a verified self that will transport them to our side of history. Thus, the migrant identity becomes a burden to be unloaded. Migrants often make the journey without identity documents, and I mentioned one reason for this, namely that the attempt to obtain them in their country of origin can be very dangerous. Others lose them at the outset when they’re robbed by police or border guards, or by people traffickers en route. Many destroy them deliberately because they fear, not without reason, that our system of verification will be a mechanism for sending them back. In Algeria, they’re called harraga, Arabic for ‘those who burn’. And they don’t only burn their documents: many burn their fingertips on hobs or with lighters or acid, or mutilate them with razors, to avoid biometric capture and the prospect of expulsion. These are the weapons of the weak.

The boat carrying more than five hundred Eritreans and Somalis sank off Lampedusa in October 2013, barely three months after the pope’s visit. Whether they had lost their identity papers, or destroyed them, when facing death the people on board wanted to be known. As the boat listed and took on water, and with most of the women and children stuck below deck, those who knew they wouldn’t make it called out their names and the names of their villages, so that survivors might carry ashore news of their deaths.​5 There isn’t really any other way: there’s no formal identification procedure for those who drown. In Lampedusa’s cemetery, the many plaques that read ‘unidentified migrant’ merely tell us that people have been dying in the Mediterranean for at least 25 years – more than twenty thousand of them, according to current estimates.

Everyone must be counted, but only if they count. Dead migrants don’t count. The woman who drowned while giving birth was not a biometric subject, she was a biodegradable one. I don’t want to reconstitute her as a sentimental artefact, an object to be smuggled into the already crowded room of my bad conscience. But … [more]
borders  identity  cartography  francesstonorsaunders  georgesperec  lampedusa  güntergrass  refugees  identification  personhood  geopolitics  legibility  mobility  passports  pierre-josephproudhon  globalization  thresholds  homes  milankundera  socialmedia  digitalexhaust  rfid  data  privacy  smartphones  verification  biometrics  biometricdata  migration  immigration  popefrancis  facialidentification  visas  paulfussell  stefanzweig  xenophobia  naomimitchison  nobility  surveillance  intentionality  gilbertharding  whauden  lronhubbard  paulekman 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Vertical video is becoming more popular, but there’s no consensus on the best way to make it » Nieman Journalism Lab
"Some outlets are turning their cameras sideways. Others are cropping horizontally shot video to fit a vertical screen."



"Hiking through the hills above Otta, Norway, a town of 1,700 about a four-hour drive north of Oslo, a team from the Norwegian public broadcaster NRK realized it would have to take a new approach to filming the vistas for the interactive documentary it was creating.

As part of a company-wide effort to improve mobile strategy, the documentary — which focused on how Otta was adapting to a refugee center that opened in a shuttered hotel — was filmed vertically, using a camera rotated 90 degrees to the side. Staffers built a special grip to hold the camera steadily sideways.

“When you go up to the Norwegian mountains, it’s really beautiful, and you’re used to seeing the landscape in horizontal mode,” NRK’s Kim Jansson, who led the project, told me.

“You need to adjust your way of thinking. ‘OK, we need to cut off the left and right sides, what can we do to make it work vertically?’ We used trees to make people see how tall things are: How big the mountains are, how tall the buildings are,” he said. “You can get a different perspective. You just have to change your mind a little bit to see the opportunities that you don’t have when you’re filming horizontally.”

As mobile consumption continues to grow, news outlets — especially those publishing on Snapchat Discover — are turning to vertical video, a format that was once widely derided, to optimize their content for viewing on phones.

According to analyst Mary Meeker, users use vertically oriented devices nearly 30 percent of the time, up from just 5 percent in 2010. And more than 7 billion videos are viewed each day on Snapchat, which is specifically designed for vertical consumption.

But even as outlets ranging from National Geographic to Mashable and Vox create vertical videos, there’s no consensus on the best way to actually produce them. Some organizations, such as NRK, decided to rotate their cameras and film vertically, while others have decided to shoot the traditional horizontal way and then adapt the footage to fit a vertical screen."



"Mashable has decided its best bet is to just film horizontally. In its early days on Snapchat Discover, Mashable tried filming vertically by using a phone camera and by flipping a DSLR camera sideways. Later, it decided to shoot all its videos on a camera that’s oriented horizontally, said Mashable creative director Jeff Petriello.

“In terms of quality, and for the content to live on in as many forms as possible, shooting it on at least a 4K camera horizontal has proven to be the most efficient,” he said.

Petriello estimated that only a third of the vertical content Mashable creates actually requires a camera. The rest is created through animation and design using programs such as Adobe After Effects.

Vox also predominantly uses animations for its Snapchat Discover channel, and Yvonne Leow, Vox’s senior Snapchat editor, said there’s been “a bit of a learning curve” as Vox’s designers figured out the best ways to create graphics or other visualizations for a vertical screen.

When it does use live video on Snapchat Discover, Vox shoots horizontally. If Vox is shooting an in-studio interview, the videographer will frame the subject in the center of the frame so the video can be easily readjusted to a vertical orientation.

Vox also lays graphics over its interviews, and by using a center-focused shot, it’s able to adapt the graphics to the orientation of the final version.

The New York Times took this approach last year when it produced a video about the collaboration by Justin Bieber, Skrillex, and Diplo. It produced three different versions of the video — a 16:9 ratio for its own player and YouTube, 3:4 for tablets, and 9:16 for a vertical orientation on phones — and adjusted the graphics for each view.

Figuring out the best way to present vertical video on screens that aren’t phones can take a little ingenuity.

Mashable has published a handful of vertical videos outside of Snapchat Discover, and when they’re viewed on desktop, those videos are embedded in the left-hand column of a story.

For its interactive about the refugees, NRK, the Norwegian broadcaster, showed large quotes next to the vertical video when it was viewed on desktop.

But NRK estimated that 66 percent of viewers watched the videos on mobile, and the interactive was one of NRK’s most-consumed stories of 2015, even though it wasn’t published until the last week of December.

Jansson’s team is heading back into the field this month to begin its next vertical documentary. This time, they’ll try to add more motion into the video.

“There wasn’t a lot happening in the videos last time around,” he said. “We’re going to see if it’s possible to make that work a little bit better this time. But we’re going to do more or less the same thing. We’ve only done this once through, and we need more practice.”"
video  verticalvideo  portraitvideo  mobile  mobilefirst  2016  josephlichterman  snapchat  vox  mashable  nytimes  nationalgeographic  smartphones 
february 2016 by robertogreco
WhatsApp Is How Facebook Will Dominate the World | WIRED
"HERE IN NORTH America, mobile Internet traffic is dominated by YouTube and Facebook. So says Sandvine, a company with an unusually good view of the world’s Internet activity. YouTube accounts for nearly 20 percent of all mobile traffic, and Facebook tops 16 percent.

This is what you’d expect. Streaming video from a service like YouTube eats up more network bandwidth than any other type of online application, and in recent years, our smartphones and wireless networks have matured to the point where watching video from a handheld device is a common thing. Facebook is a social networking service, and video is now a primary part of the way people use it.

But the situation elsewhere in the world may surprise you. Take Africa, for instance. In terms of mobile traffic, the continent’s most dominant service is a tool that many in the US haven’t even heard of: WhatsApp.

WhatsApp is the smartphone messaging app Facebook bought for about $22 billion last year, and according to Sandvine—which helps big ISPs monitor and manage all the bits moving across their networks—it accounts for nearly 11 percent of all traffic to and from mobile devices in Africa.

This shows just how popular WhatsApp is across the continent, in large part because it lets people exchange texts without paying big fees to carriers. And it shows that people are using the service for more than just texting. Like other messaging services, it’s a way of trading photos and videos, too. And this year, the company expanded the service so it can make Internet phone calls, echoing services like Skype. According to Dan Deeth—the author of a new report from Sandvine on Internet traffic trends—those high traffic numbers reflect a shift towards voice calling as well as photo and video sharing.

“It’s a mix,” he says. “The texting is the smallest part. Once you get into photos and sending videos to each other and voice calling, that’s when traffic really starts to creep up.”

[image]

Differences in Evolution

In a larger sense, this shows that the Internet is evolving differently in the developing world than it has here in the US. Because network and phone technologies aren’t as mature—and because people have less money to spend on tech—low-bandwidth messaging apps like WhatsApp have become a primary gateway onto the Internet as whole. In Africa, web browsing accounts for 22 percent of mobile traffic, about twice as much as WhatsApp. But no other individual service is even close to WhatsApp’s numbers. Not YouTube. Not BitTorrent. Not Facebook."

[via: "On what makes WhatsApp popular in low-income countries. But the piece overlooks stability. http://www.wired.com/2015/12/new-stats-show-whatsapp-is-how-facebook-will-dominate-the-world/ "
https://twitter.com/anxiaostudio/status/674604771177717761

"WhatsApp is stable and useable under very low/mixed bandwidth conditions. Unlike WeChat and Line it works well on small screens too."
https://twitter.com/anxiaostudio/status/674605226914000896

"Examples re WhatsApp: message queuing when you're offline; low bandwidth mode for voice calls (audio compression)" "@anxiaostudio Wow how do they optimize for the low bandwidth conditions?" https://twitter.com/judemwenda/status/674605980634783745 ""
https://twitter.com/anxiaostudio/status/674608959026675713

"The message queue in WhatsApp shouldn't be overlooked. Most messaging apps give you a permanent error when your note doesn't go through."
https://twitter.com/anxiaostudio/status/674609623236673536

"The little clock next to your note is an assurance from WhatsApp: we'll send this as soon as we can (i.e., you have a connection again)"
https://twitter.com/anxiaostudio/status/674609934135263233 ]
whatsapp  2015  facebook  messaging  mobile  phones  stability  bandwidth  usability  ux  applications  smartphones  connectivity  networking  communication  offline  voicecalls  compression  audiocompression 
december 2015 by robertogreco
The Digital Disparities Facing Lower-Income Teenagers - The New York Times
"The study found some overarching themes. Teens and tweens, for instance, generally reported spending much more time watching television than they did on social media.

The study also analyzed the differences in children’s media use based on entertainment prototypes — such as mobile gamers, social networkers and heavy consumers of television and music — and by race, gender, household income and parents’ level of education.

The stark differences in daily activities among teenage and tween subgroups are likely to spur further research into the implications of such divergent media access and use.

“The reason that we need to be concerned about disparities here is that technology and media are now part and parcel of growing up in America,” said Ellen Wartella, the director of the Center on Media and Human Development at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. A professor of communication, she has conducted research on children, media and race.

“When there are disparities, even if it’s a question of how smart your phone is, teens and tweens may not have access to what they need — not just for school, but for other parts of their lives as well,” Dr. Wartella said. “They aren’t able to participate in the way that more wealthy teens and tweens are able to.”

The study also found that, while black teenagers and teenagers in lower-income households had fewer computers at home, those who did have access to smartphones and tablets typically spent more time using them each day than their white or higher-income peers."
us  inequality  digitaldivide  2015  teens  youth  socialmedia  media  television  tv  smartphones  laptops  computing  internet  web  online  ellenwartella 
november 2015 by robertogreco
Failures of Our Global Imagination | Civicist
"The problem with first world problems, and why we need to shift the way we talk about global tech"



"It’s time to abandon the First World/Third World dichotomy. Whether or not this dichotomy was a helpful one at some point in the past, it’s no longer helpful now. The “Third World” has glittering skyscrapers and glowing smartphones, and the “First World” has decaying neighborhoods and entire swaths of the country without broadband. There are very real and important differences between rich and poor countries, and these dynamics play out at the level of international relations, all the way down to the mundane and often humiliating work of applying for visas. But this framing creates a divide that limits our capacity to understand the vast spectra of the way human beings live in the 21st century. I don’t yet have a better vocabulary for this, but I hope someone smarter than me can figure that out. For now, I do use the phrases “developing world,” “global south,” and “poor countries,” but I’d like to have a better framework. Any suggestions?

Remember the diversity of ways we use communications technology: that includes connecting with people we care about and depend on. In contrast to narratives about vanity, slacktivism, and luxury when it comes to tech in the middle-class West, so much of the conversation about technology in the global south focuses on information and practical communications, like around agricultural trends and educational material. This is good and important work. But highly pragmatic use cases are just part of the reason anyone has used communications technology. Informal markets from Asia to Africa are filled with music and movies, like a Bluetooth-powered Napster, and people are just as likely to send text messages and Facebook posts to check in with friends and loved ones as they are to access important healthcare information and market reports. These things can coexist.

Like a city, the internet and mobile phones provide for a vast diversity of human needs, which include the basic human need for companionship, support, and access to joy in the face of suffering. Fortunately, this part of the global imagination doesn’t require too much effort: Just think of how everyone you know uses technology, the number of apps, the different ways they laugh, smile, cry, and scowl at what they see behind those plates of glass.

Shifting the narrative is such a critical part of the motivation behind my work with global internet cultures, and the above are just a few ideas for how I think we can do that. But more important than trying to know everything about the world is establishing a culture of knowing that we don’t know. The assumption that we can parachute into a foreign culture with formal expertise and knowledge and make things better has never been acceptable, and it has led to a lot of unnecessary suffering, especially in colonized countries. The fact that people in marginalized parts of the world can now call out misguided attitudes and perceptions about them will go a long way, and those of us with access to media and policy can do well to amplify and extend these voices.

But it is also not possible to know every detail about other people’s lives. Attention is limited, as is time. We can learn everything we can about the day to day of rural Laos, but the conflict in Mali will seem completely opaque. Instead, it’s more important to know that we don’t know, know that we need to listen to those who have greater familiarity, and to know that there are ways to go further. Adopting an attitude of humility and curiosity can take us much farther than an attitude of assuredness and assumption. This seems to me like a good place to start—and if you have other and better ideas, I’d love to hear them."

[Also posted here: https://medium.com/@anxiaostudio/failures-of-our-global-imagination-8648b2336c2c ]
anxiaomina  firstworldproblems  internet  thirdworld  firstworld  diversity  slacktivism  vanity  luxury  technology  globalsouth  communication  asia  africa  latinamerica  mobile  phones  smartphones  selfies  advocacy  refugees  2015  privilege  narrative  empathy  thirdworldproblems 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Livraison vingt-quatre : PK, pagers, iPod Touch et feature phones + Lee Scratch Perry
"2. Pagers, iPod Touch et feature phones

Dans son ouvrage "Quoi de neuf ?" publié en 2006, l’historien anglais David Edgerton observait la persistance, la "résistance" ou la ré-introduction de "vieilles techniques". Il citait notamment la résurgence de la télévision par cable dans les années 1980s (après avoir été en vogue dans les années 1950s) ou l’acupuncture (à son paroxysme au XIXème puis de retour depuis trente ans).

Un autre exemple historique marquant dans son livre est celui l'importance du cheval durant la Seconde Guerre mondiale:
"L’armée allemande, si souvent décrite comme reposant sur des formations blindées, eut bien plus de chevaux durant la Seconde Guerre mondiale que n’en eut l’armée britannique durant la Grande Guerre. Le réarmement de l’Allemagne, dans les années 1930, passa par un achat massif de chevaux, au point qu’en 1939 cette armée en possédait 590 000, et en avait 3 millions d’autres en réserve dans l’ensemble du pays. […] Début 1945, la Wehrmacht disposait de 1.2 millions de chevaux ; on estime à 1.5 millions les pertes en chevaux accumulés durant la guerre."

Avec ces exemples, Edgerton nous rend attentif au fait que "le temps technologique ne va pas uniquement vers l’avant"; et qu’il n’y a donc pas un bel ordonnancement chronologique. En adoptant le point de vue des usages des objets techniques, on peut regarder différents “mondes technologiques” et s’apercevoir de la diversité des pratiques. C’est un sujet qui intéresse votre correspondant dans le cadre d’un projet d’enquête sur les téléphones mobiles. En cherchant dans mes notes de terrain je suis tombés sur quelques cas de ce genre (( dans l’app Notes sur mon téléphone, j’ai une Note nommée "Livefieldnotes" dans laquelle je consigne mes observations concernant les usages des téléphones mobiles. C’est écrit à la volée sur le terrain donc avec des fautes d’orthographes et un certain laconisme ))

Voici les notes en questions:
23.08.2015 - train Genève - Lausanne Un homme regarde son pager Motorola, une technologie que je pensais disparue... Mais qui semble encore exister à ce que je lis sur le site de sigmacom.ch et qui sert des "besoins professionnels" avec des èchanges de messages alphanumeriques. Il dit mystérieusement l'utiliser du fait de sa fiabilité : "ça marche partout meme dans les zones a faible reseau de telephone, le fabricant me dit que ca joue a 99% partout dans le pays"

11.08.2015 - Genève, square Chantepoulet Rencontre avec J. un chercheur suisse-allemand, qui sort ses deux telephones (un iPod Touch et un vieux Nokia), il n'a pas de data plan et dit aussi utiliser cette combinaison d’appareils "pour se proteger des distractions". Il me dit utilise le Nokia (un feature phone noir) pour les appels, et le iPod Touch pour l’accès aux apps. Et s’il a besoin d’être connecté au Web mobile pour browser ou certaines apps, il le fait dans les lieux où il y a du Wifi

8.08.2015 - Geneve, marché aux puces Discussion avec un vendeur de telephone mobile genre nokia 3210 d'occasion (30chf), se vend bien, pour les gens qui n'arrivent pas bien a utiliser les smartphone "c trop complique", par exemple me dit le vendeur dans son francais approx: "par exemple une dame qui vient et dit que son fils lui a offert un iphone et elle comprend rien... Elle m'achete ce nokia [3310] et elle sait faire, elle recoit l'appel elle appuie sur le bouton et c bon; donc j'en vends toujours un peu"

Ces exemples, pris parmi d’autres, sont intéressants à plusieurs niveaux. D’abord parce qu’il montre la persistance et la diversité des usages d’objets techniques généralement considérés comme moins à la page (sans jeu de mot aucun sur le premier). Ensuite car ils renvoient à un autre aspect discuté par Edgerton : celle de la prétendue “résistance aux techniques nouvelles”, problèmes parfois abordés par psychologues ou historiens. Or, comme il l’explique, “il est absurde de parler de résistance à la technique ou à l’innovation dans un monde dont les individus ou les sociétés n’acceptent pas nécessairement toute innovation – ou, en fait – tout produit qui leur est proposée. De toute façon, il y a résistance. En adoptant une technique, la société résiste nécessairement à de nombreuses techniques substitutives ‘anciennes’ et ’nouvelles’.” Les pagers très fiables, les features phones en sont de bons exemples. Et l’usage des iPod Touch, à la manière de J., était d’ailleurs précisément proposé dans un article récent de la revue Wired comme l’un des système de communication les plus sécurisé à l'heure actuelle. Même si ces usages ne sont pas majoritaires – tout dépend où ! – ils existent et nous rappellent que différents critères influent sur les choix d'utilisation.

Cette combinaison d'objets techniques est d'ailleurs ce qui pêche souvent dans les vidéos prospectifs des grandes sociétés technologiques. On ne voit que des appareils rutilants, les dernières interfaces, alors que la réalité des pratiques correspond davantage à une grande diversité. C'est certes moins glorieux (un téléphone non-tactile ferait-il tâche à côté d'Hololense ?) mais bien plus plausible. Mon collègue du Near Future Laboratory Nic Foster utilisait dans cet article de Core77 une métaphore géologique pour ce phénomène : celui de l'accrétion qui lui permettait d'en discuter les enjeux deson point de vue de designer:
"In order to communicate our vision, it may be helpful to incorporate the existing designed space in parallel with the new. On a very practical level, we should embrace legacy technologies when conceiving new ones. Ethnographic studies constantly highlight technology accretion: the drawer full of cables, the old interaction behaviors, the dusty hard drives, the mouse mats and inherited hardware. Rather than avoid this complexity, good science fiction embraces accretive spaces, where contemporary design and technology sits side by side with older artifacts. In some cases, this technique can be used to show potential disconnects between the new and established, places where technology sticks out like a sore thumb. This is a useful tool for all designers and using it well can help us depict a more tangible future."

Comme il l'exprime ici, cette prise en compte de la diversité des pratiques peut stimuler la rechercher de voies originales. Dans le cas des mobiles, c'est la raison pour laquelle on voit toujours des produits pertinents basés sur des pagers aujourd'hui (c'est d'ailleurs le cas par exemple avec de la géolocalisation indoor) ou des téléphones servant uniquement à téléphoner... avec des propositions loin d'être inesthétiques, absurdes ou curieuses."
nicolasnova  davidedgerton  technology  time  chronology  nicfoster  designfiction  future  futures  mobilephones  cv  fieldnotes  diversity  tools  mobile  phones  smartphones  complexity  design  novelty  earlyadopters  lateadopters  difference  ipodtouch  innovation 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Smartphones are a lifeline for homeless people | Guardian Sustainable Business | The Guardian
"If you ask someone what they think are the biggest challenges for homeless people, they might say finding a safe place to sleep or a meal to eat. Few would assume that charging a smartphone to check emails would be high on the list.

“When people wonder how or why a homeless person is able to afford a mobile phone, they are making massive assumptions that people are just walking into a shop and buying a phone, whereas it might be that someone has given it to them,” says Hafsah FitzGibbon, partnerships and participation manager for youth homeless charity Centrepoint.

This presents a vexing paradox. While society may view a homeless person’s ownership of a smartphone as an unnecessary extravagance, in reality, experts say, this demographic is one that is most dependent on the technology as a resource for stability. In addition to being an essential way to keep in touch with support services, case workers and to look for jobs or housing, a mobile phone can also serve as an “escape from isolation” and, according to FitzGibbon, a way to create networks to combat social exclusion.

Michael Thompson is a programme manager for Community Awareness Network, an organisation that helps homeless and vulnerable people in Manchester. He explains that when trying to help people who are sleeping on the streets, it’s significantly easier to assist them quickly if they have a mobile phone.

“We were out on the street last night and I met a 20-year-old girl sleeping rough who was able to give me her mobile number,” Thompson says. “I can get her anything she needs now because I have her mobile number and can pass that on to other organisations. We’ll be able to get her off the street quicker because we can always trace back to her.”

When it comes to getting phones into the hands of homeless, there are just a few business-backed projects addressing the issue, mostly based in the US. This year, Citibank, Vodafone, and Google partnered with the Community Technology Alliance to support its Mobile4All project which distributes smartphones to homeless people in California’s San Jose.

Allan Baez, project manager for Mobile4All, says that through his work he consistently sees how mobile phones play a role in stabilising homeless people’s lives.

“Smartphones are incomparable tools for connecting people who are isolated, and empowering homeless and extreme-low-income individuals to access life-changing services and gain self-sufficiency,” says Baez.

As the number of phones in circulation rises due to frequent technology upgrades, slightly out-dated or secondhand devices are increasingly available and affordable. The real challenge for homeless people, Baez and FitzGibbon say, lies in the maintenance of a phone — finding a place to charge it, maintaining a contract, affording a top up or having enough space for necessary apps. For that reason, projects that increase public wireless networks, such as that recently announced by BT and Barclays, are helpful for homeless people as they are not required to go in to a shop or cafe where they might have to purchase something.

“Often homeless people we work with might have both a basic phone for receiving calls and then a smartphone which they can’t afford a contract on, but can use for Wi-Fi,” FitzGibbon says. “It’s common that people will have a phone until they can’t afford it and then they’ll take it to pawn shop or cash converters to pay a bill then buy it back when they can. Many also report that they don’t use text messages but instead use WhatsApp when they’re on Wi-Fi because it’s free.”

Centrepoint is leveraging the prevalence of smartphone usage among its service users by building an app and website. With a £500,000 grant from the Google Impact Challenge, FitzGibbon says the charity wants to build a social network where homeless people can find support and a way to collect data on their experiences of homelessness via self reporting.

She adds that while mobile phones can be a vital tool for homeless people to manage their lives, their most precious resource remains their resilience."
homeless  homelessness  smartphones  communication  mobile  phones  sanjose  hafsahfitzgibbon  centrepoint  michaelthompson  allanbaez  mobile4all 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Smartphones and the Uncertain Future of 'Spatial Thinking' - CityLab
"Your brain is indeed relaxing. In a handful of studies conducted over the last decade in the United States, England, Germany and Japan, researchers have shown that GPS navigation has a generally pernicious effect on the user's ability to remember an environment and reconstruct a route. Toru Ishikawa, a spatial geographer at the University of Tokyo, quantified the difference in a study published earlier this year. Asked to recall various aspects of their surroundings, participants using GPS navigation performed 20 percent worse than their paper-map peers.

As Ishikawa pointed out to me, these findings raise questions beyond urban anthropology. Spatial thinking helps us structure, integrate, and recall ideas. It's less an independent field of study than a foundational skill; a 2006 report from the National Research Council called spatial literacy the "missing link" in the K-12 curriculum at large.

Navigating is among the greatest incubators of that ability. A sophisticated internal map, as a famous study of London cab drivers showed, is tied to greater development in the hippocampus, the brain region responsible for spatial memory. In another study, participants with stronger hippocampus development tended to navigate with complex cognitive maps, while those with less developed spatial memory memorized turn-by-turn directions.

Isn't it ironic: the easier it is for me to get where I'm going, the less I remember how I got there. As a conscious consumer of geographic information, should I be rationing my access to navigation tools—the mental equivalent of taking the stairs instead of taking the elevator?"



"It's too early to toll the bell for human navigation. GPS remains a clumsy accessory for a pedestrian, frustrating on a bicycle, and impossible on a motorcycle. There are indications that regular car commuters, too, may be impervious to the commands of the dashboard gods. "In general, the reason there's traffic is that people take the same way even if there's a different route," says Julie Mossler, head of global communications and creative strategy at Waze. Old highways die hard.

It seems that digital maps haven't rid wayfinding of its personal touch; rather, they are just beginning to properly incorporate it. New products in consumer mapping respond to the hegemonic efficiency of tools from Garmin, TomTom, and others. A handful of services cater solely to joggers. Yahoo Labs is attempting to quantify a nice walk based on crowd-sourced impressions of the city. A Dutch cartographer aims to chart the streets you have or haven't traveled. Every few months, it seems, some entrepreneur is embroiled in controversy over a map service showing neighborhoods that the user should avoid. The worldwide map, like the sprawling territory of the Internet itself, is balkanizing into a set of increasingly specialized "maplications."

The casualty of this gradual fine-tuning, I think, is chance. Routes were once conceived in a febrile mix of logic, accident, and instinct. Today's data-driven apps have mastered logic. They have registered road traffic, train delays, and the other accidents of travel. They have also, by explicitly catering to each of our effable desires, rendered human navigational impulse an eccentricity.

It's still possible, of course, to take a walk or go for a drive; to open your mind and let the city deliver, in Walter Benjamin's phrase, its "hints and instructions." The reverie of wandering, on foot or on wheels, can't be calculated by an algorithm or prescribed by an app.

But technology doesn't go away when you don't use it. From now on, an aimless jaunt is marked not only by openness to the stimuli of the physical world, but by the strain of blocking out their virtual counterparts. Contingent on technophobic self-control, wandering has lost its essential ease."
spatialthinking  cartography  mapping  maps  navigation  2014  via:shannon_mattern  gps  smartphones  orientation  wayfinding  walking  googlemaps  driving  cars  publictransit  memory  henrygrabar 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Welcome to the Age of Digital Imperialism - NYTimes.com
“…the smartphone — for all its indispensability as a tool of business and practicality — is also a bearer of values; it is not a culturally neutral device.”



"And if digital imperialism is happening — if smartphones and other gadgets are bearing cultural freight as they cross borders — there is little doubt as to which nation’s values are hiding in the hold. As of 2013, eight of the world’s top 10 Internet companies by audience were based in the United States, though 81 percent of their online visitors were not. (This fact was made painfully obvious to those users and their governments that same year, when Edward Snowden’s trove of N.S.A. documents showed just how low these American Internet giants had stooped to cooperate with surveillance demands.) Smartphones themselves, from their precision-milled exteriors to their tiled grids of apps on-screen, are patterned largely on Apple’s blueprint, even when designed and made by companies based in South Korea or China. The question is not whether the spread of technology is promulgating, as Hollywood once did, an American vision of what the world should be. Rather, the question is how the rest of the world will respond.

In this Tech and Design issue, we try to see American technology as it looks from elsewhere. In some locales, we focus on industries that are mourning or battling (or both) the arrival of high-tech competition from afar. In others, we linger on homegrown technological creations that face the prospect of displacement as the American juggernaut rolls on. We chart the unexamined footprint of technology on landscapes and languages, on fashion and friendships, far from the California office parks in which so many of these tools are devised and honed.

In Silicon Valley, the notion that technology spreads values is part of the corporate culture — as evidenced in the manifesto that Facebook published, rather incongruously, in the filing papers for its $16 billion I.P.O. three years ago. Declaring at the outset that Facebook was “built to accomplish a social mission,” the document goes on to promise a sort of Facebook revolution: “By giving people the power to share, we are starting to see people make their voices heard on a different scale from what has historically been possible.” It continues: “Through this process, we believe that leaders will emerge across all countries who are pro-Internet and fight for the rights of their people, including the right to share what they want and the right to access all information that people want to share with them.” This evangelical stance, pervasive in the Valley, explains why a major part of Facebook’s and Google’s philanthropic efforts in the past two years has been concentrated on taking Internet access to the developing world. Executives of these companies genuinely believe that over the long run, information technology — including, naturally, the services they themselves provide — is crucial to bettering society.

From the Valley’s perspective, that is, the “power to share” looks less like an imposition of American values and more like a universal social good. But even if we agree with this proposition — as Thailand’s Culture Ministry, for one, might not — there is the more fraught question of what all that sharing adds up to. For individual users, everything about the smartphone nudges them by design to reveal more, to express and connect more. But all the resulting revelations then get rolled up as data that can be offered to governments and corporations — which feel practically compelled, once they know they can obtain it, to parse it all for usable intelligence. For institutions, as with consumers, all resistance recedes once they understand what is possible, once it’s all made to seem not merely acceptable but inevitable and desirable.

This double-edged quality is a hallmark of so many technological innovations today. The same facial recognition software that autotags your photos can autoflag dissidents at the border. The machine-translation engine that lets you flirt in passable French can help spy on multiple continents from a single cubicle. The fitness data you use to adjust your workout might soon forcibly adjust your health-insurance premium. And the stakes have risen considerably as the Valley’s ambitions, during the past few years, have clambered into physical space; in a phenomenon that the venture capitalist Marc Andreessen has famously called “software eating the world,” a new generation of tech companies has encroached on industries like hospitality (Airbnb), transportation (Uber and Lyft), office space (WeWork) and more, bringing a set of tech-inflected values with them.

In old-fashioned 19th-century imperialism, the Christian evangelists made a pretense of traveling separately from the conquering colonial forces. But in digital imperialism, everything travels as one, in the form of the splendid technology itself: salvation and empire, missionary and magistrate, Bible and gun. For all that the world-changing talk of Silicon Valley gets parodied, it is not just empty rhetoric. Over the past decade, it has helped draw so many of the nation’s most driven college graduates to Silicon Valley, the one place in 21st-century America that promises to satisfy both their overweening ambition and their restless craving for social uplift. These unquiet Americans have gone on to design tools that spread values as they create value — a virtuous circle for all who share their virtues."
digital  smartphones  internet  google  facebook  culture  imperialism  digitalimperialism  values  siliconvalley  technology  us  billwasik 
june 2015 by robertogreco
The phone app challenging violence against women in a Mumbai slum | KumKum Dasgupta | Global development | The Guardian
"Domestic abuse is rife in Dharavi slum, but a new project uses a smartphone app and trained community workers to improve the reporting of violence"



"The app, SNEHA believes, encourages increased reporting of violence, lets community members know what assistance is available, and helps NGOs understand more about the prevalence of violence in Dharavi. The interaction is two-way: sometimes sanginis come to know about a case and approach the survivor; at other times, survivors seek out sanginis to report incidents.

“Our volunteers are trained to advise survivors on [the] availability of medical help and also on how to approach the police.” Once cases are brought to SNEHA’s centre, counsellors help survivors file police reports and offer legal support, says Daruwalla.

Earlier this year, SNEHA promoted its work at the inaugural Dharavi biennale. Using scrap denim pieces and discarded objects, sanginis created an art project called Mapping the Hurt, an innovative visualisation of gender violence in the slum.

But if tracking and reporting violence is one part of the challenge, the next big hurdle is getting the police to act.

“Whenever we go to the police to report on domestic violence, they are reluctant to file a case. They say such issues should be settled at home,” explains Bhanuben. Even if a case is lodged, low conviction rates strengthen the impression that there is little point in reporting the crime. Further, a lack of understanding of gender issues, violence and entrenched views about women’s status among lawyers and judges often encourages outcomes that favour reconciliations, overlooking a woman’s needs and demands.

Data collected from July to December last year by SNEHA showed that of the 345 cases analysed, only 19% were reported to the police."
dharavi  violence  technology  mobile  phones  smartphones  2015  india  sneha  mumbai 
june 2015 by robertogreco
How wealthy kids’ use of social media sets them up for a more successful future - The Washington Post
"In this digital age, we have assumed that smartphones and apps are the new normal for youth. A recently released Pew Research Center report on teens and technology further corroborates this belief by showing that 88 percent of U.S. teens have access to a mobile phone. Of these, 73 percent have smartphones and 15 percent only a basic cell phone.

But it’s worth pausing to consider what online participation looks like for the 15 percent of teens with basic cell phones or the 12 percent who don’t have access to any form of mobile phone and what kind of a new “digital divide” might be emerging. In other words, low-income teens are unable to participate in the social media conversations of their wealthier peers.

Our team at the University of California, Irvine, has been conducting research and developing programs in coding and digital media for these less-connected youth. The nationally representative sample in the Pew data provides context for these populations of urban teens who we work with day-to-day in Southern California.

Teens use of social media

Last summer, we helped organize and conduct research on a digital storytelling course for teens in South Los Angeles. The 30 teens who participated all came from low-income households, were evenly split in gender and were predominantly Latino, with some black and Asian participants.

We designed one program around photo-sharing apps and mobile phone cameras, as we believed that was what teens would be most comfortable doing. It turned out, however, that none of them had an Instagram account and few had ever shared a photo online. We were struck by the contrast between the subjects of our study and those in the Pew study.

More recently, we conducted interviews with 14 teens in the same demographic, who were participating in a workshop using the Scratch programming platform, a creative online learning tool in which young people can develop and share their stories, animations and games. When we asked the teens participating in this program about their mobile and social media use, all of them said they texted to keep in touch with friends and family. Only half had a smartphone.

None of them used the photo-sharing tool Instagram. Only one used Snapchat, another photo messaging tool. They did have Facebook accounts, but none described themselves as active on the site. In a group interview, one of the boys called out the one boy who did use Snapchat: “We are all ghosts on social media except you. You have Snapchat.”

What’s notable is that these low-income teens do not use the social media in ways their wealthier peers do. One of our interviewees notes that she doesn’t use social media at all. “When I’m on my phone, I’m either reading or texting,” she said.

Peer groups will gravitate to the modes of communication that are most widely shared.

Income differences and smartphones

In low-income communities, fewer teens have smartphones, so texting is the most common mode of communication. It’s no fun being on Instagram and Snapchat if your friends are not. We’ve seen proclamations in the media about teenagers’ flight from Facebook and the growing hegemony of smartphone apps like Instagram and Snapchat. In other words, the shift to smartphones means low-income teens are shut out of the dominant communications media of their generation.

These observations are backed by the Pew survey data. Teens in wealthier households are more likely to have smartphones and to prefer Snapchat and Instagram. Compared to those in households earning less than $30,000 annually, twice as many teens in households earning more than $75,000 annually say they use Snapchat as their most visited website. For Instagram, the differences are less pronounced but the survey shows a slight tendency for teens in higher income brackets to prefer the app. That’s not surprising given the high cost of mobile Internet plans.

Contrast that with Facebook use, which is higher among lower income teens. While 51 percent of teens in households earning less than $30,000 use Facebook often, only 31 percent of the teens in the wealthiest households, earning more than $100,000, do so. Facebook can be accessed through a shared family PC or a public library computer, making it a much more accessible platform than those that rely on smartphone connectivity for an app.

An area of concern

Teens’ access to Snapchat and Instagram may not seem like something we should be terribly concerned about, but it is an indicator of deeper and troubling forms of digital inequity. Social digital and networked media use is where young people gain everyday fluency and comfort with the technology and social norms of our times. Whether it is managing a LinkedIn network or learning to code, young people who lack digital fluency and full access will always be a step behind their more connected peers.

In many ways, this emerging smartphone divide is more troubling than the digital divide we faced back in the 1990s. The digital divide at that time described the gap between those who had access to desktop computers and the Internet and those who did not. Public concern led to policies and community efforts to bridge the divide through public infrastructures. Schools and libraries emerged as important access points for children and youth who did not have access at home.

Today’s smartphone divide is potentially much more difficult to bridge as it goes hand in glove with expensive consumer technologies and private infrastructure.

We need to address this new divide head-on before it becomes entrenched in the experiences of this rising generation."
2015  crystlemartin  mimiito  teens  youth  technology  snapchat  facebook  socialmedia  smartphones  mobile  phones  communication  instagram  digitaldivide  inequality 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Aren’t libraries already doing that? — The Message — Medium
"My questions about the current big plan to “give” ebooks to low income kids

Yesterday’s announcement was exciting. The White House in collaboration with the Digital Public Library of America, The Institute for Museum and Library Services, and New York Public Library will work together with the rest of nation’s libraries to give low income kids better access to digital reading material and get them excited about reading. But are the project’s offered solutions really addressing the real problems and needs of the communities it is trying to reach?"



"What is missing from current e-reader book lending apps? Is the new app going to be available on all platforms? Will it work for people who are print-disabled? Who is offering tech support? Will people need to register to use the app? Will they need an email address to do that? Will their reading lists be tracked? Will the app’s privacy policy be in line with state patron privacy laws? Will the app also help people find print books since surveys are still indicating that print is what many Millennials prefer.

The Target Audience

Providing access to physical resources like print books is straightforward. Giving access to shared technologically-mediated resources is significantly more complex. How do we provide democratic access to content through libraries and schools but still reach the target demographic and provide digital equity?

How does providing digital content via apps serve the hardest to serve when, according to NPR’s All Things Considered “nearly 40 percent of households that earned less than $25,000 a year didn’t have a computer” and less than half had internet access? Even DPLA’s Executive Director Dan Cohen admits we’re still barely at majority smartphone adoption in low-income families. Will lending tablets — tangentially mentioned as part of this project — be enough to span this gap? Apple has said they’re donating $100 million worth of devices, but we don’t know if those are going to libraries as well as schools.

Will the app be for all children but just marketed towards low-income children? How do we get this program’s target audience to the library in the first place when transportation is often cited as a major impediment for low-income people to access their libraries? How will this program work with existing library ebook programs, or existing wifi hotspot lending programs (how are those going anyhow)? FirstBook has impressive statistics backing up its print book program. Is there any research that indicates that the lack of a good reading app and tablet computers is what is inhibiting the reading progress and literacy of low-income children? How will this program be assessed to ensure that it’s meeting its stated goals?

The Publishers

Publisher anxiety about offering up free digital content is understandable and yet the largest dollar amounts promoted in this program are for content supposedly being donated. What does it mean to “donate” ebooks?

Do publishers get tax writeoffs for the donations of thousands of digital copies of their titles to this non-profit project? What about overlap with titles libraries have already purchased? Will the project work with publishers to help make library patron access to ebooks in general a more pleasant and straightforward process? Does “unlimited access” really mean no Digital Rights Management or other technological limitations on accessing the donated content? Who will own these titles and what are the licensing terms? Will the content remain available to libraries and readers after the three year program period has ended?

Is anyone curating this collection to ensure that it’s balanced and appropriate for the target audience? We’re told that “Librarians will work with publishers to create recommendation and suggestion lists.” How is this different from what libraries are already doing?

The Libraries

We like to be part of these projects. Yet sometimes it seems that people are trading on the good name of libraries without actually providing material support to our infrastructure needs.

What do people feel isn’t working with libraries’ existing ebook lending programs? According to Paste Magazine, libraries in some communities are “promising to place library cards into the hands of young readers.” Aren’t they already doing this? Why, if this project “leverage(s) the extensive resources of the nation’s 16,500 public libraries to help kids develop a love of reading and discovery” is there no money in this wide-ranging project for the libraries themselves, besides money for broadband?

Who is going to teach digital literacy skills and help people use the app? Is it appropriate to have librarians volunteering for this via DPLA? Why are librarians being managed by DPLA instead of their existing professional organizations? Is there going to be an associated advocacy effort to ensure that school libraries continue to employ trained librarians, since this is one of the biggest threats to youth literacy?

The Ebooks

Ebooks are not as much of a monolithic entity as the name implies. Just saying “ebooks” does not give much information about what is being proposed.

Will these ebooks be in open formats or accessible at all outside of the program app? What about the free ebook/reading projects that have gone before, and still exist?"



"Many of the patrons who email us may have never interacted with an ebook or a library before. The library to them is not just the content but also the people they interact with and the interfaces they have to navigate. Setting your sights on low-income readers is an admirable goal; those people will need help, even with the best-designed apps and the simplest tablets. Plan for it, it’s a part of the project that won’t scale well.

The hardest to serve are often the hardest to serve specifically because they can’t be reached simply with apps and goodwill and a pure heart. If that was all it took, our work would be done already. Libraries have been working at easing the literacy divide, the digital divide, and the empowerment divide for decades if not centuries. No one wants to increase literacy and love of reading more than the public librarians of the world. So I’m excited, but also cautious. We’ve seen a lot of well-meaning projects come and go.

Kids have access to thousands of free books and ebooks from their public libraries right now in the United States. Think of what we could do if we worked together to invest in ebooks and our existing infrastructure instead of building yet another app and hoping that this time the things we promised would come true."
ebooks  dpla  libraries  accessibility  access  books  applications  smartphones  internet  privacy  equity  digitaldivide  reading  howweread  audience  infrastructue  ereaders  2015 
may 2015 by robertogreco
An Asshole Theory of Technology - The Awl
"This reminded me of something I came across a few years ago. It’s an account of Sony Chairman Akio Morita testing out the first Walkman:

[image: "I rushed home with the first Walkman and was trying it out with different music when I noticed that my experiment was annoying my wife, who felt shut out. All right, I decided, we need to make provision for two sets of headphones. The next week the production staff had produced another model with two headphone jacks."]

And an accompanying note, written a decade later in 1989, from writer Rebecca Lind (both collected from this book):

[image: "... the potential interaction of personal stereo use and interpersonal communication was considered from the very beginning of Walkman product development. Further, the potential impact was deemed to be something which should be remedied, hence, the addition of extra jacks and the "hot line" feature [which reduces playback volume and allows sharing listeners to converse without removing their headphones]. Because these attempts were made to neutralize this situation, we may assume that the personal stereo was at first considered to have a potentially negative influence on interpersonal communication."]

There seems to be something similar going on with the Apple Watch: an assumption not just that watches don’t do enough, or that other smartwatches are bad, or that an Apple Watch might allow people to do new things, but that the Apple Watch can, and must, fix the way people behave. It is, in this view, a tool for correcting problems created by the device to which it must be paired to operate. The Apple Watch is supposed to be a filter between you and your attention-suck hellworld smartphone; we will give it permission to intervene because it is slightly easier to look at while reducing our what’s-going-on-over-there-by-which-I-mean-in-my-pocket—by-which-I-mean-everywhere-else anxiety just enough to keep us sane. It provides a slight buzz, hopefully just enough, at a lower social cost. So it’s a little like… methadone?

Sony was worried that its portable stereo would be alienating. This turned out to be true. But the impulse to correct it was wrong: the thing that made it alienating was precisely the thing that made it good. The more compelling a gadget is, the more you use it, the more the people around you resent you for using it, the more they are pressured to use it themselves. (The fact that these devices are now all connected to each other only accelerates the effect.)

This is the closest thing we have to a law of portable gadgetry: the more annoying it is to the people around you, the “better” the concept. The more that using it makes you seem like an asshole to people who aren’t using it, the brighter its commercial prospects.

Consider an extreme example: Skip ahead past whatever replaces Google Glass** and the Oculus Rift to, say, mostly invisible lenses that take over for most of what we use phones for now (and, presumably, quite a bit more). It will certainly be tempting to suggest that the lens is less “distracting” then a phone or a tablet or a watch or a headset that blocks your view. And it will certainly help remedy the specific behaviors associated by previous devices. But just imagine how much of an asshole you’ll seem like to people in your physical vicinity for whom lensworld is inaccessible. You will be less present to non-participants than ever, even if your outward appearance and behavior lacks previously known asshole qualities. You will be two feet away and living on a different planet. (Though by then, maybe phone-level distraction will be normalized. Why prioritize people talking to you from two feet away over people talking to you from 100 miles? What the hell is your problem you stupid bad idiot? I’m talking to someone here, way over there.)

This is not to say that the Apple Watch won’t be successful, or that it will. But if it is, it probably won’t be for the reasons reviewers think, or even necessarily for the reason Apple thinks (it was designed by a self-described “group of people who love our watches,” which, what? Who??). It won’t be because it’s a better watch (boring, weird, WRONG) or because it makes non-Apple-watch users less irritable (anti-marketing). It will succeed if it can create new rude exclusionary worlds for its wearers (this is why I wouldn’t underrate the weird “Taptic” communications stuff).

It will succeed, in other words, to whatever extent it allows people to be assholes."
apple  culture  rebeccalind  akiomorita  communication  attention  isolation  applewatch  sony  walkman  googleglass  johnherrman  distraction  oculusrift  mobile  phones  smartphones  2015 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Ideas About Education Reform: 22 Things We Do As Educators That Will Embarrass Us In 25 Years by Terry Heick
"22 Things We Do As Educators That Will Embarrass Us In 25 Years
by Terry Heick

Saw a picture today from the 1970s of a mother driving her car with her newborn baby in the passenger seat (no car seat). This, of course, got me thinking about education. What do we do now that in 25 years we’ll look back on and shake our heads? What are our “doctors smoking cigarettes while giving check ups” moments? I have a feeling we’re going to look back and be really confused by quite a bit. There’s probably a lot more than this, but I had to stop somewhere.

22 Things Education Does That Will Embarrass Us In 25 Years

1. We separated literacy from content.
And were confused when we couldn’t properly untangle them.

2. Meter progress by grade levels.
Right now, progress through academia is incremental, like inches on a ruler. These increments are marked by “grade levels,” which really has no meaning other than the artificial one schools have given it in the most self-justifying, circular argument ever.

3. We frowned upon crowdsourced content (e.g., Wikipedia)
Even though it has more updates and cross-checks than more traditional sources of info. It’s not perfect, but it’s the future. Err, present.

4. We gave vacations.
Why do we feel the need to provide months off at a time from learning to read, write, and think? We made school so bad that students couldn’t stand to do it without “vacations”? We cleaved it so cleanly from their daily lives that they “stopped” learning for months at a time?

5. We closed off schools from communities.
Which was the first (of many) errors. Then we let the media report on school progress under terms so artificially binary that we ended up dancing to the drum of newspaper headlines and political pressure.

6. We made it clumsy and awkward for teachers to share curriculum.
Seriously. How is there no seamless, elegant, and mobile way to do this?

7. We turned content into standards.
This makes sense until you realize that, by design, the absolute best this system will yield is students that know content.

8. We were blinded by data, research, and strategies….
..so we couldn’t see the communities, emotions, and habits that really drive learning.

9. We measured mastery once.
At the end of the year in marathon testing. And somehow this made sense? And performance on these tests gave us data that informed the very structures our schools were iterated with over time? Seriously? And we wonder why we chased our tails?

10. We spent huge sums of money on professional development.
While countless free resources floated around us in the digital ether. Silly administrators.

11. We reported progress with report cards.
Hey, I’ve tried other ways and parents get confused and downright feisty. We did a poor job helping parents understand what
grades really meant, and so they insisted on the formats they grew up with.

12. We banned early mobile technology (in this case, smartphones).
And did so for entirely non-academic reasons.

13. We shoehorned technology into dated learning models.
Like adding rockets to a tractor. Why did we not replace the tractor first?

14. We measured mastery with endless writing prompts and multiple-choice tests.
Which, while effective in spots, totally missed the brilliant students who, for whatever reason, never could shine on them.

15. We had parent conferences twice a year.
What? And still only had 15% of parents show up? And we didn’t completely freak out? We must’ve been really sleepy.

16. We ignored apprenticeships.
Apprenticeship is a powerful form of personalized learning that completely marries “content,” performance, craft, and
communities. But try having a 900 apprentices in a school. So much for that.

17. We claimed to “teach students to think for themselves.”
LOL

18. We often put 1000 or more students in the same school.
And couldn’t see how the learning could possibly become industrialized.

19. We frowned on lectures.
Even though that’s essentially what TED Talks are. Instead of making them engaging and interactive multimedia performances led by adults that love their content, we turned passionate teachers into clinical managers of systems and data.

20. We ignored social learning.
And got learning that was neither personal nor social. Curious.

21. We tacked on digital citizenship.
The definition of digital citizenship is “the quality of actions, habits, and consumption patterns that impact the ecology of digital content and communities.” This is artificial to teach outside of the way students use these tools and places on a daily basis–which makes hanging a “digital citizenship” poster or teaching a “digital citizenship” lesson insufficient.
Like literacy, it needs to be fully integrated into the learning experiences of students.

22. We turned to curriculum that was scripted and written by people thousands of miles away.
We panicked, and it was fool’s gold.

Bonus 23. We chewed teachers up and spit them out
We made teachers entirely responsible for planning, measuring, managing, and responding to both mastery and deficiency. And through peer pressure, a little brainwashing, and appealing to their pride, somehow convinced them they really were."
education  schools  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  unschooling  deschooling  terryheick  literacy  content  curriculum  gradelevels  agesegregation  crowdsourcing  wikipedia  community  vacations  standards  standardization  preofessionaldevelopment  money  waste  bureaucracy  technology  edtech  mobile  phones  smartphones  criticalthinking  socialemotional  civics  citizenship  digitalcitizenship  social  learning  lectures  data  bigdata  quantification  apprenticeships  testing  standardizedtesting  assessment  fail  sharing  socialemotionallearning 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Insights: K-HOLE, New York — Insights: K-HOLE, New York — Channel — Walker Art Center
"K-HOLE exists in multiple states at once: it is both a publication and a collective; it is both an artistic practice and a consulting firm; it is both critical and unapologetically earnest. Its five members come from backgrounds as varied as brand strategy, fine art, web development, and fashion, and together they have released a series of fascinating PDF publications modeled upon corporate trend forecasting reports. These documents appropriate the visuals of PowerPoint, stock photography, and advertising and exploit the inherent poetry in the purposefully vague aphorisms of corporate brand-speak. Ultimately, K-HOLE aspires to utilize the language of trend forecasting to discuss sociopolitical topics in depth, exploring the capitalist landscape of advertising and marketing in a critical but un-ironic way.

In the process, the group frequently coins new terms to articulate their ideas, such as “Youth Mode”: a term used to describe the prevalent attitude of youth culture that has been emancipated from any particular generation; the “Brand Anxiety Matrix”: a tool designed to help readers understand their conflicted relationships with the numerous brands that clutter their mental space on a daily basis; and “Normcore”: a term originally used to describe the desire not to differentiate oneself, which has since been mispopularized (by New York magazine) to describe the more specific act of dressing neutrally to avoid standing out. (In 2014, “Normcore” was named a runner-up by Oxford University Press for “Neologism of the Year.”)

Since publishing K-HOLE, the collective has taken on a number of unique projects that reflect the manifold nature of their practice, from a consulting gig with a private equity firm to a collaboration with a fashion label resulting in their own line of deodorant. K-HOLE has been covered by a wide range of publications, including the New York Times, Fast Company, Wired UK, and Mousse.

Part of Insights 2015 Design Lecture Series."

[direct link to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7GkMPN5f5cQ ]
k-hole  consumption  online  internet  communication  burnout  normcore  legibility  illegibility  simplicity  technology  mobile  phones  smartphones  trends  fashion  art  design  branding  brands  socialmedia  groupchat  texting  oversharing  absence  checkingout  aesthetics  lifestyle  airplanemode  privilege  specialness  generations  marketing  trendspotting  coping  messaging  control  socialcapital  gregfong  denayago  personalbranding  visibility  invisibility  identity  punk  prolasticity  patagonia  patience  anxietymatrix  chaos  order  anxiety  normality  abnormality  youth  millennials  individuality  box1824  hansulrichobrist  alternative  indie  culture  opposition  massindie  williamsburg  simoncastets  digitalnatives  capitalism  mainstream  semiotics  subcultures  isolation  2015  walkerartcenter  maxingout  establishment  difference  89plus  basicness  evasion  blandness  actingbasic  empathy  indifference  eccentricity  blankness  tolerance  rebellion  signalling  status  coolness  aspiration  connections  relationships  presentationofself  understanding  territorialism  sociology  ne 
march 2015 by robertogreco
The Most Important Thing on the Internet Is the Screenshot | WIRED
"Screenshots can also be almost forensic, a way to prove to others that you're really seeing the crazy stuff you're seeing. The first viral hit of the screenshot age was the often-filthy autocorrect errors in SMS. Now screenshots hold people accountable for their terrible online words. When Australian videogame reviewer Alanah Pearce was getting harassed online, she discovered that many of her trolls were young boys. She tracked down their mothers and sent a screenshot to one (who then demanded her son handwrite a letter of apology). DC writers eagerly pounce on politicians' social media faux pas, preserving them before they can vanish down the memory hole—part justice, part gotcha.

Even more arrestingly, though, screenshots let you see other people's screenworlds, increasingly where we all do our best thinking. They invite a useful voyeurism. Venture capitalist Chris Dixon tweeted a link to an article on how “Nikola Tesla predicted the iPhone” and got 109 retweets; when he tweeted a readable screenshot of the piece, it got over 4,200. Indeed, one of the more delightful aspects of screenshot culture is how often people share text instead of just the clickbaity headline. Developers have strained for years to devise technologies for “collaborative reading.” Now it's happening organically.

We're going to need better apps to help us share, sort, and make sense of this new flood. Screenshots are more semantically diverse than typical snapshots, and we already struggle to manage our photo backlog. Rita J. King, codirector of the Science House consultancy, has thousands of screenshots from her online ramblings (pictures of bacteria, charts explaining probability). Rummaging through them reminds her of ideas she's forgotten and triggers new ones. “It's like a scrapbook, or a fossil record in digital silt,” King says. A lifetime of scraps, glimpsed through the screen."
clivethompson  screenshots  internet  online  communication  perspective  pov  chrisdixon  2015  evernote  joannemcneil  photography  digital  imagery  computing  mobile  phones  smartphones 
march 2015 by robertogreco
SCiO - Explore More!
"A Pocket Molecular Sensor For All!

Scan materials or physical objects. Get instant relevant information to your smartphone. Food, medicine, plants, and more.

Smartphones made it easy to research facts, capture images, and navigate street maps, but they haven't brought us closer to the physical environment in which we live – until now.

Meet SCiO. It is the world's first affordable molecular sensor that fits in the palm of your hand. SCiO is a tiny spectrometer and allows you to get instant relevant information about the chemical make-up of just about anything around you, sent directly to your smartphone."
sensors  scanners  physics  smartphones  scio  spectrometers  via:alexismadrigal 
march 2015 by robertogreco
When It Comes to Tech Dystopia, Portlandia Is Better Than Black Mirror
"UK series Black Mirror is being lauded as the first show that really tells the truth about our dystopian tech destiny. But the best critique of technology in today's culture is not this science fiction import. For the most scathing commentary on the high-tech world we've designed for ourselves, you have to watch Portlandia.

The series' fifth season finished airing last week on IFC (full episodes are on YouTube), and I went down a P-hole, rewatching every episode all the way back to 2011. I expected to find some greater takeaway about artisanal culture or the evolution of urbanism. Or, like, raw food restaurant trends.

I was stunned when I realized that the series' greatest strength comes from its disturbingly on-point takedowns of technology, each delivered like a crisp smack of an iPad to the back of our Instagram-addled heads. So many anti-technology diatribes miss the mark because their authors are clearly late-adopting haters. But it's obvious that Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein are tech fans at heart.

It's easy to lose sight of the show's intelligent vision when 85 percent of the chatter about it revolves around the chirpy chorus "Put a bird on it." And yes, this not-so-alternate universe inhabited by bike messengers and coffee baristas focuses heavily on the handcrafted rejection of contemporary mainstream culture. Except that's also why the tech-focused sketches are so skewering: Even though the characters pride themselves on their pickling prowess and sustainable jewelry-making, they still can't bear to delete their Facebook accounts.

[video]

In fact, it's one particularly good sketch about leaving Facebook which launched my theory that Portlandia tackles these issues better than anyone else. In order to remove herself from the internet, Carrie goes to what looks like a bank branch to declare social media bankruptcy. When she goes to see Fred at a bar, he doesn't recognize her without an avatar to validate her existence. At the end, she is placed in a room with the handful of other people without online presences. It's hilarious, but it also confronts our deepest fears about being forgotten when we don't file a status update.

Each tech sketch serves as a kind of worst-case scenario for all the products and services that touch our lives. The owners of a feminist bookstore attempt to confront a negative Yelp reviewer in real life. A sharing economy startup implodes spectacularly. Patton Oswalt plays a man who becomes famous for his witty Evite responses. The city buys a 3D printer, as if this might be the answer to all civic problems—"Portland is finally a world-class city!"

[video]

But it's really the characters' relationships with television that highlight our most bizarre and hypocritical behavior with technology. "I don't have a TV" is the smug refrain uttered by more than one character, but binge-watching shows is a running theme. In season 2, characters played by Armisen and Brownstein alienate friends and lose jobs while watching all the episodes of Battlestar Galactica. Their lives fall apart in the quest for one more episode. Yet, you know, we don't watch TV.

Another sketch, "Spoiler Alert" is maybe one of the smartest pieces of TV-related satire in history, as four characters at a dinner party talk about how much they hate spoilers — and manage to reveal all the spoilers in the most talked-about shows.

[video]

Looking back at some of the older episodes, it's almost depressing how much Portlandia's plots have mirrored real life. In an attempt to avoid the questionable labor practices of foreign-made fashion, two characters hire local seamstresses to make their clothes by hand in their home, and in turn, end up transforming their own basement into a sweatshop. It's disarmingly poignant for a sketch comedy show—I found myself thinking for days about claims that Etsy sellers are essentially doing the same thing.

Like the way The Daily Show claims to cover fake news but really provides a maddeningly accurate evisceration of journalistic practices, Portlandia is purportedly about hipsters (I got almost all the way through the story without using that word) but it's really shining a light on the perplexing dilemmas that we all face when we choose to buy into the latest hype. Who hasn't had some version of this dramatic flashback montage like Carrie does when she drops her iPhone? It's all way too close to home.

[video]

And besides, isn't sketch comedy the most palatable way to examine the stranglehold these concepts have on our lives? You could watch a show like Black Mirror to fret about the way technology will ruin civilization in the future, or you could watch Portlandia to think about the way it's ruining us today—and laugh your ass off while you're at it."
alissawalker  portlandia  blackmirror  technology  dystopia  2015  humor  facebook  religion  media  attention  smartphones  socialmedia  3dprinting  portland  oregon 
march 2015 by robertogreco
How do Smartphones Affect Human Thought? » Cyborgology
"Actually, they tested more than intuitiveness, but also ability, yet I digress. This hypothesis implies (though does not state) a research question: How does smartphone usage affect cognitive processes? This is an important question, but one the research was never prepared to answer thoughtfully. Rather, the authors recast this question as a prediction, embedded in a host of assumptions which privilege unmediated thought.

This approach is inherently flawed. It defines cognitive functioning (incorrectly) as a raw internal process, untouched by technology in its purest state. This approach pits the brain against the device, as though tools are foreign intruders upon the natural body. This is simply not the case. Humans defining characteristic is our need for tools. Our brains literally developed with and through technology. This continues to be true. Brains are highly plastic, and new technologies change how cognition works. Our thought processes are, and always have been, mediated.

With a changing technological landscape, this means that cognitive tests quickly become outdated and fail to make sense as ‘objective’ measures of skill and ability. In other words, definitions of high functioning cognition are always in flux. Therefore, in reading cognitive research that makes evaluative claims, we should critically examine which forms of cognition the study privileges. In turn, authors should make their assumptions clear. In this case, we can discern that the authors define high cognitive functioning as digitally unmediated.

Certainly, it is useful to understand how cognition is changing, and traditional measures are good baselines to track that change. But change does not indicate laziness, stupidity, or, as the authors claim, no thinking at all. It indicates, instead, the need for new measures.

A more interesting question, for me, is how are intelligence and thoughtfulness changing? Rather than understand the brain and the device as separate sources of thought, could we instead render them connected nodes within a thought ecology? Such a rendering first, recognizes the increasing presence of digital devices in everyday life, and second, explicitly accounts for the relationship between structural inequalities and definitions of intelligence.

Definitions of intelligence have a long history of privileging the skills and logics of dominant groups. If cognitive function is tied to digital devices, then digital inequality—rather than human deficiency—becomes a key variable in understanding variations. At some level, I think people already understand this. After all, is it not the underlying driver of digital literacy movements?

This was not the study I wanted it to be. It does, however, tell us something interesting. People are changing. Our thought processes are changing. This is a moment of cognitive flux, and mobile digital technologies are key players in the future of thinking."
technology  2015  humans  research  cognition  cognitivescience  tools  jannydavis  change  flux  cognitiveflux  mobile  phones  smartphones  intuitiveness  thinking  howwethink  brain  skill  ability  laziness  stupidity  measurement  behavior  humancognition 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Africa in 2030: A future of smartphones, drones and digital witchdoctors | Mail & Guardian Africa
"Mobile connections in Africa have grown by 44% a year since 2000, the fastest in the world. But tech isn't done with Africa yet"
africa  2030  future  mobile  phones  internet  technology  smartphones  drones  2015  christinemungai 
february 2015 by robertogreco
A Hackathon Where 2G-Era Tech Is King | WIRED
"It’s a different perspective from the typical Silicon Valley mindset, which is all about speed and specs. But if you want to make smartphone applications that work for most people (not just most Americans), you have to think slow. Smartphones and the Internet are booming in the developing world. By the third quarter of last year, smartphones overtook feature phones. The world is going online — wireless Internet service grew by 83 percent in China last year, 84 percent in India, and 68 percent in Nigeria, according to Ericsson, which operates some 40 percent of global cellular traffic. But the mobile Internet in the developing world is a fundamentally different beast than the one we typically talk about. That includes everything from the devices people use to to the plans they purchase, and the networks they run them on."
2014  mathonan  slow  mobile  webdev  nandwidth  2g  internet  web  smartphones  smartphoneonly  via:markllobrera  webdesign 
november 2014 by robertogreco
The Emerging Foundation For The Future Of Work ... | Stowe Boyd
"The charts say it all. We are in a smartphone world, and it will change everything from top to bottom, and those impacts are only being hinted at, with the first changes showing up in the decline of the old ways: PC sales and desktop software sales, including use of web-based apps that are designed for browser use. We are starting to see the rise of the new ways, like the explosion of phone-friendly messaging apps, for personal and work use.

There is a revolution about to happen, a new era of computing based on increasingly powerful smartphones, ubiquitous connectivity, and context-driven apps that leverage the information latent in our actions and connections. 

Expect that 50% of existing enterprise software companies will not be able to make this transition, despite being well-capitalized and running on millions of computers. At least half of the winners in the next 10 years will be startups, many that don’t exist yet.

Context-driven cooperative work tools on smartphones is the emerging foundation for the future of work."
stoweboyd  technology  smartphones  mobile  phones  2014  howwework  howwelearn  cooperation  benedictevans  cooperativework 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Louis C.K. Was Almost Right About Smartphones, Loneliness, Sadness, the Meaning of Life, and Everything | The Frailest Thing
"“I think these things are toxic, especially for kids …” That’s Louis C.K. talking about smartphones on Conan O’Brien last week. You’ve probably already seen the clip; it exploded online the next day. In the off-chance that you’ve not seen the clip yet, here it is. It’s just under five minutes, and it’s worth considering.

Let me tell you, briefly, what I appreciated about this bit, and then I’ll offer a modest refinement to Louis C.K.’s perspective.

Here are the two key insights I took away from the exchange. First, the whole thing about empathy. Cyberbullying is a big deal, at least it’s one of the realities of online experience that gets a lot of press. And before cyberbullying was a thing we worried about, we complained about the obnoxious and vile manner in which individuals spoke to one another on blogs and online forums. The anonymity of online discourse took a lot of the blame for all of this. A cryptic username, after all, allowed people to act badly with impunity.

I’m sure anonymity was a factor. That people are more likely too act badly when they can’t be caught is an insight at least as old as Plato’s ring of Gyges illustration. But, insofar as this kind of behavior has survived the personalization of the Internet experience, it would seem that the blame cannot be fixed entirely on anonymity.

This is where Louis C.K. offers us a slightly different, and I think better, angle that fills the picture out a bit. He frames the problem as a matter of embodiment. Obviously, people can be cruel to one another in each other’s presence. It happens all the time. The question is whether or not there is something about online experience that somehow heightens the propensity toward cruelty, meanness, rudeness, etc. Here’s how I would answer that question: It’s not that there is something intrinsic to the online experience that heightens the propensity to be cruel. It’s that the online experience unfolds in the absence of a considerable mitigating condition: embodied presence.

In Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory, his unnamed protagonist, the whiskey priest, comes to the following realization: “When you visualized a man or woman carefully, you could always begin to feel pity … that was a quality God’s image carried with it … when you saw the lines at the corners of the eyes, the shape of the mouth, how the hair grew, it was impossible to hate.”

This is, I think, what Louis C.K. is getting at. We like to think of ourselves as rational actors who make our way through life by careful reasoning and logic. For better or for worse, this is almost certainly not the case. We constantly rely on all sorts of pre-cognitive or non-conscious or visceral operations. Most of these are grounded in our bodies and their perceptual equipment. When our bodies, and those magical mirror-neurons, are taken out of play, then the perceptual equipment that helps us act with a measure of empathy is also out of the picture, and then, it seems, cruelty proceeds with one less impediment.

The second insight I appreciated centered on the themes of loneliness and sadness. What Louis C.K. seems to be saying, in a way that still manages to be funny enough to bear, is that there’s something unavoidably sad about life and at the core of our being there is a profound emptiness. What’s more, it is when we are alone that we feel this sadness and recognize this emptiness. This is inextricably linked to what we might call the human condition, and the path to any kind of meaningful happiness is through this sadness and the loneliness that brings it on.



But the smartphone is not altogether irrelevant. It is part of a practice that is itself a manifestation of the problem. The problem is not the smartphone, it’s this thing we’re doing with the smartphone, which, in the past, we have also done with countless other things."
louisck  michaelsacasas  via:tealtan  2013  culture  digital  internet  behavior  empathy  commenting  alanjacobs  anonymity  blaisepascal  grahamgreene  cyberbullying  loneliness  sadness  humancondition  humans  human  happiness  web  online  meanness  rudeness  cruelty  smartphones  tolstoy  lmsacasas 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Nokia: Teddy Bears and Talking Drums -- A Connecting People film - YouTube
"From Rio to Nairobi, Berlin to Mumbai, and everywhere in between, mobile technology continues to change our world in exciting and unpredictable ways. People all over are embracing the possibilities that are emerging from this ongoing revolution, shaping -- and being shaped -- by it in the process. At Nokia, this is what gets us out of bed in the morning."
nokia  technology  mobile  communication  2011  riodejaneiro  brasil  berlin  mumbai  smartphones  personaldevices  change  adaptation  instabiity  identity  socialnetworking  global  local  socialmedia  africa  self  instability  brazil 
november 2011 by robertogreco
Friday Links – Blog – BERG
"Via @janchipchase is this $80 Android phone from Huawei, which, although suffering from limited memory and battery-life problems, is apparently selling very well in Kenya. Making the OLPC look less like a failure and more like a mistake in product category."
timoarnall  olpc  technology  mobile  failure  smartphones  kenya  africa  handhelds  2011  huawei  phones  mobilelearning 
august 2011 by robertogreco
The Really Smart Phone - WSJ.com
"Researchers are harvesting a wealth of intimate detail from our cellphone data, uncovering the hidden patterns of our social lives, travels, risk of disease—even our political views."
mobile  phones  cellphones  data  statistics  predictablity  health  predictions  research  2011  politics  policy  movement  travel  behavior  society  psychology  socialcontagion  robertleehotz  mit  alexpentland  humandynamiclaboratory  sms  texting  twitter  communication  happiness  smartphones  socialnetworks 
april 2011 by robertogreco
Children, Wired: For Better and for Worse — Daphne Bavelier, C. Shawn Green, and Matthew W.G. Dye [.pdf]
"Children encounter technology constantly at home and in school. Television, DVDs, video games, the Internet, and smart phones all play a formative role in children’s development. The term ‘‘technology’ subsumes a large variety of somewhat independent items, and it is no surprise that current research indicates causes for both optimism and concern depending upon the content of the technology, the context in which the technology immerses the user, and the user’s developmental stage. Furthermore, because the field is still in its infancy, results can be surprising: video games designed to be reasonably mindless result in widespread enhancements of various abilities, acting, we will argue, as exemplary learning tools. Counterintuitive outcomes like these, besides being practically relevant, challenge and eventually lead to refinement of theories concerning fundamental principles of brain plasticity and learning."
cognitive  brain  neuroscience  videogames  internet  technology  mobile  phones  smartphones  children  learning  counterintuitive  plasticity  development 
november 2010 by robertogreco
The Most Popular Phone in the World
"This is what the next generation of the mega-selling phone will look like. They'll be rough facsimiles of the high-end smartphones forged for well-heeled buyers, stripped of fat and excess—an embodiment of compromise. They'll be 90% of the phone for 20% of the price, with FM radios instead of digital music stores, and flashlights instead of LED flashes. This is how the other half will smartphone, if you want to be so generous as to call the developing world's users a half. We're not even close."
via:blackbeltjones  gizmodo  development  nokia  mobile  phones  technology  usability  design  developingworld  smartphones 
october 2010 by robertogreco
How Barcodes and Smartphones Will Rearchitect Information - The Conversation - Harvard Business Review
"These are just three possible implications. One can imagine many, many more. The reason it's so powerful is that any time we create a new tagging architecture that is decentralized and out "at the ends" of the network, we have the ability to unleash the power of self-organization. Given how localized and voluminous information is, any solution for integrating marketplace and marketspace information must be decentralized and self-organizing.
mobile  phones  smartphones  tagging  bargodes  rfid  gps  dna  qrcodes  iphone  ubicomp  spimes 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Nokia’s designs on Apple | Tech Blog | FT.com
"“I still think the whole industry is missing a trick,” said Mr Ahtisaari during a meet-the-press session in London yesterday. “All the touchscreen interfaces are very immersive. You have to put your head down. What Nokia is very good at is designing for mobile use: one-handed, in the pocket. Giving people the ability to have their head up again is critical to how we evolve user interfaces.”
markoahtisaari  nokia  iphone  ipad  mobile  mobility  smartphones  immersive  hardware  future  design  apple  phones  screens  2010  socialmedia  ux  interface  interfacedesign  glowingrectangles 
may 2010 by robertogreco
A Is for App: How Smartphones, Handheld Computers Sparked an Educational Revolution
"What's at issue is a deep cultural shift, a fundamental rethinking not only of how education is delivered but also of what "education" means. The very word comes from the Latin duco, meaning "to lead or command" -- putting the learner in the passive position. Rabi Kamacharya is an MIT engineering grad who returned to his native Kathmandu from Silicon Valley to found a software company and started OLE Nepal, the network's most established branch, in 2007. Kamacharya talks about technology putting "children in the driver's seat" -- to overcome the limited skills of teachers: "Even in urban areas, teachers who teach English, for example, do not know English very well. Children are at the mercy of the teachers, who may not be motivated or have sufficient materials to work with. We want to enable them to go forward with self-learning and assessment.""
iphone  handhelds  children  learning  unschooling  deschooling  teaching  education  schools  technology  smartphones  opencontent  mobile  socialmedia  software  devices  tcsnmy  gamechanging  self-directedlearning  autodidacts  21stcenturylearning  handheld  ipodtouch  edtech  anyakamenetz 
march 2010 by robertogreco
Putting people first » Recent immigrants driving advanced mobile phone use, both in Europe and in the US
"Interestingly, “the cell phone in some cases is being used as the primary computer for Latinos, serving up e-mail and the Internet, in the process bridging what has been called the digital divide that still exists for some minority and disadvantaged gr
mobile  phones  immigration  digitaldivide  smartphones  texting  sms  computing 
may 2008 by robertogreco
fring – Make free mobile calls, IM with Skype, MSN Messenger, ICQ, Google Talk™, SIP & Twitter, AIM® & Yahoo!™
"Take all your buddies mobile with fring™, call and chat with them for free and see who’s online before dialling! fring™ is a mobile internet service & community that enables you to access & interact with your social networks on-the-go, make free ca
voip  mobile  skype  free  phones  fring  smartphones  iphone  im  wireless 
april 2008 by robertogreco

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