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robertogreco : strangers   36

Red Brocade by Naomi Shihab Nye - Poems | Academy of American Poets
"The Arabs used to say,
When a stranger appears at your door,
feed him for three days
before asking who he is,
where he’s come from,
where he’s headed.
That way, he’ll have strength
enough to answer.
Or, by then you’ll be
such good friends
you don’t care.
 
Let’s go back to that.
Rice? Pine nuts?
Here, take the red brocade pillow.
My child will serve water
to your horse.
 
No, I was not busy when you came!
I was not preparing to be busy.
That’s the armor everyone put on
to pretend they had a purpose
in the world.
 
I refuse to be claimed.
Your plate is waiting.
We will snip fresh mint
into your tea."
poem  poetry  strangers  naomishihabnye  busyness  hospitality  visitors  arabs 
june 2018 by robertogreco
You are Brilliant, and the Earth is Hiring :: Paul Hawken's Commencement Address to the Class of 2009 — YES! Magazine
"When I was invited to give this speech, I was asked if I could give a simple short talk that was “direct, naked, taut, honest, passionate, lean, shivering, startling, and graceful.” No pressure there.

Let’s begin with the startling part. Class of 2009: you are going to have to figure out what it means to be a human being on earth at a time when every living system is declining, and the rate of decline is accelerating. Kind of a mind-boggling situation… but not one peer-reviewed paper published in the last thirty years can refute that statement. Basically, civilization needs a new operating system, you are the programmers, and we need it within a few decades.

This planet came with a set of instructions, but we seem to have misplaced them. Important rules like don’t poison the water, soil, or air, don’t let the earth get overcrowded, and don’t touch the thermostat have been broken. Buckminster Fuller said that spaceship earth was so ingeniously designed that no one has a clue that we are on one, flying through the universe at a million miles per hour, with no need for seat belts, lots of room in coach, and really good food—but all that is changing.

There is invisible writing on the back of the diploma you will receive, and in case you didn’t bring lemon juice to decode it, I can tell you what it says: You are Brilliant, and the Earth is Hiring. The earth couldn’t afford to send recruiters or limos to your school. It sent you rain, sunsets, ripe cherries, night blooming jasmine, and that unbelievably cute person you are dating. Take the hint. And here’s the deal: Forget that this task of planet-saving is not possible in the time required. Don’t be put off by people who know what is not possible. Do what needs to be done, and check to see ifit was impossible only after you are done.

When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer is always the same: If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand the data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a pulse. What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world. The poet Adrienne Rich wrote, “So much has been destroyed I have cast my lot with those who, age after age, perversely, with no extraordinary power, reconstitute the world.” There could be no better description. Humanity is coalescing. It is reconstituting the world, and the action is taking place in schoolrooms, farms, jungles, villages,campuses, companies, refuge camps, deserts, fisheries, and slums.

You join a multitude of caring people. No one knows how many groups and organizations are working on the most salient issues of our day: climate change, poverty, deforestation, peace, water, hunger, conservation, human rights, and more. This is the largest movement the world has ever seen. Rather than control, it seeks connection. Rather than dominance, it strives to disperse concentrations of power. Like Mercy Corps, it works behind the scenes and gets the job done. Large as it is, no one knows the true size of this movement. It provides hope, support, and meaning to billions of people in the world. Its clout resides in idea, not in force. It is made up of teachers, children, peasants, businesspeople, rappers, organic farmers, nuns, artists, government workers, fisherfolk, engineers, students, incorrigible writers, weeping Muslims, concerned mothers, poets, doctors without borders, grieving Christians, street musicians, the President of the United States of America, and as the writer David James Duncan would say, the Creator, the One who loves us all in such a huge way.

There is a rabbinical teaching that says if the world is ending and the Messiah arrives, first plant a tree, and then see if the story is true. Inspiration is not garnered from the litanies of what may befall us; it resides in humanity’s willingness to restore, redress, reform, rebuild, recover, reimagine, and reconsider. “One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began, though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice,” is Mary Oliver’s description of moving away from the profane toward a deep sense of connectedness to the living world.

Millions of people are working on behalf of strangers, even if the evening news is usually about the death of strangers. This kindness of strangers has religious, even mythic origins, and very specific eighteenth-century roots. Abolitionists were the first people to create a national and global movement to defend the rights of those they did not know. Until that time, no group had filed a grievance except on behalf of itself. The founders of this movement were largely unknown — Granville Clark, Thomas Clarkson, Josiah Wedgwood — and their goal was ridiculous on the face of it: at that time three out of four people in the world were enslaved. Enslaving each other was what human beings had done for ages. And the abolitionist movement was greeted with incredulity. Conservative spokesmen ridiculed the abolitionists as liberals, progressives, do-gooders, meddlers, and activists. They were told they would ruin the economy and drive England into poverty. But for the first time in history a group of people organized themselves to help people they would never know, from whom they would never receive direct or indirect benefit. And today tens of millions of people do this every day. It is called the world of non-profits, civil society, schools, social entrepreneurship, non-governmental organizations, and companies who place social and environmental justice at the top of their strategic goals. The scope and scale of this effort is unparalleled in history.

The living world is not “out there” somewhere, but in your heart. What do we know about life? In the words of biologist Janine Benyus, life creates the conditions that are conducive to life. I can think of no better motto for a future economy. We have tens of thousands of abandoned homes without people and tens of thousands of abandoned people without homes. We have failed bankers advising failed regulators on how to save failed assets. We are the only species on the planet without full employment. Brilliant. We have an economy that tells us that it is cheaper to destroy earth in real time rather than renew, restore, and sustain it. You can print money to bail out a bank but you can’t print life to bail out a planet. At present we are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it gross domestic product. We can just as easily have an economy that is based on healing the future instead of stealing it. We can either create assets for the future or take the assets of the future. One is called restoration and the other exploitation. And whenever we exploit the earth we exploit people and cause untold suffering. Working for the earth is not a way to get rich, it is a way to be rich.

The first living cell came into being nearly 40 million centuries ago, and its direct descendants are in all of our bloodstreams. Literally you are breathing molecules this very second that were inhaled by Moses, Mother Teresa, and Bono. We are vastly interconnected. Our fates are inseparable. We are here because the dream of every cell is to become two cells. And dreams come true. In each of you are one quadrillion cells, 90 percent of which are not human cells. Your body is a community, and without those other microorganisms you would perish in hours. Each human cell has 400 billion molecules conducting millions of processes between trillions of atoms. The total cellular activity in one human body is staggering: one septillion actions at any one moment, a one with twenty-four zeros after it. In a millisecond, our body has undergone ten times more processes than there are stars in the universe, which is exactly what Charles Darwin foretold when he said science would discover that each living creature was a “little universe, formed of a host of self-propagating organisms, inconceivably minute and as numerous as the stars of heaven.”

So I have two questions for you all: First, can you feel your body? Stop for a moment. Feel your body. One septillion activities going on simultaneously, and your body does this so well you are free to ignore it, and wonder instead when this speech will end. You can feel it. It is called life. This is who you are. Second question: who is in charge of your body? Who is managing those molecules? Hopefully not a political party. Life is creating the conditions that are conducive to life inside you, just as in all of nature. Our innate nature is to create the conditions that are conducive to life. What I want you to imagine is that collectively humanity is evincing a deep innate wisdom in coming together to heal the wounds and insults of the past.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once asked what we would do if the stars only came out once every thousand years. No one would sleep that night, of course. The world would create new religions overnight. We would be ecstatic, delirious, made rapturous by the glory of God. Instead, the stars come out every night and we watch television.

This extraordinary time when we are globally aware of each other and the multiple dangers that threaten civilization has never happened, not in a thousand years, not in ten thousand years. Each of us is as complex and beautiful as all the stars in the universe. We have done great things and we have gone way off course in terms of honoring creation. You are graduating to the most amazing, stupefying challenge ever bequested to any generation. The generations before you failed. They didn’t stay up all night. They got distracted and lost sight of the fact that life is a miracle every moment of your existence. Nature beckons you to be on her side. You couldn’t ask for a … [more]
paulhawken  humanity  2009  commencementaddresses  environment  sustainability  earth  peace  deforestation  poverty  climatechange  refugees  activism  davidjamesduncan  mercycorps  strangers  abolitionists  grnvilleclark  thomasclarkson  josiahwedgewood  progressives  england  anthropocene  civilization  globalwarming  movement  bodies  humans  morethanhuman  multispecies  interconnected  interdependence  charlesdarwin  janinebanyus  life  science  renewal  restoration  exploitation  capitalism  gdp  economics  maryoliver  adriennerich  ecology  interconnectedness  body  interconnectivity  commencementspeeches 
november 2017 by robertogreco
John Berger remembered – by Geoff Dyer, Olivia Laing, Ali Smith and Simon McBurney | Books | The Guardian
"Ali Smith

I heard John Berger speaking at the end of 2015 in London at the British Library. Someone in the audience talked about A Seventh Man, his 1975 book about mass migrancy in which he says: “To try to understand the experience of another it is necessary to dismantle the world as seen from one’s own place within it and to reassemble it as seen from his.”

The questioner asked what Berger thought about the huge movement of people across the world. He put his head in his hands and sat and thought; he didn’t say anything at all for what felt like a long time, a thinking space that cancelled any notion of soundbite. When he answered, what he spoke about ostensibly seemed off on a tangent. He said: “I have been thinking about the storyteller’s responsibility to be hospitable.”

As he went on, it became clear how revolutionary, hopeful and astute his thinking was. The act of hospitality, he suggested, is ancient and contemporary and at the core of every story we’ve ever told or listened to about ourselves – deny it, and you deny all human worth. He talked about the art act’s deep relationship with this, and with inclusion. Then he gave us a definition of fascism: one set of human beings believing it has the right to cordon off and decide about another set of human beings.

A few minutes with Berger and a better world, a better outcome, wasn’t fantasy or imaginary, it was impetus – possible, feasible, urgent and clear. It wasn’t that another world was possible; it was that this world, if we looked differently, and responded differently, was differently possible.

His readers are the inheritors, across all the decades of his work, of a legacy that will always reapprehend the possibilities. We inherit his routing of the “power-shit” of everyday corporate hierarchy and consumerism, his determined communality, his ethos of unselfishness in a solipsistic world, his procreative questioning of the given shape of things, his articulate compassion, the relief of that articulacy. We inherit writing that won’t ever stop giving. A reader coming anywhere near his work encounters life-force, thought-force – and the force, too, of the love all through it.

It’s not just hard, it’s impossible, to think about what he’s given us over the years in any past tense. Everything about this great thinker, one of the great art writers, the greatest responders, is vital – and response and responsibility in Berger’s work always make for a fusion of thought and art as a force for the understanding, the seeing more clearly and the making better of the world we’re all citizens of. But John Berger gone? In the dark times, what’ll we do without him? Try to live up to him, to pay what Simone Weil called (as he notes in his essay about her) “creative attention”. The full Weil quote goes: “Love for our neighbour, being made of creative attention, is analogous to genius.”

Berger’s genius is its own fertile continuum – radical, brilliant, gentle, uncompromising – in the paying of an attention that shines with the fierce intelligence, the loving clarity of the visionary he was, is, and always will be.

***

Geoff Dyer

There is a long and distinguished tradition of aspiring writers meeting the writer they most revere only to discover that he or she has feet of clay. Sometimes it doesn’t stop at the feet – it can be legs, chest and head too – so that the disillusionment taints one’s feelings about the work, even about the trade itself. I count it one of my life’s blessings that the first great writer I ever met – the writer I admired above all others – turned out to be an exemplary human being. Nothing that has happened in the 30-odd years since then has diminished my love of the books or of the man who wrote them.

It was 1984. John Berger, who had radically altered and enlarged my ideas of what a book could be, was in London for the publication of And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief as Photos. I interviewed him for Marxism Today. He was 58, the age I am now. The interview went well but he seemed relieved when it was over – because, he said, now we could go to a pub and talk properly.

It was the highpoint of my life. My contemporaries had jobs, careers – some even owned houses – but I was in a pub with John Berger. He urged me to send him things I’d written – not the interview, he didn’t care about that, he wanted to read my own stuff. He wrote back enthusiastically. He was always encouraging. A relationship cannot be sustained on the basis of reverence and we soon settled into being friends.

The success and acclaim he enjoyed as a writer allowed him to be free of petty vanities, to concentrate on what he was always so impatient to achieve: relationships of equality. That’s why he was such a willing collaborator – and such a good friend to so many people, from all walks of life, from all over the world. There was no limit to his generosity, to his capacity to give. This did more than keep him young; it combined with a kind of negative pessimism to enable him to withstand the setbacks dished out by history. In an essay on Leopardi he proposed “that we are not living in a world in which it is possible to construct something approaching heaven-on-earth, but, on the contrary, are living in a world whose nature is far closer to that of hell; what difference would this make to any single one of our political or moral choices? We would be obliged to accept the same obligations and participate in the same struggle as we are already engaged in; perhaps even our sense of solidarity with the exploited and suffering would be more single-minded. All that would have changed would be the enormity of our hopes and finally the bitterness of our disappointments.”

While his work was influential and admired, its range – in both subject matter and form – makes it difficult to assess adequately. Ways of Seeing is his equivalent of Keith Jarrett’s Köln Concert: a bravura performance that sometimes ends up as a substitute for or distraction from the larger body of work to which it serves as an introduction. In 1969 he put forward Art and Revolution “as the best example I have achieved of what I consider to be the critical method”, but it is in the numerous shorter pieces that he was at his best as a writer on art. (These diverse pieces have been assembled by Tom Overton in Portraits to form a chronological history of art.)

No one has ever matched Berger’s ability to help us look at paintings or photographs “more seeingly”, as Rilke put it in a letter about Cézanne. Think of the essay “Turner and the Barber’s Shop” in which he invites us to consider some of the late paintings in light of things the young boy saw in his dad’s barber shop: “water, froth, steam, gleaming metal, clouded mirrors, white bowls or basins in which soapy liquid is agitated by the barber’s brush and detritus deposited”.

Berger brought immense erudition to his writing but, as with DH Lawrence, everything had to be verified by appeal to his senses. He did not need a university education – he once spoke scathingly of a thinker who, when he wanted to find something out, took down a book from a shelf – but he was reliant, to the end, on his art school discipline of drawing. If he looked long and hard enough at anything it would either yield its secrets or, failing that, enable him to articulate why the withheld mystery constituted its essence. This holds true not just for the writings on art but also the documentary studies (of a country doctor in A Fortunate Man and of migrant labour in A Seventh Man), the novels, the peasant trilogy Into Their Labours, and the numerous books that refuse categorisation. Whatever their form or subject the books are jam-packed with observations so precise and delicate that they double as ideas – and vice versa. “The moment at which a piece of music begins provides a clue to the nature of all art,” he writes in “The Moment of Cubism”. In Here Is Where We Meet he imagines “travelling alone between Kalisz and Kielce a hundred and fifty years ago. Between the two names there would always have been a third – the name of your horse.”

The last time we met was a few days before Christmas 2015, in London. There were five of us: my wife and I, John (then 89), the writer Nella Bielski (in her late 70s) and the painter Yvonne Barlow (91), who had been his girlfriend when they were still teenagers. Jokingly, I asked, “So, what was John like when he was 17?” “He was exactly like he is now,” she replied, as though it were yesterday. “He was always so kind.” All that interested him about his own life, he once wrote, were the things he had in common with other people. He was a brilliant writer and thinker; but it was his lifelong kindness that she emphasised.

The film Walk Me Home which he co- wrote and acted in was, in his opinion, “a balls-up” but in it Berger utters a line that I think of constantly – and quote from memory – now: “When I die I want to be buried in land that no one owns.” In land, that is, that belongs to us all.

***

Olivia Laing

The only time I saw John Berger speak was at the 2015 British Library event. He clambered on to the stage, short, stocky, shy, his extraordinary hewn face topped with snowy curls. After each question he paused for a long time, tugging on his hair and writhing in his seat, physically wrestling with the demands of speech. It struck me then how rare it is to see a writer on stage actually thinking, and how glib and polished most speakers are. For Berger, thought was work, as taxing and rewarding as physical labour, a bringing of something real into the world. You have to strive and sweat; the act is urgent but might also fail.

He talked that evening about the need for hospitality. It was such a Bergerish notion. Hospitality: the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors or strangers, a word that … [more]
johnberger  2017  geoffdyer  olivialaing  alismith  simonmcburney  marxism  capitalism  migration  soundbites  hospitality  storytelling  hope  hopefulness  utopia  hierarchy  consumerism  compassion  unselfishness  questioning  skepticism  simoneweil  creativeattention  attention  goldenrule  humanism  encouragement  relationships  friendship  equality  giving  generosity  solidarity  suffering  seeing  noticing  looking  observation  senses  kindness  commonality  belonging  ownership  thinking  howwethink  care  caring  blackpanthers  blackpantherparty  clarity  money  communalism  narrowness  alls  difference  openness  crosspollination  hosting  hosts  guests  strangers  enemies  listening  canon  payingattention  audience  audiencesofone  laughter  resistance  existence  howtolive  living  life  howwelive  refuge  writing  certainty  tenderness 
january 2017 by robertogreco
s p a c i n g : : : whose space is public space?
"Sometimes I feel an urgent need to get out of Toronto, and this is one of those times. The strain does not come from difficult friendships or celebrity magazines or the noise, so much as my relationship to my fellow pedestrian. The crisis is almost always a crisis about strangers; it’s a crisis of eye contact. Someone approaches and the problem of whether to look away or look at them — and if to look, how long to keep looking for — does not resolve itself easily, quietly, in the background. It becomes a loud problem, and as people pass by, the anxiety of how to act and this question about responsibility to my fellow humans, paid out in a momentary acknowledgement of our mutual humanity, prohibits me from thinking about anything else.

In such a state it is difficult to accept that we really are free on the streets of Toronto; free to look or not look as we choose, without consequence and without affecting anyone for the better or worse. In times like these, it feels as though what it means to look at someone and what it means to decide to not look is as central an ethical dilemma as any; that the question of our responsibility to each other really comes down to how we interact with people we do not know. What degree of regard are the hundreds of strangers we pass in a single day worth?

That walking among others should present itself as a dilemma is pathetic. Perhaps it is because we are primarily a culture of drivers, not pedestrians. Even if we do not drive, still we share the streets with many who do, who do not occupy the sidewalks with pleasure but rather are wishing there was less space to travel between the restaurant and their parked car. “Urbanity and automobiles are antithetical in many ways,” writes Rebecca Solnit in Wanderlust, a history of walking. “A city of drivers is only a dysfunctional suburb of people shuttling from private interior to private interior.” This is also true in a city of transit users — we rush to the streetcar stop, take a seat, look through whatever newspaper is lying closest. Walking is no longer, as Solnit points out, “a state in which the mind, the body, and the world are aligned.” As a result, we are jarred by our encounters. Eye contact is an irritation. It disrupts the work of getting somewhere.

Most of us accept as inevitable the sort of eye contact that is most pervasive, that rushed and fearful glance. You might argue that this way of looking is respectful; that since privacy is so scarce in a city, it is gracious to look away. But I have experienced such gentle looks away — giving them, getting them — and they’re not what I am talking about and not the norm. There still remains that quick glance away, which often leaves me with a feeling of shame or a sense of the diminishment of my humanity. And as I sweep my eyes rapidly from someone’s face onto the mailbox, I recognize that, in my wake, I may leave that person with this same anxiety.

For some people, it seems clear, if someone looks quickly and uncomfortably away as soon as eye contact is made, no matter. This crisis doesn’t exist for them; the interaction barely registers. I wonder if such people are suffering from what George Simmel calls “the blasé attitude.” He defines it as the result of the over-stimulation of nerves that accompanies life in a metropolis, which results in a “blunting of discrimination, [so] that the meaning and differing values of things, and thereby the things themselves, are experienced as insubstantial. They appear to the blasé person in an evenly flat and gray tone; no one object deserves preference over any other.” The lamppost, that boy, same difference.

But for those of us who are not suffering from the blasé attitude, who are very conscious of the reality of the people we encounter, why do we look away embarrassed or scared, rather than gently, politely, in good conscience? Perhaps in every glance there is desire expressed. I don’t mean sexual desire — though sometimes there’s that — as much as the sort Constant Nieuwenheuys described when he wrote, in 1949, “When we say desire in the twentieth century, we mean the unknown, for all we know of the realm of our desires is that it continuously reverts to one immeasurable desire for freedom.”

Perhaps the desire expressed in every glance, that we see in another person’s face and they see in ours, is a desire for freedom — which on the street comes down to the freedom to look at each other. We are naturally curious about other people. From the start, as babies, we are drawn to the eyes of our parents. Imagine a cat, neurotically trying not to look directly at a passing cat. We need eye-to-eye contact. We want to see each others’ faces. It is why we take and keep photographs, watch television, hang portraits in our homes. There is something terrible about looking at each other, only to have reflected back our own (and the other person’s) thwarted, repressed desire to look. Somewhere we have failed magnificently.

Our culture is such that a greater value even than freedom is productivity, utility. I was having a conversation with a friend about leisure, and she was saying how much she enjoys doing nothing, just wandering aimlessly around her house, thinking. “I find it so productive,” she decided. Even an activity we enjoy precisely because it is not about production we must ultimately justify by way of its productivity. This being the situation we find ourselves in, how can we ever justify to ourselves or to each other the value of those most fleeting relationships, lasting at most two seconds long, with a stream of people we will never see again? What is the utility of the quarter-of-a-second-long relationship?

When we look and look away, we reveal what we want — communion, citizenry — and what we lack — communion, citizenry. It is not unreasonable to think the health of a culture can be judged by how many seemingly inconsequential encounters and experiences are shared among its citizens. Take the option of making real eye contact with strangers — frank, fully conscious, unafraid, respectful, not obtrusive. This level of engagement would be satisfying, but so exhausting to sustain; possibly too relentless and demanding for a city-dweller, since to look at someone in this way is to acknowledge and recognize how they’re like you, how they are like everyone you know and love, and so to become responsible for them, just as you are responsible for those you love. But while your duty to your friend is directed only at your friend, as needed, your duty to a stranger can be paid only to the collective, constantly.

We need to learn how to look away well, but we cannot fake it. We cannot look from someone’s face comfortably until we find what we are looking for in it."

[quoted here: http://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2015/02/27/look-and-look-away/ ]
sheilaheti  communition  citizenship  civics  productivity  community  privacy  unknown  constantnieuwenheuys  strangers  attention  consciousness  culture  society  collectivism  utility  leisure  leisurearts  artleisure  nothing  wandering  idleness  relationships  togetherness 
april 2015 by robertogreco
The Unexpected Benefits of Talking to Strangers · Wanderlust
"Growing up, our parents imparted us with sage advice: “Don’t talk to strangers.” They had the very best intentions and were warning us against certain kinds of situations. But what if you took that message to heart a little too much?

In these days of seemingly endless divisions in our society, the pool of people we feel comfortable chatting up can diminish pretty quickly. What’s the pool of people that you are comfortable engaging with? Do you chat up the yogi on the mat next to you before class? What about your hairdresser? And your butcher? When was the last time you had a connection with the person serving you your Starbucks Grande Extra Foam Whatever?

I’ve been contemplating this for quite some time. And, while I’ve never been accused of being a quiet girl, I’ve definitely noticed that there are some situations where I put my guard up by default. Head down, eyes glued to my smartphone, just waiting to move on to the next moment. Sound familiar? I’m willing to bet you’re all too acquainted with the iPhone defensive stance.

Here’s the thing: When we choose to spend moments in the coffee shop, the grocery store, or on the street just waiting for something more important to happen, we are giving up our consciousness practice and we’re playing small. Consider interactions you’ve had recently that left you feeling inspired. Chances are the person you were speaking with was looking you in the eyes and listening. Giving the gift of our attention to people that we know, and those we don’t, is not only generous, it empowers us as well as the person we are talking with.
Giving the gift of our attention to people that we know, and those we don’t, is not only generous, it empowers us as well as the person we are talking with.

I’ve been putting my theory into practice in the seemingly mundane moments of my life. I ask my butcher what they would be cooking tonight, and how they’d make it. I’ve discovered some great new ways to make steak for my man this way.

I ask the cashier at the grocery store what time she’s getting off work, and if she’s ever tried this particular raw coconut water (even if I think she’s never had, or heard of, raw coconut water before).

When I’m waiting in a long line, I exchange pleasantries with the person waiting ahead of me.

Some really beautiful shifts have been happening for me. I’m having pleasant little connections throughout my day, while I run my errands, while I wait for my coffee, when I’m walking down the street. Oftentimes I feel like someone else’s day was brightened because our exchange was a moment of validation for them, or just a nice way to spend a minute or two. I’ve been feeling more present and connected in these moments not only to other people, but to my own attention.

Where in your life are you missing connectivity? Where could you add more presence and acknowledge someone else with your attention?"
strangers  strangerdanger  attention  2015 
march 2015 by robertogreco
"Stranger Danger" to children vastly overstated - Boing Boing
"Oft-cited stats about child abduction puts kidnappers behind every bush. But the numbers are old and frequently mangled, distorting our understanding of genuine risks to children."



"People send Skenazy their stories and media clippings of law-enforcement overreactions, some of which bubble up to national coverage. (Skenazy writes for the libertarian publication Reason.) She cites an appeals court decision in January 2014 in New Jersey which upheld the conviction of a mother for leaving her 19-month-old child asleep in a car for 5 to 10 minutes while she shopped.

The judge writing for the appeals panel cited a variety of potential risks: "…on a hot day, the temperature inside a motor vehicle can quickly spike to dangerously high levels, just as it may rapidly and precipitously dip on a cold night."

But the day wasn't hot, it wasn't night, and the child was never in danger. The decision left open the potential for any parent to be criminally charged and convicted for leaving a child in a car up to the age of 17, as the appeals court provided no cut-off date nor other parameters. It also thought because the task wasn't urgent, that more imaginary danger should have been considered. "Because she wasn't fantasizing, she was guilty," says Skenazy.

Many states have laws that mandate the age at which a child may be left alone at home or in a car (and the duration, among other factors), or provide such broad guidance that even if it's within the law, a child could be put in foster care and a parent arrested.

In Texas, leaving a child under seven without someone 14 or over in a car for over five minutes, is a Class C misdemeanor ($500 fine, no jail time). Texas has no rules about the age at which a kid can be left at home alone, but its definition of "neglectful supervision" includes not just "bodily injury" but "substantial risk of immediate harm to the child." This leaves an awful lot of latitude for enforcement, which we've seen in practice errs towards worst first thinking.

Skenazy says there's secondary effect, too. Parents who might otherwise make sensible choices about their kids' capabilities must also factor in the worst first thinking of neighbors and strangers. "They imagine that the authorities are using that criteria when they are making a decision about your parenting," and that results in calls to protective services and the police for behavior that isn't dangerous or unreasonable.

While the legal side remains tricky, Skenazy says parents' attitudes can be changed. For her TV show, producers received submissions from 2,000 families and picked the most-anxious 13, including a mother who still spoon fed her older child and an 8-year-old only allowed to stand on a skateboard on his front lawn. Another couple accompanied their children next door to the kids' grandparents.

She spent a few afternoons with the kids without their parents, and they bloomed. But even better, "It changes the parents utterly, completely, and forever, once the kids do something on their own. What looked like bone-deep fear, that even I — I wondered why am I here and not a psychiatrist? It's socially imposed." This gives her hope."
strangers  strangerdanger  statistics  2015  children  parenting  fear  lenoreskenazy  caution  overcaution  joelbest  halloween  risks  glennfleishman 
march 2015 by robertogreco
The Overprotected Kid - The Atlantic
"A preoccupation with safety has stripped childhood of independence, risk taking, and discovery—without making it safer. A new kind of playground points to a better solution."
children  parenting  risk  playgrounds  play  risktaking  safety  education  2014  helicopterparents  hanarosin  independence  strangers  strangerdanger  danger  exploration  helicopterparenting 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Don't tell kids not to talk to strangers – encourage them to trust their instincts | Philippa Perry | Comment is free | theguardian.com
"Blanket injunctions to not talk to strangers are unrealistic and contradict what they see us doing, so consequently it won't be a rule they will be able to take all that seriously. Children tend to do what we do, not what we say. Sometimes how a child feels is inconvenient for us, but we must not be tempted to argue with what they feel or declare that they are silly for feeling it. If we invalidate their feelings and thus teach them to overrule them, we are endangering them.

I'm not saying we shouldn't contain their feelings or comfort them, nor am I saying our actions should be dictated by what they feel, I'm arguing that we need to acknowledge them and take them seriously.

It also helps children when we describe our own feelings. So, next time you've had enough of the playground, don't be tempted to say, an hour is long enough, time to do the shopping, so just five more minutes. Say instead, I'm cold and tired (if this is the case), so just five more minutes. Were we to behave manipulatively towards them, we should expect to be manipulated by them in turn. And if we deny our own feelings, we will not be doing them, or us, any favours."

[See also something from me a few years ago: "Eliminating the “Don’t talk to strangers” rule" http://robertogreco.tumblr.com/post/625745364/eliminating-the-dont-talk-to-strangers-rule ]
parenting  strangers  strangerdanger  2014  philippaperry  children  rules  fear 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Study shows parents' tech fears depend on politics, socioeconomic status, race.
"Overall, our findings suggest that parental concerns don’t seem to match up with their lived experiences when it comes to meeting a stranger and exposure to violent content. They are especially worried about the possibility that a stranger will hurt their child, reflecting the pervasive anxiety about online sexual predators. Yet while such encounters are extraordinarily rare, the potential consequences of such an encounter are unthinkable. Still, the salience of parental fear about strangers in our data raises significant questions. Are parents especially afraid of strangers because this risk is particularly horrific? Or does their fear stem from the pervasive stranger-danger moral panics that have targeted social media as culprits, leading to the false impression that they are more common than they are?

How parents incorporate concerns into their parenting practices affects their children’s activities and behavior, drives technological development in the online safety arena, and shapes public discourse and policy. When parents are afraid, they may restrict access to technologies in an effort to protect their children from perceived dangers. Yet the efficacy of such restrictions is unclear. If fear-driven protective measures do little to curtail actual risk, then these actions are doing a huge disservice to children, and by extension society as a whole. The internet is a part of contemporary public life.  Engagement with technology is key to helping youth understand the world around them.  

While differences in cultural experiences may help explain some of our findings about parental concerns regarding children’s online safety issues, the results raise serious questions. Are certain parents more concerned because they have a higher level of distrust for technology? Are they bothered because they feel as though there are fewer societal protections for their children? Is it that they feel less empowered as parents? We don’t know, as very little research has looked at these issues. Still, our findings challenge policy-makers to think about the diversity of perspectives their law-making should address."
internet  parenting  online  fear  children  teens  youth  socialnetworking  socialnetworks  strangers  strangerdanger  danahboyd  eszterhargittai  society  culture  technology  2013 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Interrupt the program — Medium
"Spoiler alert: I am about to tell you what to do.

1. Talk to a stranger

It’s simple, and harmless, and generous, a beautiful interruption. You can do it without even slowing down your pace. Catch someone’s eye, smile in passing, say “have a good day,” or “how’re you doing.” These are mundane utterances that are also deeply profound. They say to someone: I see you there, we are both people walking down this street or through this lobby, we are both real and it’s worth a nod to that. If you are still smiling for two seconds after you pass by, you are doing this right. You have created a moment of street intimacy.

2. Fall down a rabbit hole

Ignore the kerfuffle about what the internet is doing to your attention span. There are kinds of distraction that are deeply focused. There are many clicks involved in this. Someone, somewhere on your internet has posted something that intrigues you, that you want to know more about. Read it, watch it, wonder about it. What questions does it leave you with? Dig deeper into it. Or, what does it remind you of? Follow unexpected tangents. You are not scattered, you are on a quest. You are looking for answers. If what you find are more questions, you are doing this right. You have been distracted from what you were doing when you started all this. You have been curious.

3. Do nothing

Sit by yourself somewhere in public for 7 minutes without looking at your phone. It has to be somewhere without a TV. Neither of these are bad, I like them too. Do it anyway. This may make you uncomfortable. Do it anyway. Unless you choose to sleep, you will find that you are forced to look at something. What is it? Are you reading signs or looking at things in store windows? Are you looking at other people? Are you looking at trees? Water? Sand? Cement? If you start talking to yourself in your head, you are doing this right. I should have said at the beginning, take a pen in case you want to write something down. You can write on your hand, it’ll wash off. You have been awake."
kiostark  strangers  2013  intimacy  conversation  idleness  stillness  distraction  internet  attention  focus  depth  messiness  curiosity  advice  solitude  awakeness  slow  time  noticing  mindfulness  observation  engagement  people  life  living  interruption 
august 2013 by robertogreco
Touching Strangers: Photographs by Richard Renaldi by Aperture Foundation — Kickstarter
"Since 2007, photographer Richard Renaldi has worked on a series of photographs for which he asks complete strangers to physically interact while posing together for a portrait. Working on the street with a large format 8-by-10 view camera, Renaldi encounters his subjects in towns and cities all over the United States.

Renaldi’s objective was to introduce an unpredictable variable into a traditional photographic formula, and to create spontaneous and fleeting relationships between complete strangers. The portraits are extremely difficult to make, involving complex negotiations with the participants that push them past comfort levels, into a physical intimacy normally reserved for loved ones or friends. Touching Strangers creates intimate and ephemeral relationships that exist only for the moment of the photograph. The images are beautiful and strange, crossing out of the zones of safe physical intimacy with strangers and into deep emotional landscapes never photographed before."
richardrenaldi  photography  kickstarter  strangers  touching  touch  contact  physical  physicalcontact  2013  books  via:kiostark  intimacy 
july 2013 by robertogreco
the lonely city - Olivia Laing
"I'm now starting work on my third book, The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone. It will be published by Canongate in the UK and Picador in the US.

You can be lonely anywhere, but there is a particular flavour to the loneliness that comes from living in a city, surrounded by millions of strangers. And while The Lonely City will be a roving cultural history of urban loneliness, it will be centred on the ultimate city: Manhattan, that tiny, teeming island of gneiss and concrete and glass.

Like my previous two books, this will be a hybrid work of non-fiction, bringing together elements of cultural history, biography, travelogue and memoir. It’s a story about what it feels like to be lonely in a city, and about the complex connections that exist between loneliness, sexuality and art.

Among the residents of the lonely city, I'll be looking at Hopper and Hitchcock, Andy Warhol and Henry Darger, at David Wojnarowicz, Michael Jackson and Klaus Nomi. I'll be thinking about communication and sexuality, about apocalyptic cities, Aids and the art of the machine age.

The Lonely City is not just a map, but a celebration of the state of loneliness. It’s a voyage out to a strange and sometimes lovely island, adrift from the larger continent of human experience, but visited by many – millions, say – of souls."
via:kio  books  loneliness  cities  urban  urbanism  strangers  olivialaing  experience  human  humans  michaeljackson  klausnomi  davidwojnarowicz  henrydarger  andywarhol  alfredhitchcock  edwardhopper  alone 
may 2013 by robertogreco
The Elastic Self
"Ohai! Welcome to my research blog where I archive material about identity making. I'm still working through my theory, but do take a look at An Xiao's lovely article that uses my theory of the Elastic Self to explain the cultural value of social media, such as Tumblr. I gave a talk about the Elastic Self at the first Tumblr Arts Symposium, scrub to 1:11 for my talk. I do a lot of research on Chinese youth, so you'll find lots of info about that topic. The one minute version of Elastic Self so far: The Elastic Self is both the feeling that one's identity is flexible and the action of trying on different identities that are different from a prescribed self. Individuals enact and manifest the Elastic Self in informal spaces that provide social distance from existing social ties and under conditions of relative anonymity, which minimizes social risks. In the presence of unknown others (strangers), individuals feel liberated to try on different identities without pressure to commit to an identity, to take greater risks in expressing ideas or emotions, and to try on selves that are reversible, easy to abandon, and impermanent."

[Kenyatta makes a link from Quinn Norton to Tricia's blog: http://finalbossform.com/post/49785356426/people-dont-go-online-to-become-someone-else ]
[The related post from Quinn: http://www.quinnnorton.com/said/?p=721 ]
triciawang  tumblr  youth  elasticself  china  identity  flexibility  online  adaptability  codeswitching  strangers  trust  socialrisks  quinnnorton  2013  kenyattacheese 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Lift - YouTube
"Filmmaker Marc Isaacs sets himself up in a London tower block lift. The residents come to trust him and reveal the things that matter to them creating a humorous and moving portrait of a vertical community."
documentary  film  london  strangers  marcisaacs  towatch  via:mattward 
february 2013 by robertogreco
Border Town
"I’ve always loved that the ethnic neighbourhoods in Toronto aren’t just informal constructs. The street signs that mark neighbourhoods send a paradoxical but clear message: We are all strangers here. We all belong here."
bordertown  borders  neighborhoods  ethnicneighborhoods  strangers  immigrants  immigration  canada  toronto  2011  debchachra 
october 2012 by robertogreco
Max Tabackman Fenton
[The delightful copy from May 15, 2012.]

"Hello, I'm Max Fenton.

Knowingly or not, I've enlisted friends, peers, and strangers to unpack a puzzle that involves reading and writing on networks and screens.

You can follow along or participate by reading, clipping, grokking, assembling, questioning, and sharing—while making a path. You'll need electrons, a wish to explore, and an eye for how these pieces might fit together in novel shapes and forms.

My trails are charted through twitter, tumblr, pinboard, readmill, reading, and 2nd hand [flavors.me]."

[As shared on Twitter:

"Made my site a little more accurate [http://maxfenton.com] then read @pieratt's "Transparency" http://pieratt.tumblr.com/post/23108094947/transparency-in-the-evolution-of-technology — Yes."

http://twitter.com/maxfenton/status/202477843534454784 ]

[See also: http://twitter.com/rogre/status/202481485633159168 ]
stockandflow  flow  commonplacebooks  friends  peers  talktostrangers  strangers  networkedlearning  benpieratt  transparency  comments  peoplelikeme  howwethink  howwecreate  socialmedia  participation  pinboard  readmill  flavors.me  reading.am  tumblr  twitter  2012  sensemaking  meaningmaking  clipping  assembling  sharing  questioning  crumbtrails  conversation  howwelearn  howwework  cv  online  web  trails  wayfinding  pathfinding  maxfenton 
may 2012 by robertogreco
An Immigrant's Quest For Identity In The 'Open City' : NPR
"Cole himself spent time talking to many people in cafes, on planes and at concerts in an effort to research his novel. He found that a surprising number of people wanted to tell him about their lives.

"People are able to detect that there's something unusual going on here; this is somebody who actually wants to hear the small and insignificant and boring details of my life," he says. "People open up — they trust that, and they open up."

Most of the people Julian talks to in the novel are immigrants, or at least somewhat culturally outside the mainstream — Julian himself is both German and Nigerian. Cole, as well, was raised in Nigeria but moved to the United States in 1992. He began to embrace his American-ness, he says, when he realized that it was OK to be what he calls an "eccentric American," looking to the president or Dominican-American author Junot Diaz for examples."
us  storytelling  urbanism  urban  cities  strangers  nyc  books  immigrants  immigration  2011  tejucole  opencity 
may 2012 by robertogreco
Stranger Studies 101: Cities as Interaction Machines - Kio Stark - Technology - The Atlantic
"There are three broad themes during the semester.

1. Why stranger interactions in cities are meaningful

2. The spaces and the significance of the spaces in which strangers interact, and

3. How strangers 'read' each other, how they initiate interactions, how they avoid interactions, how they trust each other and how they fool each other, how they watch, listen and follow each other.

Then there is the secret theme. I want students to fall in love with talking to strangers, to do it more, and to make technology that creates more plentiful and meaningful interactions among strangers."
discovery  serendipity  interaction  darreno'donnell  thechildinthecity  publicspace  janejacobs  josephmassey  ireneebeattie  ervinggoffman  richardsennett  kurtiveson  cosmopolitanism  cities  nyc  gothamhandbook  sophiecalle  paulauster  relationalart  situationist  georgsimmel  rolandbarthes  strangers  2010  kiostark  collaboration  psychology  social  architecture  technology  culture  urban  urbanism 
march 2012 by robertogreco
Cancer, 'Fixies' And Flickr Friendships : The Picture Show : NPR
"I still have never met Ezra in person, but I find it amazing. Amazing that in this age of compromised privacy and the collective angst we feel over sharing (or not sharing) and password protection, beautiful stories like Ezra's are out there, honest, raw and public — for all the world to see.

It makes me love the Internet even more. How it equalizes, democratizes, eulogizes and preserves some very wonderful things. Like eulogies that we can all write on our own.

That is a beautiful thing, my friends. I only wish my mother could have shared her own with the world, too."
online  web  internet  strangers  friendship  2011  flickr  relationships  cv  cancer  health  privacy  sharing  community 
july 2011 by robertogreco
SpeEdChange: The art of seeing (Part II) The Practice
"When I observe a school I start by watching how I, and how kids, approach it. I watch how the corridors operate, both when filled with movement and (if) when empty. Empty corridors during a school day speak loudly to me. So do classrooms with one kind of seating, one kind of lighting, or one "teaching wall." I watch the feet of kids in a class. I watch them fidget… [many more examples]…

This multiply-focused kind of observation helps me to begin to deep map a school…

the linearity and single-focus of traditional education has, perhaps, robbed you of, or severely limited, your human observation skills. Tens of thousands of hours of single subject lessons, of staring at teachers, of conference sessions divided into "tracks," have stunted the human abilities you had before you entered school. So, if you feel out of practice, here are a few ideas: Eavesdrop…Look for something you haven't looked for before in a place you've been a million times…Stare…Talk to strangers"
irasocol  noticing  observation  learning  schools  teaching  unschooling  deschooling  schooldesign  lcproject  tcsnmy  students  perspective  eavesdropping  staring  strangers  conversation  understanding  2011  howto  tutorials  adhdvision  adhdwalk  deepmapping  sensemaking  publicschools  sla  chrislehmann  pammoran  children  people  howwework  howwelearn 
june 2011 by robertogreco
Podcast: Empathy, mutual aid and the anarchist prince
"Peter Kropotkin was one of the greatest thinkers of the nineteenth century, who managed to multi-task as a Russian prince, renowned geographer and revolutionary anarchist. In this interview with Phonic FM, a wonderful community radio station based in Exeter, I discuss how Kropotkin’s ideas about ‘mutual aid’ relate to my own work on empathy, and why Kropotkin is a prophet for the art of living in the twenty-first century. The interview lasts around 50 minutes."
peterkropotkin  empathy  anarchism  romankrznaric  outrospection  mutualaid  history  2011  podcasts  tolisten  philosophy  science  politics  peacebuilding  ethics  interviews  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  society  policy  law  cognitiveempathy  affectiveempathy  perspective  understanding  radicalsocialchange  socialchange  conversation  learning  crosspollination  crossdisciplinary  strangers  conversationmeals  interdisciplinary  facilitating  connectivism  connections  generalists  cooperation  cooperativegroups 
april 2011 by robertogreco
rhoner comments on Have you ever picked up a hitch-hiker?
"But you know who came to my rescue all three times? Immigrants. Mexican immigrants. None of them spoke a lick of the language. But one of those dudes had a profound affect on me.

He was the guy that stopped to help me with a blow out with his whole family of 6 in tow… [Great story here.]

So, to clarify, a family that is undoubtedly poorer than you, me, and just about everyone else on that stretch of road, working on a seasonal basis where time is money, took an hour or two out of their day to help some strange dude on the side of the road when people in tow trucks were just passing me by. Wow...

But we aren't done yet… [story continues]"

[via: http://tumble77.com/post/2908951786/ ]
immigration  kindness  strangers  selflessness  storytelling  karma  life  hoyportimañanapormí 
january 2011 by robertogreco
n+1: Sad as Hell
"Shteyngart says the first thing that happened when he bought an iPhone “was that New York fell away . . . It disappeared. Poof.” That’s the first thing I noticed too: the city disappeared, along with any will to experience. New York, so densely populated and supposedly sleepless, must be the most efficient place to hone observational powers. But those powers are now dulled in me. I find myself preferring the blogs of remote strangers to my own observations of present ones. Gone are the tacit alliances with fellow subway riders, the brief evolution of sympathy with pedestrians. That predictable progress of unspoken affinity is now interrupted by an impulse to either refresh a page or to take a website-worthy photo. I have the nervous hand-tics of a junkie. For someone whose interest in other people’s private lives was once endless, I sure do ignore them a lot now."
books  fiction  future  culture  garyshteyngart  writing  iphone  attention  nyc  sympathy  alliances  affinity  surroundings  engagement  strangers  observation  cv  urban  urbanism  connection  place  atemporality  distance 
december 2010 by robertogreco
Jonathan Harris . Oct 21, 2009 [Sisters, OR]
"Sometimes I think about moving to a new town. I mean, leaving behind my old life and opening up shop in some new place, if not for the rest of my life then at least for a long time and in earnest. Big cities make this daydream easier to imagine and small towns harder — because, just as all happy families are alike but every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way, Tolstoy might agree that all big cities are alike, but every small town is strange in its own way. … I wondered what it would be like to move here, for the people in that coffee shop suddenly to become my friends, my potential future spouses, my future kids' teachers, my drinking buddies, my neighbors. Until you commit to a place, you can inhabit the anonymous nether-regions of ghostliness, floating into and out of coffee shops and communities without any compulsion to talk, tell stories, charm, make nice, or make friends. … I wonder how you finally learn to settle, and what that takes."
jonathanharris  place  sisters  oregon  smalltowns  cities  tolstoy  belonging  families  urban  urbanism  cv  glvo  meaning  strangers 
august 2010 by robertogreco
jeweled platypus · text · Grids of tubes and wires (the city and the internet)
"wrote an essay about how learning to use internet is like learning to live in city…for class where we read urban critics/philosophers/sociologists Walter Benjamin, Michel de Certeau, & Georg Simmel…lived in 19th & 20th centuries, talked about: what happens to people when they move to cities, how it feels to live in dense urban centers, & whether “the city” is imaginary place…Some of their concerns about experience of mass urbanization are similar to concerns…about experience of mass internet use: dealing w/ infooverload, wandering in non-linear fashion, learning unfamiliar interfaces, developing less sensitivity to shocking sights, finding connections w/in fragmented communities, encountering thousands of strangers every day, & acting badly when anonymous.

…resemblance btwn physical & virtual worlds is not surprising…“city is an archetype of human imagination”…social aspects of web modeled on places where many of its developers, entrepreneurs & designers live: SF, LA, NY…"

[via: http://twitter.com/tcarmody/status/21262061506 ]
walterbenjamin  micheldecerteau  georgsimmel  cities  2009  psychology  urbanism  urban  society  culture  city  internet  social  flickr  del.icio.us  youtube  flaneur  brittagustafson  online  web  urbanization  non-linearity  learning  explodingschool  colinward  strangers  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  fear  tcsnmy  anonymity 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Seth's Blog: Intolerance and xenophobia as a (short-term) marketing strategy
"Possibly the oldest human worldview is fear of strangers. And right next to that is anger as a byproduct of fear. If a candidate wants to gain attention and possibly votes, then, it makes short-term sense to stir up fear of strangers and turn it into anger. It might even work (once). But it makes it virtually impossible to govern. It's a short-term strategy that eats itself, because sooner or later, everyone is a stranger, and fear is no foundation for work that matters. It seems as though we're entering a season in which it's easy to ostracize or become righteously indignant over someone's national origin, skin color, religion or sexual orientation. If this is the best a politician can do to organize and lead, then we all lose."
fear  strangers  sethgodin  xenophobia  intolerance  us  leadership  politics  policy  whatsholdingusback 
august 2010 by robertogreco
The Secret of Successful Entrepreneurs | Wired Science | Wired.com
"Business people with entropic networks were three times more innovative than people with predictable networks. Because they interacted with lots of different folks, they were exposed to a much wider range of ideas and “non-redundant information”. Instead of getting stuck in the rut of conformity—thinking the same tired thoughts as everyone else—they were able to invent startling new concepts... And this returns us to meritocracy. It’s not enough to simply take the smartest kids and make them smarter. What’s just as important is teaching these young people to seek out strangers, to resist the tug of self-similarity and homogenization. Diversity can seem like a such a vague and wishy-washy aspiration, but it comes with measurable benefits. To the extent our meritocratic institutions diminish our social diversity—are your college buddies just like you?—they might actually make us less likely to succeed. Perhaps Bill Gates knew what he was doing when he dropped out of Harvard."
diversity  entrepreneurship  management  success  sociology  startups  psychology  networking  business  creativity  jonahlehrer  interdisciplinary  looseties  homogeneity  crosspollination  networks  scoialnetworks  tcsnmy  toshare  strangers  topost  harvard  meritocracy  martinruef  michaelmorris  paulingram  bias  culture 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Twitter Strangers : The Frontal Cortex
"We naturally lead manicured lives, so that our favorite blogs & writers & friends all look, think & sound a lot like us. (While waiting in line for my cappuccino...I was ready to punch myself...as I realized everyone in line was wearing exact same uniform: artfully frayed jeans...etc. & we were all staring at same gadget & probably reading same damn website...our pose of idiosyncratic uniqueness was a big charade.) While this strategy might make life a bit more comfortable - strangers can say such strange things - it also means that our cliches of free-association get reinforced. We start thinking in ever more constricted ways.

& this is why following someone unexpected on Twitter can be a small step towards a more open mind. Because not everybody reacts to same thing in same way. Sometimes, it takes a confederate in an experiment to remind us of that. & sometimes, all it takes is a stranger...exposing us to a new way of thinking about God, Detroit & Kardashians."
jonahlehrer  twitter  dissent  creativity  strangers  innovation  psychology  socialmedia  socialnetworking  social  homgeneity  serendipity  diversity  indiosyncracy  difference  perspective  insularity 
july 2010 by robertogreco
The School of Life : On Mutuality
"Mutuality rather than independence is the chief characteristic of human life, whatever we'd like to believe. Many prefer to see human life as one long competitive struggle for dominance. Philosopher Edmund Burke, Darwin's champion Herbert Spencer (who coined the phrase "survival of the fittest") and Ayn Rand (high priestess of the American idea of rugged individualism) are among those who characterise human life in terms of the struggle between individuals for the spoils of humanity. Science is increasingly contradicting this view: rather than being a species of arch individualists, we are the social ape. We live in larger, more complex groups than our closest cousins, collaborating with friends and strangers thanks to our nuanced social brain. Indeed, we use other people's brains to navigate the world: to acquire skills and practices, and to access knowledge systems of long-dead strangers. We call this "culture"."

[via: http://twitter.com/cervus/statuses/17735266663 ]
human  relationships  sociology  social  culture  tcsnmy  conversation  connectivism  connectedness  interdependency  knowledgesystems  systems  humanity  mutuality  brain  collaboration  lcproject  strangers  internet  web  online  technium  darwin  edmundburke  herbertspencer  aynrand  individualism  toshare  competition  cooperation  independence  theschooloflife  charlesdarwin 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Twitter / Martin Varsavsky: In USA kids are especially ...
"In USA kids are especially told not to talk to strangers. But as adults they love to :)"
strangers  rules  society  martinvarsavsky  children  adults  learning  donttalktostrangers  fear  safety  parenting 
may 2010 by robertogreco
In Praise of Oversharing - TIME
"But no doubt 5 yrs from now, when my children are teenagers, they will be comfortable living in public in ways that will astound & alarm their parents. I can already imagine how powerful instinct to worry about predators & compromising photos will be. But it will be our responsibility to keep that instinct in check & recognize their increasingly public existence brings more promise than peril. We have to learn how to break w/ that most elemental of parental commandments: Don't talk to strangers...strangers have a lot to give us that's worthwhile, & we to them.

Still, talking to strangers is different from handing over set of house keys. We're learning how to draw line btwn extremes...each of us will draw [it] in different ways. That we get to make these decisions for ourselves is step forward; valley is a much richer & more connected place than old divide between privacy & celebrity worship was. But it is going to take some time to learn how to live there."
blogs  culture  privacy  safety  strangers  parenting  public  stevenjohnson  web  online 
may 2010 by robertogreco
Omegle
"Omegle is a brand-new service for meeting new friends. When you use Omegle, we pick another user at random and let you have a one-on-one chat with each other. Chats are completely anonymous, although there is nothing to stop you from revealing personal details if you would like."
omegle  funny  weird  strangers  socialnetworking  chat  anonymous 
november 2009 by robertogreco
The End of Alone - The Boston Globe
"At our desk, on the road, or on a remote beach, the world is a tap away. It's so cool. And yet it's not. What we lose with our constant connectedness." ... "DESCARTES, NEWTON, LOCKE, Spinoza, Kant, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard -- they share the distinction of having been some of the greatest thinkers the world has known. They also share this: None of them ever married or had their own families, and most of them spent the bulk of their lives living alone. In his provocative 1989 book Solitude: A Return to the Self, British writer and psychiatrist Anthony Storr made a persuasive case for the value of deep, uninterrupted alone time. He found it in ample supply in the lives of not just philosophers and physicists, but also some of the greatest poets, novelists, painters, and composers."
technology  solitude  society  facebook  email  gmail  bogs  online  internet  connectivity  mobile  phones  twitter  slow  well-being  idleness  boredom  quiet  etiquette  missedconnections  anxiety  strangers  life  philosophy  thoreau  reflection  via:hrheingold 
february 2009 by robertogreco
Snarkmarket: Personality and Urban Affection
"Whitman feels the power of the city of strangers. He’s looking at a city of strangers and how something we might now call urban affection begins to develop. How do you come to care for people that you have never seen before and that you may never see again?

Every day we encounter people, eyes make contact, we brush by people, physically come into contact with them, and may never see them again.

But Whitman’s notebooks at this time are filled with images, just jottings, of these people, what they’re doing, what they look like, what their names are. ‘What is this person doing? What’s the activity that defines this person?

“If I were doing that activity that person would be me. If I were wandering the other way, rather than this way, that person could be me. That could be me. That could be me. What is it that separates any of us?’"

[Also here: http://snarkmarket.com/2009/2545 ]
waltwhitman  urban  urbanism  place  noticing  observation  affection  bionicnoticing  cities  strangers  belonging  engagement  surroundings  environment  empathy  city 
february 2009 by robertogreco

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