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robertogreco : unintendedconsequences   18

In Conversation with Mahmood Mamdani | Warscapes
"MM: One night. They let you make one phone call, and I called the Ugandan Ambassador in Washington, DC, talked to him, and he said, “What are you doing interfering in the affairs of a foreign country?” I said, “What? We just got our independence! This is the same struggle. Have you forgotten?” Anyway, he got me out. Two or three weeks later, I was in my room. There was a knock at the door. Two gentlemen in trench coats and hats said, “FBI.” I thought, “Wow, just like on television.” They sat down. They were there to find out why I had gone – because this turned out to be big – it is after Montgomery that King organized his march on Selma. They wanted to know who had influenced me. After one hour of probing, the guy said, “Do you like Marx?” 

I said, “I haven’t met him.” 

Guy said, “No, no, he’s dead.” 

“Wow, what happened?” 

“No, no, he died long ago.” 

I thought the guy Marx had just died. So then, “Why are you asking me if he died long ago?”  

“No, he wrote a lot. He wrote that poor people should not be poor.”  

I said, “Sounds amazing.” 

I’m giving you a sense of how naïve I was. After they left, I went to the library to look for Marx. So that was my introduction to Karl Marx.

BS: The FBI. 

MM: The FBI. Then, of course, I took a class on Marx. Couldn’t just get Marx out of the library. But, basically, it is the US – the civil rights movement and the anti-war movement – which gave me a new take on my own experience, and on the Asian experience in east Africa. It gave me a way of rethinking my own experience of growing up in east Africa and growing up in an Africa with a lens crafted by the civil rights movement."
colonialism  academia  history  mahmoodmamdani  karlmarx  marxism  2013  interviews  fbi  radicalization  ideas  inequality  poverty  capitalism  unintendedconsequences 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Unbroken | Music for Deckchairs
"Fault is the shadow thrown by the magic bean we sell as the means of clambering up to a future in which not everyone can win. This bean is something to do with making an effort, toughing it out, following the rules. Resilience, grit—we peddle all sorts of qualities demanded when the world is harsh. And I think this is why we monitor attendance as a kind of minor virtue, a practice of grit. But when we make showing up compulsory, then we have to have a system of checking it, and penalties, and some means of managing something we call “genuine” adversity, and the whole thing has to be insulated against complaint. (And if you want to know more about how this goes down, this forum is an eye-opener.)

Where I am we have a fixed tolerance for not showing up 20% of the time, which has the rat farming perverse incentive effect of causing every sensible student to calculate that they have two free tutorials they can plan to miss. And I’ve written this all over the place, so just bear with me while I haul out my soapbox one more time: we then ask students to get a GP certificate for every single additional missed class over the two free passes, which means that we are clogging up the waiting rooms and schedules of our overworked public health bulk billed GP clinics in order to sustain a rigid and penalty-driven policy that doesn’t prepare students for their professional futures, while they’re sneezing all over the really sick people around them.

(University business data divisions currently measuring every passing cloud over the campus, why not measure this? How many GP certificates for trivial illness have your attendance policies generated? How much public health time have you wasted pursuing this?)

Just quietly, I take a different approach. We talk about modelling attendance on the professional experience of attending meetings, including client meetings. If you can’t be there, you let people know in advance. If you can’t be there a lot, this will impact on your client’s confidence in you, or your manager’s sense that you are doing a good job. It may come up in performance management. Your co-workers may start to feel that you’re not showing up for them. Opportunities may dry up a bit, if people think of you as someone who won’t make a reliable contribution.

And at work there won’t always be a form, but you will need a form of words. You need to know how to talk about what you’re facing with the relevant people comfortably and in a timely way, ideally not after the fact of the missed project deliverable. If hidden challenges are affecting your participation now, you can expect some of these to show up again when you’re working. University should be the safe space to develop confidence in talking about the situation you’re in, and what helps you manage it most effectively. You need a robust understanding of your rights in law. And, sadly, you also need to understand that sometimes the human response you get will be uninformed, ungenerous or unaware of your rights, and you’ll need either to stand your ground or call for back up.

To me, this is all that’s useful about expecting attendance. It’s an opportunity for us to talk with students about showing up as a choice that may be negotiable if you know how to ask; about presence and absence as ethical practices; and about the hardest conversations about times when you just can’t, and at that point need to accept the kindness that’s shown to you, just as you would show it to others."



"To sustain compassionate workplaces, we’re going to need to do more than dashboard our moods in these simplistic ways and hurry on. We’re going to need to “sit with the rough edges of our journey”, as Kevin Gannon puts it, to understand how we each got here differently, in different states of mind, and to hold each other up with care.

This will take time."
katebowles  via:audreywatters  2017  education  absences  attendance  kindness  grit  seanmichaelmorris  lizmorrish  kevingannon  fault  compulsory  rules  incentives  unintendedconsequences  flexibility  listening  resilience  adversity  compliance  virtue  tolerance  highered  highereducation  colleges  universities  us  conversation  compassion  work 
may 2017 by robertogreco
The Snarling Girl | Hazlitt
"Oh really, she says. Now I matter? Wrong, motherfucker: I mattered before. (Also: Nope, can’t help you write a book, best of luck.)

She’s a little trigger-happy on the misanthropic rage, this snarling girl. She is often accused of “not living up to her potential.” She is neither inspired by nor impressed with prep school. The college admissions race leaves her cold. Her overbearing mother berates her about crappy grades and lack of ambition. (O-ho, the snarling girl says, you want to see lack of ambition? I’ll show you lack of ambition!) Where she is expected to go right, she makes a habit of veering left. She is not popular, not likely to succeed. Her salvation arrives (surely you saw this coming) in the form of books, movies, music. She obsessively follows the trail of breadcrumbs they leave behind. Here is a neat kind of power: she can be her own curator. She can find her way from one sustaining voice to another, sniffing out what’s true, what’s real. In her notebooks she copies out passages from novels, essays, poems, and songs. She Sharpies the especially resonant bits on her bedroom wall. This is how she learns to trust herself, no easy feat. These are epigraphs to the as yet unwritten book of her life, rehearsals for the senior page she is keen to assemble. These stories and lines and lyrics are companionship, proof that the universe is much, much bigger than her radioactive family and rich bitch west L.A. and Hebrew school and Zionist summer camp. Behold: She is not crazy! She is not alone! She is not a freak! Or, rather: she is crazy, she is alone, she is a freak, and she’ll keep glorious company with all of these other crazy, lonely, amazing freaks.

Look at her notebooks, all in a row. They live in my study, above shelves stacked with my books, galleys, audiobooks, foreign editions, literary journals, anthologies, Literary Death Match Champion medal, and piles of newspapers and magazines in which I’m celebrated as this amazing thing: a writer. A novelist. Legit. But witness, please, no coincidence, the notebooks live above that stuff. Spiral-bound, leather-bound, fabric-bound, black, pink, green, floral. This Notebook Belongs To: Elisa Albert, neatly printed in the earliest, 1992. Fake it ’til you make it, girl! The notebooks have seniority. Here is how she began to forge a system of belief and belonging, to say nothing of a career. Am I aggrandizing her? Probably. I am just so goddamn proud of her."



"Everything worthwhile is a sort of secret, not to be bought or sold, just rooted out painstakingly in whatever darkness you call home.

Here is what we know for sure: there is no end to want. Want is a vast universe within other vast universes. There is always more, and more again. There are prizes and grants and fellowships and lists and reviews and recognitions that elude us, mysterious invitations to take up residence at some castle in Italy. One can make a life out of focusing on what one does not have, but that’s no way to live. A seat at the table is plenty. (But is it a good seat? At which end of the table??? Alongside whom!?) A seat at the table means we are free to do our work, the end. Work! What a fantastic privilege."



"Some ambition is banal: Rich spouse. Thigh gap. Gold-buckle shoes. Quilted Chanel. Penthouse. Windowed office. Tony address. Notoriety. Ten thousand followers. A hundred thousand followers. Bestseller list. Editor-in-Chief. Face on billboard. A million dollars. A million followers. There are ways of working toward these things, clear examples of how it can be done. Programs, degrees, seminars, diets, schemes, connections, conferences. Hands to shake, ladders to climb. If you are smart, if you are savvy, who’s to stop you? Godspeed and good luck. I hope you get what you want, and when you do, I hope you aren’t disappointed.

Remember the famous curse? May you get absolutely everything you want.

Here’s what impresses me: Sangfroid. Good health. The ability to float softly with an iron core through Ashtanga primary series. Eye contact. Self-possession. Loyalty. Boundaries. Good posture. Moderation. Restraint. Laugh lines. Gardening. Activism. Originality. Kindness. Self-awareness. Simple food, prepared with love. Style. Hope. Lust. Grace. Aging. Humility. Nurturance. Learning from mistakes. Moving on. Letting go. Forms of practice, in other words. Constant, ongoing work. No endpoint in sight. Not goal-oriented, not gendered. Idiosyncratic and pretty much impossible to monetize.

I mean: What kind of person are you? What kind of craft have you honed? What is my experience of looking into your eyes, being around you? Are you at home in your body? Can you sit still? Do you make me laugh? Can you give and receive affection? Do you know yourself? How sophisticated is your sense of humor, how finely tuned your understanding of life’s absurdities? How thoughtfully do you interact with others? How honest are you with yourself? How do you deal with your various addictive tendencies? How do you face your darkness? How broad and deep is your perspective? How willing are you to be quiet? How do you care for yourself? How do you treat people you deem unimportant?

So you’re a CEO. So you made a million dollars. So your name is in the paper. So your face is in a magazine. So your song is on the radio. So your book is number one. You probably worked really hard; I salute you. So you got what you wanted and now you want something else. I mean, good, good, good, great, great, great. But if you have ever spent any time around seriously ambitious people, you know that they are very often some of the unhappiest crazies alive, forever rooting around for more, having a hard time with basics like breathing and eating and sleeping, forever trying to cover some hysterical imagined nakedness.

I get that my foremothers and sisters fought long and hard so that my relationship to ambition could be so … careless. I get that some foremothers and sisters might read me as ungrateful because I don’t want to fight their battles, because I don’t want to claw my way anywhere. My apologies, foremothers: I don’t want to fight. Oh, is there still sexism in the world? Sigh. Huh. Well. Knock me over with a feather. Now: how do I transplant the peonies to a sunnier spot so they yield more flowers next year or the year after? How do I conquer chapter three of this new novel? I’ve rewritten it and rewritten it for months. I need asana practice, and then I need to sit in meditation for a while. Then some laundry. And the vacuum cleaner needs a new filter. Then respond to some emails from an expectant woman for whom I’m serving as doula. And it’s actually my anniversary, so I’m gonna write my spouse a love letter. Then pick up the young’un from school. And I need to figure out what I’m making for dinner. Something with lentils, probably, and butter. Then text my friends a stupid photo and talk smack with them for a while.

Taking care of myself and my loved ones feels like meaningful work to me, see? I care about care. And I don’t care if I’m socialized to feel this way, because in point of fact I do feel this way. So! I am unavailable for striving today. I’m suuuuuper busy.

Yes, oppression is systemic, I get it, I feel it, I live it, I struggle, I do. Women are not equal, we’re not fairly represented, the pie charts are clear as day: nothing’s fair, nothing at all, it’s maddening, it’s saddening, it’s not at all gladdening. We all suffer private and public indignities (micro-aggressions, if you prefer) big and small. It’s one thing to pause and grapple with unfairness, but if we set up camp there, we can’t get anything done, can’t get to the root of the problem. So sure, great, go on and on about how women should help other women! Rah rah, put it on a T-shirt, sell it on Etsy. Great marketing, but what’s actually being accomplished? Who, specifically, is being helped? A collection of egos shouting ME ME ME is not artistically or intellectually productive or interesting.

“Real” work is often invisible, and maybe sort of sacred as such. The hollering and clamoring and status anxiety and PR two inches from our collective eyeballs all day? Not so much. So tell the gatekeepers to shove it, don’t play by their rules, and get back to work on whatever it is you hold dear. Nothing’s ever been fair. Nothing will ever be fair. But there is ever so much work to be done. Pretty please can I go back to my silly sweet secret sacred novel now? Bye. Take care."



"Here’s what bothers me about conventional ambition, the assumption that we all aspire to the top, the winner’s circle, the biggest brightest bestest, the blah blah blah, and that we will run around and around and around our little hamster wheels to get there: most of these goals are standardized. Cartoonish. Cliché. Beware anything standardized, that’s what I would teach my daughter. Health care, ambition, education, diet, culture: name it, and you will suffer endlessly from any attempt to go about it the same way as some projected Everyone Else. You cannot be standardized. You are a unique flower, daughter. Maybe the Ivy League will be wonderful for you; maybe it will crush your soul. If the former, I will mortgage the house to pay your way; if the latter, give that shit the finger and help me move these peonies, will you? You are not defined by such things, either way. Anyway, let us discuss what we want to whip up for dinner and take turns playing DJ while doing so.

“She can, though every face should scowl / And every windy quarter howl / Or every bellows burst, be happy still.” That was Yeats.

I mean, fuck ambition, that’s where this is going. I don’t buy the idea that acting like the oppressor is a liberation, personal ambition being, in essence, see above, patriarchal. And yeah, about recognition. What about when genius and/or hard work isn’t recognized? Because often it isn’t, and what do we make of that… [more]
elisaalbert  writing  belief  2017  literature  purpose  books  notebooks  care  caring  emotionallabor  whatmatters  feminism  audience  small  slow  ambition  standardization  mayaangelou  patriarchy  liberation  recognition  success  mastery  accomplishment  sideeffects  unintendedconsequences  striving  humility  winning 
april 2017 by robertogreco
Urbanicide in all good faith
"A serial killer of cities is wandering about the planet. Its name is UNESCO, and its lethal weapon is the label “World Heritage”, with which it drains the lifeblood from glorious villages and ancient metropolises, embalming them in a brand-name time warp."



"It is heartrending to watch the death throes of so many cities. Glorious, opulent and hectic for centuries and in some cases millennia, they survived the vicissitudes of history, wars, pestilence and earthquakes. But now, one after the other, they are withering and becoming steadily less populated, reduced to theatrical backdrops against which a bloodless pantomime is performed. Where life once throbbed, and cantankerous humans elbowed their way through the world, pushing and shoving and trampling on one another, now you will find only ubiquitously similar snack bars and stalls selling quaint specialities and muslins, batiks and cottons, beach wraps and bracelets. What was once a bustling din of loud excitement is now all conveniently listed in travel brochures.

The death warrant for these cities is delivered at the end of a lengthy bureaucratic process held in a building in Paris, in Place Fontenoy, in the seventh arrondissement. The verdict is an indelible label, a branding iron that marks you forever.
The label I refer to is that of the World Heritage Sites, issued by UNESCO. Its touch is lethal: wherever the UNESCO hallmark is applied to a city, the city dies out, becoming the stuff of taxidermy.

This veritable urbanicide (an ugly word, nevertheless better than the horrible “femicide”) is not deliberately perpetrated. On the contrary, it is committed in all good faith and with the loftiest intentions, to preserve examples of heritage for the benefit of humanity. But, as the word says, to preserve means to embalm, or freeze, to rescue from wear and tear and the scars of time; it means to halt time and fix it in a snapshot, to prevent it from changing and evolving.

The urbanistic dilemma offered by UNESCO is an irksome one. There are of course, monuments that need to be defended and protected. But it is also true that, if in 450 BC the Acropolis in Athens had been protected just the way it was then, we would have neither the Propylaeum nor the Parthenon, nor the Erectheum. UNESCO would have turned its nose up in horror at Rome as it was in the 16th and 17th centuries, which produced an admirable pot-pourri of antiquity, mannerism and baroque. Thank heavens the Marais in Paris was not declared a World Heritage site, otherwise we could forget the Beaubourg.

A balance needs to be struck between constructing and preserving. We want to live in cities that include museums and works of art, not in mausoleums with dormitory suburbs attached. It is an inhuman punishment to spend one’s life in the guest-quarters of an endless museum. I recently went back to San Gimignano after a 30-year absence. Within its walls there is not a butcher, not a greengrocer, nor genuine baker to be found. Why so? After the bars, restaurants and souvenir shops have closed, you won’t find the locals sleeping in the city centre any more – they all live outside, in modern condos. Within the city walls, everything has become a set for medieval costume movies, with the inevitable products of “invention of tradition” for commercial uses. The smaller the city the quicker its demise.

Not only in Italy. In Laos, Luang Prabang has suffered the same fate, and its historic centre is now a tourist trap, its houses all converted into hotels and restaurants, with the usual street market – identical the world over – selling the same old necklaces, canvas handbags and leather belts. To find out where the Laotians really live, you have to pedal a couple of kilometres out to Phothisalath Road, beyond Phu Vao Road.

If you walk through Porto, Portugal, you will immediately perceive the invisible frontier of the declared World Heritage area: the variegated and heterogeneous humanity of its urban fabric gives way as if by magic to a monotonous monoculture of innkeepers, bar-tenders and waiters touting for customers recognisable by their hiking boots worn in the city, by their hideously short shorts and hairy legs (why on earth do human beings on a tourist mission feel authorised to dress as they would never dream of doing at home?). Likewise, the World Heritage brand acts as an ideological diploma issued to the hotel industry, as the cultured and humanitarian face of the worldwide tourist machine.

With two aggravating circumstances. The first is what might be called “chronological integralism”, or “temporal fundamentalism”, whereby what dates from an earlier time is worthier of merit. If a site happens to be a thousand years older, the excavation of a Roman wall is justification for tampering with a magnificent medieval cloister (as happened in Lisbon Cathedral). The second aggravating circumstance is of a general philosophical nature: since UNESCO is multiplying its world heritage sites and since humanity continues to produce works of art (or so we hope), if after 2000 years we are already immobilised by innumerable pieces of heritages, what will happen in another 1000 or 2000 years’ time? Will we all be living on the moon and buying tickets to visit the planet Earth?

Let us remember how it has gone so far: in 1972, after several years of discussions, the UNESCO General Conference adopted the World Heritage Convention, which to date (2014) has been adopted by 190 countries. In 1976 the World Heritage Committee was established, and in 1978 it identified its first site. By 2014, after 38 ordinary and 10 extraordinary sessions, it had defined 981 sites in 160 countries. Of these world heritage sites, 759 are cultural, 193 natural, and 29 mixed.

The 759 cultural heritage sites include 254 cities (entire or partial, one district only or the historic centre only). The absolute majority (138) of these art-cities are situated in Europe. In turn, almost half of the European art cities are in just four countries: Italy (29 art cities, including Vatican City and the Republic of San Marino), Spain (17), France and Germany (11 each). Considering its relatively small surface, Italy is the country with the world’s highest density of world heritage sites.

The fact is that the branding just keeps rolling on. One might have thought that what there was to be declared heritage in a country like ours, so packed with history, ought to have already been branded by now. On the contrary: proceeding by decades, in Italy in the ‘70s just one site had been declared a world heritage; in the ‘80s, 5 more were added; and the ‘90s witnessed the biggest explosion, with 25 new heritage sites. But even in the first decade of our millennium a further 14 were identified; joined by 6 more in the first four years of the current decade. That makes a total of no less than 51 natural and art sites.

It is tragic moreover, that cities, towns and regions are queuing up and canvassing to get themselves embalmed. Like the countries aspiring to host the Olympics, unaware of the consequent ruination that will drag them into the abyss (see Greece), so our mayors, councillors and tourist offices strive to obtain the coveted status. We are terrified at the prospect of our country being reduced to one vast museum, where we will have to buy a ticket in order to walk around, while desperately looking for a way out. They’ll make a movie called Escape from the Museum to provide us with a breath of fresh air, a splash
of life, and the spectacle of cities changing before we return to our mothballed environs."
unesco  workdheritage  gentrification  population  development  change  unintendedconsequences  marcod'eramo  2014  worldheritageconvention  preservation  conservation  evolution  porto  portugal  urbanicide  urban  urbanism  cities 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Marc Andreessen’s Crude and Nuanced Tech Cynicism — Weird Future — Medium
"On Saturday night, serial-tweet-lover Marc Andreessen started a list.

1/Degrees of tech cynicism from crude to nuanced?
https://twitter.com/pmarca/status/447604341591908352

Andreessen ought to know tech cynicism — he’s been around for awhile. Indeed as co-author of Mosaic, the first widely used web browser, his career more or less spans the life of the web as we know it.

2/That can’t possibly work.
https://twitter.com/pmarca/status/447604381764960256

Today, Andreessen is a venture capitalist. He’s half of the name of Andreessen Horowitz, a firm whose holdings represent a range of successful tech start-ups. They put money into Skype, Facebook, Twitter, AirBnB, and Instagram. They also put money into Groupon and Zynga, but you can win ‘em all (actually, since both companies IPO’d, their stocks falling to 1/3 of peak valuation doesn’t really matter to Andreessen Horowitz — the exit is the win).

In short, Andreessen has seen some shit.

Embedded tweets take up too much space, so I’m gonna go ahead and paste in the rest of his list by hand.

3/Normal people will use it, but it’s trivial. 4/It will never replace [legacy]. 5/It will replace [legacy], which is why the world is going to hell. 6/Yes, fine, but just wait until [big company] does it. 7/Yes, fine, but just wait until [hypothetical better version that doesn’t actually exist] does it. 8/I can’t believe how much money those kids made from that. 9/It’s a clear and obvious bubble. 10/Whatever, innovation is dead.

That’s it. That’s the list.

Marc Andreessen thinks “Whatever, innovation is dead” is the most nuanced form of tech cynicism available.

You know, it happens. Andreessen is a busy man, what with all the innovation and disruption he’s got to fund and then exit from. When your days are that packed, it can be easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. If you have to spend all your time immersed in the promise of tech, your cynic muscles can atrophy and even the crudest cynicism might seem nuanced.

But we can do better. Here are a some additions.

11/ Normal people will use it, and then they’ll stop because it is a fad.

12/ It is as vulnerable to the logic of disruption as [legacy].

13/ It will prioritize speed of implementation over security, offering users’ personal data to hackers, advertisers, and spies on a silver platter.

14/ It will succeed long enough for a successful exit, then crash and burn, enriching VCs but doing little to improve the world as a whole.

15/ Although it preaches revolution, it will end up reproducing and empowering the structures of injustice that dominate today.

16/ It will intensify the growing concentration of wealth and power that appears to be endemic to economies which take advantage of network effects.

17/ Because it is being implemented in a country where food and healthcare are treated as luxuries rather than basic human rights, its success will multiply the misery in the world as it lays waste to [legacy].

18/ It is being created and sold to a tiny cadre of wealthy inter-connected players who are so convinced of their own intelligence that it doesn’t occur to them to ask around and find out the needs of other people.

19/ It will be powered by ads.

20/ It will do nothing to slow the headlong rush of global civilization into any number of catastrophes which would in turn render it irrelevant.

21/ It preys on and amplifies human weakness.

22/ It will have unintended consequences.

23/ It will do nothing to mitigate the chaos it leaves in its wake."

[Also

24/ It will re-enable scams that regulation had previously tamped down in [legacy].
https://twitter.com/doingitwrong/status/447812538638794752

25/ Its successful ubiquity will force users to contort their selves so they can slot into an ill-considered early design decision.
https://twitter.com/doingitwrong/status/447813472580300800 ]
timmaly  technology  marcandreessen  cynicism  technosolutionism  criticism  2014  internet  web  civilization  inequality  power  advertising  money  vc  venturecapital  legacy  unintendedconsequences  fads  wealth  economics  innovation  disruption 
march 2014 by robertogreco
App.net and the Problem of Intent — Jamelle Bouie
"The popular understanding of white flight—insofar that people acknowledge it—is the mass migration from cities as a result of African American mobility. But that’s mistaken. There’s no doubt that many white people left the cities because of the presence of blacks. But just as many—and perhaps more—left for completely neutral reasons—cheaper housing, better schools, easy loans, etc.

Individually, the effect of this was minor. But in the aggregate, it was devastating. The state-sanctioned economic disenfranchisement of African Americans meant that in any given area, whites were the most affluent group. Their migration deprived cities of needed revenue, and sparked a downward spiral. The end result of many neutral acts was to geographically reinforce the racial caste system."

"[I]n a world of huge racial and class disparities, ostensibly neutral procedures and parameters can yield non-neutral results, and that’s what seems to be happening with the service [App.net]."
sociology  unintendedconsequences  facebook  myspace  race  class  twitter  glennfleishman  jasonsnell  anildash  erinboesel  app.net  whiteflight  2012  jamellebouie 
august 2012 by robertogreco
School as Wonder, or Way Out - NYTimes.com
"I can tell you everything that was wrong with my education — how cold pedagogy reduced the poetry of Macbeth to a wan hunt for hamartia, how the beautiful French language broke under rote vocabulary. But more than that, I can tell you what happens when education is decoupled from curiosity, and becomes little more than an insurance policy."

“There but for the grace of hard parents go I” was the lesson of my life. The lesson was unintentional and ironic. I acquired it in the midst of failure in the very environs that I now deem unfit. And so you must forgive my overthinking. I am watching my child grow in a new world of comparable bounty and privilege and I can’t help but wonder, and worry, at what unintentional lessons I am now imparting."
2012  parenting  experience  schooling  schools  wonder  unschooling  unintendedconsequences  memory  education  ta-nehisicoates 
july 2012 by robertogreco
Why Are American Kids So Spoiled? : The New Yorker
“Most parents today were brought up in a culture that put a strong emphasis on being special. Being special takes hard work and can’t be trusted to children. Hence the exhausting cycle of constantly monitoring their work and performance, which in turn makes children feel less competent and confident, so that they need even more oversight.”

"the differences between the family lives of the Matsigenka and the Angelenos, how early the Matsigenka begin encouraging their children to be useful."

"The cycle in American households seems mostly to run in the opposite direction. So little is expected of kids that even adolescents may not know how to operate the many labor-saving devices their homes are filled with. Their incompetence begets exasperation, which results in still less being asked of them." … “Many parents remarked that it takes more effort to get children to collaborate than to do the tasks themselves.”
spoiled  2012  juddapatow  melvinkonner  life  enzoragazzini  anthonygraesch  jeannearnold  psychology  unintendedconsequences  economics  haraestroffmarano  responsibility  pameladruckerman  madelinelevine  adultescence  sallykoslow  materialism  elinorochs  anthropology  matsigenka  carolinaizquierdo  elizabethkolbert  helicopterparents  helicopterparenting  teens  us  childhood  children  dependence  parenting  culture  society  education 
july 2012 by robertogreco
When Are We Going to Grow Up? The Juvenilization of American Christianity | Christianity Today
“Beginning in the 1930s and ’40s, Christian teenagers and youth leaders staged a quiet revolution in American church life that led to what can properly be called the juvenilization of American Christianity. Juvenilization is the process by which the religious beliefs, practices, and developmental characteristics of adolescents become accepted as appropriate for adults. It began with the praiseworthy goal of adapting the faith to appeal to the young, which in fact revitalized American Christianity. But it has sometimes ended with both youth and adults embracing immature versions of the faith. In any case, white evangelicals led the way.”
christianity  youth  history  1940s  1950s  religion  teens  unintendedconsequences  via:lukeneff 
june 2012 by robertogreco
Collaborative Workspaces: Not All They're Cracked Up to Be - Design - The Atlantic Cities
"Being a part of group is awesome (go team!) but so is individual effort. The uncritical embrace of collaboration above all else can lead, as a social scientist at the SPUR panel remarked, to the reverse of what was intended: group-think, conformity, consensus for the sake of peace-making. Further, the suburban corporate campus, even when it attempts, as Facebook and Google are, to approximate urban environment, can often serve to exacerbate the type of self-reinforcing behaviors Bill Bishop explored a few years ago in his book, The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America is Tearing Us Apart. Forest City’s Alexa Arena, another participant in the SPUR panel, says that her company’s anthropological research while working on the more iterative workspace model seen in its 5M Project revealed that employees working in these environments found that their best ideas came not while in that bustling, lively office but more likely when they were in their own neighborhoods hanging…"
schooldesign  classroomdesign  2012  variety  adaptability  flexibility  work  attention  furniture  openstudioproject  openstudio  lcproject  tcsnmy  allornothing  unintendedconsequences  brainstorming  collaboration  susancain  extroverts  introverts  howwework  officedesign  architecture  design  workplace  workspace  allisonarieff  groupthink  solitude  productivity  workspaces 
january 2012 by robertogreco
danah boyd | apophenia » The Unintended Consequences of Obsessing Over Consequences (or why to support youth risk-taking) ["As I get older, I’m painfully aware of my brain getting more ‘conservative’ (not in a political sense)."]
"I’m worried about our societal assumption that risk-taking without thinking of the consequences is an inherently bad thing. We need some radical thinking to solve many of the world’s biggest problems. And I don’t believe that it’s so easy to separate out what adults perceive as ‘good’ risk-taking from what they think is ‘bad’ risk-taking. But how many brilliant minds will we destroy by punishing their radical acts of defying authority? How many brilliant minds will we destroy by punishing them for ‘being stupid’? It’s easy to get caught up in a binary of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ when all that you can think about is the consequences. But change has never happened when people simply play by the rules. You have to break the rules to create a better society. And I don’t think that it’s easy to do this when you’re always thinking about the consequences of your actions."
teens  creativity  youth  danahboyd  unintendedconsequences  risktaking  risk  learning  innovation  rulebreaking  rules  rulefollowing  adolescence  brain  conservatism  radicalism  anarchism  2011  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  divergentthinking  criticalthinking  problemsolving  tcsnmy  parenting  schools  education  consequences  mindset  age  aging 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Andy Baio - Google+ "Google+ indirectly got me blogging again."
Very strange, Google+ indirectly got me blogging again. I started to write an anecdote about Meat Cheese Bread on Saturday on Google+, but realized that was a bit silly. There wasn't anything private about it, and it was too long to make sense here, so I decided to flesh it out into a post about opinionated software design: http://waxy.org/2011/07/meat_cheese_bread/<br />
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Same thing for this riff on Marco Arment's Monopoly post I just put up, discussing the dirty origins of the board game: http://waxy.org/2011/07/theres_no_wrong_way_to_play_monopoly/<br />
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I forgot how much I miss shorter blogging. At some point, I started putting pressure on myself that my main blog posts needed to be deep, investigative pieces. Lifting that pressure is a huge relief.
andybaio  blogging  informality  writing  google+  public  shortform  shortformblogging  unintendedconsequences  sideeffects  2011 
july 2011 by robertogreco
My Summer at an Indian Call Center | Mother Jones
"Call-center employees gain their financial independence at the risk of an identity crisis. A BPO salary is contingent on worker's ability to de-Indianize: to adopt a Western name & accent &, to some extent, attitude. Aping Western culture has long been fashionable; in the call-center classroom, it's company policy. Agents know that their jobs only exist because of the low value the world market ascribes to Indian labor. The more they embrace the logic of global capitalism, the more they must confront the notion that they are worth less."

"In a sense, Arjuna is too westernized to be happy in India. He speaks with an American accent, listens to American rock music, & suffers from American-style malaise. In his more candid moments, he admits that life would have been easier if he had hewn to the traditional Indian path. "I spent my youth searching for the real me. Sometimes I feel that now I've destroyed anything that is the real me, that I am floating somewhere in between.""
culture  economics  work  india  outsourcing  callcenters  identity  thirdculture  independence  freedom  tradeoffs  unintendedconsequences  money  motivation  2011  tradition  westernization 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Where Have All the Girls Gone? - By Mara Hvistendahl | Foreign Policy
"what happens to women is only part of story. Demographically speaking, women matter less & less. By 2013, an estimated 1 in 10 men in China will lack a female counterpart. By late 2020s, that figure could jump to 1 in 5. There are many possible scenarios for how these men will cope w/out women…several of them involve rising rates of unrest. Already Columbia U economist Edlund & colleagues at Chinese U of HK have found link btwn large share of males in young adult population & an increase in crime in China. Doomsday analysts need look no further than America's history: Murder rates soared in male-dominated Wild West.

4 decades ago, Western advocacy of sex selection yielded tragic results. But if we continue to ignore that legacy & remain paralyzed by heated US abortion politics, we're compounding that mistake. Indian public health activist George, indeed, says waiting to act is no longer an option: If the world does "not see 10 years ahead to where we're headed, we're lost.""
2011  population  gender  asia  us  policy  birthrates  women  girls  china  india  sexselection  unintendedconsequences 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Ability Maps, #deaf Mayors and $1000 Strollers - Anil Dash
"In short, users label themselves with self-descriptive tags. Then they check in to venues as normal. The site that's tracking them aggregates their visited venues by tags, and allows maps (or simple search queries) by tags to show patterns or popular venues. Voila: An imperfect, but perfectly usable, map of the places that welcome people of all abilities. And nobody is individually trackable to the places that they hang out."
accessibility  anildash  unintendedconsequences  technology  mobile  maps  collaboration  community  userexperience  geolocation  design  geo  ada  tagging  selftagging  usability  disabilities  disability 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Planning to Share versus Just Sharing at EdTechPost
"Contrast this with these formal initiatives to network “organizations.” In my experience, these start with meetings in which people first agree that sharing is a good idea, and then follow up meetings to decide what they might share, then, somewhere way down the line, some sharing might happen. The whole time, some of the parts of a network are already present and could have just started sharing what they have, heck they could have started before ever meeting, even WITHOUT ever meeting, but this never happens. (I say part, because if it’s a network it will grow to include many others not in any intial group.)"
education  learning  networking  sharing  blogging  knowledge  bestpractice  institutions  organizations  collaboration  community  control  deschooling  lcproject  administration  management  collaborative  meetings  schools  leadership  ples  tcsnmy  open  networks  transparency  bureaucracy  decisionmaking  fear  safety  unintendedconsequences  obsolescence  workplace  gamechanging  self-preservation 
december 2008 by robertogreco
ed4wb » Blog Archive » Institutions as Barriers, Organizations as Enablers
"Schools’ automatic immune response has been to try to control the ELN by creating boundaries & regulations aimed at “protecting” the institution & those within it...need to protect itself from obsolescence, thus bureaucracy in charge of creating rules & regulations...This type of safety net rests on top of the institution’s members–not under them, preventing a free flow of potentially useful information. In an age when the tools for sharing, collaboration, and collective action are ubiquitous and dirt cheap, a controlling paradigm can be quite limiting and counter-productive." ... "PLNs & ELNs function best when they form organically–not due to decree or lengthy planning; when they can tap into the power of disparate voices–often found outside of the institution; are need-driven, amorphous, self-organizing, self-policing, fluid, permeable & control-wary. In other words, when they are given access to everything schools pretty much hate."
education  learning  networking  sharing  blogging  knowledge  bestpractice  institutions  organizations  collaboration  community  control  deschooling  lcproject  administration  management  collaborative  meetings  schools  leadership  ples  tcsnmy  clayshirky  open  networks  transparency  bureaucracy  decisionmaking  fear  safety  unintendedconsequences  obsolescence  workplace  gamechanging  self-preservation 
december 2008 by robertogreco
Distracting Miss Daisy: Why stop signs and speed limits endanger Americans
"The more you look for signs, for police, and at your speedometer, the less attentive you will be to traffic conditions. The limits on attention are much more severe than most people imagine. And it takes only a momentary lapse, at the wrong time, to caus
culture  government  psychology  traffic  us  uk  flow  attention  driving  unintendedconsequences  cars  travel  signs  signage  safety 
june 2008 by robertogreco

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