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Carol Black on Twitter: "I'm sorry, but this is delusional. If you don't read the book the first time for rhythm and flow, just *read* it, you haven't read the book. You have dissected it. This is like the vivisection of literature. There is no author ali
"I'm sorry, but this is delusional. If you don't read the book the first time for rhythm and flow, just *read* it, you haven't read the book. You have dissected it. This is like the vivisection of literature. There is no author alive who would want their book read this way."



"Look, the reality is that most people do not want to analyze literature. It's a specialty interest, a niche thing. There is absolutely no reason all people should have to do this. By forcing it we just create an aversion to books.

[@SOLEatHome "Would you consider someone re-reading a book they love and noticing things they missed the first time analysis? It at least fits what has come to be known as "close reading""]

Kids who become writers (or filmmakers, or musicians) re-read, re-watch, re-listen to their favorite things repetitively, obsessively. They internalize structure, rhythm, characterization, language, vocabulary, dialogue, intuitively, instinctively.

Close reading & analysis is a separate activity, it requires a whole different stance / attitude toward the book. It can enhance this deeper intuitive understanding or it can shut it down, turn it into something mechanical & disengaged.

I think it's a huge mistake to push this analytical stance on children when they are too young. I was an English major, & I don't think I benefited from it until college. Younger kids should just find things they love & process them in ways that make sense to them.

This is one of the many delusional things about the way literature is taught in HS. The reality is you have to read a book at the *bare minimum* twice in order to do meaningful analysis. But there is never time for this. So we just club the thing to death on the first reading.

One of the principal things a writer does is to work incredibly hard at refining the way one sentence flows into the next, one chapter springboards off the last. To experience this as a reader you have to immerse yourself, turn off the analytical brain, just *read* the damn book.

To insert analysis into this process on a first reading is like watching a film by pausing every couple of minutes to make notes before continuing. It's fine to do that in later study, but if you do it the first time through you've destroyed everything the filmmaker worked for."

[@irasocol: How a teacher destroys not just reading but culture. Can we let kids experience an author's work without dissection? How I tried to address this in 2012... http://speedchange.blogspot.com/2012/11/why-do-we-read-why-do-we-write.html "]



[This was in repsonse to a thread that began with:
https://twitter.com/SOLEatHome/status/1053338882496958465

"This thread details a real school assignment that was asked of a high school student to do while reading a book they hadn't read before. I assure you this is is not something isolated to one school:

Annotate.

Inside front cover: major character with space for...

...character summaries, page reference for key scenes or moments of character development. Evidently these are enormous books.

Inside Back Cover: list of themes, allusions, images, motifs, key scenes, plot line, epiphanies, etc. Add pg. references or notes. List vocab words...

...if there's still room. (big books or small writing?)

Start of each chapter: do a quick summary of the chapter. Title each chapter as soon as you finish it, esp. if the chapters don't have titles.

Top margins: plot notes/words phrases that summarize. Then go back...

...and mark the chapter carefully (more on these marks to come)

Bottom and side margins: interpretive notes, questions, remarks that refer to the meaning of the page (???). Notes to tie in w/ notes on inside back cover

Header: Interpretive notes and symbols to be used...

...underline or highlight key words, phrases, sentences that are important to understanding the work
questions/comments in the margins--your conversation with the text
bracket important ideas/passages
use vertical lines at the margin to emphasize what's been already marked...

...connect ideas with lines or arrows
use numbers in the margin to indicate the sequence of points the author makes in developing a single argument
use a star, asterisk, or other doo-dad at the margin--use a consistent symbol--(presumably to not mix up your doo-dads?) to...

...be used sparingly to emphasize the ten or twenty most important statements in the book.
Use ???for sections/ideas you don't understand
circle words you don't know. Define them in the margins (How many margins does a page have?)
A checkmark means "I understand"...

...use !!! when you come across something new, interesting or surprising
And other literary devices (see below)

You may want to mark:
Use and S for Symbols: a symbol is a literal thing that stands for something else which help to discover new layers of thinking...

Use an I for Imagery, which includes words that appeal to the five senses. Imagery is important for understanding an authors message and attitudes
Use an F for Figurative Language like similes, metaphors, etc., which often reveal deeper layers of meaning...

Use a T for Tone, which is the overall mood of the piece. Tone can carry as much meaning as the plot does.
Use a Th for Theme: timeless universal ideas or a message about life, society, etc.
Plot elements (setting, mood, conflict)
Diction (word choice)

The end. ::sighs::"]
carolblack  irasocol  howweread  reading  literature  closereading  2018  school  schooliness  education  absurdity  literaryanalysis  writers  writing  howwewrite  filmmaking  howwelearn  academia  academics  schools  unschooling  deschooling  analysis  understanding  repetition  experience  structure  rhythm  characterization  language  vocabulary  dialogue  noticing  intuition  instinct  film  flow 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Paolo Pedercini 🌹 on Twitter: "An anti-battle royale / walking simulator in which you start with a group of friends in a small area and, as the circle expands, you gradually lose touch with them, too busy accumulating stuff and piecing together fragmen
"An anti-battle royale / walking simulator in which you start with a group of friends in a small area and, as the circle expands, you gradually lose touch with them, too busy accumulating stuff and piecing together fragments of a story that doesn't make any sense"
paolopedercini  scale  small  walking  understanding  2018  accumulation  socialmedia  networks  networking 
september 2018 by robertogreco
James Bridle on New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future - YouTube
"As the world around us increases in technological complexity, our understanding of it diminishes. Underlying this trend is a single idea: the belief that our existence is understandable through computation, and more data is enough to help us build a better world.

In his brilliant new work, leading artist and writer James Bridle surveys the history of art, technology, and information systems, and reveals the dark clouds that gather over our dreams of the digital sublime."
quantification  computationalthinking  systems  modeling  bigdata  data  jamesbridle  2018  technology  software  systemsthinking  bias  ai  artificialintelligent  objectivity  inequality  equality  enlightenment  science  complexity  democracy  information  unschooling  deschooling  art  computation  computing  machinelearning  internet  email  web  online  colonialism  decolonization  infrastructure  power  imperialism  deportation  migration  chemtrails  folkliterature  storytelling  conspiracytheories  narrative  populism  politics  confusion  simplification  globalization  global  process  facts  problemsolving  violence  trust  authority  control  newdarkage  darkage  understanding  thinking  howwethink  collapse 
september 2018 by robertogreco
The Convivial Society, No. 5: Action
"In any case, we occupy a perplexing place, it seems to me, given the nature of the world constituted by digital media. By "world" I mean something like the interpretation of reality that we inhabit. It is within these worlds that our action derives motive force and intelligibility. Human beings have always shared the same earth, but we have lived in very different worlds.

The shape of our world in this sense is molded by a number of factors, some of which are felt by others and some which may be unique to us. Invariably, however, our technology and media come into play. They sustain the symbolic and conceptual infrastructure of our worlds. They nourish and constrain the imagination. They generate habits and patterns of thought. They not only supply the contents of thought, they condition what is thinkable. And our actions are meaningful within these worlds and the implicit narrative frames they provide for our lives.

It seems to me that one consequence of digital media is the proliferation of such worlds and the emergence of a public sphere in which these worlds become unavoidably entangled, for better and, very often, for worse. Under these conditions, our worlds fray and shear. Motivation is sapped, purpose depleted. Regrettably, one result of this is reactionary violence. But another result is nihilism. Another still is apathy or paralysis. Ironic detachment is yet another. This is just one way the conditions for meaningful action are undermined.

Action also requires a context in order to be intelligible and meaningful. It requires a time and a place. But we are alienated from both time and place, so we are often at loss as to what we are to do. This dynamic was already identified by Kierkegaard in the mid-nineteenth century as the telegraph contributed to the emergence of "the news" as we have come to know it: daily dispatches of happenings from around the globe.

Kierkegaard, in Hubert Dreyfus's summary, believed "the new massive distribution of desituated information was making every sort of information immediately available to anyone, thereby producing a desituated, detached spectator. Thus, the new power of the press to disseminate information to everyone in a nation led its readers to transcend their local, personal involvement . . . . Kierkegaard saw that the public sphere was destined to become a detached world in which everyone had an opinion about and commented on all public matters without needing any first-hand experience and without having or wanting any responsibility." Perhaps that very last line holds an important clue. Perhaps action demands responsibility and that is precisely what we are unwilling to take.

Hannah Arendt, too, had a great deal to say about action, which for her was a deeply political phenomenon in the sense that it was made possible by the plurality of the human condition. "Action, the only activity that goes on directly between men without the intermediary of things or matter," she wrote, "corresponds to the human condition of plurality … this plurality is specifically the condition — not only the conditio sine qua non, but the conditio per quam — of all political life." Action, as she noted, happened "without the intermediary of things or matter." She imagines, thus, the face-to-face encounter where action is speech and speech is action. It was through action that we disclosed ourselves before others and received in return the integrity of the self.

She distinguished between the private and the public realm, an ancient distinction, of course. The private realm was the realm of the family, the household. The public realm was the realm where individuals appeared before one another and where their words and their deeds counted for something. She also introduced a third category, the social realm. A more recent development, it was the realm of mass society. A realm of a diminished plurality that also entailed anonymity. Individuals are aggregated in the social realm, but they do not appear before one another and thus action, in her sense, was undermined.

Much of her analysis, it seems to me, can be applied to what has become the realm of our appearance: social media. It is where most of us turn to be seen and to make our mark, as it were. But we find that the technological intermediary that constitutes this space of our appearing works against us. The scale is all wrong. Rather than returning to us the gift of integrity, it amplifies our self-consciousness. It disassociates word and deed. It discourages responsibility. It tempts us to mistake performative gestures for action.

Arendt, however, was also the theorist of new beginnings, of natality, and with this I will bring these comments to a close: “But there remains also the truth that every end in history also contains a new beginning; this beginning is the promise, the only ‘message’ which the end can ever produce. Beginning, before it becomes a historical event, is the supreme capacity of man; politically, it is identical with man’s freedom. Initium ut esset homo creatus est– 'that a beginning be made man was created' said Augustine. This beginning is guaranteed by each new birth; it is indeed every man.”"
conviviality  lmsacasas  2018  tools  toolsforconvivilaity  zoominginandout  morality  purpose  reality  understanding  violence  digital  socialmedia  kierkegaard  apathy  hubertdreyfus  hannharendt  action  intgrity  self-consciousness  michaelsacasas 
june 2018 by robertogreco
The Problem With “Measure” – Teachers Going Gradeless
"Measurement requires a standard unit, a recognized standard that can be objectively applied in a context. I can measure my bike ride to school in units of length. If I share that measurement with my colleague who also bikes to school, we can objectively determine who travels the greatest distance each day. What isn’t measurable is the peace that twenty minute ride brings to my day.

When it comes to measurement, learning fits into the same category as love, pain, anger, joy, and peace of mind. Learning can’t be objectively measured. There is no standard unit of measurement to apply to learning. A skill can be demonstrated, progress can be noted, understanding can be communicated and shared, but technically this evidence of learning isn’t measurable."
measurement  assessment  teaching  learning  unschooling  deschooling  grades  grading  scotthazeu  2017  objectivity  subjectivity  skills  standardization  standards  understanding  love  pain  anger  joy  peaceofmind  emotions 
april 2018 by robertogreco
“The Moral Crisis of the University” | Gardner Writes
"Michael B. Katz is a new discovery for me (h/t Roving Librarian). His scholarship on the history of public education in the U.S.is fascinating, troubling, and revelatory. I’m sure his conclusions are contested–whose aren’t?–but at times the clarity and forcefulness of his insights take my breath away.

“The Moral Crisis of the University,” reprinted in Katz’s last book, Reconstructing American Education (1987), is full of such insights. The essay doesn’t make for happy reading, but every time I read it I come away with a renewed understanding of what will be lost if higher education centered on the life of the mind and nurtured by a strong sense of civic obligation disappears. In many cases, this has already happened. The change Katz describes in 1987 has accelerated in ways that may go beyond his worst nightmare. Along with that acceleration, of course, is a great deal of business as usual, as there always is. We look here when the real erosion is happening there. It’s hard to know where to look, even when there are no distractions–and there are always distractions.

There’s an old joke about going broke, credited to Hemingway: Q: “How did you go bankrupt?” A: “Little by little, then all at once.” During the little by little stage, people who sound various alarms risk being called cranks, or worse. And it’s true: a premature or mischievous cultivation of outrage may damage or destroy what little semblance of community may be left.

And yet, the little by little becomes greater every year. Michael Katz gives me a way to see that. With that clarity also comes hope, the hope that recognizing problems really is the first step toward addressing them, managing them, perhaps even solving them.

Here, then, for Week 7 of Open Learning ’18, my last week as hub director, is some Michael Katz for us to consider together.
[W]hat is it exactly that makes a university distinct from other social institutions? [Robert Paul] Wolff offered a compelling definition based on a conception of the ideal university as a “community of learning.” The ideal university, he argued, should be “a community of persons united by collective understandings, by common and communal goals, by bonds of reciprocal obligation, and by a flow of sentiment which makes the preservation of the community an object of desire, not merely a matter of prudence or a command of duty.” Community implies a form of social obligation governed by principles different from those operative in the marketplace and state. Laws of of supply and demand lose priority; wage-labor is not the template for all human relations; the translation of individuals into commodities is resisted. The difficult task of defining common goals or acceptable activity is neither avoided nor deflected onto bureaucracy….

For all their problems, universities and their faculties remain immensely privileged. They retain a freedom of activity and expression not permitted in any other major social institution. There are two justifications for this privilege. One is that it is an essential condition of teaching and learning. The other is that universities have become the major source of moral and social criticism in modern life. They are the major site of whatever social conscience we have left…. If the legitimacy of universities rested only on their service to the marketplace and state, internal freedom would not be an issue. But their legitimacy rests, in fact, on something else: their integrity. Like all privileges, the freedom enjoyed by universities carries correlative responsibilities. In their case it is intellectual honesty and moral courage. Modern universities are the greatest centers of intellectual power in history. Without integrity, they can become little more than supermarkets with raw power for sale. This is the tendency in the modern history of the higher learning. It is what I call the moral crisis of the university.


I firmly believe that these large questions are essential foundations for any effective change or conservation in higher education. For always some new things must be invented, some things will benefit from change, and some things must be conserved. Some core principles must remain non-negotiable. I agree with Katz: tenured faculty in higher education are the last, best hope for addressing these large questions of common goals and acceptable activities.

It may not yet be too late."
gardnercampbell  via:lukeneff  2018  lifeofthemind  liberalarts  highered  highereducation  colleges  universities  community  learning  civics  robertpaulwolff  michaelkatz  1987  howwelearn  purpose  meaning  bureaucracy  interdependence  collectivism  understanding  responsibility  integrity  morality  ethics  neoliberalism 
april 2018 by robertogreco
ties and insight | sara hendren
"Jill Lepore on the writing of Rachel Carson, in the new New Yorker:
Carson’s father died in 1935, followed, two years later, by her older sister, leaving Carson to care for her mother and her nieces, ages eleven and twelve; she later adopted her grandnephew, when he was orphaned at the age of four. These obligations sometimes frustrated Carson, but not half as much as they frustrate her biographers. For [these biographers], Carson’s familial obligations—in particular, the children—are nothing but burdens that “deprived her of privacy and drained her physical and emotional energy.” They mean this generously, as a way of accounting for why Carson didn’t write more, and why, except for her Sun articles, she never once submitted a manuscript on time.

But caring for other people brings its own knowledge. Carson came to see the world as beautiful, wild, animal, and vulnerable, each part attached to every other part, not only through prodigious scientific research but also through a lifetime of caring for the very old and the very young, wiping a dying man’s brow, tucking motherless girls into bed, heating up dinners for a lonely little boy. The domestic pervades Carson’s understanding of nature. “Wildlife, it is pointed out, is dwindling because its home is being destroyed,” she wrote in 1938, “but the home of the wildlife is also our home.” If she’d had fewer ties, she would have had less insight."
"
care  caring  jilllepore  rachelcarson  children  emotionallabor  vulnerability  science  age  aging  nature  understanding  howwelearn  wildlife  sustainability  biographies  biographers 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Gender "pronoun war" is about freedom for sure, but not free speech - NOW Magazine
"In 2000, I started a new job, and on my first day of work I got up the nerve to ask my co-workers to try using the pronoun “they” to help me make the space I needed. And help they did.

Though I didn’t know it at the time, in a cluttered corner office at a community health centre in Winnipeg, an oddball team of sexual health educators did the unthinkable: they just listened. They just believed me that it mattered. They took my word for it that I was not deriving pleasure from imposing random meaningless limits on their linguistic freedom. They learned to adapt; I learned something, too. We didn’t realize it was so earth-shattering.

Did my new co-workers understand why I needed this? I really don’t know, but clearly they didn’t think that was the most important issue. We don’t need to understand something in order to sense the value it holds for others. In fact, the ability to treat experiences that we don’t understand with care, is a marker of the kind of society I want to live in.

What would have happened if, as a reply, my new co-workers had instead pulled out the organizational policies and said, “You can’t make me”? I’m grateful that I don’t know. They would simply never have behaved that way.

At that job, our task was to teach the sexual health curriculum in Manitoba’s high schools. The teens we worked with didn’t seem to notice that my co-presenters called me “they.” We came to their class, we talked about relationships and birth control, dating violence and HIV, racism and homophobia, we answered their urgent, timid, voice-cracking questions as honestly as we could, and we headed home.

But when we visited what were known as the “special needs” classrooms, I noticed something different. Here, for some reason, the students corrected one another without being prompted, they used “they” without explanation or fanfare.

Why were these kids, labelled with an “intellectual disability,” effortlessly able to do what others are unable or unwilling to? Maybe these kids intuitively understood something about respect, through its painful absence in their own lives. Maybe they had never been led to believe in the first place that their freedom trumped that of others."



"Just as the Black Lives Matter movement demands of white people, and as the Standing Rock protest demands of settlers, those who move easily through a gendered world that blocks and stops and harms others at every turn, are simply not “free” to ignore injustice.

Fortunately, while the internet argues on, most non-binary folks are not waiting around. They are miles ahead, busy creating space for themselves and others, building the society they want to live in. I hope, like me, they get to have moments of freedom when they can see that the society they long for is, sometimes, already here."

[via: https://twitter.com/cblack__/status/934465157366890496 ]
gender  pronouns  they  2017  jakepyne  listening  understanding  experience  society  policy  disabilities  disability  freedom  justice  socialjustice 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Show your support | Educationforward
"Education has to change – to move forward – so that our schools and students can face the unprecedented challenges of the future, with confidence, capability and compassion.

We believe:

1. That schools should be judged on a much broader set of outcomes (e.g. students’ resourcefulness; their ability to engage with political, economic and ecological issues; their confidence with digital technologies; their enjoyment of reading) than they currently face;

2. That the voices of parents, families, and students should be central to process of education policy formulation;

3. That students who neither want, nor need, to go to university should not be made to feel inadequate or failures by an overly narrow and overly academic curriculum;

4. That high-stakes testing has gone too far, has caused too much stress and anxiety to teachers and students, and is a wholly inadequate means of assessing a student’s full range of talents;

5. That the way teachers teach should foster more than the ability to recall snippets of knowledge – the future will ask students not simply what they know, but what they can do with what they know, how they critically evaluate data, and what to do when they don’t know what to do ;

6. That the knowledge that will matter to students in the mid-21st century will be very different to the knowledge that is currently considered core – re-thinking a curriculum fit for the future is an urgent, widespread concern;

7. That providing evidence of learning has attempted to become ‘teacher-proof’, whilst teaching to the test has become endemic. We have to trust teacher judgements more and invest in their professional development;

8. That too many people cast the debate around education in binary terms, despite the growing numbers of schools whose students get good grades and develop confidence, capability and self-direction in their learning.We need to learn from these schools so that their practices can spread like wildfire;

9. That politicians should focus their energies less on cherry-picking evidence to support their entrenched views, and more on the fundamental purpose of education. We need to improve, and deepen, the quality of public debate around schooling;

10. That we live in times of turbulence and anxiety, where truth is a casualty of intolerance. Education has to help people strengthen their dispositions to tolerate uncertainty, to think carefully about complex issues, to understand the position of others and, where necessary, to disagree gracefully. This matters – not just for our communities and our children’s well-being, but for the future of our world."
education  change  sfsh  outcomes  resourcefulness  policy  schools  acadmemics  testing  standardizedtesting  stress  anxiety  teaching  learning  society  howweteach  howelearn  knowledge  tcsnmy  openstudioproject  lcproject  curriculum  purpose  schooling  turbulence  intolerance  truth  uncertainty  complexity  understanding  grace  disagreement  uk 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs vs. The Max Neef Model of Human Scale development
"Maslow wanted to understand what motivated people , in order to accomplish that he studied the various needs of people and created a hierarchy out of those needs. The idea was that the needs that belong towards the end of the Pyramid are Deficit Needs/ Basic Needs (Physiological, safety, love/belonging, esteem) and Growth Needs (Self Actualization).

One must satisfy lower level basic needs before progressing on to meet higher level growth needs. Once these needs have been reasonably satisfied, one may be able to reach the highest level called self-actualization.

CRITICISM

The strongest criticism of this theory is based on the way this theory was formed. In order to create a definition of Self Actualization, Maslow identified 18 people as Self Actualizers and studied their characteristics, this is a very small percentage of people. Secondly there are artists, philosophers who do not meet the basic needs but show signs of Self Actualization.

One of the interesting ways of looking at theories that I learned in class was how a person’s place and identity impacts the work he/ she does. Maslow was from US, a capitalist nation, therefore his model never looks at group dynamics or the social aspect.

Contemporary research by Tay & Diener (2011) has tested Maslow’s theory by analyzing the data of 60,865 participants from 123 countries, representing every major region of the world. The survey was conducted from 2005 to 2010.
Respondents answered questions about six needs that closely resemble those in Maslow’s model: basic needs (food, shelter); safety; social needs (love, support); respect; mastery; and autonomy. They also rated their well-being across three discrete measures: life evaluation (a person’s view of his or her life as a whole), positive feelings (day-to-day instances of joy or pleasure), and negative feelings (everyday experiences of sorrow, anger, or stress).

The results of the study support the view that universal human needs appear to exist regardless of cultural differences. However, the ordering of the needs within the hierarchy was not correct.
“Although the most basic needs might get the most attention when you don’t have them,” Diener explains, “you don’t need to fulfill them in order to get benefits [from the others].” Even when we are hungry, for instance, we can be happy with our friends. “They’re like vitamins,” Diener says about how the needs work independently. “We need them all.”

Source : http://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html

vs.

Max Neef Model of Human Scale Development

Manfred max- Neef is a Chilean Economist. He defines the model as a taxonomy of human needs and a process by which communities can identify their “wealths” and “poverties” according to how these needs are satisfied.

He describes needs as being constant through all cultures and across historical time periods. The thing that changes with time and across cultures is the way that these needs are satisfied. According to the model human needs are to be understood as a system i.e. they are interrelated and interactive.

According to Max Neef the fundamental needs of humans are

• subsistence
• protection
• affection
• understanding
• participation
• leisure
• creation
• identity
• freedom

Max-Neef further classifies Satisfiers (ways of meeting needs) as follows.

1. Violators: claim to be satisfying needs, yet in fact make it more difficult to satisfy a need.

2. Pseudo Satisfiers: claim to be satisfying a need, yet in fact have little to no effect on really meeting such a need.

3. Inhibiting Satisfiers: those which over-satisfy a given need, which in turn seriously inhibits the possibility of satisfaction of other needs.

4. Singular Satisfiers: satisfy one particular need only. These are neutral in regard to the satisfaction of other needs.

5. Synergistic Satisfiers: satisfy a given need, while simultaneously contributing to the satisfaction of other needs.

It is interesting to note that Max-Neef came from Chile which was a socialist nation and therefore his model was more inclusive by considering society at large.

Hi, this article is a part of a series of articles I am writing while studying Design Led Innovation at Srishti Institute of Art, Design & Technology. They are meant to be reflections on things I learn or read about during this time.I look forward to any feedback or crit that you can provide. :)"
nhakhandelwal  2016  abrahammaslow  manfredmaxneef  psychology  self-actualization  humans  humanneeds  needs  motivation  safety  self-esteem  respect  mastery  autonomy  emotions  humandevelopment  creation  freedom  identity  leisure  understanding  participation  affection  protection  subsistence  classideas  sfsh  chile  culture  systemsthinking  humanscale  scale 
august 2017 by robertogreco
Doug Engelbart, transcontextualist | Gardner Writes
"I’ve been mulling over this next post for far too long, and the results will be brief and rushed (such bad food, and such small portions!). You have been warned.

The three strands, or claims I’m engaging with (EDIT: I’ve tried to make things clearer and more parallel in the list below):

1. The computer is “just a tool.” This part’s in partial response to the comments on my previous post. [http://www.gardnercampbell.net/blog1/?p=2158 ]

2. Doug Engelbart’s “Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework” [http://www.dougengelbart.org/pubs/augment-3906.html ] is “difficult to understand” or “poorly written.” This one’s a perpetual reply. 🙂 It was most recently triggered by an especially perplexing Twitter exchange shared with me by Jon Becker.

3. Engelbart’s ideas regarding the augmentation of human intellect aim for an inhuman and inhumane parsing of thought and imagination, an “efficiency expert” reduction of the richness of human cognition. This one tries to think about some points raised in the VCU New Media Seminar this fall.

These are the strands. The weave will be loose. (Food, textiles, textures, text.)

1. There is no such thing as “just a tool.” McLuhan wisely notes that tools are not inert things to be used by human beings, but extensions of human capabilities that redefine both the tool and the user. A “tooler” results, or perhaps a “tuser” (pronounced “TOO-zer”). I believe those two words are neologisms but I’ll leave the googling as an exercise for the tuser. The way I used to explain this is my new media classes was to ask students to imagine a hammer lying on the ground and a person standing above the hammer. The person picks up the hammer. What results? The usual answers are something like “a person with a hammer in his or her hand.” I don’t hold much with the elicit-a-wrong-answer-then-spring-the-right-one-on-them school of “Socratic” instruction, but in this case it was irresistible and I tried to make a game of it so folks would feel excited, not tricked. “No!” I would cry. “The result is a HammerHand!” This answer was particularly easy to imagine inside Second Life, where metaphors become real within the irreality of a virtual landscape. In fact, I first came up with the game while leading a class in Second Life–but that’s for another time.

So no “just a tool,” since a HammerHand is something quite different from a hammer or a hand, or a hammer in a hand. It’s one of those small but powerful points that can make one see the designed built world, a world full of builders and designers (i.e., human beings), as something much less inert and “external” than it might otherwise appear. It can also make one feel slightly deranged, perhaps usefully so, when one proceeds through the quotidian details (so-called) of a life full of tasks and taskings.

To complicate matters further, the computer is an unusual tool, a meta-tool, a machine that simulates any other machine, a universal machine with properties unlike any other machine. Earlier in the seminar this semester a sentence popped out of my mouth as we talked about one of the essays–“As We May Think”? I can’t remember now: “This is your brain on brain.” What Papert and Turkle refer to as computers’ “holding power” is not just the addictive cat videos (not that there’s anything wrong with that, I imagine), but something weirdly mindlike and reflective about the computer-human symbiosis. One of my goals continues to be to raise that uncanny holding power into a fuller (and freer) (and more metaphorical) (and more practical in the sense of able-to-be-practiced) mode of awareness so that we can be more mindful of the environment’s potential for good and, yes, for ill. (Some days, it seems to me that the “for ill” part is almost as poorly understood as the “for good” part, pace Morozov.)

George Dyson writes, “The stored-program computer, as conceived by Alan Turing and delivered by John von Neumann, broke the distinction between numbers that mean things and numbers that do things. Our universe would never be the same” (Turing’s Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe). This is a very bold statement. I’ve connected it with everything from the myth of Orpheus to synaesthetic environments like the one @rovinglibrarian shared with me in which one can listen to, and visualize, Wikipedia being edited. Thought vectors in concept space, indeed. The closest analogies I can find are with language itself, particularly the phonetic alphabet.

The larger point is now at the ready: in fullest practice and perhaps even for best results, particularly when it comes to deeper learning, it may well be that nothing is just anything. Bateson describes the moment in which “just a” thing becomes far more than “just a” thing as a “double take.” For Bateson, the double take bears a thrilling and uneasy relationship to the double bind, as well as to some kinds of derangement that are not at all beneficial. (This is the double-edged sword of human intellect, a sword that sometimes has ten edges or more–but I digress.) This double take (the kids call it, or used to call it, “wait what?”) indicates a moment of what Bateson calls “transcontextualism,” a paradoxical level-crossing moment (micro to macro, instance to meta, territory to map, or vice-versa) that initiates or indicates (hard to tell) deeper learning.
It seems that both those whose life is enriched by transcontextual gifts and those who are impoverished by transcontextual confusions are alike in one respect: for them there is always or often a “double take.” A falling leaf, the greeting of a friend, or a “primrose by the river’s brim” is not “just that and nothing more.” Exogenous experience may be framed in the contexts of dream, and internal thought may be projected into the contexts of the external world. And so on. For all this, we seek a partial explanation in learning and experience. (“Double Bind, 1969,” in Steps to an Ecology of Mind, U Chicago Press, 2000, p. 272). (EDIT: I had originally typed “eternal world,” but Bateson writes “external.” It’s an interesting typo, though, so I remember it here.)


It does seem to me, very often, that we do our best to purge our learning environments of opportunities for transcontextual gifts to emerge. This is understandable, given how bad and indeed “unproductive” (by certain lights) the transcontextual confusions can be. No one enjoys the feeling of falling, unless there are environments and guides that can make the falling feel like flying–more matter for another conversation, and a difficult art indeed, and one that like all art has no guarantees (pace Madame Tussaud).

2. So now the second strand, regarding Engelbart’s “Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework.” Much of this essay, it seems to me, is about identifying and fostering transcontextualism (transcontextualization?) as a networked activity in which both the individual and the networked community recognize the potential for “bootstrapping” themselves into greater learning through the kind of level-crossing Bateson imagines (Douglas Hofstadter explores these ideas too, particularly in I Am A Strange Loop and, it appears, in a book Tom Woodward is exploring and brought to my attention yesterday, Surfaces and Essences: Analogy as the Fuel and Fire of Thinking. That title alone makes the recursive point very neatly). So when Engelbart switches modes from engineering-style-specification to the story of bricks-on-pens to the dialogue with “Joe,” he seems to me not to be willful or even prohibitively difficult (though some of the ideas are undeniably complex). He seems to me to be experimenting with transcontextualism as an expressive device, an analytical strategy, and a kind of self-directed learning, a true essay: an attempt:

And by “complex situations” we include the professional problems of diplomats, executives, social scientists, life scientists, physical scientists, attorneys, designers–whether the problem situation exists for twenty minutes or twenty years.

A list worthy of Walt Whitman, and one that explicitly (and for me, thrillingly) crosses levels and enacts transcontextualism.

Here’s another list, one in which Engelbart tallies the range of “thought kernels” he wants to track in his formulative thinking (one might also say, his “research”):

The “unit records” here, unlike those in the Memex example, are generally scraps of typed or handwritten text on IBM-card-sized edge-notchable cards. These represent little “kernels” of data, thought, fact, consideration, concepts, ideas, worries, etc. That are relevant to a given problem area in my professional life.

Again, the listing enacts a principle: we map a problem space, a sphere of inquiry, along many dimensions–or we should. Those dimensions cross contexts–or they should. To think about this in terms of language for a moment, Engelbart’s idea seems to be that we should track our “kernels” across the indicative, the imperative, the subjunctive, the interrogative. To put it another way, we should be mindful of, and somehow make available for mindful building, many varieties of cognitive activity, including affect (which can be distinguished but not divided from cognition).

3. I don’t think this activity increases efficiency, if efficiency means “getting more done in less time.” (A “cognitive Taylorism,” as one seminarian put it.) More what is always the question. For me, Engelbart’s transcontextual gifts (and I’ll concede that there are likely transcontextual confusions in there too–it’s the price of trancontextualism, clearly) are such that the emphasis lands squarely on effectiveness, which in his essay means more work with positive potential (understanding there’s some disagreement but not total disagreement about… [more]
dougengelbart  transcontextualism  gardnercampbell  2013  gregorybateson  marshallmcluhan  socraticmethod  education  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  learning  hammerhand  technology  computers  computing  georgedyson  food  textiles  texture  text  understanding  tools  secondlife  seymourpapert  sherryturkle  alanturing  johnvonneumann  doublebind  waltwhitman  memex  taylorism  efficiency  cognition  transcontextualization 
july 2017 by robertogreco
some thoughts on the humanities - Text Patterns - The New Atlantis
"The idea that underlies Bakhtin’s hopefulness, that makes discovery and imagination essential to the work of the humanities, is, in brief, Terence’s famous statement, clichéd though it may have become: Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto. To say that nothing human is alien to me is not to say that everything human is fully accessible to me, fully comprehensible; it is not to erase or even to minimize cultural, racial, or sexual difference; but it is to say that nothing human stands wholly outside my ability to comprehend — if I am willing to work, in a disciplined and informed way, at the comprehending. Terence’s sentence is best taken not as a claim of achievement but as an essential aspiration; and it is the distinctive gift of the humanities to make that aspiration possible.

It is in this spirit that those claims that, as we have noted, emerged from humanistic learning, must be evaluated: that our age is postmodern, posthuman, postsecular. All the resources and practices of the humanities — reflective and critical, inquiring and skeptical, methodologically patient and inexplicably intuitive — should be brought to bear on these claims, and not with ironic detachment, but with the earnest conviction that our answers matter: they are, like those master concepts themselves, both diagnostic and prescriptive: they matter equally for our understanding of the past and our anticipating of the future."
alanjacobs  posthumanism  2016  humanities  understanding  empathy  postmodernism  postsecularism  georgesteiner  kennethburke  foucault  stephengrenblatt  via:lukeneff  erikdavis  raykurzweil  claudeshannon  mikhailbakhtin  terence  difference  comprehension  aspiration  progress  listening  optimism  learning  inquiry  history  future  utopia  michelfoucault 
july 2017 by robertogreco
When Did The Fight for Human Rights Begin? de Innovation Hub | Escúchalo gratis en SoundCloud
"Human rights are hotly-debated, but when did that debate begin? UCLA’s Lynn Hunt talks about what might have been the formative moment for human rights - and how we’re constantly changing our definition of equality."

[via: "The origins of human rights theory & its ties to the 18th c. novel. Historian Lynn Hunt on @IHubRadio:"
https://twitter.com/ablerism/status/885990212815474689

"And writers, fiction & non-fiction: take heart here about the power of words to enact new realities. Messy, asynchronous, but effectual."
https://twitter.com/ablerism/status/885992263712722945 ]

[See also:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7pD6Oogdeg

"Professorship in Historiography, with a response by Professor Sandra Fredman (Rhodes Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Oxford Martin Programme on Human Rights for FutureGenerations),University of Oxford, May 2014.
-http://strategicdialogue.org/humanitas
-http://www.torch.ox.ac.uk/humanitas
-http://www.crassh.cam.ac.uk/programme...

Declarations of rights, Professor Hunt argues in her lecture, do not emerge from long historical developments but rather from an acute sense of outrage. In other words, rights only become rights when they are claimed, and they are only claimed when they are violated. This poses a problem for the assertions of 'timelessness' and 'self-evidence' that often accompany declarations of rights. Professor Hunt argues that in the case of universal rights, an emotional epiphany comes before reason. Professor Sandra Fredman gives a response to Professor Hunt's lecture, building on the ideas raised as a way of looking at the future of human rights."

via: "If you want more Lynn Hunt on human rights theory, here you go. Force of nature, this scholar."
https://twitter.com/ablerism/status/886046387670003713 ]
lynnhunt  humanrights  history  novels  literature  2017  writing  whywewrite  empathy  understanding  humanities  change  changemaking  progress 
july 2017 by robertogreco
The Art of Teaching
[via: "The slide deck for the workshop is superb. Such a great experience, so grateful to @tchoi8 & the other participants." https://twitter.com/dphiffer/status/879465006449909760

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

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

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

( For a companion posting to this talk visit:

https://medium.com/@tchoi8/absence-is-presence-with-distance-c0712aada56c )]
taeyoonchoi  education  teaching  purpose  routine  ritual  silence  flow  conflict  communication  structure  nurture  authority  kojinkaratani  jean-lucnancy  community  howweteach  pedagogy  learning  howwelearn  eyeo2017  unlearning  curriculum  syllabus  sfpc  schoolforpoeticcomputation  art  craft  beauty  utility  generosity  sfsh  tcsnmy  lcproject  openstudioproject  classideas  cv  reciprocity  gifts  kant  discretion  instruction  discipline  johndewey  bmc  blackmountaincollege  justice  annialbers  stndardization  weaving  textiles  making  projectbasedlearning  materials  progress  progressive  unschooling  deschooling  control  experimentation  knowledge  fabrication  buckminsterfuller  constructivism  constructionism  georgehein  habit  freedom  democracy  paulofreire  judithbutler  sunaurataylor  walking  christinesunkim  uncertainty  representation  intervention  speculation  simulation  christopheralexander  objectives  outcomes  learningoutcomes  learningobjectives  remembering  creativity  evaluation  application  analysis  understanding  emancipation  allankaprow  judychicago  s 
june 2017 by robertogreco
The Seattle Review of Books - Here is a movie to remind you why you love reading and writing
"A lot of great movies adapted from written works have been released over the last month or so. Silence is a complex and challenging and ultimately rewarding adaptation of Shusaku Endo’s novel about the demands and responsibilities of faith. Fences is one of the most harrowing family dramas I’ve seen in years, with career-best performances from Denzel Washington and, especially, Viola Davis.

But one original movie in theaters right now, not adapted from a book or play, is a surprising tribute to the importance of the written word. I’m talking about Jim Jarmusch’s new film Paterson, and I’m telling you: if you love books and poetry and writing, you have to see this movie as soon as possible.

Paterson’s premise sounds like the setup for a limerick: Adam Driver stars as Paterson, a bus driver in Paterson, New Jersey. The film follows a week in his life, and not a whole lot, really, happens. Paterson is a man who likes his rituals: he walks the dog to the bar every night, and he writes a few lines of poetry into his notebook in the morning, and he likes to sit in the same spot and watch the water go over Paterson Falls. He and his girlfriend Laura (Golshifteh Farahani) live a quiet life that is mostly content. They could use a little more money, sure, but who couldn’t?

Paterson is a film of echoes. Certain themes repeat themselves over and over: fire, twins, rain. Paterson admires the poetry of William Carlos Williams, the city of Paterson’s most famous literary resident, and Williams’ work reverberates through the film as well. (Williams wrote an epic poem about the city also titled Paterson.) These little instances accrue into a fuller portrait, a pointillist masterpiece.

Paterson doesn’t write his poetry for the sake of immortality. He writes poetry because it’s how he processes the world. Driver reads the lines over and over in a halting voice as Paterson writes in his notebook and the handwritten words appear on screen. We see him sitting in his small office, lined with books by Williams and David Foster Wallace and Frank O’Hara, as he struggles to get the words just so. He seems to meet poets around every street corner: everyone is recording the universe in careful handwriting on lined paper in secret notebooks.

Paterson made me happier than any movie I’ve seen in recent memory. It’s a movie about art for the sake of art, a movie about writing and reading for no reason but for the pleasure of writing and reading. Paterson’s life inspires his art, which in turn inspires his life. There’s probably no big break around the corner for him. He’s probably not going to get a big thick hardcover anthology of his work. But he does it anyway, because he has to, and because it makes him better.

Trust me: you don’t want to half-watch Paterson on your couch while idly flicking through your phone. This is a movie to watch in the theater. Afterward, take public transit home. Bring a book of poetry to read on the bus or the train. Eavesdrop on some conversations. There’s art everywhere — you just have to be ready to receive it."
paterson  jimjarmusch  fil  towatch  poetry  everyday  notebooks  attention  mundane  paulconstant  2017  williamcarloswilliams  understanding  thinking  whywewrite  happiness  howwewrite  writing  words  notetaking  observation  listening  art  life  living  reading  artleisure  leisurearts 
january 2017 by robertogreco
What is to be done ? | Diagonal Thoughts
[via: http://stml.tumblr.com/post/155290210410 ]

"By Jean-Luc Godard

Written in January 1970 at the request of Simon Field and Peter Sainsbury for the magazine Afterimage, produced by Peter Whitehead. Published in Afterimage n°1, April 1970. Translated from French by Mo Teitelbaum.

1. We must make political films.

2. We must make films politically.

3. 1 and 2 are antagonist to each other and belong to two opposing conceptions of the world.

4. 1 belongs to the idealistic and metaphysical conception of the world.

5. 2 belongs to the Marxist and dialectical conception of the world.

6. Marxism struggles against idealism and the dialectical against the metaphysical.

7. This struggle is the struggle between the old and the new, between new ideas and old ones.

8. The social existence of men determines their thought.

9. The struggle between the old and the new is the struggle of classes.

10. To carry out 1 is to remain a being of the bourgeois class.

11. To carry out 2 is to take up a proletarian class position.

12. To carry out 1 is to make descriptions of situations.

13. To carry out 2 is to make concrete analysis of a concrete situation.

14. To carry out 1 is to make BRITISH SOUNDS.

15. To carry out 2 is to struggle for the showing of BRITISH SOUNDS on English television.

16. To carry out 1 is to understand the law of the objective world in order to explain the world.

17. To carry out 2 is to understand the law of the objective world in order to actively transform that world.

18. To carry out 1 is to describe the wretchedness of the world.

19. To carry out 2 is to show the people in struggle.

20. To carry out 2 is to destroy 1 with the weapons of criticism and self-criticism.

21. To carry out 1 is to give a complete view of events in the name of truth in itself.

22. To carry out 2 is not to fabricate over-complete images of the world in the name of relative truth.

23. To carry out 1 is to say how things are real. (Brecht)

24. To carry out 2 is to say how things really are. (Brecht)

25. To carry out 2 is to edit a film before shooting it, to make it during filming and to make it after the filming. (Dziga Vertov)

26. To carry out 1 is to distribute a film before producing it.

27. To carry out 2 is to produce a film before distributing it, to learn to produce it following the principle that:
it is production which commands distribution
it is politics which commands economy.

28. To carry out 1 is to film students who write: Unity – Students – Workers.

29. To carry out 2 is to know that unity is a struggle of opposites (Lenin) to know that two are in one.

30. To carry out 2 is to study the contradictions between the classes with images and sounds.

31. To carry out 2 is to study the contradictions between the relationships of production and the productive forces.

32. To carry out 2 is to dare to know where one is, and where one has come from, to know one’s place in the process of production in order then to change it.

33. To carry out 2 is to know the history of revolution struggles and be determined by them.

34. To carry out 2 is to produce scientific knowledge of revolution struggles and of their history.

35. To carry out 2 is to know that film making is a secondary activity, a small screw in the revolution.

36. To carry out 2 is to use images and sounds as teeth and lips to bite with.

37. To carry out 1 is only to open the eyes and the ears.

38. To carry out 2 is to read the reports of comrade Kiang Tsing.

39. To carry out 2 is to be militant.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————-
Notes

14/15 British Sounds, Dziga Vertov Group’s third film, came out in 1969. The transcript of the film is available here.
23/24: “Realism doesn’t mean showing real things, but showing how things really are.” Godard also quoted this dictum by Brecht in the scenario of Les Carabiniers (1963).
25: A reference to Vertov’s text “Provisional Instructions to Kino-Eye Groups” (1926).
29: According to Lenin, “dialectics can be defined as the doctrine of the unity of opposites” (1961).
38: Kiang Tsing (or Jiang Qing) was Mao Zedong’s last wife, well known for her role in the Cultural Revolution (1966–76) and for forming the political alliance known as the “Gang of Four”. During the Cultural revolution, Joang Qing, who used to be a Shanghai movie star in the 1940s, created the “internal screenings” (or “internal reference material film”) system which allowed for some filmmakers and elite intellectuals to watch Western films in screenings that were closed to the general public. Godard pays homage to her in Vent d’Est (1970), refering to her text “Summary of the Forum on the Work in Literature And Art in the Armed Forces With Which Comrade Lm Piao Entrusted Comrade Chiang Ching”."
jean-lucgodard  manifestos  1970  politics  resistance  activism  simonfield  petersainsbury  filmmaking  idealism  marxism  metaphysical  bourgeoisie  proletariat  understanding  bertoltbrecht  production  kiangtsing  militantism  jiangqing  realism 
january 2017 by robertogreco
BBC Four - John Berger: The Art of Looking
[video currently available on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3VhbsXk9Ds ]

"Art, politics and motorcycles - on the occasion of his 90th birthday John Berger or the Art of Looking is an intimate portrait of the writer and art critic whose ground-breaking work on seeing has shaped our understanding of the concept for over five decades. The film explores how paintings become narratives and stories turn into images, and rarely does anybody demonstrate this as poignantly as Berger.

Berger lived and worked for decades in a small mountain village in the French Alps, where the nearness to nature, the world of the peasants and his motorcycle, which for him deals so much with presence, inspired his drawing and writing.

The film introduces Berger's art of looking with theatre wizard Simon McBurney, film-director Michael Dibb, visual artist John Christie, cartoonist Selçuk Demiral, photographer Jean Mohr as well as two of his children, film-critic Katya Berger and the painter Yves Berger.

The prelude and starting point is Berger's mind-boggling experience of restored vision following a successful cataract removal surgery. There, in the cusp of his clouding eyesight, Berger re-discovers the irredeemable wonder of seeing.

Realised as a portrait in works and collaborations, this creative documentary takes a different approach to biography, with John Berger leading in his favourite role of the storyteller."
2016  johnberger  documentary  towatch  simonmcburney  michaeldibb  johnchristie  selçukdemiral  jeanmohr  katyaberger  yvesberger  waysofseeing  seeing  looking  noticing  biography  storytelling  skepticism  photography  rebellion  writing  howwewrite  collaboration  canon  conspirators  rebels  friendship  community  migration  motorcycles  presence  being  living  life  interestedness  interested  painting  art  history  france  belonging  place  labor  home  identity  work  peasants  craft  craftsmanship  aesthetics  design  vision  cataracts  sight  teaching  howweteach  attention  focus  agriculture  memory  memories  shit  pigs  humans  animals  childhood  perception  freedom  independence  storytellers  travelers  nomads  trickster  dead  death  meaning  meaningmaking  companionship  listening  discovery  understanding  sfsh  srg  books  publishing  television  tv  communication  engagement  certainly  uncertainty 
january 2017 by robertogreco
“All the time.”
"David Cox:
Yesterday, a student gave me step-by-step directions to solve a Rubik’s Cube. I finished it, but had no idea what I was doing. At times, I just watched what he did and copied his moves without even looking at the cube in my hands.

When we were finished, I exclaimed, “I did it!”, received a high-five from the student and some even applauded. For a moment, I felt like I had accomplished something. That feeling didn’t last long. I asked the class how often they experience what I just did.

They said, “All the time.”

Featured Comment

Lauren Beitel:
Is there an argument to be made that sometimes the conceptual understanding comes from repeating a procedure, then reflecting on it? Discovering/noticing patterns through repetition?

Great question. I wrote a comment [http://blog.mrmeyer.com/2016/all-the-time/#comment-2430188 ] in response."
math  teaching  education  danmeyer  learning  understanding  sfsh  repetition  mimicry  davidcox  laurenbeitel  via:lukeneff  howwelearn  howweteach  schools  meaningmaking 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Trumped Up Data
"I’ve started working on my annual review of the year in ed-tech, something I’ve done for the past six years. It’s an intensive project – I will write some 75,000 words between now and the end of December – that forces me to go back through all the events and announcements of the previous twelve months. I don’t do so to make predictions about the future. But rather I look for patterns so that I can better understand how the past might orient us towards certain futures. I listen closely to the stories that we have told ourselves about education and technology, about the various possible futures in which these two systems (these two sets of practices, these two sets of ideologies) are so deeply intertwined. I pay attention to who tells the stories, who shares the stories, who believes the stories. In thinking about the past, I am always thinking about the future; in thinking about the future, we are always talking about the past.

That’s what’s at the core of a slogan like “Make America Great Again,” of course. It invokes a nostalgic longing for a largely invented past as it gestures towards a future that promises “greatness” once again.

Last week – and it feels so long right now – I gave a talk titled “The Best Way to Predict the Future is to Issue a Press Release.” I argued there’s something frighteningly insidious about the ways in which predictions about the future of education and technology are formulated and spread. These predictions are predicated on a destabilization or disruption of our public institutions and an entrenchment of commodification and capitalism.

These predictions don’t have to be believable or right; indeed, they rarely are. But even when wrong, they push the future in a certain direction. And they reveal the shape that the storytellers want the future to take.

In my talk, I called these predictions a form of “truthiness.” I’d add to that, an observation that sociologist Nathan Jurgenson made last night about “factiness”:
On the right, they have what Stephan Colbert called “truthiness,” which we might define as ignoring facts in the name of some larger truth. The facts of Obama’s birthplace mattered less for them than their own racist “truth” of white superiority. Perhaps we need to start articulating a left-wing version of truthiness: let’s call it “factiness.” Factiness is the taste for the feel and aesthetic of “facts,” often at the expense of missing the truth. From silly self-help-y TED talks to bad NPR-style neuroscience science updates to wrapping ourselves in the misleading scientism of Fivethirtyeight statistics, factiness is obsessing over and covering ourselves in fact after fact while still missing bigger truths.

“Factiness” connects to a lot of what we saw in this election, to be sure – this faith, as Jurgenson points out, in polling despite polling being wrong repeatedly, all along. It connects to a lot of what we hear in technology circles too – that we can build intelligent systems that model and adapt and learn and predict complex human behaviors. And that, in turn, is connected to education’s long-standing obsession with data: that we can harness elaborate analytics and measurement tools to identify who’s learning and who’s not.

I don’t believe that answers are found in “data” (that is, in “data” as this pure objective essence of “fact” or “truth”). Rather, I believe answers – muddier and more mutable and not really answers at all – live in stories. It is, after all, in stories where we find what underpins and extends both “truthiness” and “factiness.” Stories are crafted and carried in different ways, no doubt, than “data,” even when they serve the same impulse – to control, to direct.

Stories are everywhere, and yet stories can be incredibly easy to dismiss.
We do not listen.

Sometimes I joke that I’ve been described as “ed-tech’s Cassandra.” Mostly, it’s unfunny – not much of a joke at all considering how things worked out for poor Cassandra. But I do listen closely to the stories being told about the future of education and technology, and all I can do is to caution people that these stories rely on some fairly dystopian motifs and outcomes.

I’m also a folklorist, an ethnographer. I approach education technology with that disciplinary training. I listen to the stories. I observe the practices. I talk to people.

I’m not sure how to move forward after last night’s election results. For now, all I have is this: I want to remind people of the importance of stories – that stories might be better to turn to for understanding the future people want, better than the data we’ve been so obsessed with watching as a proxy for actually talking or listening to them."
audreywatters  2016  data  elections  edtech  truthiness  factiness  listening  nathanjurgenson  ethnography  folklore  storytelling  stories  bigdata  predictions  understanding  truth  stephencolbert 
november 2016 by robertogreco
After years of intensive analysis, Google discovers the key to good teamwork is being nice — Quartz
[via: https://workfutures.io/message-ansel-on-overwork-jenkin-on-the-workplace-cortese-on-stocksy-mohdin-on-project-3cb6502c79a8 ]

"Google’s data-driven approach ended up highlighting what leaders in the business world have known for a while; the best teams respect one another’s emotions and are mindful that all members should contribute to the conversation equally. It has less to do with who is in a team, and more with how a team’s members interact with one another.

The findings echo Stephen Covey’s influential 1989 book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Members of productive teams take the effort to understand each other, find a way to relate to each other, and then try to make themselves understood."
2016  google  work  niceness  kindness  labor  teams  howwework  commonsense  understanding  administration  leadership  management  sfsh  conversation  productivity  projectaristotle 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Bad Taste - YouTube
"You often hear it said that taste is all in the eye of the beholder - and that there is no such thing as 'bad taste'. We think there is - and that bad taste is often down to excess; caused by trauma."
style  taste  badtaste  excess  overcompensation  schooloflife  deprivation  trauma  sentimentality  gaudiness  design  aesthetics  economics  appreciation  desperation  humans  understanding 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Plans vs. Planning | Hapgood
"By making a plan, you get an understanding. And it’s the understanding, not the plan, that is the prime asset, as it allows you to respond fluidly to rapidly evolving situations.

While Nixon’s parallel to battle planning is a bit overblown, it’s instructive. Imagine if Eisenhower was given a plan by his best strategist and then Eisenhower implemented it, without having been involved with its development, and without having developed all the background understanding and knowledge that one gets in making a plan. How well would that go?

Lesson Plans and Other OER

And here’s where we get to lesson plans and to issues around OER in general. The question Dan and others have been grappling with is why lesson plan reuse is low. Why, in a world full of digital resources, do teachers still construct their own material from scratch?

My guess is the answer to this depends on the teacher, the subject, and the type of material being used. There are materials, for example, where the main barrier to reuse is technological. Materials where the main barriers are legal. Or where the problem is the ever over-hyped findability gap.

But for at least a certain class of materials — lesson plans for secondary teachers — Dan seems to be coming to the conclusion that we have a bit of an Ike problem. If we get the plans without carefully thinking about what we want to achieve, what our students already know, and what problems we’re likely to encounter, we’ve lost the most important part of the process.

This is not to say that there is no place for sharing of lesson plans. Or for the sharing of other OER. But it is to say we have to approach the construction and sharing of OER understanding that there may be certain processes in course construction that we just can’t short-circuit. To the extent we develop materials and sharing architectures for faculty they need to make that planning process more effective, not simply bypass it."
dwightdeisenhower  plans  planning  mikecaulfiled  richardnixon  lessonplans  understanding  216  oer  openeducationalresources  education  teaching  howweteach  lessons  knowledge  thinking 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Transcript: George W. Bush's Remarks at Dallas Memorial Service | US News
"But none of us were prepared, or could be prepared, for an ambush by hatred and malice. The shock of this evil still has not faded. At times, it seems like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together. Argument turns too easily into animosity. Disagreement escalates too quickly into dehumanization.

Too often, we judge other groups by their worst examples, while judging ourselves by our best intentions. And this is …

And this has strained our bonds of understanding and common purpose. But Americans, I think, have a great advantage. To renew our unity, we only need to remember our values.

We have never been held together by blood or background. We are bound by things of the spirit, by shared commitments to common ideals.

At our best, we practice empathy, imagining ourselves in the lives and circumstances of others. This is the bridge across our nation’s deepest divisions.

And it is not merely a matter of tolerance, but of learning from the struggles and stories of our fellow citizens and finding our better selves in the process.

At our best, we honor the image of God we see in one another. We recognize that we are brothers and sisters, sharing the same brief moment on Earth and owing each other the loyalty of our shared humanity.

At our best, we know we have one country, one future, one destiny. We do not want the unity of grief, nor do we want the unity of fear. We want the unity of hope, affection and high purpose.

We know that the kind of just, humane country we want to build, that we have seen in our best dreams, is made possible when men and women in uniform stand guard. At their best, when they’re trained and trusted and accountable, they free us from fear."

[See also: http://www.politico.com/story/2016/07/george-w-bush-dallas-shooting-225429 ]
georgewbush  tolerance  us  police  trust  lawenforcement  2016  dallas  fear  understanding  unity  disagreement  intentions  empathy  humanism  humanity  division  values 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Few quick thoughts on Brexit — Medium
"Brexit is pushback against huge social and economic changes that have devalued a great many people.

They are changes that have demanded many people give up long standing notions of who they are, what is their place in the world, and questioned how they find meaning.

That same anger, and the reasons for it, is here in the US also.

I work with addicts these days and have spent the last five years driving all across the country, spending weeks/months/years in places many live in, but few visit. Places filled with poverty and addiction.

What I learned is that addiction is on the same spectrum as suicide. It is a slower form, but comes from the same place.

It led me to one of the first books to study suicide, by Émile Durkheim who wanted to understand why people would kill themselves.

He suggests people needed a sense of integration and regulation, to feel part of something that worked. They needed strong bonds to larger society. Without that, they often took their own life. He called that sense of isolation or disruption, Anomie.

I see Anomie wherever I go. The things that used to give people meaning: Their work, their union, their family, their church, their bridge club, their elks club, whatever, have been eroded. And often mocked.

We over the last 50 years have replaced that, and now demand that people be valued by their intellect, and their wealth. We have further diminished whole groups of people by increasing the amount we reward the new and few “winners.”

To make things even worse, we often outright mock anyone who can’t keep up, or doesn’t fit in with the new order. We call them dumb. Idiots. Religious freaks. Rednecks. Thugs. Hoodlums. Ghetto trash. White trash.

The language we use to talk about those who have been left behind is rife with nasty attempts to turn them into lesser humans. We use the tactics of racist, and apply it to economic losers.

And often they respond by joining racist groups. Or latching onto racist policies and agendas.

Which makes it easier to demean them, because racism is bad. Bad. Bad. Bad. And as a kid of a German Jew who barely made it out of Nazi Germany, as a kid who grew up in a small southern town. As a kid who had our car windows shot out (while his dad was in it!) because my dad was a “Nigger loving Jew”. Yes racism is awful. Bad. Disgusting. Nasty.

But racism, and fascism, are very successful scams that sell to the desperate. Fascism understands that people want to feel valued and integral part of something larger. Racism is, sadly, the easiest and cheapest way to do that.

So, yes push back against the racism. Loudly.

But offer something else, a way for others to feel included. Provide a process, other than getting an education in an elite school, that gives people meaning, solidarity, and value.

Simply saying they are not valid, or lesser, or they are stupid. Or they are idiots. That is racism’s ugly cousin elitism, so don’t turn it into a fight of the ugly. You think that is going to help people feel included?

If you hate racism, then you really really really should hate any economic and social system that creates and rewards massive inequality. Because when you get that. You get racism.

And that is the system we have built and now have. That is the system that most everyone screaming about the dumb racists is part of, usually supports, and wins from."
elitism  racism  politics  us  uk  brexit  chrisarnade  2016  anger  inequality  understanding  winners  losers  winnertakeall  economics  society  integration  regulation  community  belonging  addiction  suicide  émiledurkheim  isolation  disruption  anomie  work  rednecks  religion  ostracization  fascism  desperation  rejection  inclusion  inclusivity  socialinequality  economicinequality  incomeinequality  classism 
june 2016 by robertogreco
American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs | POV | PBS
[Quotes from the film (watched on Netflix), all are Grace Lee Boggs, with the exception of the one noted as being from filmmaker Grace Lee:

“The Montgomery Bus Boycott was about not only transforming the system, but an example of how we ourselves change in the process of changing the system.”

“The word power strikes white power as something dangerous, threatening, and we were only talking about blacks being in office.”

“We realized a rebellion is an outburst of anger, but it’s not a revolution. Revolution is evolution toward something much grander.”

“Ideas matter and when you take a position you should try and examine what it’s implications are. It is not enough to say, “This is what I think, this is what I feel.””

Grace Lee: “It all goes back to Hegel — for Grace, conversation is where you try to honestly confront the limits of your own ideas in order to come to a new understanding.”

“There are times when expanding our imaginations is what is required. The radical movement has overemphasized the role of activism and underestimated the role of reflection. ”

“One of the difficulties when you are coming out of oppression and out of a bitter past is that you get a concept of the Messiah and you expect too much from your leaders. And I think we have to get to that point that we are the leaders we have been looking for. One learns very soon that the changes we need are not going to come from the top by electing somebody else.”

“Why is non-violence such an important, not just a tactic, not just a strategy, but an important philosophy? Because it respects the capacity of human beings to grow. It gives them the opportunity to grow their souls. And we owe that to each other.”]

"Grace Lee Boggs, 98, is a Chinese American philosopher, writer, and activist in Detroit with a thick FBI file and a surprising vision of what an American revolution can be. Rooted for 75 years in the labor, civil rights and Black Power movements, she challenges a new generation to throw off old assumptions, think creatively and redefine revolution for our times. Winner, Audience Award, Best Documentary Feature, 2013 Los Angeles Film Festival. A co-presentation with the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM)."



"Grace Lee Boggs, 98, is a Chinese American philosopher, writer and activist in Detroit with a thick FBI file and a surprising vision of what an American revolution can be. Rooted in 75 years of the labor, civil rights and Black Power movements, she continually challenges a new generation to throw off old assumptions, think creatively and redefine revolution for our times.

Right at the start of American Revolutionary, director Grace Lee makes clear that she isn’t related to Grace Lee Boggs. She met the older woman through her earlier documentary, The Grace Lee Project, about the shared name of many Asian American women and the stereotypes associated with it. Philosopher, activist and author Grace Lee Boggs, then in her vigorous 80s and very much a part of Detroit’s social fabric, began applying a spirited analysis to the film project itself. She habitually turned the tables on the filmmaker with a grandmotherly smile that belied her firm resolve, probing the younger woman’s ideas and suggesting she consider things more deeply. Thus began a series of conversations over the next decade and beyond.

Director Grace Lee always knew she’d make a film about the woman with a radical Marxist past, intimidating intellectual achievements and enduring engagement in the issues — a sprightly activist who can gaze at a crumbling relic of a once-thriving auto plant and say, “I feel so sorry for people who are not living in Detroit.”

In some ways, the radicalization of Grace Lee Boggs typifies an experience many people shared during America’s turbulent 20th century. Yet she cut an extraordinary path through decades of struggle. As Angela Davis, an icon of the 1960s Black Power movement, puts it, “Grace has made more contributions to the black struggle than most black people have.” Actor Danny Glover and numerous Detroit comrades, plus archival footage featuring Bill Moyers, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee and Boggs’ late husband and fellow radical, James Boggs, all testify to Boggs’ highly unusual position.

How a smart, determined, idealistic Chinese American woman became a civil rights movement fixture from its earliest post-war days and, later, a spokesperson for Black Power (often the only non-black — and only woman — in a roomful of unapologetic activists planning for a revolution they believed inevitable) is a riveting and revealing tale.

American Revolutionary shows that Boggs got in on the action — and the action got going — long before the turbulent 1960s. As she reminds a group of students, “I got my Ph.D. in 1940. Just imagine that.” Born in 1915 in Providence, R.I. to Chinese immigrants who moved to New York and prospered in the restaurant trade — Chin Lee’s opened in Manhattan in 1924 — she grew up relatively privileged and excelled at the nearly all-white Bryn Mawr and Barnard Colleges.

Then two things happened. First, she read the works of German philosopher Hegel, the founder of “dialectical thinking” whose work influenced Marxism, which steered her into philosophy and a more critical stance toward society. Then, after finishing school with doctorate in hand, she found herself blocked by “We don’t hire Orientals” signs. So she took a train to Chicago, where she found a job at the University of Chicago’s philosophy library and an apartment on the South Side and began organizing her new neighborhood against rat-infested housing.

The rest is a people’s history of the American left. American Revolutionary deftly follows Boggs’ path from her first community campaign — as a tenants’ rights organizer — through the 1941 March on Washington movement, which demanded jobs for African Americans in defense plants; her mentorship under the West Indian Marxist writer and theorist C.L.R. James; her move to Detroit; her 1953 marriage to Alabama-born James Boggs (auto worker and author of The American Revolution: Pages From a Negro Worker’s Notebook); her split with orthodox Marxism in favor of Black revolution; her preference for the ideas of Malcolm X over those of Martin Luther King, Jr.; and her emergence as a spokesperson for Black Power.

Along the way, she studied, wrote influential books, engaged in protest and, together with her husband (who died in 1993), discovered increasing tolerance for what they saw as revolutionary violence in the face of violent repression. Then Detroit exploded in the 1967 riots, which, as American Revolutionary reveals, were watershed events for Boggs. Indeed, she instructed PBS’s Bill Moyers to call them “a rebellion.” After a short period of community solidarity, disorder and lawlessness took over the streets. Rebellion did not become revolution. Boggs and her husband began to reexamine their ideas in the light of experience. Though there are many who would argue with her, and she’d be ready for the argument, Boggs has maintained her dedication to humanist and even radical ideals, while tempering her understanding of revolution as an evolutionary process.

Grace Lee Boggs can feel hopeful about Detroit not despite the city’s unstable financial and social condition but because of it. She retains the radical’s abiding faith that a new way of living can dawn. “We are in a time of great hope and great danger,” she tells Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman. Yet, as American Revolutionary chronicles, this faith has also been tempered by mistakes, lost battles, unintended consequences, age itself and the sheer evolutionary force of social change. “It’s hard when you’re young to understand how reality is constantly changing because it hasn’t changed that much during your lifetime,” says Boggs. Still, channeling Hegel, she challenges people to “not get stuck in old ideas. Keep recognizing that reality is changing and that your ideas have to change.”

Boggs’ approach is radical in its simplicity and clarity: Revolution is not an act of aggression or merely a protest. Revolution, Boggs says, “is about something deeper within the human experience — the ability to transform oneself and transform the world.”

“From the moment I met Grace Lee Boggs in 2000, I knew I would have to make a longer film just about her,” says director Grace Lee. “Over the years, I would return to Detroit, hang out and watch her hold everyone from journalists to renowned activists to high school students in her thrall. I recognized myself in all of them — eager to connect with someone who seemed to embody history itself.

“This is not an issue film, nor is it about a celebrity or an urgent injustice that rallies you to take action,” she continues. “It’s about an elderly woman who spends most of her days sitting in her living room thinking and hatching ideas about the next American revolution. But if you catch wind of some of those ideas, they just might change the world.”"

[See also: http://americanrevolutionaryfilm.com/ ]
via:caseygollan  activism  civilrights  detroit  dissent  graceleeboggs  documentary  hegel  2014  gracelee  nonviolence  understanding  conversation  evolution  revolution  rebellion  anger  change  systems  systemschange 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Justin Trudeau perfectly articulates the value of diversity in childhood, not just in the workforce - Quartz
"Speaking in Davos on Jan. 21, 2016, Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister spoke eloquently about why multiculturalism needs to be an integral part of all children’s education, as you can see in the video above. It’s important, he said, that everyone have the tools to understand “you don’t have to choose between the identity that your parents have and being a full citizen of Canada.”"
diversity  2016  justintrudeau  canada  education  schools  multiculturalism  identity  inclusion  inclusivity  culture  publicschools  integration  values  understanding  perspective  openness 
march 2016 by robertogreco
The Superior Social Skills of Bilinguals - The New York Times
"We found that bilingual children were better than monolingual children at this task. If you think about it, this makes intuitive sense. Interpreting someone’s utterance often requires attending not just to its content, but also to the surrounding context. What does a speaker know or not know? What did she intend to convey? Children in multilingual environments have social experiences that provide routine practice in considering the perspectives of others: They have to think about who speaks which language to whom, who understands which content, and the times and places in which different languages are spoken."



"Multilingual exposure, it seems, facilitates the basic skills of interpersonal understanding. Of course, becoming fully bilingual or multilingual is not always easy or possible for everyone. But the social advantage we have identified appears to emerge from merely being raised in an environment in which multiple languages are experienced, not from being bilingual per se. This is potentially good news for parents who are not bilingual themselves, yet who want their children to enjoy some of the benefits of multilingualism."
bilingualism  bilingual  languages  empathy  perspective  2016  psychology  communication  katherinekinzler  boazkeysar  zoeliberman  samanthafan  interpersonal  understanding  multilingual  multilingualism 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Education Outrage: Now it is Facebook's turn to be stupid about AI
"What could Facebook be thinking here? We read stories to our children for many reasons. These are read because they have been around a long time, which is not a great reason. The reason to read frightening stories to children has never ben clear to me. The only value I saw in doing this sort of thing as a parent was to begin a discussion with the child about the story which might lead somewhere interesting. Now my particular children had been living in the real world at the time so they had some way to relate to the story because of their own fears, or because of experiences they might have had.

Facebook’s AI will be able to relate to these stories by matching words it has seen before. Oh good. It will not learn anything from the stories because it cannot learn anything from any story. Learning from stories means mapping your experiences (your own stories) to the new story and finding some commonalities and some differences. It also entails discussing those commonalties and differences with someone who is willing to have that conversation with you. In order to do that you have to be able to construct sentences on your own and be able to interpret your own experiences through conversations with your friends and family.

Facebook’s “AI” will not be doing this because it can’t. It has had no experiences. Apparently its experience is loading lots of text and counting patterns. Too bad there isn’t a children’s story about that.

Facebook hasn’t a clue about AI, but it will continue to spend money and accomplish nothing until AI is declared to have failed again,"
rogerschanck  2016  facebook  ai  artificialintelligence  algorithms  via:audreywatters  context  experience  understanding  stories  storytelling 
february 2016 by robertogreco
toxic design : Index Gaia
"Background
Torino is a city on the move. The tradition forms of representation are obsolete or inadequate to depict the current reality and the dynamics in progress.

Project question
How can the city be made legible and comprehensible, understood as a complex organism and as a web of physical and social networks?

Description
The urban territory is a system whose complexity is growing, in which a multitude of tangible and intangible flows (people, goods, information) stratify and interconnect.

Faced with all this, the traditional modes of mapping and representing the city appear entirely inadequate: the representations of the new physical and social networks, like that of their individual and collective life, are a new challenge for the design of communication. The representation of the phenomena demands the gradual abandonment of classical visual languages, i.e. of maps that lay their trust chiefly in the topological and geographical metaphor.

Overcoming these limits means building a new representation of the city: a collective vision capable of defining and visualising the new concept of urban space and, more in general, social spaces.

The theme, proposed in collaboration with the Urban Center Metropolitano of Torino, aims to produce visualisations in the form of diagrams and maps of relationships that induce a new way of viewing human-city interaction, and also useful for outlining new criteria for its development."
gaiascagnetti  place  torino  progress  2008  legibility  comprehension  understanding  cities  urban  urbanism  maps  mapping  networks  geography  communication  visualization  christiannold  jimsegers  donatoricci  paolociuccarelli  giuseppevaccario  andrewridge  tomziora  aliciahorvathola  federicamessina  veronicafilice 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Not-yetness | the red pincushion
"I have done several talks lately about the idea of not-yetness. It’s an idea that Jen Ross (University of Edinburgh) and I first wrote about in our chapter, Complexity, mess, and not-yetness: Teaching online with emerging technologies, to be published in the forthcoming second edition of Emerging Technologies in Distance Education. In the first edition of the book, our esteemed editor, George Veletsianos, wrote about defining emerging technologies. He wrote that emerging technologies can be both old and new technologies and they are constantly-evolving organisms that experience hype cycles. George also noted that emerging technologies satisfy two “not yet” conditions: they are not fully understood, and not fully researched.

These not-yet conditions hit home for Jen and me. Writing from a complexity theory lens, we thought of not-yetness as being related to emergence. Noel Gough (2012) defines emergence as a key attribute of most human environments and systems, and what occurs when “a system of richly connected interacting agents produces a new pattern of organization that feeds back into the system.”

In our context, emergence is allowing new ideas, new methodologies, new findings, new ways of learning, new ways of doing, and new synergies to emerge and to have those things continue to feed back into more emergence. Emergence is a good thing. For us, not-yetness is the space that allows for emergence. Not-yetness is not satisfying every condition, not fully understanding something, not check-listing everything, not tidying everything, not trying to solve every problem…but creating space for emergence to take us to new and unpredictable places, to help us better understand the problems we are trying to solve (to use Mike Caulfield’s wisdom).

This is becoming increasingly important in education, where the rhetoric surrounding educational technology pushes simplification, ease, efficiency, and measurable-everything. This rhetoric goes hand-in-hand with the accountability movements (many call it “evidence-based practice”) at play in educational contexts. Randy Bass wrote that “these pressures for accountability are making us simultaneously more thoughtful and more limited in what we count as learning.” We hear a lot about “best practices” and “what works,” which Jen and others (Sian Bayne, Hamish Macleod, and Clara O’Shea) have argued is a “totalising notion.” There are lots of ways of understanding what our students experience, lots of ways to do things “right,” lots of definitions of right.

Davis and Sumara (2008) argue that “an education that is understood in complexity terms cannot be conceived in terms of preparation for the future. Rather, it must be construed in terms of participation in the creation of possible futures” (p. 43). And yet the push for simplicity and accountability defines a pretty narrow set of possible outcomes for students. Gardner Campbell cautions us to be careful with learning outcomes statements: “Yet these {learning outcomes} are still behaviors, specified with a set of what I can only describe as jawohl! statements, all rewarding the bon eleves and marching toward compliance and away from more elusive and disruptive concepts like curiosity or wonder.” Simplification and an over-pursuit of accountability run counter to our view that education is complex, messy, creative, unpredictable, multi-faceted, social, and part of larger systems.

We argue that not-yetness helps us to make space for critical discussions and experiments with emerging technologies in a way that recognizes the beautiful complexity of teaching and learning. As Jen said in our ET4Online plenary talk, which focused on messiness and not-yetness in digital learning, “We can use it to tell new stories about what teachers, students, developers, designers and researchers are doing in our digital practices, and why it is hard, and why it matters. We can take better account of issues of power, responsibility, sustainability, reach and contact in digital education. We can be more open about the work of education.”
To that end, Jen and I write in our forthcoming chapter, “We need practices that acknowledge and work with complexity to help us stay open to what may be genuinely surprising about what happens when online learning and teaching meets emerging technologies. In this sense, our focus as educators should be on emergent situations, where complexity gives rise to ‘new properties and behaviours… that are not contained in the essence of the constituent elements, or able to be predicted from a knowledge of initial conditions’ (Mason 2008, p.2).”

So what does all of this mean for educators? Here are some ideas. Embracing not-yetness means making space for learning opportunities that:

• promote creativity, play, exploration, awe

• allow for more, not fewer, connections, more personalization (true personalization, not necessarily what has been offered to us by adaptive learning companies)

• transcend bounds of time, space, location, course, and curriculum

• encourage students to exceed our expectations, beyond our wildest outcomes, pushes back on “data science of learning” focus

• do not hand over essential university functions and important complexities over to private industry

In my talks, I shared examples of projects that I think embody or embrace not-yetness. I’ll share those examples in my follow-on post.

As I was looking at these projects, trying to better understand them, I started thinking about Legos. I love Legos. I was talking to my friend Mike Caulfield, who is at Washington State University-Vancouver about this idea and he said, “do you remember when Legos used to just be free-range Legos? Now, they are these sets that have instructions and tell you how to build exactly what they want you to build. They were trying to eliminate the problem of kids not knowing how to build Legos, but instead they also eliminated the opportunities for creative expression.”

This really hit home for me, because I was really into Legos as a kid and my son is really into Legos. I decided to run a little experiment—mostly for my own curiosity. I decided to see what would happen if I gave him the same Lego set twice and had him build it once with the instructions and once without. First, this is what happened when Vaughn had the Lego instructions (fyi–the videos have no audio):

[video]

I thought that, when I gave him the set without the instructions, he would try to copy what he had done when he had the instructions. But instead, after suspiciously confirming that he could build whatever he wanted, here is what happened…

[video]

Note that throughout the time he was building without the instructions, he was also playing. Note that he is making sounds (though there is no audio, you can clearly see he’s making the requisite “boom” and “fffffsssshhhhh” sounds a six year old makes), talking more, smiling. He’s exploring. He’s enjoying himself.

Building Legos without instructions may have seemed harder or daunting at first, but instead it opened up space for his creativity. Not-yetness—not specifying outcomes, not predicting what he would or should do, not outlining each step—opened up space for play and for the three really cool ships he built.

I know that my highly scientific experiment may not work for everyone, but what you see in these videos is one reason why we argue for not-yetness. Because of the play, the fun, the opportunity in complexity and not-yetness. The ill-defined, the un-prescribed, the messy can lead to the unexpected, the joyful. Noel Gough (2012) writes, “complexity invites us to understand that many of the processes and activities that shape the worlds we inhabit are open, recursive, organic, nonlinear and emergent. It also invites us to be skeptical of mechanistic and reductionist explanations, which assume that these processes and activities are linear, deterministic and/or predictable and, therefore, that they can be controlled (at least in principle).”

Open, recursive, organic, nonlinear…these things say to me that we can have learning that is unpredictable, fun, emergent, organic, freeing, co-developed, co-experienced, complex, deep, meaningful.

So as I looked for projects that embodied not-yetness, I kept these concepts, and my son’s Lego adventure, in mind. In my next blog post, I’ll share those examples. Stay tuned!"

[Follow-up post: http://redpincushion.us/blog/professional-development/mess-not-yetness-at-et4online/ ]
amycollier  via:steelemaley  messiness  unschooling  learning  emergent  emergence  emergentcurriculum  2015  lego  not-yetness  gardnercampbell  edtech  noelgough  pedagogy  instructions  directinstruction  mikecaulfield  brentdavis  dennissumara  complexity  curriculum  tcsnmy  howwelearn  howweteach  online  web  georgeveletsianos  emergenttechnologies  technology  simplification  efficiency  quantification  measurement  cv  hamishmacleod  clarao'shea  sianbayne  randybass  open  openness  jenross  criticalpedagogy  recursion  spiraling  rhizomaticlearning  nonlinear  deschooling  meaningmaking  understanding  depth  unpredictability  unfinished  behavior  power  responsibility  sustainability  reach  contact  lcproject  openstudioproject  teaching  education  schools  cocreation  non-linear  alinear  linearity 
december 2015 by robertogreco
The Jacob’s Ladder of coding — Medium
"Anecdotes and questions about climbing up and down the ladder of abstraction: Atari, ARM, demoscene, education, creative coding, community, seeking lightness, enlightenment & strange languages"



"With only an hour or two of computer time a week, our learning and progress was largely down to intensive trial & error, daily homework and learning to code and debug with only pencil and paper, whilst trying to be the machine yourself: Playing every step through in our heads (and on paper) over and over until we were confident, the code did as we’d expect, yet, often still failing because of wrong intuitions. Learning this analytical thinking is essential to successful debugging, even today, specifically in languages / environments where no GUI debugger is available. In the late 90s, John Maeda did similar exercises at MIT Media Lab, with students role-playing different parts of a CPU or a whole computer executing a simple process. Later at college, my own CS prof too would often quote Alan Perlis:
“To understand a program you must become both the machine and the program.” — Alan Perlis

Initially we’d only be using the machine largely to just verify our ideas prepared at home (spending the majority of the time typing in/correcting numbers from paper). Through this monastic style of working, we also learned the importance of having the right tools and balance of skills within the group and were responsible to create them ourselves in order to achieve our vision. This important lesson stayed with me throughout (maybe even became) my career so far… Most projects I worked on, especially in the past 15 years, almost exclusively relied on custom-made tooling, which was as much part of the final outcome as the main deliverable to clients. Often times it even was the main deliverable. On the other hand, I’ve also had to learn the hard way that being a largely self-sufficient generalist often is undesired in the modern workplace, which frequently still encourages narrow expertise above all else…

After a few months of convincing my parents to invest all of their saved up and invaluable West-german money to purchase a piece of “Power Without the Price” (a much beloved Atari 800XL) a year before the Wall came down in Berlin, I finally gained daily access to a computer, but was still in a similar situation as before: No more hard west money left to buy a tape nor disk drive from the Intershop, I wasn’t able to save any work (apart from creating paper copies) and so the Atari was largely kept switched on until November 10, 1989, the day after the Berlin Wall was opened and I could buy an XC-12 tape recorder. I too had to choose whether to go the usual route of working with the built-in BASIC language or stick with what I’d learned/taught myself so far, Assembly… In hindsight, am glad I chose the latter, since it proved to be far more useful and transportable knowledge, even today!"



"Lesson learned: Language skills, natural and coded ones, are gateways, opening paths not just for more expression, but also to paths in life.

As is the case today, so it was back then: People tend to organize around specific technological interests, languages and platforms and then stick with them for a long time, for better or worse. Over the years I’ve been part of many such tool-based communities (chronologically: Asm, C, TurboPascal, Director, JS, Flash, Java, Processing, Clojure) and have somewhat turned into a nomad, not being able to ever find a true home in most of them. This might sound judgemental and negative, but really isn’t meant to and these travels through the land of languages and toolkits has given me much food for thought. Having slowly climbed up the ladder of abstraction and spent many years both with low & high level languages, has shown me how much each side of the spectrum can inform and learn from the other (and they really should do more so!). It’s an experience I can highly recommend to anyone attempting to better understand these machines some of us are working with for many hours a day and which impact so much of all our lives. So am extremely grateful to all the kind souls & learning encountered on the way!"



"In the vastly larger open source creative computing demographic of today, the by far biggest groups are tight-knit communities around individual frameworks and languages. There is much these platforms have achieved in terms of output, increasing overall code literacy and turning thousands of people from mere computer users into authors. This is a feat not be underestimated and a Good Thing™! Yet my issue with this siloed general state of affairs is that, apart from a few notable exceptions (especially the more recent arrivals), there’s unfortunately a) not much cross-fertilizing with fundamentally different and/or new ideas in computing going on and b) over time only incremental progress is happening, business as usual, rather than a will to continuously challenge core assumptions among these largest communities about how we talk to machines and how we can do so better. I find it truly sad that many of these popular frameworks rely only on the same old imperative programming language family, philosophy and process, which has been pre-dominant and largely unchanged for the past 30+ years, and their communities also happily avoid or actively reject alternative solutions, which might require fundamental changes to their tools, but which actually could be more suitable and/or powerful to their aims and reach. Some of these platforms have become and act as institutions in their own right and as such also tend to espouse an inward looking approach & philosophy to further cement their status (as owners or pillars?) in their field. This often includes a no-skills-neccessary, we-cater-all-problems promise to their new users, with each community re-inventing the same old wheels in their own image along the way. It’s Not-Invented-Here on a community level: A reliance on insular support ecosystems, libraries & tooling is typical, reducing overall code re-use (at least between communities sharing the same underlying language) and increasing fragmentation. More often than not these platforms equate simplicity with ease (go watch Rich Hickey taking this argument eloquently apart!). The popular prioritization of no pre-requisite knowledge, super shallow learning curves and quick results eventually becomes the main obstacle to later achieve systemic changes, not just in these tools themselves, but also for (creative) coding as discipline at large. Bloatware emerges. Please do forgive if that all sounds harsh, but I simply do believe we can do better!

Every time I talk with others about this topic, I can’t help but think about Snow Crash’s idea of “Language is a virus”. I sometimes do wonder what makes us modern humans, especially those working with computing technology, so fundamentalist and brand-loyal to these often flawed platforms we happen to use? Is it really that we believe there’s no better way? Are we really always only pressed for time? Are we mostly content with Good Enough? Are we just doing what everyone else seems to be doing? Is it status anxiety, a feeling we have to use X to make a living? Are we afraid of unlearning? Is it that learning tech/coding is (still) too hard, too much of an effort, which can only be justified a few times per lifetime? For people who have been in the game long enough and maybe made a name for themselves in their community, is it pride, sentimentality or fear of becoming a complete beginner again? Is it maybe a sign that the way we teach computing and focus on concrete tools too early in order to obtain quick, unrealistically complex results, rather than fundamental (“boring”) knowledge, which is somewhat flawed? Is it our addiction to largely focus on things we can document/celebrate every minor learning step as an achievement in public? This is no stab at educators — much of this systemic behavior is driven by the sheer explosion of (too often similar) choices, demands made by students and policy makers. But I do think we should ask ourselves these questions more often."

[author's tweet: https://twitter.com/toxi/status/676578816572067840 ]
coding  via:tealtan  2015  abstraction  demoscene  education  creativecoding  math  mathematics  howwelearn  typography  design  dennocoil  alanperlis  johnmaeda  criticalthinking  analyticalthinking  basic  programming  assembly  hexcode  georgedyson  computing  computers  atari  amiga  commodore  sinclair  identity  opensource  insularity  simplicity  ease  language  languages  community  communities  processing  flexibility  unschooling  deschooling  pedagogy  teaching  howweteach  understanding  bottomup  topdown  karstenschmidt 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Metalogue: Why Do Things Get in a Muddle? | Gregory Bateson
"Metalogue: Why Do Things Get in a Muddle? | Gregory Bateson

Daughter: Daddy, why do things get in a muddle?

Father: What do you mean? Things? Muddle?

D: Well, people spend a lot of time tidying things, but they never seem to spend time muddling them. Things just seem to get in a muddle by themselves. And then people have to tidy them up again.

F: But do your things get in a muddle if you don’t touch them?

D: No — not if nobody touches them. But if you touch them — or if anybody touches them — they get in a muddle and it’s a worse muddle if it isn’t me.

F: Yes — that’s why I try to keep you from touching the things on my desk. Because my things get in a worse muddle if they are touched by somebody who isn’t me.

D: But do people always muddle other people’s things? Why do they, Daddy?

F: Now, wait a minute. It’s not so simple. First of all, what do you mean by a muddle?

D: I mean — so I can’t find things, and so it looks all muddled up. The way it is when nothing is straight.

F: Well, but are you sure you mean the same thing by muddle that anybody else would mean?

D: But, Daddy, I’m sure I do — because I’m not a very tidy person and if I say things are in a muddle, then I’m sure everybody else would agree with me.

F: All right — but do you think you mean the same thing by “tidy” that. other people would? If your mummy makes your things tidy, do you know where to find them?

D: Hmm . . . sometimes — because, you see, I know where she puts things when she tidies up.

F: Yes, I try to keep her away from tidying my desk, too. I’m sure that she and I don’t mean the same thing by “tidy.”

D: Daddy, do you and I mean the same thing by “tidy?”

F: I doubt it, my dear — I doubt it.

D: But, Daddy, isn’t that a funny thing — that everybody means the same when they say “muddled” but everybody means something different by “tidy.” But “tidy” is the opposite of “muddled,” isn’t it?

F: Now we begin to get into more difficult questions. Let’s start again from the beginning. You said “Why do things always get in a muddle?” Now we have made a step or two — and let’s change the question to “Why do things get in a state which Cathy calls ‘not tidy?’ “ Do you see why I want to make that change?

D: ... Yes, I think so — because if I have a special meaning for “tidy” then some of other people’s “tidies” will look like muddles to me — even if we do agree about most of what we call muddles.

F: That’s right. Now — let’s look at what you call tidy. When your paint box is put in a tidy place, where is it?

D: Here on the end of this shelf.

F: Okay — now if it were anywhere else?

D: No, that would not be tidy.

F: What about the other end of the shelf, here? Like this?

D: No, that’s not where it belongs, and anyhow it would have to be straight, not all crooked the way you put it.

F: Oh — in the right place and straight.

D: Yes.

F: Well, that means that there are only very few places which are “tidy” for your paint box.

D: Only one place —

F: No — very few places, because if I move it a little bit, like this, it is still tidy.

D: All right — but very, very few places.

F: All right, very, very few places. Now what about the teddy bear and your doll, and the Wizard of Oz and your sweater, and your shoes? It’s the same for all the things, isn’t it, that each thing has only a very, very few places which are “tidy” for that thing?

D: Yes, Daddy — but the Wizard of Oz could be anywhere on that shelf. And Daddy — do you know what? I hate, hate it when my books get all mixed up with your books and Mummy’s books.

F : Yes, I know. (Pause)

D: Daddy, you didn’t finish. Why do my things get the way I say isn’t tidy?

F: But I have finished — it’s just because there are more ways which you call “untidy” than there are ways which you call “tidy.”

D: But that isn’t a reason why.

F: But, yes, it is. And it is the real and only and very important reason.

D: Oh, Daddy! Stop it.

F: No, I’m not fooling. That is the reason, and all of science is hooked up with that reason. Let’s take another example. If I put some sand in the bottom of this cup and put some sugar on the top of it, and now stir it with a teaspoon, the sand and the sugar will get mixed up, won’t they?

D: Yes, but, Daddy, is it fair to shift over to talking about “mixed up” when we started with “muddled up?”

F: Hmm . . . I wonder . .. but I think so — Yes — because let’s say we can find somebody who thinks it is more tidy to have all the sand underneath all the sugar. And if you like I’ll say I want it that way.

D: Hmm...

F: All right — take another example. Sometimes in the movies you will see a lot of letters of the alphabet all scattered over the screen, all higgledy-piggledy and some even upside down. And then something shakes the table so that the letters start to move, and then as the shaking goes on, the letters all come together to spell the title of the film.

D: Yes, I’ve seen that — they spelled DONALD.

F: It doesn’t matter what they spelled. The point is that you saw something being shaken and stirred up and instead of getting more mixed up than before, the letters came together into an order, all right way up, and spelled a word — they made up something which a lot of people would agree is sense.

D: Yes, Daddy, but you know .. .

F: No, I don’t know; what I am trying to say is that in the real world things never happen that way. It’s only in the movies.

D: But, Daddy .. .

F: I tell you it’s only in the movies that you can shake things and they seem to take on more order and sense than they had before .. .

D: But, Daddy .. .

F: Wait till I’ve finished this time . . . And they make it look like that in the movies by doing the whole thing backwards. They put the letters all in order to spell DONALD and then they start the camera and then they start shaking the table.

D: Oh, Daddy — I knew that and I did so want to tell you that — and then when they run the film, they run it backwards so that it looks as though things had happened forwards. But really the shaking happened backwards. And they have to photograph it upside down ... Why do they, Daddy?

F: Oh God.

D: Why do they have to fix the camera upside down, Daddy?

F: No, I won’t answer that question now because we’re in the middle of the question about muddles.

D: Oh — all right, but don’t forget, Daddy, you’ve got to answer that question about the camera another day. Don’t forget! You won’t forget, will you, Daddy? Because I may not remember. Please, Daddy.

F: Okay — but another day. Now, where were we? Yes, about things never happening backwards. And I was trying to tell you why it is a reason for things to happen in a certain way if we can show that that way has more ways of happening than some other way.

D: Daddy — don’t begin talking nonsense.

F: I’m not talking nonsense. Let’s start again. There’s only one way of spelling DONALD. Agreed?

D: Yes.

F: All right. And there are millions and millions and millions of ways of scattering six letters on the table. Agreed?

D: Yes. I suppose so. Can some of these be upside down?

F: Yes — just in the sort of higgledy-piggledy muddle they were in in the film. But there could be millions and millions and millions of muddles like that, couldn’t there? And only one DONALD?

D: All right — yes. But, Daddy, the same letters might spell OLD DAN.

F: Never mind. The movie people don’t want them to spell OLD DAN. They only want DONALD.

D: Why do they?

F: Damn the movie people.

D: But you mentioned them first, Daddy.

F: Yes — but that was to try to tell you why things happen that way in which there are most ways of their happening. And now it’s your bedtime.

D: But, Daddy, you never did finish telling me why things happen that way — the way that has most ways.

F: All right. But don’t start any more hares running — one is quite enough. Anyhow, I am tired of DONALD, let’s take another example. Let’s take tossing pennies.

D: Daddy? Are you still talking about the same question we started with? “Why do things get in a muddle?”

F: Yes.

D: Then, Daddy, is what you are trying to say true about pennies, and about DONALD, and about sugar and sand, and about my paint box, and about pennies?

F: Yes — that’s right.

D: Oh — I was just wondering, that’s all.

F: Now, let’s see if I can get it said this time. Let’s go back to the sand and the sugar, and let’s suppose that somebody says that having the sand at the bottom is “tidy” or “orderly.”

D: Daddy, does somebody have to say something like that before you can go on to talk about how things are going to get mixed up when you stir them?

F: Yes — that’s just the point. They say what they hope will happen and then I tell them it won’t happen because there are so many other things that might happen. And I know that it is more likely that one of the many things will happen and not one of the few.

D: Daddy, you’re just an old bookmaker, backing all the other horses against the one horse that I want to bet on.

F: That’s right, my dear. I get them to bet on what they call the “tidy” way — I know that there are infinitely many muddled ways — so things will always go toward muddle and mixedness.

D: But why didn’t you say that at the beginning, Daddy? I could have understood that all right.

F: Yes, I suppose so. Anyhow, it’s now bedtime.

D: Daddy, why do grownups have wars, instead of just fighting the way children do?

F: No — bedtime. Be off with you. We’ll talk about wars another time."

Written in 1948, published in Steps to an Ecology of Mind (1972… [more]
gregorybateson  thinking  1948  messiness  order  tidiness  orderliness  tidying  organization  understanding  taxonomy  language 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Reverting to Type: A Reader’s Story |
"It did become my thing. I transferred to what we thought of as the University of Alabama, the one in Tuscaloosa, largely because it had a better English department. I double-majored in English and history, and at some point decided — what considerations went into the decision I no longer remember — that I wanted to go to graduate school to study more literature. So I attended the University of Virginia. I developed a historical sense — my love for Browne’s prose led me to spend most of my time in the seventeenth century, until a relatively late encounter with the poetry of W. H. Auden made a modernist of me — amassed a repertoire of critical gestures, learned to invoke the names and terms of High Theory in the proper ways and at the proper times. I was initiated into the academic guild; I became a professor.

It wasn’t always easy, of course. In my last weeks as an undergraduate one of my professors had taken me aside and whispered to me the sacred names of Barthes and Derrida, and told me I should make fuller acquaintance with them. I dutifully wrote down the names and immediately forgot about them. Since none of this Theory stuff had previously been mentioned to me in my undergraduate career, how important could it be? So when I plunged into my first graduate classes — including a theoretical survey in which we read Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Jung, Gramsci, Georg Lukács, Horkheimer and Adorno, Husserl, Heidegger, Ricoeur, Jakobson, Althusser, Brooks, Frye, de Beauvoir, Kenneth Burke, and, yes, Barthes and Derrida, among others — I was immediately transformed from a confident critic-in-the-making to a lost lamb, baahing reproachfully, petulantly.

Ten weeks or so into my first semester I decided that I just couldn’t cut it and needed to drop out. But I was a newlywed, and had carried my bride hundreds of miles from her family, set her down in a strange town, and effectively forced her to hunt for compartatively menial jobs, all to support this great academic endeavor of mine. I couldn’t bring myself to tell her how miserable and incompetent and just plain lost I was.

Our apartment in Charlottesville had a small windowless room that I used for a study. One evening after dinner I went in and closed the door and tried to sort through the vast pile of photocopied theoretical essays I had bought at Kinko’s on the first day of class. (We could violate copyright in those days, too.) But it was useless. I could scarcely bear even to look at the stuff. My professor had copied from his own well-used books, and every essay was full of confident underlinings and annotations that seemed by their very presence to judge me and find me wanting. I couldn’t bring myself to read another word.

My eyes wandered to a nearby bookshelf, and were caught for a moment by the glit of a gold cardboard box: it contained the three volumes of the Ballantine mass-market version of The Lord of the Rings. I had never read Tolkien: I was a science-fiction guy, not a fantasy guy. But of course I knew that The Trilogy (as I thought of it) was important, and that someday I ought to get to it. Almost thoughtlessly, I picked up the first volume and began to read.

When bedtime rolled around I set the book down and emerged from the sanctuary. “How’d it go tonight?” Teri asked.

I said, “It went well.”

The next evening I re-entered the study, under the pretense of continuing my academic labors with all due seriousness, and picked up where I had left off in the story. For the next week or so, though during the days I went to classes and did generally what I was supposed to do, I did none of the reading or writing I was assigned. I got further and further behind. I didn’t care; I was somewhere else and glad to be somewhere else. Teri seemed pleased with my scholarly discipline, as each evening I washed the dishes, gave her a kiss, and closed the study door behind me.

When I finished The Lord of the Rings I drew a deep breath. I felt more sound and whole than I had felt in weeks, maybe months. But, to my own surprise, I did not conclude that all that academic crap was a waste of time and I should do something else with my life, something that gave me time to read lots of fantasy novels. Instead, I experienced a strange refreshment, almost an exhilaration. My confusion and frustration seemed like small afflictions, conquerable adversaries. Barthes and Derrida weren’t so fearsome after all. I could do this.

I don’t believe that I was thinking, “Literary theory is as nothing in comparison to the power of Mordor!” Or, “If Frodo can carry that Ring to the Cracks of Doom I can write this paper on Paul Ricoeur!” Rather, I was just benefiting from spending some time away from my anxieties. We had been too intimate and needed separation. So I resumed my studies in a far better frame of mind; as a result, I did better work. I completed my doctorate and began my career as a teacher, but I didn’t forget the debt I owed to that week I spent in Tolkien’s world."



"In a sense I am only talking here about expanding my repertoire of analogies, my ability to make illuminating and meaningful comparisons. For many years now Douglas Hofstadter, drawing on the work of the mathematician Stanislaw Ulam, has been convinced that the secret to creating artificial intelligence lies in teaching machines to recognize analogies. (Ulam says somewhere that it’s all about “as”: we see marks on a piece of wood pulp as a portrait of a beloved child, a cairn of stones as a monument to a dead chieftain.) Similar principles underlie the methods of Google Translate, which collects an enormous corpus of sentences and then tries to match your input to something in that corpus, and Apple’s “digital personal assistant,” Siri. Siri can’t parse what you say to her unless she can connect to the network, which undertakes a comparison of your utterance to other utterances on record. All this might be called brute-force analogizing, but it seems to me that my own understanding develops as I pursue the same method, though with far less force and (I hope) less brutishness.

In one of his most beautiful poems, Richard Wilbur writes, “Odd that a thing is most itself when likened.” And this is true no matter the thing: a book becomes more fully itself when we see both how it resembles and how is differs from other books; one discipline of study takes on its proper hues only when we see its relations to other disciplines that stand close to it or very far away. My repertoire of analogies is my toolbox, or my console of instruments, by which I comprehend and navigate the world. It can’t be too large; every addition helps, at least a bit. And that’s why I’m thankful for my gradual recovery of the books I adored, and thoughts I lovingly entertained, when I was forty years younger."
alanjacobs  howweread  reading  2015  analogies  metaphor  text  pleasurereading  richardwilbur  harukimurukami  jrrtolkein  thelordoftherings  stainslawulam  loreneisley  sciencefiction  understanding  literarycriticism  genrefiction  fiction  literature  academia  writing  howwewrite  howwelearn  books  jacquesderrida  rolandbarthes  whauden  sirthomasbrowne  williamfaulkner  nealstephenson  joycecaroloates  twocultures  cpsnow  jamesgleick  linux  learning  canon  digressions  amateurism  dabbling  listening  communication  howweteach  teaching  education  silos 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Reading Right-to-Left | booktwo.org
"At a conference I attended recently, one of the speakers noted how the US army trains observers to “read” a landscape from right to left. The idea is that, as Anglophones accustomed to reading left to right, reversing the direction of attention brings more concentration to bear on the situation. Moving from right to left disrupts the soldier’s instinctual recognition patterns, and so they are more likely to spot things. This skill has apparently migrated from soldiers to photographers:
“One of the first tricks I learned many years ago had nothing to do with photography, but was drilled into me by an army sergeant. It only took a few smacks up the back of my head to learn how to look from right-to-left when scanning a landscape in an effort to see the hidden “enemy” in our mock battles. This process of reverse reading forced me to slow down and read each tree as if it were a syllable I was seeing for the first time. Even today, about thirty years after I called that sergeant every adjective not found in a decent dictionary, I still find myself scanning a landscape from right-to-left.”

The conference speaker contrasted this way of seeing, and the assumptions explicit within it, with the Japanese way of reading, which may be right-to-left, or vertical:

[image]

One might also, in the context of today’s military operations consider the right-to-leftness of Hebrew and Arabic script (and Farsi, and Urdu) – and from there consider the verticality and three-dimensionality of text and thought online, the way it branches and deepens, how it recedes through the screen, through hyperlinks, into an endless chain of connections and relationships.

This reversal and inversion of language patterns has many historical and thus military uses. In Reality is Plenty, Kevin Slavin relates a tale told to him by a photography professor, who was trained as a World War II radar operator.

When radar signals were received aboard an aircraft carrier, they were displayed on a radar oscilloscope. But in order for this information be used in the midst of battle, the positions needed to be transcribed to a large glass viewing pane, and as part of this process they needed to be inverted and reversed. To perform this operation quickly and accurately, the radar operators were trained and drilled extensively in “upside down and backwards town”, a classified location where everything from newspapers to street signs were printed upside down and backwards. This experience would not so much create a new ability for the radar operators, as break down their existing biases towards left-to-right text, allowing them to operate in multiple dimensions at once.

[image]

This process, in Kevin’s reading and in mine, is akin to much of our experience of new technology, when our existing frameworks of reference, both literary and otherwise, are broken down, and we must learn over once again how to operate in the world, how to transform and transliterate information, how to absorb it, think it, search for it and deploy it. We must relearn our relationship not only with information, but with knowledge itself.

And I was reminded of this once again when I found myself at the weekend defending, for the first time in a long time, but certainly not for the first time ever, the kind of thinking and knowledge production which is native to the internet. In this oft-rehearsed argument, whether it be about ebooks or social media or news cycles or or or, the central thrust is that x technology is somehow bad for us, for our thought, our attention, our cognitive processes etc., where x always tends towards “the internet”, as the ur-technology of our time.

And the truth is that I cannot abide this kind of talk. I know people don’t read books like they used to, and they don’t think like they used to, but I struggle to care. Most of this talk is pure nostalgia, a kind of mostly knee-jerk, mostly uncritical (although not thoughtless) response to entirely rational fears about technological opacity and complexity (this nostalgia, of course, was the basis for the New Aesthetic). But this understandable reaction also erases all the new and different modes of attention and thought which, while they are difficult to articulate because we are still developing and discovering the language to articulate them with, are nonetheless present and growing within us. And I simply do not see the damage that is ascribed to this perceived “loss” – I don’t see the generations coming up being any less engaged in culture and society, reading less, thinking less, acting less, even when they are by any measure poorer, less supported, forced to struggle harder for education and employment, and, to compound the injury, derided at every opportunity as feckless, distracted, and disengaged. I see the opposite.

I’m getting more radical in my view of the internet, this unconsciously-generated machine for unconscious generation. I’m feeling more sure of its cultural value and legacy, and more assertive about stating it. We built this thing, and like all directed culture of the past, it has an agency and a desire, and if you pay attention to it you can see which way it wants to go, and what it wants to fight. We made that, all of us, in time, but we don’t have full control of it. Rather, like the grain of wood, it’s something to be worked with and shaped, but also thought about and conceptualised, both matter and metaphor.

It’s possible, despite the faults of data and design, to be an unchurched follower of the internet: undogmatic, non-sectarian, wary of its faults, all too conscious of its occupation by the forces of capital and control, but retaining a deep faith in its message and meaning. A meaning which it is still up to us to explore and enact, to defend where possible and oppose when necessary. If there is progress, if things can be improved, then they must be improved by new inventions, by the things we have not tried before. No going backwards to the future."
culture  knowledge  internet  japanese  arabic  howweread  understanding  noticing  books  reading  meadia  online  socialmedia  newaesthetic  future  bookfuturism  control  change  data  design  technology  criticalthinking  kevinslavin  observation  seeing  howwesee  waysofseeing  perspective  rewiring  attention  knowledgeproduction  society  difference  cv  canon 
october 2015 by robertogreco
My Writing Education: A Time Line - The New Yorker
"One day I walk up to campus. I stand outside the door of Doug’s office, ogling his nameplate, thinking: “Man, he sometimes sits in there, the guy who wrote Leaving the Land.” At this point in my life, I’ve never actually set eyes on a person who has published a book. It is somehow mind-blowing, this notion that the people who write books also, you know, *live*: go to the store and walk around campus and sit in a particular office and so on. Doug shows up and invites me in. We chat awhile, as if we are peers, as if I am a real writer too. I suddenly feel like a real writer. I’m talking to a guy who’s been in People magazine. And he’s asking me about my process. Heck, I *must be* a real writer."



"For me, a light goes on: we are supposed to be—are required to be—interesting. We’re not only *allowed* to think about audience, we’d *better*. What we’re doing in writing is not all that different from what we’ve been doing all our lives, i.e., using our personalities as a way of coping with life. Writing is about charm, about finding and accessing and honing ones’ particular charms. To say that “a light goes on” is not quite right—it’s more like: a fixture gets installed. Only many years later (see below) will the light go on."



"Doug gets an unkind review. We are worried. Will one of us dopily bring it up in workshop? We don’t. Doug does. Right off the bat. He wants to talk about it, because he feels there might be something in it for us. The talk he gives us is beautiful, honest, courageous, totally generous. He shows us where the reviewer was wrong—but also where the reviewer might have gotten it right. Doug talks about the importance of being able to extract the useful bits from even a hurtful review: this is important, because it will make the next book better. He talks about the fact that it was hard for him to get up this morning after that review and write, but that he did it anyway. He’s in it for the long haul, we can see. He’s a fighter, and that’s what we must become too: we have to learn to honor our craft by refusing to be beaten, by remaining open, by treating every single thing that happens to us, good or bad, as one more lesson on the longer path.

We liked Doug before this. Now we love him.

Toby has the grad students over to watch A Night at the Opera. Mostly I watch Toby, with his family. He clearly adores them, takes visible pleasure in them, dotes on them. I have always thought great writers had to be dysfunctional and difficult, incapable of truly loving anything, too insane and unpredictable and tortured to cherish anyone, or honor them, or find them beloved.

Wow, I think, huh."



"I notice that Doug has an incredible natural enthusiasm for anything we happen to get right. Even a single good line is worthy of praise. When he comes across a beautiful story in a magazine, he shares it with us. If someone else experiences a success, he celebrates it. He can find, in even the most dismal student story, something to praise. Often, hearing him talk about a story you didn’t like, you start to like it too—you see, as he is seeing, the seed of something good within it. He accepts you and your work just as he finds it, and is willing to work with you wherever you are. This has the effect of emboldening you, and making you more courageous in your work, and less defeatist about it."



"End of our first semester. We flock to hear Toby read at the Syracuse Stage. He has a terrible flu. He reads not his own work but Chekhov’s “About Love” trilogy. The snow falls softly, visible behind us through a huge window. It’s a beautiful, deeply enjoyable, reading. Suddenly we get Chekhov: Chekhov is funny. It is possible to be funny and profound at the same time. The story is not some ossified, cerebral thing: it is entertainment, active entertainment, of the highest variety. All of those things I’ve been learning about in class, those bone-chilling abstractions theme, plot, and symbol are de-abstracted by hearing Toby read Chekhov aloud: they are simply tools with which to make your audience feel more deeply—methods of creating higher-order meaning. The stories and Toby’s reading of them convey a notion new to me, or one which, in the somber cathedral of academia, I’d forgotten: literature is a form of fondness-for-life. It is love for life taking verbal form."



"Toby is a generous reader and a Zen-like teacher. The virtues I feel being modeled—in his in-class comments and demeanor, in his notes, and during our after-workshop meetings—are subtle and profound. A story’s positive virtues are not different from the positive virtues of its writer. A story should be honest, direct, loving, restrained. It can, by being worked and reworked, come to have more power than its length should allow. A story can be a compressed bundle of energy, and, in fact, the more it is thoughtfully compressed, the more power it will have.

His brilliant story “The Other Miller” appears in The Atlantic. I read it, love it. I can’t believe I know the person who wrote it, and that he knows me. I walk over to the Hall of Languages and there he is, the guy who wrote that story. What’s he doing? Talking to a student? Photocopying a story for next day’s class? I don’t remember. But there he is: both writer and citizen. I don’t know why this makes such an impression on me–maybe because I somehow have the idea that a writer walks around in a trance, being rude, moved to misbehavior by the power of his own words. But here is the author of this great story, walking around, being nice. It makes me think of the Flaubert quote, “live like a bourgeoisie and think like a demigod.” At the time, I am not sure what a bourgeoisie is, exactly, or a demigod, but I understand this to mean: “live like a normal person, write like a maniac.” Toby manifests as an example of suppressed power, or, rather: *directed* power. No silliness necessary, no dramatics, all of his considerable personal power directed, at the appropriate time, to a worthy goal."



"What Doug does for me in this meeting is respect me, by declining to hyperbolize my crap thesis. I don’t remember what he said about it, but what he did not say was, you know: “Amazing, you did a great job, this is publishable, you rocked our world with this! Loved the elephant.” There’s this theory that self-esteem has to do with getting confirmation from the outside world that our perceptions are fundamentally accurate. What Doug does at this meeting is increase my self-esteem by confirming that my perception of the work I’d been doing is fundamentally accurate. The work I’ve been doing is bad. Or, worse: it’s blah. This is uplifting–liberating, even—to have my unspoken opinion of my work confirmed. I don’t have to pretend bad is good. This frees me to leave it behind and move on and try to do something better. The main thing I feel: respected. Doug conveys a sense that I am a good-enough writer and person to take this not-great news in stride and move on. One bad set of pages isn’t the end of the world."



"On a visit to Syracuse, I hear Toby saying goodbye to one of his sons. “Goodbye, dear,” he says.

I never forget this powerful man calling his son “dear.”

All kinds of windows fly open in my mind. It is powerful to call your son “dear,” it is powerful to feel that the world is dear, it is powerful to always strive to see everything as dear. Toby is a powerful man: in his physicality, in his experiences, in his charisma. But all that power has culminated in gentleness. It is as if that is the point of power: to allow one to access the higher registers of gentleness."



"I am teaching at Syracuse myself now. Toby, Arthur Flowers, and I are reading that year’s admissions materials. Toby reads every page of every story in every application, even the ones we are almost certainly rejecting, and never fails to find a nice moment, even when it occurs on the last page of the last story of a doomed application. “Remember that beautiful description of a sailboat on around page 29 of the third piece?” he’ll say. And Arthur and I will say: “Uh, yeah … that was … a really cool sailboat.” Toby has a kind of photographic memory re stories, and such a love for the form that goodness, no matter where it’s found or what it’s surrounded by, seems to excite his enthusiasm. Again, that same lesson: good teaching is grounded in generosity of spirit."



"One night I’m sitting on the darkened front porch of our new house. A couple walks by. They don’t see me sitting there in the shadows.

“Oh, Toby,” the woman says. “Such a wonderful man.”

Note to self, I think: Live in such a way that, when neighbors walk by your house months after you’re gone, they can’t help but blurt out something affectionate."



"I do a reading at the university where Doug now teaches. During the after-reading party, I notice one of the grad writers sort of hovering, looking like she wants to say something to me. Finally, as I’m leaving, she comes forward and says she wants to tell me about something that happened to her. What happened is horrible and violent and recent and it’s clear she’s still in shock from it. I don’t know how to respond. As the details mount, I find myself looking to Doug, sort of like: Can you get me out of this? What I see Doug doing gets inside my head and heart and has stayed there ever since, as a lesson and an admonition: what Doug is doing, is staring at his student with complete attention, affection, focus, love—whatever you want to call it. He is, with his attention, making a place for her to tell her story—giving her permission to tell it, blessing her telling of it. What do I do? I do what I have done so many times and so profitably during my writing apprenticeship: I do my best to emulate Doug. I turn to her and try to put aside my discomfort and do my best to listen as intently as Doug is listening. I … [more]
georgesaunders  2015  teaching  teachers  writing  kindness  listening  tobiaswolff  dougunger  audience  voice  criticism  love  attention  family  adoration  howweteach  confidence  howwelearn  pedagogy  praise  self-esteem  literature  chekhov  storytelling  stories  humility  power  understanding  critique  gentleness  affection  toaspireto  aspirations  generosity  focus  education  howelearn 
october 2015 by robertogreco
002_2 : by hand
"“Fake humans generate fake realities and then sell them to other humans, turning them into forgeries of themselves.” (Dick, 1978)

“…the reign of things over life….exiles from immediacy” (Zerzan, 2008b:39, 40)

Verbs become nouns[1], nouns acquire monetary equivalents (Bookchin, 1974:50) and being is exchanged for having (Vaneigem, 1967:chpt8). We no longer ‘garden’ or ‘play’ or ‘cycle’ (or even ‘know’ (Steigler, 2010; Zerzan, 2008b:41). The world is arranged so that we need not experience it (Zerzan, 2008b:40) so that we consume the image of living (Zerzan, 2003). Places exist only through the words that evoke them; their mere mention sufficient to give pleasure to those who will never experience them (Auge, 1995:95). The city of the fully industrialized they[2] ‘have’ (call their own) gardens and green space and cycling tracks; private toys, asphalt playgrounds and indoor play centers on the roofs of department stores at 1000 yen an hour per child plus extra for ‘food’ and parking[3]. All which are made ‘for’ them and ‘paid for’ with taxes by polluting corpo-governmental free enterprise. This vocabulary weaves the tissue of habits, educates the gaze and informs the landscape (Auge, 1995:108) while diminishing richness and working against perception (Zerzan, 2008b:45).

Now, space is stated in terms of a commodity[4] and claims are made in terms of competition for scarce resources (see Illich, 1973:56). The actor becomes the consumer, who gambles for perceived nouns[5]. This is a problem, because experience is not simply passive nouns but implies the ability to learn from what one has undergone (Tuan, 1977:9) – the (biological) individuality of organismic space seems to lie in a certain continuity of process[6] and in the memory by the organism of the effects of its past development. This appears to hold also of its mental development (Wiener, 1954:96, 101-2, see also Buckminster-Fuller, 1970) in terms of use, flexibility, understanding, adaptation and give.

“[The] city is not about other people or buildings or streets but about [..] mental structure.” (Ai Wei Wei (2011)

Primary retention is formed in the passage of time, and constituted in its own passing. Becoming past, this retention is constituted in a secondary retention of memorial contents [souvenirs] which together form the woven threads of our memory [mémoire]. Tertiary retention is the mnemotechnical exteriorization of secondary retentions. Tertiary retentions constitute an intergenerational support of memory which, as material culture, precedes primary and secondary retentions. Flows, Grammes. This layer increases in complexity and density over the course of human history leading to increasingly analytical (discretized) recordings of the flows of primary and secondary retentions (e.g. writing, numeration). Use (movement, gesture, speech, etc, the flows of the sensory organs) is a flow; a continuous chain, and learning consists of producing secondary use retentions but discretization leads to automation – analytically reproducible use as tertiary retention resulting in retentional grains (grammes) – functionalization, and abstraction from a continuum (from ‘Primary retention’ Stiegler, 2010: 8-11, 19, 31). Memories of memories, generic memories[7]. Result: Ever more complete control over individuals and groups who are made to feel that they do not adequately understand themselves – that they are inadequate interpreters of their own experience of life and environment[8].

The exteriorization of memory is a loss of memory and knowledge (Stiegler, 2010:29) – a loss of the ability to dig deep[9] and venture forth into the unfamiliar, and to experiment with the elusive and the uncertain (Tuan, 1977:9). Nothing is left but language, and a persistent yearning arising from one’s absence from the real world; Reductive. Inarticulate. (Zerzan, 2008b:44-5)."
play  gardening  aiweiwei  ivanillich  christopheralexander  murraybookchin  anarchism  anarchy  life  living  jacquesellul  remkoolhaas  zizek  richardsennett  johnzerzan  raoulvaneigem  reality  consumerism  society  pleasure  gardens  space  bernardstiegler  marcaugé  flows  grammes  yi-futuan  sace  commoditization  experience  buckminsterfuller  flexibilty  understanding  adaptation 
october 2015 by robertogreco
It Doesn't Know What You Want Until You Teach It
"So, I just got home from Tel Aviv, which, while I happened to be there, was hit by a massive sandstorm that swept across from Syria.

Now, sandstorms, or at least the one I saw, do not work like the ones in Mad Max. I woke up in my little hotel cocoon, threw back the blackout curtains and saw … nothing. Because that’s what sandstorms do: they make landscape into nothing. They disappear buildings and the sea and the horizon and even the sun. Beyond half a mile, everything fades into white-yellow nothing.

I went for a run up the beach until I got to an old crumbling stone jetty. An old shirtless man with a huge belly was fishing from it. All I could see was a few big hotels behind me rising into dust and this jetty with the man in front of me. And it was possible to imagine that this was all the world, that this little narrow spit of land was all that was left.

That’s the dystopian story.

But, at the same time, I could snap a photo of the sea and the sky and send it to my wife across the world and have her send me back a picture of our son. And I could go look up the sandstorm and see it from a NASA satellite. And Apple would put out a new version of their phone, and just down the road, hundreds of Israeli startups were building new things in the world. And as I wandered around Tel Aviv, the strange light of the sandstorm making every photo look as if it were taken in a dream, I thought to myself: there are so many futures happening at once.

When we imagine a utopia or dystopia, both represent a hope that human lives will somehow be less messy and complex in the future than they are now. Because, good or bad, that’s the most comforting lie we can tell ourselves about what’s going to come: that we might be able to process and understand it more easily than we do our own short moment.

It's good to be back."
alexismadrigal  sandstorms  future  futures  humanity  life  messiness  complexity  technology  2015  communication  photography  perception  utopia  dystopia  understanding  presence 
september 2015 by robertogreco
Some Rules for Teachers – The New Inquiry
"after John Cage

1. only ask the questions to which you really need answers

2. demonstrate uncertainty

3. reconstruct for your students your own previous errors of thought and elucidate to your students what factors lead to a changed mind

4. do not let the terms with which you understand the world get in the way of understanding it

5. give up any desire to be the smartest person in the room

6. remember that students have bodies and that bodies require movement, sustenance, rest, and relief

7. leave an inheritance of dialectic

8. preserve and sustain whatever delusions you’ve found necessary to behave in good faith

9. every student is a genius

10. do not be afraid to state the obvious

11. a socratic bully is still a bully

12. thoroughly prepare class, including making preparations to abandon your preparations entirely

13. listen with your body

14. suspect charisma

15. conduct yourself in such a way that your students can eventually forget that you exist"
pedagogy  anneboyer  johncage  2015  teaching  howweteach  education  unschooling  deschooling  charisma  uncertainty  questionasking  questions  questioning  understanding  learning  dialectic  bodies  movement  students  genius  askingquestions  body 
september 2015 by robertogreco
The ASC: White Elephant Art Vs. Termite Art — Manny Farber - John’s Bailiwick
"There is no one quite as anti-intellectual in America as a certain kind of intellectual. It is as if he sees certain tropes of taste and intelligence as being his own private provenance. Or maybe, it’s because he comes from a place like Douglas, Arizona and never feels like a press-fit in the art-ghettos of New York City. Once secure with a sinecure in the art capital of the world, is it necessary to flay what fellow-critic Dwight MacDonald called “Mid-cult” just because you now move in more rarefied circles? Lest you get the wrong idea here—even though I find many of Farber’s aesthetic circuits loaded with dialectic disconnects, it is partly this very mix that makes him so compulsively readable—that and the fact that he wrote with a vigor, rhythm and an informed perspective that no one else in film can touch. And his broad-based, richly informed allusiveness was like catnip to the next generation of film critics such as Kael and Sarris. Kael embraced Farber’s termite burrowing into the film image, the shot itself as ground zero exegesis; Sarris cast his net wider, creating circles of a “Pantheon” that starred many of the termite directors that Farber already had been praising for two decades."



"My own read is that as he discovered himself more and more in his paintings, he compulsively sought out the detailed “termite burrowings” hidden deeper inside complex films. The carefully considered qualities of detail that he strove for in painting also inhabit his approach to film analysis."



"Rosenblum concludes his essay with a story about a trip he made with Farber to Los Angeles when Farber was scheduled to give a lecture about painting at an art school. Farber discovered his socks didn’t match; he also had developed a bad case of stage fright in the parking lot before the event, and the much younger Rosenblum had to talk him down.

Of such seeming minor moments do the most imposing and irascible among us reveal the masks we create, when all we really want is to be understood."
mannyfarber  2009  understanding  humans  human  johnbailey  art 
august 2015 by robertogreco
How Boyd Wrote - Kaedrin Weblog
"I'm currently reading a biography of John Boyd, and in light of Sunday's post, I found a recent chapter particularly interesting. Boyd was a Fighter Pilot in the Air Force. He flew in Korea, made a real name for himself at Fighter Weapons School (which was later copied by the Navy - you may have heard of their version: Top Gun), and spent the latter part of his career working on groundbreaking strategic theories. He was an instructor at FWS for several years, and before leaving, he made his first big contributions to the Air Force. He wrote a tactics manual called Aerial Attack Study. Despite the passage of Vietnam and the Gulf War, nothing substantial has been added to it. It's served as the official tactics manual all over the world for over 40 years (actually, more like 50 at this point).

And Boyd almost didn't write it. Robert Coram (the author of the aforementioned biography) summarizes the unconventional manner in which the manual was written (on page 104 of my edition):
Boyd could not write the manual and continue flying and teaching; there simply wasn't enough time. Plus, the idea of sitting down at a desk and spending hundreds of hours writing a long document brought him to the edge of panic. He was a talker, not a writer. When he talked his ideas tumbled back and forth and he fed off the class and distilled his thoughts to the essence. But writing meant precision. And once on paper, the ideas could not be changed. ...

Spradling came up with the solution. "John, don't make this a big thing. We have some good Dictaphones. Why don't you just dictate the damn thing?"

It's a subject I didn't really cover much in my last post: the method of communication can impact the actual message. The way we communicate changes the way we think. Would Boyd's work have been as great if he didn't dictate it? Maybe, but it probably wouldn't have been the same.

Incidentally, I don't normally go in for biographies, but this is an excellent book so far. Part of that may be that Boyd is a genuinely interesting guy and that he was working on stuff that interests me, but I'm still quite enjoying myself."
cv  talking  writing  thinking  howwethink  via:bopuc  communication  time  dictation  johnboyd  robertcoram  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  understanding  howwewrite 
july 2015 by robertogreco
More-Than-Human Lab. » Design Ethnography in the Anthropocene
"It’s the second week of winter trimester, and I’m teaching my second-year undergraduate course in Design Ethnography. The theme this year is the Anthropocene, or how design relates to people’s relationships with animals, plants, the Earth’s elements, and “natural” materials in an era defined by humanity’s impact on the planet.

In this course, students learn about some of the main ecological challenges facing the world today and how different cultures around the world understand the relationship between nature and culture. And we focus on developing critical and creative skills in observation, interviews, interpretation, representation, and reflection so that design can play a more sustainable role in our shared future.

Anthropocene Fever by Jedediah Purdy

The Anthropocene debate: Why is such a useful concept starting to fall apart? by Aaron Vansintjan

Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Chthulucene: Making Kin (pdf) by Donna Haraway

Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet

Tomorrow we delve into what ethnography means and how we do it. I like this lecture because I get to share one of my favourite descriptions of ethnography, from Bronislaw Malinowski’s 1922 Argonauts of the Western Pacific :
“Ethnography has a goal, of which an Ethnographer should never lose sight. This goal is, briefly, to grasp the native’s point of view, his relation to life, to realise his vision of his world. We have to study man, and we must study what concerns him most intimately, that is, the hold life has on him. In each culture, the values are slightly different; people aspire after different aims, follow different impulses, yearn after a different form of happiness . . . In each culture, we find different institutions in which man pursues his life-interest, different customs by which he satisfies his aspirations, different codes of law and morality which reward his virtues or punish his defections. To study the institutions, customs, and codes or to study the behaviour and mentality without the subjective desire of feeling by what these people live, of realising the substance of their happiness—is, in my opinion, to miss the greatest reward which we can hope to obtain from the study of man.”

Ignore the outdated language and, almost one hundred years later, I think it is still an unusually eloquent statement on the beauty of our field of research. And if ethnography is committed to sharing stories about what it means to be human, then we can also count amongst its rewards a greater understanding of ourselves.

The first assignment is to conduct several hours of participant observation, doing something that can help us better understand people’s everyday understandings of, and interactions with, “nature”. I haven’t defined nature for them, and I can’t wait to see what they do!

I’ve also started doing something new this trimester: Each class begins with 10 minutes of sustained consideration of a photograph. Spending ten full minutes looking at one image is incredibly challenging but, I hope, also rewarding. The longer we spend looking at something, the more we stand to see. Our minds are given time to move away from–and perhaps more importantly, return to–what’s right in front of us. The activity, especially when done regularly, sharpens attention and increases awareness. It teaches students the foundational skill of all ethnographic research: engaged observation. The activity ends with answering one question: “What matters here?” and, of course, there is no right answer. The goal is simply to get better at seeing–at recognising–the larger context(s) which lend any image its resonance or power."
annegalloway  morethanhumanlab  anthropocene  photography  ethnography  designethnography  2015  jedediahpurdy  aaroncanistian  fonnaharaway  bronislawmalinowski  looking  noticing  observation  understanding  slow  classideas  multispecies  nature  culture  reflection  context  behavior 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Teachers Are Not The Sun: Recentering Our Classrooms | Teach. Run. Write
"I’m really into centering and focus lately in my teaching practice. The more and more I understand how it affects my everyday life, the more I see its implications in my work.

So, this weekend, I was frustrated when I saw not just one, but THREE separate discussions that, paraphrased, said, “if you’re a non-educator or not a teacher, I’m not interested in your opinion on my classroom.”



Like, damn. As mentor and #educolor member Melinda Anderson pointed out, it’s an “epidemic.”

But I get it. I get it. Being a teacher is hard. Real hard. We face a lot of outside babble from folks trying to tell us how to do the job and actually being totally wrong, because you don’t know what a classroom is like until you step in there.

That’s really frustrating, and I understand if it has made us guarded. It makes us want to protect the few precious parts of our job that we have ownership over, that don’t feel stripped away by testing we may not agree with or other bureaucracy that, often, doesn’t make sense in our classrooms. You have a right to feel frustrated and skeptical. I often do too.

Still, you’re really gonna tell me that the only people qualified (or even those who are most qualified) to have an opinion on education are only teachers?

Only teachers are capable of understanding the ~mystical ways~ of our students, or our classrooms? Better yet (or worse), you wanna tell me that the academics from places that–you guessed it– are often institutionally racist/sexist/privileged know more about kids than their parents or community?

If you really think that the parents, community members, and other important folks in a student’s life don’t have just as much right to have an opinion as you do, what are you even doing here, bruh?

That sounds harsh, but for all the talk I see about “student-centered” classrooms, I see VERY LITTLE walking the walk.

So many teachers make it all about them and refuse to take outside support from community members. That’s an incredibly frustrating thing to witness, and I’m not even a parent! I can’t imagine what rage I would feel if my kid’s teacher told me that even though I share culture, race, and background with my student (beyond, ya know, being related to and raising this child), I unequivocally cannot have an opinion about what happens for hours a day in that classroom.

Don’t get me wrong: parents aren’t always able to see a clear picture of their kids either, at least for the time students are in the classroom. Sometimes, we have to remind folks what we’re seeing in the day-to-day. I’m not saying that parents or community members are always right.

But, especially when most teachers are White women, I have a hard time believing that they have any right to only listen to their opinion, or the opinion of outsiders to a community and ignore those who are from the community. How is that student centered?

Melinda brought up this excellent point when we talked about it online: when many of your teachers are not from the community and don’t share the cultural context of their students, forcing parents and community members to stay silent is a form of colonialism in our practice.

Communities have the right to self-author their stories through their children. My job as a teacher isn’t to outshine or shout over that– it’s to expose them and give them the tools to help them share it even louder!

The lack of humility it takes takes to decide that your voice or only your views on education have merit is not just rude, it’s dangerously restrictive and privileged. You do not get to call your teaching “student centered” when you purposefully ignore the voices and beliefs of those who influence student lives in favor of what you believe is “educated” thought.

I tend to think of a school community a little like a solar system. If my students are the center (which they should be), like the sun, then the bodies closest to them– parents, coaches, teachers etc– are the ones that not only have largest spheres of influence and connection (gravitational pull, if you will), but also the most reliable knowledge about what it’s like closest to that center.



All I’m saying is this, bottom line: the closer you are to kids, the more you have a shared language, cultural context, and understanding of not just them, but all the stories that helped make them them, the more you can help.

Sometimes, even a lot of times, that’s a teacher. Sometimes, though, it’s not just a teacher, you know?

Look, no one is saying to silence teacher voice. Clearly, teachers are the ones in the trenches, day-to-day, dealing with what happens in schools. Saying that parent voice matters or community voice matters does NOT mean we ignore teacher voices, or even the voices of academia.

Research (especially from researchers who are social-justice-oriented or from communities we teach in, but that’s another post) is not the enemy. Teachers or parents aren’t the enemy. Even edtech companies aren’t the enemy. No one is the enemy. Everyone has something cool to offer. It’s not a zero-sum game. No one has to win or lose. We can all win.

The only way that happens, though, is if we consistently center the work on our students. If you really want to serve students, and center on them, but you have no relationships with students, you know what you’re probably going to be driven to do? TALK TO SOMEONE WHO DOES AND GIVE WEIGHT TO THEIR THOUGHTS.

And teachers? If we truly center on our students– as often as we can– and ask ourselves: who knows more about this kid right now? I bet the answer may not be us, or the amazing teaching practice book we just read, or that awesome article we loved when we were in teacher prep.

It’s probably going to be a parent, family member, friend or better yet: the student themselves.

I love teachers. I am teacher. I love being one, and I love working with other great teachers. I’m just asking us to remember– when it’s hot outside, when summer has us punchy and squirmy– to remember why we got into the work. Don’t cut out the people that help create the folks you really want to help the most: your students. "
christinatorres  education  pedagogy  teaching  inclusion  parenting  parents  community  children  2015  self-centeredness  howweteach  understanding  listening  learning  howwelearn  student-centered  inlcusivity  inclusivity 
july 2015 by robertogreco
more-than-human lab - Thinking out loud
"I am a design ethnographer, researcher and educator. I work in the era of late capitalism, in the epoch described as the Anthropocene. I live in the world as an animal amongst animals, and I trade in things. I choose to work with those age-old structures of Western thought: animal, vegetable, mineral. And I choose to look for new ways of understanding them."
anthropology  ethnography  annegalloway  2015  animals  multispecies  posthumanism  capitalism  latecapitalism  anthropocene  understanding  research  education 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Jamie Zigelbaum: Excerpt From My Master's Thesis
"One of the most interesting concepts arising from my research and development of tangible interfaces is the idea of external legibility. While the HCI literature is full of examples of studies of interface legibility or how well an individual user or a group of users can interact with or understand an interface or interaction techniques that they are directly involved with using (what could be called internal legibility), there are hardly any examples of studies to examine the impact of interface design on non-participating observers. I define this property of interface design as external legibility.

External Legibility: a property of user interfaces that affects the ability of non-participating observers to understand the context of a user’s actions.

One reason why external legibility is important in interface design has to do with its relationship to semantics. Although it may never be possible to truly understand another’s mind, communication is based on shared understanding. Without a context in which to base understanding, inferring meaning or semantics becomes difficult.

Think of watching a master craftsperson working on a cabinet. You can see her hammering a nail to join two two-by-fours, you can see how she makes precise cuts along the edge of a piece of plywood. The context that the craftsperson works within is highly legible to an observer—the feeling of the wood, the knowledge of why a hammer is used, the memory of experiences of doing things like what the craftsperson are doing are available to many of us, but unless you too are a master craftsperson you may not know why she is doing the things that she does. The specific content of her actions are private, her thoughts and strategies, but the context of her actions are public. Without the ability to move from observation to inference accurately, it is hard to create shared understanding. External legibility is a measure of the reliability of the connection between observation and inference in interface design, but not in the traditional framing of one person and one machine—what could be called legibility. External legibility is a property of the space between one person observing another person using a machine.

Publications
Zigelbaum, J. Mending Fractured Spaces: External Legibility and Seamlessness in Interface Design. Master’s Thesis, MIT Media Lab (2008)."
jamiezigelbaum  legibility  workinginpublic  modeling  2015  via:litherland  lcproject  openstudioproject  interface  interfacedesign  design  observation  inference  craft  craftsmanship  communication  understanding  process  context  visibility 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Grace by Joy Harjo : The Poetry Foundation
"I think of Wind and her wild ways the year we had nothing to lose and lost it anyway in the cursed country of the fox. We still talk about that winter, how the cold froze imaginary buffalo on the stuffed horizon of snowbanks. The haunting voices of the starved and mutilated broke fences, crashed our thermostat dreams, and we couldn’t stand it one more time.So once again we lost a winter in stubborn memory, walked through cheap apartment walls, skated through fields of ghosts into a town that never wanted us, in the epic search for grace.

Like Coyote, like Rabbit, we could not contain our terror and clowned our way through a season of false midnights. We had to swallow that town with laughter, so it would go down easy as honey. And one morning as the sun struggled to break ice, and our dreams had found us with coffee and pancakes in a truck stop along Highway 80, we found grace.
   
I could say grace was a woman with time on her hands, or a white buffalo escaped from memory. But in that dingy light it was a promise of balance. We once again understood the talk of animals, and spring was lean and hungry with the hope of children and corn.
   
I would like to say, with grace, we picked ourselves up and walked into the spring thaw. We didn’t; the next season was worse. You went home to Leech Lake to work with the tribe and I went south. And, Wind, I am still crazy. I know there is something larger than the memory of a dispossessed people. We have seen it."
via:anne  joyharjo  pomes  poetry  nature  multispecies  grace  understanding  animals  communication  language  interspecies  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships 
may 2015 by robertogreco
My Objections to the Common Core State Standards (1.0) : Stager-to-Go
"The following is an attempt to share some of my objections to Common Core in a coherent fashion. These are my views on a controversial topic. An old friend I hold in high esteem asked me to share my thoughts with him. If you disagree, that’s fine. Frankly, I spent a lot of time I don’t have creating this document and don’t really feel like arguing about the Common Core. The Common Core is dying even if you just discovered it.

This is not a research paper, hence the lack of references. You can Google for yourself. Undoubtedly, this post contains typos as well. I’ll fix them as I find them.

This critique shares little with the attacks from the Tea Party or those dismissed by the Federal Education Secretary or Bill Gates as whiney parents.

I have seven major objections to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS)

1. The CCSS are a solution in search of a problem.

2. The CCSS were implemented in a remarkably undemocratic fashion at great public expense to the benefit of ideologues and corporations.

3. The standards are preposterous and developmentally inappropriate.

4. The inevitable failure of the Common Core cannot be blamed on poor implementation when poor implementation is baked into the design.

5. Standardized curriculum lowers standards, diminishes teacher agency, and lowers the quality of educational experiences.

6. The CCSS will result in an accelerated erosion of public confidence in public education.

7. The requirement that CCSS testing be conducted electronically adds unnecessary complexity, expense, and derails any chance of computers being used in a creative fashion to amplify student potential."

[continues on to elaborate on each objection, some pull quotes here]

"there is abundant scholarship by Linda Darling-Hammond, Diane Ravitch, Gerald Bracey, Deborah Meier, and others demonstrating that more American kids are staying in school longer than at any time in history. If we control for poverty, America competes quite favorably against any other nation in the world, if you care about such comparisons."



"As my colleague and mentor Seymour Papert said, “At best school teaches a billionth of a percent of the knowledge in the world and yet we quibble endlessly about which billionth of a percent is important enough to teach.” Schools should prepare kids to solve problems their teachers never anticipated with the confidence and competence necessary to overcome any obstacle, even if only to discover that there is more to learn."



"When teachers are not required to make curricular decisions and design curriculum based on the curiosity, thinking, understanding, passion, or experience of their students, the resulting loss in teacher agency makes educators less thoughtful and reflective in their practice, not more. The art of teaching has been sacrificed at the expense of reducing pedagogical practice to animal control and content delivery."



"The singular genius of George W. Bush and his No Child Left Behind legislation (kicked-up a notch by Obama’s Race-to-the-Top) was the recognition that many parents hate school, but love their kids’ teachers. If your goal is to privatize education, you need to concoct a way to convince parents to withdraw support for their kid’s teacher. A great way to achieve that objective is by misusing standardized tests and then announcing that your kid’s teacher is failing your kid. This public shaming creates a manufactured crisis used to justify radical interventions before calmer heads can prevail.

These standardized tests are misunderstood by the public and policy-makers while being used in ways that are psychometrically invalid. For example, it is no accident that many parents confuse these tests with college admissions requirements. Using tests designed to rank students mean that half of all test-takers be below the norm and were never intended to measure teacher efficacy.

The test scores come back up to six months after they are administered, long after a child advances to the next grade. Teachers receive scores for last year’s students, with no information on the questions answered incorrectly. These facts make it impossible to use the testing as a way of improving instruction, the stated aim of the farcical process."



"It is particularly ironic how much of the public criticism of the Common Core is related to media accounts and water cooler conversations of the “crazy math” being taught to kids. There are actually very few new or more complex concepts in the Common Core than previous math curricula. In fact, the Common Core hardly challenges any of the assumptions of the existing mathematics curriculum. The Common Core English Language Arts standards are far more radical. Yet, our innumerate culture is up in arms about the “new new math” being imposed by the Common Core.

What is different about the Common Core approach to mathematics, particularly arithmetic, is the arrogant imposition of specific algorithms. In other words, parents are freaking out because their kids are being required to solve problems in a specific fashion that is different from how they solve similar problems.

This is more serious than a matter of teaching old dogs new tricks. The problem is teaching tricks at all. There are countless studies by Constance Kamii and others demonstrating that any time you teach a child the algorithm, you commit violence against their mathematical understanding. Mathematics is a way of making sense of the world and Piaget teaches us that it is not the job of the teacher to correct the child from the outside, but rather to create the conditions in which they correct themselves from the inside. Mathematical problem solving does not occur in one way no matter how forcefully you impose your will on children. If you require a strategy competing with their own intuitions, you add confusion that results in less confidence and understanding.

Aside from teaching one algorithm (trick), another way to harm a child’s mathematical thinking development is to teach many algorithms for solving the same problem. Publishers make this mistake frequently. In an attempt to acknowledge the plurality of ways in which various children solve problems, those strategies are identified and then taught to every child. Doing so adds unnecessary noise, undermines personal confidence, and ultimately tests memorization of tricks (algorithms) at the expense of understanding.

This scenario goes something like this. Kids estimate in lots of different ways. Let’s teach them nine or ten different ways to estimate, and test them along the way. By the end of the process, many kids will be so confused that they will no longer be able to perform the estimation skill they had prior to the direct instruction in estimation. Solving a problem in your head is disqualified."
garystager  commoncore  2015  education  policy  schools  publicschools  standardization  standardizedtesting  standards  learning  teaching  pedagogy  technology  testing  democracy  process  implementation  agency  howweteach  howwelearn  publicimage  seymourpapert  numeracy  matheducation  math  mathematics  numbersense  understanding  memorization  algorithms  rttt  gatesfoundation  pearson  nclb  georgewbush  barackobama 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Insights: K-HOLE, New York — Insights: K-HOLE, New York — Channel — Walker Art Center
"K-HOLE exists in multiple states at once: it is both a publication and a collective; it is both an artistic practice and a consulting firm; it is both critical and unapologetically earnest. Its five members come from backgrounds as varied as brand strategy, fine art, web development, and fashion, and together they have released a series of fascinating PDF publications modeled upon corporate trend forecasting reports. These documents appropriate the visuals of PowerPoint, stock photography, and advertising and exploit the inherent poetry in the purposefully vague aphorisms of corporate brand-speak. Ultimately, K-HOLE aspires to utilize the language of trend forecasting to discuss sociopolitical topics in depth, exploring the capitalist landscape of advertising and marketing in a critical but un-ironic way.

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

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

Part of Insights 2015 Design Lecture Series."

[direct link to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7GkMPN5f5cQ ]
k-hole  consumption  online  internet  communication  burnout  normcore  legibility  illegibility  simplicity  technology  mobile  phones  smartphones  trends  fashion  art  design  branding  brands  socialmedia  groupchat  texting  oversharing  absence  checkingout  aesthetics  lifestyle  airplanemode  privilege  specialness  generations  marketing  trendspotting  coping  messaging  control  socialcapital  gregfong  denayago  personalbranding  visibility  invisibility  identity  punk  prolasticity  patagonia  patience  anxietymatrix  chaos  order  anxiety  normality  abnormality  youth  millennials  individuality  box1824  hansulrichobrist  alternative  indie  culture  opposition  massindie  williamsburg  simoncastets  digitalnatives  capitalism  mainstream  semiotics  subcultures  isolation  2015  walkerartcenter  maxingout  establishment  difference  89plus  basicness  evasion  blandness  actingbasic  empathy  indifference  eccentricity  blankness  tolerance  rebellion  signalling  status  coolness  aspiration  connections  relationships  presentationofself  understanding  territorialism  sociology  ne 
march 2015 by robertogreco
How Adam Curtis' film "Bitter Lake" will change everything you believe about news - Boing Boing
"The acclaimed British documentary filmmaker has released his latest film in unusual, forward-thinking circumstances."



"A new type of understanding emerges as a result of the form itself, an emotional, existential sensation of being present in the effects of the West's foreign affairs. There are also jokes, and audacious music choices, history underscored by Nine Inch Nails, Kanye West, Burial, and droning synth film scores by Clint Mansell. The implications are astonishing, the effect verges on the surreal: vivid, banal, beautiful, and constantly giving rise to elusive new connections in your mind between sound and image. Although any history book can give you some of the same information that’s not the point. What I came away with watching the film was a haunted sensation, a novelistic reality, one in which I couldn’t forget its images, in which suddenly I saw an aspect to war that is often obscured in news; an emotional dimension.

We do little examination of the filmmaking techniques and formalism that constitutes television news, one of the dominant global experiences for nearly a century. Media examination of how news is made tends to focus on institutions and individuals, as the Brian Williams and Bill O'Reilly scandals demonstrate. The focus of analysis is personality, celebrity, and memory; which isn’t all that different from a network anchor’s stated role.


But this means we never engage in discourse about the expectations of the aesthetics and form taken of how we watch news. The editing techniques embraced by news corporations are themselves a kind of power structure that prioritizes inattention. We prioritize the celebrity of Williams or O'Reilly instead of the collective failures of corporate news media, whose compliance with lies planted by the Bush administration contributed to our involvement in Iraq.

While it’s common knowledge that television news prioritizes soundbites, this same editorial process also reduces footage into optical bites. An image must be watched at length to be understood, but the very form of TV news requires it's cut down to its most reductive. As a result, the montage that dominates the cliched, internationally adopted television news format maximalizes the most shocking images of conflict and drama. It’s the geopolitical equivalent of reality tv producers getting their performers drunk and letting the cameras roll, more Real World: Road Rules than The March of Time.

What ends up on the cutting room floor (or at least deleted from the digital bin) is understanding and narrative. Explaining in this great interview, Curtis offers the idea that “…television is really one long construction of a giant story out of fragments of recorded reality from all over the world that is constantly added to every day.”"



"Curtis’ work is often criticized on the basis of how reductive his history is or how he’s retreading conspiracy theories. As can be seen in the interactions on his exceptional blog, conspiracy theorists comprise a segment of his viewership, but tend to be infatuated with correcting his histories and informing him of what he left out.

But conspiracies do not govern his theses. If anything Curtis’ work is about how unreckoned our relationship with power is. It’s an overarching history of the 20th century giving birth to new systems to disseminate and control power. Since we have no working narrative or politics to concede with power, unintended consequences prevail. The stories of his films are almost always a history of how those in power create plans to change the world, and those plans go completely awry."



"Curtis’ work may not be infallible, but it often asks why we have become stagnant and regressive, why we are running out of visions for the future. At the very least, his films have provided a new vision: of how we still have work to do in the form of filmmaking that will help us understand our world. I hope BITTER LAKE most of all raises questions of how news organizations appropriate the imagery that is shot, often at great cost to the lives of journalists, in a way that has narrowed the possible dimensionality of its truth. Even more troublesome, the exploitation of footage created by terrorists has resulted in a horrifying feedback loop where corporate news entities earn profits off of their existence.

In the far future, the real impact of BITTER LAKE will most likely be the filmmakers inspired by it. They may not need to wait for a collection of discarded videotapes, for lurking out there on the Internet is a nearly infinite archive of footage. Over 100,000 hours are uploaded to YouTube each day. It is just out there waiting for artists, journalists and storytellers to help us make sense of it all."
aaronstewart-ahn  adamcurtis  media  film  documentary  culture  aesthetics  news  emotions  afghanistan  iraq  war  filmmaking  brianwilliams  billo'reilly  power  editing  celebrity  soundbites  understanding  narrative  archives  youtube  journalism  storytelling  bbc  bitterlake 
march 2015 by robertogreco
The rise of explorable explanations | Maarten Lambrechts
"It may be that I’m just late to the party, but the last couple of months some very interesting mixes of text and small, interactive graphics explaining quite complex mathematical, statistical and other concepts came into my view. Here I list some of these new and powerful explorable explanations.

The inspirator

The term ‘explorable explanation’ was coined 4 years ago by Bret Victor, in his essay with the same title. Victor argues that readers will be more engaged and will learn and remember better when they are ‘active readers’."
education  interactive  visualization  bretvictor  dataviz  understanding  2015  maartenlambrechts 
march 2015 by robertogreco
The Humane Representation of Thought on Vimeo
"Closing keynote at the UIST and SPLASH conferences, October 2014.
Preface: http://worrydream.com/TheHumaneRepresentationOfThought/note.html

References to baby-steps towards some of the concepts mentioned:

Dynamic reality (physical responsiveness):
- The primary work here is Hiroshi Ishii's "Radical Atoms": http://tangible.media.mit.edu/project/inform/
- but also relevant are the "Soft Robotics" projects at Harvard: http://softroboticstoolkit.com
- and at Otherlab: http://youtube.com/watch?v=gyMowPAJwqo
- and some of the more avant-garde corners of material science and 3D printing

Dynamic conversations and presentations:
- Ken Perlin's "Chalktalk" changes daily; here's a recent demo: http://bit.ly/1x5eCOX

Context-sensitive reading material:
- http://worrydream.com/MagicInk/

"Explore-the-model" reading material:
- http://worrydream.com/ExplorableExplanations/
- http://worrydream.com/LadderOfAbstraction/
- http://ncase.me/polygons/
- http://redblobgames.com/pathfinding/a-star/introduction.html
- http://earthprimer.com/

Evidence-backed models:
- http://worrydream.com/TenBrighterIdeas/

Direct-manipulation dynamic authoring:
- http://worrydream.com/StopDrawingDeadFish/
- http://worrydream.com/DrawingDynamicVisualizationsTalk/
- http://tobyschachman.com/Shadershop/

Modes of understanding:
- Jerome Bruner: http://amazon.com/dp/0674897013
- Howard Gardner: http://amazon.com/dp/0465024335
- Kieran Egan: http://amazon.com/dp/0226190390

Embodied thinking:
- Edwin Hutchins: http://amazon.com/dp/0262581469
- Andy Clark: http://amazon.com/dp/0262531569
- George Lakoff: http://amazon.com/dp/0465037712
- JJ Gibson: http://amazon.com/dp/0898599598
- among others: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Embodied_cognition

I don't know what this is all about:
- http://worrydream.com/ABriefRantOnTheFutureOfInteractionDesign/
- http://worrydream.com/ABriefRantOnTheFutureOfInteractionDesign/responses.html

---

Abstract:

New representations of thought — written language, mathematical notation, information graphics, etc — have been responsible for some of the most significant leaps in the progress of civilization, by expanding humanity’s collectively-thinkable territory.

But at debilitating cost. These representations, having been invented for static media such as paper, tap into a small subset of human capabilities and neglect the rest. Knowledge work means sitting at a desk, interpreting and manipulating symbols. The human body is reduced to an eye staring at tiny rectangles and fingers on a pen or keyboard.

Like any severely unbalanced way of living, this is crippling to mind and body. But it is also enormously wasteful of the vast human potential. Human beings naturally have many powerful modes of thinking and understanding.

Most are incompatible with static media. In a culture that has contorted itself around the limitations of marks on paper, these modes are undeveloped, unrecognized, or scorned.

We are now seeing the start of a dynamic medium. To a large extent, people today are using this medium merely to emulate and extend static representations from the era of paper, and to further constrain the ways in which the human body can interact with external representations of thought.

But the dynamic medium offers the opportunity to deliberately invent a humane and empowering form of knowledge work. We can design dynamic representations which draw on the entire range of human capabilities — all senses, all forms of movement, all forms of understanding — instead of straining a few and atrophying the rest.

This talk suggests how each of the human activities in which thought is externalized (conversing, presenting, reading, writing, etc) can be redesigned around such representations.

---

Art by David Hellman.
Bret Victor -- http://worrydream.com "

[Some notes from Boris Anthony:

"Those of you who know my "book hack", Bret talks about exactly what motivates my explorations starting at 20:45 in https://vimeo.com/115154289 "
https://twitter.com/Bopuc/status/574339495274876928

"From a different angle, btwn 20:00-29:00 Bret explains how "IoT" is totally changing everything
https://vimeo.com/115154289
@timoreilly @moia"
https://twitter.com/Bopuc/status/574341875836043265 ]
bretvictor  towatch  interactiondesign  davidhellman  hiroshiishii  softrobotics  robots  robotics  kenperlin  jeromebruner  howardgardner  kieranegan  edwinhutchins  andyclark  jjgibson  embodiedcognition  cognition  writing  math  mathematics  infographic  visualization  communication  graphics  graphicdesign  design  representation  humans  understanding  howwelearn  howwethink  media  digital  dynamism  movement  conversation  presentation  reading  howweread  howwewrite  chalktalk  otherlab  3dprinting  3d  materials  physical  tangibility  depth  learning  canon  ui  informationdesign  infographics  maps  mapping  data  thinking  thoughts  numbers  algebra  arithmetic  notation  williamplayfair  cartography  gestures  placevalue  periodictable  michaelfaraday  jamesclerkmaxell  ideas  print  printing  leibniz  humanism  humanerepresentation  icons  visual  aural  kinesthetic  spatial  tactile  symbols  iot  internetofthings  programming  computers  screens  computation  computing  coding  modeling  exploration  via:robertogreco  reasoning  rhetoric  gerrysussman  environments  scale  virtualization 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Experts and the corruption of truth! | Metaquestions
"We all need to be able to understand our first principles are probably wrong. We need to realise field testing only tells us a bit of what we need to know within limits. It is just not simple, if its simple it need to be a belief like religion and that leads to people holding onto something that is not proven. Those people will stop innovation and improvement on our global knowledge base."



"There is no short-cut, there is no final proof, we are merely allowed to see only part of what makes the universe work, we do not know gravity, anti matter, black holes or even if any of these things exist! We cannot even tell why prime numbers happen in the order they do, what we do not know is very simple things that we really should know. So how on earth could we know the big stuff? Bottom line, this game we are playing only shows us a few of the rules at any one time, things will change as we discover more rules, but they force us to reconsider all our previous moves continually and as nature shows us more rules it will force us to be humble and start again.

The number of unknowns is enormous and trying to ignore them by simply an equation, fancy word for something, a measurement or even a series of experiments is simply not enough. All together they offer an ability to start to ask, none of them offer a final answer (and never will). So don’t be an expert, be an explorer and if you are nice to your fellow explorers they may even show you ways you have not yet considered. If they talk in maths riddles and hide behind fancy papers and equations then they are safe to ignore. There is no easy answer, only more information and potentially all you know may be wrong, certainly the majority is certainly wrong, so don’t be a believer, be ready to infer new conclusions as you find out more info, which may not even look related. So look at everything and prepare for massive surprises, they will happen!

This is why I struggle to give simple answers to folk, I hate lies and part of a truth is closer to a lie that saying nothing. Many understand this position, but many don’t yet. It is interesting to see though that the experts seem to be the very people who are the believers and not explorers, when folk also realise what they know is trivial and likely wrong then perhaps things will move along faster.

In saying that I also agree that the inability to easily explain something is an indication of a lack of understanding. A quandary, well yes … Just another thing I don’t know, I wish I did."
experts  via:Taryn  2015  truth  math  science  mathematics  scientificmethod  unlearning  learning  certainty  uncertainty  understanding  belief  unknowns  limits  davidirvine 
march 2015 by robertogreco
2, 6: Neighborhoods, the Anti-Algorithm
"So what does this have to do with my neighborhood?

G.K. Chesterton, in a collection of essays titled Heretics, wrote:
"The man who lives in a small community lives in a much larger world. He knows much more of the fierce variety and uncompromising divergences of men…In a large community, we can choose our companions. In a small community, our companions are chosen for us. Thus in all extensive and highly civilized society groups come into existence founded upon sympathy, and shut out the real world more sharply than the gates of a monastery."

That was 1905. Long before the internet would give us the largest community of all. Yet, the oft-cited "filter bubble" of the internet is Chesterton's community of choice. The easy community. The one that just happens because we want what we want. And in a less troubled world, that wouldn't be much to fuss about. But in our world, the "filter bubble" is dangerous. It makes fear, hatred, and oppression all the more abundant, both online and off. Before the internet, we called "filter bubbles" segregation. We call them "filter bubbles" now because its easier to see them as a manifestation of technology than the effect of our choices. Because if we saw them for what they truly are, we'd have to call them segregation again. We thought we left that behind. But, no, we haven't. Segregation, of every kind, is the entropy against which we all struggle, the product of bodies living in time, wired down to our cells to survive at all costs, responding to their loudest signal, fear. Chesterton understood that the principal challenge we humans are given to work out in this life is each other, and that nowhere better than next door is that challenge met.

But in Facebook's world, next-door has no greater offer of intimacy than across town, or state, or country. In the large community, as Chesterton said, we can choose our companions. That's the appeal of the network. Community on my terms. Forget that we know it's not good for us. Or that it's dangerous. Forget that it's a shinier, faster form of segregation. Forget that it's invisible and layered, making it easier to explain away. None of this is Facebook's fault. If it wasn't them, then it would be AOL, or Friendster, or MySpace, or any of the many networks that came before it. We can't blame them — any of them — for segregation, however technological its 21st century incarnation may be. But we can blame them for selling it. The economic benefit of segregation is nothing new; it makes selling things easier. But segregation is Facebook's secret sauce. It's an economic imperative. Like just about every "platform" of the internet today, it is ruthlessly driven to box each one of us in. To confine us to an echo-chamber. Not for our own benefit, but for theirs. Because it makes it easier for them to control us. And no, not to usher in some dramatic, Illuminati-style new world order. It's hardly that interesting! It's to sell tiny display ads and make heaps of money. That's it. Controlling us is simply an act of inventory management.

Of course, it's easy to look past all of this. To point at the good that thrives on the network — and of that, there is plenty. The lonely who are no longer lonely because of it. The oppressed who grow more powerful when bound together. But to celebrate the network's role in that only heightens my awareness that it is something we could have — should have — without it. It's too easy, also, to celebrate the engines of our ingenuity. See this? Look what we have made! But that we are as enamored with the algorithm as we so clearly are is an indicator that our hearts are way out of sync with our minds. We have engineered such sophisticated tools for connecting, ordering, and studying ourselves; it's an astounding achievement. It's one we might even celebrate if it were truly an open project for the common good. But it isn't. Not even close. So why do we pretend that it is? The network is not ours. It's the other way around. We are the network's. To sell. That is, unless we get off the network. Or at least spend a whole lot less time there.

My neighbors have convinced me that community is not only of the network. Saying such a thing sounds trite. But it's another thing entirely to live it. Here's an example: Last year, the doctor and his wife down the street decided to organize weekly neighborhood dinners. Each Sunday evening, someone hosts dinner for the neighborhood. When I first heard the idea, I was aghast. Weekly! As in, every week? No, I thought, monthly, maybe. But we went to a few, then we hosted one of our own — which wasn't nearly as much work as we thought it would be — and we've regularly gone to most of the others since. It's not obligatory. It's not like if you go to one, you must go to them all. Or even that if you go to one, you must host one. Few people have gone to every dinner, but many of us have gone to most of them. And many of us have hosted one.

Spending this time together — committing to it — is how the work gets done, not the Facebook group. It's through being together, in each other's homes, in real life. Don't get me wrong, it's no utopia. People get on each other's nerves. Not everyone will become best friends. We're talking about people here. But that's the point. The network can't sell that. It can sell our attention, but the less of our lives we live on the network, the less our attention feels like us. That's the control we still have. Eventually, hopefully, leveraging that control could change the economics of the network. Consider the neighborhood the anti-algorithm."
2015  chrisbutler  facebook  socialnetworks  gkchesterson  difference  filterbubbles  algorithms  neighborhoods  discovery  community  communities  understanding  empathy  small  attention  feeds  segregation  diversity  technology  separation  togetherness  companionship  sympathy 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Obsolete Skill Set: The 3 Rs
"I see then a pattern of intellectual development that I shall oversimplify by casting it in three distinct phases. The first phase is one of universally successful learning. All children show a passion for interactive exploration of their immediate world. The diversity of possible activity is great enough for different individuals to find their own styles. The third phase is seen in intellectually awake adults. Here too we see a great diversity of styles. But not everyone gets there. The second phase is the narrow and dangerous passage in which many factors conspire to undermine the continuation of phase one. School is often blamed for imposing on children a uniformity that suffocates those who have developed markedly different intellectual styles; much as it used to suffocate left-handed people by forcing them to "write properly". Most of the blame is well-founded. But in these practices, schools reflect (and amplify) the poverty of media that has plagued society in the past. As long as writing was the only medium in town, schools did not have many choices.

The early and massive imposition on children of what I call "letteracy" carries risk not only because it suppresses diversity of style, but because it forces an abrupt break with the modes of learning shared by the first and third phases. New media promise the opportunity to offer a smoother transition to what really deserves to be called "literacy." Literacy should not mean the ability to decode strings of alphabetic letters. Consider a child who uses a Knowledge Machine to acquire a broad understanding of poetry (spoken), history (perhaps relived in simulations), and art and science (through computer-based labs), and thus draws on this knowledge to conduct a well-informed, highly persuasive campaign to preserve the environment. All this could happen without being letterate. If it does, should we say that the child is illiterate?

The use of the same word to mean both the mechanical ability to read as well as a rich connection with culture is one more reflection of today's paucity of media. As we enter an age in which diversity of media will allow individuals to choose their own routes to literacy, that dual meaning will pass away. For the next generation or two one must expect literacy to include some letteracy, since our culture's past is so connected with expression through writing. But even if a truly literate person of the future will be expected to know how to read books as well as understand the major trends in art history or philosophy, via whatever other media become available, it will not follow that learning the letters should be the cornerstone of elementary education.

My Knowledge Machine is a metaphor for things close enough in the future to demand serious consideration now. Although the software that can be purchased today gives only an inkling of what is to come, it should be seen in the same light as the first flight of the Wright Brothers' machine. Its importance for the future was not measured by its performance in feet of flight, but its ability to fuel the well-informed imagination. There are very few school environments in which the idea of the illetterate but literate child is plausible. The pundits of the Education Establishment have failed to provide leadership in this area. Perhaps the readers of Wired, who can see farther into the future, have a profoundly important social role in stirring up such debate."

[via: http://bengrey.com/blog/2013/10/the-space-between-where-our-role-as-teachers-changes-lives-and-learning/ ]
seymourpapert  literacy  internet  media  learning  children  curiosity  1993  howwelearn  unschooling  deschooling  culture  letteracy  knowledgemachine  illiteracy  canon  understanding  howweteach  schools  education  imagination  childhood  literacies  multiliteracies  multimedia  orality 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Consensus cosmogony ( 2 Feb., 2015, at Interconnected)
"I'm glad I stumbled across the term cosmogony because it gives a name to what I do when I find myself in a new organisation, socio-economic network, consultancy gig, value chain, whatever. I call it mapping or orienting, but really I'm not doing that. I'm looking for something:

What is the consensus cosmogony of the Internet of Things? What is its future? What does the consensus understand are the first steps?

I'm not trying to figure out the rights and wrongs. I'm just trying to understand the grain of what we understand and what we expect."
mattwebb  cosmogongy  2015  understanding  systemsthinking  consensusconsmogony  sensemaking  grain  howwething  howwework 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Global Lives Project - A Video Library of Life ExperiencesGlobal Lives Project
"The Global Lives Project is a video library of life experience, designed to cultivate empathy across cultures. We curate an ever-expanding collection of films that faithfully capture 24 continuous hours in the lives of individuals from around the world. We explore the diversity of human experience through the medium of video, and encourage discussion, reflection, and inquiry about the wide variety of cultures, ethnicities, languages, and religions on this planet. Our goal is to foster empathy and cross-cultural understanding.

Our new web presence is possible thanks to generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts and design firm Method. Allowing visitors to engage with and become participants in the Global Lives Project, this advanced web interface is vital to transforming Global Lives’ exhibit design into an interactive video installation. Please stay tuned as we iron out kinks and continue to launch features in the coming months."

[via: https://twitter.com/robinsloan/status/558686720955125760
"This → http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/23/business/media/vice-uses-virtual-reality-to-immerse-viewers-in-news.html … makes me think of the Global Lives Project, which might be amazing as VR: http://globallives.org/ " ]
global  international  documentary  film  globalization  culture  globallives  immersion  video  diversity  empathy  vr  understanding  virtualreality 
january 2015 by robertogreco
perception is controlled hallucination‏ | synthetic_zero
[embedded video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDwhW3lO1KI

link to .pdf:
http://espra.scicog.fr/knowingwhatwecando.pdf
"How do questions concerning consciousness and phenomenal experience relate to, or interface with, questions concerning plans, knowledge and intentions? Visual perceptual experience, we shall argue, is fixed by an agent's direct unmediated knowledge concerning her poise (or apparent poise) over a currently enabled action space: a matrix of possibilities for pursuing and accomplishing one's intentional actions, goals and projects. If this is correct, the links between planning, intention and perceptual experience are tight, while (contrary to some recent accounts invoking the notion of ‘sensorimotor expectations’) the links between embodied activity and perceptual experience, though real, are indirect."

another embedded video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etViS0oSAtg ]
perception  hallucination  2015  consciousness  cognition  imagination  understanding  simulation  andyclark  learning  howwelearn  context  prediction  approximation  inference 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Jen Delos Reyes | Rethinking Arts Education | CreativeMornings/PDX
[video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXWB7A1_zWA ]

"On the complex terrain of arts education today and expanded ways of valuing knowledge.

What should an arts education look like today? Can education change the role of artists and designers in society? How does teaching change when it is done with compassion? How does one navigate and resist the often emotionally toxic world of academia? With the rising cost of education what can we do differently?

Bibliography:

Streetwork: The Exploding School by Anthony Fyson and Colin Ward

Teaching to Transgress by bell hooks

Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope by bell hooks

Education Automation: Comprehensive Learning for Emergent Humanity by Buckminster Fuller

Talking Schools by Colin Ward

Learning By Heart: Teachings to Free the Creative Spirit by Sister Corita Kent and Jan Steward

The Open Class Room by Herbert Kohl

Deschooling Society by Ivan Illich

Why Art Can’t Be Taught by James Elkins

Education and Experience by John Dewey

Freedom and Beyond by John Holt

Notes for An Art School edited by Manifesta 6

Black Mountain: An Exploration in Community by Martin Duberman

Teaching as a Subversive Activity by Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner

We Make the Road By Walking by Myles Horton and Paulo Friere

Education for Socially Engaged Art by Pablo Helguera

Rasberry: How to Start Your Own School and Make a Book by Sally Rasberry and Robert Greenway

This Book is About Schools edited by Satu Repo

Art School: (Propositions for the 21st Century) edited by Steven Henry Madoff"
via:nicolefenton  jendelosreyes  2014  art  arteducation  education  booklists  bibliographies  anthonyfyson  colinward  bellhooks  buckminsterfuller  sistercorita  coritakent  jansteward  herbertkohl  ivanillich  jameselkins  johndewey  johnholt  manifesta6  martinduberman  blackmountaincollege  bmc  unschooling  deschooling  informal  learning  howwelearn  diy  riotgirl  neilpostman  charlesweingartner  paulofriere  pablohelguera  sallyraspberry  robertgreenway  saturepo  stevenhenrymadoff  lcproject  openstudioproject  standardization  pedagogy  thichnhathahn  teaching  howweteach  mistakes  canon  critique  criticism  criticalthinking  everyday  quotidian  markets  economics  artschool  artschoolconfidential  danclowes  bfa  mfa  degrees  originality  avantgarde  frivolity  curriculum  power  dominance  understanding  relevance  irrelevance  kenlum  criticalcare  care  communitybuilding  ronscapp  artworld  sociallyendgagedart  society  design  context  carnegiemellon  social  respect  nilsnorman  socialpracticeart  cityasclassroom  student-centered  listening  love  markdion  competition  coll 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Pirates and Prodigals on Vimeo
"A conversation between Kester Brewin, Peter Rollins, and Barry Taylor on the tragedy of the pirate and prodigal son archetypes and what this means for the future church. The discussion drew from ideas presented in Kester Brewin’s latest book, Mutiny! Why We Love Pirates, and How They Can Save Us.

The Berry Center for Lifelong Learning and The Inititive for the Church and Contemprary Culture, Fuller Theologcial Seminary

Wednesday, October 24, 2012"
pirates  theology  christianity  religion  belief  2012  radicaltheology  kesterbrewin  peterrollins  barrytaylor  courage  brokenness  honesty  responsibility  otherness  humanism  empathy  perspective  understanding  life  living  death  piracy  slavery  freedom  autonomy  independence  god  liberation  prodigalson  unbelief  decay  zombies 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Mozilla Web Literacy — Andrew Sliwinski has recently joined Mozilla as a...
"Andrew has a background in learning, as well as engineering and design. He thinks digital literacy is a ‘huge and valuable thing’ that has shaped is life. The first thing we discussed was that the Web Literacy Map presupposes that the user sees value in the web / technical domain being described. People in Bangladesh or under-served communities in the US don’t necessarily see this straight away. Job One is getting them to care.

Web Literacy is about empowerment, says Andrew - not trying to turn users into anything other than more empowered versions of themselves. This is tricky, as this empowerment is not something you understand before (or even during) the process. Only afterwards do you realise the power of the skills you now have. Also, contextualisation only happens after the learning has taken place. That’s why learning pathways are interesting - but “as a reflection tool rather than an efficacy tool”. Pledging for a pathway is aspirational and has motivational benefits, but these aren’t necessary to learning itself.

Andrew thinks that the ‘creamy nougat centre’ of the Web Literacy Map is great. The Exploring / Building / Connecting structure works and there’s ‘no giant gaping holes’. However, we should tie it more closely to the Mozilla mission and get people to care about it. Overwhelm them with how amazing the web is. One way of doing this is by teaching problem-solving. Get them to list the things they’re struggling with, and then give them the mental models to help them solve their problems.

Getting over the first hurdle can be difficult, so Andrew explained how at DIY.org they used personas. The skills on the site are aspirational titles - e.g. ‘Rocketeer’ - which draws the user into something that gives them “enough modeling to start momentum.” Andrew did add a disclaimer about research showing that over-specificity of roles is not so motivational.

We need a feedback loop for the Web Literacy Map. How is it being used? How can we make it better? Andrew also thinks we should use personas across Webmaker to represent particular constituencies. We could liaise with particular organisations (e.g. NWP) which would inform the design process and elevate their input in the discussion. They would be experts in a particular use case.

We discussed long-term learning results and how subject matter plays into the way that various approaches either work or don’t. For example, Khan Academy is linear, almost rote-based learning, but that suits the subject matter (Maths). It does efficacy really well. Everyone points to DuoLingo as a the poster child for non-linear learning pathways, but there’s no proof it works really well.

Andrew’s got a theory that “the way to get people to build life-changing, amazing, relevant things is to have fun and be creative”. We should build tools to facilitate that. Yes, we can model endpoints, but ensure the onboarding experience is about whimsy and creating environments where the user is comfortable and feels accepted. It’s only after the fact that they realise they’ve learned stuff.

We should start from ‘this is awesome!’ and then weave the messaging on the web into it. Webmaker as a platform/enabler for cool stuff. What are the parts that we all see at the same time that makes the web special, Andrew asked? He thinks one of these things is the incredibly long tail of content, from which comes incredible diversity. This is the differentiator, making the web different from Facebook or the App Store. We don’t see this from an individual user perspective, though. Although we love looking at network maps, we don’t really get it because we visit the same 20 websites every day.

Part of web literacy is about building ‘cultural empathy’, says Andrew - and showing how it helps on an everyday basis. We should focus on meaning and value first, and then show how skills are a means of getting there. What’s our trajectory for the learner?

Andrew believes that we should approach the Web Literacy Map from a ‘personas’ point of view - perhaps building on the recent UX Personas work. These are very different from the Mobile Webmaker personas that Andrew’s team have put together. We should focus on a compelling user experience from start to finish for users to navigate literacies and to create their own learning pathways. For Andrew, the Web Literacy Map is the glue to hold everything together."
andrewsliwinski  2014  interviews  webliteracy  web  online  problemsolving  learning  fun  projectbasedlearning  webliteracymap  mozilla  personas  motivation  duolingo  howwelearn  modeling  culturalempathy  inclusivity  webmaker  roles  contextualization  khanacademy  rotelearning  linearity  efficacy  dougbelshaw  beginners  making  care  lcproject  openstudioproject  onboarding  experience  userexperience  ux  whimsy  sandboxes  pathways  howweteach  momentum  remixing  enabling  platforms  messiness  diversity  internet  open  openweb  complexity  empowerment  teaching  mentoring  mentorship  canon  facilitation  tcsnmy  frameworks  understanding  context  unschooling  deschooling  education  linear  literacy  multiliteracies  badges  mapping  reflection  retrospect  inclusion  pbl  remixculture  rote  inlcusivity 
september 2014 by robertogreco
The end of Big Twitter - Text Patterns - The New Atlantis
"This is exactly right. I have found that my greatest frustrations with Twitter come not from people who are being nasty — though there are far too many of them — but from people who just misunderstand. They reply questioningly or challengingly to a tweet without reading any of the preceding or succeeding tweets that would give it context, or without reading the post that it links to. They take jokes seriously — Oh Lord do they take jokes seriously. And far too often they don’t take the time to formulate their responses with care and so write tweets that I can’t make sense of at all. And I don’t want to have to deal with all this. I just want to sit here on the porch and have a nice chat with my friends and neighbors.

But wait. I’m not on the porch anymore. I’m in the middle of Broadway.

So I’m doing what, it seems to me, many people are doing: I’m getting out of the street. I’ll keep my public account for public uses: it’ll be a place where I can link to posts like this one, or announce any event that’s of general interest. But what I’ve come to call Big Twitter is simply not a place for conversation any more.

I don’t like this change. I made friends — real friends — on Twitter when it was a place for conversation. I reconnected with people I had lost touch with. Whole new realms of knowledge were opened to me. I don’t want to foreclose on the possibility of further discovery, but the signal-to-noise ration is so bad now that I don’t think I could pick out the constructive and interesting voices from all the mean-spiritedness and incomprehension; and so few smart people now dare to use Twitter in the old open way.

Big Twitter was great — for a while. But now it’s over, and it’s time to move on. I’m just hoping that some smart people out there are learning from what went wrong and developing social networks that can strengthen the signal and silence the noise."

[More here: http://text-patterns.thenewatlantis.com/2014/09/more-on-twitter.html

"1) I had forgotten, but this piece by Robinson Meyer and Adrienne LaFrance got at many of the issues I talk about, and did it some months ago.

2) I keep hearing from people that they like Big Twitter just fine. Awesome! Then they should keep using it. (This is a genre of response that has always puzzled me. You see it when people say that they’re having trouble with a piece of software or a web service, and others reply “It’s working great for me!” How is that relevant, exactly? If I tell you I broke my arm are you going to tell me that your arm is just fine?) As I said, I want to spend more time in my living room and less time on the street. If you prefer being in the street, that’s definitely what you should do.

3) Some folks are worried that they won’t know what’s going on in the world — or in some particular corner of it — if they leave Twitter. But consider this: if it’s knowledge you want, then one of the best services Twitter provides to you is linkage: links that take you to places on the open web where ideas are developed at some length. So instead of relying on Twitter to mediate that, why not use an RSS reader and subscribe to a bunch of worthwhile sites? Cut out the middleman, I say. Plus, by using RSS you liberate yourself to some degree from dependence on proprietary services and get back to the open web. As Brent Simmons recently commented,
My blog’s older than Twitter and Facebook, and it will outlive them. It has seen Flickr explode and then fade. It’s seen Google Wave and Google Reader come and go, and it’ll still be here as Google Plus fades. When Medium and Tumblr are gone, my blog will be here.

The things that will last on the internet are not owned. Plain old websites, blogs, RSS, irc, email.


And when I say “use RSS” I mean “use it in its original, open form”: technically speaking, Twitter is little more than proprietary RSS.

4) The past few months have been for me a season of cutting back and cutting down. In addition to my general-if-not-absolute absence from Big Twitter, I stopped reading the New York Times, and have reworked my RSS feeds to feature less news-of-the-moment and more stuff that could have longer-term value. I’ve been reading more books and longer articles. This has all been good.

5) Finally, one interesting (to me) bit of self-reporting: I have missed Big Twitter at certain moments, and most of them have occurred when I’ve thought of something to say that I think is funny. I want to tweet my witticism and then sit back and wait for retweets and faves. That’s pathetic, of course; but good for me to know."]
alanjacobs  twitter  2014  convresation  frankchimero  marcoarment  news  rss  understanding  misunderstanding  bigtwitter  provatetwitter  robinsonmeyer 
september 2014 by robertogreco
How to Be Polite — The Message — Medium
"But no matter. What I found most appealing was the way that the practice of etiquette let you draw a protective circle around yourself and your emotions. By following the strictures in the book, you could drag yourself through a terrible situation and when it was all over, you could throw your white gloves in the dirty laundry hamper and move on with your life. I figured there was a big world out there and etiquette was going to come in handy along the way."



"Here’s a polite person’s trick, one that has never failed me. I will share it with you because I like and respect you, and it is clear to me that you’ll know how to apply it wisely: When you are at a party and are thrust into conversation with someone, see how long you can hold off before talking about what they do for a living. And when that painful lull arrives, be the master of it. I have come to revel in that agonizing first pause, because I know that I can push a conversation through. Just ask the other person what they do, and right after they tell you, say: “Wow. That sounds hard.”

Because nearly everyone in the world believes their job to be difficult. I once went to a party and met a very beautiful woman whose job was to help celebrities wear Harry Winston jewelry. I could tell that she was disappointed to be introduced to this rumpled giant in an off-brand shirt, but when I told her that her job sounded difficult to me she brightened and spoke for 30 straight minutes about sapphires and Jessica Simpson. She kept touching me as she talked. I forgave her for that. I didn’t reveal a single detail about myself, including my name. Eventually someone pulled me back into the party. The celebrity jewelry coordinator smiled and grabbed my hand and said, “I like you!” She seemed so relieved to have unburdened herself. I counted it as a great accomplishment. Maybe a hundred times since I’ve said, “wow, that sounds hard” to a stranger, always to great effect. I stay home with my kids and have no life left to me, so take this party trick, my gift to you.

A friend and I came up with a game called Raconteur. You pair up with another Raconteur at a party and talk to everyone you can. You score points by getting people to disclose something about their lives. If you dominate the conversation, you lose a point. The two raconteurs communicate using hand signals and keep a tally on a sheet of paper or in their minds. You’d think people would notice but they are so amused by the attention that the fact you’re playing Raconteur escapes their attention."



"But a whole class of problems goes away from my life because I see people as having around them a two or three foot invisible buffer. If there is a stray hair on their jacket I ask them if I can pluck it from them. If they don’t want that, they’ll do it themselves. If their name is now Susan, it’s Susan. Whatever happens inside that buffer is entirely up to them. It has nothing to do with me."



"Politeness buys you time. It leaves doors open. I’ve met so many people whom, if I had trusted my first impressions, I would never have wanted to meet again. And yet — many of them are now great friends. I have only very rarely touched their hair.

One of those people is my wife. On our first date, we went to a nice bar with blue tables and, in the regular course of conversation she told me at length about the removal of a dermoid teratoma from her ovaries. This is a cyst with teeth (not a metaphor). I had gone in expecting to flirt but instead I learned about the surgical removal of a fist-sized mutant mass of hair and teeth from her sexual parts. This killed the chemistry. I walked her home, told her I had a great time, and went home and looked up cysts on the Internet, always a nice end to an evening. We talked a little after that. I kept everything pleasant and brief. A year later I ran into her on the train and we got another drink. Much later I learned that she’d been having a very bad day in a very bad year.

Sometimes I’ll get a call or email from someone five years after the last contact and I’ll think, oh right, I hated that person. But they would never have known, of course. Let’s see if I still hate them. Very often I find that I don’t. Or that I hated them for a dumb reason. Or that they were having a bad day. Or much more likely, that I had been having a bad day.

People silently struggle from all kinds of terrible things. They suffer from depression, ambition, substance abuse, and pretension. They suffer from family tragedy, Ivy-League educations, and self-loathing. They suffer from failing marriages, physical pain, and publishing. The good thing about politeness is that you can treat these people exactly the same. And then wait to see what happens. You don’t have to have an opinion. You don’t need to make a judgment. I know that doesn’t sound like liberation, because we live and work in an opinion-based economy. But it is. Not having an opinion means not having an obligation. And not being obligated is one of the sweetest of life’s riches.

There is one other aspect of my politeness that I am reluctant to mention. But I will. I am often consumed with a sense of overwhelming love and empathy. I look at the other person and am overwhelmed with joy. For all of my irony I really do want to know about the process of hanging jewelry from celebrities. What does the jewelry feel like in your hand? What do the celebrities feel like in your hand? Which one is more smooth?

This is not a world where you can simply express love for other people, where you can praise them. Perhaps it should be. But it’s not. I’ve found that people will fear your enthusiasm and warmth, and wait to hear the price. Which is fair. We’ve all been drawn into someone’s love only to find out that we couldn’t afford it. A little distance buys everyone time.

Last week my wife came back from the playground. She told me that my two-year-old, three-foot-tall son, Abraham, walked up to a woman in hijab and asked “What’s your name?” The woman told him her name. Then he put out his little hand and said, “Nice to meet you!” Everyone laughed, and he smiled. He shared with her his firmest handshake, like I taught him."
etiquette  paulford  2014  listening  politeness  behavior  social  cv  canon  understanding  people  apologies  patience  love  empathy  socializing  relationships  secondchances  interestedness  silence  interested 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Meta is Murder - Mills Baker's Internet Haus of Cards
"One such principle is well phrased by Marilynne Robinson in her essay “When I was a Child,” in her collection When I Was a Child I Read Books:
"It may be mere historical conditioning, but when I see a man or a woman alone, he or she looks mysterious to me, which is only to say that for a moment I see another human being clearly."

The idea that a human seen clearly is a mystery is anathema to a culture of judgment —such as ours— which rests on a simple premise: humans can be understood by means of simple schema that map their beliefs or actions to moral categories. Moreover, because there are usually relatively few of these categories, and few important issues of discernment —our range of political concerns being startlingly narrow, after all— humans can be understood and judged at high speed in large, generalized groups: Democrats, Republicans, women, men, people of color, whites, Muslims, Christians, the rich, the poor, Generation X, millennials, Baby Boomers, and so on.

It should but does not go without saying that none of those terms describes anything with sufficient precision to support the kinds of observations people flatter themselves making. Generalization is rarely sound. No serious analysis, no serious effort to understand, describe, or change anything can contain much generalization, as every aggregation of persons introduces error. One can hardly describe a person in full, let alone a family, a city, a class, a state, a race. Yet we persist in doing so, myself included."



"One of the very best things Nietzsche ever wrote:
"The will to a system is a lack of integrity."

But to systematize is our first reaction to life in a society of scale, and our first experiment as literate or educated or even just “grown-up” persons with powers of apprehension, cogitation, and rhetoric. What would a person be online if he lacked a system in which phenomena could be traced to the constellation of ideas which constituted his firmament? What is life but the daily diagnosis of this or that bit of news as “yet another example of” an overarching system of absolutely correct beliefs? To have a system is proof of one’s seriousness, it seems —our profiles so often little lists of what we “believe,” or what we “are”— and we coalesce around our systems of thought just as our parents did around their political parties, though we of course consider ourselves mere rationalists following the evidence. Not surprisingly, the evidence always leads to the conclusion that many people in the world are horrible, stupid, even evil; and we are smart, wise, and good. It should be amusing, but it is not.

I hate this because I am doing this right now. I detest generalization because when I scan Twitter I generalize about what I see: “people today,” or “our generation,” I think, even though the people of today are as all people always have been, even though they are all just like me. I resent their judgments because I feel reduced by them and feel reality is reduced, so I reduce them with my own judgments: shallow thinkers who lack, I mutter, the integrity not to systematize. And I put fingers to keys to note this system of analysis, lacking all integrity, mocking my very position.

I want to maintain my capacity to view each as a mystery, as a human in full, whose interiority I cannot know. I want not to be full of hatred, so I seek to confess that my hatred is self-hatred: shame at the state of my intellectual reactivity and decay. I worry deeply that our systematizing is inevitable because when we are online we are in public: that these fora mandate performance, and worse, the kind of performance that asserts its naturalness, like the grotesquely beautiful actor who says, "Oh, me? I just roll out of bed in the morning and wear whatever I find lying about" as he smiles a smile so practiced it could calibrate the atomic clock. Every online utterance is an angling for approval; we write in the style of speeches: exhorting an audience, haranguing enemies, lauding the choir. People “remind” no one in particular of the correct ways to think, the correct opinions to hold. When I see us speaking like op-ed columnists, I feel embarrassed: it is like watching a lunatic relative address passers-by using the “royal we,” and, I feel, it is pitifully imitative. Whom are we imitating? Those who live in public: politicians, celebrities, “personalities.”

There is no honesty without privacy, and privacy is not being forbidden so much as rendered irrelevant; privacy is an invented concept, after all, and like all inventions must contend with waves of successive technologies or be made obsolete. The basis of privacy is the idea that judgment should pertain only to public acts —acts involving other persons and society— and not the interior spaces of the self. Society has no right to judge one’s mind; society hasn’t even the right to inquire about one’s mind. The ballot is secret; one cannot be compelled to testify or even talk in our criminal justice system; there can be no penalty for being oneself, however odious we may find given selves or whole (imagined) classes of selves.

This very radical idea has an epistemological basis, not a purely moral one: the self is a mystery. Every self is a mystery. You cannot know what someone really is, what they are capable of, what transformations of belief or character they might undergo, in what their identity consists, what they’ve inherited or appropriated, what they’ll abandon or reconsider; you cannot say when a person is who she is, at what point the “real” person exists or when a person’s journey through selves has stopped. A person is not, we all know, his appearance; but do we all know that she is not her job? Or even her politics?

But totalizing rationalism is emphatic: either something is known or it is irrelevant. Thus: the mystery of the self is a myth; there is no mystery at all. A self is valid or invalid, useful or not, correct or incorrect, and if someone is sufficiently different from you, if their beliefs are sufficiently opposed to yours, their way of life alien enough, they are to be judged and detested. Everyone is a known quantity; simply look at their Twitter bio and despise.

But this is nonsense. In truth, the only intellectually defensible posture is one of humility: all beliefs are misconceptions; all knowledge is contingent, temporary, erroneous; and no self is knowable, not truly, not to another. We can perhaps sense this in ourselves —although I worry that many of us are too happy to brag about our conformity to this or that scheme or judgment, to use labels that honor us as though we’ve earned ourselves rather than chancing into them— but we forget that this is true of every single other, too. This forgetting is the first step of the so-called othering process: forget that we are bound together in irreducibility, forget that we ought to be humble in all things, and especially in our judgments of one another.

Robinson once more:
"Only lonesomeness allows one to experience this sort of radical singularity, one’s greatest dignity and privilege."

Lonesomeness is what we’re all fleeing at the greatest possible speed, what our media now concern themselves chiefly with eliminating alongside leisure. We thus forget our radical singularity, a personal tragedy, an erasure, a hollowing-out, and likewise the singularity of others, which is a tragedy more social and political in nature, and one which seems to me truly and literally horrifying. Because more than any shared “belief system” or political pose, it is the shared experience of radical singularity that unites us: the shared experience of inimitability and mortality. Anything which countermands our duty to recognize and honor the human in the other is a kind of evil, however just its original intention."
millsbaker  canon  self  reality  empathy  humility  howwethink  2014  generalizations  morality  nietzsche  integrity  marilynnerobinson  mystery  grace  privacy  categorization  pigeonholingsingularity  lonesomeness  loneliness  leisure  artleisure  leisurearts  beliefs  belief  inimitability  humanism  judgement  familiarity  understanding 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Why Do Americans Stink at Math? - NYTimes.com
[via: http://tinyletter.com/audreywatters/letters/hack-education-weekly-newsletter-no-70 ]

"Takahashi was especially enthralled with an American group called the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, or N.C.T.M., which published manifestoes throughout the 1980s, prescribing radical changes in the teaching of math. Spending late nights at school, Takahashi read every one. Like many professionals in Japan, teachers often said they did their work in the name of their mentor. It was as if Takahashi bore two influences: Matsuyama and the American reformers.

Takahashi, who is 58, became one of his country’s leading math teachers, once attracting 1,000 observers to a public lesson. He participated in a classroom equivalent of “Iron Chef,” the popular Japanese television show. But in 1991, when he got the opportunity to take a new job in America, teaching at a school run by the Japanese Education Ministry for expats in Chicago, he did not hesitate. With his wife, a graphic designer, he left his friends, family, colleagues — everything he knew — and moved to the United States, eager to be at the center of the new math.

As soon as he arrived, he started spending his days off visiting American schools. One of the first math classes he observed gave him such a jolt that he assumed there must have been some kind of mistake. The class looked exactly like his own memories of school. “I thought, Well, that’s only this class,” Takahashi said. But the next class looked like the first, and so did the next and the one after that. The Americans might have invented the world’s best methods for teaching math to children, but it was difficult to find anyone actually using them.

It wasn’t the first time that Americans had dreamed up a better way to teach math and then failed to implement it. The same pattern played out in the 1960s, when schools gripped by a post-Sputnik inferiority complex unveiled an ambitious “new math,” only to find, a few years later, that nothing actually changed. In fact, efforts to introduce a better way of teaching math stretch back to the 1800s. The story is the same every time: a big, excited push, followed by mass confusion and then a return to conventional practices.

The trouble always starts when teachers are told to put innovative ideas into practice without much guidance on how to do it. In the hands of unprepared teachers, the reforms turn to nonsense, perplexing students more than helping them. One 1965 Peanuts cartoon depicts the young blond-haired Sally struggling to understand her new-math assignment: “Sets . . . one to one matching . . . equivalent sets . . . sets of one . . . sets of two . . . renaming two. . . .” After persisting for three valiant frames, she throws back her head and bursts into tears: “All I want to know is, how much is two and two?”

Today the frustrating descent from good intentions to tears is playing out once again, as states across the country carry out the latest wave of math reforms: the Common Core. A new set of academic standards developed to replace states’ individually designed learning goals, the Common Core math standards are like earlier math reforms, only further refined and more ambitious. Whereas previous movements found teachers haphazardly, through organizations like Takahashi’s beloved N.C.T.M. math-teacher group, the Common Core has a broader reach. A group of governors and education chiefs from 48 states initiated the writing of the standards, for both math and language arts, in 2009. The same year, the Obama administration encouraged the idea, making the adoption of rigorous “common standards” a criterion for receiving a portion of the more than $4 billion in Race to the Top grants. Forty-three states have adopted the standards.

The opportunity to change the way math is taught, as N.C.T.M. declared in its endorsement of the Common Core standards, is “unprecedented.” And yet, once again, the reforms have arrived without any good system for helping teachers learn to teach them. Responding to a recent survey by Education Week, teachers said they had typically spent fewer than four days in Common Core training, and that included training for the language-arts standards as well as the math.

Carefully taught, the assignments can help make math more concrete. Students don’t just memorize their times tables and addition facts but also understand how arithmetic works and how to apply it to real-life situations. But in practice, most teachers are unprepared and children are baffled, leaving parents furious. The comedian Louis C.K. parodied his daughters’ homework in an appearance on “The Late Show With David Letterman”: “It’s like, Bill has three goldfish. He buys two more. How many dogs live in London?”

The inadequate implementation can make math reforms seem like the most absurd form of policy change — one that creates a whole new problem to solve. Why try something we’ve failed at a half-dozen times before, only to watch it backfire? Just four years after the standards were first released, this argument has gained traction on both sides of the aisle. Since March, four Republican governors have opposed the standards. In New York, a Republican candidate is trying to establish another ballot line, called Stop Common Core, for the November gubernatorial election. On the left, meanwhile, teachers’ unions in Chicago and New York have opposed the reforms.

The fact that countries like Japan have implemented a similar approach with great success offers little consolation when the results here seem so dreadful. Americans might have written the new math, but maybe we simply aren’t suited to it. “By God,” wrote Erick Erickson, editor of the website RedState, in an anti-Common Core attack, is it such “a horrific idea that we might teach math the way math has always been taught.”"



"Most policies aimed at improving teaching conceive of the job not as a craft that needs to be taught but as a natural-born talent that teachers either decide to muster or don’t possess. Instead of acknowledging that changes like the new math are something teachers must learn over time, we mandate them as “standards” that teachers are expected to simply “adopt.” We shouldn’t be surprised, then, that their students don’t improve.

Here, too, the Japanese experience is telling. The teachers I met in Tokyo had changed not just their ideas about math; they also changed their whole conception of what it means to be a teacher. “The term ‘teaching’ came to mean something totally different to me,” a teacher named Hideto Hirayama told me through a translator. It was more sophisticated, more challenging — and more rewarding. “The moment that a child changes, the moment that he understands something, is amazing, and this transition happens right before your eyes,” he said. “It seems like my heart stops every day.”"
math  mathematics  2014  nctm  education  history  curriculum  howweteach  edreform  akihikotakahashi  pedagogy  japan  us  mindchanging  teaching  howwelearn  understanding  mindchanges 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Toward a Poetics of Skateboarding | The American Reader
"But for all of its private jargon, skateboarding’s poetry has never been linguistic. It is forever embodied and also, though this is difficult to speak of seriously, spiritual. How else to explain its appearance in Uganda without even a single retail outlet to support it? In fact, the only conveyable language of skateboarding, outside of participation and socialization in the activity itself, has always been spoken through film.

In broad terms, skate media splits time between documentation and advertisement, and their commercial evolution has skewed ever more crass and spectacular. Recent work from select video artists, however, attempts to confront the activity’s basic mystery and meaningful meaninglessness. Non-skateboarders have tended not to look very closely at these films. They mostly do not care. Skateboarders meanwhile care far too much to care exactly why. In any case, it’s here that an attempt toward a poetics of skateboarding must begin."



"Nor can we call such an effort unselfish. My own struggle with the mystery of skateboarding began five years ago, fifteen after I first stepped onto a board, when I began work on my second novel. The problem I encountered was that none of skateboarding’s confectionary can or should be dismissed. Speaking technically and contra Ian Mackaye, skateboarding today is a sport and a hobby both, along with countless other things: a therapy, an obsession, a conservative anti-drug. In its basic meaninglessness, skateboarding has become the tool that takes the shape of whoever’s hand it’s in."



"What in those first years had fit awkwardly into a de facto rubric of athletics—a sport to be timed and judged for athletic merit—became in the 1970s something more rhetorical. The ethos was the punk scavenging of revolution by way of repurposing. Whatever prefigurations of the object we had seen, never before had they been deployed creatively. To speak in China Mieville’s terms, what emerged was something counterposed to the comfort of the uncanny. The activity, new, unrecognized, and bounded only by imagination, was abcanny."



"While the basic spirit of skateboarding might have remained constant since the addition of polyurethane, the marketplace around it quite obviously has not. Now and once again the importance of skateboarding in our time is on the increase. Today, it is on Fox. It is on ESPN with real-time algorithms for evaluating tricks. Once more the marketplace would have us comprehend skateboarding as a sport.

We know on first glance that skateboarding, in its dominant form of street activity, stands apart from ball and net athletics. It seems uninterested, too, in velocity and stopwatch performances. But the first challenge to the rubric of sport begins even lower, at a semiotic level. You and I could, if we wanted, go and shoot lazy jumpshots on a netless schoolyard hoop, or go to the driving range and smack buckets of balls into the green void. We can take our gloves to the park and throw grounders and pop flies and apply tags to invisible runners. But for any of these to qualify as “basketball,” “golf,” or “baseball,” we would require the structure of competition and order of rules.

Systems such as these have no bearing on skateboarding, of which even the most negligible acts, no matter how brief or private, simply are skateboarding. Consider: between my home and the nearest skatepark is a well-paved boulevard with sewer caps embedded into the blacktop every half block or so. A source of joy for me is to push down this boulevard and pop tiny ollies over these sewer caps, sometimes barely scraping my tail, other times popping hard and pulling my knees up to my chest. These are not tricks proper, just ways to see and engage with the street’s reality. This is not, as athletes might call it, practice; I am not training for a future event. It is travel, yes, but the joy has little to do with the scenery or distance covered. In the purview of skate competition, this pushing down the boulevard, the single most fun I have in any given day, is not a scorable act of skateboarding. It is worth zero and it is worth everything.

In a world increasingly data-driven and surveilled, skateboarding lives beneath scoring and resists all datazation by establishing everything as a performance. It deflects the surveillance state by its primal devotion to documenting and sharing itself, monitoring every possible development, repetition, and failure. It pre-empts the onslaught of observation by embracing it. To pre-empt is to deflect, but also to admit defeat. Luckily, skateboarders are shameless—in this way, they’re the perfect actors to play the role of themselves.

Our potential heuristic now approaches what literary and cultural theorists today speak of, with a smirk, as the so-called authentic self. But a skater, whether standing on his stage, behind a camera, or at a keyboard, sees and thinks and performs precisely as what and who he is. What other memberships function in this or a similar manner? Parenthood. Romantic partnership. Citizenship. Does artistry?

***

To date, the most complete attempt to theorize skateboarding has been Iain Borden’s Skateboarding, Space and the City: Architecture and the Body (Berg, 2001). Borden, a Professor of Architecture and Urban Culture at The Bartlett, University College London, treats the activity of skateboarding as a Lefebvrian practice with a potential to become its own sort of architecture: not of construction, but by the “production of space, time, and social being.” He traces the history of skateboarding into the 1990s’ street skating movement, and speaks of the way this “oppositional subculture” rethinks architecture “as a set of discrete features and elements…recomposing it through new speeds, spaces and times.” The gears of capitalism create spaces in which behavior is prescribed and easily accounted for. Skateboarding’s opposition is thus a compositional process, partially of the individual body, which is recomposed against the “intense scopic determinations of modernist space,” and partially of a deeper critique of urban life: “production not as the production of things but of play, desires and actions.”"



"By contrast, today’s most compelling skateboarding films aim to capture not only the play of skateboarding, but enact what Borden calls the “positive dialectic that restlessly searches for new possibilities of representing, imagining and living our lives.” The “Panoramic Series” from Philip Evans, for example, relieves the actor from the full burden of attention. Here Evans follows Phil Zwijsen through his hometown of Antwerp:"



"The skater, Austyn Gillette, appears only after the environmental context, resulting in a portrait not of one or the other, but both. The subject is, as skateboarding’s always has been in practice, the interactions between city and individual body. Alongside recent work by Mike Manzoori, Evan Schiefelbine and select others, these films find energy beyond the progressive trickery of athletics, or the documentation of extant geographies. They combine the skateboarder’s practice—creative, productive—with a distinctly non-skateboarding meta-awareness of the activity’s potential for meaning. Their grounding within the geist of skateboarding is obvious: there is nothing a skater spots more quickly than the fraud, or tourist. These are films made by skateboarders who have lived within the activity’s world, and who choose to leverage the activity as a tool to understand itself. How long, they ask, must a toy endure before it becomes something else? What does it become, and does this mean it has ceased to be a toy?"



"Roberto Bolaño called surrealism “something convulsive and vague, that familiar amorphous thing.” If indeed there is ever to be a poetics of skateboarding, familiarity will have to play a role. Suvin argued that science fiction’s value lay in its ability to effect cognitive estrangement. Campbell’s film documents and creates ostranenie by the re-presentation of a familiar world as captured by, and portrayed through, the glance of the radical dreamer. In fact, what Cuatros does better than any film I’ve seen is remind us that skateboarding’s heuristic usefulness is ontological. Its topos is not that there is a world inside the world, but rather: there is a world the exact shape and texture of the world that you know laid seamlessly over top of it, and you, for some reason, fail to see how beautiful it can be.

Convulsive, vague, and conveyed by slidy looks. Campbell’s subject is our ineffable, binding thing, that lurking, trembling essence that he can only render by images and motions of the surreal. The artist whose art was born from skateboarding has made an object about skateboarding that conveys this birth and mode of being. Skateboarding infects the filmmaker infects the musicians infects the viewer. Viewer goes out skating. Skateboarding is self-perpetuating in this way. It is always itself and something else, it is infectious, it is comprehensive and sublatable to the core. This is how the infinite comes to be—once born, skateboarding can never now die.

But the dreamscape of Cuatros Sueños Pequeños is not an expression of this infinity. Rather, it is mimetic. What world is this?, asks the skateboarder. A familiar one we have seen so many times that it’s rendered unseeable. More importantly, what is to be done in it? The answer, like Campbell’s film, is incoherent, and thank goodness. The answer is anything at all."
skating  skateboarding  skateboards  quantification  measurement  urban  urbanism  surveillance  iainborden  meaning  film  video  robertobolaño  thomascampbell  cuatrosueñospequeños  performance  datazation  repetition  monitoring  failure  documentation  process  capitalism  henrilefebvre  space  place  play  culture  movement  infectiousness  inspiration  feral  ecosystems  socialbeing  time  architecture  landscape  kylebeachy  understanding  experience  robertzemeckis  pontusalv  punk  metrics  schematics  markets  poetics  filmmaking  darkosuvin  sciencefiction  ianmackaye  technology  history  circumstance  california  socal  sports  chinamieville  abcanny  zines  creativity  competition  commercialization  commercialism  commoditization  diy  systems  rules  revolution  resistance  practice  authenticity  artistry  philipevans  philzwijsen  colinkennedy  stasis  motion  austyngillette  mikemanzoori  evanschiefelbine  javiermendizabal  madarsapse  dondelillo  cities  meaninglessness  participation  participatory  democracy  tribes  belonging  identity  spirituality  social  socializati 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Jagged Thoughts for Jagged Times: 105 - Nicholas Bate
"Imagination, love, desire, curiosity, tenderness, thoughtfulness, reflection, passion, distillation, synthesis, wonder, purpose, more tenderness, compassion, understanding, empathy, serenity, lightheartedness and a billion other fragile states experienced by human beings. Such states become so easily lost and damaged when doing becomes more important than being."
2014  nicholasbate  being  doing  love  imagination  desire  curiosity  tenderness  thoughtfulness  reflection  passion  distillation  synthesis  wonder  purpose  compassion  understanding  empathy  serenity  lightheartedness  productivity  efficiency  capitalism 
june 2014 by robertogreco
2: How do you see urban interaction design as a field, and how do you yourself relate to it, if at all? Is it a necessary field? — UrbanIxD
"It does not seek to impose interventions on unwary populations like some maniacal shadow-thing of network-colonialism: Does not stroll into unguarded neighbourhoods and insist that it Knows What’s Best For You. It is more interested in listening, learning and speculating. Cajoling, goading, occasionally provoking a response that initiates a chain of reasoning in it’s audience (whoever that may be - another matter.)"

[via: https://twitter.com/justinpickard/status/479656315024064512 ]
design  with  interventions  designinterventions  humanitariadesign  designimperialism  listening  ethnography  2014  tobiasrevell  urban  urbanism  urbaninteractiondesign  audience  empathy  understanding 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Seeing Spaces on Vimeo
"What if we designed a new kind of "maker space" -- a space that isn't just for putting pieces together, but also for seeing and understanding a project's behavior in powerful ways? - seeing inside - seeing across time - seeing across possibilities "I think people need to work in a space that moves them away from the kinds of non-scientific thinking that you do when you can't see what you're doing -- moves them away from blindly following recipes, from superstitions and rules of thumb -- and moves them towards deeply understanding what they're doing, inventing new things, discovering new things, contributing back to the global pool of human knowledge." Presented at the EG conference on May 2, 2014. Art by David Hellman. Bret Victor -- http://worrydream.com "



"I think people need to work in a space that moves them away from the kinds of non-scientific thinking that you do when you can't see what you're doing -- moves them away from blindly following recipes, from superstitions and rules of thumb -- and moves them towards deeply understanding what they're doing, inventing new things, discovering new things, contributing back to the global pool of human knowledge."
bretvictor  makerspaces  seeing  understanding  making  invention  behavior  howwework  2014  howwelearn  design  robotics  robots  software  engineering  seeingspaces  time  possibilities  displays 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Ethnography, magpies and shiny things - Stripe Partners | Stripe Partners
"This is the first of a three posts exploring the rise, fall and possible futures of ethnography in commercial settings.

This piece explores how ethnography fell victim of the enduring quest for fashion and the need to differentiate in market research. It’s not just a lament – but a call for reinvigoration.

The second piece will explore contexts in which ethnography has been used to greater potential – and chart the threats it now faces. The third will attempt a resolution of the first two posts – charting a course for the future. "



"Ethnography got lost in translation

Dating the arrival of a shiny new things is always hard but ethnography probably emerged into the world of market research in the late 1990s.

When ethnography met market research there was a sense of excitement that it might change the industry and how served its clients. But it soon became a fashion. Market research turned ethnography in a commodity by modelling it on existing product categories, merging it with techniques and force fitting it with existing theories of how consumers think and what makes them tick. Ethnography became a ‘sexed up’ way to do more of the same without thinking differently.

Doing an quick interview in someone’s sitting room became ethnography. A selection of video clips become video ethnography. In the hands of some a 20 minute call on Skype claimed to be ethnography. Ethnography become all method and no thinking – all mouth and no trousers.

Ethnography became just another route to documenting ‘needs’ or generating a needstate map. It became a part of the market research toolkit and just another product to sell.

The result: the potential of ethnography got lost in translation. The shine came off ethnography.

Ethnography –different but the same?

Ethnography as product was not accompanied by a wider interrogation of research industry assumptions: For example, how might ethnography change how we understand people, their social worlds and cultural processes. It didn’t question if the principal focus of our investigations should be individuals (or ‘individual consumers’) to the neglect of any broader social systems or groups.

But most fundamentally, the question that didn’t get asked was this:

How can ethnography change how we think about people?

Ethnography became, in my view, a methodological novelty that didn’t deliver much extra beyond a new way of doing research. It was a chance to encourage new thinking about how to understand the relationship between individuals and broader social and cultural forms.

Ethnography’s arrival on the scene offered an invitation to question assumptions about what market research could deliver and what it was for. That invitation was declined.

In a recent interview, anthropologist Danny Miller said the following about ethnography: “I really do believe in it as the best form of social enquiry that we have ever discovered.”

Ethnography as a mean of understanding the world was discovered a long time ago. It may not be new, and may no longer be shiny. But it works and it creates value. It’s time to reinvigorate and revive ethnography."
ethnography  2014  via:anne  anthropology  business  dannymiller  research  culture  understanding  observation  interviews  socialinquiry  inquiry 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Fast Path to a Great UX - Increased Exposure Hours
"As we've been researching what design teams need to do to create great user experiences, we've stumbled across an interesting finding. It's the closest thing we've found to a silver bullet when it comes to reliably improving the designs teams produce. This solution is so simple that we didn't believe it at first. After all, if it was this easy, why isn't everyone already doing it?

To make sure, we've spent the last few years working directly with teams, showing them what we found and helping them do it themselves. By golly, it actually worked. We were stunned.

The solution? Exposure hours. The number of hours each team member is exposed directly to real users interacting with the team's designs or the team's competitor's designs. There is a direct correlation between this exposure and the improvements we see in the designs that team produces."

[via: http://tinyletter.com/danhon/letters/episode-sixty-we-have-always-been-at-war-our-independence-day-spimes-duh ]
design  research  usability  ux  observation  understanding  empathy  2010  learning  administration  leadership  management  tcsnmy  attention  exposure  exposurehours  organizations  fieldwork  fieldvisits  ethnography  listening  noticing 
april 2014 by robertogreco
At 13, all poems are about you
"Remembering the way I misread that poem — remembering the joy and wonder and sheer absurdity of it — is a good antidote to cleverness or cynicism. Who am I to scoff at anyone's taste, when I could think that Maya Angelou's words meant my gangly milkshake would bring at least some of the boys to the yard? Who am I to question what resonates with someone else, or why? I can't bring myself to wish I had understood it any other way. Maybe misreadings can help us figure out how to be. Maybe first (sideways) readings are for seeing the poems we need instead of the poems that are.

We can sort out the rest later."
coreycaitlin  poetry  misreading  understanding  interpretation  adolescence  beauty  mayaangelou  teens  reading  howweread  whyweread  poems  2014 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Design tutorials: the basics | SB129
Within design education, there’s little shared wisdom about how to conduct a tutorial. The tutorial is the bread and butter of design learning; the main pedagogic object of interaction. But we, the design community, rarely share the nuts and bolts of how to navigate and steer a student through a successful project; how to encourage, provoke, inspire and lead a designer into new and fascinating territories.

In this post, I’d like to outline a few basics. It’s me, stating the obvious, in what I consider good pedagogic practice; how best to support, guide and get the most out of students and their work.

I believe the things I’ve learnt over the last ten or so years are applicable to other disciplines and within the professional context of design. Whether as a Creative Director or a Design Manager, the following points are a good place to start when it comes to directing creativity;

Listening is Key

At the heart of a good tutor is their ability to listen. Understanding ideas, position and intent allows for more connected, meaningful feedback. Asking questions to clarify is key to aiding your understanding. Sometimes students take a long time to get to the salient point, they can skirt around the topic due to a lack of confidence, confusion or perception of expectation, so be patient, let them ‘talk out’, only respond when you understand what’s in front of you. Wait until nerves die down to get to the heart of the matter, then you’ll be in the best position to advise.

Ownership and embodiment

It’s all to common for design tutors to try to design vicariously – to direct a student in a way that they would do the project. This, in my opinion, is a flawed approach. It has a history in the master/apprentice model of education; watch, copy, admire, repeat (where learning is a happy side effect). However, it rarely allows the student to feel ownership over the content and learning experience.

Within Art and Design, intellectual ownership is a tricky subject to navigate. The messy and complex network of ideas become distributed across a number of different references, conversations and people, the genesis of an idea is difficult to locate. Tutors that have a ‘that was my idea’ attitude rarely survive or remain happy and motivated. Intellectual generosity is an essential quality of a good educator. Having the humility to understand and value that the adoption of ideas ‘as their own’ is an important part of learning – it allows for the embodiment of the ideas into the identity of the designer.

Mutual exploration

However, in the age of the Internet, the tutor as gateway to all knowledge is long gone. The ability (or illusion) of a Professor having read ‘everything’ in their discipline is a distant memory. When knowledge is acquired and disseminated in such a radically different manner, it calls for educational revolution. Sadly, the rise of the MOOC isn’t the revolution I was hoping for.

The abolishment of levels and the flattening of hierarchies are at the heart of how I believe education needs to change. Breaking the often fictitious boundaries between teaching and research to allow for the mutual exploration of ideas is a fundamentally different model of education. Sadly, due to financial scalability, this remains relevant only to an elite. But as a tutor, see your conversations with students as a space to explore ideas, be the learner as much as the teacher. Reframe higher education away from the hierarchies of expertise towards mutual exploration of the distant boundaries of your discipline.

Expanding possibility space

It’s important to remember that a tutorial should be expanding the cone of possibility for the student. They should leave, not with answers, but with an expanded notion, a greater ambition of what they were trying to achieve. It’s important to be ambitious and set tough challenges for your students, otherwise boredom or (heavens forbid) laziness can take over. Most student’s I’ve met love being thrown difficult challenges, most rise to the occasion, all learn a great deal. In order to move towards the goal of a self determined learner, the student should control the decisions of the design process. If you’re telling them what to design, not opening up possibilities and highlighting potential problems, you’re probably missing something.

Understand motivation, vulnerability and ‘learning style’

Every student we teach, learn in a different way, have different hopes and desires, react to feedback in a different way. Navigating and ‘differentiating’ these differences is really difficult. Some tutors take a distanced intellectual approach, where the content in front of them is a puzzle that needs to be solved, this is the classic personae of the academic, distanced, emotionally arid, intellectually rigorous. But this doesn’t alway mean a good learning experience. Other tutors operate on a more psychological level; the try to understand the emotional context of the situation and adapt their advise accordingly. Whatever happens, understand you have a individual in front of you, they have lives outside of the studio, they are going through all manner of personal shit that will effect their attention and engagement. They come from different cultures, different educational backgrounds, so their response to your advice is going to shift like the wind, be adaptive, read body language and don’t go in like a bulldozer (I have definitely done this in the past!).

In terms of learning style, without this becoming a paper on pedagogy, understand that your advice need to be tailored to different students. Some (a lot) need to learn through a physical engagement with their material, others needs to have an intellectual structure in place in order to progress. Throughout a project, course or programme, try to understand this and direct your advice accordingly.

Agreed direction

Tutorials shouldn’t just be general ‘chats’ about the project or world, they should give direction, tasks and a course of action. I have a rule: Don’t end the tutorial until you’ve both agreed a direction. This can be pretty tough to manage in terms of time, as I get more experienced, I get better at reaching an agreement within my tutorial time allocation, but I still often can overrun by hours. The important thing to work towards is the idea that you both understand the project, and you both understand how it could move. End the tutorial when this been reached.

Read and respond

It’s really important, in design, to respond to what is in front of you. To actual STUFF. It’s far too easy to let students talk without showing evidence of their work. This is a dangerous game. Words can deceive, hide and misrepresent action. Dig into sketchbooks, ask to see work they’ve done. If they haven’t done anything, ask them to go away and do something to represent their ideas and thoughts. Production is key to having a productive tutorial. Only through responding to actual material evidence of action can a project move forward. At its worst, students can develop the skill to talk about stuff, making it exciting in your mind, but fail to produce the project in the end. But this isn’t the main reason for this section, it’s more about the ideas of design residing in the material production, not just the explication. You can tell me what you believe something does or means, but it’s only when it’s in front of me that I can fully grasp this.

The art of misinterpretation

Another reason why it’s important to dig into sketchbooks and look at work, is that looking at something and trying to work out what it means – the space of interpretation – is an important space of learning. By interpreting and indeed misinterpreting work, you and your student can find out things about the project. If the student intended one thing and you understand something else by it, you’ve at least learnt that it was poorly (visually and materially) communicated. But the exciting stuff happens when misinterpretation acts as a bridge between your internal mental processes (with all references etc) and your students. Your reading of a drawing acts as a way to generate a new idea or direction. This is when there is genuine creative collaboration.

References

One of the roles of a tutor is to point students towards relevant and inspiring resources. In the age of the internet, when student’s roam the halls of tumblr and are constantly fed inspiration by their favourite design blogs, the use, meaning and impact of tutor driven references has changed. Be focussed with reading, ensure students know why they are looking at a particular reference and make sure that you contextualise the work within the ideas that they have."
mattward  2013  teaching  pedagogy  cv  howweteach  howwelearn  design  art  tutotials  canon  listening  ownership  understanding  interpretation  misinterpretation  embodiment  making  exploration  apprenticeships  hierarchy  hierarchies  possibilityspace  motivation  vulnerability  feedback  constructivecriticism  context  empathy  conversation  audiencesofone  differentiation  contextualization  process  documentation  reflection  reggioemilia  emergentcurriculum  evidence  assessment  critique  communication  collaboration  mentoring  mentorship  mentors  response  action  direction  mutualaid 
april 2014 by robertogreco
6, 6: Asymmetrical information
"I have so little interest in grand pictures of the world with nothing to say about children. This assumption in cultural discussions that people step out of a wall sometime between 18 and 21, well, it’s not good enough; it’s not serious enough. If you want to talk to me about surveillance and censorship, tell me about baby monitors and when you would let kids in your care read 4chan. Your approach to that matters more than your approach to the finer connotations of the word “Orwellian”, e.g., whether the figure of thzzzZZZZZZZZ whistling exhalation ZZZZZZZZ whistling exhalation ZZZZZ[snort]ZZZ whistling exhalation ZZZZZZZZ whistling exhalation ZZZZZZZZ."

(Removed from this point a good deal of grumping about people who use arguments in the form “we should be treated like adults” without saying what that means to them other than “down with bad stuff, up with good stuff”, nor how non-adults should be treated; and then kind of halfheartedly trying to shame people for treating Foucault’s geneological method as if it were The Path And The Way Of Criticism rather than a useful tonic; and getting sad that sometimes children’s experience is treated as if it counts only insofar as it will be remembered by the adult they will become.)

"Something I tell myself: Assume you’re teaching. More often than thinking “Oh, I figured something out, time to share”, ask “What am I teaching right now, and am I doing it well?” Sometimes what I’m teaching is not pretty: “Don’t expect too much from strangers” or “Everyone has their quirks” or worse. All the more reason to think about it.

Like a lot of intrapersonal advice, this is tricky to explain: too obvious, too precious, too odd. The principle comes partly from reflecting that many of the most important things I’ve learned were from incidental actions of people working on something else. (I remember flipping through my mother’s MTW and learning about graphic design, poetry, pedagogy – everything but gravity.) It also comes from an idea put well in XKCD 1053.

(And this gives us one of the distinctive flavors of work made for the internet: layerednes. A blog post about some small issue will carry coded gestures to connections with highfalutin’ academic work; deniable hints of limits and risks might appear when a conscientious engineer is made to work hard-sell PR; and who among us has not seen something on a controversial topic flying a big red herring to distract zealots? And we have art like this [http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/04/for-shame-the-giant-poster-that-shows-drone-pilots-the-people-theyre-bombing/360257/ ], which works entirely by lying about its audience: that isn’t for drone operators at all, but by saying it is, it works on its actual audience: people like me.)"



"One of the things that’s been bringing OODA to mind is what you might call legibility capture. Let’s take it as read that we’re surrounded by giant translucent surfaces, and we’re trying to see inside them, and to understand their shapes and connections, in order that we might discern what their deal is. They meanwhile are examining us, covertly, with consent, obliquely, loudly, by proxy, for unknown future use, and in many other ways, which is worrying.

There are many ways to think about this; for me it’s phrased most naturally as “legibility” in the way that John C. Scott has developed it. His brilliance is perhaps fogged by his prose style, which with time becomes its own painfully funny effect, a kind of Marx Brothers–esque absurdism, as he over and over again, in the same book, with placid deadpan, re-introduces legibility as if for the first time.

(Thinking of this becase a couple friends spent the weekend at some kind of Data Tragicomedy conference – my ignorance of the details is a small pleasure but a sincere one – which it pleased me to believe consisted entirely of artbros in their off-blacks standing up, clearing their throats, smiling, and saying “I’ve discovered – or perhaps invented – something that I like to call ‘legibility’…”.)

One of the things that OODA is concerned with, in its productively unsatisfying way, is initiative. In go, this is sente. Alice has sente in a game with Bob when she’s made a move that Bob must respond to, instead of building his own position. To hold sente is to keep Bob on the defensive, so that he can’t plan or build; he’s always a turn behind. (Every time I think about this stuff I’m startled again by the illumination of psychological violence, from domestic abuse to torture-as-interrogation.) Boyd wants you, the student of OODA, to have initiative, because to have initiative is to have options. (Cough cough Nussbaum’s capability approach cough cough sneeze.) You have initiative because you can read the opponent better than they can read you, and so you can at least partly decide how they read you.

Skip this paragraph if you like me are easily disturbed by violence. This gruesome Amnesty briefing on the violence this year in northern Nigeria and this SSP report on the famous body bags in Kadugli both explain (partly) how they did their satellite imagery analysis to identify or confirm mass graves. This is in an obvious way highly responsible: conclusions should be presented with the evidence that led to them; theories should be falsifiable. It also bears risks, because by showing methods to identify mass graves they necessarily show how to hide from those methods, and even how to play into them by creating fake graves to distract and discredit.

That risk is the thing. It’s what I think about when people are like “Ah ha, I figured out I can look at tail numbers, or shell casing markings, or IP addresses owned by spyware companies; now we know what’s up!” Once they know you know but before you know they know you know, you’re at their mercy; they’re feeding you. Legibility capture.

I don’t know. I keep thinking of XKCD 1053, and the kind of empathy it calls for, and of the epigrams Joe Armstrong throws around about Erlang (e.g., p. 9):

The world is parallel
The world is distributed
Things fail

I said at the beignning of the year that my theme would be scale: communicating the sizes of stuff. I’ve done very little about that. I keep remembering things, little parcels of spacetime. Sleeping on a boat under a Saltillo blanket, listening to a flag’s rope ring against the pole in the wind. With a flu, in a parked Volkswagen Golf, reading Elfwood. When you GPS-track yourself you start to find that a lot of what it tells you is about where you weren’t."
charlieloyd  2014  teaching  learning  xkcd  legibility  scale  allsorts  learningallthetime  howwelearn  howweteach  perspective  understanding  layerdness  datadrama  jamescscott  violence  ooda  johnboyd  competition  initiative  offense  empathy  children  legacy  surveillance  censorship  babymonitors  4chan  adulthood  childhood  parenting 
april 2014 by robertogreco
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