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Let Them Eat Tech | Dissent Magazine
““Tech-for-all” campaigns build on a deep-seated tradition of modern liberals framing the problem of rural poverty in terms of the geographic and technological remoteness of rural areas. The famed Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) hydroelectric infrastructure project was one of the more notable accomplishments of New Deal liberalism, in no small part by virtue of its success in more fully integrating struggling rural communities into the national economy. Franklin Roosevelt and his brain trust believed that one of the main problems of “underdeveloped regions” in Appalachia and the broader South was their physical isolation from urban centers of capitalist production. Many New Deal architects, beginning with TVA chairman David Lilienthal, saw the project as a way of spurring economic growth by luring industry to rural places. During the early Cold War, growth-oriented liberals also funneled billions of dollars of research-and-development funds into previously overlooked areas, transforming cities like Atlanta and Charlotte and building the modern Sunbelt in the process.

Nevertheless, by the 1960s, rural areas across the South began experiencing new waves of economic uncertainty. Decades of agricultural modernization resulted in fewer rural workers being supported in farming occupations, which led to an increase in outmigration to cities, where there were more job opportunities. State leaders from both political parties responded by implementing a model of economic development that came to be known as “smokestack chasing”: using public subsidies and the promises of a low-wage and non-unionized workforce to recruit manufacturers to rural communities. This approach produced a surge in one-company towns and cities throughout the rural South—places like Arkadelphia, Arkansas, and Rocky Mount, North Carolina—which generated jobs and provided momentary economic stability. But by the late 1970s, those companies were finding even cheaper labor outside the United States, and rural towns began to undergo debilitating rounds of deindustrialization and capital flight.

A new generation of Democratic Party politicians burst onto the national scene at the height of this crisis. These “New Democrats” or “Atari Democrats” went to great lengths to distance themselves from the party’s traditional associations with the industrial manufacturing sector and its powerful labor unions, shifting their focus to relentless high-tech growth instead. Many of them hailed from Southern or Midwestern states with large rural populations that were experiencing the devastating effects of rural disinvestment, including James Blanchard (Michigan), Al Gore (Tennessee), James Hunt (North Carolina), Charles Robb (Virginia)—and, of course, Arkansas’s Bill Clinton. Their vision for how respond to the coordinated crises of deindustrialization and the decline of the agricultural sector offered a clear departure from the recent past; as Clinton boldly announced to Forbes in 1979, his first year as governor, “smokestack chasing doesn’t work.” Instead, Clinton and the other Atari Democrats looked to the success of Silicon Valley and Route 128 outside of Boston, which had recently become bastions of tech-focused industrial activity.

The New Democrats who served as governors pursued strategies that fostered collaboration between government and business, touting public-private partnerships with the high-tech sector (which had already developed a reputation for being anti-union) as the best way to help struggling communities in their states generate economic activity. The Southern New Democratic governors were members of the Southern Growth Policies Board, a state-funded research agency and policy shop focused on creating new development plans for the region. In the early 1980s, the board began laying out plans to incubate tech startups throughout the region—both in already-established local markets, like North Carolina’s Research Triangle, and in previously untapped rural areas. Clinton oversaw the creation of the Board’s Southern Technology Council, which promoted the more efficient transfer of knowledge and research between academia and industry. Tennessee Senator Al Gore, meanwhile, spearheaded the passage of a series of laws that turned the research networks controlled by the National Science Foundation over to the commercial sphere, so that both public and private sources could fund and benefit from its growth.

Clinton and Gore’s shared Southern roots, and their shared commitment to a new technology agenda, became key pillars of their successful bid for the White House in 1992. In stump speeches throughout the country, they discussed the power of technology to connect people and transcend not just partisan but also rural and urban divisions. They pledged to create a “door-to-door information network to link every home, business, lab, classroom, and library by the year 2015.” In a ceremony held in Silicon Valley during the first days of their administration, Clinton and Gore unveiled a new initiative called “Technology for America’s Economic Growth,” which affirmed that “accelerating the introduction of an efficient, high-speed communications system can have the same effect on U.S. economic and social development as public investment in the railroads in the 19th century.” They requested expanded public funding for research and development work and called on the federal agencies and Congress to eliminate regulations that hindered the private sector from investing in such a network.

These efforts culminated in the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the most sweeping overhaul to U.S. communications policy since 1934. The act deregulated all segments of the industry, premised on the idea that a more competitive marketplace would help to make phone, cable, and internet service cheaper and more readily available. Taken together, these policies put into action the Democratic neoliberal faith that fueling the growth of the tech sector offered not only the clearest route to ongoing economic prosperity but also the surest means of providing a key social service.”
newdeal  neoliberalism  billclinton  hillaryclinton  rural  technology  politics  digitaldivide  broadband  broadbandforall  internet  utilities  development  ruraldevelopment  2019  lilygeismer  tennesseevalleyauthroity  algore  ataridemocrats  democrats  ronaldreagan  liberalism  fdr  franklindelanoroosevelt  appalachia  davidlilenthal  south  us  newdemocrats  jamesblanchard  jameshunt  charlesrobb  virginia  tennessee  northcarolina  michigan  arkansas  siliconvalley  technosolutionsism  capitalism  public-privatepartnerships  economics  growth  telecommunications  whiteville  hillbillyelegy  jdnance  amyklobuchar  betoo’rourke  berniesanders  elizabethwarren  california  newyork  centrism  thirdway  antipoverty  poverty  comcast  finland  switzerland  spain  españa  publicoption  publicgood  kentucky  texas  southdakota 
5 days ago by robertogreco
Phones Are the Best Technology - The Atlantic
“As you kneel beside your bed tonight, and dote briefly on each of the world’s miseries, expend a few seconds on Shawn Sebastian. As a Democratic precinct secretary in Story County, Sebastian needed to report the results of his local caucus to the state party.

“I’ve been on hold for over an hour with the Iowa Democratic Party,” he told Wolf Blitzer, the CNN anchor, around 10 p.m. last night. The party “tried to, I think, promote an app to report the results. The app just, like, doesn’t work, so we’ve been recommended to call into the hotline.” Muzak piped in the background. “I’m just waiting on hold and doing my best,” Sebastian repeated.

Then, suddenly, the hotline came alive—a woman’s voice asked if he needed help. “Hello? Hello?” said the voice. “I’ve got to get off the phone,” Sebastian said. Yet before he could actually greet the operator (“Okay, hi. Hello?”) came the tell-tale click of a dead receiver.

And with the rising resignation of a trained Shakespearean, Sebastian turned to Blitzer and announced: “They hung up on me.” It took him roughly another hour to finally deliver his results. (They are: Sanders, 2; Warren, 2; Buttigieg, 2.)

The point of this story is not that technology is bad. In the pandemonium of the 2020 Iowa Democratic caucus—in which a custom-made and little-tested app failed, with no apparent backup plan, delaying the results nearly a day—that argument will be advanced loudly and often. The point of the story is that telephones are, in fact, the best technology. If the Iowa Democratic Party had recognized this truth, Sebastian would never have been left lingering on hold. And not only should the Iowa Democratic Party have relied more eagerly on telephones, but we all should use them more. Phones are efficient, irreplaceable, and essential to civic life. And we are reckless and stupid, as a society, to be abandoning them in pursuit of software’s siren song.

Iowa is a microcosm of this effect. There was an obvious alternative to developing a new piece of software: Just get a bunch of volunteers to sit in a big room in Des Moines and talk to precinct secretaries on the phone. Had the state party developed some form of authorization ahead of time—perhaps by giving each precinct secretary a codeword, on a sheet of paper—callers could have provided results quickly and securely. Iowa has 1,681 precincts: Assuming the state party could find several hundred volunteers, and that each conversation with a local secretary lasted 20 minutes or so (as Sebastian later reported), the task would be complete in about two hours. If the party were asking only for final caucus results, it could complete the same task with about 60 volunteers.

Such a system could be infiltrated, maybe, but it could not be easily hacked. It requires little training: Almost everyone, of every age, knows how to place a phone call. And simple voice calls are accessible to the roughly one in five Americans who do not own a smartphone.

A telephone-based system is also proven. Year in and year out, in races big and small, the Associated Press provides gold-standard election-result data. It compiles those data through an old-fashioned phone tree: First, a local AP stringer calls a set of county clerks and gets vote tallies, then she calls an AP vote-entry clerk in Spokane, Washington, and reads them over the phone. This seemingly low-tech process has produced nearly every live election result that you have seen on TV or website—emphasis on live. “It’s an essential process that requires dedicated people and documented expertise,” brags the AP. That may be true. But it is not so mysterious that it should elude a local political party.

Yet it should not surprise us that the Iowa Democrats declined to use phones. We all do. Every single day, for no good reason, Americans now eschew making phone calls, even when they will provide the best information in the most efficient way. If it’s 5 p.m. on a Monday of a three-day weekend, and you want to know whether your local pizza place is open, the fastest and best option is to call it. But time after time, I have seen people satisfy themselves with Google’s sheepish approximation. “Well, it looks like they’re usually open till 6, but that may change because of the holiday,” announces whoever happens to be in the car’s passenger seat, their nose three inches from the glowing iPhone. “I guess we’ll see,” says the driver, turning onto the interstate. Twenty minutes later, you have no one to blame but yourself when you find Vito’s of Poughkeepsie uses Sunday hours on President’s Day.

Already I can hear the roars of “OK Boomer” that will inevitably meet this post. So let me clarify, first, that I was born in the 1990s. I have come to love the phone as an adult. There remains an immense amount of information in the world that is easiest to access by phone. Should you worry about your child’s mild flu symptoms? Call the pediatrician. Need to know if funding for the town library increased last year? Call city hall.

And while I hear my fellow Millennials complain about phone anxiety, I wonder who is encouraging that particular neuroticism. For in every other realm, the country’s largest companies have midwifed this societal retreat from telephony. It is far easier for corporations, of course, if we use their apps, whether it be to complain or query or order a grande nonfat chai latte. If we order on the app, our request is tabulated and measurable; it is automatically monitored and easier to optimize. Best of all, local employees—those people called, in any other context, our neighbors—can be judged based on how fast they respond to our needs. The rise of what the writer Malcolm Harris calls “servant apps” is stripping the world of the easiest form of solidarity, which is geography. It used to be that, when you moved into a new home, the previous occupants left you their binder of local takeout and delivery menus. In those first months, you tried out the local offerings; over the years, you got to know the voice on the other side of the phone. Today, when city dwellers move to a new neighborhood, they reload Seamless.

Talking on the phone is also—let’s be clear—very easy. Toddlers can do it with aplomb. First graders learn how to call 911. Whereas texting or Instagram DMing proceeds as a kind of ambient chatter with no clear start or stop point—allowing all sorts of innovative new forms of passive-aggression, chief among them ghosting—a phone call is simple. It requires a greeting. Then it requires a statement of purpose. Then the two parties talk. Then eventually someone needs to get off the line, and the conversation ends. This discrete pattern holds whether you called to report Story County Precinct 1-1 or whether you just called to say “I love you.”

Phones are beautiful, really. “The telephone lets anybody say what he wants to the person of his choice; he can conduct business, express love, or pick a quarrel. It is impossible for bureaucrats to define what people say to each other on the phone, even though they can interfere with—or protect—the privacy of their exchange,” observed the philosopher Ivan Illich in 1973. To him, phones had the best quality that a technology could have: conviviality. “They can be easily used, by anybody, as often or as seldom as desired, for the accomplishment of a purpose chosen by the user,” he wrote. Phones, in his view, were a tool of both liberty and equality.

Which is to say: They are a tool of democracy. Make no mistake about the end goal of all of this. As Americans, we have spent the past several decades building a sociotechnical system that aims to free people from ever having to talk to strangers. “‘Don’t talk to strangers!’ That is a lesson for four-year-olds,” writes the political theorist Danielle Allen. She points out that only the president gets to pretend that no American is a stranger: He can look into everyone’s eye and shake everyone’s hand. “The more fearful we citizens are of speaking to strangers, the more we are docile children and not prospective presidents; the greater the distance between the president and us, the more we are subjects, not citizens,” she says. “Talking to strangers is a way of claiming one’s political majority and, with it, a presidential ease and sense of freedom.” (It is also a good way of figuring out who should run for president.)

We hate talking to strangers—so instead we argue by tweet, order by servant app, and address the world from behind constructed veils of personal comfort. What a calamity. Talking to strangers is good. It is good for you, and it is good for the stranger. It is an economic good, as a kind of public luxury; it is a moral good, as a form of ethical instruction. Exodus 22:21 famously commands its readers not to mistreat or oppress a stranger, “for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” To this we should add an American epilogue: Do not abandon the stranger on the phone, for you were left on hold in Des Moines.”
robinsonmeyer  2020  elections  telephones  technology  communication  social  society  strangers  iowa  reliability  accessibility  ivanillich  conviviality  toolsforconviviality  danielleallen 
10 days ago by robertogreco
The Right to Listen | The New Yorker
“n 2016, during one of the first shoots for “What Is Democracy?,” I stood near Miami Beach, asking people to share their political opinions on camera. Three middle-aged men on vacation from New Jersey sat down on a park bench to chat. They sang the praises of a Republican candidate for President named Donald Trump, and offered their thoughts about immigration (bad), taxes (too high), and police violence against black people (not a problem). It was only a few minutes before one of them mentioned free speech. “Here, we have freedom to express,” he said, of the United States. “Like when Joe was just explaining about his racism, six large black men walked by. I thought there might be a problem. Not in this country! They heard it, it’s democracy. Joe can say whatever he wants.” What made America great, they suggested, was every individual’s right to say anything, without reserve and without inviting a response. This was a conception of democratic life that centered on self-expression, with listening left out. In its version of democracy, speech need only go one way.

The men on the bench were hardly unique in overlooking listening as an important component of democracy. As an activist on the left, I long assumed that my role consisted entirely of raising awareness, sounding alarms, and deploying arguments; it took me years to realize that I needed to help build and defend spaces in which listening could happen, too. As citizens, we understand that the right to speak has to be facilitated, bolstered by institutions and protected by laws. But we’ve been slow to see that, if democracy is to function well, listening must also be supported and defended—especially at a moment when technological developments are making meaningful listening harder.

By definition, democracy implies collectivity; it depends on an inclusive and vibrant public sphere in which we can all listen to one another. We ignore that listening at our peril. Watching “What Is Democracy?” today, I find that the answer lies not just in the voices of the people I interviewed. It’s also in the shots of people listening, receptively, as others speak.”
astrataylor  2020  listening  democracy  freedomofspeech  organizing  activism  power  speech  whatisdemocracy?  filmmaking  documentary  voices  gender  marginalization  politics  collectivism  collectivity  inclusivity  technology  facebook  forums  speaking  institutions  law  legal  constitution  us  facilitation  awareness 
19 days ago by robertogreco
Technology did more good than harm this decade
"It's true that, as the scale and pace of technology increased, mistakes were made, lessons went unlearned, and now we have tech companies constantly making privacy violations, enforcing dubiously defended policies, and struggling to take responsibility for the change they have inflicted. But the idea that tech is only a tool is worth poking at, and so is the presumption that it only had negative consequences this decade. Quite to the contrary, it's worth remembering that technology helps many people, and it has especially helped the marginalized.

Just to start small: There was a time not very long ago when you had to yell through a landline to talk to someone overseas. Now, immigrants, refugees, and diasporas of all kinds can communicate simply and almost for free with people across the globe from their smartphones. This is about more than convenience — it's a way of fostering community and connection in what can often be the alienating experience of migration.

For refugees in particular, smartphones provided a lifeline. For the millions fleeing Syria, for example, smartphones were a way to connect with home, aid, and burgeoning communities in their new countries.

Tech thus enables people at the margins of society to find help and find each other in ways that would have been more difficult in prior eras.

But even in comparatively wealthy societies, that capacity of tech to gather people can still produce massive change. In North America, Black Lives Matter and the indigenous movement Idle No More arose in part because of how they were broadcast online, allowing the groups to recruit, get a message out against a hostile media, and coalesce around an idea.

Something similar could be said for the #metoo movement, which naturally found its home online. Beyond that, the general focus on social justice, whether trans rights, race relations, or a growing resurgence of socialism, all found a base and communities online. Would trans people have been able to highlight the enormous prejudice they face as quickly without the web? It seems unlikely.

I'm not trying to be contrarian while others are pointing out the many, very real downsides of the new digital era. Rather, it's important to remember that historical change is ambivalent. Technology's role in that change isn't to be a tool, but something that reforms and reconfigures reality.

The classic example of this comes from German philosopher Martin Heidegger, who suggested that something like a hydroelectric dam doesn't just generate electricity out of the movement of water, but actually makes us reconceive the Rhine river as a thing to be harvested, redirected. Tech isn't an addition to an already existing reality; it creates a new one.

That's an important distinction, because it reframes the conversation around whether tech is good or bad. It forces us to ask what we wish to do with a new reality.

Because for all the ways in which tech can genuinely help marginalized people, it is also the thing that will disproportionately harm them. If and when facial recognition technology is deployed by the police, it will be the poor and racialized who will be unfairly targeted. If social credit systems are used to judge people, as is starting to happen in China, it is hard to believe it won't be the underclass who will suffer. And there is more broadly the pre-existing digital divide, in which upper- and middle-income people have access to tech, which in turn can give them a leg up in school or the workplace.

For all that risk, it's worth pointing out that the groups in society usually trodden underfoot have also used tech to collect themselves, push back, and ameliorate their lives. That is worth remembering too: We are not simply pawns subject to power, but people who can also resist it. And as the decade draws to a close and a new one dawns, we need to consider more than whether or not technology is harming us. We need to ask what we can do with tech to empower the marginalized."
navneetalang  2019  technology  resistance  empowerment  socialmedia  communication  race  digital  reality  heidegger  rhineriver  #metoo  blacklivesmatter  organizing  socialjustice  idlenomore  smartphones  refugees  distance  syria  smarthphone  mobile  phones  migration 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
HEWN, No. 337: What if there wasn’t anything good about ed-tech?
"The response to my article “The 100 Worst Ed-Tech Debacles of the Decade” has been overwhelming, and I’ve spent the first few days of 2020 dealing with the influx of messages it’s prompted — mostly positive messages thankfully, although I haven’t looked at the comments on Reddit or Hacker News. (Good grief, why would I?!)

I want to respond briefly to one of the most frequent complaints I’ve heard: that I did not also write a list of “The 100 Best Ed-Tech Achievements of the Decade.” And that somehow that means my analysis is incomplete.

I’m not sure why folks want me to tell them what’s praiseworthy. As I said on Twitter: get your own moral compass. Look at your own practices, at the practices of those around you. And do better.

But more importantly, let’s be clear: the technology industry — education technology or otherwise — does not need my validation. It needs criticism. It needs criticism that refuses to come with sugar-coating and a few plaudits. There are not “two sides” to this issue that deserve equal time. There are not “two sides” — some good and some bad ed-tech — that exist in any sort of equal measure.

What if anything “good” about ed-tech this past decade was so overwhelmed by all the money funneled into the “bad” that the “good” didn’t matter one whit? What if all that “bad” meant any semblance of “good” was stifled, suffocated? What if, as David Kernohan has suggested, there wasn’t anything this past decade but technological disappointment? What if there wasn’t anything good about ed-tech?

I’m serious. Sit with that sentence a minute before you pipe up to defend your favorite app or social network or that cute robot your kids coded to move in a circle. What if there wasn’t anything good about ed-tech? What if ed-tech is totally inseparable from privatization, behavioral engineering, and surveillance? What if, by surrendering to the narrative that schools must be increasingly technological, we have neglected to support them in being be remotely human? What if we can never address the crises of our democracies, of our planet if we keep insisting on the benevolence of tech?"
audreywatters  edtech  technology  schools  education  surveillance  humanism  climatechange  society  democracy  canon  privatization  behaviorism  davidhernohan  criticism  journalism  2020 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
How to run a small social network site for your friends
“Table of Contents

How to run a small social network site for your friends
> Who this guide is for
> Social solutions to social problems

What makes a small social network site different from a big one?
> You control the computer that runs the site
> You can modify the software
> You get to make the social rules and policies
> Wait, who is “you”?

Why run a small social network site?
> Software can be complicated where necessary
> You can have hyper-specific norms
> Why to NOT run a small social network site

What you can do today
> Keep it small
> You are the party host
> Provide a custom introduction to your network for every user
> Group activities
> Keep it interconnected
> Funding
> The bus problem
> Code of Conduct
>> Enforcement
> Technical recommendations
>> Examples of services you can provide

What we need to do in the future
> Places where we need better tech
>> Fluidity of identity and the ability to migrate
>> Let people keep things in the community
>> Server forking should be easy
>> Lean software that doesn’t have to scale
> More on scale
> Beyond local and public: the neighborhood

Conclusion
> Hard questions
> So what do you, the reader, do next?
>> If you are comfortable with servers and hosting
>> If you are not comfortable with that but would like to learn
>> If learning the tech stuff is realistically not going to happen
> Running a small social network site is completely possible to do on the side

Acknowledgments

About the author

License

Older Versions”
dariuskazemi  socialmedia  socialnetworking  socialnetworks  2019  howto  technology  webdev  mastodon  software  social  community  communities  via:jenlowe 
8 weeks ago by robertogreco
Safiya Umoja Noble PhD on Twitter: "All the way correct and worth the time to read. The invention of “ethical AI”: how big tech manipulates academia to avoid regulation https://t.co/QlVfmwZStd by Rodrigo Ochigame" / Twitter
“All the way correct and worth the time to read. The invention of “ethical AI”: how big tech manipulates academia to avoid regulation https://theintercept.com/2019/12/20/mit-ethical-ai-artificial-intelligence/ by Rodrigo Ochigame
How Big Tech Manipulates Academia to Avoid Regulation: A Silicon Valley lobby enrolled elite academia to avoid legal restrictions on artificial intelligence.

I’m out of Twitter time this AM but I’ll quickly say that using framworks of JUSTICE instead of ethics, naming OPPRESSION versus lauding diversity or fairness, are all important word choices and world views about how to define and solve problems.

Let me add, which may not be popular: these hedge funds and BigTech companies owe reparations. Their money needs to flow in the direction of justice, not for whitewashing ethics. We need intermediaries to take the money made off destroying lives and democracies to help us repair.

For me, the prob is not about allegedly having my work erased by this courageous grad student, Bc it isn’t. We need a critical mass demanding protections that stop racist/sexist AI, surveillance capitalism, and its destruction. Rodrigo is pointing to how that gets shut down.

I appreciate @gleemie‘s take on this bc she’s right—we can have a generous reading of the article. I liked the focus on structural analysis from @ubiquity75 too. I recognize there a neoliberal feminist reading of this article is also underway. And now I have to go grade.”
safiyanoble  rodrigoochigame  2019  ai  artificialintelligence  neoliberalism  feminism  ethicalai  ethics  reparations  bigtech  technology  siliconvalley  academia  oppression  justice  diversity  fairness  whitewashing  google  facebook  apple  amazon  microsoft  democracy  sexism  racism  criticalmass  safiyaumojanoble 
8 weeks ago by robertogreco
Contract for the Web
“The Web was designed to bring people together and make knowledge freely available. It has changed the world for good and improved the lives of billions. Yet, many people are still unable to access its benefits and, for others, the Web comes with too many unacceptable costs.

Everyone has a role to play in safeguarding the future of the Web. The Contract for the Web was created by representatives from over 80 organizations, representing governments, companies and civil society, and sets out commitments to guide digital policy agendas. To achieve the Contract’s goals, governments, companies, civil society and individuals must commit to sustained policy development, advocacy, and implementation of the Contract text.

Governments

Principle 1
Ensure everyone can connect to the internet

Principle 2
Keep all of the internet available, all of the time

Principle 3
Respect and protect people’s fundamental online privacy and data rights

Companies

Principle 4
Make the internet affordable and accessible to everyone

Principle 5
Respect and protect people’s privacy and personal data to build online trust

Principle 6
Develop technologies that support the best in humanity and challenge the worst

Citizens

Principle 7
Be creators and collaborators on the Web

Principle 8
Build strong communities that respect civil discourse and human dignity

Principle 9
Fight for the Web”

[via: https://www.theverge.com/2019/11/25/20981502/contract-for-the-web-tim-berners-lee-google-facebook-principles-techlash ]
governance  internet  web  www  online  government  markets  citizenship  connectivity  privacy  datarights  trust  affordability  universality  technology  humanism  civics 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
Opinion | A Better Internet Is Waiting for Us - The New York Times
"And even if our algorithms become miraculously intelligent and unbiased, we won’t solve the problem of social media until we change the outdated metaphors we use to think about it.

Twitter and Facebook executives often say that their services are modeled on a “public square.” But the public square is more like 1970s network television, where one person at a time addresses the masses. On social media, the “square” is more like millions of karaoke boxes running in parallel, where groups of people are singing lyrics that none of the other boxes can hear. And many members of the “public” are actually artificial beings controlled by hidden individuals or organizations.

There isn’t a decent real-world analogue for social media, and that makes it difficult for users to understand where public information is coming from, and where their personal information is going.

It doesn’t have to be that way. As Erika Hall pointed out, we have centuries of experience designing real-life spaces where people gather safely. After the social media age is over, we’ll have the opportunity to rebuild our damaged public sphere by creating digital public places that imitate actual town halls, concert venues and pedestrian-friendly sidewalks. These are places where people can socialize or debate with a large community, but they can do it anonymously. If they want to, they can just be faces in the crowd, not data streams loaded with personal information.

That’s because in real life, we have more control over who will come into our private lives, and who will learn intimate details about us. We seek out information, rather than having it jammed into our faces without context or consent. Slow, human-curated media would be a better reflection of how in-person communication works in a functioning democratic society.

But as we’ve already learned from social media, anonymous communication can degenerate quickly. What’s to stop future public spaces from becoming unregulated free-for-alls, with abuse and misinformation that are far worse than anything today?

Looking for ideas, I talked to Mikki Kendall, author of the book “Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists.” Ms. Kendall has thought a lot about how to deal with troublemakers in online communities. In 2014, she was one of several activists on Black Twitter who noticed suspiciously inflammatory tweets from people claiming to be black feminists. To help figure out who was real and who wasn’t, she and others started tweeting out the fake account names with the tag #yourslipisshowing, created by the activist Shafiqah Hudson. In essence, the curated arena of Black Twitter acted as a check on a public attack by anonymous trolls.

Ms. Kendall believes that a similar mechanism will help people figure out fakes in the future. She predicts that social media will be supplanted by immersive 3-D worlds where the opportunities for misinformation and con artistry will be immeasurable.

“We’re going to have really intricately fake people,” she said. But there will also be ways to get at the truth behind the airbrushing and cat-ear filters. It will hinge on that low-tech practice known as meeting face to face. “You’re going to see people saying, ‘I met so-and-so,’ and that becomes your street cred,” she explained.

People who aren’t willing to meet up in person, no matter how persuasive their online personas, simply won’t be trusted. She imagines a version of what happened with #yourslipisshowing, where people who share virtual spaces will alert one another to possible fakes. If avatars are claiming to be part of a group, but nobody in that group has met them, it would be an instant warning sign.

The legacy of social media will be a world thirsty for new kinds of public experiences. To rebuild the public sphere, we’ll need to use what we’ve learned from billion-dollar social experiments like Facebook, and marginalized communities like Black Twitter. We’ll have to carve out genuinely private spaces too, curated by people we know and trust. Perhaps the one part of Facebook we’ll want to hold on to in this future will be the indispensable phrase in its drop-down menu to describe relationships: “It’s complicated.”

Public life has been irrevocably changed by social media; now it’s time for something else. We need to stop handing off responsibility for maintaining public space to corporations and algorithms — and give it back to human beings. We may need to slow down, but we’ve created democracies out of chaos before. We can do it again."
annaleenewitz  2019  internet  web  online  future  publicspace  facebook  twitter  blacktwitter  algorithms  publicgood  socialmedia  socialnetworking  facetoface  f2f  truth  communication  abuse  information  misinformation  democracy  media  slow  dialogue  erikahall  mikkikendall  bias  safety  digital  community  communities  consent  context  curation  shafiqahhidson  anonymity  trolls  trolling  fakes  yourslipisshowing  publicsphere  relationships  publiclife  privacy  johnscalzi  technology  unintendedconsequences  siliconvalley  cmabridgeanalytica 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
Solidarity Onboarding by Clarissa Redwine — Kickstarter
"Friends, coworkers, and organizers - together we’re creating an onboarding kit to unite employees in tech. This kit is passed between coworkers as an act of solidarity and a signal that there is room to organize at your company. Tech needs an employee-driven onboarding that strengthens bonds, makes support visible, and inoculates against the tired propaganda playbook companies use to stamp out collective efforts."
clarissaredwine  organizing  labor  tech  technology  solidarity  collectivism  unions  work 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
Dr Sarah Taber on Twitter: "it's happening folks time to talk about agrarianism in the United Federation of Planets send tweet" / Twitter
[also here: https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1200166974292140033.html?refreshed=1575055374 ]

“it’s happening folks

time to talk about agrarianism in the United Federation of Planets send tweet

Ok so first off there are little nods to agrarianism- the idea that farming is the ideal lifestyle, and that there are “rural values” that are both different from those of urban areas and also inherently better- all over in Star Trek.

Who’s the smartest person on Starfleet Academy campus?

Boothby the gardener.

Giving the Federation a gardener for its moral guidance is an aesthetic choice. It says “this might be sci-fi where we’ve eliminated survival labor, but somehow we’re still down to earth.”

Gardeners are great, but I had this job for a while and let me just say we are also subject to moral foibles.

I would live for a sci fi universe where space captains get their moral guidance from plumbers. “Tell us what to do when the shit hits the fan, pipe daddy” they say.

Ok I’m actually gonna digress on plumbing for a minute

Plumbing is arguably MORE key to life support than farming, esp on a starship. But in the Star Trek universe it’s treated like a joke. This is a reflection on real life where farming’s revered but sanitation is unspeakable.

Anyway back to agrarianism in Star Trek

Captain Kirk is from Iowa because that tells us he is down-to-earth. Like, a REAL man. It’s v important to the theme of TOS that Kirk is the Most Authentic Guy Ever, & Iowa is a symbol of authenticity (see also: US presidential primaries).

Let’s look at some pics from the reboot. Kirk was born in 2233, so this car chase takes place around 2240-2245.

While y’all were watching the FX I was checking out the cornfields and let me tell you, THE IMPLICATIONS ARE STAGGERING

[annotated image from show]

*also this corn is weird, it’s short but already tasseling

chalk it up to future superdwarf varieties idk

1) Iowa is still dominated by corn monoculture in 2240. The scene where Kirk motorcycles to the Enterprise being built IN A CORNFIELD (0:25:00, iTunes won’t let me screenshot) clearly shows straight rows w no intercrop, confirming corn monoculture still in place in 2250-2255.

2) Corn monoculture in the 2250s implies we haven’t figured out any better way to do it, which is kind of a bummer. The current corn/soybeans regime feels eternal & inevitable, but it’s only been around for about 100 years. “How did the soybean become such a common crop in the U.S.?” https://www.agprofessional.com/article/how-did-soybean-become-such-common-crop-us

3) Corn monoculture implies bulk markets for starch, fuel, alcohol, &/or livestock, in a Federation where these needs are theoretically met by replicator & advanced engines. Not only is corn a platform @SwiftOnSecurity, it’s still a platform in the 2250s.

WHEN WILL THE LIES STOP

3) Small sample size (we only have a couple shots of 2250s Iowa farm country), but no soybeans are seen. Where did they go? Do we just … not need to eat protein or rotate crops anymore?

4) Corn pollen is sterile above ~95°F. Small rises in average global temperature may keep midwest corn from setting a crop.

Corn in 2250s Iowa implies either climate change has been reversed (good if true), or the Federation pays farmers to grow Potemkin crops for the aesthetic.

5) Midwestern corn monoculture is aided by a private property-based land tenure system. (Corn monoculture can exist *without* private land ownership, but in the event of a different land tenure system, other cropping methods are more likely to emerge.)

This implies that while the Federation is a moneyless society, it is NOT a property-less society. Land ownership is a zero-sum game. The existence of people who own real estate, especially large plots when population is high, implies the existence of haves & have-nots.

In short, the agrarian realities of Federation-era Earth suggests cracks in its post-scarcity public façade. However, the agrarian politics of Iowa merely *suggest* cracks.

It’s the Picard family vineyard where shit gets downright dystopian. STAY TUNED

*also does anybody have population estimates for Earth, either in the TOS/Kirk era or the Next Generation? I’m having no luck at all

ok time to talk about the Picard wine estate

*deep breath*

Slightly belated: just gonna put this out here for the folks in the replies suggesting “maybe folks keep farming in a post-scarcity economy because it’s ‘recreational’”

In “Family” (s4 e2), Captain Jean-Luc Picard goes home to recuperate after being turned into a Borg

and then you start to wonder why because that whole family situation is a shitshoooowwww

Setup: the way it’s played is the older brother, Robert Picard, is the dutiful son who stayed home to tend the vines like their father. He’s grumpy about how Jean-Luc “left” and won’t stop bitching about it.

HOWEVER. If you know anything about land tenure and how it’s passed on for multiple generations, this situation is even more messed up than it looks.

If you divide up a family plot among all the kids (or even all the sons), within a few generations you wind up with tiny useless postage stamps that nobody can live on. That’s especially true after a few generations of post-scarcity population growth, e.g. TNG-era Earth.

France traditionally dealt with this through primogeniture: the oldest son inherits the entire estate intact. Younger sons get a stipend if the the family’s very wealthy.

More usually, younger sons get bupkus.

Under primogeniture, younger sons typically went into the military, priesthood, or (later once colonialism got underway) maritime trade. Those were the only institutions that had space for them. The core economic, political, & social power structure- land ownership- didn’t.

Some young sons added a martlet (modified swift or martin) to their family crest. It had feathers instead of feet because they believed these birds never land. It represented how the crest’s owner would spend their life wandering to satisfy a shitty land inheritance system. [image]

The fact that Picard’s extremely French family still has an estate at all in 2367 heavily implies they’ve been using primogeniture.

Jean-Luc Picard leaving home to join Starfleet fits the younger-son-in-a-primogeniture-family to a T. He left home to join an exploratory/military/semi-priesthood-y force complete with livery and never being able to start a family, much to his regret.

Which makes his older, estate-inheriting brother Robert’s constant bitching about “whaaa you worked hard and left us” EVEN MORE HORRIFYING THAN IT LOOKS. [GIF]

This also drags up all kinds of systemic questions about how post-scarcity Star Trek Earth *works.*

Private land ownership appears to be alive & well.

Per @joeinformatico: why do the Picards own a lil slice of France, but Sisko’s dad only has a 2-story building in New Orleans?

This implies ongoing wealth inequality- of a potentially very serious degree- in Federation-era Earth.

Nobody ever mentions Robert Picard having a day job. He just twiddles around FEELING the vines (not the most responsible use of time for an estate owner) and day drinks.

He makes his wife do the cooking & won’t let her get a replicator.

Perhaps most appalling, his vineyard’s still using furrow irrigation. That’s when you run water down a ditch between rows. Super simple, but super wasteful. Lots of water soaks down past roots or evaporates.

[annotated image from show]

Hahaha and they pass off this caustic, day-drinking, controlling train wreck of a man as a “guardian of tradition”

agrarian values my ass, he’s just a jerk. it happens
Anyway, irrigation-wise, 3 things to consider:

1) grapes tend to prefer dry regions (not much water available period)

2) Earth’s population is 8 billion-ish by 2367

3) more efficient irrigation methods like microjet are already the norm in many/most wine regions in 2019.

Who the hell ARE the Picards!? They can command so much fresh water*, they’re just squirting it around. Look at how many gotdang weeds are between their grape rows. That’s what happens when you furrow irrigate, and they don’t even care.

Conclusion: the Picards are water barons

*Even in Star Trek, you CANNOT just make more fresh water through desalination. That process leaves behind a concentrated brine. It sinks & kills the shit out of whatever’s living on the ocean floor. Theoretically you could transport the brine away … to kill someplace else.

So if one wants to just wave plentiful fresh water away w “desalination,” that means there are giant toxic dumps of brine somewhere. It’s not very punk rock. Not very Federation. tl;dr water is a limited resource & the Picards are using it to mud wrestle out their issues 🤔

The picture painted here is one where hereditary wealth is still the rule, & the consequences are pretty grim for most people involved. Land & water are subject to the wealthy’s whims. Women in landed families have limited power. We don’t even know how the villagers are doing.

Systemic questions abound. Who owns the Iowa corn estates? (assuming they’re still grow corn by TNG … but given replicators need a feedstock, that’s prob still corn.)

Where do corn farms get their operating funds? It may be post-money, but it’s not post-resource allocation.

Given that 1) everyone seems to have basic needs met but 2) private land ownership is still alive & well, this implies the Star Trek economy is “fully automated luxury gay space communism” in the streets,

“UBI gone horribly wrong neofeudal patronage nightmare” in the sheets

This is all a very silly exercise. But it’s good practice for looking critically at how a society portrays itself vs what’s really going on, especially re: agriculture.

It’s also a really good thought experiment for how “fundamental needs are met” =/= justice or sustainability.

Really not entertaining any comments about how … [more]
sarahtaber  startrek  agriculture  land  water  future  economics  inheritance  farming  agrarianism  monoculture  iowa  picard  desalination  waterrights  technology  ubi  universalbasicincome  chinampas  forests  forestry  agroforestry  wetlands  dams  damming  rivers  government  blm  bureauoflandmanagement  subsidies  indigenous  amazon  grazing  livestock  bison  megafauna  europe  northamerica  us  scifi  sciencefiction  science  food  fooddeserts  klamathriver  klamath  california  colonialism  salmon  nature  naturalresources  wild  culture  stewardship  futurism  restoration  rewilding  publicland  ownership  libertarianism  earth  health  diabetes  diet  orchards  ecology  landmanagement  indigeneity  tenochtitlan  terraforming  cornfields  gardens  gardening  fire  money  inequality  capitalism  preservation  bias  amazonrainforest  klamathrivervalley  timber  justice  sustainability 
12 weeks ago by robertogreco
Ed-Tech Agitprop
"Is technology changing faster than it's ever changed before? It might feel like it is. Futurists might tell you it is. But many historians would disagree. Robert Gordon, for example, has argued that economic growth began in the late 19th century and took off in the early 20th century with the invention of "electricity, the internal combustion engine, the telephone, chemicals and plastics, and the diffusion to every urban household of clear running water and waste removal." Rapid technological change -- faster than ever before. But he argues that the growth from new technologies slowed by the 1970s. New technologies -- even new digital technologies -- he contends, are incremental changes rather than whole-scale alterations to society we saw a century ago. Many new digital technologies, Gordon argues, are consumer technologies, and these will not -- despite all the stories we hear -- necessarily restructure our world. Perhaps we're compelled to buy a new iPhone every year, but that doesn't mean that technology is changing faster than it's ever changed before. That just means we're trapped by Apple's planned obsolescence.

As historian Jill Lepore writes, "Futurists foretell inevitable outcomes by conjuring up inevitable pasts. People who are in the business of selling predictions need to present the past as predictable -- the ground truth, the test case. Machines are more predictable than people, and in histories written by futurists the machines just keep coming; depicting their march as unstoppable certifies the futurists' predictions. But machines don't just keep coming. They are funded, invented, built, sold, bought, and used by people who could just as easily not fund, invent, build, sell, buy, and use them. Machines don't drive history; people do. History is not a smart car."


We should want a future of human dignity and thriving and justice and security and care -- for everyone. Education is a core part of that. But dignity, thriving, justice, and care are rarely the focus of how we frame "the future of learning" or "the future of work." Robots will never care for us. Unbridled techno-solution will never offer justice. Lifelong learning isn't thriving when it is a symptom of economic precarity, of instability, of a disinvestment in the public good.

When the futures we hear predicted on stages like this turn so casually towards the dystopian, towards an embrace of the machine, towards an embrace of efficiency and inequality and fear -- and certainly that's the trajectory I feel that we are on with the narratives underpinning so much of ed-tech agitprop -- then we have failed. This is a massive failure of our politics, for sure, but it is also a massive failure of imagination. Do better."
2019  audreywatters  edtech  agitprop  dystopia  technology  storytelling  propaganda  pressreleases  capitalism  neoliberalism  benjamindoxtdator  economics  education  learning  highered  highereducation  johnseelybrown  davos  worldeconomicforum  power  money  motivation  purpose  howwelearn  relationships  howweteach  schools  schooling  disruption  robots  productivity  futurism  robertgordon  change  history  jilllepore  security  justice  society  socialjustice  technosolutionism  californianideology  work  labor  future  machines  modernism 
12 weeks ago by robertogreco
Spaces of the Learning Self - e-flux Architecture - e-flux
"In the 2015 UNESCO-sponsored policy paper entitled “The Futures of Learning,” notions such as “active learner,” “metacognitive development” and “participatory learning” are abound. The most important, however, seems to be the “personalization” and “customization” of learning, or even “learner-designed learning.” As if copy-pasted from Van der Ryn’s 1969 tract, the advice reads as follows: “With personalized learning, individuals approach problems in their own way, grasp ideas at their own pace, and respond differently to multiple forms of feedback.” Neuroscience research is cited to the effect that instead of preparing “lessons” (so old school), the task of a instructor should be “designing project-based forms of learning.” This proposition rests on the assumption that learners improve better on “core subject matter” and benefit from emphasis on “depth over breadth” when learning in a personalized environment. “Instructional design” is presumed to become the central agency of such infinitely customized collaborative pedagogy. The key instructional designer, however, is going to be the learner herself, equipped with networked hand-held devices: “Future learning processes will inevitably take place in environments in which learners select their own modes of learning and bring personal technologies into education,” thereby dissolving not only any difference between formal and informal learning, but also between inner and outer, psychic and physical spatialities of learning.

This exit from the old systems and architectures of both education and class and enter into mobile learning capsules, however they may be defined, has been a political project and designer’s dream since at least the 1960s. Yet considering Didier Eribon’s self-critical account of class flight into self-organized learning, Ruth Lakofski’s appreciation of the bag lady’s mode of spatializing her “exploring soul,” or Sim Van der Ryn’s proposals for an education revolution based on radical individualism, the vista of “pedagogy 2.0” and lifelong personalization (read: commodification) as is promoted today is truly disheartening. That said, the self still waits to be designed. Improved enclosures for enhanced learning experiences will be proposed, with no end in sight. The paradox of programmed autodidactism and the responsibilization of the neoliberal subject to watchfully manage their own lifelong learning curriculum will stimulate the knowledge industry of instructional design schemes. It might thus be convenient to recall what Ivan Illich, author of the influential 1971 Deschooling Society, self-critically wrote in retrospect when he called for “the reversal of those trends that make of education a pressing need rather than a gift of gratuitous leisure.” Drug-like addiction to education, Illich bemoaned, would make “the world into a universal classroom, a global schoolhouse.” Something surely to be avoided, at all cost."
tomholert  ivanillich  deschooling  unschooling  deschoolingsociety  leisure  education  economics  individualism  californianideology  teachingmachines  edtech  technology  automation  autodidacts  responsibility  neoliberalism  personalization  commodification  pedagogy  howweteach  howwelearn  learning  teaching  simvanderryn  ruthlakofski  didiereribon  self-directed  self-directedlearning  openstudioproject  lcproject  informallearning  formal  networkedlearning  collaboration  collectivism  instructionaldesign  projectbasedlearning  neuroscience  lifelonglearning  michelfoucault  pierrebourdieu  annieernaux  raymondwilliams  chantaljaquet  self-invention  ruthlakosfski  mobile  mobility  cybernetics  1968  1969  anthonyvidler  mikekelley  environment  howardsingerman  autonomy  chrisabel  jerrybrown  california  robertsommer  antfarm  archigram  psychology  participatory  michaelwebb  architecture  design  society  networks  esaleninstitute  unesco  philosophy  educationalphilosophy 
12 weeks ago by robertogreco
Inhumanism Rising - Benjamin H Bratton - YouTube
[See also:
https://trust.support/watch/inhumanism-rising

“Benjamin H. Bratton considers the role ideologies play in technical systems that operate at scales beyond human perception. Deep time, deep learning, deep ecology and deep states force a redrawing of political divisions. What previously may have been called left and right comes to reflect various positions on what it means to be, and want to be, human. Bratton is a design theorist as much as he is a philosopher. In his work remodelling our operating system, he shows how humans might be the medium, rather than the message, in planetary-scale ways of knowing.

Benjamin H. Bratton's work spans Philosophy, Art, Design and Computer Science. He is Professor of Visual Arts and Director of the Center for Design and Geopolitics at the University of California, San Diego. He is Program Director of the Strelka Institute of Media, Architecture and Design in Moscow. He is also a Professor of Digital Design at The European Graduate School and Visiting Faculty at SCI_Arc (The Southern California Institute of Architecture)

In The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty (MIT Press, 2016. 503 pages) Bratton outlines a new theory for the age of global computation and algorithmic governance. He proposes that different genres of planetary-scale computation – smart grids, cloud platforms, mobile apps, smart cities, the Internet of Things, automation – can be seen not as so many species evolving on their own, but as forming a coherent whole: an accidental megastructure that is both a computational infrastructure and a new governing architecture. The book plots an expansive interdisciplinary design brief for The Stack-to-Come.

His current research project, Theory and Design in the Age of Machine Intelligence, is on the unexpected and uncomfortable design challenges posed by A.I in various guises: from machine vision to synthetic cognition and sensation, and the macroeconomics of robotics to everyday geoengineering.”]
benjaminbratton  libertarianism  technology  botcoin  blockchain  peterthiel  society  technodeterminism  organization  anarchism  anarchy  jamesbridle  2019  power  powerlessness  control  inhumanism  ecology  capitalism  fascism  interdependence  surveillance  economics  data  computation  ai  artificialintelligence  californianideology  ideology  philosophy  occult  deeplearning  deepecology  magic  deepstate  politics  agency  theory  conspiracytheories  jordanpeterson  johnmichaelgreer  anxiety  software  automation  science  psychology  meaning  meaningfulness  apophenia  posthumanism  robotics  privilege  revelation  cities  canon  tools  beatrizcolomina  markwigley  markfisher  design  transhumanism  multispecies  cybotgs  syntheticbiology  intelligence  biology  matter  machines  industry  morethanhuman  literacy  metaphysics  carlschmitt  chantalmouffe  human-centereddesign  human-centered  experience  systems  access  intuition  abstraction  expedience  ideals  users  systemsthinking  aesthetics  accessibility  singularity  primitivism  communism  duty  sovietunion  ussr  luxury  ianhacking 
november 2019 by robertogreco
Utopian Overreach — Real Life
"Digital wellness offers self-help as self-reliance

In July 2018, I ran a workshop called What Is Your Utopia at SpaceUs Roslindale, an MIT DesignX project that turned empty shopfronts into artist studios. The goal was to not only to demonstrate how utopian thinking can help us imagine new ways to address problems but also to show how anyone’s vision of an ideal world would inevitably impose their personal values as universals. Though the participants’ utopias were wide-ranging — from a completely pastoral society to a high-tech urbanized world to a libertarian commune — they came to see how they would quickly fall apart over such questions as “Who rules in your utopia, and how are they selected?” and “Does the society in your utopia hinge on equality, or is it something else?” A universalized mode of living and being almost always leaves someone out, always producing “losers.”

This lesson applies equally to the form of utopian thinking that is perhaps most prevalent today: digital utopianism. It is premised on the belief that technology-oriented solutions — whether it’s “smart” cities, or autonomous-vehicle systems, or drone-delivery schemes, or “connecting the world” — can fulfill a utopian ideal and provide uniform benefits for everyone. Popular science writers and technologists often deploy implicitly utopian thinking to promote their ideas, as if it were a deus ex machina to remove technologies from the sociopolitical context in which they are used.

The digital-wellness movement, though it seems to counter the grandiose schemes of the tech industry, shares a similar aspiration of fixing people for their own good, prescribing a specific one-size-fits all relationship with technology as a way to build an ideal society. This movement is typified by former Google employee Tristan Harris’s Center for Humane Technology, books like Georgetown computer science professor Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism and Catharine Price’s How to Break Up With Your Phone, and software such as the Before Launcher and Google’s new suite of experiments aimed at “balancing life and tech,” including a counter that tells you how many times you’ve unlocked your phone in a day.

What these interventions all have in common is how they frame our problems with technology as a matter between the individual and a specific device or app rather than the social, moral, and infrastructural relations that ultimately bind them together. They posit that apps in and of themselves compel our attention irresistibly through “dark patterns” of malevolent design, as if other people were not intrinsically involved in what we generally use phones to do. For example, in a Vox article, Recode’s Shirin Ghaffary claims that “if tech execs really wanted to help people with smartphone dependence, they would change their products to be inherently less addictive.”

In such accounts, technology is anthropomorphized and depicted as a separate entity with power and agency that comes at humans’ expense. Accordingly, digital wellness preaches the possibility of self-improvement through reclaiming our agency over devices. It holds that we can singlehandedly resist “technology” through individual, unilateral action once the secrets of manipulative design are explained to us. Rather than addressing the complexity of our relations with each other, institutions, social conditions, or anything else that communication technology plays into, digital wellness offers self-help as self-reliance while leaving the broader, underlying conditions unaddressed.

Newport’s digital minimalism, for instance, suggests spending time away from screens and devices, as well as “dumbing down” your phone by deleting social media, so that you can reduce screen time and “move on with the business of living your real-world life.” That may sound straightforward enough, but it takes for granted a clean separation of “worlds,” as though the demands of our lives don’t deeply involve digital communication and perpetual connectivity. Newport posits a utopia where you can live in the “real” world, with “real” relationships and a subservient technology that can “support — not subvert — your efforts to live well.” But what counts as “real”? And in an era when digital technology is used as means of employer control over employees, who has sufficient autonomy to insist on their own definition and refuse the subservience that’s mediated by phones, if not necessarily caused by them?

The digital-wellness movement associates what is “real” with what is “human,” positing a “perfect user,” as this earlier Real Life essay suggests, who engages in self-discipline and assumes responsibility for the nature of their entanglement with technology. Those with sufficient self-mastery to use technology appropriately are deemed more human than the phone zombies who succumb to tech’s predations. Media theorist Mark Poster predicted this sort of concern in his 2001 book What’s the Matter With the Internet?, where he suggests that information machines will “put into question humanity as an instrumental agent.” The digital-wellness movement tends to presume that the usefulness of technology comes at the expense of human capability, as if these were inherently zero-sum rather than potentially complementary. So it responds to the question of human agency by decontextualizing technology use and depicting it as being a matter of the individual’s unilateral will.

In protesting the functions that we’ve “offloaded” to devices, the digital-wellness movement evokes a utopia in which everyone experiences the same human-machine relation: Humans and technology are entirely separate, machines fundamentally rob humans of their agency, and humans reassert their humanity by claiming agency back. Though this sounds critical of tech-company overreach, it actually reflects the same underlying view it means to resist. Both tech companies and digital-wellness advocates posit an individual who can operate independent of society — a rational, free, and self-regulating subject. But where tech companies tend to claim their products liberate users from social entanglement, digital wellness suggests that users liberate themselves by rejecting those same products. Newport’s minimalist digital utopia and Zuckerberg’s all-enveloping digital utopia end up serving the same figure of the liberal humanist subject. In both cases, what differentiates the human from the nonhuman is the capability for agency.

But “human” has never had a truly universal definition. Feminist theorist Karen Barad, in Meeting the Universe Halfway, offers two different arguments for rejecting a universalist humanism: The first is the postmodernist claim that the human subject does not exist outside its entanglement in social practices. The second, informed by her training as a quantum physicist, points to how anthropocentric conceptual frameworks and measurement apparatuses posit a scientist who purportedly transcends the natural world and its nonhuman inhabitants.

Perhaps the strongest critique of humanism comes from postcolonial theory. Aimé Césaire notes in Discourse on Colonialism that not a single “defender of the human person” — from the preacher to the academic — showed any sign of outrage when colonialists tried to subjugate the world in the name of religion or for the “just demands of the human collectivity,” from which colonized people were excluded, simply categorized as savage beings in need of civilizing. The humanist underpinnings of the digital utopia — distinguishing who counts as a real person — draw on a perspective that is effectively colonialist.

Digital colonialism has new technologies merely replicating and strengthening existing power structures — which are already largely informed by colonialism. The concentration of much of the internet into the hands of a few tech companies have meant that digital surveillance and control have also been centralized. This has prompted some artists and academics to seek the decolonization of digital technology; Morehshin Allahyari’s 3D sculptures, for example, claims cultural works as a challenge to tech companies’ extractive practices.

Just as technology’s impacts and benefits are unevenly distributed, on both an individual and a cultural level, so is the nature of the agency humans have over it. Some groups draw on privilege they have beyond online spaces to exert control within them, while others depend on online connection to a different degree because of the exclusions they experience. Consider what early internet communities provided for people who do not have the same chance to make kin IRL, the “geeks, freaks, and queers who embraced the internet as a savior,” as theorist danah boyd has pointed out. Such divergent experiences with technology break down the idea of a universal digital anxiety. The anxieties, fantasies, and possibilities technology evokes are contextual; they vary according to the power relations among individuals, groups, and institutions within a given circumstance, because of the multitude of power, privilege, race, and other sociocultural dynamics that exist in relation to these technologies. The digital wellness utopia flattens all that into a single concern, reflecting the anxieties of one particular group — the demographic that includes Silicon Valley technologists.

Poster suggests that the “sensible” approach to thinking about technology would be not to lament “the destruction of nature by the irresponsible deployment of machines or the loss of human reality into machines or even the cultural ‘misshaping’ of the human by its descent into the instrumental” but rather to consider the nature of the cyborg — what he calls the “humachine.” The figure of the cyborg has been a fantastically important tool in reimagining social and technical relations, from Donna Haraway’s A Cyborg… [more]
wellness  individualism  technology  colonialism  liberalism  alifibrahim  2019  self-help  self-reliance  humanism  digital  digitalwellness  minimalism  reallife  self-mastery  internet  web  online  mobile  phones  decontextualization  employment  control  autonomy  privilege  karenbarad  utopia  universalism  morethanhuman  aimécesaire  collectivity  collectivism  civilization  marginalization  inequality  posthumanism  posthuman  yukhui  cybernetics  ideology  philagre  freedom  shiringhaffary  catharineprice  calnewport  launcher  google  tristanharris  facebook  markzuckerberg  addiction  spaceusroslindale  mitdesignx  equality  onesizefitsall  socialmedia  morehshinallahyari  decolonization  art 
november 2019 by robertogreco
Are.na Blog / Reimagining Privacy Online Through A Spectrum of Intimacy
“Our privacy and intimacy metaphors:

The town hall is a digital gathering place that is the most public, somewhat like Twitter. This is where we shout our thoughts or share things we don’t mind thousands of people seeing. The town hall is a public square for speaking loudly and deliberately. Your thoughts can spread virally; They will be heard, amplified and sometimes misinterpreted.

The park bench is semi-public. It’s like walking down the street and engaging in conversation with a coworker or friend, or having a discussion on the tube or in a pub—is a space where anyone can have a conversation between two or a few people, but that conversation takes place in public. Those in the conversation can control who hears it by lowering their voice or walking to a less populated area. This setting is like Facebook: the content you put on Facebook cannot be accessed outside of Facebook, unlike Twitter, Sina Weibo, and others. This little bit of friction creates a higher level of intimacy than the town square, and the result is that it feels slightly more private. Depending upon a user’s settings, content or conversations can be accessed only by people on Facebook (quite a large amount), only by a user’s friends, or only by their friends’ friends.

The next metaphor, the living room, highlights a shift into the “privacy” end of the spectrum, with the town hall and park bench being “public” entities. It’s semi-private, but can also host large groups and conversations that are designed to be public, private, or in-between. This setting allows for more intimacy because it allows for a smaller group. This design functions much like a salon or a group gathered for lively debate. The living room is a metaphor for a closed Facebook group or a WhatsApp chat group.

The loo is most the private of the intimacy metaphors, and the most intimate place for conversations and activities. This is like a private DM or a text message between one or two friends or family members. It is a space to share your thoughts. Secrets are welcomed, and comfortably kept. One can also think of this metaphor as the “bedroom,” an equally intimate space where only a few people are invited in.

**

Our metaphors will not work as a literal guidepost for solving every problem within digital conversations, but we offer these as provocations for looking at how the form and design of a space creates the affordances and functions in that space.

[image: "Install shot of the Tate museum’s Higher Resolution exhibition by Hyphen Labs and Caroline Sinders."]

To start creating solutions for online harassment, tracking, and targeting in social networks, and to create better protections for users online, communication apps and online technology need to think of privacy not just as a security protocol, but as an intimate setting—and something that is already an organic part of our lives. This privacy needs to be designed into how conversations unfold. In practice, this could mean better privacy filters to create small and large groups easily, the ability to turn off comments or replies, the ability to easily share posts or content with a handful of people, and security protocols that protect user’s data and online behavior.  

We need town halls, park benches, living rooms, and loos online in every platform and every piece of technology that hosts social interactions.”
carolinesinders  are.na  harrassment  ai  intimacy  privacy  technology  small  slow  online  internet  web  socialmedia  interaction  interactiondesign  socialnetworking  socialnetworks  communication  conversation  hyphen-labs  michellecortese  andreazeller 
november 2019 by robertogreco
dandan the transient on Twitter: "I see these two found each other, bleh. For the record decolonization is about a return to traditional values and ways of thinking, adaptation to and of tech is a cornerstone of most Native traditions." / Twitter
[via and see also: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:1fb6a90208e0 ]

“I see these two found each other, bleh.

For the record decolonization is about a return to traditional values and ways of thinking, adaptation to and of tech is a cornerstone of most Native traditions. [quoting @kendrick_mccabe:]
@loisdum I’m convinced it’s a buzz word now with roots in something honorable but has lost its way. Wanting “decolonization” but utilizing the wheel, western technology, doesn’t make sense to me…

My ancestors didn’t see steel and think, “how nice but that’s not traditional.”

No they traded for and adapted it to their needs. The took the improved material and formed it into their traditional (and better) shape (the ulu).

I have any old ulu made out of a food lid that an ancestor made when Russians gave them canned foods.

Natives were often better armed then the US Army, with plains NAtives going from bows to repeater rifles while the cavalry still often used black powder.

(Note in most situations a good bow is better then black powder).

From methodology to material when most tribes found something useful they traded for it and found a way to impRove it for their use.

Adaption, ingenuity, and cleverness are traditional values.

That is why the majority of modern foods (like 87% from one article) originated from precontact Native food science.

Medicine, architecture, leadership, governmental systems, pragmatism, the list goes on, all because we experimented, discovered, and improved.

All that said, the wheel was known by most tribes before contact, and it was surely seen and understood not soon after.

It was deemed for the most part not very useful when we had canoes that could go farther, faster, and with less work.

The wheel requires roads to not only be built, but maintained. Don’t believe me, ask why the military has been trying to develop mechanical legged gear haulers since WW2. Or why hikers aren’t taking trailers on thru hikes.

And tracked vehicles are extremely damaging.

The wheel is great if you want to build and maintain an infrastructure, something pre industrial societies needed cheap or free labor to do the building and maintaining.

Laborers weren’t considered disposable to most Native cultures.

And why even go to that work when a river gets you there twice as fast and a fraction of the work?

Why struggle with a wagon up a mountain pass when a travois will glide along? I know which I’d rather have to repair on the fly.

A better question than “why didn’t Natives build wheels?” is “why did Europeans spend decades blocking, damming, and covering their natural roadways instead of just discovering kayaks and canoes?”

But now we have roads so not taking advantage of that with the wheel would be silly and untraditional.

The environment has been changed and we adapt as we always have.

A lot of folks bringing up “no domesticated beasts of burden” so let me remind you llama, dogs, and horses.

Just cause colonial history taught y’all an entire continent was filled with horses in 30 years from 8 escaped Spanish mounts don’t make it true.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/y815zgfbox6wknk/Collin.Horse.Dissertation.pdf?dl=0&fbclid=IwAR1lLBDf6SD9hl9ivIpGnuN_z7G-mlhtx54wKMpD3QJVqKq1yEptAGDuNI8

Add to your knowledge even European history (though untrustworthy compared to Indigenous history) records that at least 3 Inuit at different times crossed over to England, one of them kayaking into London on a rainy day, all preColombus

We discovered you [quoting @DanDanTransient:]
And Inuit in kayaks crossed into England and back as is recorded in history and story so I mean, there ya go

I guess I should connect these two as one does [quoting @DanDanTransient:]
Ok so I love the positive and informative comments on my wheel thread, but I want to address my favorite flavor of statement that I just couldn’t believe anyone like believed.

Summing them all up “Natives didn’t use the wheel because we didn’t have agricultural societies.”

Ok once I got done laughing at this wrong statement I doubled down on any of them in that I believe pre industrial societies require a system of forced labor to build and maintain roads. Few tribes had that here, laborers weren’t widely accepted as disposable.

I mean like Europeans may have tried for an agricultural society but I think it’s pretty verifiable that the rest of the world was doing it better.
dandan the transient

Like 87% of the world’s food today comes from pre contact American food science, and the majority of the rest came from outside europe.

Now that’s based on articles cause the closest I’ve came to being a scientist is wearing a lab coat and waving a microscope at climate change deniers.

So my numbers may be off, but we still gave the world most of its modern food.

But what I’m not off about is many tribes had flourishing agriculture both in the generally accepted method and in what I would consider non standard.

First in the generally accepted category those dudes in central America like created corn from grass, they weren’t just kinda playing around, they like made something.

Tomatoes are another example of “hey look at this little berry I’m gonna create something the size of an apple.”

Not too mention quinoa, rices, grains, and orchids that covered the land. Just cause Europeans burned a lot of it doesn’t mean it didn’t exist.

But let’s go beyond the standard accepted forms because innovation is traditional in both method and thought.

The spread of bear poop filled with huckleberry seeds to increase the amount of plants, clearing one style of tree to make room for more useful trees, clearing brush to prevent damaging fires, or carrying seeds to easier each locations for medicines and craftable plants.

When settlers arrived here they were shocked at the “wild” paradise filled with useful things, it was like forests were engineered to suit the tribes’ needs.

Spoiler it was like that because we engineered it that way.

We did the work.

Their inability to see terraforming for what is was doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. They benefited and continue to benefit from thousands of years of planning and labor.

The fact that we didn’t clear cut trees or make long straight rows to labor over doesn’t mean we weren’t planning out and caring for our lands, it means we were working smarter not harder.

Clearing wide spaces opens the door for erosion and a lack of diversity ruins the soil, increasing salt content and sapping nutrients.

Sure you can rotate crops or haul fertilizer to combat this, but why add that labor when animals and other plants will do it for you?

And let’s remember when thinking about both our ancestors and our place in modern society that: [quoting @DanDanTransient:
Adaption, ingenuity, and cleverness are traditional values.

And I think the environment will agree with me, if your definition of agriculture is limited to back breaking labor that destroys the land than agriculture needs 🚮.

But if your definition can expand to land stewardship that improves the land for human and nonhuman people 👍

And link to the next stage I guess [quoting @DanDanTransient:]
Before someone comes at this with the same energy they did the wheel thread talking about population let’s hit that myth.
indigenous  technology  wheels  steel  decolonization  tradition  culture  trading  horses  natives  blackpowder  guns  adaptation  food  science  medicine  architecture  leadership  governance  government  pragmatism  canoes  kayaks  transportation  roads  vehicles  terrain  mobility  infrastructure  society  industrialization  labor  maintenance  repair  environment  waterways  nature  land  history  inuit  2019  agriculture  ingenuity  cleverness  work  terraforming  clearcuts  trees  crops  croprotation  fertilizer  animals  plants  horticulture 
november 2019 by robertogreco
A Giant Bumptious Litter: Donna Haraway on Truth, Technology, and Resisting Extinction
"Socialists aren’t the only ones who have been techno-utopian, of course. A far more prominent and more influential strand of techno-utopianism has come from the figures around the Bay Area counterculture associated with the Whole Earth Catalog, in particular Stewart Brand, who went on to play important intellectual and cultural roles in Silicon Valley.

They are not friends. They are not allies. I’m avoiding calling them enemies because I’m leaving open the possibility of their being able to learn or change, though I’m not optimistic. I think they occupy the position of the “god trick.” [Eds.: The “god trick” is an idea introduced by Haraway that refers to the traditional view of objectivity as a transcendent “gaze from nowhere.”] I think they are blissed out by their own privileged positions and have no idea what their own positionality in the world really is. And I think they cause a lot of harm, both ideologically and technically.

How so?

They get a lot of publicity. They take up a lot of the air in the room.

It’s not that I think they’re horrible people. There should be space for people pushing new technologies. But I don’t see nearly enough attention given to what kinds of technological innovation are really needed to produce viable local and regional energy systems that don’t depend on species-destroying solar farms and wind farms that require giant land grabs in the desert.

The kinds of conversations around technology that I think we need are those among folks who know how to write law and policy, folks who know how to do material science, folks who are interested in architecture and park design, and folks who are involved in land struggles and solidarity movements. I want to see us do much savvier scientific, technological, and political thinking with each other, and I want to see it get press. The Stewart Brand types are never going there.

Do you see clear limitations in their worldviews and their politics?

They remain remarkably humanist in their orientation, in their cognitive apparatus, and in their vision of the world. They also have an almost Peter Pan quality. They never quite grew up. They say, “If it’s broken, fix it.”

This comes from an incapacity to mourn and an incapacity to be finite. I mean that psychoanalytically: an incapacity to understand that there is no status quo ante, to understand that death and loss are real. Only within that understanding is it possible to open up to a kind of vitality that isn’t double death, that isn’t extermination, and which doesn’t yearn for transcendence, yearn for the fix.

There’s not much mourning with the Stewart Brand types. There’s not much felt loss of the already disappeared, the already dead — the disappeared of Argentina, the disappeared of the caravans, the disappeared of the species that will not come back. You can try to do as much resurrection biology as you want to. But any of the biologists who are actually involved in the work are very clear that there is no resurrection.

You have also been critical of the Anthropocene, as a proposed new geological epoch defined by human influence on the earth. Do you see the idea of the Anthropocene as having similar limitations?

I think the Anthropocene framework has been a fertile container for quite a lot, actually. The Anthropocene has turned out to be a rather capacious territory for incorporating people in struggle. There are a lot of interesting collaborations with artists and scientists and activists going on.

The main thing that’s too bad about the term is that it perpetuates the misunderstanding that what has happened is a human species act, as if human beings as a species necessarily exterminate every planet we dare to live on. As if we can’t stop our productive and reproductive excesses.

Extractivism and exterminationism are not human species acts. They come from a situated historical conjuncture of about five hundred years in duration that begins with the invention of the plantation and the subsequent modeling of industrial capitalism. It is a situated historical conjuncture that has had devastating effects even while it has created astonishing wealth.

To define this as a human species act affects the way a lot of scientists think about the Anthropocene. My scientist colleagues and friends really do continue to think of it as something human beings can’t stop doing, even while they understand my historical critique and agree with a lot of it.

It’s a little bit like the relativism versus objectivity problem. The old languages have a deep grip. The situated historical way of thinking is not instinctual for Western science, whose offspring are numerous.

Are there alternatives that you think could work better than the Anthropocene?

There are plenty of other ways of thinking. Take climate change. Now, climate change is a necessary and essential category. But if you go to the circumpolar North as a Southern scientist wanting to collaborate with Indigenous people on climate change — on questions of changes in the sea ice, for example, or changes in the hunting and subsistence base — the limitations of that category will be profound. That’s because it fails to engage with the Indigenous categories that are actually active on the ground.

There is an Inuktitut word, “sila.” In an Anglophone lexicon, “sila” will be translated as “weather.” But in fact, it’s much more complicated. In the circumpolar North, climate change is a concept that collects a lot of stuff that the Southern scientist won’t understand. So the Southern scientist who wants to collaborate on climate change finds it almost impossible to build a contact zone.

Anyway, there are plenty of other ways of thinking about shared contemporary problems. But they require building contact zones between cognitive apparatuses, out of which neither will leave the same as they were before. These are the kinds of encounters that need to be happening more.

A final question. Have you been following the revival of socialism, and socialist feminism, over the past few years?

Yes.

What do you make of it? I mean, socialist feminism is becoming so mainstream that even Harper’s Bazaar is running essays on “emotional labor.”

I’m really pleased! The old lady is happy. I like the resurgence of socialism. For all the horror of Trump, it has released us. A whole lot of things are now being seriously considered, including mass nonviolent social resistance. So I am not in a state of cynicism or despair."
donnaharaway  2019  californianideology  interviews  wholeearthcatalog  stewartbrand  technosolutionism  technology  climatechange  extinction  deminism  ontology  cynicism  resistance  siliconvalley  objectivity  ideology  science  politics  policy  loss  mourning  biology  resurrection  activism  humans  multispecies  morethanhuman  extractivism  exterminationism  plantations  capitalism  industrialism  history  indigenous  socialism 
november 2019 by robertogreco
reading - amélie.
“Recommended Reading

In the last week of October 2019, there were some discussion on Design Twitter about ethics and whether or not people should work for “x evil company” of the day.

I have a lot of complicated thoughts that I won’t share here. But I have realized is that most designers talking about ethics are doing so from a place of feelings or research that doesn’t understand the roots of white supremacy or many of the other societal ills we have to inherently deal with by virtue of legacy and short-term memories.

Just a heads up…

These are not “design” books. Too many of us get stuck in this rabbit hole where we believe that design is “everything.” But design isn’t everything, it simply touches everything. Life is complex and confusing. There’s very little in this world that can be “everything” or touch everything around it, without consequence.

What do they cover?

The following books emphasize, analyze, and critique history, law, race, culture, feminism, civil rights, psychology, white supremacy, sociology + more because I firmly believe we need a baseline understanding to effectively engage in dialogue around design ethics. Many of us are lacking the baseline because many design schools (at least in the US) teach us that design is separate from everything is.

These books will provide a clear understanding of how we got here and where we’re going.

Why am I doing this?

All designers should have the ability to engage difficult conversations with nuance and questions. I hope that by sharing these books, you’ll apply what you learn to critically think about what is happening around you and your impact, while also understanding how to cultivate empathy.

You can have space for that and more, despite what society tells you. (“You’re designer, just focus on design.” 🙄)

Understanding and changing our impact does not come from diving straight into “burn everything down, ANARCHY!!!” I, too, would like to burn everything down. But not only does that hurt people at the top, it also hurts people at the bottom.

So how do we start putting into action the feelings we have towards the positive change we want to see? We start by looking at the people who have done the work before us. By collaborating with and listening to the communities we want to we intend to “help”.

I’ll keep adding to the list as I think of more books to add, too.

And, if you’re grateful for this list, you’re more than welcome to send me a cup of tea via Ko-fi.

The list

This list is, by no means, exhaustive or definitive. Take what you need/can, leave the rest. All books on this list link directly to the publisher or indie book sellers, rather than Amazon where available.

Books that can only be found on Amazon are affiliate links, denoted by the following: 🥴. Academic papers are denoted by the following: 📄.

Finally, make sure you’re using the Library Extension, which can check your local library for books. Support libraries! ✊🏾

- Black Feminist Cultural Criticism by Jacqueline Bob
- Black and Blur by Fred Moten
- But Some of Us are Brave edited by Gloria T. Hull, Patricia Bell Scott, and Barbara Smith
- Caribbean Discourse: Selected Essays by Édouard Glissant
- 📄 “Decolonization is not a metaphor” by Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang
- Emergent Strategy by adrienne marie brown
- In the Wake: On Blackness and Being by Christina Sharpe
- Poetics of Relation by Édouard Glissant
- 🥴 Power, Privilege and Law: A Civil Rights Reader by Leslie Bender and Daan Braveman
- Race After Technology by Ruha Benjamin
- Sylvia Winter: On Being Human as Praxis edited by Katherine McKittrick
- Women, Race and Class by Angela Y. Davis”
amélielamont  books  design  inclusion  inclusivity  race  gender  technology  2019  angeladavis  ruhabenjamin  lesliebender  daanbraveman  power  privilege  racism  sexism  law  christinasharpe  adriennemariebrown  decolonization  evetuck  kwayneyang  barbarasmith  patriciabellscott  gloriahull  fredmoten  jacquelinebob  feminism  lists  readinglists  édouardglissant  class  women  katherinemckittrick  sylviawinter 
november 2019 by robertogreco
The Smartest People in the Room? What Silicon Valley’s Supposed Obsession with Tech-Free Private Schools Really Tells Us - Los Angeles Review of Books
“As a case in point, many techies’ conviction that they must monitor and cultivate — with concerted effort — their children’s technology habits is firmly and prosaically rooted in the values and worldviews shared by many non-techie middle-class parents. Private schools almost by definition have to craft stories that appeal to privileged strivers anxious about their children’s futures. Some of these stories recount how their graduates’ creative brilliance was spawned in their school’s tech-free environment. Related ones ply anti-contamination themes, and fetishize the purity of childhood. Techie parents are as susceptible as anyone else. Moreover, the ways in which technology fits into these narratives — or is actively excluded from them — has far more to do with parents’ age-old fears about social change and new media than with any special knowledge vouchsafed to tech workers. Indeed, such stories are similar to widely held beliefs in 18th-century England that novels corrupted the soul. In the latter half of the 20th century, first television and then video games became the sources of this alleged corruption, joined by the internet at the dawn of this century.”



“The more important point here is that believing techie parents have secret insider knowledge about the harmful effects of children’s technology usage reinforces the dangerous myth that techies are always the smartest people in the room…”



“Beliefs in techie superiority are, unfortunately, buttressed by the fact that money confers credibility…”



“As a society, we must see the technology world for what it is: an industry as insular as it is influential, and in desperate need of many more kinds of expertise.”
privateschools  education  siliconvalley  2019  waldorf  vaccinations  elitism  intelligence  society  technology  edtech  media  smartness  credibility  belief  superiority  insularity 
october 2019 by robertogreco
Eleanor Saitta on Twitter: "As technology is deployed at scale and becomes infrastructure, its governance ceases to be engineering or design and becomes (geo)politics." / Twitter
“As technology is deployed at scale and becomes infrastructure, its governance ceases to be engineering or design and becomes (geo)politics.

There are no large technology companies, only non-state actors currently only partially hostile to the goals of the population whose lives they have captured.

This is not a singular accident of the companies we have, but rather a necessary consequence of the programmability of infrastructure enabling scale to convert into social control and a doctrine of continual growth.

The scale of capital involved has bent the entire industry around it. Working at a small company may let you avoid contributing to the problem directly, but programmable infrastructure gains power and scale via interoperability.

As an engineer, a designer, a recruiter, a management coach, a consultant, the geopolitical goals of singular entities will define your work and its meaning.

When infrastructure metastisizes and becomes malignant toward the societies that host it, even maintenance work on functions critical for social continuity becomes in part capitulation and collaboration.

This problem will continue to accelerate until a new model for programmable infrastructure manages to constrain or fight off this current one, or society is unable to sustain programmability.

One of the most profound lessons I’ve learned over the past decade is the degree to which the political intent imbued into infrastrucutral systems maintains its meaning and function over time, even if added layers change the meaning of the conjoined system.

As a worker within these systems, your efforts at work must pay the maintenance penalty for the infrastructural system you sit within; this is balanced by the natural force multiplication of infrastructures of control. Outside work, you don’t have the same tools.

However, even if you work to resist the structural damage of the system you sit inside of, you’re still very likely to see the world from inside the same mental frame — of growth, of control, of “technology” as an end rather than a means.

Even if you can shift your thinking from the mindset of “technology at scale as power over” to “technology as formless servant of a community” — or whatever model you choose — you’ll be stuck with tools that want to create parasitic empires.

I don’t know what the mental model we want is. Some properties seem obvious, though — conviviality, power-to instead of power-over, an inherent orientation toward community, governance blended throughout the stack, a bias toward balance not growth, maintenance-centricity.

The challenges of reimagining our world, our professions, and our systems will consume the rest of our lives on earth; we sit at the culmination of generations of power grabs, and this is only the newest.

On the bright side, there is no larger challenge available, no more interesting and rewarding problem one could work on. This is a future as rich, complex, varied, and broad as any other one you’ve been offered.

And if it fails, well, there will always be another billionaire happy to pay you to help him more efficiently dismantle the society you used to call home.

There are other things we can do even without a new model, though — making the current model of exponential growth and metastic control nonviable is also useful. We need a new vision and a new world, but we also need resistance now.

Refuse to work on dangerous products. Unionize and fight for more control over your own work. Work for regulation that makes user data financially poisonous, that enshrines rights to privacy, self-determination, adversarial interoperability, and repair.

Over the next few decades, we will either learn to collectively manage global systems for the common good, learn to weaponize them for the good of a very small elite, or cease to have a globally-organized civilization.

There is only one fully-connected struggle here, and if we succeed, we will do so in the way we always have — piecemeal, half-assed, squeaking by, more bricolage than grand planning, but profoundly human.

Learn your history, and practice hope. History will teach you how little is novel about our position now, and training the muscle of hope will keep you going through all the dark nights we have to come.“
eleanorsaitta  technology  infrastructure  systems  systemsthinking  systemschange  conviviality  2019  society  power  civilization  governance  unions  organizing  labor  capital  utopia  history  vision  canon  interoperability  time  generations  maintenance  community  control  layering  layers  scale  growth  socialcontrol  deschooling  unschooling  capitulation  geopolitics  politics  policy  local  programmability 
october 2019 by robertogreco
Why Everything Is Getting Louder
“Experts say your body does not adapt to noise. Large-scale studies show that if the din keeps up—over days, months, years—noise exposure increases your risk of high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, and heart attacks, as well as strokes, diabetes, dementia, and depression. Children suffer not only physically—18 months after a new airport opened in Munich, the blood pressure and stress-hormone levels of neighboring children soared—but also behaviorally and cognitively. A landmark study published in 1975 found that the reading scores of sixth graders whose classroom faced a clattering subway track lagged nearly a year behind those of students in quieter classrooms—a difference that disappeared once soundproofing materials were installed. Noise might also make us mean: A 1969 study suggested that test subjects exposed to noise, even the gentle fuzz of white noise, become more aggressive and more eager to zap fellow subjects with electric shocks.”



“Though data are scarce, the world appears to be growing louder. The National Park Service’s Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division, which sends researchers to measure the acoustics of the American outdoors, estimates that noise pollution doubles or triples every 30 years. The EPA last measured our nation’s volume in 1981; assuming (generously) that our collective cacophony has remained constant, calculations from 2013 estimate that more than 145 million Americans are exposed to noise exceeding the recommended limits. In the absence of more recent surveys, the volume at which emergency vehicles shriek is telling, given that sirens must be loud enough to pierce the ambient noise level. According to measurements by R. Murray Schafer, a fire-engine siren from 1912 reached 88 to 96 decibels measured from 11 feet away, whereas by 1974, sirens’ screeches hit 114 decibels at the same distance—an increase in volume, he noted, of about half a decibel a year. The latest fire-engine sirens howl louder still: 123 decibels at 10 feet.”
sound  noise  health  urban  urbanism  2019  soundpollution  stress  bodies  biancabosker  technology  cacophony  sounds  noisepollution  pollution 
october 2019 by robertogreco
Renata Ávila: "The Internet of creation disappeared. Now we have the Internet of surveillance and control” | CCCB LAB
““At the start of the 21st century, one of the questions that excited me most about access to the Internet was the possibility of producing infinite copies of books and sharing knowledge. That idea of an Internet that was going to be a tool for integration and access to knowledge has shattered into smithereens. It was a booby trap. We are working as the unpaid slaves of the new digital world. I feel that it’s like when the Spanish colonisers reached Latin America. We believed the story of ‘a new world’. And we were in a box, controlled by the most powerful country in the world. We should have regulated a long time before. And we should have said: ‘I will share my photo, but how are you benefitting and how am I?’ Because what we are doing today is work for free; with our time, creativity and energy we are paying these empires. We are giving them everything”.”



“We move into the field of ethics and ask Renata Ávila about three concepts that have modified their meaning in the last decade, precisely due to the acceleration with which we have adopted technology. They are trust, privacy and transparency and how these influence the new generations. We cannot divorce these three questions from the concepts of austerity, precarity and the institutional corruption crisis”, she argues. “Letting strangers into your home to spend the night, is that an excess of trust or the need to seek resources?”.”



“After all that has been discussed, some might think that this Guatemalan activist is so realistic that she leaves no room for optimism. But Renata Ávila does not like being negative and she is convinced that the human race is capable of finding resources to emerge from any “mess”, even at the most critical moments. “We have a perfect cocktail” – she says with a half-smile of worry. “A democratic crisis caused by some terrible leaders in power, with a climate-change and technological crisis. This can only lead to a collective reflection and make us reconsider on what planet we want to live in the future”.”
renataávila  2019  internet  history  surveillance  latinamerica  knowledge  labor  work  colonization  regulation  creativity  capitalism  web  online  activism  democracy  crisis  power  politics  technology  reflection  climatechange  transparency  privacy  corruption  precarity  austerity  trust  influence 
october 2019 by robertogreco
Are.na / First thoughts (draft manifesto?) for a computer/tablet based writing system for poets
"Keep it simple / reduce friction. Value the individual document, but also the way the individual document dynamically connects to others (metadata). Support easy resequencing (for managing collections, set lists, submission packs) etc. Portable, non-proprietary, application agnostic and robust metadata (tags and keywords in the body of the document). Low level tech vs high level of control so it's easy to fix something when it goes wrong. A system that supports workflows that match the way you think, rather than forcing you into an unintuitive way of working. Respect the throughline from first thought, through first draft and successive edits, to publication and/or performance. ...

Just recently refined my writing/publishing workflows on iOS. It occurs to me that so many tools for writers ignore the needs of poets. Let's talk about Markdown, for example. All the cool kids use Markdown. But it's completely counter-intuitive for me to double-space every time I need to force a line-break. And indents? Forget about it. (Quick hint, Markdown poet: the "pre" tag is your friend, if you don't already know.)

Currently, I write in plain text files, with a bit of Markdown for easy formatting. As my iPad is my primary creation tool, I use Drafts for quick capture and Editorial for any editing or other heavy lifting. In Editorial, I've been able to design workflows that compile collections and set lists or "scripts" for performances from individual documents. But I'm wedded to the idea of devising a set of baseline principles that might support any other poets who struggle trying to find a system that makes sense, or who simply make do with what they've got because they don't have the time or energy to fuss with the tech in order to figure out a potentially better way of doing things..."
jaconsam-larose  howwewrite  computing  ipad  ios  text  poetry  writing  tools  onlinetoolkit  howwework  markdown  formatting  texteditors  poets  metadata  technology  editing  publishing  workflow 
october 2019 by robertogreco
Uber Undone | Noah Kulwin
"Silicon Valley began this decade as the bleeding edge of the American economy, where new technologies were said to be building a better future for the whole planet. By its end, the American tech industry will be largely viewed as the labor-destroying, profit-hungry behemoth that it truly is. While Facebook’s inadvertent election-rigging and Google’s near-monopoly on digital advertising might draw more attention as the culprits behind that pendulum swing, it is Uber’s Randian capitalism that most transparently lays bare Silicon Valley villainy. And even from outside the C-suite, from which he was ejected in 2017, Kalanick remains its smug, unapologetic face."
siliconvalley  californianideology  grifters  us  finance  economics  venturecapital  2019  mikeisaac  noahkulwin  technology  technosolutionism  google  facebook  society  traviskalanick  uber  lyft  gigeconomy  labor  inequality  urbanplanning  urban  urbanism  capitalism  neoliberalism 
september 2019 by robertogreco
Say No to the “Cashless Future” — and to Cashless Stores | American Civil Liberties Union
"It is great to see this pushback against the supposed cashless future because this is a trend that should very much be nipped in the bud. There are several reasons why cashless stores, and a cashless society more broadly, are a bad idea. Such stores are:

Bad for privacy. When you pay cash, there is no middleman; you pay, you receive goods or services — end of story. When a middleman becomes part of the transaction, that middleman often gets to learn about the transaction — and under our weak privacy laws, has a lot of leeway to use that information as it sees fit. (Cash transactions of more than $10,000 must be reported to the government, however.) More on privacy and payment systems in a follow-up post.

Bad for low-income communities. Participation in a cashless society presumes a level of financial stability and enmeshment in bureaucratic financial systems that many people simply do not possess. Opening a bank account requires an ID, which many poor and elderly people lack, as well as other documents such as a utility bill or other proof of address, which the homeless lack, and which generally create bureaucratic barriers to participating in electronic payment networks. Banks also charge fees that can be significant for people living on the economic margins. According to government data from 2017, about one in 15 U.S. households (6.5%) were “unbanked” (had no checking or savings account), while almost one in five (18.7%) were “underbanked” (had a bank account but resorted to using money orders, check cashing, or payday loans). Finally, because merchants usually pass along the cost of credit card fees to all their customers through their prices, the current credit card system effectively serves to transfer money from poor households to high-income households, according to a study by the Federal Reserve.

Bad for people of color. The burden of lack of access to banking services such as credit cards does not fall equally. While 84% of white people in 2017 were what the Federal Reserve calls “fully banked,” only 52% of Black and 63% of Hispanic people were.
Bad for the undocumented. Facing a lack of official identity documents, not to mention all the other obstacles mentioned above, undocumented immigrants can have an even harder time accessing banking services.

Bad for many merchants. Merchants pay roughly 2-3% of every transaction to the credit card companies, which can be a significant “tax,” especially on low-margin businesses. With the credit card sector dominated by an oligopoly of 2-3 companies, there is not enough competition to keep these “swipe fees” low. Big companies have the leverage to negotiate lower fees, but small merchants are out of luck, and the amount that they pay to the credit card companies is often greater than their profit. If cashless stores are allowed to become widespread, that will harm the many merchants who either discourage or flat-out refuse to accept credit cards due to these fees.

Less resilient. The nationwide outage of electronic cash registers at Target stores several weeks ago left customers unable to make purchases — except those who had cash. That’s a reminder that electronic payments systems can mean centralized points of failure — not just technical failures like Target’s, but also security failures. A cashless society would also leave people more susceptible to economic failure on an individual basis: if a hacker, bureaucratic error, or natural disaster shuts a consumer out of their account, the lack of a cash option would leave them few alternatives.

The issue goes beyond restaurants and retail stores; other services that are built around electronic payments should also offer cash options (or cash-like anonymous stored value cards). Those include ride-share services like Uber and Lyft, bike and scooter share systems, and transit systems. In San Francisco, for example, the city’s bike-share program is providing an option to pay with cash. In DC, where I live, the Metro requires a smart card to use — but riders have the option to either register their card so that they can cancel it if it’s lost or stolen, or buy it with cash and not register it to keep it more private."

...

"What to do

So what should you do if you walk into a store and are told: “your cash is no good here”?

Register your objection. Say to the staff, “I know this isn’t your policy personally, but I think it’s a bad one, and I hope you’ll pass that along to your management. Not accepting cash is bad for privacy, bad for poor people, and bad for the undocumented.”

Refuse to provide a credit card. If you haven’t been given very clear advance notice that cash is not accepted, tell them you don’t have a credit card with you and see what they propose. There’s no law that a person has to possess a credit card or furnish one on demand. This may tie up their line, require the calling of a manger, create abandoned food that has already been prepared, and generally create inefficiencies that, if repeated among enough customers, will start to erode the advantages of going cashless for merchants.

Walk out. If you can do without, leave the establishment without buying anything after registering your objection to a staff person so they are aware they’ve lost your business over it.

Understand why some stores charge fees for credit card use. If you visit a store or restaurant that charges a higher price for credit card purchases, understand that this is a socially beneficial policy and be supportive. Merchants are explicitly permitted to pass swipe fees (also known as “interchange fees”) along to customers, which among other things is fairer to low-income customers who don’t have credit cards and shouldn’t have to absorb the costs of those cards. If you are a business, consider passing along those fees to increase fairness as well as customer awareness of how the current system works.

Contact your elected representatives. We have already seen some cities and states ban cashless stores. Your state or city can do so as well.

The bottom line is that the technocratic “dream” of a cashless society is a vision in which we discard what is left of the anonymity that has characterized urban life since the dawn of modernity, and our freedom from the power of centralized companies like banks. Doing without cash may be convenient at times, but if we lose cash as an option we’re going to regret it later."
money  privacy  technology  privilege  cashless  currency  2019  aclu  inequality  resilience  bias  business  economics  policy  siliconvalley  creditcards  cash  technocracy  technosolutionism 
august 2019 by robertogreco
You Wanted A List
"You Wanted A List is an online magazine publishing interviews with exciting individuals sharing what they read, hear, watch or use.
Focusing on people whose work we admire, the blog is committed to help our readers to find new stuff out there that is worth checking.
Our hope is to create a resource for our visitors who are seeking to be inspired by subjects ranging from cool music to never heard apps."
tools  howwework  recommendations  interviews  film  television  books  technology  applications  music 
august 2019 by robertogreco
Engagement Is the Enemy of Serendipity – Dan Cohen
"Whenever I’m grumpy about an update to a technology I use, I try to perform a self-audit examining why I’m unhappy about this change. It’s a helpful exercise since we are all by nature resistant to even minor alterations to the technologies we use every day (which is why website redesign is now a synonym for bare-knuckle boxing), and this feeling only increases with age. Sometimes the grumpiness is justified, since one of your tools has become duller or less useful in a way you can clearly articulate; other times, well, welcome to middle age.

The New York Times recently changed their iPad app to emphasize three main tabs, Top Stories, For You, and Sections. The first is the app version of their chockablock website home page, which contains not only the main headlines and breaking news stories, but also an editor-picked mixture of stories and features from across the paper. For You is a new personalized zone that is algorithmically generated by looking at the stories and sections you have most frequently visited, or that you select to include by clicking on blue buttons that appear near specific columns and topics. The last tab is Sections, that holdover word from the print newspaper, with distinct parts that are folded and nested within each other, such as Metro, Business, Arts, and Sports.

Currently my For You tab looks as if it was designed for a hypochondriacal runner who wishes to live in outer space, but not too far away, since he still needs to acquire new books and follow the Red Sox. I shall not comment about the success of the New York Times algorithm here, other than to say that I almost never visit the For You tab, for reasons I will explain shortly. For now, suffice it to say that For You is not for me.

But the Sections tab I do visit, every day, and this is the real source of my grumpiness. At the same time that the New York Times launched those three premier tabs, they also removed the ability to swipe, simply and quickly, between sections of the newspaper. You used to be able to start your morning news consumption with the headlines and then browse through articles in different sections from left to right. Now you have to tap on Sections, which reveals a menu, from which you select another section, from which you select an article, over and over. It’s like going back to the table of contents every time you finish a chapter of a book, rather than just turning the page to the next chapter.

Sure, it seems relatively minor, and I suspect the change was made because confused people would accidentally swipe between sections, but paired with For You it subtly but firmly discourages the encounter with many of the newspaper’s sections. The assumption in this design is that if you’re a space runner, why would you want to slog through the International news section or the Arts section on the way to orbital bliss in the Science and Health sections?

* * *

When I was growing up in Boston, my first newspaper love was the sports section of the Boston Globe. I would get the paper in the morning and pull out that section and read it from cover to cover, all of the columns and game summaries and box scores. Somewhere along the way, I started briefly checking out adjacent sections, Metro and Business and Arts, and then the front section itself, with the latest news of the day and reports from around the country and world. The technology and design of the paper encouraged this sampling, as the unpacked paper was literally scattered in front of me on the table. Were many of these stories and columns boring to my young self? Undoubtedly. But for some reason—the same reason many of those reading this post will recognize—I slowly ended up paging through the whole thing from cover to cover, still focusing on the Sox, but diving into stories from various sections and broadly getting a sense of numerous fields and pursuits.

This kind of interface and user experience is now threatened because who needs to scan through seemingly irrelevant items when you can have constant go-go engagement, that holy grail of digital media. The Times, likely recognizing their analog past (which is still the present for a dwindling number of print subscribers), tries to replicate some of the old newspaper serendipity with Top Stories, which is more like A Bunch of Interesting Things after the top headlines. But I fear they have contradicted themselves in this new promotion of For You and the commensurate demotion of Sections.

The engagement of For You—which joins the countless For Yous that now dominate our online media landscape—is the enemy of serendipity, which is the chance encounter that leads to a longer, richer interaction with a topic or idea. It’s the way that a metalhead bumps into opera in a record store, or how a young kid becomes interested in history because of the book reviews that follow the box scores. It’s the way that a course taken on a whim in college leads, unexpectedly, to a new lifelong pursuit. Engagement isn’t a form of serendipity through algorithmically personalized feeds; it’s the repeated satisfaction of Present You with your myopically current loves and interests, at the expense of Future You, who will want new curiosities, hobbies, and experiences."
dancohen  2019  education  newspapers  socialmedia  technology  trends  media  engagement  serendipity  algorithms  libraries  adjacency  interface  digital  digitalmedia  design  journalism  nytimes  web  generalists  exposure  experience  interaction  personalization  filterbubbles 
july 2019 by robertogreco
Digital Life Collective
"The Digital Life Collective researches, develops, funds and supports Tech We Trust: technologies that prioritize our autonomy, privacy and dignity. Our tech, not their tech.

Forming a co-operative of like-minded people is the best and perhaps only way to nurture Tech We Trust.

We are a co-operative.

Member funded. Member owned. Member controlled. Our rules are published here, and all our member rights and responsibilities can be found here.

Co-operation requires trust, and Tech We Trust requires co-operation.

Why we're here

The norm today is Tech We Don’t Trust. Every time we engage with digital technologies, we should ask – what’s actually going on here? – and the answer is too typically illusive.

We cannot wait for the invisible hand of the market to help solve this. If anything, it seems to guide many companies in the opposite direction for now. We cannot wait for governments to solve this either. In short, we need to co-operate. And that’s why we exist, why we are incorporated as a co-operative, and why we need you to join us.
JOIN US

Why are you incorporated as a UK co-op?

When we got started, we had several core team members in the UK who were willing to put in the effort and take on the responsibilities of becoming directors and founding members, and some with significant knowledge of UK Co-op structures and their legal requirements. Once we are better resourced/bigger, we anticipate having entities in multiple countries subject to our review of the respective technical and legal environment."
accessibility  collectives  equality  technology  privacy  autonomy  cooperatives 
july 2019 by robertogreco
Beware the ethical car - macwright.org
"On Tuesday, Lyft released a dataset for self-driving car development, along with a blog post. Here’s a snippet:
Avoidable collisions, single-occupant commuters, and vehicle emissions are choking our cities, while infrastructure strains under rapid urban growth.

And that translates to an efficient ecosystem of connected transit, bikes, scooters, and shared rides from drivers as well as self-driving cars. Solving the autonomous vehicle challenge is not just an option — it’s a necessity.

And then the CEO’s quote:
Not only can self-driving tech save two lives every single minute, it is essential to combat climate change by allowing people to ditch their cars for shared electric transportation. Lyft is committed to leading this transportation revolution.

Here’s what’s they’re doing: by co-opting the language of climate change, companies are going to try and make cars ethical.

Evidence so far

We should be wary. First, because ridesharing has already claimed to reduce emissions and traffic congestion, and has done the opposite.

See, Lyft claimed in 2015 that their service harmonized with public transit, rather than competed with it. That didn’t work out. Not only have they stolen trips from public transit, they’ve reduced support for transit and replaced walking & biking trips, too. They’ve increased traffic deaths by 2-3%, while increasing the number of cars on the streets.

Improved cars are a suspiciously convenient change agenda

California, eager to top its subsidy of mansions as blindingly regressive policy, decided to subsidize electric cars to the tune of $7,500 each, in the form of a tax credit. Tax credits, of course, are wealth transfer from some taxpayers to others: and in this case, we’re transferring our money to the deserving buyers of $90,000 sports cars.

That isn’t enough: we also allowed electric cars to drive in HOV lanes for years, until too many did so, traffic built up again, and the perk was removed.

While we subsidize the rich, we subsidize public transit less than almost everywhere else and make a grisly show of cracking down on fare evasion.

Space and selfishness

Lyft links to two articles in their blog post - one to a Washington Post ‘brand studio’ (sponsored, ghostwritten) article, and the other to The Atlantic. The Washington Post article is there to substantiate the climate change claim and here’s the crux of its argument:
Fulton’s analysis found little societal or environmental benefit from driverless vehicles unless they are both electric and shared.

Which brings us to the question of self-driving technology: will it be used for shared, communal transit like public transit works today, or will it be a way for rich people to have private luxury rooms?

All current signs point to the worse scenario. Here’s the carpooling, from the Washington Post article:
Carpooling peaked during the 1970s energy crisis, then dropped to 9 percent in 2014 from 20 percent in 1980.

Here’s what Elon Musk thinks of public transit.
“It’s a pain in the ass,” he continued. “That’s why everyone doesn’t like it. And there’s like a bunch of random strangers, one of who might be a serial killer, OK, great. And so that’s why people like individualized transport, that goes where you want, when you want.”

Would Musk encourage people to carpool in their self-driving Teslas? Do serial killers own Teslas? This hasn’t been an issue so far, because Tesla owners can drive by themselves in carpool lanes.

Or consider how people reacted to increasing vehicle efficiency, and were given the choice: save the environment, or bigger cars?
The global S.U.V. boom is a roadblock in the march toward cleaner cars that has been aided by advances in fuel-saving technology and hybrid or electric vehicles. Compared to smaller cars, S.U.V.s are less efficient, generally by about 30 percent.

*******

Cars are a broken format. We shouldn’t give them a lifeline, or a new coat of paint, and society shouldn’t find a way to assuage the guilt that surrounds them.

Sure, cars should be electric. There are a lot of places in the world where transportation infrastructure isn’t sufficient and cars are the native transportation medium. Maybe they should be self-driving too, if the technology is safer than human drivers. Right now, it isn’t.

But to a large extent this is a zero-sum problem. Ridesharing already has substantially hurt public transit. The blue sky dream of self-driving cars is spawning galaxy-brain reckons like replacing the subway with underground highways, or replacing the subway with tunnels. These dreams are built around selfishness: they always offer private pods flying through space. Hyperloop promotional material portrays it as an alternative to being on the surface, with all those other people.

Avoiding climate catastrophe is obviously necessary, and we should consider all the options. But it’s hard to believe in car-centric solutions that don’t come with a vision of social and cultural change."
cars  carpooling  carsharing  lyft  uber  elonmusk  electriccars  transportation  transit  publictransit  climatechange  technology  technosolutionism  space  selfishness  society  globalwarming  ethics  ridesharing  california  subsidies  policy  highspeedrail  trains  hovlanes  suvs  emissions  hyperloop  tommacwright 
july 2019 by robertogreco
David F. Noble: A Wrench in the Gears - 1/8 - YouTube
davidnoble  power  education  progressive  corporatism  highered  highereducation  documentary  rules  schools  schooling  deschooling  unschooling  cv  learning  howwelearn  howweteach  teaching  activism  authority  abuse  academia  resistance  canada  us  lobbying  israel  criticalthinking  capitalism  experience  life  living  hierarchy  oppression  collegiality  unions  self-respect  organizing  humanrights  corporatization  luddism  automation  technology  luddites  distancelearning  correspondencecourses  history  creditcards  privacy  criticaltheory  criticalpedagogy  attendance  grades  grading  assessment  experientialeducation  training  knowledge  self  self-directed  self-directedlearning  pedagogy  radicalpedagogy  alienation  authoritarianism  anxiety  instrinsicmotivation  motivation  parenting  relationships  love  canon  defiance  freedom  purpose  compulsory  liberation 
july 2019 by robertogreco
I Feel Better Now | Jake Bittle
"Depressed by the burden of life under capitalism? There's an app for that!"

...

"Much like climate change in the liberal imagination, depression in these programs is an effect without a cause."

...

"The same consumerist culture that once shunned mention of depression now also seeks to cannibalize its language for use in advertising and media."

...

"The navel-gazing recommended by apps like these has the potential to entice us away from larger questions about the structural forces that generate a great deal of our suffering."
depression  capitalism  navelgazing  2019  technology  samanthamash 
july 2019 by robertogreco
A lengthy ramble through many responses to that FaceTime Attention Correction tweet (4 Jul., 2019, at Interconnected)
"Rachel Coldicutt’s response sums it up for me. Auto-correct for facial expressions is Attention Correction is a nutshell. Not only because auto-correct has both positive and negative consequences, but also because — in this case — an idea of “correctness” in face-to-face communication is invented, and the idea that there is or should be “correctness” here is something I would push back on very strongly.

Coldicutt’s final point, which is to bring in power, is the most important point in all of this: looking through the lens of power is where discussion of this feature should begin and end.

And so my question is this:

since the category of “unreal” (deep fake, fictional, mediated) video is here to stay, and only going to grow, and knowing that gaze awareness is important and, yes, something that should be available to design with; listening to the many concerns and always sensitive to the dynamics of power and vulnerability; how could Apple present this Attention Correction feature differently today (it may be nothing more than displaying an icon on the receiving end) in order to help us develop the best cues and social norms to not only minimise damage, but to best position us for an inclusive, collaborative, technology-positive future?"
mattwebb  2019  video  videochat  facetime  apple  ai  manipulation  realism  bias  autism  attention  eyecontact  technology  deepfakes  mediation  rachelcoldicutt  communication  norms  correctness  power 
july 2019 by robertogreco
▶ Audrey Watters | Gettin' Air with Terry Greene
"Audrey Watters (@audreywatters) is an ed-tech folk hero who writes at Hack Education @hackeducation where, for the past nine years, she has taken the lead in keeping the field on its toes in regards to educational technology's "progress". Her long awaited and much anticipated book, "Teaching Machines", will be out in the new year."
2019  audreywatters  edtech  terrygreene  bfskinner  technology  schools  education  turnitin  history  learning  behaviorism  cognition  cognitivescience  psychology  automation  standardization  khanacademy  howweteach  liberation  relationships  agency  curiosity  inquiry  justice  economics  journalism  criticism  vr  facebook  venturecapital  capitalism  research  fabulism  contrafabulism  siliconvalley  archives  elonmusk  markzuckerberg  gatesfoundation  billgates 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Feminist cyborg scholar Donna Haraway: ‘The disorder of our era isn’t necessary’ | World news | The Guardian
"The history of philosophy is also a story about real estate.

Driving into Santa Cruz to visit Donna Haraway, I can’t help feeling that I was born too late. The metal sculpture of a donkey standing on Haraway’s front porch, the dogs that scramble to her front door barking when we ring the bell, and the big black rooster strutting in the coop out back – the entire setting evokes an era of freedom and creativity that postwar wealth made possible in northern California.

Here was a counterculture whose language and sensibility the tech industry sometimes adopts, but whose practitioners it has mostly priced out. Haraway, who came to the University of Santa Cruz in 1980 to take up the first tenured professorship in feminist theory in the US, still conveys the sense of a wide-open world.

Haraway was part of an influential cohort of feminist scholars who trained as scientists before turning to the philosophy of science in order to investigate how beliefs about gender shaped the production of knowledge about nature. Her most famous text remains The Cyborg Manifesto, published in 1985. It began with an assignment on feminist strategy for the Socialist Review after the election of Ronald Reagan and grew into an oracular meditation on how cybernetics and digitization had changed what it meant to be male or female – or, really, any kind of person. It gained such a cult following that Hari Kunzru, profiling her for Wired magazine years later, wrote: “To boho twentysomethings, her name has the kind of cachet usually reserved for techno acts or new phenethylamines.”

The cyborg vision of gender as changing and changeable was radically new. Her map of how information technology linked people around the world into new chains of affiliation, exploitation and solidarity feels prescient at a time when an Instagram influencer in Berlin can line the pockets of Silicon Valley executives by using a phone assembled in China that contains cobalt mined in Congo to access a platform moderated by Filipinas.

Haraway’s other most influential text may be an essay that appeared a few years later, on what she called “situated knowledges”. The idea, developed in conversation with feminist philosophers and activists such as Nancy Hartsock, concerns how truth is made. Concrete practices of particular people make truth, Haraway argued. The scientists in a laboratory don’t simply observe or conduct experiments on a cell, for instance, but co-create what a cell is by seeing, measuring, naming and manipulating it. Ideas like these have a long history in American pragmatism. But they became politically explosive during the so-called science wars of the 1990s – a series of public debates among “scientific realists” and “postmodernists” with echoes in controversies about bias and objectivity in academia today.

Haraway’s more recent work has turned to human-animal relations and the climate crisis. She is a capacious yes, and thinker, the kind of leftist feminist who believes that the best thinking is done collectively. She is constantly citing other people, including graduate students, and giving credit to them. A recent documentary about her life and work by the Italian film-maker Fabrizio Terranova, Storytelling for Earthly Survival, captures this sense of commitment, as well as her extraordinary intellectual agility and inventiveness.

At her home in Santa Cruz, we talked about her memories of the science wars and how they speak to our current “post-truth” moment, her views on contemporary climate activism and the Green New Deal, and why play is essential for politics.

We are often told we are living in a time of “post-truth”. Some critics have blamed philosophers like yourself for creating the environment of “relativism” in which “post-truth” flourishes. How do you respond to that?

Our view was never that truth is just a question of which perspective you see it from.

[The philosopher] Bruno [Latour] and I were at a conference together in Brazil once. (Which reminds me: if people want to criticize us, it ought to be for the amount of jet fuel involved in making and spreading these ideas! Not for leading the way to post-truth.)

Anyhow. We were at this conference. It was a bunch of primate field biologists, plus me and Bruno. And Stephen Glickman, a really cool biologist, took us apart privately. He said: “Now, I don’t want to embarrass you. But do you believe in reality?”

We were both kind of shocked by the question. First, we were shocked that it was a question of belief, which is a Protestant question. A confessional question. The idea that reality is a question of belief is a barely secularized legacy of the religious wars. In fact, reality is a matter of worlding and inhabiting. It is a matter of testing the holdingness of things. Do things hold or not?

Take evolution. The notion that you would or would not “believe” in evolution already gives away the game. If you say, “Of course I believe in evolution,” you have lost, because you have entered the semiotics of representationalism – and post-truth, frankly. You have entered an arena where these are all just matters of internal conviction and have nothing to do with the world. You have left the domain of worlding.

The science warriors who attacked us during the science wars were determined to paint us as social constructionists – that all truth is purely socially constructed. And I think we walked into that. We invited those misreadings in a range of ways. We could have been more careful about listening and engaging more slowly. It was all too easy to read us in the way the science warriors did. Then the rightwing took the science wars and ran with it, which eventually helped nourish the whole fake-news discourse.

Your PhD is in biology. How do your scientist colleagues feel about your approach to science?

To this day I know only one or two scientists who like talking this way. And there are good reasons why scientists remain very wary of this kind of language. I belong to the Defend Science movement and in most public circumstances I will speak softly about my own ontological and epistemological commitments. I will use representational language. I will defend less-than-strong objectivity because I think we have to, situationally.

Is that bad faith? Not exactly. It’s related to [what the postcolonial theorist Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak has called] “strategic essentialism”. There is a strategic use to speaking the same idiom as the people that you are sharing the room with. You craft a good-enough idiom so you can work on something together. I go with what we can make happen in the room together. And then we go further tomorrow.

In the struggles around climate change, for example, you have to join with your allies to block the cynical, well-funded, exterminationist machine that is rampant on the Earth. I think my colleagues and I are doing that. We have not shut up, or given up on the apparatus that we developed. But one can foreground and background what is most salient depending on the historical conjuncture.

What do you find most salient at the moment?

What is at the center of my attention are land and water sovereignty struggles, such as those over the Dakota Access pipeline, over coal mining on the Black Mesa plateau, over extractionism everywhere. My attention is centered on the extermination and extinction crises happening at a worldwide level, on human and non-human displacement and homelessness. That’s where my energies are. My feminism is in these other places and corridors.

What kind of political tactics do you see as being most important – for young climate activists, the Green New Deal, etc?

The degree to which people in these occupations play is a crucial part of how they generate a new political imagination, which in turn points to the kind of work that needs to be done. They open up the imagination of something that is not what [the ethnographer] Deborah Bird Rose calls “double death” – extermination, extraction, genocide.

Now, we are facing a world with all three of those things. We are facing the production of systemic homelessness. The way that flowers aren’t blooming at the right time, and so insects can’t feed their babies and can’t travel because the timing is all screwed up, is a kind of forced homelessness. It’s a kind of forced migration, in time and space.

This is also happening in the human world in spades. In regions like the Middle East and Central America, we are seeing forced displacement, some of which is climate migration. The drought in the Northern Triangle countries of Central America [Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador] is driving people off their land.

So it’s not a humanist question. It’s a multi-kind and multi-species question.

What’s so important about play?

Play captures a lot of what goes on in the world. There is a kind of raw opportunism in biology and chemistry, where things work stochastically to form emergent systematicities. It’s not a matter of direct functionality. We need to develop practices for thinking about those forms of activity that are not caught by functionality, those which propose the possible-but-not-yet, or that which is not-yet but still open.

It seems to me that our politics these days require us to give each other the heart to do just that. To figure out how, with each other, we can open up possibilities for what can still be. And we can’t do that in a negative mood. We can’t do that if we do nothing but critique. We need critique; we absolutely need it. But it’s not going to open up the sense of what might yet be. It’s not going to open up the sense of that which is not yet possible but profoundly needed.

The established disorder of our present era is not necessary. It exists. But it’s not necessary."
donnaharaway  2019  anthropocene  climatechange  science  scientism  disorder  greennewdeal  politics  interdependence  families  critique  humanism  multispecies  morethanhuman  displacement  globalwarming  extermination  extinction  extraction  capitalism  genocide  deborahbirdrose  doubledeath  feminism  postmodernism  harikunzru  cyborgmanifesto  philosophy  philosophyofscience  santacruz  technology  affiliation  exploitation  solidarity  situatedknowledge  nancyhartstock  objectivity  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Ayn Rand Is a Dick – Mike Monteiro – Medium
"Silicon Valley has exhibited total comfort with destroying the social fabric of humanity to make a profit.

I got mine. Fuck you."
venturecapital  siliconvalley  aynrand  technology  mikemonteiro  uber  2019  libertarianism  californianideology  economics  politics  policy  via:lukeneff  objectivism 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Surviving in the Siberian Wilderness for 70 Years (Full Length) - YouTube
"In 1936, a family of Russian Old Believers journeyed deep into Siberia's vast taiga to escape persecution and protect their way of life. The Lykovs eventually settled in the Sayan Mountains, 160 miles from any other sign of civilization. In 1944, Agafia Lykov was born into this wilderness. Today, she is the last surviving Lykov, remaining steadfast in her seclusion. In this episode of Far Out, the VICE crew travels to Agafia to learn about her taiga lifestyle and the encroaching influence of the outside world."
agafialykova  video  russia  taiga  oldbelievers  lykovs  civilization  wilderness  siberia  1978  1936  sovietunion  religion  isolation  survival  history  families  technology  towatch 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Uber’s Path of Destruction - American Affairs Journal
"ince it began operations in 2010, Uber has grown to the point where it now collects over $45 billion in gross passenger revenue, and it has seized a major share of the urban car service market. But the widespread belief that it is a highly innovative and successful company has no basis in economic reality.

An examination of Uber’s economics suggests that it has no hope of ever earning sustainable urban car service profits in competitive markets. Its costs are simply much higher than the market is willing to pay, as its nine years of massive losses indicate. Uber not only lacks powerful competitive advantages, but it is actually less efficient than the competitors it has been driving out of business.

Uber’s investors, however, never expected that their returns would come from superior efficiency in competitive markets. Uber pursued a “growth at all costs” strategy financed by a staggering $20 billion in investor funding. This funding subsidized fares and service levels that could not be matched by incumbents who had to cover costs out of actual passenger fares. Uber’s massive subsidies were explicitly anticompetitive—and are ultimately unsustainable—but they made the company enormously popular with passengers who enjoyed not having to pay the full cost of their service.

The resulting rapid growth was also intended to make Uber highly attractive to those segments of the investment world that believed explosive top-line growth was the only important determinant of how start-up companies should be valued. Investors focused narrow­ly on Uber’s revenue growth and only rarely considered whether the company could ever produce the profits that might someday repay the multibillion dollar subsidies.

Most public criticisms of Uber have focused on narrow behavioral and cultural issues, including deceptive advertising and pricing, algorithmic manipulation, driver exploitation, deep-seated misogyny among executives, and disregard of laws and business norms. Such criticisms are valid, but these problems are not fixable aberrations. They were the inevitable result of pursuing “growth at all costs” without having any ability to fund that growth out of positive cash flow. And while Uber has taken steps to reduce negative publicity, it has not done—and cannot do—anything that could suddenly pro­duce a sustainable, profitable business model.

Uber’s longer-term goal was to eliminate all meaningful competition and then profit from this quasi-monopoly power. While it has already begun using some of this artificial power to suppress driver wages, it has not achieved the Facebook- or Amazon-type “plat­form” power it hoped to exploit. Given that both sustainable profits and true industry dominance seemed unachievable, Uber’s investors de­cided to take the company public, based on the hope that enough gullible investors still believe that the compa­ny’s rapid growth and popularity are the result of powerfully effi­cient inno­vations and do not care about its inability to generate profits.

These beliefs about Uber’s corporate value were created entirely out of thin air. This is not a case of a company with a reasonably sound operating business that has managed to inflate stock market expectations a bit. This is a case of a massive valuation that has no relationship to any economic fundamentals. Uber has no competitive efficiency advantages, operates in an industry with few barriers to entry, and has lost more than $14 billion in the previous four years. But its narratives convinced most people in the media, invest­ment, and tech worlds that it is the most valuable transportation company on the planet and the second most valuable start-up IPO in U.S. history (after Facebook).

Uber is the breakthrough case where the public perception of a large new company was entirely created using the types of manufactured narratives typically employed in partisan political campaigns. Narrative construction is perhaps Uber’s greatest competitive strength. The company used these techniques to completely divert attention away from the massive subsidies that were the actual drivers of its popularity and growth. It successfully framed the entire public discussion around an emotive, “us-versus-them” battle between heroic innovators and corrupt regulators who were falsely blamed for all of the industry’s historic service problems. Uber’s desired framing—that it was fighting a moral battle on behalf of technological progress and economic freedom—was uncritically ac­cepted by the mainstream business and tech industry press, who then never bothered to analyze the firm’s actual economics or its anticompetitive behavior.

In reality, Uber’s platform does not include any technological breakthroughs, and Uber has done nothing to “disrupt” the eco­nomics of providing urban car services. What Uber has disrupted is the idea that competitive consumer and capital markets will maximize overall economic welfare by rewarding companies with superior efficiency. Its multibillion dollar subsidies completely distorted marketplace price and service signals, leading to a massive misallocation of resources. Uber’s most important innovation has been to produce staggering levels of private wealth without creating any sustainable benefits for consumers, workers, the cities they serve, or anyone else."
huberthoran  uber  carsharing  taxis  transportation  2019  economics  technology  technosolutionism  huxterism  propaganda  regulation  disruption  innovation  scale  networkeffects  amazon  facebook  venturecapital  siliconvalley  latecapitalism  capitalism  exploitation  labor  growth  lyft  china  startups  cities  urban  urbanism  productivity  traviskalanick 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Schools Are Deploying Massive Digital Surveillance Systems. The Results Are Alarming - Education Week
"Sometimes students with a concern simply email themselves, with the expectation that algorithms will flag the message for adults, said Jessica Mays, an instructional technology specialist for Texas’s Temple Independent School District, another Gaggle client.

One student “opened a Google Doc, wrote down concerns about a boy in class acting strange, then typed every bad word they could think of,” Mays said. At the end of the note, the student apologized for the foul language, but wrote that they wanted to make sure the message tripped alarms.

For proponents, it’s evidence that students appreciate having new ways of seeking help.

But for Levinson-Waldman, the lawyer for the Brennan Center for Justice, it raises a bigger question.

“Are we training children from a young age to accept constant surveillance?” she asked."
privacy  surveillance  schools  2019  algorithms  policy  data  information  technology  edtech 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Anne Galloway 'Speculative Design and Glass Slaughterhouses' - This is HCD
"Andy: You’ve got quite an interesting background. I’m going to ask you about in a second. I wanted to start with the quote from Ursula Le Guin that you have on your website. It’s from the Lathe of Heaven. “We’re in the world, not against it. It doesn’t work to try and stand outside things and run them that way, it just doesn’t work. It goes against life. There is a way, but you have to follow it, the world is, no matter how we think it ought to be, you have to be with it, you have to let it be.

Then on the More Than Human website, you have these three questions. What if we refuse to uncouple nature and culture? What if we deny that human beings are exceptional? What if we stop speaking and listening only to ourselves? The More Than Human lab explores everyday entanglements of humans and non-humans and imagines more sustainable ways of thinking, making, and doing. Anne, let’s get started by first talking about what do you mean by all of that?

Anne: The Ursula Le Guin quote I love mostly because a critical perspective or an activist perspective, anything that says we ought to be changing the world in any way, it always assumes that we need to fix something, that the world is broken and that designers especially are well-suited to be able to solve some of these problems. I like thinking about what it means to respond to injustice by accepting it, not in the sense of believing that it’s okay or right, because clearly, it’s been identify as unjust. I love Le Guin’s attention to the fact that there is a way to be in the world.

As soon as we think that we’re outside of it, any choices or decisions or actions that we take are, well, they sit outside of it as well. I like being embedded in the trouble. I like Donna Haraway’s idea of staying with the trouble. It’s not that we have to accept that things are problematic, but rather that we have to work within the structures that already exist. Not to keep them that way, in fact, many should be dismantled or changed. Rather, to accept that there is a flow to the universe.

Of course, Le Guin was talking about Taoism, but here what I wanted to draw attention to is often our imperative to fix or to solve or to change things comes with a belief that we’re not part of the world that we’re trying to fix and change. It’s that that I want to highlight. That when we start asking difficult questions about the world, we can never remove ourselves from them. We’re complicit, we are on the receiving end of things. We’re never distant from it. I think that subtle but important shift in deciding how we approach our work is really important."



"Andy: Yes, okay. I was thinking about this, I was reading, in conjunction, this little Le Guin quote, I was trying to think, it’s unusual in the sense that it’s a discipline or a practice of design that uses its own practice to critique itself. It’s using design to critique design in many respects. A lot of what speculative design is talking about is, look what happens when we put stuff into the world, in some way, without much thought. I was trying to think if there was another discipline that does that. I think probably in the humanities there are, and certainly in sociology I think there probably is, where it uses its own discipline to critique itself. It’s a fairly unusual setup.

Anne: I would think actually it’s quite common in the humanities, perhaps the social sciences, where it’s not common is in the sciences. Any reflexive turn in any of the humanities would have used the discipline. Historiography is that sort of thing. Applied philosophy is that sort of thing. Reflexive anthropology is that sort of thing. I think it’s actually quite common, just not in the sciences, and design often tries to align itself with the sciences instead.

Andy: Yes, there was a great piece in the Aeon the other day, about how science doesn’t have an adequate description or explanation for consciousness. Yet, it’s the only thing it can be certain of. With that, it also doesn’t really seem to come up in the technology industry that much, because it’s so heavily aligned with science. Technology, and you’ve got this background in culture studies and science and technology and society, technology is a really strong vein throughout speculative design. Indeed, your work, right? Counting sheep is about the Internet of Things, and sheep. Do you want to tell us a little bit about that and why I am talking to you from the picture things to the Lord of the Rings, it basically looks like you’re living in part of the Shire in Middle Earth?

Anne: I do live in a place that looks remarkably like the Shire. It’s a bit disconcerting at times. The science and technology question in speculative design I think is first of all a matter of convenience. Science fiction, speculation, they lean historically, habitually towards science and tech. It becomes an easy target for critique. Not that it’s not necessary, but it’s right there, so why not? There’s that element to it. It has an easier ability to be transformed into something fanciful or terrifying, which allows for certain kinds of storytelling through speculation, that I think people, both creators and audiences or readers really enjoy.

Now, the irony of all of this, of course is that arguably one of the greatest concerns that people have would be tied to technological determinism, the idea that we’re going to have these technologies anyway, so what are we going to do about it? Now, when you speculate using these technologies, what you’re doing is actually reinforcing the idea that these technologies are coming, you play right into the same technological determinism that you’re trying to critique. In fact, one of the counting sheep scenarios was designed specifically to avoid the technology. It was the one that got the most positive responses."



"Andy: With all of this, and I may this pop at the beginning, just before we were recording, that there’s a sense of, because of everything going on in the world, that if only designers could run the world, everything would be fine, right, because we can see all of the solutions to everything. What would you want designers to get out of this kind of work or this kind of perspective?

Anne: Humility. That simple. I am one of those people. It’s because of being an ethnographer as well and doing participant observation and interviewing many people and their ideas about design. I’ve run into far more people who think that designers are arrogant than ones who don’t. This has always really interested me. What is it that designers do that seems to rub non-designers the wrong way? Part of it is this sense of, or implication that they know better than the rest of us, or that a designer will come in and say, “Let me fix your problem”, before even asking if there is a problem that the person wants fixed.

I actually gave a guest lecture in a class just the other day, where I suggested that there were people in the world who thought that designers were arrogant. One of the post-graduate students in the class really took umbrage at this and wanted to know why it was that designers were arrogant for offering to fix problems, but a builder wasn’t, or a doctor wasn’t.

Andy: What was your answer?

Anne: Well, my answer was, generally speaking, people go to them first and say, “I have this problem, I need help.” Whereas, designers come up with a problem, go find people that they think have it and then tell them they’d like to solve it. I think just on a social level, that is profoundly anti-social. That is not how people enjoy socially interacting with people.

Andy: I can completely see that and I think that I would say that argument has also levelled, quite rightly, a lot of Silicon Valley, which is the answer to everything is some kind of technology engineering startup to fix all the problems that all the other technology and engineering startups that are no longer startups have created. It’s probably true of quite a lot of areas of business and finance, as well, and politics, for that matter. The counter, I could imagine a designer saying, “Well, that’s not really true”, because one of the things as human-centred designers, the first thing we do, we go out, we do design ethnography, we go and speak to people, we go and observe, we go and do all of that stuff. We really understand their problems. We’re not just telling people what needs to be fixed. We’re going there and understanding things. What’s your response to that?

Anne: Well, my first response is, yes, that’s absolutely true. There are lots of very good designers in the world who do precisely that. Because I work in an academic institution though, I’m training students. What my job involves is getting the to the point where they know the difference between telling somebody something and asking somebody something. what it means to actually understand their client or their user. I prefer to just refer to them as people. What it is that people want or need. One of the things that I offer in all of my classes is, after doing the participant observation, my students always have the opportunity to submit a rationale for no design intervention whatsoever.

That’s not something that is offered to people in a lot of business contexts because there’s a business case that’s being made. Whereas, I want my students to understand that sometimes the research demonstrates that people are actually okay, and that even if they have little problems, they’re still okay with that, that people are quite okay with living with contradictions and that they will accept some issues because it allows for other things to emerge. That if they want, they can provide the evidence for saying, “Actually, the worst thing we could do in this scenario is design anything and I refuse to design.”

Andy: Right, that and the people made trade-offs all the time because of the pain of change is much … [more]
annegalloway  design  2019  speculativefiction  designethnography  morethanhuman  ursulaleguin  livestock  agriculture  farming  sheep  meat  morethanhumanlab  activism  criticaldesign  donnaharaway  stayingwiththetrouble  taoism  flow  change  changemaking  systemsthinking  complicity  catherinecaudwell  injustice  justice  dunneandraby  consciousness  science  technology  society  speculation  speculativedesign  questioning  fiction  future  criticalthinking  whatif  anthropology  humanities  reflexiveanthropology  newzealand  socialsciences  davidgrape  powersoften  animals  cows  genevievebell  markpesce  technologicaldeterminism  dogs  cats  ethnography  cooperation  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  slow  slowness  time  perception  psychology  humility  problemsolving  contentment  presence  peacefulness  workaholism  northamerica  europe  studsterkel  protestantworkethic  labor  capitalism  passion  pets  domestication 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Magic and the Machine — Emergence Magazine
"Indeed, it is only when a traditionally oral culture becomes literate that the land seems to fall silent. Only as our senses transferred their animating magic to the written word did the other animals fall dumb, the trees and rocks become mute. For, to learn this new magic, we had to break the spontaneous participation of our eyes and ears in the enfolding terrain in order to recouple those senses with the flat surface of the page. I remember well, in first grade, the intensity with which I had to train my listening ears and my visual focus upon the letters in order to make each letter trigger a specific sound made by my mouth, such that now whenever I see the letter K, I instantly hear “kah” in my mind’s ear, and whenever I see an M, I hear “mmm.” If my ancestors once engaged in animistic participation with bent twigs, animal tracks, cliff-faces, and cloud shapes, I learned an analogous participation with the letter shapes upon the page. But notice: while a thundercloud or a raven might utter strange sounds and communicate strange sensations, the written letters always speak with a human tongue.

Hence, far from enacting a clear break with animism, alphabetic literacy can be recognized as a particularly potent form of animism, one which shifts the locus of magic—or meaning—away from our interactions with the more-than-human surroundings to the relation between ourselves and our own signs. Only as alphabetic literacy comes into a previously oral culture (often through Christian missionaries teaching how to read the Good Book) does that culture get the curious idea that language is an exclusively human property. The living land is no longer felt to hold and utter forth its own manifold meanings; the surrounding earth soon comes to be viewed as a mostly passive background upon which human history unfolds."




"For animism—the instinctive experience of reciprocity or exchange between the perceiver and the perceived—lies at the heart of all human perception. While such participatory experience may be displaced by our engagement with particular tools and technologies, it can never entirely be dispelled. Rather, different technologies tend to capture and channel our instinctive, animistic proclivities in particular ways."



"Despite the flimsy gesture toward a kind of magical reality, the fact is that we’re still speaking only to ourselves, to things that we have programmed to talk back to us. And so, after the initial novelty, which maybe lasts about twenty minutes, there’s nothing here that can surprise us, or yield a sense that we’re in communication with beings strangely different from ourselves."



"And maybe this attempt to recreate that primal experience of intimacy with the surrounding world will actually succeed. Certainly it’s giving rise to all sorts of fascinating gizmos and whimsical inventions. But it’s also bound to disappoint. The difficult magic of animistic perception, the utter weirdness and dark wonder that lives in any deeply place-based relation to the earth, is the felt sense of being in contact with wakeful forms of sentience that are richly different from one’s own—the experience of interaction with intelligences that are radically other from one’s own human style of intelligence. Yet when interacting with the smart objects that inhabit the always-online world of the internet of things, well, there’s no real otherness there. Of course, there’s the quasi-otherness of the program designers, and of the other people living their own wired lives; although just how other anybody will be when we’re all deploying various forms of the same software (and so all thinking by means of the same preprogrammed algorithms) is an open question. My point, however, is that there’s no radical otherness involved: it’s all humanly programmed, and it’s inhabited by us humans and our own humanly-built artifacts; it’s all basically a big extension of the human nervous system. As we enter more deeply into the world of ubiquitous computing, we increasingly seal ourselves into an exclusively human zone of interaction. We enter into a bizarre kind of intraspecies incest."



"Yet it’s the alterity or otherness of things—the weirdly different awareness of a humpback whale sounding its eerie glissandos through the depths, or an orb-weaver spider spinning the cosmos out of her abdomen; or the complex intelligence of an old-growth forest, dank with mushrooms and bracket fungi, humming with insects and haunted by owls—it’s the wild, more-than-human otherness of these powers that makes any attentive relation with such beings a genuine form of magic, a trancelike negotiation between outrageously divergent worlds.

Without such radical otherness, there’s no magic. Wandering around inside a huge extension of our own nervous system is not likely to bring a renewal of creaturely wonder, or a recovery of ancestral capacities. It may keep us fascinated for a time but also vaguely unsatisfied and so always thirsty for the next invention, the next gadget that might finally satisfy our craving, might assuage our vague sense that something momentous is missing. Except it won’t."



"Western navigators, long reliant on a large array of instruments, remain astonished by the ability of traditional seafaring peoples to find their way across the broad ocean by sensing subtle changes in the ocean currents, by tasting the wind and reading the weather, by conversing with the patterns in the night sky. Similarly, many bookish persons find themselves flummoxed by the ease with which citizens of traditionally oral, place-based cultures seem always to know where they are—their capacity to find their way even through dense forests without obvious landmarks—an innate orienting ability that arises when on intimate terms with the ground, with the plants, with the cycles of sun, moon, and stars. GPS seems to replicate this innate and fairly magical capacity, but instead of this knowledge arising from our bodily interchange with the earthly cosmos, here the knowledge arrives as a disembodied calculation by a complex of orbiting and ground-based computers."



"There is nothing “extra-sensory” about this kind of earthly clairvoyance. Rather, sensory perception functions here as a kind of glue, binding one’s individual nervous system into the larger ecosystem. When our animal senses are all awake, our skin rippling with sensations as we palpate the surroundings with ears and eyes and flaring nostrils, it sometimes happens that our body becomes part of the larger Body of the land—that our sensate flesh is taken up within the wider Flesh of the breathing Earth—and so we begin to glimpse events unfolding at other locations within the broad Body of the land. In hunting and gathering communities, individuals are apprenticed to the intricate life of the local earth from an early age, and in the absence of firearms, hunters often depend upon this richly sensorial, synaesthetic clairvoyance for regular success in the hunt. The smartphone replicates something of this old, ancestral experience of earthly acumen that has long been central to our species: the sense of being situated over Here, while knowing what’s going on over There."



"And so we remain transfixed by these tools, searching in and through our digital engagements for an encounter they seem to promise yet never really provide: the consummate encounter with otherness, with radical alterity, with styles of sensibility and intelligence that thoroughly exceed the limits of our own sentience. Yet there’s the paradox: for the more we engage these remarkable tools, the less available we are for any actual contact outside the purely human estate. In truth, the more we participate with these astonishing technologies, the more we seal ourselves into an exclusively human cocoon, and the more our animal senses—themselves co-evolved with the winds, the waters, and the many-voiced terrain—are blunted, rendering us ever more blind, ever more deaf, ever more impervious to the more-than-human Earth.

Which brings us, finally, back to our initial question: What is the primary relation, if there is any actual relation, between the two contrasting collective moods currently circulating through contemporary society—between the upbeat technological optimism coursing through many social circles and the mood of ecological despondency and grief that so many other persons seem to be feeling? As a writer who uses digital technology, I can affirm that these tools are enabling many useful, astounding, and even magical possibilities. But all this virtual magic is taking a steep toll. For many long years this techno-wizardry has been blunting our creaturely senses, interrupting the instinctive rapport between our senses and the earthly sensuous. It’s been short-circuiting the spontaneous reciprocity between our animal body and the animate terrain, disrupting the very attunement that keeps us apprised of what’s going on in our locale—the simple, somatic affinity that entangles our body with the bodies of other creatures, binding our sentience with that of the local earth. Today, caught up in our fascination with countless screen-fitted gadgets, we’re far more aloof from the life of the land around us, and hence much less likely to notice the steady plundering of these woodlands and wetlands, the choking of the winds and the waters by the noxious by-products of the many industries we now rely on. As these insults to the elemental earth pile up—as the waters are rendered lifeless by more chemical runoff, by more oil spills, by giant patches of plastic rotating in huge gyres; as more glaciers melt and more forests succumb to the stresses of a destabilized climate—the sensorial world of our carnal experience is increasingly filled with horrific wounds, wounds that we feel in our flesh whenever we dare to taste the world with our creaturely senses. It’s too damned painful. Hence … [more]
animism  davidabram  technology  language  alphabet  writing  oraltradition  secondaryorality  smarthphones  gps  multispecies  morethanhuman  canon  literacy  listening  multisensory  senses  noticing  nature  intuition  alterity  otherness  object  animals  wildlife  plants  rocks  life  living  instinct  internet  web  online  maps  mapping  orientation  cities  sound  smell  texture  touch  humans  smartdevices  smarthomes  internetofthings  perception  virtuality  physical 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Data for Social Good: Crisis Text Line CEO Nancy Lublin | Commonwealth Club
[video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRlCX597JhA ]

"Suicide and mental health are hard subjects—so Crisis Text Line leveraged the power of the data it collects to help their counselors determine the best way to talk about the topics with those in need. The nonprofit, founded in 2013 by CEO Nancy Lublin, has provided a free text-based and human-driven service to support those experiencing mental health stress, gathering data points from more than 75 million text messages sent and maximizing the impact of their information to better train counselors and support their community. Its innovative and data-driven methodology for tackling hard conversations can also be applied to more than the mental health space, including to Lublin’s latest venture: Loris.ai. 

Lublin’s entire career has focused on initiatives addressing social issues, and she founded Dress for Success and Do Something prior to Crisis Text Line. With her technology lens on big challenges, she continues to iterate on innovative mechanisms and creative solutions to sticky problems. At INFORUM, she’ll be joined in conversation by DJ Patil, head of technology at Devoted Health and former U.S. chief data scientist in the Obama administration, to dig into the power of data to effect change. Come curious!"
data  mentalhealth  socialgood  crisistext  nancylubin  djpatil  2019  nonprofit  nonprofits  911  socialmedia  suicide  society  government  crisiscounseling  emoji  language  communication  responsiveness  texting  sms  stress  funding  fundraising  storytelling  technology  siliconvalley  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  charity  startups  capitalism  importance  charitableindustrialcomplex  canon  noblesseoblige  humanism  relationship  courage  racism  connection  humanconnection  loneliness  pain 
may 2019 by robertogreco
Traditions of the future, by Astra Taylor (Le Monde diplomatique - English edition, May 2019)
"If the dead do not exactly have power or rights, per se, they do still have a seat at the table—Thomas Jefferson among them. In ways obvious and subtle, constructive and destructive, the present is constrained and shaped by the decisions of past generations. A vivid example is the American Constitution, in which a small group of men ratified special kinds of promises intended to be perpetual. Sometimes I imagine the Electoral College, which was devised to increase the influence of the southern states in the new union, as the cold grip of plantation owners strangling the current day. Even Jefferson’s beloved Bill of Rights, intended as protections from government overreach, has had corrosive effects. The Second Amendment’s right to bear arms allows those who plundered native land and patrolled for runaway slaves, who saw themselves in the phrase “a well regulated Militia,” to haunt us. Yet plenty of our ancestors also bequeathed us remarkable gifts, the right to free speech, privacy, and public assembly among them.

Some theorists have framed the problematic sway of the deceased over the affairs of the living as an opposition between tradition and progress. The acerbic Christian critic G. K. Chesterton put it this way: “Tradition may be defined as an extension of the franchise. Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death.” Social progress, in Chesterton’s account, can thus be seen as a form of disenfranchisement, the deceased being stripped of their suffrage. Over half a century before Chesterton, Karl Marx expressed sublime horror at the persistent presence of political zombies: “Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living.”

The most eloquent partisans in this trans-temporal power struggle said their piece at the end of the 18th century. Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine had a furious debate that articulated the dichotomy between past and future, dead and living, tradition and progress. A consummate conservative shaken by the post-revolutionary violence in France, Burke defended the inherited privilege and stability of aristocratic government that radical democrats sought to overthrow: “But one of the first and most leading principles on which the commonwealth and the laws are consecrated, is lest the temporary possessors and life-renters in it, unmindful of what they have received from their ancestors, or of what is due to their posterity, should act as if they were the entire masters; that they should not think it amongst their rights to cut off the entail, or commit waste on the inheritance, by destroying at their pleasure the whole original fabric of their society.” Any revolution, Burke warned, hazards leaving those who come after “a ruin instead of an habitation” in which men, disconnected from their forerunners, “would become little better than the flies of summer.”

The left-leaning Paine would have none of it. Better to be a buzzing fly than a feudal serf. “Whenever we are planning for posterity we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary,” he quipped. His critique, forcefully expressed in Common Sense and The Rights of Man, was not just an attack on monarchy. Rather, it was addressed to revolutionaries who might exercise undue influence over time by establishing new systems of government. “There never did, there never will, and there never can, exist a Parliament, or any description of men, or any generation of men, in any country, possessed of the right or the power of binding and controlling posterity to the ‘end of time,’” he protested.

In his pithy style, Paine popularized a commitment both to revolution and to novelty. “A nation, though continually existing, is continually in the state of renewal and succession. It is never stationary. Every day produces new births, carries minors forward to maturity, and old persons from the stage. In this ever-running flood of generations there is no part superior in authority to another.” Given the onslaught of change, a constitution “must be a novelty, and that which is not a novelty must be defective.” Never one for moderation, Paine advocated a decisive break with tradition, rejecting lessons from the past, castigating those who scoured records of ancient Greece and Rome for models or insights. What could the dead teach the living that could possibly be worth knowing?

Every person, whether or not they have children, exists as both a successor and an ancestor. We are all born into a world we did not make, subject to customs and conditions established by prior generations, and then we leave a legacy for others to inherit. Nothing illustrates this duality more profoundly than the problem of climate change, which calls into question the very future of a habitable planet.

Today, I’d guess that most of us are more able to imagine an environmental apocalypse than a green utopia. Nuclear holocaust, cyber warfare, mass extinction, superbugs, fascism’s return, and artificial intelligence turned against its makers—these conclusions we can see, but our minds struggle to conjure an image of a desirable, credible alternative to such bleak finales, to envision habitation rather than ruin.

This incapacity to see the future takes a variety of forms: young people no longer believe their lives will be better than those of their parents and financial forecasts give credence to their gloomy view; political scientists warn that we are becoming squatters in the wreckage of the not-so-distant liberal-democratic past, coining terms such as dedemocratization and postdemocracy to describe the erosion of democratic institutions and norms alongside an ongoing concentration of economic power. Meanwhile, conservative leaders cheer on democratic regression under the cover of nostalgia—“Make America Great Again,” “Take Our Country Back”—and seek to rewind the clock to an imaginary and exclusive past that never really existed."



"Questions of labor and leisure—of free time—have been central to debates about self-government since peasant citizens flooded the Athenian Pnyx. Plato and Aristotle, unapologetic elitists, were aghast that smiths and shoemakers were permitted to rub shoulders with the Assembly’s wellborn. This offense to hierarchical sensibilities was possible only because commoners were compensated for their attendance. Payments sustained the participation of the poor—that’s what held them up—so they could miss a day’s work over hot flames or at the cobbler’s bench to exercise power on equal footing with would-be oligarchs.

For all their disdain, Plato’s and Aristotle’s conviction that leisure facilitates political participation isn’t wrong. Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, radical workers agreed. They organized and fought their bosses for more free time, making substantial inroads until a range of factors, including the cult of consumption and a corporate counterattack, overpowered their efforts. A more sustainable, substantive democracy means resuscitating their campaign. Free time is not just a reprieve from the grindstone; it’s an expansion of freedom and a prerequisite of self-rule.

A reduction of work hours would have salutary ecological effects as well, as environmentalists have noted. A fundamental reevaluation of labor would mean assessing which work is superfluous and which essential; which processes can be automated and which should be done by hand; what activities contribute to our alienation and subjugation and which integrate and nourish us. “The kind of work that we’ll need more of in a climate-stable future is work that’s oriented toward sustaining and improving human life as well as the lives of other species who share our world,” environmental journalist and political theorist Alyssa Battistoni has written. “That means teaching, gardening, cooking, and nursing: work that makes people’s lives better without consuming vast amounts of resources, generating significant carbon emissions, or producing huge amounts of stuff.” The time to experiment with more ecologically conscious, personally fulfilling, and democracy-enhancing modes of valuing labor and leisure is upon us, at precisely the moment that time is running out.

With climate calamity on the near horizon, liberal democracies are in a bind. The dominant economic system constrains our relationship to the future, sacrificing humanity’s well-being and the planet’s resources on the altar of endless growth while enriching and empowering the global 1 percent. Meanwhile, in America, the Constitution exacerbates this dynamic, preserving and even intensifying a system of minority rule and lashing the country’s citizens to an aristocratic past.

The fossil fuel and finance industries, alongside the officials they’ve bought off, will fight to the death to maintain the status quo, but our economic arrangements and political agreements don’t have to function the way they do. Should democratic movements manage to mount a successful challenge to the existing order, indigenous precolonial treaty-making processes provide an example of the sort of wisdom a new, sustainable consensus might contain. The Gdoonaaganinaa, or “Dish with One Spoon” treaty, outlines a relationship between the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and Nishnaabeg people. The dish symbolizes the shared land on which both groups depend and to which all are responsible; in keeping with the Haudenosaunee Great Law of peace, … [more]
astrataylor  ancesors  climatechange  history  2019  democracy  capitalism  patriarchy  whitesupremacy  borders  power  time  future  change  hannaharendt  ecology  sustainability  globalwarming  interconnected  interconnectedness  indigeneity  indigenous  leannebetasamosakesimpson  leisure  plato  aristotle  philosophy  participation  participatory  organizing  labor  work  marxism  karlmarx  socialism  freetime  longnow  bighere  longhere  bignow  annpettifor  economics  growth  degrowth  latecapitalism  neoliberalism  debt  tradition  gkchesterson  thomaspaine  thomasjefferson  us  governance  government  edmundburke  commonsense  postdemocracy  dedemocratization  institutions  artleisure  leisurearts  self-rule  collectivism  alyssanattistoni  legacy  emissions  carbonemissions  ethics  inheritance  technology  technosolutionism  canon  srg  peterthiel  elonmusk  liberalism  feminism  unions  democraticsocialism  pericles  speed  novelty  consumerism  consumption  obsolescence  capital  inequality 
may 2019 by robertogreco
Laurel Schwulst, "Blogging in Motion" - YouTube
"This video was originally published as part of peer-to-peer-web.com's NYC lecture series on Saturday, May 26, 2018 at the at the School for Poetic Computation.

It has been posted here for ease of access.

You can find many other great talks on the site:
https://peer-to-peer-web.com

And specifically more from the NYC series:
https://peer-to-peer-web.com/nyc "

[See also:
https://www.are.na/laurel-schwulst/blogging-in-motion ]
laurelschwulst  2019  decentralization  p2p  web  webdesign  blogging  movement  travel  listening  attention  self-reflection  howwewrite  writing  walking  nyc  beakerbrowser  creativity  pokemon  pokemonmoon  online  offline  internet  decentralizedweb  dat  p2ppublishing  p2pweb  distributed  webdev  stillness  infooverload  ubiquitous  computing  internetofthings  casygollan  calm  calmtechnology  zoominginandout  electricity  technology  copying  slow  small  johnseelybrown  markweiser  xeroxparc  sharing  oulipo  constraints  reflection  play  ritual  artleisure  leisurearts  leisure  blogs  trains  kylemock  correspondence  caseygollan  apatternlanguage  intimacy  dweb 
may 2019 by robertogreco
[Essay] | Faustian Economics, by Wendell Berry | Harper's Magazine
"The general reaction to the apparent end of the era of cheap fossil fuel, as to other readily foreseeable curtailments, has been to delay any sort of reckoning. The strategies of delay, so far, have been a sort of willed oblivion, or visions of large profits to the manufacturers of such “biofuels” as ethanol from corn or switchgrass, or the familiar unscientific faith that “science will find an answer.” The dominant response, in short, is a dogged belief that what we call the American Way of Life will prove somehow indestructible. We will keep on consuming, spending, wasting, and driving, as before, at any cost to anything and everybody but ourselves.

This belief was always indefensible — the real names of global warming are Waste and Greed — and by now it is manifestly foolish. But foolishness on this scale looks disturbingly like a sort of national insanity. We seem to have come to a collective delusion of grandeur, insisting that all of us are “free” to be as conspicuously greedy and wasteful as the most corrupt of kings and queens. (Perhaps by devoting more and more of our already abused cropland to fuel production we will at last cure ourselves of obesity and become fashionably skeletal, hungry but — thank God! — still driving.)"



"The normalization of the doctrine of limitlessness has produced a sort of moral minimalism: the desire to be efficient at any cost, to be unencumbered by complexity. The minimization of neighborliness, respect, reverence, responsibility, accountability, and self-subordination — this is the culture of which our present leaders and heroes are the spoiled children.

Our national faith so far has been: “There’s always more.” Our true religion is a sort of autistic industrialism. People of intelligence and ability seem now to be genuinely embarrassed by any solution to any problem that does not involve high technology, a great expenditure of energy, or a big machine. Thus an X marked on a paper ballot no longer fulfills our idea of voting. One problem with this state of affairs is that the work now most needing to be done — that of neighborliness and caretaking — cannot be done by remote control with the greatest power on the largest scale. A second problem is that the economic fantasy of limitlessness in a limited world calls fearfully into question the value of our monetary wealth, which does not reliably stand for the real wealth of land, resources, and workmanship but instead wastes and depletes it.

That human limitlessness is a fantasy means, obviously, that its life expectancy is limited. There is now a growing perception, and not just among a few experts, that we are entering a time of inescapable limits. We are not likely to be granted another world to plunder in compensation for our pillage of this one. Nor are we likely to believe much longer in our ability to outsmart, by means of science and technology, our economic stupidity. The hope that we can cure the ills of industrialism by the homeopathy of more technology seems at last to be losing status. We are, in short, coming under pressure to understand ourselves as limited creatures in a limited world.

This constraint, however, is not the condemnation it may seem. On the contrary, it returns us to our real condition and to our human heritage, from which our self-definition as limitless animals has for too long cut us off. Every cultural and religious tradition that I know about, while fully acknowledging our animal nature, defines us specifically as humans — that is, as animals (if the word still applies) capable of living not only within natural limits but also within cultural limits, self-imposed. As earthly creatures, we live, because we must, within natural limits, which we may describe by such names as “earth” or “ecosystem” or “watershed” or “place.” But as humans, we may elect to respond to this necessary placement by the self-restraints implied in neighborliness, stewardship, thrift, temperance, generosity, care, kindness, friendship, loyalty, and love.

In our limitless selfishness, we have tried to define “freedom,” for example, as an escape from all restraint. But, as my friend Bert Hornback has explained in his book The Wisdom in Words, “free” is etymologically related to “friend.” These words come from the same Indo-European root, which carries the sense of “dear” or “beloved.” We set our friends free by our love for them, with the implied restraints of faithfulness or loyalty. And this suggests that our “identity” is located not in the impulse of selfhood but in deliberately maintained connections."



"And so our cultural tradition is in large part the record of our continuing effort to understand ourselves as beings specifically human: to say that, as humans, we must do certain things and we must not do certain things. We must have limits or we will cease to exist as humans; perhaps we will cease to exist, period. At times, for example, some of us humans have thought that human beings, properly so called, did not make war against civilian populations, or hold prisoners without a fair trial, or use torture for any reason.

Some of us would-be humans have thought too that we should not be free at anybody else’s expense. And yet in the phrase “free market,” the word “free” has come to mean unlimited economic power for some, with the necessary consequence of economic powerlessness for others. Several years ago, after I had spoken at a meeting, two earnest and obviously troubled young veterinarians approached me with a question: How could they practice veterinary medicine without serious economic damage to the farmers who were their clients? Underlying their question was the fact that for a long time veterinary help for a sheep or a pig has been likely to cost more than the animal is worth. I had to answer that, in my opinion, so long as their practice relied heavily on selling patented drugs, they had no choice, since the market for medicinal drugs was entirely controlled by the drug companies, whereas most farmers had no control at all over the market for agricultural products. My questioners were asking in effect if a predatory economy can have a beneficent result. The answer too often is No. And that is because there is an absolute discontinuity between the economy of the seller of medicines and the economy of the buyer, as there is in the health industry as a whole. The drug industry is interested in the survival of patients, we have to suppose, because surviving patients will continue to consume drugs.

Now let us consider a contrary example. Recently, at another meeting, I talked for some time with an elderly, and some would say an old-fashioned, farmer from Nebraska. Unable to farm any longer himself, he had rented his land to a younger farmer on the basis of what he called “crop share” instead of a price paid or owed in advance. Thus, as the old farmer said of his renter, “If he has a good year, I have a good year. If he has a bad year, I have a bad one.” This is what I would call community economics. It is a sharing of fate. It assures an economic continuity and a common interest between the two partners to the trade. This is as far as possible from the economy in which the young veterinarians were caught, in which the powerful are limitlessly “free” to trade, to the disadvantage, and ultimately the ruin, of the powerless.

It is this economy of community destruction that, wittingly or unwittingly, most scientists and technicians have served for the past two hundred years. These scientists and technicians have justified themselves by the proposition that they are the vanguard of progress, enlarging human knowledge and power, and thus they have romanticized both themselves and the predatory enterprises that they have served."



"If the idea of appropriate limitation seems unacceptable to us, that may be because, like Marlowe’s Faustus and Milton’s Satan, we confuse limits with confinement. But that, as I think Marlowe and Milton and others were trying to tell us, is a great and potentially a fatal mistake. Satan’s fault, as Milton understood it and perhaps with some sympathy, was precisely that he could not tolerate his proper limitation; he could not subordinate himself to anything whatever. Faustus’s error was his unwillingness to remain “Faustus, and a man.” In our age of the world it is not rare to find writers, critics, and teachers of literature, as well as scientists and technicians, who regard Satan’s and Faustus’s defiance as salutary and heroic.

On the contrary, our human and earthly limits, properly understood, are not confinements but rather inducements to formal elaboration and elegance, to fullness of relationship and meaning. Perhaps our most serious cultural loss in recent centuries is the knowledge that some things, though limited, are inexhaustible. For example, an ecosystem, even that of a working forest or farm, so long as it remains ecologically intact, is inexhaustible. A small place, as I know from my own experience, can provide opportunities of work and learning, and a fund of beauty, solace, and pleasure — in addition to its difficulties — that cannot be exhausted in a lifetime or in generations.

To recover from our disease of limitlessness, we will have to give up the idea that we have a right to be godlike animals, that we are potentially omniscient and omnipotent, ready to discover “the secret of the universe.” We will have to start over, with a different and much older premise: the naturalness and, for creatures of limited intelligence, the necessity, of limits. We must learn again to ask how we can make the most of what we are, what we have, what we have been given. If we always have a theoretically better substitute available from somebody or someplace else, we will never make the most of anything. It is hard to make the most of one life. If we each had two lives, we would not make much of either. Or … [more]
wendellberry  2008  economics  science  technology  art  limits  limitlessness  arts  ecosystems  limitations  local  humanism  humanity  humility  community  communities  knowledge  power  expansion  growth  interdependence  greed  neighborliness  stewardship  thrift  temperance  christianity  generosity  care  kindness  friendship  loyalty  love  self-restraint  restraint  watershed  land  caring  caretaking  morality  accountability  responsibility  respect  reverence  corruption  capitalism  technosolutionism  fossilfuels  waste 
may 2019 by robertogreco
The Oppenheimer Moment - Alan Cooper | Open Transcripts
[direct link to video: https://vimeo.com/254533098 ]

[via: https://twitter.com/TopLeftBrick/status/1123865036370468864 ]

"All of our social sys­tems bias us toward a pre­sen­tist focus: cap­i­tal­ist mar­kets, rapid tech­no­log­i­cal advance, pro­fes­sion­al reward sys­tems, and indus­tri­al man­age­ment meth­ods. You have to ask your­self, how will this be used in ten years? In thir­ty. When will it die? What will hap­pen to its users? To be a good ances­tor, we must look at the entire lifes­pan of our work.

I know I said that there were three considerations, but there’s a strong fourth one, too. Having established the three conduits for bad ancestry—assumptions, externalities, and timescale—we now need some tactical tools for ancestry thinking.

Because it’s a systems problem, individual people are rarely to blame. But people become representatives of the system. That is, the face of bad ancestry will usually be a person. So it takes some finesse to move in a positive direction without polarizing the situation. You can see from the USA’s current political situation how easy it is to slip into polarization.

First we need to understand that systems need constant work. John Gall’s theory of General Systemantics says that, “systems failure is an intrinsic feature of systems.” In other words, all systems go haywire, and will continue to go haywire, and only constant vigilance can keep those systems working in a positive direction. You can’t ignore systems. You have to ask questions about systems. You must probe constantly, deeply, and not accept rote answers.

And when you detect bad assumptions, ignored side‐effects, or distortions of time, you have to ask those same questions of the others around you. You need to lead them through the thought process so they see the problem too. This is how you reveal the secret language of the system.

Ask about the external forces at work on the system. Who is outside of the system? What did they think of it? What leverage do they have? How might they use the system? Who is excluded from it?

Ask about the impact of the system. Who is affected by it? What other systems are affected? What are the indirect long‐term effects? Who gets left behind?

Ask about the consent your system requires. Who agrees with what you are doing? Who disagrees? Who silently condones it? And who’s ignorant of it?

Ask who benefits from the system? Who makes money from it? Who loses money? Who gets promoted? And how does it affect the larger economy?

Ask about how the system can be misused. How can it be used to cheat, to steal, to confuse, to polarize, to alienate, to dominate, to terrify? Who might want to misuse it? What could they gain by it? Who could lose?

If you are asking questions like these regularly, you’re probably making a leaky boat.

Lately I’ve been talking a lot about what I call working backwards. It’s my preferred method of problem‐solving. In the conventional world, gnarly challenges are always presented from within a context, a framework of thinking about the problem. The given framework is almost always too small of a window. Sometimes it’s the wrong window altogether. Viewed this way, your problems can seem inscrutable and unsolvable, a Gordian Knot.

Working backwards can be very effective in this situation. It’s similar to Edward de Bono’s notion of lateral thinking, and Taiichi Ohno’s idea of the 5 Whys. Instead of addressing the problem in its familiar surroundings, you step backwards and you examine the surroundings instead. Deconstructing and understanding the problem definition first is more productive than directly addressing the solution.

Typically you discover that the range of possible solutions first presented are too limiting, too conventional, and suppress innovation. When the situation forces you to choose between Option A or Option B, the choice is almost always Option C. If we don’t work backwards we tend to treat symptoms rather than causes. For example we clamor for a cure for cancer, but we ignore the search for what causes cancer. We institute recycling programs, but we don’t reduce our consumption of disposable plastic. We eat organic grains and meat, but we still grow them using profoundly unsustainable agricultural practices.

The difficulty presented by working backwards is that it typically violates established boundaries. The encompassing framework is often in a different field of thought and authority. Most people, when they detect such a boundary refuse to cross it. They say, “That’s not my responsibility.” But this is exactly what an externality looks like. Boundaries are even more counterproductive in tech.

A few years ago, a famous graphic circulated on the Web that said, “In 2015, Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate.”

The problem is that taxi companies are regulated by taxing and controlling vehicles. Media is controlled by regulating content. Retailing is controlled by taxing inventory. And accommodations by taxing rooms. All of the governmental checks and balances are side‐stepped my business model innovation. These new business models are better than the old ones, but the new ideas short‐circuit the controls we need to keep them from behaving like bad citizens, bad ancestors.

All business models have good sides and bad sides. We cannot protect ourselves against the bad parts by legislating symptoms and artifacts. Instead of legislating mechanism mechanisms, we have to legislate desired outcomes. The mechanisms may change frequently, but the outcomes remain very constant, and we need to step backwards to be good ancestors.

And when we step backwards, we see the big picture. But seeing it shows us that there’s a lot of deplorable stuff going on in the world today. And a lot of it is enabled and exacerbated by the high‐tech products that we make. It might not be our fault, but it’s our responsibility to fix it.

One reaction to looking at the big picture is despair. When you realize the whole machine is going in the wrong direction, it’s easy to be overwhelmed with a fatalistic sense of doom. Another reaction to seeing this elephant is denial. It makes you want to just put your head back down and concentrate on the wireframes. But those paths are the Option A and the Option B of the problem, and I am committed to Option C. I want to fix the problem.

If you find yourself at the point in a product’s development where clearly unethical requests are made of you, when the boss asks you to lie, cheat, or steal, you’re too late for anything other than brinksmanship. I applaud you for your courage if you’re willing to put your job on the line for this, but it’s unfair for me to ask you to do it. My goal here is to arm you with practical, useful tools that will effectively turn the tech industry towards becoming a good ancestor. This is not a rebellion. Those tools will be more of a dialectic than a street protest. We can only play the long game here.

Our very powerlessness as individual practitioners makes us think that we can’t change the system. Unless of course we are one of the few empowered people. We imagine that powerful people take powerful actions. We picture the lone Tiananmen protester standing resolutely in front of a column of battle tanks, thus making us good ancestors. Similarly, we picture the CEO Jack Dorsey banning Nazis from Twitter and thus, in a stroke, making everything better."



"Now fortuitously, I had recently been talking with folks at the engineering school at the University of California at Berkeley about teaching something there. Renato Verdugo, my new friend and collaborator with the great hair, agreed to help. And we just completed co‐teaching a semester‐long class called “Thinking Like a Good Ancestor” at the Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation on the Berkeley campus. Renato works for Google, and they generously supported our work.

We’re introducing our students to the fundamentals of how technology could lose its way. Of awareness and intentionality. We’re giving the students our taxonomy of assumptions, externalities, and time. Instead of focusing on how tech behaves badly, we’re focusing on how good tech is allowed to become bad. We’re not trying to patch the holes in the Titanic but prevent them from occurring in future tech. So we’re encouraging our students to exercise their personal agency. We expect these brilliant young students at Berkeley to take ancestry thinking out into the world. We expect them to make it a better place for all of our children.

Like those students, we are the practitioners. We are the makers. We are the ones who design, develop, and deploy software‐powered experiences. At the start of this talk I asked you to imagine yourself as a tech practitioner witnessing your creations turned against our common good. Now I want you to imagine yourself creating products that can’t be turned towards evil. Products that won’t spy on you, won’t addict you, and won’t discriminate against you. More than anyone else, you have the power to create this reality. Because you have your hands on the technology. And I believe that the future is in the hands of the hands‐on.

Ultimately, we the craftspeople who make the artifacts of the future have more effect on the world than the business executives, the politicians, and the investment community. We are like the keystone in the arch. Without us it all falls to the ground. While it may not be our fault that our products let evil leak in, it is certainly within our power to prevent it. The welfare of our children, and their children, is at stake, and taking care of our offspring is the best way to take care of ourselves.

We need to stand up, and stand together. Not in opposition but as a… [more]
alancooper  design  ethics  ancestors  2018  time  systemsthinking  systems  capitalism  neoliberalism  technology  lifespan  externalities  economics  ancestry  legacy  side-effects  morality  awareness  intentionality  renatoverdugo  powerlessness  longgame  longnow  bighere  zoominginandout  taiichiohno  problemsolving  johngall 
may 2019 by robertogreco
What It Takes to Put Your Phone Away | The New Yorker
"During the first few days of my Internet decluttering, I found myself compulsively checking my unchanged in-box and already-read text messages, and scanning the same headlines over and over—attempting, as if bewitched, to see new information there. I took my dog out for longer walks, initially trying to use them for some productive purpose: spying on neighbors, planning my week. Soon I acquiesced to a dull, pleasant blankness. One afternoon, I draped myself on my couch and felt an influx of mental silence that was both disturbing and hallucinatorily pleasurable. I didn’t want to learn how to fix or build anything, or start a book club. I wanted to experience myself as soft and loose and purposeless, three qualities that, in my adulthood, have always seemed economically risky.

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

On the first day of April, I took stock of my digital experiment. I had not become a different, better person. I had not acquired any high-value leisure activities. But I had felt a sort of persistent ache and wonder that pulled me back to a year that I spent in the Peace Corps, wandering in the dust at the foot of sky-high birch trees, terrified and thrilled at the sensation of being unknowable, mysterious to myself, unseen. I watered my plants, and I loosened my StayFocusd settings, back to forty-five daily minutes. I considered my Freedom parameters, which I had already learned to break, and let them be."
jiatolentino  2019  internet  attention  jennyodell  capitalism  work  busyness  resistance  socialmedia  instagram  twitter  facebook  infooverload  performance  web  online  nature  nextdoor  advertising  thoreau  philosophy  care  caring  maintenance  silence  happiness  anxiety  leisurearts  artleisure  commodification  technology  selfhood  identity  sms  texting  viber  podcasts  grouptexts  digitalminimalism  refusal  calnewport  mobile  phones  smartphones  screentime  ralphwaldoemerson  separatism  interdependence 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Are.na Blog / Workshop Debrief: How to Use the Internet Mindfully
"Last weekend I got to collaborate with Willa Köerner of The Creative Independent (TCI) to facilitate a workshop at IAM Weekend, called “How to Use the Internet Mindfully.” The workshop built on an essay series TCI and Are.na published together last year, which asked a group of artists to reflect on the habits and philosophies that help them contend with the online attention economy. This time we wanted to do something similar in person, in a space where creative internet people could talk about our feelings together.

We asked participants to complete a worksheet designed to help them get a better handle on their internet and technology habits. (You can download the worksheet if you’d like to try this—it takes about 35 minutes to complete). The first step was making a mind map of one’s various screen-based activities. Using different colors, everyone then labeled those activities as either harmful or helpful on a personal level. Finally, people jotted down a few “relationship goals” between them and the Internet and brainstormed practical steps for building up their personal agency.

We spent the last part of the workshop sharing results with one another and thinking about reclaiming the web as an intimate, creative social space. Lots of interesting ideas emerged in our conversation, so I want to highlight a few things here that stood out in particular:

1. We often have mixed feelings about certain tools (and specific ways of using those tools). For example, posting to Instagram can be an exploratory and rewarding creative process. But the anxiety about “likes” that comes afterward usually feels empty and harmful. It’s hard to reconcile these opposing feelings within the realm of personal behavior. While we know that we’re ultimately in control of our own behavior, we also know that apps like Instagram are designed to promote certain patterns of use. We don’t want to quit altogether, but we’re struggling to swim against the current of “persuasive” tech.

2. We don’t have enough spaces for talking about the emotional side effects of living with the web. Before we really dug into strategies for using the Internet more mindfully, participants really wanted to share their feelings about social media, Internet burnout, and how the two are connected. We talked about mental health and how hard it is to feel in control of apps that are essentially designed for dependency. We discussed how few of us feel happy with our habits, even though everyone’s experience is different. We wondered about the stigma that surrounds any form of “addiction,” and whether it’s ok to talk about widespread Internet use in those terms. I’m really glad these questions bubbled up, since they helped build enough trust in the room to share the more personal elements of each person’s mind map.

3. We all want to feel personal autonomy, which takes many different forms. We had a lively exchange about different ways to limit the amount of digital junk food we allow ourselves to consume. Apple’s new screen-time tracker was one example that drew mixed responses. Some people felt that a subtle reminder helped, while others felt it was totally ineffective. Some preferred to impose a hard limit on themselves through a tool like Self Control, while others rejected the premise of measuring screen time in the first place. A lot of participants focused on wanting to control their own experience, whether by owning one’s own content or simply feeling enough agency to decide how to navigate the web. We talked a bit about the dilemma of feeling like our decision-making psychology has been “hacked” by addictive design, and how crappy it feels to replace our own intuition with another technical solution. We also acknowledged that setting our own boundaries means spending even more time and emotional capital than our apps have already taken from us. That additional effort is labor we consumers complete for free, even if we don’t usually see it that way.

4. The web feels too big for healthy interaction. We also talked about how using mainstream social media platforms these days can feel like shouting into a giant room with everyone else on Earth. Many of the healthy spaces where participants felt they could genuinely share ideas were ones where they put considerable time and emotional labor into building an intimate social context. People had a lot to say about the fact that users are locked in to their online personas with all kinds of personal and professional incentives. You simply can’t stop looking, or downsize your social circles, or abandon your long-term presence, without breaking an informal social contract you never realized you signed.

The context of the conference also made me think about how we frame the work we put into our relationship with technology. When we get in front of a group, what kind of “solutions” should we be advocating? At what point to individual strategies lead to politics and advocacy?

When you focus on personal habits for long enough, it’s easy to process societal issues as problems originating in your own behavior. But as with other kinds of “self-help,” this is a framing that ignores a grotesque power dynamic. Addiction and burnout are not only matters of consumer choice, but the costs of business decisions made by enormous technology companies. The tech industry – like big tobacco and big oil – has knowingly caused a set of serious social problems and then pushed the work of remediating them onto individual consumers. Now it’s up to users to defend themselves with tools like browser plug-ins and VPNs and finstas and time trackers. As we keep talking about using the internet mindfully, I hope we can connect the dots between this kind of individual action and the larger project of securing universal rights to privacy, anonymity, and personal autonomy. By asking ourselves which tools we want to use, and how we want to use them, hopefully we can open up a broader conversation about how we move beyond surveillance capitalism itself.

I’d be interested in talking more about these connections between individual and collective actions if we get to repeat the workshop. It would be great to work with a smaller group, simplify the worksheet slightly, and get really specific about what questions we’re trying to answer. I’d like to draw on a few other ways of thinking as well, like the Human Systems framework for example. If you’d be interested in collaborating, or just have thoughts on any of this, please send one of us an email: leo@are.na or willa@kickstarter.com. We’d love to hear your thoughts."
internet  mindfulness  are.na  2019  leoshaw  willaköerner  web  online  autonomy  technology  politics  advocacy  browsers  extensions  plug-ins  vpns  finstas  trackers  surveillancecapitalism  surveillance  self-help  power  socialmedia  presence  socialcontract  attention  psychology  burnout  addiction  instagram  creativity  likes  behavior 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Optimize What? • Commune
"Silicon Valley is full of the stupidest geniuses you’ll ever meet. The problem begins in the classrooms where computer science is taught."



"In higher education and research, the situation is similar, if further removed from the harsh realities of technocapitalism. Computer science in the academy is a minefield of contradictions: a Stanford undergraduate may attend class and learn how to extract information from users during the day, then later attend an evening meeting of the student organization CS+Social Good, where they will build a website for a local nonprofit. Meanwhile, a researcher who attended last year’s Conference on Economics and Computation would have sat through a talk on maximizing ad revenue, then perhaps participated the next morning in a new workshop on “mechanism design for social good.”

It is in this climate that we, too, must construct our vision for computer science and its applications. We might as well start from scratch: in a recent article for Tribune, Wendy Liu calls to “abolish Silicon Valley.” By this she means not the naive rejection of high technology, but the transformation of the industry into one funded, owned, and controlled by workers and the broader society—a people’s technology sector.

Silicon Valley, however, does not exist in an intellectual vacuum; it depends on a certain type of computer science discipline. Therefore, a people’s remake of the Valley will require a people’s computer science. Can we envision this? Today, computer science departments don’t just generate capitalist realism—they are themselves ruled by it. Only those research topics that carry implications for profit extraction or military applications are deemed worthy of investigation. There is no escaping the reach of this intellectual-cultural regime; even the most aloof theoreticians feel the need to justify their work by lining their paper introductions and grant proposals with spurious connections to the latest industry fads. Those who are more idealistic or indignant (or tenured) insist that the academy carve out space for “useless” research as well. However, this dichotomy between “industry applications” and “pure research” ignores the material reality that research funding comes largely from corporate behemoths and defense agencies, and that contemporary computer science is a political enterprise regardless of its wishful apolitical intentions.

In place of this suffocating ideological fog, what we must construct is a notion of communist realism in science: that only projects in direct or indirect service to people and planet will have any hope of being funded, of receiving the esteem of the research community, or even of being considered intellectually interesting. What would a communist computer science look like? Can we imagine researchers devising algorithms for participatory economic planning? Machine learning for estimating socially necessary labor time? Decentralized protocols for coordinating supply chains between communes?

Allin Cottrell and Paul Cockshott, two of the few contemporary academics who tackle problems of computational economics in non-market settings, had this to say in a 1993 paper:
Our investigations enable us to identify one component of the problem (with economic planning): the material conditions (computational technology) for effective socialist planning of a complex peacetime economy were not realized before, say, the mid-1980s. If we are right, the most notorious features of the Soviet economy (chronically incoherent plans, recurrent shortages and surpluses, lack of responsiveness to consumer demand), while in part the result of misguided policies, were to some degree inevitable consequences of the attempt to operate a system of central planning before its time. The irony is obvious: socialism was being rejected at the very moment when it was becoming a real possibility.


Politically, much has changed since these words were written. The takeaway for contemporary readers is not necessarily that we should devote ourselves to central planning once more; rather, it’s that our moment carries a unique mixture of ideological impasse and emancipatory potential, ironically both driven in large part by technological development. The cold science of computation seems to declare that social progress is over—there can only be technological progress. Yet if we manage to wrest control of technology from Silicon Valley and the Ivory Tower, the possibilities for postcapitalist society are seemingly endless. The twenty-first-century tech workers’ movement, a hopeful vehicle for delivering us towards such prospects, is nascent—but it is increasingly a force to be reckoned with, and, at the risk of getting carried away, we should start imagining the future we wish to inhabit. It’s time we began conceptualizing, and perhaps prototyping, computation and information in a workers’ world. It’s time to start conceiving of a new left-wing science."
engineering  problemsolving  capitalism  computers  politics  technology  jimmywu  2019  optimization  efficiency  allincottrell  paulcockshott  siliconvalley  techosolutionism  technocapitalism  computation  wendyliu  compsci  ideology 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Because China — Quartz
"Small changes in China have huge effects worldwide; Chinese people are reshaping global tourism, education, technology, and more. But superpowers are rare, and each is different—China won’t be like the United States. We’re traveling around the world to find stories that show a Chinese superpower in action along with all of its opportunities, tensions, innovations, and dangers. Check back for new episodes."
china  video  technology  education  superpower  global  influence  impact 
april 2019 by robertogreco
BBC Radio 4 - New Ways of Seeing - Episode guide
[See also:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000458m

"A four-part series authored by journalist and artist James Bridle examining how technology is changing visual culture."]
jamesbridle  technology  radio  culture  tolisten  2019  visualculture 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Project MUSE - On Nonscalability: The Living World Is Not Amenable to Precision-Nested Scales
"Because computers zoom across magnifications, it is easy to conclude that both knowledge and things exist by nature in precision-nested scales. The technical term is “scalable,” the ability to expand without distorting the framework. But it takes hard work to make knowledge and things scalable, and this article shows that ignoring nonscalable effects is a bad idea. People stumbled on scalable projects through the same historical contingencies that such projects set out to deny. They cobbled together ways to make things and data self-contained and static, and thus amenable to expansion. In European New World plantations, the natives were wiped out; coerced and alienated plants and workers came to substitute for them. Profits were made because extermination and slavery could be discounted from the books. Such historically indeterminate encounters formed models for later projects of scalability. This essay explores scalability projects from the perspective of an emergent “nonscalability theory” that pays attention to the mounting pile of ruins that scalability leaves behind. The article concludes that, if the world is still diverse and dynamic, it is because scalability never fulfills its own promises."



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

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

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

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

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

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

[See also:
"“On Nonscalability” of teaching and learning"
https://www.jonbecker.net/on-nonscalability-of-teaching-and-learning/
annalowenhaupttsing  scale  scalability  slow  small  2012  difference  diversity  capitalism  knowledge  expansion  growth  degrowth  culture  technology  progress  labor  work  biology  humanism  humanity  sustainability  environment  sugar  teaching  learning  howweteach  howwelearn  unschooling  deschooling  antigrowth 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Evaluating scholarship, or why I won’t be teaching Shoshana Zuboff’s The Age of Surveillance Capitalism | Blayne Haggart's Orangespace
"In his review, which is a wonder of careful thinking and contextualization, Morozov performs a couple of useful services. First, he highlights the extent to which Zuboff’s argument about how surveillance capitalism works rests on a tautology – “surveillance capitalists engage in surveillance capitalism because this is what the imperatives of surveillance capitalism demand” – that leaves they why of the matter unexamined. Second, he places her squarely within an intellectual tradition of “managerial capitalism” and a wider functionalist tradition in sociology associated with Talcott Parsons. Morozov argues that partly as a result of this (unacknowledged) mindset, Zuboff fails to understand the extent to which her critique of surveillance capitalism is actually a critique of capitalism, full stop. This inability to see anything outside the mindset of capitalism accounts for the way the book just kind of finishes without suggesting any real possible paths forward other than, we need a new social movement, and surveillance capitalism must be destroyed and replaced with a better form of (digital?) capitalism.

I hadn’t made those exact connections, and Morozov’s review does a great job in concisely summing up these intellectual frameworks. And if you didn’t know anything about managerial capitalism and Alfred Chandler, or the Italian Autonomists, you could also be forgiven for not making those connections either. I knew very little about managerial capitalism, nothing of Alfred Chandler. I am familiar with Parsons and my only exposure to the Italian Autonomists was by reading Hardt and Negri’s Empire during my PhD, which was enough to convince me that I wanted nothing to do with them.

Morozov’s final conclusion is both persuasive and damning from an academic perspective. The book, he says, could be politically powerful because it is a sharp broadside against two companies – Google and Facebook – that represent a clear and present danger to society. However, it “is a step backward in our understanding of the dynamics of the digital economy.”

I think that’s about right.

I am also pretty sure that, despite the acclaim it’s getting in non-Baffler circles, I’m not going to be teaching The Age of Surveillance Capitalism in my Global Political Economy of Knowledge course, but not because I disagree with Zuboff’s argument or feel threatened by her analysis. To the contrary, she’s pretty much telling me exactly what I want to hear. Or more to the point, what I want to believe.

I’m not going to be teaching it because as an academic work, it falls far short of the standards to which we should hold ourselves. It may be a politically effective polemic, but as scholarship that advances our understanding of the world, it is sorely lacking."



"Four tells of poor academic scholarship

1. Exaggerated claims to novelty"



"2. Absence of relevant literatures"



"So. The Age of Surveillance Capitalism is a study of the messy interactions between economic and social imperatives. (Actually, I’d argue it’s really two linked business case studies of Facebook and Google that wants to be a study of a larger system, but that’s another matter entirely.) This means that it is a study of political economy. Which means it has to engage with the political economy literature on surveillance (a specialized literature, but it does exist) and capitalism (its entire raison d’être). I expect it to engage with particular sources, like Srnicek, like Shawn Powers and Michael Jablonski’s The Real Cyber War. With, in other words, the books that can provide context and support for, and pushback against, its argument.

And if you’re talking about big trends in capitalism and society from a critical perspective, Hannah Arendt is not your go-to. You also need to go beyond the social-science founders – Durkheim, Marx, Weber. You need to engage with the likes of Susan Strange. Or Robert Cox. Or Michael Mann, people who are interested in exactly the same issues that you are dealing with. Karl Polanyi is great, and Zuboff grabs just the right concepts from him. But He. Is. Not. Enough.

(Polanyi was also much more than an “historian,” as Zuboff identifies him. As his Wikipedia entry makes clear, he was an “economic historian, economic anthropologist, economic sociologist, political economist, historical sociologist and social philosopher. Then again, the phrase “political economy” appears only four times in this book, and exclusively in the titles of cited books and articles in the endnotes.)

Finally, if one is talking about the dangers involved in a form of power that “knows and shapes human behaviour toward others’ ends” (page 8) and Antonio Gramsci’s conception of hegemony doesn’t rate a mention, I don’t even know. Especially if it’s presented as a completely new idea (in this case “instrumentarian power” – see: Exaggerated claims of novelty). The Gramscian concept of hegemony is all about how the powerful can get other groups to buy into ideologies that may not be in their best interests.

Much of the book is about how surveillance capitalists are working to change human nature so that human thinking more closely resembles that of machine learning. Absolutely correct, but not only is this not the first time that the powers that be have worked to reshape what we think of as human nature, it’s also kind of what it means to rule a society, any society. That’s what the whole concept of hegemony is all about, as any student of Gramscian thought could tell you. Or what someone like Susan Strange or Robert Cox (the two thinkers I’m using in my own work on these very subjects) would note. Knowing that this type of activity is simply how power works in human society puts a different spin on what Zuboff is arguing. It’s not so much that surveillance capitalists are rewiring human nature, but that their ideology is antithetical to a particular type of human nature, namely one in the liberal-democratic vein. Actually engaging with the voluminous work on hegemony and the social construction of knowledge, however, would have challenged Zuboff’s argument that the knowing and shaping of “human behavior toward others’ ends” is unique to surveillance capitalism.

(Maybe the problem is with capitalism itself? As Morozov noted in a follow-up tweet, “My critique of Zuboff’s new book boils down to a paraphrase of Horkheimer: ‘If you don’t want to talk about capitalism then you’d better keep quiet about surveillance capitalism’.”)

And it’s just a bit odd that Michel Foucault doesn’t get so much as a mention beyond a reference in a footnoted title about neoliberalism. In a book that’s all about the relationship between power and knowledge."



"3. Unclear framework"



"4. Use of hyperbole: These go to eleven"



"The final verdict: No go

To be honest, before reading Morozov’s critique, watching the glowing reviews come in, I started questioning my judgment. Sure, there were flaws in the book, some of which I would have called out immediately if committed by an undergraduate, but how much did they really matter?

Part of me, I’m embarrassed to say, was swayed by the identity of The Age of Surveillance Capitalism’s author. A professor emerita. From Harvard. Who had done important previous work in the field. Even though I know better, I got inside my own head, internalizing the academic class system that places certain schools and scholars above others. The “important voices” whose work is guaranteed a respectful hearing merely by virtue of their pedigree or institution.

The saddest thing is, my receptiveness to this argument from authority says as much about where I see myself in the academic food chain as it does about a Harvard professor. Even though I have witnessed the most idiotic arguments and proposals made by scholars from top-ranked universities, endured recycled banalities from leading lights with nothing to say, and read the most embarrassing articles by celebrated Ivy-league academics. Even though I will put my Canadian Carleton University education up against anyone’s from Oxford or Yale or Harvard. I know this.

And yet, there was that part of me, whispering, But look at who she is. She’s an Authority. Look at all the praise she’s getting, the panels she’s on. Maybe you’re just being judgmental. Maybe you’re being too critical. Maybe you’re wrong.

Well, maybe I am wrong, but a failure to produce an honest critique because of our respective places in the academic food chain is the absolutely worst reason not to make the critique. One of my proudest moments as a teacher was when I heard that a second-year student had written a fantastic, well-researched and impeccably argued paper about how I’d been wrong about something I’d claimed in my Introduction to International Relations class. (And she was right.) We should expect all academics to live up to the same standards we set for our students.

So, no. After spending an entire work week reading this book, after taking over 100 pages of notes and thinking about it constantly for far too long afterwards, I do not believe that The Age of Surveillance Capitalism is a good piece of scholarship. It is not careful in its presentation of evidence. It chooses hyperbole over accuracy. It fails to engage with the relevant literatures and critical voices that would challenge what ends up being a one-sided, almost existentially bleak argument.

Its lack of engagement with the relevant literatures makes possible the blind spots, trenchantly catalogued by Morozov, regarding surveillance capitalism’s relationship to capitalism, as well as those regarding the role of the state as something more than a bit player in this epic story. These impair the book’s value in terms of its analysis and, as Morozov’s comments about Zuboff’s failure to consider the “capitalism” part of “surveillance capitalism” suggest, its prescriptions. Why the book … [more]
blaynehaggart  shoshanazuboff  evgneymorozov  criticsm  surveillancecapitalism  mnagerialism  harvard  pedigree  academia  hierarchy  criticism  robertcox  highered  highereducation  michelfoucault  hannaharendt  hyperbole  2019  hegemony  technology  economics  politics  policy  scholarship  authority  elitism 
march 2019 by robertogreco
San Francisco; or, How to Destroy a City | Public Books
"As New York City and Greater Washington, DC, prepared for the arrival of Amazon’s new secondary headquarters, Torontonians opened a section of their waterfront to Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs, which plans to prototype a new neighborhood “from the internet up.” Fervent resistance arose in all three locations, particularly as citizens and even some elected officials discovered that many of the terms of these public-private partnerships were hashed out in closed-door deals, secreted by nondisclosure agreements. Critics raised questions about the generous tax incentives and other subsidies granted to these multibillion-dollar corporations, their plans for data privacy and digital governance, what kind of jobs they’d create and housing they’d provide, and how their arrival could impact local infrastructures, economies, and cultures. While such questioning led Amazon to cancel their plans for Long Island City in mid-February, other initiatives press forward. What does it mean when Silicon Valley—a geographic region that’s become shorthand for an integrated ideology and management style usually equated with libertarian techno-utopianism—serves as landlord, utility provider, urban developer, (unelected) city official, and employer, all rolled into one?1

We can look to Alphabet’s and Amazon’s home cities for clues. Both the San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle have been dramatically remade by their local tech powerhouses: Amazon and Microsoft in Seattle; and Google, Facebook, and Apple (along with countless other firms) around the Bay. As Jennifer Light, Louise Mozingo, Margaret O’Mara, and Fred Turner have demonstrated, technology companies have been reprogramming urban and suburban landscapes for decades.2 And “company towns” have long sprung up around mills, mines, and factories.3 But over the past few years, as development has boomed and income inequality has dramatically increased in the Bay Area, we’ve witnessed the arrival of several new books reflecting on the region’s transformation.

These titles, while focusing on the Bay, offer lessons to New York, DC, Toronto, and the countless other cities around the globe hoping to spur growth and economic development by hosting and ingesting tech—by fostering the growth of technology companies, boosting STEM education, and integrating new sensors and screens into their streetscapes and city halls. For years, other municipalities, fashioning themselves as “the Silicon Valley of [elsewhere],” have sought to reverse-engineer the Bay’s blueprint for success. As we’ll see, that blueprint, drafted to optimize the habits and habitats of a privileged few, commonly elides the material needs of marginalized populations and fragile ecosystems. It prioritizes efficiency and growth over the maintenance of community and the messiness of public life. Yet perhaps we can still redraw those plans, modeling cities that aren’t only made by powerbrokers, and that thrive when they prioritize the stewardship of civic resources over the relentless pursuit of innovation and growth."



"We must also recognize the ferment and diversity inherent in Bay Area urban historiography, even in the chronicles of its large-scale development projects. Isenberg reminds us that even within the institutions and companies responsible for redevelopment, which are often vilified for exacerbating urban ills, we find pockets of heterogeneity and progressivism. Isenberg seeks to supplement the dominant East Coast narratives, which tend to frame urban renewal as a battle between development and preservation.

In surveying a variety of Bay Area projects, from Ghirardelli Square to The Sea Ranch to the Transamerica Pyramid, Isenberg shifts our attention from star architects and planners to less prominent, but no less important, contributors in allied design fields: architectural illustration, model-making, publicity, journalism, property management, retail planning, the arts, and activism. “People who are elsewhere peripheral and invisible in the history of urban design are,” in her book, “networked through the center”; they play critical roles in shaping not only the urban landscape, but also the discourses and processes through which that landscape takes shape.

For instance, debates over public art in Ghirardelli Square—particularly Ruth Asawa’s mermaid sculpture, which featured breastfeeding lesbian mermaids—“provoked debates about gender, sexuality, and the role of urban open space in San Francisco.” Property manager Caree Rose, who worked alongside her husband, Stuart, coordinated with designers to master-plan the Square, acknowledging that retail, restaurants, and parking are also vital ingredients of successful public space. Publicist Marion Conrad and graphic designer Bobbie Stauffacher were key members of many San Francisco design teams, including that for The Sea Ranch community, in Sonoma County. Illustrators and model-makers, many of them women, created objects that mediated design concepts for clients and typically sat at the center of public debates.

These creative collaborators “had the capacity to swing urban design decisions, structure competition for land, and generally set in motion the fate of neighborhoods.” We see the rhetorical power of diverse visualization strategies reflected across these four books, too: Solnit’s offers dozens of photographs, by Susan Schwartzenberg—of renovations, construction sites, protests, dot-com workplaces, SRO hotels, artists’ studios—while Walker’s dense text is supplemented with charts, graphs, and clinical maps. McClelland’s book, with its relatively large typeface and extra-wide leading, makes space for his interviewees’ words to resonate, while Isenberg generously illustrates her pages with archival photos, plans, and design renderings, many reproduced in evocative technicolor.

By decentering the star designer and master planner, Isenberg reframes urban (re)development as a collaborative enterprise involving participants with diverse identities, skills, and values. And in elevating the work of “allied” practitioners, Isenberg also aims to shift the focus from design to land: public awareness of land ownership and commitment to responsible public land stewardship. She introduces us to several mid-century alternative publications—weekly newspapers, Black periodicals, activists’ manuals, and books that never made it to the best-seller list … or never even made it to press—that advocated for a focus on land ownership and politics. Yet the discursive power of Jacobs and Caro, which framed the debate in terms of urban development vs. preservation, pushed these other texts off the shelf—and, along with them, the “moral questions of land stewardship” they highlighted.

These alternative tales and supporting casts serve as reminders that the modern city need not succumb to Haussmannization or Moses-ification or, now, Googlization. Mid-century urban development wasn’t necessarily the monolithic, patriarchal, hegemonic force we imagined it to be—a realization that should steel us to expect more and better of our contemporary city-building projects. Today, New York, Washington, DC, and Toronto—and other cities around the world—are being reshaped not only by architects, planners, and municipal administrators, but also by technologists, programmers, data scientists, “user experience” experts and logistics engineers. These are urbanism’s new “allied” professions, and their work deals not only with land and buildings, but also, increasingly, with data and algorithms.

Some critics have argued that the real reason behind Amazon’s nationwide HQ2 search was to gather data from hundreds of cities—both quantitative and qualitative data that “could guide it in its expansion of the physical footprint, in the kinds of services it rolls out next, and in future negotiations and lobbying with states and municipalities.”5 This “trove of information” could ultimately be much more valuable than all those tax incentives and grants. If this is the future of urban development, our city officials and citizens must attend to the ownership and stewardship not only of their public land, but also of their public data. The mismanagement of either could—to paraphrase our four books’ titles—elongate the dark shadows cast by growing inequality, abet the siege of exploitation and displacement, “hollow out” our already homogenizing neighborhoods, and expedite the departure of an already “gone” city.

As Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti muses in his “Pictures of the Gone World 11,” which inspired Walker’s title: “The world is a beautiful place / to be born into / if you don’t mind some people dying / all the time / or maybe only starving / some of the time / which isn’t half so bad / if it isn’t you.” This is precisely the sort of solipsism and stratification that tech-libertarianism and capitalist development promotes—and that responsible planning, design, and public stewardship must prevent."
cities  shannonmattern  2019  sanfrancisco  siliconvalley  nyc  washingtondc  seattle  amazon  google  apple  facebook  technology  inequality  governance  libertarianism  urban  urbanism  microsoft  jenniferlight  louisemozingo  margareto'mara  fredturner  efficiency  growth  marginalization  publicgood  civics  innovation  rebeccasolnit  gentrification  privatization  homogenization  susanschwartzenberg  carymcclelland  economics  policy  politics  richardwalker  bayarea  lisonisenberg  janejacobs  robertmoses  diversity  society  inclusivity  inclusion  exclusion  counterculture  cybercultue  culture  progressive  progressivism  wealth  corporatism  labor  alexkaufman  imperialism  colonization  californianideology  california  neoliberalism  privacy  technosolutionism  urbanization  socialjustice  environment  history  historiography  redevelopment  urbanplanning  design  activism  landscape  ruthasawa  gender  sexuality  openspace  publicspace  searanch  toronto  larenceferlinghetti  susanschartzenberg  bobbiestauffacher  careerose  stuartrose  ghirardellisqure  marionconrad  illustration  a 
march 2019 by robertogreco
The UX design case of closed captions for everyone // Sebastian Greger
"Are video subtitles really chiefly for users who cannot hear or lack an audio device? A recent Twitter thread on “closed captions for the hearing” triggered a brief qualitative exploration and thought experiment – there may well be a growing group of users being forgotten in the design of closed captions.

Most commonly perceived as an auxiliary means for the hearing impaired, video subtitles, a.k.a. closed captions (CC), have only recently started to be widely considered as an affordance for users in situations with no audio available/possible (think mobile devices in public settings, libraries, shared office spaces); the latter to the extend that contemporary “social media marketing guidelines” strongly recommend subtitling video clips uploaded to Facebook, Twitter et al.

So: subtitles are for those who cannot hear, or with muted devices?

Who else uses closed captions?

I’m personally a great fan of closed captions, for various reasons unrelated to either of the above, and have often noticed certain limitations in their design. Hence, the user researcher inside me just did a somersault as I randomly encountered a Twitter thread [https://twitter.com/jkottke/status/1091338252475396097 ] following Jason Kottke asking his 247.000 followers:
After seeing several photos my (English-speaking, non-deaf) friends have taken of their TV screens over the past week, I’m realizing that many of you watch TV with closed captions (or subtitles) on?! Is this a thing? And if so, why?

The 150+ replies (I guess this qualifies as a reasonable sample for a qualitative analysis of sorts?) are a wonderful example of “accessibility features” benefiting everybody (I wrote about another instance recently [https://sebastiangreger.net/2018/11/twitter-alt-texts-on-db-trains/ ]). The reasons why people watch TV with closed captions on, despite having good hearing abilities and not being constrained by having to watch muted video, are manifold and go far beyond those two most commonly anticipated use cases.

[image: Close-up image of a video with subtitles (caption: "Closed captions are used by people with good hearing and audio playback turned on. An overseen use case?")]

Even applying a rather shallow, ex-tempore categorisation exercise based on the replies on Twitter, I end up with an impressive list to start with:

• Permanent difficulties with audio content
◦ audio processing disorders
◦ short attention span (incl., but not limited to clinical conditions)
◦ hard of hearing, irrespective of age
• Temporary impairments of hearing or perception
◦ watching under the influence of alcohol
◦ noise from eating chips while watching
• Environmental/contextual factors
◦ environment noise from others in the room (or a snoring dog)
◦ distractions and multitasking (working out, child care, web browsing, working, phone calls)
• Reasons related to the media itself
◦ bad audio levels of voice vs. music
• Enabler for improved understanding
◦ easier to follow dialogue
◦ annoyance with missing dialogue
◦ avoidance of misinterpretations
◦ better appreciation of dialogue
• Better access to details
◦ able to take note of titles of songs played
◦ ability to understand song lyrics
◦ re-watching to catch missed details
• Language-related reasons
◦ strong accents
◦ fast talking, mumbling
◦ unable to understand foreign language
◦ insecurity with non-native language
• Educational goals, learning and understanding
◦ language learning
◦ literacy development for children
◦ seeing the spelling of unknown words/names
◦ easier memorability of content read (retainability)
• Social reasons
◦ courtesy to others, either in need for silence or with a need/preference for subtitles
◦ presence of pets or sleeping children
◦ avoiding social conflict over sound level or distractions (“CC = family peace”)
• Media habits
◦ ability to share screen photos with text online
• Personal preferences
◦ preference for reading
◦ acquired habit
• Limitations of technology skills
◦ lack of knowledge of how to turn them off

An attempt at designerly analysis

The reasons range from common sense to surprising, such as the examples of closed captions used to avoid family conflict or the two respondents explicitly mentioning “eating chips” as a source of disturbing noise. Motivations mentioned repeatedly refer to learning and/or understanding, but also such apparently banal reasons like not knowing how to turn them off (a usability issue?). Most importantly, though, it becomes apparent that using CC is more often than not related to choice/preference, rather than to impairment or restraints from using audio.

At the same time, it becomes very clear that not everybody likes them, especially when forced to watch with subtitles by another person. The desire/need of some may negatively affect the experience of others present. A repeat complaint that, particularly with comedy, CC can kill the jokes may also hint at the fact that subtitles and their timing could perhaps be improved by considering them as more than an accessibility aid for those who would not hear the audio? (It appears as if the scenario of audio and CC consumed simultaneously is not something considered when subtitles are created and implemented; are we looking at another case for “exclusive design”?)

And while perceived as distracting when new – this was the starting point of Kottke’s Tweet – many of the comments share the view that it becomes less obtrusive over time; people from countries where TV is not dubbed in particular are so used to it they barely notice it (“becomes second nature”). Yet, there are even such interesting behaviours like people skipping back to re-read a dialogue they only listened to at first, as well as that of skipping back to be able to pay better attention to the picture at second view (e.g. details of expression) after reading the subtitles initially.

Last but not least, it is interesting how people may even feel shame over using CC. Only a conversation like the cited Twitter thread may help them realise that it is much more common than they thought. And most importantly that it has nothing to do with a perceived stigmatisation of being “hard of hearing”.

CC as part of video content design

The phenomenon is obviously not new. Some articles on the topic suggest that it is a generational habit [https://medium.com/s/the-upgrade/why-gen-z-loves-closed-captioning-ec4e44b8d02f ] of generation Z (though Kottke’s little survey proves the contrary), or even sees [https://www.wired.com/story/closed-captions-everywhere/ ] it as paranoid and obsessive-compulsive behaviour of “postmodern completists” as facilitated by new technological possibilities. Research on the benefits of CC for language learning, on the other hand, reaches back [https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/19388078909557984 ] several decades.

No matter what – the phenomenon in itself is interesting enough to make this a theme for deeper consideration in any design project that contains video material. Because, after all, one thing is for sure: closed captions are not for those with hearing impairments or with muted devices alone – and to deliver great UX, these users should be considered as well."

[See also: https://kottke.org/19/04/why-everyone-is-watching-tv-with-closed-captioning-on-these-days ]
closedcaptioning  subtitles  closedcaptions  text  reading  genz  generationz  audio  video  tv  film  dialogue  listening  howweread  2019  sebastiangreger  literacy  language  languages  ux  ui  television  ocd  attention  adhd  languagelearning  learning  howwelearn  processing  hearing  sound  environment  parenting  media  multimedia  clarity  accents  memory  memorization  children  distractions  technology  classideas 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Urban innovation doesn't have to leave rural areas behind — Quartz
"A nice house in the country is an aspirational lifestyle for many: a little place in Norfolk or Maine, a few acres of land, an old farmhouse that’s been nicely retrofitted, maybe a few solar panels on the roof. You could grow some of your own vegetables in the garden and use the internet to video-conference into the office. You’d be back to the land, with all the creature comforts of the city.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This notion of rural life will be centered around the bicycle, the solar panel, and the tablet computer instead of the Land Rover, the diesel generator, and the combine harvester. A life of stable self-sufficiency, rather than precarious plenty. If leapfrogging rural communities can manifest an existence that would satisfy the lawyer-turned-faux-farmer, the notion of rural-urban-and-then-back-to-rural migration would reach the end of the cul-de-sac."
cities  rural  leapfrogging  vinaygupta  2018  capitalism  solar  internet  web  connectivity  simplicity  decentralization  mobile  phones  smartphones  technology  tablets 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Digital Equity Laboratory
"The Digital Equity Laboratory uncovers and addresses structural inequities that persist and evolve as technology transforms our cultural, social, and political systems."
digital  inequality  technology  culture  society  politics  systemsthinking  justice  equity 
march 2019 by robertogreco
maybe it’s time to give up – Snakes and Ladders
"Some of them thank me for opening their eyes to the realities of our current socio-technological order, but more of them admit, either ruefully or a little defiantly, that nothing we’ve read or discussed is going to change their habits, because it’s just not important enough to invest time and energy in. They’re worried about whether they’re going to get into law school or medical school, and they want to have fun at football games, and when you add up the work hours and the leisure hours there just aren’t any left over for questioning the moral legitimacy of Instagram. And anyway that’s where their friends are. Usually there’s a shrug at this point.

And you know what? I don’t think I can say that they’re wrong. Maybe that’s a rational decision they’re making, all things considered. In which case I need to find a new topic for my first-year seminar."

[See also:
"“Gen Z” and social media"
https://blog.ayjay.org/gen-z-and-social-media/

"The Digital Age, Fall 2018" (syllabus)
https://blog.ayjay.org/fys18/ ]

[via: "Christian humanism in a technocratic world: Alan Jacobs's biography of T.S. Eliot, Simone Weil, W.H. Auden, Jacques Maritain, and C.S. Lewis"
https://www.christiancentury.org/review/books/christian-humanism-technocratic-world

"In a recent blog post, Jacobs reflects on his experiences teaching technological and media literacy to freshmen in Baylor’s honors program. Despite finding the material compelling, many students acknowledge that they are unlikely to change their behavior. He re­flects their voice perhaps in saying there “just aren’t (enough hours) left over for questioning the moral legitimacy of Instagram.” The title of Jacobs’s post? “Maybe it’s time to give up.” It seems that the protagonists of 1943 ended in a similar posture.

Jacobs is right to point out that a technocratic worldview is powerful in its appeal to scientific objectivity. It is “a gospel that liberals and conservatives alike are drawn to.” The problem is un­likely to shrink in importance anytime soon. Whether in the “ranches of isolation” or “the valley of making,” to use Auden’s language, we are in need of re-enchantment. Jacobs’s protagonists re­mind us that our savior might not come in technocratic packaging and might instead exist woven into the theologically informed poetry that “makes nothing happen.” Perhaps all we can do is to live transformed by this power within the fields we plow, acting expansively as we pray for a thousand flowers blooming."]
alanjacobs  genz  busyness  2019  socialmedia  internet  online  work  learning  education  highered  highereducation  technology  society  time  generationz 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Gradients are everywhere from Facebook to the New York Times - Vox
"Here’s why The Daily, Coachella, and Facebook all use backgrounds that look like a sunset."



"What it is: A digital or print effect where one color fades into another. Typically rendered in soft or pastel tones.

Where it is: Gradients are seemingly everywhere in media and marketing. They are part of a suite of Facebook status backdrops introduced in 2017 and the branding for the New York Times’ popular podcast The Daily, which displays a yellow to blue gradient.

Gradients have taken over Coachella’s app and website (if you watch carefully, the colors shift). Ally’s billboard in A Star Is Born is a full-on gradient, and so was the branding for the Oscars ceremony that recognized Lady Gaga.

On Instagram, they provide a product backdrop for popular Korean beauty brand Glow, and have been embraced by indie magazines Gossamer and Anxy — both designed by Berkeley studio Anagraph.

On the luxury front, Brooklyn wallpaper company Calico has released an entire collection of gradient wallpapers called Aurora. Meanwhile, Spanish fashion house Loewe has introduced a version of their trendy Elephant bag in a spectrum of pink to yellow.

Are gradients drinkable? Heck yes, they are. Seltzer startup Recess has gone all-in on gradients in their branding.

Why you’re seeing it everywhere: Gradients are the confluence of three different trends: Light and Space art, vaporwave, and bisexual lighting.

In the art and design world, Light and Space — developed in the 1960s and ’70s — has been experiencing a revival thanks to its Instagramability. Light and Space pioneer James Turrell has been embraced by celebrities like Beyoncé, Drake, and Kanye West. Drake’s Hotline Bling video was inspired by Turrell’s light-infused rooms called Ganzfelds. The Kardashian-Jenner-West crew posted an Instagram in front of one of Turrell’s works in Los Angeles. (I was yelled at by security for taking a picture there but it’s fine.)

[image]

Most recently, West donated $10 million dollars to the artist.

James Turrell’s works come with a warning because the visitor quickly loses all depth perception. Soft gradients are alluring because they cut through the noise of social media, but they also are disorienting. The Twitter bot soft landscapes operates on a similar principle, but some days the landscape all but disappears.

“It’s nice to see calming things amongst all of the social ramifications of Instagram,” says Rion Harmon of Day Job, the design firm of record for Recess. Harmon compares the Recess branding to a sunset so beautiful you can’t help but stare (or take a picture) however busy you are. Changes to the sky are even more pronounced in Los Angeles, where Harmon’s studio is now based. “The quality of light in LA is something miraculous,” he says. The Light and Space movement was also started in Southern California, and it’s in the DNA of Coachella.

Gradients might be a manifestation of longing for sunshine and surf. But they also belong to the placeless digital citizen. 1980s and ’90s kids may remember messing around in Microsoft Paint and Powerpoint as a child, filling in shapes with these same gradients. It’s no surprise that this design effect is part of the technological nostalgia that fuels the vaporwave movement.

Vaporwave is a musical and aesthetic movement (started in the early 2010s) that spliced ambient music, advertising, and imagery from when the internet started. Gradient artwork shared by the clothing brand Public Space is vaporwave. So is this meme posted by direct-to-consumer health startup Hers.

[image]

When Facebook rolled out gradient status backgrounds in 2017, they knew what they were doing. “They have so much data into how the world works,” says Kerry Flynn, platforms reporter at Digiday. “They had a slow rollout to the color gradients … Obviously they could have pulled the plug anytime.”

Flynn goes on to explain that Facebook realized they had become their own worst enemy. There was so much information on their platform that personal sharing was down and they had to make it novel again. “Facebook wants our personal data, as much as possible. Hence, colorful backgrounds that encourage me to post information about myself and for my friends to ‘Like’ it and comment,” she says.

It’s ironic that in order to do so, Facebook borrowed from a digital texture most millennials associate with a time before Facebook. But it also mimics a current trend in film and television: bisexual lighting.

As Know Your Meme explains, “bisexual lighting is a slang in the queer community for neon lighting with high emphasis on pinks, purples, and blues in film.” These pinks, purples and blues often fade into one another — appearing like a gradient when rendered in two dimensions. Bisexual lighting shows up in the futuristic genre cyberpunk, which imagines an era in which high technology and low technology combine and cities are neon-bathed, landmarkless Gothams. (Overlapping with vaporwave.) Mainstream examples of cyberpunk include Blade Runner, Ghost in the Shell, and Black Mirror (specifically the “San Junipero” episode). Hotline Bling makes the list of examples for bisexual lighting; the gradients come full circle.

Tati Pastukhova, co-founder of interactive art space ARTECHOUSE, says gradients have become more popular as computer display quality increases. She says the appeal of gradients is “the illusion of dimension, and giving 2-D designs 3-D appeal.” ARTECHOUSE is full of light-based digital installations, but visitors naturally gravitate toward what is most photogenic — including, unexpectedly, the soft lighting the space installed along their staircase for safety reasons.

[image]

Before gradients, neon lettering was the Instagram lighting aesthetic du jour. Gradients are wordless — like saying Live Laugh Love with just colors. “There’s an inherent progression in gradients, you are being taken through something. Like that progression of Live Laugh Love. Of starting at one point and ending at another point. Evoking that visually is something people are very drawn to,” says Taylor Lorenz, a staff writer at the Atlantic who covers internet culture.

Gradients are also boundaryless. In 2016, artist Wolfgang Tillmans used gradients in his anti-Brexit poster campaign. Through gradients, designers have found the perfect metaphor for subjectivity in an era when even the word “fact” is up for debate. “Gradients are a visual manifestation of all of these different spectrums that we live on,” including those of politics, gender, and sexuality, says Lorenz. “Before, I think we lived in a binary world. [Gradients are] a very modern representation of the world.”

At the very least, gradients offer an opportunity to self-soothe.

Calico co-founder Nick Cope says the Aurora collection is often used in meditation rooms. He and his wife have installed it across from their bed at home. “The design was created to immerse viewers in waves and washes of tranquil atmospheric color,” Cope says, adding, “Regardless of the weather, we wake up to a sunrise every morning.”"

[See also:
"Is 'bisexual lighting' a new cinematic phenomenon?"
https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-43765856 ]
color  gradients  design  socialmedia  jamesturrell  2019  light  space  perception  neon  desig  graphicdesign  ux  ui  wolfgangtillmans  nickcope  meditation  colors  tatipastukhova  artechouse  computing  bisexuallighting  lighting  queer  knowyourmeme  pink  purple  blue  cyberpunk  future  technology  hightechnology  lowtechnology  vaporwave  bladerunner  ghostintheshell  blackmirror  sanjunipero  hotlinebling  kerryflynn  facebook  microsoftpaint  rionharmon  sunsets  california  socal  losangeles  coachella  depthperception  ganzfelds  drake  kanyewest  beyoncé  anagraph  ladygaga  daisyalioto 
march 2019 by robertogreco
TUMO
"14,000 teens in charge of their own learning at the intersection of technology and design"



"TUMO is a new kind of educational experience at the intersection of technology and design.

At TUMO, teens learn because they want to. They’re given the tools and knowhow they need to reach their maximum potential, and they chart their own learning path through hands-on activities, workshops and projects.

This is TUMO
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nB-Hs01eQ64

Coaches, Gurus & Pros
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dSBKVdUAdzU

The Learning Path
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQsEDco8U5U

Sam & Sylva Simonian
Founders of TUMO
Born and raised in Beirut, the Simonians moved to the United States as teenagers. Sam enrolled in the engineering program of the University of Texas at Arlington and went on to co-found Inet, a leading telecommunications company. The Simonians have always noted the significant contributions Armenian organizations made to their education and success over the years, and have made it a personal endeavor to extend that gift to the current generation of bright and motivated Armenians. TUMO is their greatest step in that direction yet.

Marie Lou Papazian
CEO, Simonian Educational Foundation
As TUMO’s founding CEO, Marie Lou Papazian developed the center’s educational program and led the design and construction of its flagship facility. Prior to TUMO, Marie Lou led the Education for Development Foundation linking Armenian students to their global peers through online educational activities. Previously, she was lead construction manager on prominent high-rise buildings in New York City. Marie Lou holds a Master’s Degree in Computing in Education from the Teachers College at Columbia University, as well as degrees in engineering and construction management."
via:litherland  armenia  lcproject  openstudioproject  learning  schools  education  alternative  design  technology  samsimonian  sylvasimonian  marieloupapazian  self-directedlearning  self-directed  unschooling  deschooling 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Should This Exist?
"It's the question of our times: How is technology impacting our humanity? Coming February 21, 2019, Should This Exist? invites the creators of radical new technologies to set aside their business plan, and think through the human side: What is the invention’s greatest promise? And what could possibly go wrong? Show host Caterina Fake (Partner, Yes VC; Cofounder Flickr) is a celebrated tech pioneer and one of Silicon Valley’s most eloquent commentators on technology and the human condition. Joined by a roster of all-star expert guests who have a knack for looking around corners, Caterina drops listeners into the minds of today’s ingenious entrepreneurs and guides them through the journey of foreseeing what their technology might do to us, and for us. Should This Exist? is a WaitWhat original series in partnership with Quartz."
caterinafake  podcasts  technology  2019 
february 2019 by robertogreco
New American Outline 1
"These days, the mirrors we most often use to check our makeup or see if there’s gunk in our teeth are found on our phones — “smart” devices that coordinate an array of sensors and cutting-edge “image display” and “image capture” technologies to render reality within the boundaries of a powered physical display.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



"New American Interfaces

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One of these chairs is an interface —"

[See also: https://www.are.na/edouard-urcades/new-american-interface ]
édouardurcades  mirrors  interfaces  ui  ux  cameras  stories  instagram  storytelling  reality  2019  snapchat  multimedia  media  kevinsystrom  format  form  newness  technology  smartphones  mobile  phones  images  imagery  buttons  jadensmith  lukaswinklerprins 
february 2019 by robertogreco
Refiguring the Future Conference | Day One - YouTube
The Refiguring the Future conference convenes artists, educators, writers, and cultural strategists to envision a shared liberatory future by providing us with ideas that move beyond and critique oppressive systems. Participants in the conference will address concepts of world-building, ecologies, disability and accessibility, biotechnology and the body.

The conference kicks off the opening weekend of the Refiguring the Future, a new exhibition offering a politically engaged and inclusive vision of the intersection of art, science, and technology, organized in partnership with the REFRESH collective and Hunter College Art Galleries,

The Refiguring the Future conference is curated by Eyebeam/REFRESH Curatorial and Engagement Fellow Lola Martinez and REFRESH member Maandeeq Mohamed.

10:00 AM – 10:15 AM | Opening Remarks

Dorothy R. Santos and Heather Dewey-Hagborg, Co-Curators of Refiguring the Future

10:30 AM – 11:30 AM | World-building

Exploring the settler ontologies that govern technoscientific inquiry, this panel will engage technology towards a liberatory, world-building politic.

shawné michaelain holloway, Artist

Rasheedah Phillips, Artist and Co-Creator of Black Quantum Futurism

Alexander G. Weheliye, Professor, Northwestern University

Moderated by Maandeeq Mohamed, Writer


11:30 AM – 12:30 AM | Keynote Lecture


12:30 PM – 02:00 PM | Lunch


02:00 PM – 02:30 PM | Keynote Performative Lecture

In this performative lecture, artist Zach Blas offers critical investigations on issues of the internet, capitalism, and state oppression.

Zach Blas, Artist

Keynote Introduction by Heather Dewey-Hagborg, Artist


02:30 PM – 03:30 PM | Symbiotic Ecologies

Narratives of colonial legacy, migration, and extinction have shifted our cultural imagining of ecologies. Beginning by acknowledging our existence in unsustainable climates, this panel brings forth artistic and activist practices which provoke and foster symbiotic relationships for new understandings within environmental predicaments.

Sofía Córdova, Artist

Jaskiran Dhillon, Associate Professor, The New School

Sofía Unanue, co-founder and co-director of La Maraña

Moderated by Kathy High, Artist.


03:30 PM – 04:00 PM | Coffee Break

04:00 PM – 05:00 PM | Speculative Bodies: A Shell to be Surpassed

Technological biases categorize individuals according to markers such as race, gender, sexuality, and citizenship, and in turn undermine how we live and navigate our present and future worlds. This panel collectively examines how the fields of health, genomics, and technology are reinforced by Western scientific discourses and speculate new insights for alternative systems of knowledge.

Ruha Benjamin, Associate Professor, Princeton University

micha cárdenas, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of California, Santa Cruz

Dr. Pinar Yoldas, Artist

Moderated by Dr. Kadija Ferryman, Researcher at Data and Society.

05:00 PM – 06:00 PM | Keynote Lecture

In this Keynote lecture, Keeanga Yamahtta-Taylor examines the politics of social liberation movements. Author of #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation, Taylor offers an examination of the history and politics of Black America and the development of the social movement Black Lives Matter in response to police violence in the United States.

Keeanga Yamahtta-Taylor, Assistant Professor, Princeton University

Keynote introduction by Dorothy R. Santos, Curator and Writer"

[See also:
Refiguring the Future Conference | Day Two
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCa36fWJhyk

"The Refiguring the Future conference convenes artists, educators, writers, and cultural strategists to envision a shared liberatory future by providing us with ideas that move beyond and critique oppressive systems. Participants in the conference will address concepts of world-building, ecologies, disability and accessibility, biotechnology and the body.

The conference kicks off the opening weekend of the Refiguring the Future, a new exhibition offering a politically engaged and inclusive vision of the intersection of art, science, and technology, organized in partnership with the REFRESH collective and Hunter College Art Galleries,

The Refiguring the Future conference is curated by Eyebeam/REFRESH Curatorial and Engagement Fellow Lola Martinez and REFRESH member Maandeeq Mohamed.

See the full schedule here: https://www.eyebeam.org/events/refiguring-the-future-conference/

In the Annex:

Talks | Refiguring Planetary Health, Building Black Futures

We cannot have a healthy planet that sustains all human beings as long as the systemic oppression of Black and Indigenous peoples continues. And yet, prominent environmental science institutions concerned with conservation and climate change often fail to address this oppression or their role in perpetuating it. In this talk, we will explore how histories of scientific racism and eugenics inform current scientific policies and practice. Cynthia Malone will work with various forms of freedom practice, from hip hop to science fiction to scholarship in the Black Radical Tradition, to consider alternative visions for planetary health that advance both environmental stewardship and liberation from oppressive ideologies and systems.

Cynthia Malone, Activist, Scholar, and Scientist
---
The Spirit of the Water Bear

In this talk, Claire Pentecost will give an introduction and reading of Spirit of the Water Bear, a young adult novel set in a coastal town in the Carolinas. The novel’s protagonist, Juni Poole, is a 15-year-old girl who spends much of her time exploring the natural world. Inevitably, she finds herself confronting the urgency of a crisis that has no end, namely climate change and the sixth great extinction. Through experiences of activism, she finds comrades who feel environmental and political urgency much as she does, and learns that she has a place in the ongoing struggle for environmental justice. The book is a work of “Cli-Fi” or climate fiction, featuring Juni’s adventures, but it is also a work of “Cli-Phi” or climate philosophy, featuring conversations and musings on the nature of our existential predicament.

Claire Pentecost, Artist

Speaker Introductions by Lola Martinez, Eyebeam and REFRESH Curatorial and Engagement Fellow
---
Roundtables and Talks | Visible networks: Community Building in the Digital Arena

As notions of accessibility are being rendered visible on networks and digital medias, disability and chronic illness communities are utilizing networks to provide resources and representations. Yet what does it mean to build community within these platforms? This roundtable discussion offers reflections by artists working to provide new insights into biomedical discourses which reinforce apparent and unapparent representations of disabled bodies.

Hayley Cranberry, Artist

Anneli Goeller, Artist

Yo-Yo Lin, Artist
---
#GLITCHFEMINISM

Legacy Russell is the founding theorist behind Glitch Feminism as a cultural manifesto and movement. #GLITCHFEMINISM aims to use the digital as a means of resisting the hegemony of the corporeal. Glitch Feminism embraces the causality of ‘error’ and turns the gloomy implication of ‘glitch’ on its ear by acknowledging that an error in a social system disturbed by economic, racial, social, sexual, cultural stratification, and the imperialist wrecking-ball of globalization—processes that continue to enact violence on all bodies—may not be ‘error’ at all, but rather a much-needed erratum. The digital is a vessel through which our glitch ‘becoming’ realises itself, and through which we can reprogramme binary gender coding. Our ‘glitch’ is a correction to the machine—f**k hegemonic coding! USURP THE BODY—BECOME YOUR AVATAR!

Legacy Russell, Curator and Writer

Speaker Introductions by Lola Martinez, Eyebeam and REFRESH Curatorial and Engagement Fellow"]

[See also:
"Eyebeam presents Refiguring the Future: an exhibition and conference organized by REFRESH, produced in collaboration with Hunter College Art Galleries."
https://www.eyebeam.org/rtf/

EXHIBITION
Curated by REFRESH collective members Heather Dewey-Hagborg and Dorothy R. Santos, the exhibition title is inspired by artist Morehshin Allahyari’s work defining a concept of “refiguring” as a feminist, de-colonial, and activist practice. Informed by the punk ethos of do-it-yourself (DIY), the 18 artists featured in Refiguring the Future deeply mine the historical and cultural roots of our time, pull apart the artifice of contemporary technology, and sift through the pieces to forge new visions of what could become.

The exhibition will present 11 new works alongside re-presented immersive works by feminist, queer, decolonial, anti-racist, and anti-ableist artists concerned with our technological and political moment including: Morehshin Allahyari, Lee Blalock, Zach Blas*, micha cárdenas* and Abraham Avnisan, In Her Interior (Virginia Barratt and Francesca da Rimini)*, Mary Maggic, Lauren McCarthy, shawné michaelain holloway*, Claire and Martha Pentecost, Sonya Rapoport, Barak adé Soleil, Sputniko! and Tomomi Nishizawa, Stephanie Syjuco, and Pinar Yoldas*.

Names with asterik denotes participation in the conference. ]
eyebeam  dorothysantos  lolamartinez  maandeegmohamed  liberation  art  events  2019  heatherdewey-hagborg  shawnémichaelainholloway  rasheedahphillips  alexanderwehelive  zachblas  ecology  ecologies  sofíacórdova  sofíaunanue  jaskirandhillon  lamaraña  speculativefiction  designfiction  keeangayamahtta-taylor  michacárdenas  blacklivesmatter  gender  race  sexuality  citizenship  future  inclusions  inclusivity  health  genomics  speculativedesign  design  arts  pinaryoldas  kadijaferryman  glitchfeminism  feminism  clairepentecost  heyleycranbery  anneligoeller  yo-yolin  cyntihiamalone  climatechange  globalwarming  eugenics  racism  science  scientificracism  oppression  systemsthinking  activism  climatefiction  junipoole  accessibility  legacyrussell  technology  digital  disability  worldbuilding  bodies  biotechnology  morehshinallahyari  queer  decolonization  anti-racist  ableism  abti-ableism  leeblalock  abrahamavnisan  virginiabarratt  francescadarimini  marymaggic  lauranmccarthy  marthapentecost  sonyarapoport  barakadésoleil  sputniko!  tomominishiz 
february 2019 by robertogreco
Goodbye Big Five
"Reporter Kashmir Hill spent six weeks blocking Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Apple from getting my money, data, and attention, using a custom-built VPN. Here’s what happened."
microsoft  google  facebook  amazon  apple  kashmirhill  technology  2019  internet  web  attention  online 
february 2019 by robertogreco
The Creative Independent: Jonas Mekas on documenting your life
"Were you ever interested in writing a straightforward memoir about your life?

I don’t have time for that. There are fragments of that in this book, but I think my films are my biography. There are bits and fragments of my personal life in all of my films, so maybe someday I’ll put them together and that will be my autobiography."



"People talk a lot about your films, but you have a poetry practice as well.

Occasionally I still write poems. It comes from a different part of me. When you write, of course it comes from your mind, into your fingers, and finally reaches the paper. With a camera, of course there is also the mind but it’s in front of the lens, what the lens can catch. It’s got nothing to do with the past, but only the image itself. It’s there right now. When you write, you could write about what you thought 30 years ago, where you went yesterday, or what you want for the future. Not so with the film. Film is now.

Are most of your decisions intuitive? Is it a question of just feeling when something is right or when it isn’t?

I don’t feel it necessarily, but it’s like I am forced—like I have to take my camera and film, though I don’t know why. It’s not me who decides. I feel that I have to take the camera and film. That is what’s happening. It’s not a calculated kind of thing. The same when I write. It’s not calculated. Not planned at all. It just happens. My filmmaking doesn’t cost money and doesn’t take time. Because one can always afford to film 10 seconds in one day or shoot one roll of film in a month. It’s not that complicated. I always had a job of one kind of other to support myself because I had to live, I had to eat, and I had to film.

How do you feel about art schools? Is being an artist something that can be taught?

I never wanted to make art. I would not listen to anybody telling me how to do it. No, nobody can teach you to do it your way. You have to discover by doing it. That’s the only way. It’s only by doing that you discover what you still need, what you don’t know, and what you still have to learn. Maybe some technical things you have to learn for what you really want to do, but you don’t know when you begin. You don’t know what you want to do. Only when you begin doing do you discover which direction you’re going and what you may need on the journey that you’re traveling. But you don’t know at the beginning.

That’s why I omitted film schools. Why learn everything? You may not need any of it. Or while you begin the travel of the filmmaker’s journey, maybe you discover that you need to know more about lighting, for instance. Maybe what you are doing needs lighting. You want to do something more artificial, kind of made up, so then you study lights, you study lenses, you study whatever you feel you don’t know and you need. When you make a narrative film, a big movie with actors and scripts, you need all that, but when you just try to sing, you don’t need anything. You just sing by yourself with your camera or with your voice or you dance. On one side it is being a part of the Balanchine, on the other side it is someone dancing in the street for money. I’m the one who dances in the street for money and nobody throws me pennies. Actually, I get a few pennies… but that’s about it.

You’ve made lots of different kinds of films over many years. Did you always feel like you were still learning, still figuring it out as your went along?

Not necessarily. I would act stupid sometimes when people used to see me with my Bolex recording some random moment. They’d say, “What is this?” I’d say, “Oh nothing, it’s not serious.” I would hide from Maya Deren. I never wanted her to see me filming because she would say, “But this is not serious. You need a script!” Then I’d say, “Oh, I’m just fooling. I’m just starting to learn,” but it was just an excuse that I was giving, that I’m trying to learn. I always knew that this was more or less the materials I’d always be using. I was actually filming. There is not much to learn in this kind of cinema, other than how to turn on a camera. What you learn, you discover as you go. What you are really learning is how to open yourself to all the possibilities. How to be very, very, very open to the moment and permitting the muse to come in and dictate. In other words, the real work you are doing is on yourself."



"You are a kind of master archivist. I’m looking around this space—which is packed with stuff, but it all appears to be pretty meticulously organized. How important is it to not only document your work, but to also be a steward of your own archives.

You have to. For me there is constantly somebody who wants to see something in the archives, so I have to deal with it. I cannot neglect them. These are my babies. I have to take care of them. I learned very early that it’s very important to keep careful indexes of everything so that it helps you to find things easily when it’s needed. For example, I have thousands of audio cassettes, in addition to all the visual materials. I have a very careful index of every cassette. I know what’s on it. You tell me the name of the person or the period and I will immediately, within two or three minutes, be able to retrieve it. People come here and look around and say, “Oh, how can you find anything in this place?” No, I find it very easily.

I always carry a camera with me in order to capture or record a couple images and sometimes conversations. Evenings, parties, dinners, meetings, friends. Now, it’s all on video, but back when I was using the Bolex camera, I always had a Sony tape recorder in my pocket—a tiny Sony and that picked up sounds. I have a lot of those from the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s. Hundreds and hundreds. I have books which are numbered, each page has written down what’s on each numbered cassette. I don’t index everything, that would be impossible, but approximation is enough. I advise everyone to do this. Record things. Keep an index. It’s very important."



"Aside from all of those projects, do you still have a sort of day-to-day creative practice?

I never needed a creative practice. I don’t believe in creativity. I just do things. I grew up on a farm where we made things, grew things. They just grow and you plant the seeds and then they grow. I just keep making things, doing things. Has nothing to do with creativity. I don’t need creativity."



"And the last remaining company that still made VCRs recently went out of business.

So, all of this new technology, it’s okay for now… but it’s very temporary. You could almost look at it from a spiritual angle. All technology is temporary. Everything falls to dust anyway. And yet, you keep making things."
jonasmekas  2017  film  filmmaking  poetry  documentation  archives  collage  books  writing  creativity  howwewrite  biography  autobiography  art  work  labor  technology  video  vcrs  temporary  ephemeral  ephemerality  making  howwework  howwemake  journals  email  everyday 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Ben Tarnoff on Twitter: "Zuboff is a giant, and I am learning a lot from her new book. But I would respectfully dissent from her view, expressed both here and in her book, that "surveillance capitalism" is a radically worse form of capitalism than the one
"Zuboff is a giant, and I am learning a lot from her new book. But I would respectfully dissent from her view, expressed both here and in her book, that "surveillance capitalism" is a radically worse form of capitalism than the one that preceded it. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/jan/20/shoshana-zuboff-age-of-surveillance-capitalism-google-facebook

In her book, she describes SC as a "rogue capitalism" that "abandon[s] capitalism's reciprocities with people and society" and exceeds “the historical norms of capitalist ambitions" by "claiming dominion over [new] human, societal, and political territories."

But I'm not sure that this reciprocity-oriented, not-too-ambitious Good Capitalism ever existed. Or if it did, it only existed briefly, during the postwar era of social-democratic compromise made possible by lots of class struggle.

Instead of defining SC as a "rogue capitalism," I think it's more useful to see SC (or data/informational/platform/etc capitalism) as a new mode of capital accumulation *within* capitalism that helps manage/displace certain contradictions.

This view has two advantages, I think. The first is that it gives us a clearer understanding of how SC works by emphasizing its continuities with other modes of accumulation ("cheap nature," imperialism, accumulation by dispossession, good old exploitation, etc).

The second is that I think it gives us a clearer understanding of what's wrong with SC. In her book, I find that Zuboff often spiritualizes the harms inflicted by SC, speaking of the damage done to "human nature" rather than the damage done to actual humans.

In sum, I think SC is bad because of what it (and capitalism as a whole) does to historically specific humans: it dispossesses and exploits, depletes the social and ecological resources on which we depend, and robs us of our free time. Onward to the abolition of the value form!"

[via:
"Thread. Been thinking about this a lot. Still need to read the book and work through the ideas, but the notion that SC is a perverted form of capitalism (rather than capitalism itself being the problem) isn’t one that resonates with me." [quoting the first tweet in the thread above]
https://twitter.com/hypervisible/status/1087733174988345344

"One of the other problems is it seems to play up the “nobody could have seen this coming” argument, which overlooks the many social critics who pretty explicitly warned about all of this."
https://twitter.com/libshipwreck/status/1087737924538503169

"Oh wow. Yeah that's not good (or accurate). It would be ironic if the book length treatment is the thing that moves me away from using the term."
https://twitter.com/hypervisible/status/1087738194471411712

"She doesn't even actually argue that strange distinction. It feels very much like a "Hey, your privilege is showing" kind of moment."
https://twitter.com/tante/status/1087733729261506564

"I've been arguing for a while that the critique of "surveillance" or "data" capitalism is largely a reaction by the bourgeoisie who is faced with similar vectors of exploitation and discrimination working class people have been living with for decades"
https://twitter.com/tante/status/1087734134867410947

"I come from a working class background and to me that train of thought feels kinda "Yeah, that's how our lives have been for ages, nice for you rich people to join us""
https://twitter.com/tante/status/1087734471191867392

"Black person here! Truth!"
https://twitter.com/hypervisible/status/1087734830626934784

"I spent an evening arguing with Prof. Zuboff about her thesis a year or so ago, and basically she isn't arguing against capitalism, and in fact thinks that the solution to the problem of 'surveillance capitalism' lies within democratic capitalism."
https://twitter.com/murakamiwood/status/1087736107784122368

"I agree with this dissent, which echoes prior scholarly critiques of Zuboff's earlier important work, which similarly misrepresents technological formations as if they are triggers of fundamentally new forms of capitalism."
https://twitter.com/ltaub/status/1087735610872352769 ]
bentarnoff  2019  capitalism  surveillance  siliconvalley  technology  surveillancecapitalism  data  class  exploitation  history  shoshanazuboff 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Tentacle | And Other Stories
"Plucked from her life on the streets of post-apocalyptic Santo Domingo, young maid Acilde Figueroa finds herself at the heart of a Santería prophecy: only she can travel back in time and save the ocean – and humanity – from disaster. But first she must become the man she always was – with the help of a sacred anemone. Tentacle is an electric novel with a big appetite and a brave vision, plunging headfirst into questions of climate change, technology, Yoruba ritual, queer politics, poverty, sex, colonialism and contemporary art. Bursting with punk energy and lyricism, it’s a restless, addictive trip: The Tempest meets the telenovela."

[See also:
https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/little-book-with-big-ambitions-rita-indianas-tentacle/
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/jan/02/tentacle-by-rita-indiana-review
http://chicago.universitypressscholarship.com/view/10.7208/chicago/9780226405636.001.0001/upso-9780226405322-chapter-007
https://1streading.wordpress.com/2018/12/18/tentacle/ ]

[The original, in Spanish:

La mucama de Omicunlé
http://www.editorialperiferica.com/?s=catalogo&l=147
https://www.zonadeobras.com/apuestas/2015/05/04/la-mucama-de-omicunle-rita-indiana-203300/
https://soundsandcolours.com/articles/dominican-republic/rita-indiana-la-mucama-de-omicunle-40561/
http://remezcla.com/culture/rita-indiana-la-mucama-de-omicunle/ ]

[More on/by Rita Indiana:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rita_Indiana
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vI4Gj2w0Z0Q
https://www.pri.org/programs/radio-ambulante-unscripted/rita-indiana-taking-caribbean-music-and-literature-new-heights
https://gozamos.com/2013/12/interview-rita-indiana-hernandez/
https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=RITA+INDIANA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBVLvIjBFko
https://granta.com/on-cardi-b/http://remezcla.com/releases/music/rita-indiana-el-castigador-video/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-J_n1H2qT4 ]
books  toread  sciencefiction  sicfi  ritaindiana  andotherstories  spanish  español  srg  fiction  domincanrepublic  colonialism  santodomingo  novels  technology 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Scratching the Surface — 104. Cab Broskoski and Chris Sherron
"Cab Broskoski and Chris Sherron are two of the founders of Are.na, a knowledge sharing platform that combines the creative back-and-forth of social media with the focus of a productivity tool. Before working on Arena, Cab was a digital artist and Chris a graphic designer and in this episode, they talk about their desire for a new type of bookmarking tool and building a platform for collaborative, interdisciplinary research as well as larger questions around open source tools, research as artistic practice, and subverting the norms of social media."

[direct link to audio:
https://soundcloud.com/scratchingthesurfacefm/104-cab-broskoski-and-chris-sherron ]
jarrettfuller  are.na  cabbroskoski  chrissherron  coreyarcangel  del.icio.us  bookmarkling  pinterest  cv  tagging  flickr  michaelcina  youworkforthem  davidbohm  williamgibson  digital  damonzucconi  stanleykubrick  stephaniesnt  julianbozeman  public  performance  collections  collecting  research  2000s  interview  information  internet  web  sharing  conversation  art  design  socialmedia  socialnetworking  socialnetworks  online  onlinetoolkit  inspiration  moodboards  graphicdesign  graphics  images  web2.0  webdesign  webdev  ui  ux  scratchingthesurface  education  teaching  edtech  technology  multidisciplinary  generalists  creative  creativitysingapore  creativegeneralists  learning  howwelearn  attention  interdisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  crosspollination  algorithms  canon  knowledge  transdisciplinary  tools  archives  slow  slowweb  slowinternet  instagram  facebook 
january 2019 by robertogreco
On Bullsh*t Jobs | David Graeber | RSA Replay - YouTube
"In 2013 David Graeber, professor of anthropology at LSE, wrote an excoriating essay on modern work for Strike! magazine. “On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs” was read over a million times and the essay translated in seventeen different languages within weeks. Graeber visits the RSA to expand on this phenomenon, and will explore how the proliferation of meaningless jobs - more associated with the 20th-century Soviet Union than latter-day capitalism - has impacted modern society. In doing so, he looks at how we value work, and how, rather than being productive, work has become an end in itself; the way such work maintains the current broken system of finance capital; and, finally, how we can get out of it."
davidgraeber  bullshitjobs  employment  jobs  work  2018  economics  neoliberalism  capitalism  latecapitalism  sovietunion  bureaucracy  productivity  finance  policy  politics  unschooling  deschooling  labor  society  purpose  schooliness  debt  poverty  inequality  rules  anticapitalism  morality  wealth  power  control  technology  progress  consumerism  suffering  morals  psychology  specialization  complexity  systemsthinking  digitization  automation  middlemanagement  academia  highered  highereducation  management  administration  adminstrativebloat  minutia  universalbasicincome  ubi  supplysideeconomics  creativity  elitism  thecultofwork  anarchism  anarchy  zero-basedaccounting  leisure  taylorism  ethics  happiness  production  care  maintenance  marxism  caregiving  serviceindustry  gender  value  values  gdp  socialvalue  education  teaching  freedom  play  feminism  mentalhealth  measurement  fulfillment  supervision  autonomy  humans  humnnature  misery  canon  agency  identity  self-image  self-worth  depression  stress  anxiety  solidarity  camaraderie  respect  community 
january 2019 by robertogreco
David Graeber on a Fair Future Economy - YouTube
"David Graeber is an anthropologist, a leading figure in the Occupy movement, and one of our most original and influential public thinkers.

He comes to the RSA to address our current age of ‘total bureaucratization’, in which public and private power has gradually fused into a single entity, rife with rules and regulations, whose ultimate purpose is the extraction of wealth in the form of profits.

David will consider what it would take, in terms of intellectual clarity, political will and imaginative power – to conceive and build a flourishing and fair future economy, which would maximise the scope for individual and collective creativity, and would be sustainable and just."
democracy  liberalism  directdemocracy  borders  us  finance  globalization  bureaucracy  2015  ows  occupywallstreet  governance  government  economics  politics  policy  unschooling  unlearning  schooliness  technology  paperwork  future  utopianism  capitalism  constitution  rules  regulation  wealth  power  communism  authority  authoritarianism  creativity  neoliberalism  austerity  justice  socialjustice  society  ideology  inequality  revolution  global  international  history  law  legal  debt  freedom  money  monetarypolicy  worldbank  imf  markets  banks  banking  certification  credentials  lobbying  collusion  corruption  privatization  credentialization  deschooling  canon  firstamendment 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Inside and Outside the Cage – spottedtoad
"School, as I’ve said a number of times, serves this purpose already. I’ll sometimes encounter people who treat the idea that kids learn relatively little in school, that it’s a pointless hamster wheel that doesn’t get anyone anywhere, as some kind of scandal or shock. Maybe, but have you seen adult life lately? Is what kids do on an average school day so much more pointless and lonely and anomic than what you did yesterday- not than your ideal of what a ten year old or thirty year old should be doing, but what you actually, personally did? American parents are insanely competitive and push their kids and their kids’ schools to do all kinds of pointless shit, because we literally don’t have any other idea how to fill their and our days. They’re already staring at screens for nine hours a day. It could get worse. Four times as many young women 25-34 years old overdosed last year as in 1999. I don’t think school is the problem.

Maybe it’s a Tragedy of the (Missing) Commons. Maybe if you, and you, and you, and you, all pulled your kid out of school, tuned in, turned on (to Jesus or Allah or John Dewey or whoever), and dropped out, let them run around and build forts and make out or read Dante or whatever, maybe they can reinvent society on better grounds. The Benedict Option, like Rod Dreher says.  I’m not saying it’s impossible, and maybe we all need to be more utopian on our home turf even while being less so on other people’s. The ideal- or at least our own ideals- might be more within our grasp than we think. Maybe.

Or maybe what limited store of self-reliance we have is going to be destroyed, utterly, by the next wave of technology, or the next, and the best we can hope for is a benevolently paternalist technostate, the FitBit vibrating on our wrist to tell us to stop being inert, urging us to less self-destruction than we’d otherwise tend, telling us, whether we’re ten or fifty, to turn in our homework next time they see us and to remember to put our names on our papers if we want to get credit on the test."
education  homeschool  2017  unschooling  deschooling  commons  johndewey  benedictoption  roddreher  utopia  self-reliance  individualism  schools  schooling  freedom  technology  via:ayjay 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Contra* podcast — Mapping Access
"a podcast about disability, design justice, and the lifeworld. Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play, or play from our website."

[See also:
https://www.mapping-access.com/podcast/2018/12/29/episode-1-contra-design-with-sara-hendren

"In this first episode of the podcast, we talk to design researcher Sara Hendren, who teaches at Olin College of Engineering, about disability, critical design, and poetic creation.

Show notes and transcription

++++

Themes:

Critical Design

Theory of critical design revised by disability

Writing as/part of critical design

Disability politics in relation to design

Translational work and science communication; critical design as a “friendly Trojan horse”

Things as an index of ideas

STEAM, knowledge, and power

Links:

Sara Hendren (https://sarahendren.com)

Abler blog (https://ablersite.org/)

Adaptation and Ability Lab (http://aplusa.org/)

Wendy Jacob and Temple Grandin, Squeeze Chair (https://patient-innovation.com/post/1047?language=en)

Sketch Model project at Olin College (http://www.olin.edu/collaborate/sketch-model/)

Ivan Illich, Tools for Conviviality (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/253076.Tools_for_Conviviality)

Karen Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway (https://www.dukeupress.edu/Meeting-the-Universe-Halfway/)

Aimi Hamraie, Building Access: Universal Design and the Politics of Disability (https://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/building-access)

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Introduction Description:

The podcast introductory segment is composed to evoke friction. It begins with sounds of a wheelchair rhythmically banging down metal steps, the putter of an elevator arriving at a person’s level, and an elevator voice saying “Floor two, Floor three.” Voices begin to define Contra*. Layered voices say “Contra is friction…Contra is…Contra is nuanced…Contra is transgressive…Contra is good trouble…Contra is collaborative…Contra is a podcast!…Contra is a space for thinking about design critically…Contra is subversive…Contra is texture…”

An electric guitar plays a single note to blend out the sound.

The rhythmic beat of an electronic drum begins and fades into the podcast introduction.

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Episode Introduction:

Welcome to Contra*: the podcast about disability, design justice, and the lifeworld. This show is about the politics of accessible and critical design—broadly conceived—and how accessibility can be more than just functional or assistive. It can be conceptual, artful, and world-changing.

I’m your host, Aimi Hamraie .  I am a professor at Vanderbilt University, a designer and design researcher, and the director of the Critical Design Lab, a multi-institution collaborative focused on disability, technology, and critical theory.  Members of the lab collaborate on a number of projects focused on hacking ableism, speaking back to inaccessible public infrastructures, and redesigning the methods of participatory design—all using a disability culture framework. This podcast provides a window into the kinds of discussions we have within the lab, as well as the conversations we are hoping to put into motion. So in coming episodes, you’ll also hear from myself and the other designers and researchers in the lab, and we encourage you to get in touch with us via our website, www.mapping-access.com or on Twitter at @criticaldesignl

In this first episode of the podcast, we talk to design researcher Sara Hendren, who teaches at Olin College of Engineering, about disability, critical design, and poetic creation.

Sara and I talk about her work in the fields of critical design and assistive technology, including how she came to this work, how she is thinking about strategy and practice, and also her current work on bridging the humanities with STEM education."]
accessibility  disability  aimihamraie  ableism  podcasts  disabilitystudies  criticaldesign  olincollege  assistivetechnology  technology  poeticcreation  creativity  sarahendren  ivanillich  toolsforconviviality  wendyjacob  templegrandin  stem  knowledge  power  karenbarad  adaptation  materialculture  socialimagination  art  design  thinking  inclusivity  capitalism  howwewrite  howwethink  making  communication  academia  scholarship  ethics  politics  difference  jargon  language 
january 2019 by robertogreco
We’re Having the Wrong Conversation About the Future Of Schools
"Despite the rhetoric, modern movements to reform schools have had a devastating effect on education"



"As a full-time teacher, I don’t have a lot of time to look up from the dailiness of the job to consider something as nebulous as the “future” of education. When I do, I feel a vague unease that too many non-teachers seem to have a lot of time to do this kind of thinking.

One thing in my favor is that education reform seems to take the same basic forms, year after year. There’s the standards and accountability movement and the ongoing attempts to give it “teeth.” Then there are the tech giants peddling autonomy and self-direction in lieu of soul-crushing activities like reading The Outsiders and using protractors. And though the latter reformers are often critics of the former, the two have a lot in common.

Both represent billion-dollar industries. Both frequently co-opt a rhetoric of liberation, autonomy, and empowerment. Both can barely disguise a deep disdain for teachers and schools, especially of the “sage on the stage” variety. And both are almost exclusively headed up by white men.

These are the kind of people setting a bold agenda for the future of education.

Admittedly, us unruly American educators would have a hard time coming up with anything coherent enough to compete with the brave visions set forth by the leaders of these two industries. The very fact that such an all-encompassing solution is needed testifies to their dominance in framing the narrative around American schools. Mired in the day-to-day challenges and complexities of actually caring for and educating children, many teachers exhibit a complete failure of imagination when it comes to sweeping monolithic initiatives with pithy acronyms, eye-catching logos, and font pairings that are straight fire.

But we do need to change. Beyond the usual Alice Cooper-type critiques, we teachers have been especially complicit in the widespread marginalizing, neuroticizing, and criminalizing of our most vulnerable students. Yes, we need to stop boring future white rockstars and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. This is already well known. But, more importantly, we also need to stop harming children of color with our whitewashed curriculum, inequitable funding systems, and disparate use of punitive disciplinary measures.

Can today’s reformers help us make progress toward these goals? Or do they exacerbate, perpetuate, and contribute to the very problems we face?

Trying to pin deception, manipulation, and violence on this rag-tag bunch leaves me feeling petty and mean-spirited. After all, they’re often so upbeat and sincere, their rhetoric so humanistic and progressive. Ted Dintersmith, former venture capitalist and billionaire author of the book What School Could Be, recently teamed up with Prince Ea, who has made not one but two viral videos echoing the same message: schools must change. And on the standards and accountability side, David Coleman, “architect” of the Common Core and now CEO of the College Board, has boldly laid out a “beautiful vision” for American schools. In a field plagued by widespread mediocrity and entrenched inequities, shouldn’t we applaud any moves toward a more inspiring, inclusive future?

The problem is that, despite all the rhetoric and good intentions, both these movements have had a devastating effect on education, all while continually escaping blame for their outsized impact. Any negative outcomes are used to justify further expansion and dominance. Poor test scores and persistent achievement gaps aren’t seen as issues with the tests, but as misalignment and implicit bias on the part of teachers. Student attention deficit and boredom aren’t seen as a function of technology addiction, but rather an occasion to blast schools for their inability to fully capitalize on the promise of the digital age.

Not surprisingly, this seeming unassailable innocence reveals close links to the logics of white supremacy culture, especially the values of individualism, objectivity, and so-called meritocracy. They additionally amplify neoliberal beliefs in the absolute goods of privacy and consumer choice, thus shifting the blame away from dominant elites under the guise of “empowerment.” To borrow the central metaphor from Todd Rose’s The End of Average, they ultimately seek to style us as fighter pilots in the “cockpits of our economy,” where we must summon limitless initiative, grit, and resourcefulness just to survive.

Ultimately, their ideas are rooted in America’s original “solutions” to the problems of pluralism, wherein subtle self-effacement and silencing became stratagems for consolidating power. All of this is part of a long tradition in the United States, one that dates back to colonial times, guiding both the “Strange Compromise” of 1789 and the founding of the Common School. Although these roots may be less obvious in our day, they are arguably more powerful and moneyed than ever before."



"Ultimately, the several silences of education reform have proven a powerful gambit for privatization and profit. These industries implicitly offer themselves as neutral alternatives to our fraught political climate, much as Horace Mann’s enjoinder to “read without comment” secularized schools in a sectarian age. They also shift the onus of agency and ownership from themselves onto the student, who assumes full responsibility for finding and following their own educational path.

Whereas Mann, perhaps unconsciously, hoped to indoctrinate students into his supposedly doctrineless Unitarianism, these reformers peddle the so-called empty doctrines of individualism, personalization, objectivity, entrepreneurialism, and meritocracy—all while exacerbating inequities and deprofessionalizing teachers.

Resisting these trends starts by seeing them as two sides of the same coin. Anything that counsels and valorizes silence—before the text, the test, or even the individual student—may partake in this phenomenon. The primary effect is always to atomize: content into itemized bits, classrooms into individualized projects and timelines, and each of us into solitary individuals pursuing personalized pathways.

Among the many omissions implicit in this vision is the notion that each student has equal access to a pathway of choice. Once that false premise is established, you are truly on your own. Pull yourself up by the bootstraps, find your own personal road less traveled, dive headfirst into the entrepreneurial shark tank. Unfortunately, far too many smaller-scale reform movements espouse a similar ethos, often flooding Twitter with a toxic positivity that ignores intransigent inequities and injustices."



"None of this is intended to romanticize the educational mainstays of the past: lectures, textbooks, worksheets. But we should note how these more modern trends themselves often devolve into regressive, behaviorist, sit-and-get pedagogy.

Confronted by daunting challenges like widespread budget shortfalls, inequitable funding, increasing school segregation, whitewashed curriculum, and racial injustice, it’s no wonder we would reach for solutions that appear easy, inexpensive, and ideologically empty. At a time when we most need to engage in serious deliberations about the purposes and future of schools, we instead equivocate and efface ourselves before tests and technology, leaving students to suffer or succeed within their own educational echo chamber.

As appealing as these options may seem, they are not without content or consequences. Ironically, today’s progressive educators find themselves in the strange position of having to fight reform, resisting those who would render everything—including their own intentions and impact—invisible."
arthurchiaravalli  education  edreform  reform  history  invisibility  progressive  siliconvalley  infividualism  horacemann  2018  collegeboard  individualism  personalization  commonschool  us  inequality  justice  socialjustice  injustice  race  racism  whitesupremacy  reading  hilarymoss  thomasjefferson  commoncore  davidcoleman  politics  policy  closereading  howweread  ela  johnstuartmill  louiserosenblatt  sat  standardizedtesting  standardization  tedtalks  teddintersmith  democracy  kenrobinson  willrichardson  entrepreneurship  toddrose  mikecrowley  summitschools  religion  secularism  silence  privatization  objectivity  meritocracy  capitalism  teaching  howweteach  schools  publicschools  learning  children  ideology  behaviorism  edtech  technology  society  neoliberalism 
december 2018 by robertogreco