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robertogreco : stevenpoole   10

"I'm Doing Work" on Vimeo
[More from this series: https://vimeo.com/sluggish

"Sluggish is a video web series that brings together different stories around a single idea. Sometimes the stories are about art and sometimes they’re about science or history or sports but they are always about everyday things that are weird and esoteric and they are always fun.

It’s a bit like a visualized podcast.

The series is a completely independent project produced in Berlin and shot around the world. It is an ongoing experiment for me and there are many things I plan to try out here so I hope you stick around to see how it evolves. Season two is already in the works.
SEASON ONE

What are the upsides of doing nothing? The first season takes on the current universal obsession with the concept of productivity while trying to explore the benefits of wasting your time.

It’s pretty much your best chance to feel good about wasting your time watching online videos."

"The Art of Not Working"
https://vimeo.com/143685855

"To Dive or Not to Dive"
https://vimeo.com/143687704

"Fighting Blue Sky Thinking"
https://vimeo.com/143687714 ]
work  productivity  stevenpoole  leisure  effort  priorities  gtd  labor  idleness  michaelbar-eli  gavinpretor-pinney  doingnothing  football  soccer  economics  bias  actionbias  emotionallabor  care  caring  decisionmaking  timewasting  2015  ignaciouriarte  art  futbol  sports 
december 2015 by robertogreco
The truth about smart cities: ‘In the end, they will destroy democracy' | Cities | The Guardian
"The smart city is, to many urban thinkers, just a buzzphrase that has outlived its usefulness: ‘the wrong idea pitched in the wrong way to the wrong people’. So why did that happen – and what’s coming in its place?"



"In truth, competing visions of the smart city are proxies for competing visions of society, and in particular about who holds power in society. “In the end, the smart city will destroy democracy,” Hollis warns. “Like Google, they’ll have enough data not to have to ask you what you want.”

You sometimes see in the smart city’s prophets a kind of casual assumption that politics as we know it is over. One enthusiastic presenter at the Future Cities Summit went so far as to say, with a shrug: “Internet eats everything, and internet will eat government.” In another presentation, about a new kind of “autocatalytic paint” for street furniture that “eats” noxious pollutants such as nitrous oxide, an engineer in a video clip complained: “No one really owns pollution as a problem.” Except that national and local governments do already own pollution as a problem, and have the power to tax and regulate it. Replacing them with smart paint ain’t necessarily the smartest thing to do.

And while some tech-boosters celebrate the power of companies such as Über – the smartphone-based unlicensed-taxi service now banned in Spain and New Delhi, and being sued in several US states – to “disrupt” existing transport infrastructure, Hill asks reasonably: “That Californian ideology that underlies that user experience, should it really be copy-pasted all over the world? Let’s not throw away the idea of universal service that Transport for London adheres to.”

Perhaps the smartest of smart city projects needn’t depend exclusively – or even at all – on sensors and computers. At Future Cities, Julia Alexander of Siemens nominated as one of the “smartest” cities in the world the once-notorious Medellin in Colombia, site of innumerable gang murders a few decades ago. Its problem favelas were reintegrated into the city not with smartphones but with publicly funded sports facilities and a cable car connecting them to the city. “All of a sudden,” Alexander said, “you’ve got communities interacting” in a way they never had before. Last year, Medellin – now the oft-cited poster child for “social urbanism” – was named the most innovative city in the world by the Urban Land Institute.

One sceptical observer of many presentations at the Future Cities Summit, Jonathan Rez of the University of New South Wales, suggests that “a smarter way” to build cities “might be for architects and urban planners to have psychologists and ethnographers on the team.” That would certainly be one way to acquire a better understanding of what technologists call the “end user” – in this case, the citizen. After all, as one of the tribunes asks the crowd in Shakespeare’s Coriolanus: “What is the city but the people?”"
smartcities  cities  surveillance  technology  stevenpoole  democracy  2014  usmanhaque  danhill  adamgreenfield  songdo  medellín  leohollis  urbanurbanism  data  internetofthings  networkedobjects  californianideology  juliaalexander  communities  medellin  colombia  iot 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Productivity is Taking Over Our Lives | New Republic
"The paradox of the autodidactic productivity industry of GTD, Lifehacker and the endless reviews of obscure mind-mapping or task-management apps is that it is all too easy to spend one’s time researching how to acquire the perfect set of productivity tools and strategies without ever actually settling down to do something. In this way, the obsessive dream of productivity becomes a perfectly effective defense against its own realization. 

As Samuel Johnson once wrote: “Some are always in a state of preparation, occupied in previous measures, forming plans, accumulating materials and providing for the main affair. These are certainly under the secret power of idleness. Nothing is to be expected from the workman whose tools are for ever to be sought.”

Nor is there any downward cut-off point for “our current obsession with busyness”, as one researcher, Andrew Smart, describes it in his intriguing book Autopilot: the Art and Science of Doing Nothing. Smart observes, appalled, a genre of literary aids for inculcating the discipline of “time management” in children. (Time is not amenable to management: it just keeps passing, whatever you do.) Not allowing children to zone out and do nothing, Smart argues, is probably harming their development. But buckling children into the straitjacket of time management from an early age might seem a sensible way to ensure an agreeably docile new generation of workers."



"This ordinary usage encodes an ordinary wisdom: that mere quantity of activity—as implied by the get-more-done mania of the productivity cult—has nothing to do with its value. Economics does not know how to value Rainer Maria Rilke over a prolific poetaster in receipt of an official laureateship. (One can be confident that, while mooching around European castles and writing nothing for years on end, Rilke would never have worn a T-shirt that announced: “I’m doing work”.) And his life sounds like more fun than one recent Lifehacker article, which eagerly explained how to organise your baseball cap collection by hanging the headwear on shower-curtain hooks arrayed along a rail."
gtd  gttingthingsdone  productivity  control  leisure  artleisure  leisurearts  idleness  stevenpoole  2013  time  management  efficiency  davidgraeber  andrewsmart  rainermariarilke 
october 2014 by robertogreco
The Pitfalls of Productivity - NYTimes.com
"There’s also the question of who really benefits when workers get more done. Mr. Poole writes critically of companies’ productivity initiatives:

“The latest wheeze is the Big Data field of ‘workforce science,’ in which everything – patterns of emails, the length of telephone calls — may be measured and consigned to a comparative database to create a perfect management panopticon. It is tempting to suspect that the ambition thus to increase ‘worker productivity’ is aimed at getting more work out of each employee for the same (or less) money.”

And while workers who get more productive may initially see raises or promotions, the labor historian Nelson Lichtenstein told Op-Talk, companies will soon come to expect that higher level of productivity from everybody: “over time, and not very much time, the corporation will say ‘this is the new work norm.’” This has already happened, he added, with the expectation that workers be reachable around the clock. A better approach, he said, would be to improve job protections and stability, since workers are actually more productive when their employment is more secure.

For Mr. Bailey, though, productivity doesn’t necessarily mean working more at your job: “I think everybody has a different reason for wanting to become more productive, and I think you should figure that out before you invest in your productivity,” he said. “I think of productivity as way to accomplish more meaningful things in a short amount of time, so you can make more time for the things that are actually important to you.”

And Dr. Gregg suggested that the systems we use to organize our work could be used to bring us together rather than to drive us apart. “I would like to encourage a kind of mindfulness that is less individual and more collective,” she said. Her hope for productivity apps and other technologies is that “they’ll allow us to have a better conversation about collective work practices, and what are the conditions that individuals feel that they need to get done what’s being asked of them in the workplace.”

“Mindfulness can also mean being mindful of others,” she said, “and that’s really the collective labor tradition that I would like to see continue.”"
gtd  gettingthingsdone  productivity  busyness  2014  annanorth  chrisbailey  stevenpoole  frederickwinslowtaylor  efficiency  melissagregg  slow  taylorism  jessicalamb-shapiro  bigdata  nelsonlichtenstein  mindfulness  labor  work  capitalism  industrialization 
october 2014 by robertogreco
New Statesman | Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep by Jonathan Crary: Sleep is a standing affront to capitalism
"When hungry digital companies measure success in "eyeballs" is sleep the last remaining zone of dissidence, of anti-productivity and even of solidarity?"

"When I close my laptop, it goes to sleep. It’s a curiously domestic metaphor but it also implies that sleep in humans and other animals is just a kind of low-power standby mode. (Do computers dream of electric sleep?) Last year, Apple announced a twist on this idea: a new feature for the Mac operating system called “Power Nap”. Using Power Nap, your computer can do important things even while asleep, receiving updates and performing backups.

The name Power Nap comes from the term describing the thrusting executive’s purported ability to catch a restorative forty winks in 20 minutes but the functioning of Apple’s feature symbolically implies a yet more ultra-modern and frankly inhuman aspiration: to be “productive” even while dozing. It is the uncanny technological embodiment of the dream most blatantly sold to us by those work-from-home scams online, which promise that you can “make money even while you sleep”.

Sleep, indeed, is a standing affront to capitalism. That is the argument of Jonathan Crary’s provocative and fascinating essay, which takes “24/7” as a spectral umbrella term for round-the-clock consumption and production in today’s world. The human power nap is a macho response to what Crary notes is the alarming shrinkage of sleep in modernity. “The average North American adult now sleeps approximately six and a half hours a night,” he observes, which is “an erosion from eight hours a generation ago” and “ten hours in the early 20th century”.

Back in 1996, Stanley Coren’s book Sleep Thieves blamed insufficient rest for industrial disasters such as the Chernobyl meltdown. Crary is worried about the encroachment on sleep because it represents one of the last remaining zones of dissidence, of anti-productivity and even of solidarity. Isn’t it quite disgusting that, as he notices, public benches are now deliberately engineered to prevent human beings from sleeping on them?

While Apple-branded machines that take working Power Naps are figured as a more efficient species of people, people themselves are increasingly represented as apparatuses to be acted on by machines. Take the popular internet parlance of getting “eyeballs”, which means reaching an audience. “The term ‘eyeballs’ for the site of control,” Crary writes, “repositions human vision as a motor activity that can be subjected to external direction or stimuli . . . The eye is dislodged from the realm of optics and made into an intermediary element of a circuit whose end result is always a motor response of the body to electronic solicitation.”

You can’t get more “eyeballs” if the people to whose brains the eyeballs are physically connected are asleep. Hence the interest – currently military; before long surely commercial, too – in removing our need for sleep with drugs or other modifications. Then we would be more like efficient machines, able to “interact” with (or labour among) electronic media all day and all night. (It is strange, once you think about it, that the phrase “He’s a machine” is now supposed to be a compliment in the sporting arena and the workplace.)

Crary’s denunciation of the 24/7 world’s saturation in web-enabled media results in some splendid formulations – such as when he argues that activists who organise on the internet “voluntarily kettle themselves in cyberspace, where state surveillance, sabotage and manipulation are far easier than in lived communities”.

It also tempts him into some portentous exaggeration. He claims, for instance, that “wireless technologies” have accomplished an “annihilation of the singularity of place and event”. (Radical thinkers often seem to take pleasure in noticing some putative extreme violence in cultural change.)

There is an unfortunate passage arguing that our age has universally dulled everyone’s faculties – except, implicitly, those of the percipient critic: “24/7 is part of an immense incapacitation of visual experience,” Crary declares. “The contingency and variability of the visible world are no longer accessible.” Really, to no one? What’s more, he writes: “Contrary to many claims, there is an ongoing diminution of mental and perceptual capabilities rather than their expansion or modulation.” To this sentence is appended no footnote offering evidence.

Despite such rhetorical surfeit, Crary’s book is, on the whole, a humane and bracingly splenetic counterblast, with a lot of interesting micro-theses along the way. (Forget the heavy breathing of the celebrants of gadgets and networks; according to Crary, “the most important techniques invented in the last 150 years” are “the various systems for the management and control of human beings”.)

Into the baleful realm of 24/7 he draws, too, the diagnostic inflation of the pharmaceutical industry (always “discovering” new mental disorders for which it solicitously offers new pills), the pseudo-mandatory self-fashioning of social media and what he sardonically calls “the absolute abdication of responsibility for living” represented by all those bestselling “bucket-list” books that instruct us on “the 1,000 movies to see before we die”.

For him, the antidote to all of that is sleep and also its cousin daydream or “reverie”. At the end of the book, Crary waxes poetic about this and laments that few people these days besides New Agers are interested in their dreams. Crary complains that films such as The Matrix portray societies of sleepers as inert and duped and so work as propaganda for 24/7. So, too, he argues, do films such as Inception, in portraying dreams as, in essence, like movies: in theory, commodifiable and “sharable”.

After finishing this book, I had a dystopian nightmare. One day, through clever magnetic stimulation of the brain, it might be possible to insert adverts into our dreams. You could even volunteer to have them interpolated into your sleeping life in exchange for money. (“My dream last night was sponsored by Facebook and Walkers Crisps.”) If that day ever comes, we won’t be safe anywhere – even in the arms of Morpheus."
capitalism  latecapitalism  sleep  production  productivity  2014  stevenpoole  jonathancrary  efficiency  media  mentalhealth 
august 2014 by robertogreco
The internet isn't harming our love of 'deep reading', it's cultivating it | Steven Poole | Comment is free | theguardian.com
"In our culture of excitable neuroscientism a lot of such arguments employ the sexy word "brain" and so sound scientifically objective, but they are really socio-cultural arguments. No doubt there are many kinds of task-specific neural developments (ie "brain" types) that have been lost in the mists of evolutionary time, and whose absence we have no reason to regret. Not many people in advanced industrial societies today, for example, grow up developing the mental skills required to kill tasty large mammals with a well-hurled spear. But we don't read hand-wringing stories about how we have lost the antelope-hunting brain. So there needs to be a further demonstration that the "deep-reading brain" is something worth valuing. And this is never going to be a (neuro)scientific argument; it's a cultural argument."



"And yet the assumption in such doomy pronouncements that we might all be slaves to skimming and thus be allowing our brains to atrophy sounds fantastically condescending, just as it did when expressed in Nicholas Carr's book The Shallows. This kind of paternalistic fatalism seems ably refuted by sales of Young Adult blockbusters, as well as by researchers who bother to find out what young people actually do.

According to John Palfrey and Urs Gasser's Born Digital, for example, a teenager's "news-gathering process" alternated skimming or "grazing" with a "deep dive" when she found something she could really get her teeth into.

And such nutritious, dense, lengthy pieces of writing are, of course, becoming ever more popular on the very same internet that pessimists blame for destroying our attention spans. More and more online magazine startups are devoted to in-depth reportage or cheerfully non-topical discussions of ideas over many thousands of beautifully typeset words. Ideal, you might even say, for slow reading.

For me, the only fly in the ointment is my insuperable allergy to the kitschy, infantilising generic term for such pieces, "long reads". (We don't call albums "long listens" or epic dinners "long eats".) The alternative, "longform", is simply oxymoronic – sheer length is not a form. What was wrong with "essays" again? Presumably the old-school littérateurs of the Slow Reading Movement could approve of that one."
reading  neuroscience  society  culture  attention  2014  stevenpoole  slowreading  distraction  nicholascarr  longreads  howweread  listening  grazing  johnpalfrey  ursgasser  skimming 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Invasion of the cyber hustlers
"The cyber-credo of “open” sounds so liberal and friendly that it is easy to miss its remarkable hypocrisy. The big technology companies that are the cybertheorists’ beloved exemplars of the coming world order are anything but open. Google doesn’t publish its search algorithm; Apple is notoriously secretive about its product plans; Facebook routinely changes its users’ privacy options. Apple, Google and Amazon are all frantically building proprietary “walled-garden” content utopias for profit."
apple  google  wikipedia  sharing  cybertheorists  charlatans  internet  government  davidweinberger  journalism  disruption  online  newmedia  future  media  politics  technology  open  2012  stevenpoole  janemcgonigal  clayshirky  jeffjarvis 
december 2012 by robertogreco
Your brain on pseudoscience: the rise of popular neurobollocks
"The idea that a neurological explanation could exhaust the meaning of experience was already being mocked as “medical materialism” by… William James a century ago…

Indeed, despite their technical paraphernalia of neurotransmitters and anterior temporal gyruses, modern pop brain books are offering a spiritual topography…

None of the foregoing should be taken to imply that fMRI and other brain-investigation techniques are useless: there is beautiful and amazing science in how they work and what well-designed experiments can teach us. [example]…

In this light, one might humbly venture a preliminary diagnosis of the pop brain hacks’ chronic intellectual error. It is that they misleadingly assume we always know how to interpret such “hidden” information, and that it is always more reliably meaningful than what lies in plain view. The hucksters of neuroscientism are the conspiracy theorists of the human animal, the 9/11 Truthers of the life of the mind."
self-improvement  self-help  neuroflâneurship  neuroprocrastination  neurogastronomy  neuromarketing  meurotheology  neuromagic  neuropolitics  christopherchabris  elainefox  samharris  popscience  neurobabble  neurobollocks  neurotrash  neuro  neurofillintheblank  chrismooney  johnarden  paulfletcher  williamjames  artmarkman  jonathanhaidt  robertkurzban  fMRI  descartes  jonahlehrer  malcolmgladwell  2012  stevenpoole  brain  science  neuroscience 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Steven Poole: Free your mind: "If the breathless advocates of “the free distribution of ideas” are serious, they need either...
"...a) to come up with realistic proposal as to how I am to keep feeding myself while giving away fruits of my labours; or b) come out & say honestly that they don’t think any such thing as a “professional writer” ought to exist" see comments
copyright  internet  writing  drm  books  distribution  stevenpoole  music  opensource  economics  publishing 
april 2008 by robertogreco
Steven Poole: Trigger Happy
"Trigger Happy, originally published in 2000 with the subtitle "The Inner Life of Videogames", is a book about the aesthetics of videogames: what they share with other artforms, and the ways in which they are unique."
videogames  history  games  gaming  play  criticism  culture  books  stevenpoole 
november 2007 by robertogreco

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