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Why Is There a Housing Crisis? | Opinion | East Bay Express
"The Bay Area's outrageous housing prices have led to howls of protest. Average rents have shot up by half during the last five years. Rents and house prices are the highest of any metropolitan area in the country and among the most unaffordable in the world. This is not just true of San Francisco but applies to the entire Bay region — now twelve counties and 8.5 million people, according to the US Census.

According to mainstream policy shops and planners, such as Gabriel Metcalf, president and CEO of the pro-urban growth organization SPUR, the housing crisis is caused by activists and neighborhood residents who oppose more market-rate housing development. Their solution is to allow developers to build more freely.

But while it's true that we need to expand the region's housing supply, building more housing cannot solve the problem as long as demand is out of control, as it is today. There is simply no way housing could have been built quickly enough to avoid the price spike of the current boom.

Three basic forces are driving the Bay Area's housing prices upward: growth, affluence, and inequality. Three other things make matters worse: finance, business cycles, and geography. All of these operate on the demand side of the equation, and demand is the key to the runaway housing market.

The prime mover of housing prices is economic growth. The Bay Area has been booming for the last five years, creating more than 500,000 new jobs on a base of 3 million. This is the global capital of tech, the world's most dynamic industry, and all those jobs have drawn in thousands of newcomers looking for housing. Moreover, tech delivers huge profits and pays high salaries and wages, as do other key sectors, like biomedical and finance. The Bay Area's per capita income has long been one of the highest in the country, and high incomes give people the wherewithal to pay top dollar for housing.

On top of this, income distribution is highly unequal, and wealth inequality is even worse, allowing the upper classes to put additional pressure on the market for good housing in favored locations. The Bay Area has one of the highest indexes of income inequality of any region, caused principally by the high salaries of the top 20 percent of earners. As for wealth, the Bay Area has more millionaires per capita than any other US metro and can claim 45 of the 400 richest people in the United States, second only to New York City.

Most people understand these essential drivers of the housing market, if not how extreme they are in the Bay region. But much more lies behind the runaway rents and sale prices of late. We need to think outside the box of simple supply and demand and look further at a trio of conditions shaping demand: credit and capital, boom and bust cycles, and the spatial preferences of the elite.

First, housing is a big-ticket item that normally requires a mortgage, and an excess of credit will exaggerate people's ability to purchase houses. California had the most overheated mortgage markets during the housing bubble of the 2000s, and our financial institutions have not been substantially reformed. Finance is subject to dramatic swings, and the pressure becomes unbearable at the peak of the cycle. Furthermore, footloose capital from around the world has once again been flooding into the Bay Area in search of high returns, whether as venture investments in hot start-ups, stock holdings in tech giants, or purchases of mortgage bonds. All the wealth in tech is not generated locally, nor is all housing demand.

Second, the housing market does not behave like eBay because supply is slow to adjust to demand. It takes a long time to build new units and most people stay in the same residence for years. Hence, only a small percentage of total housing stock comes on the market in any year — normally less than 5 percent — and markets suffer from intense bottlenecks. As expansive demand chases limited supply over the course of a business cycle, prices accelerate ahead of new building. Speculators and landlords intensify the pressure as they buy properties, evict tenants, and displace people in anticipation of even higher rents. The good news is that booms go bust, sooner or later. Construction will overshoot the market, as it always does, and then prices will fall by 10 to 20 percent, as usual.

Third, housing markets are badly distorted by the geography of privilege and power. If the nouveaux riches of the tech world want to live in San Francisco (even if they commute to Silicon Valley), they have the means to outbid working stiffs, families, artists, and the poor; the result, as we've seen, is a city that has become richer and whiter with remarkable speed. And that's just the tip of the iceberg: The greatest distortion to housing markets is the demand by the wealthy for exclusive, leafy, space-eating suburbs from Palo Alto to Orinda. These favored enclaves reduce overall housing supply by using low-density zoning to block the high-rises and apartments that provide moderate priced homes (not to mention low-income public housing).

So is there no recourse? Since the biggest sources of the housing crisis lie in the general conditions of contemporary capitalism — the tech boom, gross inequality, frothy finance, boom and bust cycles, and the power of the elites — local reforms can only do so much. Without a major political upheaval for financial control, higher taxes, equality, and more public spending, we are in for perennial housing crises. The housing market can never heal itself under existing conditions.

But some things can be done locally. Rent control with reasonable annual increases works quite well to dampen overheated markets. Eviction controls are critical, along with other restrictions on speculation. Demands for set-asides for low-income units are another proven strategy, along with development fees. Land trusts have worked well for open space protection in the Bay Area, and could work for housing, but will require major funding. And a real commitment of earmarking money for low-income housing by the federal government — on a scale to match the money going to highways — is a must.

New housing will have to be built, as well. But developers are profit-seekers, so don't expect them to be innocent bearers of what people need. It is absolutely necessary to question developers and city planners over what is to be built, how high, how big, and where. A livable city demands good design, historic preservation, neighborhood protections, mixed use, and social diversity, among other things, and figuring out what those things are should be a collective, democratic and, yes, conflictual process of politics and public debate. Nonetheless, opposing all new building, greater density, and neighborhood change is not a viable policy, and we cannot cling to the idea that our town or neighborhood will remain the same in a dynamic urban system.

Conservative critics, of course, denounce all popular efforts to control runaway housing costs, displacement, speculation, and bad planning as unnatural violations of some "natural law" of perfect markets. No one should be fooled by such fantasies. The real "market distortions" propelling the housing crisis are inequality, speculation, financial bloat, tax havens, and more. The day when the runaway privileges of bankers, builders, speculators, wealthy suburbanites, and the rest are reined in — that's the day the housing crisis will be over.

Richard Walker."
housing  california  richardwalker  2016  speculation  inequality  growth  affluence  geography  economics  bayarea  power  privilege  capitalism  rent  rentcontrol  eviction 
3 days ago by robertogreco
Inequality - how wealth becomes power (1/2) | (Poverty Richness Documentary) DW Documentary - YouTube
"Germany is one of the world’s richest countries, but inequality is on the rise. The wealthy are pulling ahead, while the poor are falling behind.

For the middle classes, work is no longer a means of advancement. Instead, they are struggling to maintain their position and status. Young people today have less disposable income than previous generations. This documentary explores the question of inequality in Germany, providing both background analysis and statistics. The filmmakers interview leading researchers and experts on the topic. And they accompany Christoph Gröner, one of Germany’s biggest real estate developers, as he goes about his work. "If you have great wealth, you can’t fritter it away through consumption. If you throw money out the window, it comes back in through the front door,” Gröner says. The real estate developer builds multi-family residential units in cities across Germany, sells condominium apartments, and is involved in planning projects that span entire districts. "Entrepreneurs are more powerful than politicians, because we’re more independent,” Gröner concludes. Leading researchers and experts on the topic of inequality also weigh in, including Nobel-prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, economist Thomas Piketty, and Brooke Harrington, who carried out extensive field research among investors from the ranks of the international financial elite. Branko Milanović, a former lead economist at the World Bank, says that globalization is playing a role in rising inequality. The losers of globalization are the lower-middle class of affluent countries like Germany. "These people are earning the same today as 20 years ago," Milanović notes. "Just like a century ago, humankind is standing at a crossroads. Will affluent countries allow rising equality to tear apart the fabric of society? Or will they resist this trend?”"

[Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYP_wMJsgyg

"Christoph Gröner is one of the richest people in Germany. The son of two teachers, he has worked his way to the top. He believes that many children in Germany grow up without a fair chance and wants to step in. But can this really ease inequality?

Christoph Gröner does everything he can to drum up donations and convince the wealthy auction guests to raise their bids. The more the luxury watch for sale fetches, the more money there will be to pay for a new football field, or some extra tutoring, at a children's home. Christoph Gröner is one of the richest people in Germany - his company is now worth one billion euros, he tells us. For seven months, he let our cameras follow him - into board meetings, onto construction sites, through his daily life, and in his charity work. He knows that someone like him is an absolute exception in Germany. His parents were both teachers, and he still worked his way to the top. He believes that many children in Germany grow up without a fair chance. "What we see here is total failure across the board,” he says. "It starts with parents who just don’t get it and can’t do anything right. And then there’s an education policy that has opened the gates wide to the chaos we are experiencing today." Chistoph Gröner wants to step in where state institutions have failed. But can that really ease inequality?

In Germany, getting ahead depends more on where you come from than in most other industrialized countries, and social mobility is normally quite restricted. Those on top stay on top. The same goes for those at the bottom. A new study shows that Germany’s rich and poor both increasingly stay amongst themselves, without ever intermingling with other social strata. Even the middle class is buckling under the mounting pressure of an unsecure future. "Land of Inequality" searches for answers as to why. We talk to families, an underpaid nurse, as well as leading researchers and analysts such as economic Nobel Prize laureate Joseph Stiglitz, sociologist Jutta Allmendinger or the economist Raj Chetty, who conducted a Stanford investigation into how the middle class is now arming itself to improve their children’s outlooks."]
documentary  germany  capitalism  economics  society  poverty  inequality  christophgröner  thomaspiketty  brookehrrington  josephstiglitz  neoliberalism  latecapitalism  brankomilanović  worldbank  power  influence  policy  politics  education  class  globalization  affluence  schools  schooling  juttaallmendinger  rajchetty  middleclass  parenting  children  access  funding  charity  charitableindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  status  work  labor  welfare  2018  geography  cities  urban  urbanism  berlin  immigration  migration  race  racism  essen  socialsegregation  segregation  success  democracy  housing  speculation  paulpiff  achievement  oligarchy  dynasticwealth  ownership  capitalhoarding  injustice  inheritance  charlottebartels  history  myth  prosperity  wageslavery  polarization  insecurity  precarity  socialcontract  revolution  sociology  finance  financialcapitalism  wealthmanagement  assets  financialization  local  markets  privateschools  publicschools  privatization 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Solarpunking Speculative Futures — Cultural Anthropology
"Here is a map of Eneropa, a vision of the continent of Europe in 2050. Reorganized by renewable energy production, the new states—Hydropia, Solaria, Biomassburg, Geothermalia, Vrania, Tidal States, and the Isles of Wind—are connected by a centralized European energy grid. The grid serves to redistribute renewable energy across the continent by season, with the predominant energy supply from strong winterly winds in the north replaced by solar summers in the south. Europe’s carbon emissions have dropped by (at least) 80 percent from 1990s levels, and the continent is almost entirely energy-independent. The new, post-transition Europe is a safer, happier, and more politically stable place to live.

[image]

This is not an exercise in speculative fiction, but an example of backcasting: a policy technique of detailing a desirable future and then reverse-engineering solutions to achieve it. This map was featured in a 2010 vision document entitled “Roadmap 2050: A Practical Guide to a Prosperous, Low-Carbon Europe,” which was funded by the European Climate Foundation. It is only one in a series of eye-catching visuals that present a case for a European energy grid that would have made the inventor and scientist Buckminster Fuller proud. Others include snapshots of what each of these regions will look like; often, renewable energy production is integrated with holiday-like leisure activity, from surfing to sunbathing and general frolicking in the sea.

If the imagery seems fantastical, it is nonetheless informed by a mass of technical data: grid engineering and design, plausible costs, investment plans, in-depth modeling of system balancing requirements, and analyses of the macroeconomic impacts of large-scale decarbonization. The Office for Metropolitan Architecture gave the project visual form. Head architects Rem Koolhaas and Rainer de Graaf, among others, worked in conjunction with experts at the Energy Futures Lab at the Imperial College London, the technical grid consultancy Kema, management consultants McKinsey and Company, the climate change think tank E3G, and Oxford Economics. The aesthetic might be fantasy, but the genre is very much policy.

Many have written about the synergistic, mutually constitutive relationship between speculative fiction and technological innovation. Less attention has been paid to the more mundane work of policy, which serves to bridge speculative imagination and mass adoption of a new way of life. One way to address this might be to extend the aforementioned analyses, comparing themes across a sampling of publications to determine the influence of speculative fiction on the genre of the vision document, or vice versa. Another would be to eschew the reading of one genre alongside another in favor of reading such policy documents as speculative literature in themselves. This is what “Roadmap 2050” challenges us to do. Far from being facetious, its purpose in employing codes of fantasy is to engage us in an act of genre generosity. The fantastical elements empower us to approach the document with a willingness to suspend disbelief and to go beyond our usual attunement to limits and conservative assumptions.1

But what does reading policy as a speculative genre achieve? To begin with, it forces us to acknowledge that fiction as conventionally defined no longer has a monopoly over speculative narratives. As an act of world-making, speculation is present in several contemporary professional contexts, with climate change–related policymaking as only one of them. Design fiction, for instance, is a speculative world-building methodology that employs so-called diegetic prototypes to explore how new inventions hold up both socially and technically in multiple future scenarios (see Sterling 2005). However, while design fiction accounts for a variety of futures, both desirable and dystopian, policy backcasting must always project an optimistic future. This makes it somewhat unique, read against the pantheon of speculative subgenres.

Within academia, optimism is often adopted self-consciously as an ethics, or is tied back into an overarching analytics from within which it is rendered either “cruel” (Berlant 2011), naive, or a symptom of selling out. Reading policy not only for its proffered content but speculatively for its form might prompt anthropologists to take optimism seriously—not (just) as an ethics, but as a form of labor that we encounter in the field. We know the plight of climate scientists all too well (see Clayton 2018), but how can we make sense of the obligatory optimism of policymakers as they work to promote so-called global solutions?

To diagnose optimism as an object, we might take inspiration from an analytic device in the environmental humanities: close reading for narrative aesthetics grounded in contemporary petrocultural forms (e.g., Szeman 2017). While we are far from disembedding ourselves from the petrocultural, a new subgenre coalescing around the term solarpunk might serve as a starting point to engage with the labor of optimistic speculation. Described by Elvia Wilk as wishing to “wrench science fiction from both steampunk’s magical tech fantasies and cyberpunk’s tech-gone-wrong,” solarpunk locates itself in a near future of feasible tech that often already exists in some form. Its worlds are fueled not by coal or oil (as were steam- and cyberpunk respectively), but solar energy, as a way to access a postpetro social. In its best moments the genre is not engaged in utopianism, but acts of dislocation.

If the point of speculative anthropology is not simply to recognize the speculative in contexts we encounter but also to adopt the speculative in the manner by which we engage them, then reading policy documents (with some indulgence) as solarpunk might constitute one such act of dislocation. It may even allow us to punk the relationship between our modes of critique and the dominant energy form. Perhaps Bruno Latour (2004) was more prescient than he knew when he declared that critique had run out of steam. Perhaps it is in need of some solar instead."
solarpunk  speculativefiction  speculation  speculative  designfiction  anthropology  nanditabadami  2018  speculativeanthropology 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Speculative Anthropologies — Cultural Anthropology
"At the intersection of speculative fiction and anthropology, we find a sense of epistemological humility about the kind of worlds we could or should inhabit. Yet epistemological humility should not be confused with futility: possibilities and potentialities still matter. We do not know what we are capable of, and yet that need not keep us from the pursuit of what ifs. Through the imaginative interpellations of speculative fiction (SF), the contributors to this Theorizing the Contemporary series gravitate toward new localities and means of presence: ecological, technological, Afro-futuristic. Facing the imminent prospect of both disaster and discovery, they call us to resist despair and to craft tangible ways of shaping and repairing the worlds we still hope for.

Posts in This Series

Introduction: Speculative Anthropologies
by Ryan Anderson, Emma Louise Backe, Taylor Nelms, Elizabeth Reddy and Jeremy Trombley

The Unstable Edge: Anthropology, Speculative Fiction, and the Incremental Threat of Sea Level Rise
by Ryan Anderson

Our Present as the Past’s Fictitious Future
by Sally A. Applin

Solarpunking Speculative Futures
by Nandita Badami

Thinking Parabolically: Time Matters in Octavia Butler’s Parables
by Priya Chandrasekaran

Looking for Humanity in Science Fiction through Afrofuturism
by David Colón-Cabrera

Planeterra Nullius: Science Fiction Writing and the Ethnographic Imagination
by William Lempert (Open author orcid page in new window)

Fieldnotes from the Twilight Zone
by Patricia Markert and Jeremy Trombley

Invisible City: A Speculative Guide
by Taylor Nelms

First Contact with Possible Futures
by Michael Oman-Reagan (Open author orcid page in new window)

Speculative Fiction and Speculating about the Social
by Elizabeth Reddy

Evidently SF
by David Valentine

Anthropology’s Latent Futures
by Samuel Gerald Collins

Unbounding the Field/Note
by Valerie Olson

The Necessary Tension between Science Fiction and Anthropology
by Matthew Wolf-Meyer"
speculative  anthropology  speculativeanthropology  speculativefiction  designfiction  speculation  afrofuturism  ecology  technology  immigration  climatechange  ryananderson  emmalouisebacke  taylornelms  elizabethreddy  jeremytrombley  sallyapplin  nanditabadami  priyachandrasekaran  davidcolón-cabrera  williamlempert  patriciamarkert  michaeloman-reagan  samuelgeraldcollins  davidvalentine  valerieolson  matthewwolf-meyer 
december 2018 by robertogreco
West coast is something nobody with sense would understand. : Open Space
""West coast is something nobody with sense would understand."

That’s a line from Jack Spicer’s “Ten Poems for Downbeat,” written in 1965, just before the Los Angeles-born poet died, age forty, in San Francisco. Was it true then, is it true now? What are some ways to make sense of this place (which isn’t one place), in this time (when it seems like there’s so little time)? Speculative, subversive, meditative: here are a few attempts."
westcoast  sanfrancisco  losangeles  jackspicer  1965  2017  place  speculative  subversion  speculation  meditation  pendarvisharsha  art  guadaluperosales  elisabethnicula  sophiawang  jennyodell  suzannestein  sandiego  cedarsigo  leorafridman  trees  fog  annahalprin  dance  eastla 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Cassandra Plays the Stock Market | Quiet Babylon
"I imagined her playing the stock market. She starts buying dot-coms in 1994 and gets out in 2000. She sees the housing crisis from miles away and has sold all her subprime holding by early 2008.

But her story is a tragedy, so then I imagined her getting put away for insider trading. They don’t have any solid evidence, but no one believes her defence and the jury becomes certain she’s guilty. She’s the only person punished for the collapse of the banking system. Thankfully, it’s a white collar crime so pretty soon, she gets out. She’s like Martha Stewart.

I feel like I know a lot of people who kind of see themselves as a Cassandra. I feel that way sometimes, myself. We look at the world, we notice a lot of obviously terrible decisions that people and institutions are making, we point out that things won’t go well, no one listens to us, and then things don’t go well. We console ourselves that we’d seen it coming. It’s kind of a romantic feeling. You feel like you’re smarter than most people.

I was talking to my wife Pamela about all this and she gently pointed out that in my white-collar retelling, I’d missed the whole point of the Cassandra myth. In the story, things don’t go at all well for Cassandra. Her city burns. She is assaulted and kidnapped and eventually killed by the invaders. Cassandra doesn’t get to insulate herself from the worst of it. She suffers the consequences along with everyone else.

She is bound to the fate of her people. As we are bound to the fate of ours.

It’s not good enough to be right.

A funny thing has happened in my professional circles since the election.

In the wake of these terrible events, pretty much all of my colleagues have discovered the renewed importance of whatever it is we were working on in the first place. I, of course, have discovered the renewed importance of understanding the role of fiction and speculation in shaping the future of the world. I think we should be suspicious about this.

At the place where I work — a university — there has been a particular renewal in talking about how important it is that we teach everyone more critical thinking. The feeling is that the outcome of this election is the result of people being duped, and that if they’d had better critical thinking skills, that people would have been somehow inoculated against the bad ideas, and better able to think for themselves (and vote the way we thought they should).

I’ve spent more time than I’d like to admit hanging around the online communities of the kind of people we are worried about reaching here, and I am here to tell you: They are using their critical thinking skills.

They are fully literate in concepts like bias and in the importance of interrogating sources. They believe very much in the power of persuasion and the dangers in propaganda and a great many of them believe that we are the ones who have been behaving uncritically and who have been duped. They think that we are the unbelieving victims of fraud.

Which is not to set up some kind of false equivalency between sides. But I do want us to consider the possibility that we don’t need to talk across that barrier, and that it might not be possible to talk across it. That we need to consider that if it’s true that vast swaths of the voting populace are unbelieving victims of fraud, that there’s not much we can do for them. That we may need instead to work to invigorate our allies, discourage our enemies, and save the persuasion for people right on the edge.

But, again, I’m saying all of this to you as someone who has not figured this out."
timmaly  future  futurism  speculation  cassandra  2017  fraud  kazysvarnelis  robertsumrell  gigurdjieff  belief  criticalthinking  allies  persuasion  speculativefutures  predictions 
july 2017 by robertogreco
The Art of Teaching
[via: "The slide deck for the workshop is superb. Such a great experience, so grateful to @tchoi8 & the other participants." https://twitter.com/dphiffer/status/879465006449909760

referencing also: "How I learn to build things. Something I created for @tchoi8’s Art of Learning workshop at @eyeofestival."
https://twitter.com/dphiffer/status/879366496354488322 ]

[video: "Absence is Presence with Distance"
https://vimeo.com/234330230

"As an artist, I work with technology and narrative – formal and relational projects. As an activist, I examine personal and political – practice and praxis. As an educator, I create feedback between plastic and elastic – learning and unlearning. My talk is set at the dawn. We are waiting for the sun to rise and we are full of questions. What’s the role of an artist as an activist now? How can we critique oppressive systems that create the sense of ‘others’ based on ability and legal status? What’s kind of pedagogy can we experiment through alternative schools? How can we create a community among those who have nothing in common? By creating art, we can give form to our intentions, contribute to making the world we want to live in.

( For a companion posting to this talk visit:

https://medium.com/@tchoi8/absence-is-presence-with-distance-c0712aada56c )]
taeyoonchoi  education  teaching  purpose  routine  ritual  silence  flow  conflict  communication  structure  nurture  authority  kojinkaratani  jean-lucnancy  community  howweteach  pedagogy  learning  howwelearn  eyeo2017  unlearning  curriculum  syllabus  sfpc  schoolforpoeticcomputation  art  craft  beauty  utility  generosity  sfsh  tcsnmy  lcproject  openstudioproject  classideas  cv  reciprocity  gifts  kant  discretion  instruction  discipline  johndewey  bmc  blackmountaincollege  justice  annialbers  stndardization  weaving  textiles  making  projectbasedlearning  materials  progress  progressive  unschooling  deschooling  control  experimentation  knowledge  fabrication  buckminsterfuller  constructivism  constructionism  georgehein  habit  freedom  democracy  paulofreire  judithbutler  sunaurataylor  walking  christinesunkim  uncertainty  representation  intervention  speculation  simulation  christopheralexander  objectives  outcomes  learningoutcomes  learningobjectives  remembering  creativity  evaluation  application  analysis  understanding  emancipation  allankaprow  judychicago  s 
june 2017 by robertogreco
New Year's resolutions for architecture and design in 2017 by Will Wiles
"With 2016 coming to an end, Will Wiles doses out his New Year's resolutions for architecture and design in 2017, which include resisting the hygge trend and finally taking responsibility for the climate.

I suggested New Year's Resolutions for architecture and design at the end of 2015, and the response was great. So, one year later, I've made some more:

1. An end to TED's glib solutionism

Consider president-elect Donald Trump's proposed wall to keep out Mexico. It was the most consistent pledge he made during his precedent-smashing election campaign. Trump admitted that it was his secret rhetorical weapon for when he sensed a crowd was getting bored: "I just say, 'We will build the wall!' and they go nuts," he told the New York Times.

The wall is a strong pledge to make: it's a simple, easy-to-understand design solution to a perceived problem. It's also crass, offensive and impractical in the extreme, but that didn't matter to the target audience. They got it. They went nuts.

There was a lot of this in 2016, the year zealots of various stripes promised to sweep away the knotted, stifling problems of globalisation with no more than a wave of the tiny hand. Build the wall, make America great again, drain the swamp, vote leave, take back control.

Architecture and design, which is well populated with experts and systems-thinkers, might regard itself as being apart from all this. But, in fact, one of the throbbing nerve centres of the post-expert, hand-wave era lies closer than you might think: TED, the wildly popular talks series.

TED, of course, presents itself as a hub of expertise and intelligence. And in criticising TED, I don't mean to denigrate the vast majority of its speakers, or to imply that TED equals Trump, or anything so dim. It's the format that's the problem, and the kind of intellectual legerdemain it encourages.

TED is the golden cap of the yaddering pyramid of hackism: that every wicked problem has a nifty workaround or backdoor, that it's all got a glib little design solution that'll bypass all the waffle and the smoke, and make everything OK. Ted Everyman, outsider genius, has cracked the problem that has the eggheads stumped, and it was so simple.

Trump's wall is very TED. So is his insistence that generic "smartness" on his part means that he can do without the expert advice previous presidents have relied upon, such as intelligence briefings.

The trouble for democratic opposition to these forces is that complexity and intractability make for very unenticing messages. Even more problematic is the fact that "it's complicated, let us experts handle it" is the way the globalist managerial class has ushered in many of the problems that Trump and others now claim to have solved.

Where architecture and design might be able to make a difference in the coming months is by shunning hackism and solutionism, and demonstrating instead its remarkable ability to research, explore and expose.

2. Take personal responsibility for the climate

With Trump's administration stuffed full of climate-change deniers and oil men, concerted international state action to address the warming planet looks unlikely. Worse, existing measures, such as the Paris Agreement that came into force this year, might be in peril. American leadership isn't essential for progress on the climate, but its active obstruction and wrecking of vital research could be a disastrous setback when renewed effort is needed.

The abdication of governments from climate action serves, at least, as a reminder that they can't be relied upon to enforce change. The long-awaited economic breakthrough of renewable energy has at last arrived: solar is now the word's cheapest form of energy. Simple economic forces might now drive down carbon emissions while national governments are preoccupied. Texas, a place strongly associated with oil and gas, now gets as much as half of its electricity from wind, and is anticipating a solar boom. China may also be a source of surprises.

These are changes that may yet halt the incipient climate catastrophe: not grandiose treaty-signing, but aggregated individual decisions. Be part of it in what you make and build.

3. Health warnings for the whimsy

Another Trump-related one, sadly. Trump's victory has also sparked a debate over so-called "fake news": the growing welter of misinformation, disinformation and scurrilous falsehood online. This risks crowding out more reliable sources of information and overwhelming civil society's already overtaxed critical faculties.

Again, you might wonder what that has to do with architecture and design. But of course architecture and design has a long history of generating its own "fake news" in the form of the more fanciful speculative proposals and vapourware.

There's nothing wrong with speculation, paper architecture and design fictions, of course – they're all useful endeavours and we'd be hugely poorer without them. It suits architecture and design to propose their own forms, as well as to simply deliver the proposals of others.

Even the grubbier end of that kind of activity isn't inherently bad. Here I'm talking about the completely senseless floating lilypad cities or vertical farms that get pitched out as blog-fodder for no practical purpose than showing off a designer's rendering skills and get their name about. They probably belong on Deviantart rather than Dezeen, but no one's harmed.

Really what's needed is appropriate labelling: making it clear what is speculation for the purposes of debate, what's a real proposal that's seeking backers, what might actually have a chance of actually appearing, and what's just a bit of hey-look-at-me fun. That's where the ethics get murky. Remember that Chinese straddling bus concept that turned out to be little more than a scam? Or that kooky London Garden Bridge concept that also turned out to be little more than a scam. Whimsy can be costly, people!

But seriously, knock it off with the floating cities and the vertical farms.

4. Leave "hygge" in 2016

Financial Times critic Edwin Heathcote has already done a sterling job of debunking hygge, the ubiquitous pseudo-Scandinavian lifestyle craze. Like many ubiquitous lifestyle crazes, it's a subtle blend of total common sense (fires are nice in winter) and complete balderdash.

Anyway, it's upon us now and resistance is futile – the tie-in books have already been given as presents, and they already sit amid the Christmas wreckage of many, many living rooms. And I'm sure they look harmless enough. So it's time for a word of warning.

The Guardian's Charlotte Higgins has already shown how hygge was confected within the publishing industry. I think the part played by architecture and design has been understated, though. For a start, the sector has done much to import interest in Scandinavian lifestyles by importing lots of Scandinavian people. No one in their right mind would think this was anything other than a tremendous boon, and I can only apologise to my Scandinavian friends and colleagues for the way Britain is presently making a travesty of their culture. That, and Brexit.

Let's not do hygge urbanism. The temptation will be strong, and you must resist
It truly has been a terrible year. Architecture – specifically, architecture publishing – was also making something of a fetish of things hygge before hygge was a thing, with its recent boom in cabins and log piles. I attribute this more to an interest in consumer survivalism, rather than Danish culture, but nevertheless "cabin porn" was very much the gateway.

Anyway, here's the warning. Already, thoughts will be turning to next year's endeavours, and fun ways to present them to the public. The eye will blearily cast around the living room for ideas. Thanks to architects from Jan Gehl to Bjarke Ingels, the Danish way of making cities is already rightly praised and emulated. But let's not do hygge urbanism. The temptation will be strong, and you must resist. No hygge placemaking. I beg of you. Just don't."

[via "These resolutions from @WillWiles are all worth considering, especially the one that equates Speculative Design and Fake News."
https://twitter.com/sevensixfive/status/815242847095951361

"There's a subtle but not so subtle difference between projects that are intended as critique, click bait, or outright hoax.

The hoax, as @bruces says, is in the territory of the Black Arts, and almost always maliciously and dangerously deployed.

I say this as someone whose proposal to launch manatees into space was reposted w/ straight seriousness by the Daily Mail & their commenters

The project, intended as critique (&, to be honest, clickbait!) was weaponized by DM, in the genre of "goofy eggheads wasting tax dollars""
ted  tedtalks  solutionism  climatechange  2016  2017  willwiles  architecture  design  hackism  government  governance  policy  economics  energy  renewableenergy  fakenews  news  media  specualtivedesign  fredscharmen  brucesterling  hoaxes  clickbait  critique  hygge  responsibility  speculation  whimsy  edwinheathcote  charlottehiggins  scandinavia  fetishes  publishing  cabinporn  bjarkeingels  jangehl  hyggeurbanism  urban  urbanism  placemaking 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Remarks at the SASE Panel On The Moral Economy of Tech
"I am only a small minnow in the technology ocean, but since it is my natural habitat, I want to make an effort to describe it to you.

As computer programmers, our formative intellectual experience is working with deterministic systems that have been designed by other human beings. These can be very complex, but the complexity is not the kind we find in the natural world. It is ultimately always tractable. Find the right abstractions, and the puzzle box opens before you.

The feeling of competence, control and delight in discovering a clever twist that solves a difficult problem is what makes being a computer programmer sometimes enjoyable.

But as anyone who's worked with tech people knows, this intellectual background can also lead to arrogance. People who excel at software design become convinced that they have a unique ability to understand any kind of system at all, from first principles, without prior training, thanks to their superior powers of analysis. Success in the artificially constructed world of software design promotes a dangerous confidence.

Today we are embarked on a great project to make computers a part of everyday life. As Marc Andreessen memorably frames it, "software is eating the world". And those of us writing the software expect to be greeted as liberators.

Our intentions are simple and clear. First we will instrument, then we will analyze, then we will optimize. And you will thank us.

But the real world is a stubborn place. It is complex in ways that resist abstraction and modeling. It notices and reacts to our attempts to affect it. Nor can we hope to examine it objectively from the outside, any more than we can step out of our own skin.

The connected world we're building may resemble a computer system, but really it's just the regular old world from before, with a bunch of microphones and keyboards and flat screens sticking out of it. And it has the same old problems.

Approaching the world as a software problem is a category error that has led us into some terrible habits of mind.

BAD MENTAL HABITS

First, programmers are trained to seek maximal and global solutions. Why solve a specific problem in one place when you can fix the general problem for everybody, and for all time? We don't think of this as hubris, but as a laudable economy of effort. And the startup funding culture of big risk, big reward encourages this grandiose mode of thinking. There is powerful social pressure to avoid incremental change, particularly any change that would require working with people outside tech and treating them as intellectual equals.

Second, treating the world as a software project gives us a rationale for being selfish. The old adage has it that if you are given ten minutes to cut down a tree, you should spend the first five sharpening your axe. We are used to the idea of bootstrapping ourselves into a position of maximum leverage before tackling a problem.

In the real world, this has led to a pathology where the tech sector maximizes its own comfort. You don't have to go far to see this. Hop on BART after the conference and take a look at Oakland, or take a stroll through downtown San Francisco and try to persuade yourself you're in the heart of a boom that has lasted for forty years. You'll see a residential theme park for tech workers, surrounded by areas of poverty and misery that have seen no benefit and ample harm from our presence. We pretend that by maximizing our convenience and productivity, we're hastening the day when we finally make life better for all those other people.

Third, treating the world as software promotes fantasies of control. And the best kind of control is control without responsibility. Our unique position as authors of software used by millions gives us power, but we don't accept that this should make us accountable. We're programmers—who else is going to write the software that runs the world? To put it plainly, we are surprised that people seem to get mad at us for trying to help.

Fortunately we are smart people and have found a way out of this predicament. Instead of relying on algorithms, which we can be accused of manipulating for our benefit, we have turned to machine learning, an ingenious way of disclaiming responsibility for anything. Machine learning is like money laundering for bias. It's a clean, mathematical apparatus that gives the status quo the aura of logical inevitability. The numbers don't lie.

Of course, people obsessed with control have to eventually confront the fact of their own extinction. The response of the tech world to death has been enthusiastic. We are going to fix it. Google Ventures, for example, is seriously funding research into immortality. Their head VC will call you a "deathist" for pointing out that this is delusional.

Such fantasies of control come with a dark side. Witness the current anxieties about an artificial superintelligence, or Elon Musk's apparently sincere belief that we're living in a simulation. For a computer programmer, that's the ultimate loss of control. Instead of writing the software, you are the software.

We obsess over these fake problems while creating some real ones.

In our attempt to feed the world to software, techies have built the greatest surveillance apparatus the world has ever seen. Unlike earlier efforts, this one is fully mechanized and in a large sense autonomous. Its power is latent, lying in the vast amounts of permanently stored personal data about entire populations.

We started out collecting this information by accident, as part of our project to automate everything, but soon realized that it had economic value. We could use it to make the process self-funding. And so mechanized surveillance has become the economic basis of the modern tech industry.

SURVEILLANCE CAPITALISM

Surveillance capitalism has some of the features of a zero-sum game. The actual value of the data collected is not clear, but it is definitely an advantage to collect more than your rivals do. Because human beings develop an immune response to new forms of tracking and manipulation, the only way to stay successful is to keep finding novel ways to peer into people's private lives. And because much of the surveillance economy is funded by speculators, there is an incentive to try flashy things that will capture the speculators' imagination, and attract their money.

This creates a ratcheting effect where the behavior of ever more people is tracked ever more closely, and the collected information retained, in the hopes that further dollars can be squeezed out of it.

Just like industrialized manufacturing changed the relationship between labor and capital, surveillance capitalism is changing the relationship between private citizens and the entities doing the tracking. Our old ideas about individual privacy and consent no longer hold in a world where personal data is harvested on an industrial scale.

Those who benefit from the death of privacy attempt to frame our subjugation in terms of freedom, just like early factory owners talked about the sanctity of contract law. They insisted that a worker should have the right to agree to anything, from sixteen-hour days to unsafe working conditions, as if factory owners and workers were on an equal footing.

Companies that perform surveillance are attempting the same mental trick. They assert that we freely share our data in return for valuable services. But opting out of surveillance capitalism is like opting out of electricity, or cooked foods—you are free to do it in theory. In practice, it will upend your life.

Many of you had to obtain a US visa to attend this conference. The customs service announced yesterday it wants to start asking people for their social media profiles. Imagine trying to attend your next conference without a LinkedIn profile, and explaining to the American authorities why you are so suspiciously off the grid.

The reality is, opting out of surveillance capitalism means opting out of much of modern life.

We're used to talking about the private and public sector in the real economy, but in the surveillance economy this boundary doesn't exist. Much of the day-to-day work of surveillance is done by telecommunications firms, which have a close relationship with government. The techniques and software of surveillance are freely shared between practitioners on both sides. All of the major players in the surveillance economy cooperate with their own country's intelligence agencies, and are spied on (very effectively) by all the others.

As a technologist, this state of affairs gives me the feeling of living in a forest that is filling up with dry, dead wood. The very personal, very potent information we're gathering about people never goes away, only accumulates. I don't want to see the fire come, but at the same time, I can't figure out a way to persuade other people of the great danger.

So I try to spin scenarios.

THE INEVITABLE LIST OF SCARY SCENARIOS

One of the candidates running for President this year has promised to deport eleven million undocumented immigrants living in the United States, as well as block Muslims from entering the country altogether. Try to imagine this policy enacted using the tools of modern technology. The FBI would subpoena Facebook for information on every user born abroad. Email and phone conversations would be monitored to check for the use of Arabic or Spanish, and sentiment analysis applied to see if the participants sounded "nervous". Social networks, phone metadata, and cell phone tracking would lead police to nests of hiding immigrants.

We could do a really good job deporting people if we put our minds to it.

Or consider the other candidate running for President, the one we consider the sane alternative, who has been a longtime promoter of a system of extrajudicial murder that uses blanket surveillance of cell phone traffic, email, and social media to create lists of people to be tracked and killed with autonomous aircraft. … [more]
culture  ethics  privacy  surveillance  technology  technosolutionism  maciegceglowski  2016  computing  coding  programming  problemsolving  systemsthinking  systems  software  control  power  elonmusk  marcandreessen  siliconvalley  sanfrancisco  oakland  responsibility  machinelearning  googlevntures  vc  capitalism  speculation  consent  labor  economics  poland  dystopia  government  politics  policy  immortality 
june 2016 by robertogreco
American Capitalism’s Great Crisis | TIME
"America’s economic problems go far beyond rich bankers, too-big-to-fail financial institutions, hedge-fund billionaires, offshore tax avoidance or any particular outrage of the moment. In fact, each of these is symptomatic of a more nefarious condition that threatens, in equal measure, the very well-off and the very poor, the red and the blue. The U.S. system of market capitalism itself is broken.

[…]

America’s economic illness has a name: financialization. It’s an academic term for the trend by which Wall Street and its methods have come to reign supreme in America, permeating not just the financial industry but also much of American business. It includes everything from the growth in size and scope of finance and financial activity in the economy; to the rise of debt-fueled speculation over productive lending; to the ascendancy of shareholder value as the sole model for corporate governance; to the proliferation of risky, selfish thinking in both the private and public sectors; to the increasing political power of financiers and the CEOs they enrich; to the way in which a “markets know best” ideology remains the status quo. Financialization is a big, unfriendly word with broad, disconcerting implications.

[…]

The changes were driven by the fact that in the 1970s, the growth that America had enjoyed following World War II began to slow. Rather than make tough decisions about how to bolster it (which would inevitably mean choosing among various interest groups), politicians decided to pass that responsibility to the financial markets. Little by little, the Depression-era regulation that had served America so well was rolled back, and finance grew to become the dominant force that it is today. The shifts were bipartisan, and to be fair they often seemed like good ideas at the time; but they also came with unintended consequences.

[…]

This sickness, not so much the product of venal interests as of a complex and long-term web of changes in government and private industry, now manifests itself in myriad ways: a housing market that is bifurcated and dependent on government life support, a retirement system that has left millions insecure in their old age, a tax code that favors debt over equity. Debt is the lifeblood of finance; with the rise of the securities-and-trading portion of the industry came a rise in debt of all kinds, public and private. That’s bad news, since a wide range of academic research shows that rising debt and credit levels stoke financial instability. And yet, as finance has captured a greater and greater piece of the national pie, it has, perversely, all but ensured that debt is indispensable to maintaining any growth at all in an advanced economy like the U.S., where 70% of output is consumer spending. Debt-fueled finance has become a saccharine substitute for the real thing, an addiction that just gets worse. (The amount of credit offered to American consumers has doubled in real dollars since the 1980s, as have the fees they pay to their banks.)

[…]

Remooring finance in the real economy isn’t as simple as splitting up the biggest banks (although that would be a good start). It’s about dismantling the hold of financial-oriented thinking in every corner of corporate America. It’s about reforming business education, which is still permeated with academics who resist challenges to the gospel of efficient markets in the same way that medieval clergy dismissed scientific evidence that might challenge the existence of God. It’s about changing a tax system that treats one-year investment gains the same as longer-term ones, and induces financial institutions to push overconsumption and speculation rather than healthy lending to small businesses and job creators. It’s about rethinking retirement, crafting smarter housing policy and restraining a money culture filled with lobbyists who violate America’s essential economic principles.

It’s also about starting a bigger conversation about all this, with a broader group of stakeholders. The structure of American capital markets and whether or not they are serving business is a topic that has traditionally been the sole domain of “experts”—the financiers and policymakers who often have a self-interested perspective to push, and who do so in complicated language that keeps outsiders out of the debate. When it comes to finance, as with so many issues in a democratic society, complexity breeds exclusion. "

[via: http://finalbossform.com/post/146159698129/americas-economic-problems-go-far-beyond-rich ]
ranafarhoo  culture  economics  us  capitalism  banking  taxes  accounting  policy  politics  finance  banks  hedgefunds  inequality  financialization  wallstreet  debt  speculation  interestgroups  corruption  government  instability  regulation  democracy  markets 
june 2016 by robertogreco
UCSD, Parsons and the Cooper Hewitt: Institutions of education and culture making a commitment to design's intellectually-oriented practice - Core77
"Last week we mentioned how governments were dabbling in discursive design, and this week three major educational and cultural institutions weighed in with different forms of support for this intellectual arm of design practice.

Perhaps the biggest news was the announcement by the University of California San Diego (UCSD) starting a new undergraduate major, Speculative Design. Within the Department of Visual Arts, known for an emphasis on experimental art and the resistance of commercial art and even commercial fine art, the inclusion of design to its offerings was not without some initial resistance. As its Chair, Jack M. Greenstein reflected upon the genesis of the program three or four years ago: with "design so closely related to product and marketing…we couldn't really foresee how this would work."

This rejection of design due to its relationship with commerce has long been a point of tension within schools of art, sometimes resulting bad blood, formal schisms, and even banishment. The same reason that UCSD eventually found that speculative design made sense for them—that it is ultimately idea-based and shares many of the same goals as experimental art—is precisely why it can be discounted by mainstream design.

Just as it has taken the good part of a century for schools of design to emerge (rather than having industrial design, for example, located in schools of architecture, schools of engineering, and schools of art) discursive design has not found a singular home in academia. But similar to corporate product development processes where design is seen as the link between marketing, manufacturing, and engineering, discursive design can be the bridge between art, technology, and more traditional design education.

As opposed to UCSD's seeming emphasis on discursive design's more artistic capacities, the MIT Media Lab stresses its value in the technological sphere. Their Design Fiction Group, under the leadership of Hiromi Ozaki (a.k.a. Sputniko!) is particularly interested in prospective students "with a strong interest in emerging technologies" and with "backgrounds in synthetic biology, bioengineering, and electronics." And certainly many industrial design programs are looking at discursive design projects and courses as a way to extend the cultural reach of design as part of an expanded notion of 21st century practice.

As part of UCSD's launch event for the program, Fiona Raby gave the keynote speech, presenting the many and influential projects of her co-run studio, Dunne and Raby. This occurred just a day after The New School's Parsons School of Design publicly announced that she and Anthony Dunne were beginning a "new gig" within their School of Design Strategies.

In moving from their celebrated positions at the Royal College of Art, Parsons can offer them a broader collaborative community. Raby says, "In joining The New School, I will be able to not only work with faculty and students to explore new forms of socially engaged practice in relation to emerging technology, but also collaborate with some amazing people in disciplines like anthropology and political theory, which Anthony and I haven't been able to connect with before."

While their positions include teaching, they are also going to be driving collaborations with other universities, notably the MIT Media Lab. The hope, says Tim Marshall, The New School's provost, is that "their inspiration and insight will help our students to not only prepare for but also help shape our social and technological futures."

And it is this question of social and technological futures that Forbes contributor Johnathon Keats questions in, "Can the Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial Save Us from the Next Global Die-Off?" Published a day after Raby's keynote and in anticipation of the Triennial's February 12th opening, Keats discusses several discursive design projects to be exhibited that deal with synthetic biology and questions of its relationship to how we might (have to) live our lives. Designers Daisy Ginsberg, Neri Oxman, and Ana Rajcevic exhibit objects and images of hypothetical creatures, synthetic organs, and animal-inspired prosthetics for humans.

These uses of current and future synthetic biology and bioengineering are of course not predictions, but provocations. As UCSD professor, Benjamin Bratton stated in his insightful (and perhaps incite-ful) lecture just prior to Raby's keynote: "These technologies are Pharmakon [Socrates' term]: remedy and poison. Any perspective that emphasizes their positive or negative potential without assuming the inverse is incomplete or dishonest." The Cooper Hewitt as a cultural institution is trying in this way to keep us a little more honest.

In regard to this week's events from the UCSD program announcement, to Dunne and Raby's gig at Parsons, to the kickoff of the Triennial, we turn to Keats' for a helpful summation: "While more frequently found in art, this philosophical turn belongs equally in the realm of design, where it can problematize product development before manufacturers remake society in their own image. Moreover, design is the universal language of the modern world. Using design speculatively brings philosophy to everyone."

The "everyone" is certainly an ethnocentric oversight, given that discursive design is currently a product of and for the privileged world. But all of this is a start. In order to responsibly, substantively, and extensively deliver on this promise, we need even further academic emphasis, even more visionary practitioners, and even greater public engagement in discursive design's future.
Designers! Help future a future."

[via: https://twitter.com/annegalloway/status/705497337502642176

See also discussion here: https://twitter.com/annegalloway/status/705497387586842624 ]
speculativedesign  design  ycsd  cooper-hewitt  parsons  brucetharp  stephanietharp  jackgreenstein  discursivedesign  benjaminbratton  mitmedialab  hiromiozaki  designfiction  designfictiongroup  sputniko!anthonydunne  fionaraby  dunne&raby  newschool  speculation  daisyginsberg  nerioxman  anarajcevic  medialab 
march 2016 by robertogreco
The Thriving World, the Wilting World, and You — Medium
"We are a community branded as leaders living through this revolutionary moment, living through this extreme winning and extreme losing. It falls on us to ask the tough questions about it.

But we here in Aspen are in a bit of a tight spot.

Our deliberations about what to do about this extreme winning and losing are sponsored by the extreme winners. This community was formed by stalwarts of American capitalism; today we sit in spaces named after Pepsi (as in the beverage) and Koch (as in the brothers); our discussion of Martin Luther King and Omelas is sponsored by folks like Accenture, David Rubenstein and someone named Pom; we are deeply enmeshed and invested in the establishment and systems we are supposed to question. And yet we are a community of leaders that claims to seek justice. These identities are tricky to reconcile.

Today I want to challenge how we reconcile them. There is no consensus on anything here, as any seminar participant knows. But I believe that many of our discussions operate within what I will call the “Aspen Consensus,” which, like the “Washington Consensus” or “Beijing Consensus,” describes a nest of shared assumptions within which diverse ideas hatch. The “Aspen Consensus” demarcates what we mostly agree not to question, even as we question so much. And though I call it the Aspen Consensus, it is in many ways the prevailing ethic among the winners of our age worldwide, across business, government and even nonprofits.

The Aspen Consensus, in a nutshell, is this: the winners of our age must be challenged to do more good. But never, ever tell them to do less harm.

The Aspen Consensus holds that capitalism’s rough edges must be sanded and its surplus fruit shared, but the underlying system must never be questioned.

The Aspen Consensus says, “Give back,” which is of course a compassionate and noble thing. But, amid the $20 million second homes and $4,000 parkas of Aspen, it is gauche to observe that giving back is also a Band-Aid that winners stick onto the system that has privileged them, in the conscious or subconscious hope that it will forestall major surgery to that system — surgery that might threaten their privileges.

The Aspen Consensus, I believe, tries to market the idea of generosity as a substitute for the idea of justice. It says: make money in all the usual ways, and then give some back through a foundation, or factor in social impact, or add a second or third bottom line to your analysis, or give a left sock to the poor for every right sock you sell.

The Aspen Consensus says, “Do more good” — not “Do less harm.”

I want to sow the seed of a difficult conversation today about this Aspen Consensus. Because I love this community, and I fear for all of us — myself very much included — that we may not be as virtuous as we think we are, that history may not be as kind to us as we hope it will, that in the final analysis our role in the inequities of our age may not be remembered well.

This may sound strange at first, because the winners of our disruptive age are arguably as concerned about the plight of the losers as any elite in human history. But the question I’m raising is about what the winners propose to do in response. And I believe the winners’ response, certainly not always but still too often, is to soften the blows of the system but to preserve the system at any cost. This response is problematic. It keeps the winners too safe. It allows far too many of us to evade hard questions about our role in contributing to the disease we also seek to treat."



"Now, a significant minority of us here don’t work in business. Yet even in other sectors, we’re living in an age in which the assumptions and values of business are more influential than they ought to be. Our culture has turned businessmen and -women into philosophers, revolutionaries, social activists, saviors of the poor. We are at risk of forgetting other languages of human progress: of morality, of democracy, of solidarity, of decency, of justice.

Sometimes we succumb to the seductive Davos dogma that the business approach is the only thing that can change the world, in the face of so much historical evidence to the contrary.

And so when the winners of our age answer the problem of inequality and injustice, all too often they answer it within the logic and frameworks of business and markets. We talk a lot about giving back, profit-sharing, win-wins, social-impact investing, triple bottom lines (which, by the way, are something my four-month-old son has).

Sometimes I wonder whether these various forms of giving back have become to our era what the papal indulgence was to the Middle Ages: a relatively inexpensive way of getting oneself seemingly on the right of justice, without having to alter the fundamentals of one’s life.

Because when you give back, when you have a side foundation, a side CSR project, a side social-impact fund, you gain an exemption from more rigorous scrutiny. You helped 100 poor kids in the ghetto learn how to code. The indulgence spares you from questions about the larger systems and structures you sustain that benefit you and punish others: weak banking regulations and labor laws, zoning rules that happen to keep the poor far from your neighborhood, porous safety nets, the enduring and unrepaired legacies of slavery and racial supremacy and caste systems.

These systems and structures have victims, and we here are at risk, I think, of confusing generosity toward those victims with justice for those victims. For generosity is a win-win, but justice often is not. The winners of our age don’t enjoy the idea that some of them might actually have to lose, to sacrifice, for justice to be done. In Aspen you don’t hear a lot of ideas involving the privileged and powerful actually being in the wrong, and needing to surrender their status and position for the sake of justice.

We talk a lot here about giving more. We don’t talk about taking less.

We talk a lot here about what we should be doing more of. We don’t talk about what we should be doing less of.

I think sometimes that our Aspen Consensus has an underdeveloped sense of human darkness. There is risk in too much positivity. Sometimes to do right by people, you must begin by naming who is in the wrong.

So let’s just come out and say the thing you’re never supposed to say in Aspen: that many of the winners of our age are active, vigorous contributors to the problems they bravely seek to solve. And for the greater good to prevail on any number of issues, some people will have to lose — to actually do less harm, and not merely more good.

We know that enlightened capital didn’t get rid of the slave trade. Impact investing didn’t abolish child labor and put fire escapes on tenement factories. Drug makers didn’t stop slipping antifreeze into medicine as part of a CSR initiative. In each of these cases, the interests of the many had to defeat the interests of the recalcitrant few.

Look, I know this speech won’t make me popular at the bar tonight. But this, for me, is an act of stepping into the arena — something our wonderful teacher-moderators challenged us to do.

I know many of you agree with me already, because we have bonded for years over a shared feeling that something in this extraordinary community didn’t feel quite right. There are many others who, instead of criticizing as I do, are living rejections of this Aspen Consensus — quitting lucrative lives, risking everything, to fight the system. You awe me: you who battle for gay rights in India, who live ardently among the rural poor in South Africa, who risk assassination or worse to report news of corruption.

I am not speaking to you tonight, and I know there are many of you. I am speaking to those who, like me, may feel caught between the ideals championed by this Institute and the self-protective instinct that is always the reflex of people with much to lose.

I am as guilty as anyone. I am part of the wave of gentrification and displacement in Brooklyn, one of the most rapidly gentrifying places in America. Any success I’ve had can be traced to my excellent choice in parents and their ability to afford incredibly expensive private schools. I like good wine. I use Uber — a lot. I once stole playing cards from a private plane. I want my new son to have everything I can give him, even though I know that this is the beginning of the inequality I loathe.

I often wonder if what I do — writing — is capable of making any difference.

When I entered this fellowship, I was so taken with that summons to make a difference. But, to be honest, I have also always had a complicated relationship to this place.

I have heard too many of us talking of how only after the IPO or the next few million will we feel our kids have security. These inflated notions of what it takes to “make a living” and “support a family” are the beginning of so much neglect of our larger human family.

I walk into too many rooms named for people and companies that don’t mean well for the world, and then in those rooms we talk and talk about making the world better.

I struggled in particular with the project. I couldn’t figure out what bothered me about it for the longest time. I wasn’t very good at coming up with one or getting it done.

And I realized, through conversation with fellows in similar dilemmas, what my problem was. Many people, including some being featured later tonight, are engaged in truly extraordinary and commendable projects. We are at our best when our projects take the system head on. But I wrestled with what I perceived to be the idea behind the project, of creating generous side endeavors rather than fighting to reform, bite by bite, the hands that feed us. I felt the project distracted us from the real question: is your regular life — not your side project — on the right side … [more]
anandgiridharadas  capitalism  change  cooperation  aspeninstitute  philanthropy  climatechange  inequality  virtue  competition  inequity  elitism  power  systemschange  privilege  finance  wealth  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  wealthdistribution  davos  riggedgames  goldmansachs  indulgence  handwashing  via:tealtan  risk  stackeddecks  labor  employment  disruption  work  civics  commongood  abstraction  business  corporatism  corporations  taxes  government  socialgood  virtualization  economics  politics  policy  speculation  democracy  solidarity  socialjustice  neoliberalism  well-being  decency  egalitarianism  community  indulgences  noblesseoblige  absolution  racism  castes  leadership  generosity  sacrifice  gambling  gender  race  sexism  emotionallabor  positivity  slavery  socialsafetnet  winwin  zerosum  gentrification  stewardship  paradigmshifts  charitableindustrialcomplex  control 
august 2015 by robertogreco
Matt Jones: Jumping to the End -- Practical Design Fiction on Vimeo
[Matt says (http://magicalnihilism.com/2015/03/06/my-ixd15-conference-talk-jumping-to-the-end/ ):

"This talk summarizes a lot of the approaches that we used in the studio at BERG, and some of those that have carried on in my work with the gang at Google Creative Lab in NYC.

Unfortunately, I can’t show a lot of that work in public, so many of the examples are from BERG days…

Many thanks to Catherine Nygaard and Ben Fullerton for inviting me (and especially to Catherine for putting up with me clowning around behind here while she was introducing me…)"]

[At ~35:00:
“[(Copy)Writers] are the fastest designers in the world. They are amazing… They are just amazing at that kind of boiling down of incredibly abstract concepts into tiny packages of cognition, language. Working with writers has been my favorite thing of the last two years.”
mattjones  berg  berglondon  google  googlecreativelab  interactiondesign  scifi  sciencefiction  designfiction  futurism  speculativefiction  julianbleecker  howwework  1970s  comics  marvel  marvelcomics  2001aspaceodyssey  fiction  speculation  technology  history  umbertoeco  design  wernerherzog  dansaffer  storytelling  stories  microinteractions  signaturemoments  worldbuilding  stanleykubrick  details  grain  grammars  computervision  ai  artificialintelligence  ui  personofinterest  culture  popculture  surveillance  networks  productdesign  canon  communication  johnthackara  macroscopes  howethink  thinking  context  patternsensing  systemsthinking  systems  mattrolandson  objects  buckminsterfuller  normanfoster  brianarthur  advertising  experiencedesign  ux  copywriting  writing  film  filmmaking  prototyping  posters  video  howwewrite  cognition  language  ara  openstudioproject  transdisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  interdisciplinary  sketching  time  change  seams  seamlessness 
march 2015 by robertogreco
B-52 Bomber Radicalism | Jacobin
"The discursive world of urban design and planning will always be dominated by masturbatory fantasy until its inhabitants acknowledge that the real target of change must be the commodity form of land itself. Greater equity in urban space, including the basic right to remain in the city of one’s birth or choice, requires radical interference with rights of private property. Reforms — large-scale affordable housing, for example — that once seemed realistically achievable within electoral politics now demand an essentially revolutionary upheaval. Such has been the logic of Reaganite post-liberalism: to convert basic demands into what Trotsky called “transitional demands.”

Certainly, it was inspiring to see Occupiers reading the like of Slavoj Žižek and David Harvey inside their tents in Zuccotti Park, but the cause might have been better served if Progress and Poverty (1879) had been on the reading list as well. In 1890, Henry George, not Karl Marx, was far and away the most popular radical thinker in the English-speaking countries. His concept of a confiscatory tax on unearned increments of income from land ownership was as enthusiastically embraced by urban workers (he almost won the mayoralty of New York in 1886) as by Highland crofters and Irish tenants. Although Engels and Daniel De Leon rightly scourged the “Single Tax” as a universal panacea, George was no crank, especially in the application of his ideas about land reform to urban areas.

The great accomplishment of the Occupy movement — forcing national attention on economic inequality — became its ideological cul-de-sac to the extent that the movement was silent about economic power and the ownership of the commanding heights of the economy. Anyone can enlist in the vague cause of reducing income inequality, but actually attacking (or even acknowledging) the pyramid of economic power required a clarity that Occupy groups largely failed to achieve.

And yet, the historical moment offered the opportunity. After 2008, the American financial and residential real-estate industries were wards of the state, entirely dependent on public investment and government action. It was a prime moment for progressives to demand their conversion into de jure public utilities — nationalized and democratically managed.

An emphasis on public ownership would also have illuminated solutions immediately at hand, such as using the huge housing stock that defaulted to federal ownership to address the lack of shelter and affordable rents. Instead, the Obama administration followed the same path as Bush senior in the savings and loan crisis a generation ago: organizing a fire sale of homes and apartments to speculators.

Let’s be blunt: unregulated real-estate speculation and land inflation and deflation undermine any hope of a democratic urbanism. Land-use reforms in themselves are powerless to stop gentrification without more municipal ownership or at least “demarketization” of urban land.

The public city is engaged in a life-and-death struggle against the private city, and it’s time to identify large-scale private property as the disease. Bombs away."

[via: https://twitter.com/AlJavieera/status/570857618912059392 ]
2015  mikedavis  losangeles  urban  urbanism  urbandesign  architecture  property  capitalism  housing  cities  ownership  land  transitionaldemands  government  trotsky  zizek  davidharvey  occupywallstreet  ows  karlmarx  henrygeorge  danieldeleon  speculation  landinflation  democracy  demarketization 
february 2015 by robertogreco
The NGO-ization of resistance | Massalijn
"A hazard facing mass movements is the NGO-ization of resistance. It will be easy to twist what I’m about to say into an indictment of all NGOs. That would be a falsehood. In the murky waters of fake NGOs set up or to siphon off grant money or as tax dodges (in states like Bihar, they are given as dowry), of course, there are NGOs doing valuable work. But it’s important to consider the NGO phenomenon in a broader political context.

In India, for instance, the funded NGO boom began in the late 1980s and 1990s. It coincided with the opening of India’s markets to neoliberalism. At the time, the Indian state, in keeping with the requirements of structural adjustment, was withdrawing funding from rural development, agriculture, energy, transport and public health. As the state abdicated its traditional role, NGOs moved in to work in these very areas. The difference, of course, is that the funds available to them are a minuscule fraction of the actual cut in public spending.

Most large-funded NGOs are financed and patronized by aid and development agencies, which are, in turn, funded by Western governments, the World Bank, the UN and some multinational corporations. Though they may not be the very same agencies, they are certainly part of the same loose, political formation that oversees the neoliberal project and demands the slash in government spending in the first place.

Why should these agencies fund NGOs? Could it be just old-fashioned missionary zeal? Guilt? It’s a little more than that. NGOs give the impression that they are filling the vacuum created by a retreating state. And they are, but in a materially inconsequential way. Their real contribution is that they defuse political anger and dole out as aid or benevolence what people ought to have by right. They alter the public psyche. They turn people into dependent victims and blunt the edges of political resistance. NGOs form a sort of buffer between the sarkar and public. Between Empire and its subjects. They have become the arbitrators, the interpreters, the facilitators.

In the long run, NGOs are accountable to their funders, not to the people they work among. They’re what botanists would call an indicator species. It’s almost as though the greater the devastation caused by neoliberalism, the greater the outbreak of NGOs. Nothing illustrates this more poignantly than the phenomenon of the U.S. preparing to invade a country and simultaneously readying NGOs to go in and clean up the devastation. In order make sure their funding is not jeopardized and that the governments of the countries they work in will allow them to function, NGOs have to present their work in a shallow framework, more or less shorn of a political or historical context. At any rate, an inconvenient historical or political context.

Apolitical (and therefore, actually, extremely political) distress reports from poor countries and war zones eventually make the (dark) people of those (dark) countries seem like pathological victims. Another malnourished Indian, another starving Ethiopian, another Afghan refugee camp, another maimed Sudanese…in need of the white man’s help. They unwittingly reinforce racist stereotypes and reaffirm the achievements, the comforts and the compassion (the tough love) of Western civilization. They’re the secular missionaries of the modern world.

Eventually–on a smaller scale, but more insidiously–the capital available to NGOs plays the same role in alternative politics as the speculative capital that flows in and out of the economies of poor countries. It begins to dictate the agenda. It turns confrontation into negotiation. It depoliticizes resistance. It interferes with local peoples’ movements that have traditionally been self-reliant. NGOs have funds that can employ local people who might otherwise be activists in resistance movements, but now can feel they are doing some immediate, creative good (and earning a living while they’re at it).

Real political resistance offers no such short cuts. The NGO-ization of politics threatens to turn resistance into a well-mannered, reasonable, salaried, 9-to-5 job. With a few perks thrown in. Real resistance has real consequences. And no salary."
arundhatiroy  via:dymaxion  2014  charitableindustrialcomplex  governance  ngos  resistance  politics  policy  consequences  speculation  capital  economics  power  control  confrontation  negotiation  salvationpolitics  racism  stereotypes  missionaries  funding  neoliberalism  depoliticization  appeasement  charity  philanthropy  markets  bloodmoney  development  colonization  colonialism  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  capitalism 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Questioning the “critical” in Speculative & Critical Design — Designing the Future — Medium
"In the past few days I’ve been following this excellent and profoundly enlightening discussion [http://designandviolence.moma.org/republic-of-salivation-michael-burton-and-michiko-nitta/ ] on MoMA’s Design and Violence page. The conversation, initiated by John Thackara’s comments on Burton Nitta’s project “Republic of Salivation” [http://www.burtonnitta.co.uk/repubicofsalivation.html ], was further developed in the comment section. The issue at stake was the presumed naivety of the project while dealing with a subject that might be dystopian to some, but in some other parts of the world it has been the reality for decades. During the — still ongoing — debate, one of the most pressing issues to emerge was the political accountability of Speculative and Critical Design (from now on, referred to as SCD) or its lack thereof.

When questioned on the validity of a discipline that consistently dismisses and willingly ignores struggles other than those that concern the intellectual white middle classes — precisely the environment where SCD comes from — designer James Auger [http://www.auger-loizeau.com/ ] responded:
What is this obsession with class systems? The UK may have its financial problems but most of us stopped obsessing about these divides in the distant past.

As a brazilian designer based in Germany struggling to understand her position in the blindly privileged environment of SCD, Auger’s reaction sounds all too familiar. Being able to ignore things like class, gender and race is the clearest demonstration of privilege: you don’t notice it (or rather, sometimes knowingly choose not to) precisely because it doesn’t affect you. As a discipline theorised within the safe confines of developed, northern european countries and practiced largely within an overwhelmingly white, male, middle class academic environment, SCD has successfully managed to ignore, or at best only vaguely acknowledge, issues of class, race and gender (with few [http://superflux.in/ ] exceptions [http://sputniko.com/ ]). Instead, the vast majority of the body of work currently available in the field has concentrated its efforts on envisioning near futures that deal with issues that seem much more tangible to their own privileged crowd. Projects that clearly reflect the fear of losing first-world privileges — gastronomical, civil or cultural — in a bleak, dystopic future abound, while practitioners seem to be blissfully unaware (or unwilling to acknowledge, in some cases) of other realities.

The visual discourse of SCD also seems interestingly devoid of people of color, who rarely (if ever) make an appearance in the clean, perfectly squared, aseptic world imagined by these designers-researchers. Couples depicted in these near-future scenarios seem to be consistently heterosexual; there is no poverty, there are no noticeable power structures that divide the wealthy and the poor, or the colonialist and the colonised; gender seems to be an immutable, black-and-white truth, clearly defined between men and women, with virtually no space for trans* and queer identities (let alone queer and trans* voices speaking for themselves). From its visual discourse to its formulations of near-future scenarios, SCD seems to be curiously apathetic and apolitical for a discipline that strives to be a critical response to mainstream perceptions of what design is, and what it should do.

So answering Auger’s pressing question — “What is this obsession with class systems?” —, well: we are obsessed with class systems because we can’t help it. Because, in contrast to most of the practitioners in the field of SCD, we do not have the privilege of not thinking about issues of race, class and gender. Because your dystopia is happening to us right now. It’s happening when we get harassed because of our gender, our class or our ethnicity. It’s happening when a brazilian citizen is killed by british police with no explanation, apology or reason other than being a foreigner [http://www.theguardian.com/uk/menezes ]. It’s happening because where I come from, the reality suggested by The Republic of Salivation isn’t so far-fetched [http://thebrazilbusiness.com/article/cost-of-living-in-brazil-ndash-cesta-basica ]. And because if we don’t call out your privilege — though you dismiss it as “misguided suggestions of privilege” — this is what will keep on happening: SCD will never evolve past a discipline stuck in its own little universe of weather forecasts and smart fridges, incapable of seeing how shallow its own speculations are, and how much more relevant and inclusive they could be.

Right now, SCD’s preoccupations are directed towards nothing more than an alleged “lack of poetic dimensions” in our relationship with electronic objects. The “social narratives” and “criticism” so advertised by the great majority of its practitioners seem to only apply to the aesthetic concerns of the intellectual northern european middle classes. Those dystopian “critical futures” forget (or oversee it for a lack of empathy toward the subject matter) that the very electronic objects that they are talking about not only are — and will continue to be — accessible to a minimum percentage of the world’s population, but also that those who won’t have access to it will likely be exploited to make that reality happen, one way or another. It is extremely frustrating to observe how SCD practitioners depict a dystopian universe where technology comes to paint a world in which their own privileges of their own reality are at stake, while at the same time failing to properly acknowledge that design is a strong contributor to the complete denial of basic human rights to minorities, right here, right now. Those sleek, shiny gadgets and sentient objects and robots SCD designers are keen to portray come only to the aid of white, middle class, cisgendered heterosexual citizens. But no SCD dystopian scenario takes into account that this pervasive “technological menace” will most probably be manufactured in China, Indonesia or Bangladesh (as suggested by Ahmed Ansari [https://twitter.com/aansari86 ] in the comments section in the original post). And I cannot help but reinforce that SCD is a practice whose origins and current developments, so far, happen within colonialist countries.

Despite all of its shortcomings, I do believe that SCD has something necessary and valid to offer to society. I do believe that design is a powerful language, one that it is perfectly positioned to provide relevant social and cultural critique, and that envisioning near future scenarios might just help us reflect on the paths we want to take as a society. In order to truly achieve these goals, however, SCD needs to be held accountable for its political and social positions; it urgently needs to escape its narrow northern european middle class confines; it needs to talk about social change; it needs more diversity, both in its visual representations and in the practitioners in the field. A first step, perhaps, would be to acknowledge that these issues are at stake instead of just dismissing them as useless concerns. Speculative Design can only earn its “Critical” name once it leaves its own comfort zone and start looking beyond privilege, for real.

After all, as brilliantly described by Ahmed in the thread:
The political, economic, social and cultural implications of technologies are never local but always global and systemic — they ripple out and affect people you may never know or see in your lifetime. It’s great to believe in the promise of technological progress when you belong to a class and a society that will directly get to reap its benefits in the end.
via:anne  2014  luizaprado  pedrooliveira  criticaldesign  speculativefiction  speculativedesign  designfiction  priviilege  designimperialism  criticism  design  art  johnthackara  burtonnitta  class  gender  race  speculation  ahmedansari  jamesauger  michaelburton  michikonitta  humanitariandesign 
february 2014 by robertogreco
Ian Bogost - What Grows when MOOCs Grow?
"You might want to read this New York Times article about Georgia Tech's new online masters degree in computer science. The article is pretty good, reasonably balanced, and looks at the issue from (almost) all sides. Notable side missing, as usual: what students think.

Anyway, I've said enough about this whole MOOC thing, but I did want to highlight one excerpt from the NYT piece:
The three leading MOOC providers, Udacity, Coursera and edX, have grown at a remarkable rate, adding hundreds of courses with dozens of college and university partners. But the path ahead is less clear, and all three are working with universities to find ways in which their courses can be used for credit.

This is true only for certain definitions of "growth." Really, the MOOC providers have grown exclusively on the usual Silicon Valley premise of speculative, short-term bets that have little concern about long-term prospects. Certainly their revenues haven't grown much; only their reach, as they manage to convince universities to give away the "content" of courses and teaching to produce a beneficial network effect for these private technology services.

The growth of private MOOC companies is driven almost entirely from financial speculation, speculation with an interest in private, short-term gain via industrialized scale. It's worth imagining what other kinds of growth might be possible if we had the stomach for a different kind of speculation meant to benefit long-term social institutions like schools instead of just the market. There's an alternate universe in which the NYT published a story today about how strong public investment in educational programs reduced costs and increased quality without selling the farm to bankers. One in which the key measure of "growth" is related to educational practice rather than industrialization. But that's not our universe."
moocs  ianbogost  shortterm  longterm  finance  udacity  coursera  edx  2013  industrialization  speculation  mooc 
august 2013 by robertogreco
Design Fiction as Pedagogic Practice — What I Learned Building… — Medium
"Asking students to imagine a world and design artefacts to communicate a set of beliefs or practices though the utilisation of fiction has been an essential part of the BA Design curriculum for over a decade. But the thing I’m most surprised by is how little has been written about the role of fiction and speculation as part of design education. I can understand how DF can have value in a research context in order to provoke and convince an audience of a possibility space; a mode of questioning and coercion. I can also see its role in technology consultancy, as the construction of narratives, where products, interactions, people and politics open up new markets and directions for a client. But I think people have missed its most productive position; that of DF as a pedagogic practice.

I’m fully located in the ‘all design is fiction’ camp, so I’m not a big fan of nomenclature and niche land grabs. Design as a practice never exists in the here and now. Whether a week, month, year or decade away, designers produce propositions for a world that is yet to exist. Every decision we make is for a world and set of conditions that are yet to be, we are a contingent practice that operates at the boundaries of reality. What’s different is the temporality, possibility and practicality of the fictions that we write."
pedagogy  designfiction  teaching  learning  education  mattward  temporality  imagination  speculation  design  fiction  future  futures  designresearch  designcriticism  darkmatter  designeducation  reality  prototyping  ideology  behavior  responsibility  consequences  possibility  making  thinking  experimentation  tension  fear  love  loss  ideation  storytelling  narrative  howwelearn  howweteach  2013 
july 2013 by robertogreco
Julian Bleecker on ‘Undisciplinarity’ on Vimeo
"‘Undisciplinarity’ is as much a way of doing work as it is a departure from ways of doing work, even questioning what ‘counts’ as work. It is a way of working and an approach to creating and circulating culture that can go its own way, without worrying about working outside of what histories-of-disciplines say is ‘proper’ work. It is ‘undisciplined’. This is important because we need more playful and habitable worlds that the old forms of knowledge production are ill-equipped to produce. It’s an epistemological shift that offers new ways of fixing the problems the old disciplinary and extra-disciplinary practices created in the first place."
julianbleecker  2010  undisciplinarity  glvo  cv  openstudioproject  interdisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  generalists  design  extradisciplinary  knowledgeproduction  learning  culture  making  doing  innovation  scienceofscience  anthropology  science  sciencestudies  historyofconsciousness  sciencefiction  simulation  play  simulations  tinkering  prototyping  exploration  speculation  experimentation 
april 2013 by robertogreco
Unbuilding — Lined & Unlined
[now here: https://linedandunlined.com/archive/unbuilding ]

Here's another something that's too large to unpack in a quote or two or three or more, so just one, then read and view (many images) the rest.

"Unlike the thesis, Antithesis was an optional class. Instead of a constant, year-long process, it was interstitial, happening during a “down time” in the year. We didn’t really have class meetings — instead, I spent my time hanging out in the studio. Everyone loosened up. After thinking intensively about the thesis for 12 weeks, it was time to stop thinking about it — at least, consciously. The goal was not to keep pushing forward on the thesis but to get new projects started in parallel."

[video: https://vimeo.com/63008758 ]
completeness  sourcecode  viewsource  critique  susansontag  webdesign  aestheticpractice  criticalautonomy  canon  andrewblauvelt  billmoggridge  khoivinh  community  communities  livingdocuments  constitution  usconstitution  metaphors  metaphor  borges  telescopictext  joedavis  language  culturalsourcecode  cooper-hewitt  sebchan  github  johngnorman  recycling  interboropartners  kiva  pennandteller  jakedow-smith  pointerpointer  davidmacaulay  stevejobs  tednelson  humanconsciousness  consciousness  literacy  walterong  pipa  sopa  wikipedia  robertrauschenberg  willemdekooning  humor  garfieldminusgarfield  garfield  danwalsh  ruderripps  okfocus  bolognadeclaration  pedagogy  mariamontessori  freeuniversityofbozen-bolzano  openstudioproject  lcproject  tcsnmy  howweteach  cv  anti-hierarchy  hierarchy  autonomy  anti-autonomy  anti-isolation  anti-specialization  avant-garde  vanabbemuseum  charlesesche  understanding  knowing  socialsignaling  anyahindmarch  thinking  making  inquiry  random  informality  informal  interstitial  antithesis  action  non-action  anikaschwarzlose  jona 
november 2012 by robertogreco
Kruger, Opie call for more transparency in MOCA resignation email - latimes.com
"…this is not about a particular cast of characters, about good actors & bad. It's a reflection of the crisis in cultural funding…about the role of museums in a culture where visual art is marginalized except for the buzz around secondary market sales…about the not so subtle recalibration of the meaning of “philanthropy,” and it's about the morphing of the so-called “art world” into the only speculative bubble still left floating…Can important & serious exhibitions receive funding without a donor having a horse in the race? Is attendance a sustaining revenue stream for museums? Has it ever been? These are questions we have been asking.

We do know that a major rethinking of the mechanisms and templates for cultural funding is long overdue. Parties & galas are ok, but sometimes these things called “museums” have to have things called “exhibitions.” Our concerns are with the art, the exhibitions, & how the money that makes the exhibitions possible is gathered & distributed."
hierarchy  control  power  cv  symbolism  tokenism  resignations  2012  philanthropy  speculation  artworld  art  fundraising  moca  barbarakruger  catherineopie  charitableindustrialcomplex  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  capitalism 
july 2012 by robertogreco
russell davies: subtle fail
"Thus far this sign has been my most productive inspiration. It seems to have a speculative, fantastic layer and a cautionary one.

The speculative layer is about objects with intention and behaviour. This restaurant is trying to stay close to you, it caused some un-named inconvenience in the past. Its owners (trainers? suppliers? workers? subjects?) are sorry about that. Sentient restaurants! Good.

The cautionary layer is about the weirdness that comes from software that tries to solve problems. In this instance what happens when spellcheck meets people who don't speak English as their first language? You get something that seems right but isn't, you get SUBTLE FAIL, which is more intriguing and dangerous than EPIC FAIL

SUBTLE FAIL is going to be interesting in a world of 3D printing and the internet of things."
epicfail  tense  sentientrestaurants  speculation  translation  language  fail  2012  internetofthings  subtlefail  russelldavies  spimes  iot 
february 2012 by robertogreco
Why Urban, Educated Parents Are Turning to DIY Education - The Daily Beast
"They raise chickens. They grow vegetables. They knit. Now a new generation of urban parents is even teaching their own kids."

[Lost some respect for Wendy Mogel due to the parts of this article that reference her.]

"And the kids? There’s concern that having parents at one’s side throughout childhood can do more harm than good. Psychologist Wendy Mogel, the author of the bestselling book The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, admires the way homeschoolers manage to “give their children a childhood” in an ultracompetitive world. Yet she wonders how kids who spend so much time within a deliberately crafted community will learn to work with people from backgrounds nothing like theirs. She worries, too, about eventual teenage rebellion in families that are so enmeshed."
2012  speculation  teens  deschooling  diyeducation  diy  learning  wendymogel  parenting  homeschool  unschooling  education 
february 2012 by robertogreco
Utopia - Charlie's Diary
“…we badly need more utopian speculation. The consensus future we read about in the media and that we’re driving towards is a roiling, turbulent fogbank beset by half-glimpsed demons: climate change, resource depletion, peak oil, mass extinction, collapse of the oceanic food chain, overpopulation, terrorism, foreigners who want to come here and steal our <strike>women</strike> jobs. It’s not a nice place to be; if the past is another country, the consensus view of the future currently looks like a favela with raw sewage running in the streets. Conservativism — standing on the brake pedal — is a natural reaction to this vision; but it’s a maladaptive one, because it makes it harder to respond effectively to new and unprecedented problems. We can’t stop, we can only go forward; so it is up to us to choose a direction.”

[via: http://magicalnihilism.com/2010/12/05/work-as-if-you-lived-in-the-early-days-of-a-better-nation/ ]
future  utopia  scifi  politics  design  sciencefiction  conservatism  optimism  speculativedesign  speculation  futures  peakoil  collapse  climatechange  overpopulation  terrorism  economics  doomandgloom  pessimism  progress  designfiction 
january 2011 by robertogreco
Careful Lending Benefits Canada's Housing Market : NPR
"Canadians bankers are often characterized as stodgy, and they were more careful about lending money. Cameron Muir, of the British Columbia Real Estate Association, adds: They didnt encourage unqualified buyers to jump into the market. [Makes sense.] … Canadians generally put more money down than their U.S. peers, and there is no tax break for mortgage interest. Moreover, says Muir, buyers who put 20 percent or less down have to get mortgage insurance, and the government sets the criteria for borrowers. [Still making sense.] … Whats more, many Asians are investing in Canadian real estate, and that too has helped the country's real estate market continue to hum. [Oh, but that last line makes me think speculation.]"
canada  vancouver  britishcolumbia  housing  markets  2010  housingbubble  money  finance  policy  speculation  bc 
september 2010 by robertogreco
Rossignol » Thrilling Wonder Stories
"The rocketship wonder of earlier decades is gone, and our children write dystopias by default: a fascinating, terrifying realisation. He seemed rather earthy and upbeat, and talked of how problems mean invention, and creativity, but I couldn’t help think about a generation of kids for whom there is no bright imagined future: only Bladerunner, eco-death, the Drowned World, apocalypse. MacLeod talked about the problems for idealistic sci-fi now, and I wonder if there was something about the hip nihilism of modern fantasy, combined with relentless terror-cancer newsmedia shit, that really will stop future generations bothering to climb out of their doomed shrug." ... "The whole thing was stamped, perhaps imperceptibly to everyone else, with a motto I come back to - paraphrasing Richard Rorty - which is: “anything can be redescribed”. Sometimes, a new description is all you need."
design  archigram  architecture  fiction  simulation  speculation  jgballard  pessimism  sciencefiction  scifi  optimism  narrative  representation  writing  futurism  future  tcsnmy  dystopia  utopia  jimrossignol  wonder  children  simulations 
may 2009 by robertogreco
Douglas Rushkoff » Financial Melt Up
"I’d rather spend these precious minutes explaining why the financial meltdown is not a bad thing for a lot of us...All this means is that you can’t count on capitalism anymore. Your wealth is not how many paper assets you have. It’s not even how much land you have (or think you have). It’s what you can do. It’s your value to other people...The sooner you “drop out” of the speculative economy and its abstract concerns, the sooner you will be able to create and provide real value for the people all around you, and the better position you will be in to get what you need for yourself and your family. This is not bad; it is good. The pain that people are about to go through now is not the product of the speculative economy’s failure, but its former and intentional unjust success."
economics  finance  capitalism  crisis  wallstreet  value  speculation  2008  douglasrushkoff 
september 2008 by robertogreco
Douglas Rushkoff » Riding Out the Credit Collapse
"What we think of as “the economy” today isn’t real, it’s virtual. It’s a speculative marketplace that has very little to do with getting real things to the people who need them, and much more to do with providing ways for passive investors to g
economics  us  markets  speculation  finance  douglasrushkoff 
may 2008 by robertogreco

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